Are You Armed for Spiritual Warfare?
Since it first hit the big screen, the Star Wars movie series has wowed audiences with its spectacular special effects. In that galaxy far, far away, the ageless struggle between good and evil rages on, built around the story of a good “knight” who is seduced over to the Dark Side. It makes for great entertainment, as it re-tells a story that is as old as man.
But here, closer to home, are we engaged in that same kind of struggle? Are we in a spiritual battle, a battle being waged for our very souls, in a realm beyond that which our senses can perceive?
Secularists, and sadly many modern “believers,” simply reject this view of reality. They insist that what can be perceived is all there is, as they place their “faith” in science to eventually explain away all mysteries. They don’t believe in simplistic notions like Hell, and if it exists at all, they view it as a destination reserved for the very few, for the worst of the unrepentant. Evil, in their view, is an amorphous, faceless force and not reflected in an identifiable “person.” In sum, they hold to a modern notion that they are basically “good” and that their goodness will, in the end, be recognized by any God that might happen to exist.
These modern views on good and evil may be comforting, but they find no support in the teachings of Jesus, in the Bible or in the traditions of the Church. These sources tell us that Satan, the original fallen angel who inhabits the real Dark Side, is a person, and that Hell is a real and horrible place. Jesus clearly viewed reality this way. He knew Satan to be an actual person, and spoke directly to him when He was tempted him in the desert. Jesus also interacted with lesser demons, which recognized Him as the Son of God and which spoke to Him. In Matthew 8:28-32, Jesus cast a group of such demons into a herd of swine. (See also Mark 9) Jesus also spoke often of Hell as a real and horrible place, likening it to the perpetual garbage fires in the region known as Gehenna. Jesus admonished us not to “fear those who deprive the body of life but cannot destroy the soul. Rather, fear him who can destroy both body and soul in Gehenna.” Matthew 10:28.
The Bible also teaches that Satan acts purposefully and has each of us in his sights. In fact, the Bible warns us to “stay sober and alert. Your opponent the devil is prowling like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” 1 Peter 5:8. It teaches that the battle we face here is not against human forces, as it may seem to us from the information provided by our senses, but against the “the principalities and powers, the rulers of this world of darkness, the evil spirits in regions above.” Ephesians 6:12. It tells us that salvation is not something we can earn through our own works or that we can merit through acts of goodness. The way to avoid condemnation is through belief in Christ, for “whoever does not believe has already been condemned, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the verdict, that the light came into the world, but people preferred darkness to light, because their works were evil.” John 3:1-19
What are we to make, then, of this battle for our souls? Is there a “force” we can appeal to for salvation? Or are we left to trust our feelings and to make it on our own? Many people today have lost their way on this question…
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