Why write about examples of spiritual warfare in the Bible? It is a topic I’d rather shy away from. I’d rather write about the pleasant things of God: love, joy, peace. However, the truth is, that spiritual warfare is all around us and influencing our daily lives.
There are days when we are happy and peace resides in our household and then we experience days where the squabbling is unbearable, my migraines come in full force, and temptation lurks around every corner. These are the days when I feel my family is under attack and it’s been recently that I proclaimed “enough is enough” and God pushed me to seek out spiritual warfare in the Bible.
The idea of spiritual warfare is not something I’ve embraced much in my Christian faith. Partly, because the idea of evil forces scare me, and partly because I haven’t studied spiritual warfare in the Bible enough to feel comfortable with it.
So, let’s do this together!
Examples of Spiritual Warfare in the Bible
There are dozens of scriptures on spiritual warfare in the Bible. Why? Because it is a very real part of life that we don’t get insight to often.
For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. (Ephesians 6:12 NKJV)
Paul talks about spiritual warfare in Ephesians. He goes on to explain how we are to battle in a world we cannot see. More about that later.
Daniel experiences this spiritual warfare first hand when after weeks of praying, an angel comes to him with a message from God. The angel had been fighting the prince of Persia, a power of the enemy.
“Then he said to me, “Do not fear, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart to understand, and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard; and I have come because of your words. 13 But the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me twenty-one days; and behold, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, for I had been left alone there with the kings of Persia.” (Daniel 10:12-14)
Messenger of satan, evil spirits, demonic forces, whatever you wish to call them, they are all a part of the devil’s schemes to have a people that hates the true God and worships him. When satan first sinned against God, no longer content to be a beautiful angel worshipping around the throne, he was cast to earth taking a third of the angels with him.
These fallen angels want nothing more than for you to never accept the blood of the lamb. They want you to be insecure, fearful human beings, never accepting God’s promises or taking hold of the eternal life given us through Jesus Christ.
What is Spiritual Warfare?
What is spiritual warfare?
Warfare is a battle. Two forces opposing each other.
Spiritual is the world in which we do not have regular access to it because it is not physical. Spiritual, by definition, gives to the idea of soul and spirit, not earthly and physical. It is real, but we only catch glimpses of it.
Because of this, we cannot fight with weapons of the world. We must fight through the name of Jesus.
In short, it is the constant battles of good and evil going on all around us. Spiritual warfare is satan coming against God and His creation. He was cast to the earth because of his pride and that pride continues to seek revenge. What greater way to prove that he is equal to God than to convince God’s creation to worship him?
And if we cannot be convinced to worship him directly, he will tempt us with money, stress, worldly distractions, greed, etc. etc. He will break down what we have carefully built up and he will whisper continually in our ear of our failures.
He will try to convince us that God couldn’t possibly love a broken soul like ours or that our sins are too great to be forgiven. He will point out the righteous to us and remind us that we will never measure up.
Don’t be fooled my dear friends, Satan knows you and your weaknesses and he is using them against you.
Your mind is a prime battleground. Taking Every Thought Captive is a course by Sunshyne Gray that helped me a lot. If you struggle with your thoughts, be sure to check it out.
Am I Under Spiritual Attack?
We are all under spiritual attack. Your marriage is under attack as well as all other relationships in your life. Your friends and coworkers, walk with God, and your health. The list goes on.
That being said, spiritual attack is sometimes difficult to recognize. It can come from an acquaintance, false teachers, or internet interaction. It can come in the form of temptations as well.
The first step in spiritual warfare is recognizing the powers of this dark world and measuring everything you read and hear against God’s word.
It is less about living a good Christian life and more about being armed with the most powerful weapon available to us: Christ Jesus!
James and Peter both instruct us to resist the devil.
“Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” (James 4:7)
“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world.” (1 Peter 5:8-9)
Spiritual forces of evil are not meant to be fought on our own. We need the Holy Spirit and divine power that comes only from God. We must lean heavily on God’s truth in order to overcome the father of lies.
Job: A Perfect Example of Spiritual Warfare in the Bible
In the beginning of Job, we read that Satan came before God in the heavenly realms and confesses that he had been wandering back and forth on the earth. God knew very well that Satan was up to no good.
The schemes of the Devil are real.
Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came among them. 7 And the Lord said to Satan, “From where do you come?”
So Satan answered the Lord and said, “From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking back and forth on it.”
Then the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered My servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, one who fears God and shuns evil?”
So Satan answered the Lord and said, “Does Job fear God for nothing? Have You not made a hedge around him, around his household, and around all that he has on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. But now, stretch out Your hand and touch all that he has, and he will surely curse You to Your face!”
