I wrote in my newsletter a little bit about the spiritual warfare session that we had at Pioneer Bible’s annual conference, and that I want to share with you some of the things I have been learning. I think it is important that we as Christians can be equipped to fight spiritual battles when we face them.
When we talk about spiritual warfare, we really have to back up and start by talking about worldview. Worldview is the way people see and understand the world. It is what frames our ideas and attitudes about religion, politics, ethics, and anything else relating to how we live our lives. One specific area of worldview is how we view the supernatural. In the Western world, we are steeped in a naturalistic worldview that says there is no supernatural. Everything has a natural cause, from health issues to coincidences to “things that go bump in the dark”. If you just turn on the light, you will see that there is a perfectly reasonable explanation for what you heard.
Outside of the Western world, there is another prevalent worldview – animism. This view of the supernatural is exactly the opposite of the naturalistic worldview. Everything has a spiritual cause. If you are sick, you find out who has cursed you. If you have a lucky coincidence, you are sure to thank whatever spirit helped you. If there is anything that you don’t understand, you assume that there is a spiritual cause behind it.
The worldview that we need to hold as Christians is somewhere in the middle. We need to recognize both the natural and the supernatural world, and understand that there are physical and spiritual causes for things. Christ demonstrated this balance while he was on earth. People came to him both with physical illnesses and claiming to be demon possessed. He didn’t dispute either of these claims. When someone came with physical problems, he healed them. When others came claiming to be demon possessed, he never questioned whether it was really a demon or not.
I have heard an illustration that describes well how a Christian should balance these two worldviews. This is the illustration of a road. Imagine a road with a ditch on either side. The road itself is the appropriate worldview. On one side of the road is the “naturalistic” ditch – those who fall into this ditch believe completely in a natural world with no spiritual influence. On the other side of the road is the “animistic” ditch – those who fall into this ditch believe that everything is spiritual. Both of these extremes are ditches – if you go too far to one side or the other, you will “crash”. You must stay on the road, which is a balance between the two. Some Christians may tend to drive closer to one edge of the road or the other, but that is okay, as long as they stay on the road. Some Christians recognize the spiritual world, but still look first to the natural causes for things. This is okay, as long as the spiritual side of things isn’t ruled out from the start. Some Christians stay closer to the spiritual side, meaning they will look for an underlying spiritual cause before seeking a natural cure. This is also okay, as long as they don’t forget that a natural cause and cure is possible.
When I heard this illustration, the speaker said that Jesus walks exactly down the middle, perfectly balancing the two. It makes sense to say this, but I think it is also important to recognize that Jesus always saw people’s spiritual need, whether they came with physical or spiritual ailments. He told people they were forgiven (Luke 5:17-26), to sin no more (John 5:1-14), and to put their spiritual lives in order (John 8:1-11). So, whichever side of the “road” we tend to favor, we need to remember that the most important thing is being close to Christ – both for ourselves and for those whom we are reaching.
There is so much more to say about spiritual warfare! I will address a few more issues in my next few blogs, so please come back each month to read more! Feel free also to email with questions. Just check out the contact page on my website, and I will be sure to get back with you.