Spiritual Warfare and Apologetics

By Gregory Koukl

spiritual warfare and apologeticsSpiritual Warfare as Truth Encounters, Not Power Encounters

There is a tendency for Christians to think of spiritual warfare as a power encounter with the devil as our opponent, which is true.  He’s a powerful force in the world, “blinding the eyes of the unbelievers,” as the text says, and causing a lot of trouble.  But what does that engagement look like?  I don’t think that spiritual warfare is only wrestling in the spiritual realm during prayer. I think that we thwart the Enemy by uncovering and exposing his lies.

Paul says in 2 Corinthians 10, referring to “the weapons of our warfare that are divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses,” that we are to “cast down speculations,” like theories, “and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.”

He’s talking about taking our thinking captive to godly thinking to godly truth. We ought to think with the mind of Christ. When the foundational ideas of the Christian worldview are being opposed by lofty things raised up against them, then we are to cast them down with the truth.

Put simply, apologetics is a significant part of spiritual warfare.  We should know the truth and address the truth to error. A lot of spiritual warfare turns out to be ideas that are in play against the truth. So, a significant portion of what we are to be doing, in terms of spiritual warfare, is being able to recognize the false ideas, address them, expose and undermine them

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In Ephesians 6, we see pieces of armor. Using the metaphor of a soldier and the armor he wears, Paul describes how we are to be equipped to fight the spiritual battle not against flesh and blood, not against that guy over there who’s the skeptic or the critic, but against the spiritual power and force that is motivating the doctrines of demons or demonic designs.  Paul says, “Take up the full armor of God that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything to stand firm.”

What Do We Stand Firm in?

We are standing firm for the truth by resisting the lie. Look at the armor: “Stand firm, therefore, having girded your loins with truth.” That’s the first piece of armor – the truth.

Next we are to “put on the breastplate of righteousness.” There’s a little ambiguity in the translation. It could be the “knowledge of our righteousness in Christ.” It could also be “practical purity,” because without it we’re vulnerable. It probably is referring to both of them. You can’t go wrong either way.

“Having shod our feet with the preparation of the Gospel of peace.” That’s a substantive enterprise. You prepare to communicate the Gospel.

“In addition to all, taking up the shield of faith, with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming missiles of the evil one, and take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the spirit, which is the Word of God.” Now, I take the helmet of salvation, since it’s guarding your head, to be the confidence and knowledge that you have in your salvation so doubt cannot be sown, and the Word of God, which is the sword of the sprit.

Most of the elements in our spiritual armor are geared towards the knowledge enterprise. Not that I’m putting knowledge out there as kind of an idol, but that proper knowledge and proper use of truth is a vital part of defending against the enemy in spiritual warfare and casting down speculations…


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