By Jennifer Maggio, Crosswalk.com
When I was four years old, my parents made me take a daily nap in the early part of the afternoon. I remember this quite vividly and I absolutely hated that nap, but not for the reason you may think. During that time, on a regular basis, I had a recurring dream. A faceless, tall man in a long trench coat and a dark fedora hat would walk slowly down my street and up my driveway. He would then, very intentionally, walk to the front door, into my home, down the hallway, and into my bedroom where he stood, towering over my bed. Each day, I awakened panting with the awareness that someone had just been in my room. Years later, when my husband and I married, I began having a recurring nightmare, where a similar dark figure would walk into my bedroom, lean down over my bed, and begin to choke me. In fact, I can remember, very distinctly one night, gasping for air, and attempting to scream, while I looked over at my husband who was sound asleep, seemingly unaware of the struggle taking place in our bed. It was only when I screamed the name of Jesus that the man would let go and vanish instantly.
I can give you countless incidents through the last few decades that were similar, where I was keenly aware I had just encountered “something”, but early on, I was not quite clear what it was. Sometimes, the battle would come in a dream or a vision. Other times, I would be in a room or a meeting, where I knew the spirit of fear or heaviness or rage or some other spirit was present. There have been countless situations, where I inherently knew I was in a spiritual war, long before I actually had been taught that I was in a spiritual war! It took much prayer, Bible study, seeking of the fruit and gifts of the Holy Spirit, and conversation with spiritual leaders to understand I was battling evil spirits in the unseen world.
I’ve been attending church since birth. In fact, other than a short time away during my early single mothering years, I have always been planted in a local body of Christ. I am grateful for the foundation that many Sunday school teachers and pastors laid from an early age in my understanding of the Word. In fact, I can’t remember a time, when I didn’t know that God, the Father, sent his only son, Jesus, to die on a cross to redeem me from my sins. But what I found to be lacking was in-depth discussion on the person of the Holy Spirit and spiritual warfare dialogue. Jesus’ earthly ministry was full of demonic deliverance and operation in the spiritual gifts, and beyond the Gospels, the New Testament is full of the same, and yet, in an overwhelming number of churches and believers’ lives today, we see no deliverance ministry, operation of the spiritual gifts, or evidence of the supernatural power of the living God. God still sets free. He still speaks. He heals. He delivers. He restores. And it doesn’t just happen on a mission field in Africa or at a church service on a Sunday morning.
Christ is the visible image of the invisible God. He existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation, for through him God created everything in the heavenly realms and on earth. He made the things we can see and the things we can’t see— such as thrones, kingdoms, rulers, and authorities in the unseen world. Everything was created through him and for him. He existed before anything else, and he holds all creation together. (Colossians 1:15-17)
Spiritual warfare is real. Just because we do not see it doesn’t mean we or others around us aren’t experiencing it. It is time for the body of Christ to suit up for the war at hand. The Life of a Single Mom Ministries has now served literally hundreds of thousands of single mothers and children. Do you know how many times I have been at an altar or in a conversation in the back room of a church, where a mother said to me, “Now, please don’t think I’m crazy, but….” and then begins to explain the spiritual warfare she’s experiencing? There is too little writing, podcasts, videos, or speakers willing to teach on warfare.
And you may be wondering, why am I writing about this subject in particular, when there are so many other topics that could be covered? Here’s why. Because the Lord told me to. It’s as simple as that. There are too many of us absolutely falling apart in our home, our job, our relationships, and our parenting, because you are fighting the wrong war.
Ephesians 6:10-18 is a starting point on how to war this unseen world.
A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then, after the battle, you will still be standing firm. Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness. For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News, so that you will be fully prepared. In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil. Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere.
Here are a few of the things that the Lord is showing me in this hour that may help you, too:
Remember that the full armor of God is required, so that we are able to stand firm. The full armor ensures we are immovable and unshakeable in this hour - that we are able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Put on every piece of armor, every day. Don't come half-dressed or you'll leave beat up and limping like the sons of Sceva. (See Acts 19:11-20). Don't skip the suit-up. Don’t skip your spiritual disciplines.
What does that mean in the practical? It means to get in the Word of God daily, so that you know exactly what it says. You need to know what authority you have, what is true about the situation, and the strategies necessary for this war. Pray. Praise. These need to be your habits and your go-to move. Demons will flee at the name of Jesus. No power in Hell can stand against the power of Jesus, so know what authority you walk in.
Come with a strategy. The devil doesn't come meek and confused. He doesn’t come tired and afraid. He comes with a strategy, a plan. Ignoring spiritual warfare doesn’t make it any less real. Do not come to the fight emotional, ill-equipped, or lacking strategy. If you think Satan will sit idly by while you fight for your family and take territory for the Kingdom, think again. His strategies are to steal, kill, and destroy.
Evaluate what tactics he may have used in the past that may have been effective in your life. Have there been times, when you were caught off guard by the enemy and responded in a way that didn’t honor God? Got caught up in a situation? Be prepared with strategies. Where do we get our strategies? From the Holy Spirit! We serve a God who speaks. He is alive, leading His people. The Spirit guides, leads, and directs. Learn to hear the instruction of the Lord. Wait upon the Lord. Then, do what he asks of you.
Walk in obedience and close doors of access. God is righteous and he makes us righteous through Christ. We cannot continue to open doors for Satan and expect to be successful in spiritual warfare. This is critical! When we walk in disobedience or sin, we give legal access to the enemy. We cannot continually to operate in sin and expect to be effective in war. For example, if you are creating a soul tie to a spiritual spouse by sleeping with a guy you aren’t married to, how effective do you think you will be in spiritual warfare?
Stop opening doors to the enemy. New Ageism is wrong. It cannot coexist with Christianity. Crystals are wrong. You do not need a rock to balance your body. You are a temple of the living God. Ouija boards and horoscopes and baby Buddhas and burning sage and mindfulness and positive energy and so much war is witchcraft. We are opening our homes and minds to these things. The Bible is explicit on these matters.
We are not fighting flesh & blood. Remember this truth in the midst of the war. Your war isn’t against people. Too many of us are getting caught up in fights we were not intended to fight. You are not warring against your children, your friends, your coworkers, or your family. We battle the unseen. We often fight carnally with what we see, not supernaturally with what we don’t see. We must come against the spirit, not against the person.
Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Romans 8:11 tells us that the Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in us. In other words, the power of the living God lives inside us, and it changes everything. Why are we limping around weak and barely making it, feeling overwhelmed or anxious or fearful or exhausted or furious? Pray. Pray without ceasing. Pray with the power of the Holy Spirit. Pray with reverence and awe and expectation and confidence and courage. The power of the Spirit of God will rise up on the inside of you, such that you can't contain it. No weapon formed prospers. The Spirit produces the fruit that you need today - love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, kindness, gentleness, and self-control.
Photo credit: ©GettyImages/digitalskillet3
Jennifer Maggio is a mom to three, wife to Jeff, and founder of the national nonprofit, The Life of a Single Mom Ministries. She is author to four books, including The Church and the Single Mom. She was named one of the Top 10 Most Influential People in America by Dr. John Maxwell in 2017 and 2015 and has appeared in hundreds of media venues, including The New York Times, Family Talk Radio with Dr. James Dobson, Joni and Friends, and many others.