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Spiritual conflict is a fuzzy subject for most Christians and yet it is all over the scriptures and it behoves us to know something about it. To better understand the subject we can divide it up into four spheres. They are:
- Pest free conflict.
Here the believer is not grappling with demonic powers and principalities but with his or her carnal heart. The moment we get saved we become aware of a war within us and this is a struggle between our old nature and the new one that comes from Christ being in us. Paul wrote of it extensively and described its “torment” for us.
“I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you will not fulfill
the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the
Spirit and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are
contrary to one another, so that you do not do the
things that you wish.”
Note also Romans 7:20-25
John writes that the life of Christ within us is like a”seed” that has to be watered and fed so that it can grow strong. (1 John 3:9) The more we can expose ourselves to Christ by prayer, fellowship and the word so the more we will be able to overcome our flesh or evil lusts.
- Pest controlled conflict.
For our spiritual growth and safety the Holy Spirit will expose us to spiritual conflict from time to time. However, the believer must know that, given that he is walking in a healthy way with Christ, the Devil or his surrogates cannot attack the believer when and how they choose! This idea is not in the Bible although it is widely taught and assumed. By contrast John writes:
“We know that whoever is born of God does not sin;
but he who has been born of God keeps himself and
the wicked one does not touch him.”
1 John 5:18
And Paul writes:
“But the Lord is faithful, who will establish you and
guard you from the evil one.”
2 Thessalonians 3:3
Pest controlled conflict means that God’s Holy Spirit, from time to time, will lead you into conflict with the Devil! The purpose is to expose your spiritual strength, or lack of it, to you. We have this mirrored in Job, Jesus and Peter. Note: Job 2:1-6; Luke 4:1-12 and Luke 22:31-34.
We will have to grapple with this as well since we have to learn to control the “lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh and the boastful pride of life. That is; things, sex and importance or, as someone put it, gold, glory and girls! (1John2:16)
Moreover, Paul found himself the recipient of pest controlled conflict when God refused to remove a buffeting demon or, as he put it “a messenger of Satan”, from his body, a ”thorn in the flesh”, in order to keep him humble. He besought the Lord to remove it but He would not while assuring Paul that “His grace was sufficient.” (2 Corinthians 12:7-10) This constitutes a very interesting insight into Pest Controlled Conflict. Even satanic messengers can serve God’s purposes in us!
- Pest infested conflict
This has to do with going into the world where the Devil and his demons rule and overcoming them with the Gospel of Jesus. That is; we confront and take on the powers of darkness in their own domain and so a great struggle ensues that can only be won by prayer, clean living and determination. (Daniel 10:10-13) Paul did just this in his missionary journeys and so he encountered all sorts of resistance and conflict. He recognized the stratagems of the Devil in this.
“Therefore we wanted to come to you-even I, Paul, time
and again-but Satan hindered us.”
1 Thessalonians 2:18
Nevertheless, we can take the “gates of hell” if we persist (Matthew 16:18) and this is precisely why we have to adorn ourselves with the armor of God. (Ephesians 6:10-19) This armor is totally offensive and not defensive. It has no protection for our backs! We are always going forward.
- Pest invasive conflict
Christians can give place to the Devil in their lives by living in willful sin, unforgiveness and unmanaged anger. Certainly the Devil is always on the prowl looking for these chinks to emerge in our armor and then he attacks and this is no joke!
“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil
walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may
1 Peter 5:8
So, we should note the following scriptures:
“Be angry, and do not sin: Do not let the sun go down
on your wrath, nor give place to the devil.”
“Now whom you forgive anything, I also forgive. For if
indeed I have forgiven anything, I have forgiven that
one for your sakes in the presence of Christ, lest
Satan should take advantage of us; for we are not
ignorant of his devices.”
2 Corinthians 2:10-11
“Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will
flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near
to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify
your hearts, you double minded.”
Spiritual conflict is real and so some aspects of it we have to endure, others we invite and yet others we can and should avoid. Be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might!