These weekly posts show the Triad teachings. Starting at week 1 and progressing through the weeks will help you see the logic of the series.
“We are not fighting against flesh and blood”.
So, it’s not really my wife, or supervisor at work, or my pastor that I’m fighting. Or, at least, there is something more going on when I am in turmoil with another human.
It isn’t even merely a war between my lower nature and my higher nature.
Lies, accusations, discouragements, temptations, offense, rejection, pride. There is an active spiritual enemy contributing to these inner states.
Therefore, in addition to living in a fallen world, in addition to having a sin nature, in addition to having particular individual weakness and besetting sins we also have independent, invisible beings who are aiding our sin nature and working against us to turn us from God.
Spiritual warfare requires that I, first, acknowledge that Jesus taught us that there is a spiritual world that opposes God. Second, I need to admit that I need help in seeing this invisible world.
I cannot merely process all adversity as the chastening of the Lord. I cannot merely submit to God. I must resist the devil.
As good as humility and obedience are, they are sometimes not good enough. Detachment, surrender of self will, moral inventory, confession, contrition, etc., are the main way we progress in sanctification. The essence of the monastic pathway is summed up as a progression from purgation to illumination and then to union with God. This is valid, but it is not only trusting God, relying on His promises and yielding to His will that produces sanctification. We are in a war and we must resist the enemy.
Sometimes in your personal war against sin you must actively admit that you are fighting an independent enemy, and, you must resist this enemy.
So, let’s take one example. Imagine a man who lusts after some woman that he is not married to. Can you imagine that? Imagine that this is a Christian man, married to a Christian woman. Now, the man learns about God. He reads the Bible and comes to understand the sacred nature of marriage. He begins to see that his lower nature is opposed to God’s plan for him: no sex outside of marriage; not before marriage or while married. He sees that to divorce his wife, unless she has committed adultery, is forbidden. He also matures into advanced morality and turns from fantasy, flirting with other women and blaming his wife for his problems. Not bad, eh? Now, let’s even add that this man was sexually abused as a child; or harshly punished for normal childhood sexual experimentation; or some other unusual added childhood trauma. Our imaginary man gets counseling, or inner healing, or gets some other help with these deep wounds. Now our imaginary man is quite a man: saved, repentant, healed.
But there can still be a problem from an evil spirit that these methods cannot solve. The man, if there is an evil spirit in his life, must recognize, renounce and resist this spirit.
In future weeks we will look at an overview of Satan and his armies.