12. THE WAR IN YOUR MIND
Many people derive meaning for their temporary sufferings by imagining scenes from an angelic Marvel-type movie. These fantasy ideas include a character arc where massive demonic angels are waging battles in the cosmos over their frustrations, finances, relationships, depressions, and/or any obstacle that stands in their way to the abundant life of Jesus.
Christians are notorious for creating personal dramas, sharing them with intensity and spiking the emotions in their friends about the conflicts that are spinning in their lives. There is something uniquely powerful about arousing interests, anger, justice, sadness and loss in the emotional experiencing of our friends.
We love the power of story, the conflict, the contrasting characters, and the vivid pictures within our imaginations. When we take our own frustrating story, in our present moments, and show conflict, colorfully presenting the struggles, identifying the human and angelic characters within the story, and show how it all is important to the struggle, we feel this special hot-wiring and emotional connection to those we are sharing with.
Our imaginations are sparked by stories in the Bible like when Elisha’s servant miraculously sees armaments of divine angels on the hillside surrounding them (2 Kings 6:17-20). Or when Daniel fasted for 21 days until the angel Michael appeared in a vision with news of the angel Gabriel battling against demonic warrior over the nations (Daniel 10).
However, is this really the idea we are supposed to come away with when we imagine spiritual warfare as a New Testament Christian?
Back to our dramatic story telling, when we are in the challenges of life, trying to make sense of our present sufferings, are we to hyper-spiritualize the answer is to deal with demonic angels and pray till the divine angels put the bad guys in their place?
Many have assumed so. This is why we over-use religious verbiage like…
“Ya’ll fire up the prayer chain. The devil must be mad at me right now.”
“Our car broke down. I’m under demonic attack.”
“I’m being especially tempted and emotionally spun up. Take authority over the devil so I can be free.”
These and about a thousand variations of the statements continue to frame the devil up as having external warriors that are wreaking havoc, interrupting the flow of blessing in my life and invading my physical world to bring me pain. This is the picture of spiritual warfare for most religious people.
However, again, are these scenes really the accurate picture we should get when talking about spiritual warfare? What if spiritual warfare as the New Testament writers framed it isn’t about an external battle between demonic angels and divine angels, but it is about an internal battle, a battle within our minds, tempting us to let go of Redemption and the faith that activates the changes in our circumstances?
For those who are purists around the idea spiritual warfare being the Elisha’s servant and Daniel versions of scenarios, let me offer you this: A healthy scriptural overview does show that angels are invisibly involved in our physical experiences. When we pray and intercede for others, there are limited areas of authority we can execute in prayer. Yet, when we are dealing with challenges in our own lives, the focus completely moves from the external strategies of demon-management, and moves into the war taking place in our individual minds.
Five times in the New Testament the words “war” or “warfare” are used.
2 CORINTHIANS 10:3-5…we do not WAR after the flesh: …(…pulling down STRONGHOLDS;)Casting down IMAGINATIONS…
1 TIMOTHY 1:18-19 …according to the prophecies previously made concerning you, that by them you may wage the good WARFARE, 19 having FAITH and a good CONSCIENCE…
2 TIMOTHY 2:4 No one engaged in WARFARE ENTANGLES HIMSELF with the affairs of [this] life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier.