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School Circle 7: Spiritual Warfare with Josiah Hirsch

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Josiah joins the show this week, straight from his new “agricultural job”, harvesting medicinal marijuana. An interesting endeavor, considering he has never partaken of the forbidden herb.

Which leads us to a conversation about the worst jobs we’ve ever had.

For Vince, a gearhead at heart, working customer service was the worst ever. Though, he may have taken things a bit too far when he told an overweight (and annoying) customer to calm down, Hometown Buffet will stay open for her until 10:00pm. But, when you think about it, just as ever Israeli citizen has to do a stint serving in their nation’s military, it should be national policy in the U.S. that every person must serve four years in a customer service job. This alone would cut down on the amount of adult jerks we have walking our streets.

Josiah once worked as a fire sprinkler fitter. Now, it should be common knowledge that fire sprinklers would lead to a flowing water source. What Josiah didn’t realize was that over time, years of black sludge fills the pipes and often flows out before the actual “clean” water sprays out any fire. No one typically cares or notices the sludge, since the only time these liquids should pour forth is in the event of a catastrophic fire. Well, leave it to Josiah to accidentally release the sprinkler, spraying water, sludge, goop, and slime all over a business’ walls, floors and furniture – not to mention all over Josiah.

Which leads us to spiritual warfare.

Like so many of us, to Justin even the words “spiritual warfare” seem daunting and other-worldly… probably because in many ways, it is.

That’s why we have Josiah on board this week.

But first, let’s look at Ephesians 6:10-20,

10 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 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. 13 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.

14 Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16 above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. 17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; 18 praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints— 19 and for me, that utterance may be given to me, that I may open my mouth boldly to make known the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.

David Guzik, Pastor at Calvary Chapel Santa Barbara wrote that there is a real battle to fight for each of us who call ourselves Christians. That’s spiritual warfare. This is why Paul tells us in Ephesians 6:10 that we need to be strong with God’s might. In addition to being filled with a strength that comes from God, it is up to each of us to put on the full Armor of God. Both of these things are essential, and while many teachers focus on the Armor of God, too many people neglect our need to “be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might”. If you think about this in non-metaphorical terms, if you take a weak man and load him up with the most sophisticated of armor, he will still be a weak soldier underneath it all, and he will be easily beaten.

Image: The Cracked Door

Image: The Cracked Door

Now, there is no secret incantation to becoming strong in God’s might. You can’t just repeat the words over and over and it will happen. As in any strength building, this takes training.

And when we are talking about God’s might, we are talking about His power and His force put together. Someone, like Vince, who has bulging muscles, displays his might, even when he doesn’t use them. But, this is the exact opposite of strength. Strength is when someone’s might is actually executed. And, oh… does God have infinite reservoirs of might and power!

But, His might cannot work through us, if we just passively sit on the sidelines of life. We grow strong in His might as we constantly rely on it and step out to do God’s work.

Now, it is possible to rely on it, but do no work. It’s also possible to do work without relying on God’s might.

But both of these fall short.

We must first rely on God’s might to strengthen us, then go out and serve Him by following His commandments and doing His work through His might.

Which brings us to our need to wear God’s Armor… His FULL set of Armor. Because, whether we want to admit it, or believe it, or not, we are in a battle. If you deny this or are unaware of it, you are most likely not winning the war against “principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.”

Did you get that? Our battle is not against other people (flesh and blood). Though, that tends to be the direction too many Christians focus their energies towards (i.e., take down that candidate, boycott that organization, scathingly blog about this person or that).

But, catch this, according to verse 12, it is completely irrelevant whether we are fighting against a principality, a power, or even a ruler of the darkness or wicked spiritual host. Collectively, they are all members of an organized spiritual army – a rank and file under the headship of Satan.

Yet, as Romans 8:38-39 tells us:

For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, 39 nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Therefore, all of Satan’s rank and file – even Satan himself – cannot keep us from God’s love and are limited in their power and ability.

In fact, Colossians 2:15 tells us that Jesus has:

“…disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it.”

All this to say, our victory in spiritual warfare is rooted in what Jesus has already done by dying for our sins and being resurrected from the dead, not what we do. This is why it is God’s Armor that we need to gird ourselves up with – not our own abilities or knowledge. THAT is how we can stand firm against our attackers.

But, from a skeptical point of view, what differentiates someone being overcome by the evil principalities and forces and mere, common sleep paralysis? Or even, once upon a time, people who suffered from epilepsy were considered demon possessed. If someone sees the empirical and scientific phenomena that explains certain circumstances, and they read Paul’s words in the New Testament, how should he differentiate and discern between the two?

Josiah recommends going to the basics – read the Biblical blueprint. Start out by reading your Bible, God’s word. Feel free to Google your questions in order to find a starting point in which Scriptures to start with (but find your answers in God’s word… not Wikipedia).

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