And the Lord said to Satan, “Behold, all that he has is in your power; only do not lay a hand on his person.”
So Satan went out from the presence of the Lord. (Job 1:6-12)
Satan goes and destroys all that Job has. He takes away his children and all of his possessions. Job is left a broken man, but remains faithful to God.
Satan is annoyed and comes before God again.
Again there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan came also among them to present himself before the Lord. And the Lord said to Satan, “From where do you come?”
Satan answered the Lord and said, “From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking back and forth on it.”
Then the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered My servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, one who fears God and shuns evil? And still he holds fast to his integrity, although you incited Me against him, to destroy him without cause.”
So Satan answered the Lord and said, “Skin for skin! Yes, all that a man has he will give for his life. But stretch out Your hand now, and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will surely curse You to Your face!”
And the Lord said to Satan, “Behold, he is in your hand, but spare his life.”
So Satan went out from the presence of the Lord, and struck Job with painful boils from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head. 8 And he took for himself a potsherd with which to scrape himself while he sat in the midst of the ashes.
Then his wife said to him, “Do you still hold fast to your integrity? Curse God and die!”
But he said to her, “You speak as one of the foolish women speaks. Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity?” In all this Job did not sin with his lips. (Job 2:1-10)
I have to point out the incredible faith of Job. He resisted the devil just like Peter and Paul instruct us to do.
When I lost my daughter, my faith took a hit. I was left doubting like I never had before. Job loses everything and yet he does not sin with his lips. That, my friends, is faith!
Examples of Spiritual Warfare in the Bible: The Garden of Eden
Let’s go all the way back to the beginning for this example. God had created a beautiful earth full of lush vegetation, peaceful animals, and his crowned creation: man.
The earth was in a beautiful state that would seem odd to you and me. There was no sin, no natural disasters, no fear, or hate. Animals did not fight each other, Adam and Eve lived in perfect harmony, and there were no weeds or crop destroying insects.
Everything was at rest except for satan. He had been cast out of heaven and he was desperate to steal God’s creation from Him. Satan isn’t like God in that he can create so he is forced to use what God created.
God had created Adam and Eve to live in close connection to Him. They were to be His people and they were content to worship Him and love Him.
Satan couldn’t stand that. He is struggling to prove himself to be greater than God. See how pride fools us? Of course he could never be greater than God, but he’s going to die trying.
He begins his manipulation and first approaches Eve. The Bible doesn’t give a lot of details, but I believe he did this over a long period of time, slowly seducing her and causing her to doubt.
She gives in, sins, destroys our connection to God, and changes the world into the fallen state we know it today.
Not a happy story, but it does make one think. Obviously, satan causing you to sin is not going to alter the state of the earth, but it will alter your relationship with God. It will also alter some of your relationships because rarely does sin affect only ourselves.
If you are struggling with a sin check out these posts:
Examples of Spiritual Warfare in the Bible: Elisha
Elisha has many amazing stories. This one is found in 2 Kings chapter 6.
The Syrian army was battling against Israel and strategically attacking city after city.
God was revealing to Elisha where Syria would attack next, who in turn told the army and they would meet their attackers ready for battle. This perplexed the king a great deal.
Finally, someone realized that it was the great prophet, Elisha, that was forewarning the troops. The King of Syria sends a great army to capture Elisha.
Scripture says that they surrounded the city at night so that when Elisha and his servant walked outside the next morning, they saw a large number of chariots and soldiers surrounding them.
Just a little scary.
The servant is alarmed and asks Elijah what they should do.
It wasn’t Elisha’s battle, it was the Lord’s.
This story teaches us several things.
- spiritual warfare is real
- angels and demons are fighting each other all the time
- God protects His people
- God always triumphs
- we should be praying for eyes to see
Jesus and Spiritual Warfare
Jesus is another example of spiritual warfare in the Bible. From Herod trying to kill him as a baby to satan tempting him, to his victory over death. The battles taking place in the realm we rarely see are manifested in the miracles and healings of Jesus.
Let’s begin with Satan tempting Jesus in the wilderness. I love how Jesus replies to Satan’s tactics. Notice how He quotes scripture.
Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And when He had fasted forty days and forty nights, afterward He was hungry. Now when the tempter came to Him, he said, “If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.”
But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’ ”
Then the devil took Him up into the holy city, set Him on the pinnacle of the temple, 6 and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down. For it is written: He shall give His angels charge over you, and In their hands they shall bear you up, Lest you dash your foot against a stone.’ ”
Jesus said to him, “It is written again, ‘You shall not tempt the Lord your God.’ ”
Again, the devil took Him up on an exceedingly high mountain, and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. 9 And he said to Him, “All these things I will give You if You will fall down and worship me.”
