Hard on spirits soft on people
Earlier today, I read that we should be “Hard on spirits and soft on people.” It's an odd phrase, but if we understand it in the context of spiritual warfare it makes more sense.
At the end of Ephesians, Paul writes:
"… our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” -Ephesians 6:12
Culture around us is hard on people. Lately, politicians and media pundits are working overtime to label their "flesh and blood" opponents as the embodiment of all that is evil. This is leading to escalating rhetoric and acts of violence. I recently read about a man who ran over and killed a teenager after a political disagreement. The man, while in custody, was confused why he couldn’t go home to his family. All he did was stop an enemy of democracy.
Wars and rumors of war rage all around us. Ukraine vs Russia. China vs Taiwan. Armenia vs Azerbaijan. Culture wars in America. Talk of upcoming civil wars. Violence and violent talk is becoming normal.
As citizens of the Kingdom of God, our struggle is not against people. There are spiritual forces, even in our secular world, seeking to twist, distort, and steal our joy. This is the place of our warfare.
Jesus said “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” -John 10:10 Our enemy is seeking to steal; Jesus' mission is to bring abundant life.
This forces the question, "Do our daily habits bring us abundant life, or are they stealing our joy?"
Think about that a little. Is social media bringing life, or stealing joy? Is television consumption adding abundance to your life? Are the political debates, tensions, and theories stealing joy from life or do they create abundance?
The places where our joy is stolen hint at the forces of our enemy. That's where we wage war. A war for love, freedom, and joy.
We don't attack political opponents. We don't use harsh words when voicing a disagreement. We act kindly to neighbors with different religions and lifestyles. Our war is in prayer and in the realm of ideas.
“For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” -2 Corinthians 10:3–5
Consider Martin Luther King Jr. He waged war against the evil spirit of racism. Along the way, he was incredibly kind to racist people. He refused to hate his opponents He also made it difficult for them to hate him.
That’s what warfare looks like. It looks like love. It looks like clear boundaries. It looks like lives of prayer and sacrifice.
That’s why our armor isn’t comprised of harsh words, loud slogans, or raised fists.
“Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.” -Ephesians 6:14–18
Upcoming Daily Audio Bible Readings
September 28 Isaiah 54:1-57:13, Ephesians 6:1-24, Psalm 70:1-5, Proverbs 24:8
September 29 Isaiah 57:14-59:21, Philippians 1:1-26, Psalm 71:1-24, Proverbs 24:9-10
September 30 Isaiah 60:1-62:5, Philippians 1:27-2:18, Psalm 72:1-20, Proverbs 24:11-12
October 1 Isaiah 62:6-65:25, Philippians 2:19-3:4, Psalm 73:1-28, Proverbs 24:13-14
October 2 Isaiah 66:1-24, Philippians 3:5-21, Psalm 74:1-23, Proverbs 24:15-16
October 3 Jeremiah 1:1-2:30, Philippians 4:1-23, Psalm 75:1-10, Proverbs 24:17-20
October 4 Jeremiah 2:31-4:18, Colossians 1:1-20, Psalm 76:1-12, Proverbs 24:21-22
October 5 Jeremiah 4:19-6:14, Colossians 1:21-2:7, Psalm 77:1-20, Proverbs 24:23-25
October 6 Jeremiah 6:15-8:7, Colossians 2:8-23, Psalm 78:1-31, Proverbs 24:26
Levi Lusko talks about "Winning the War Within" and 2 Corinthians 10:3-5 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ituts1NyU20
John McArthur examines the "Armor of God" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hf4ru2044yI