Oftentimes, spiritual warfare is seen as an attack from the outside. Some larger force is coming after you with the intent to cause harm. These attacks can take the form of financial failure, marriage infidelity, natural disasters, rebellious children, economic depression, war, or dissension in churches. And sometimes, this is spiritual warfare. But sadly, other times these events are direct consequences of our own actions and desires.
The greatest battle for spiritual warfare is not the larger than life events happening outside; rather it is in the smaller thoughts and feelings stirring inside.
Thoughts. Ask yourself these questions and answer them honestly to better evaluate your thoughts.
- What do you really think about and how much time do you spend thinking about it?
- Do you replay conversations over and over in your head instead of what you did say?
- Do you fantasize about how to get even with someone who has caused you harm?
- Do you image achieving a great result to vindicate yourself in front of others?
- Do you focus your thoughts on one area of our life (i.e. work) at the expense of another area of our life (i.e. family)?
- Do you wish for someone else to experience the same pain as you?
- Do you dream about winning the lottery?
- Do you think about your past failures and wish you had done it differently?
- Do you call yourself a failure, loser, or other self-depreciating statements?
Each one of these seemingly insignificant thoughts is actually part of your spiritual battle which is more appropriately named distraction. By distracting you from thoughts that are good, pure, just, and holy, you have taken your focus off of God and onto more worldly desires. Some of these desires seem innocent such as winning the lottery and giving the money to family and charity. But in reality if God wanted you to have more money, He would not need the lottery to give you more money. He would just give it to you. By focusing on the thoughts listed, you are distracted from the things and people God did bless you with and instead are setting yourself up for disappointment.
Feelings. Ask yourself these questions and answer them honestly to better evaluate your feelings.
- If it feels good, do you do it regardless of whether or not it violates your standards?
- If it feels good to buy a new piece of clothing, do you do it even if you don’t need it?
- If it feels good to flirt with someone, do you do it even if it jeopardizes your marriage?
- If it feels good to have a drink or two or three, do you do it even if you risk becoming drunk?
- If it feels good to mouth off to someone, do you do it even if you risk damaging the relationship?
- If you don’t feel like reading the proposal, assignment or book, do you do it anyway?
- If you don’t feel like parenting your children today, do you do it anyway?
- If you don’t feel like dealing with your grief, do you do it anyway?
Everyone has feelings and some days the feelings are stronger than others, feelings can drive us to do an action or not do an action regardless of how you think. Just like your thoughts can lead you astray, so can feelings. Run away feelings turn into a spiritual battle better identified as discouragement. Fear of discouragement may drive you to do something that makes you feel good in the moment regardless of the consequences. It is important to remember that God created feelings so feelings in and of themselves are not bad. But feelings which drive our behavior without a thought filter can be destructive.
Spiritual warfare is not always the big things happening around you; sometimes it is the little things happening inside. Take an inventory of your thoughts and feelings to see if they need a cleansing. After all, most historians will tell you that the greatest battle is the one you are fighting right now.