Then Jesus said to him, “Away with you, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve.’ ”
Then the devil left Him, and behold, angels came and ministered to Him. (Matthew 4:1-11)
Bible Verses for Spiritual Warfare
As you can already see, the Bible is full of verses for spiritual warfare. I have a post “27 Spiritual Warfare Prayers and Verses for Your Whole Family” which goes into many of these Bible verses for spiritual warfare but here are a few of my favorites to get you started.
For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ. (2 Corinthians 10:3-5)
For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. (Ephesians 6:12)
Are you ready to fight in the spiritual realm?
I want to include examples of spiritual warfare from both the Old Testament and the New Testament, giving us a more complete picture of the present darkness that we are dealing with.
Before we continue, I want to remind you that we cannot fight with our own strength. We are meant to be protected in the shelter of the Most High (Psalm 91) and are given the ultimate victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. He overcame the power of death, giving us spiritual powers and an offensive weapon, but only through him.
We must learn to fight the good fight of the faith, sacrificing our own desires and earthly affections, and accepting the mighty power of obedience to God in an ongoing battle against God and Satan.
Warfare Scriptures is Psalms
I have often read the Psalms and admired David’s confidence that God was protecting him and delivering him from his enemies. What if we pause and think about David as not only a physical warrior but also a spiritual warrior? These Bible verses about spiritual warfare come from the Psalms.
“Through You we will push down our enemies;
Through Your name we will trample those who rise up against us.
For I will not trust in my bow,
Nor shall my sword save me.
But You have saved us from our enemies,
And have put to shame those who hated us.” (Psalm 44:5-7)
Did you know Moses wrote Psalm 91? I recently learned this.
He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High
Shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress;
My God, in Him I will trust.”
Surely He shall deliver you from the snare of the fowler
And from the perilous pestilence.
He shall cover you with His feathers,
And under His wings you shall take refuge;
His truth shall be your shield and buckler.
You shall not be afraid of the terror by night,
Nor of the arrow that flies by day,
Nor of the pestilence that walks in darkness,
Nor of the destruction that lays waste at noonday.
A thousand may fall at your side,
And ten thousand at your right hand;
But it shall not come near you.
Only with your eyes shall you look,
And see the reward of the wicked.
When you read Psalm 35 from a spiritual perspective and not as David physically fighting, it opens up a whole new concept.
Plead my cause, O Lord, with those who strive with me;
Fight against those who fight against me.
Take hold of shield and buckler,
And stand up for my help.
Also draw out the spear,
And stop those who pursue me.
Say to my soul,
“I am your salvation.” (Psalm 35:1-3)
The Whole Armor of God: Our Spiritual Weapons
Ok, let’s go back to Ephesians. What is the whole armor of God that Paul instructs us to put on?
Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.
Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.
Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one.
And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints— (Ephesians 6:10-18)
The full armor of God is:
- girded with the belt of truth
- breastplate of righteousness
- feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace
- shield of faith (can you picture those flaming darts?)
- helmet of salvation
We could turn this into a detailed study, but let’s just briefly see how each of these applies to our daily life.
First, we must be armed with the truth. Study your Bible, learn who God is and unlock the truths He has provided us with. Jesus quoted scripture to fight Satan’s temptations. We must also be able to fight him with words of truth.
Next, we must not only read the truth, but we must also live it. Ask God to put His words into your heart. All He needs is a willing vessel.
Shoes. We need shoes to walk on rough terrain and protect our feet. The gospel of peace does the same. The gospel is the “good news of Jesus”. Therefore we use our faith in Christ to help us stand and walk through the trials of life.
I don’t think the shield of faith needs much explanation. You either believe or you don’t and satan will find your weaknesses here every time. I believe faith isn’t faith until it is tried so allow God to work in your heart, keep your eyes focused on Him, and when satan comes against you remind him whose child you are.
Helmet of salvation is the last of the armor. It isn’t enough to simply believe all of the words God has given us. We must make a decision to follow Christ and the steps mapped out for us.
One last note. Paul ends this thought with an instruction to pray. Do NOT skip this step. There is power in prayer!
I know that this is a step I often skip. I try to fight on my own only to become defeated, frustrated, and hurt. Paul instructs us to “pray without ceasing” because we need that constant connection to God. We are wired for it.
We also need that relationship to help us through all the difficult trials this fallen world hands us. It is so easy to fall into temptation (of any kind) when we have been beaten down.
Spiritual Warfare in the Bible
Now that we have covered many examples of spiritual warfare in the Bible, are you ready to fight? I feel as if this post covered a lot of ground! How do you feel about this topic? Do you have a favorite story or verse for spiritual warfare? I’d love for you to share it with me in the comments below!
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