The following is an address given at an appreciation dinner for chaplains and pastors. The speaker used the occasion to clearly describe spiritual warfare in contemporary terms.
I stand before you, not as a general officer but as a sinner saved by grace—who has the combat perspective of a general officer.
My subject tonight is warfare—and you are the centurions in this conflict. This warfare has raged over the centuries, the battle fully joined across every continent, people, and purpose. Living the life of the soldiers you are, you will find the comforts sparse, the challenges great, the situation sometimes desperate, and as you are well aware, the rewards will be few.
We face a formidable enemy, who is defeated in eternity, but who continues to plague the human race. For, as Paul says, “Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”
At the strategic level, our battle is won. The first skirmish for the human race was in the Garden of Eden, victory was assured at Calvary, and we are just waiting for the final mop-up at Armageddon. But we face the daily reality of spiritual combat at the tactical and operational levels.
We focus most of our time at the tactical level. It is where we use the weapons of worship, prayer, obedience, and fellowship. We are guided by the compass of faithfulness, its needle pointing unfailingly upward—challenging us to shape every decision, every desire, every blow struck to be the result of alignment to the will of our Creator. We need to watch out for each other and make sure that we are not casualties of the land mines of pornography, or the snares of addiction.
The struggle of demons and holiness is invisible to the unenlightened. The most caring of the unsaved have no realization of their unfortunate alliance with evil. All around us, though, we see the casualties of the battle. Many do not even perceive that the battle is joined or know that they are spiritual casualties in need of a Savior.
That brings us to the operational level of spiritual combat. At this level we need to think and act as eternal spiritual creatures who are having a brief human experience. How do we engage at the operational level in spiritual combat? This is a personal challenge for me, one led by the Spirit, and I do not know where it will take me. But I do know I am not alone. History teaches me that.
As Joshua, the commander of the Jews, approached Jericho he encountered a man with his sword drawn. Joshua asked, “Are you for us or for our enemies?” The response was “Neither, I am the commander of the Lord’s army.” Joshua asks for a message, a plan. The only response is “Take off your sandals, you are on holy ground.” Joshua knows he is not alone, but he does not know that the visitor’s mission is to knock down the walls at the last trumpet when the people shout.