I was saying to one of our men the other day how getting sick is a way Satan targets my life to take me down. He said, “You know, stress can cause that, too.” Natural occurrence or Spiritual conflict? In another conversation, one of our men and I were discussing the fact that a gas line was out of place in our property and on no records held by the gas company. I felt Satan’s hot breath. He said, “These things happen in construction.” Natural occurrence or Spiritual conflict? Believe it or not, someone complained about something at our church. I felt a dart hit me in the heart, turned and saw Satan taking aim with another. Then I realized the person was only expressing a preference, an opinion that didn’t require me to do anything. Natural occurrence or Spiritual conflict?
Spiritual Conflict has always confused me. I read Paul: Eph 6:12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.
I come back with some scenario of angels fighting demons in a realm beyond what we can see. I hear Michael, the Arch Angel, telling Daniel how he was delayed responding to Daniel’s prayer because he was in conflict with the Prince of the kingdom of Persia. I’ve envisioned angels holding back demons from attacking my boys as I pray for them.
But recently I’ve been seeing many things that I’ve considered spiritual attacks against me, my family and our church, so I had to look into what is spiritual conflict? How is it different from ordinary life challenges? Can being sick be a spiritual attack? Can a delay in construction caused by an unknown gas line, be a spiritual attack? Can a complaint that feels like a personal attack from someone either within the church or from the outside be spiritual conflict?
I needed a working definition. What is the difference between a natural occurrence and Spiritual Conflict? Here it is: Spiritual Conflict is any conflict in our life that challenges whether God is enough.
Spiritual Conflict can come in prayer when I don’t have faith to believe what I’m saying.
- It can come in temptation when I don’t find the will to resist.
- It can come in testing when I give in to defeat even before I’ve cried out for help.
- It can come in attacks of illness or accidents or diagnoses when my misery stifles my desire to take my burden to the Lord and leave it there.
- It can come in moments that require a godly response rather than a worldly attitude.
1Sam 17:1 Now the Philistines gathered their armies for battle; and they were gathered at Socoh which belongs to Judah…Saul and the men of Israel were gathered and camped in the valley of Elah, and drew up in battle array to encounter the Philistines. The Philistines stood on the mountain on one side while Israel stood on the mountain on the other side, with the valley between them. Then a champion came out from the armies of the Philistines named Goliath, from Gath, whose height was six cubits and a span. He had a bronze helmet on his head, and he was clothed with scale-armor which weighed five thousand shekels of bronze. He also had bronze greaves on his legs and a bronze javelin slung between his shoulders. The shaft of his spear was like a weaver's beam, and the head of his spear weighed six hundred shekels of iron; his shield-carrier also walked before him.
Height: 9’6” -- Armor weighed: 125 lbs. -- Tip of spear: 15 lbs.
All that does is add drama to the story. David was out manned, out-resourced and way in over his head.
1Sam 17:8 He stood and shouted to the ranks of Israel and said to them, "Why do you come out to draw up in battle array? Am I not the Philistine and you servants of Saul? Choose a man for yourselves and let him come down to me. If he is able to fight with me and kill me, then we will become your servants; but if I prevail against him and kill him, then you shall become our servants and serve us." Again the Philistine said, "I defy the ranks of Israel this day; give me a man that we may fight together." When Saul and all Israel heard these words of the Philistine, they were dismayed and greatly afraid.
All fear has some grounds.
· Past experience – Philistines have defeated Israel before
· Undefeatable foe – Goliath’s reputation matches his size and strength
· Likelihood of failure – I might be killed
1Sam 17:16 The Philistine came forward morning and evening for forty days and took his stand. 1Sam 17:24 When all the men of Israel saw the man, they fled from him and were greatly afraid. The men of Israel said, "Have you seen this man who is coming up? Surely he is coming up to defy Israel. And it will be that the king will enrich the man who kills him with great riches and will give him his daughter and make his father's house free in Israel." Then David spoke to the men who were standing by him, saying, "What will be done for the man who kills this Philistine and takes away the reproach from Israel? For who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should taunt the armies of the living God?"
Change of perspective: Goliath was challenging the armies of Saul. David said Goliath was challenging the armies of the living God.
Suddenly this physical battle becomes a spiritual conflict.
In a natural battle we ask:
· What is the problem?
· What am I going to do about it?
In a Spiritual conflict we ask?
· What’s the problem?
· What is God going to do about it?
If I only see the conflict as natural, I will run the scenario through my abilities. My hope for success will be based on the confidence I have in an outcome I can bring about. But if I see this as God’s fight on my behalf, I rest in the outcome He produces.
Spiritual conflict is not challenging my ability to get through difficult times, it is challenging me to determine if God is enough and can I trust Him. And David was the only one who saw it.
1Sam 17:31 When the words which David spoke were heard, they told them to Saul, and he sent for him. David said to Saul, "Let no man's heart fail on account of him; your servant will go and fight with this Philistine." Then Saul said to David, "You are not able to go against this Philistine to fight with him; for you are but a youth while he has been a warrior from his youth."
Saul: You are not equipped for this fight.
David: I am probably the only one here who is equipped for this fight.
1Sam 17:34 But David said to Saul, "Your servant was tending his father's sheep. When a lion or a bear came and took a lamb from the flock, I went out after him and attacked him, and rescued it from his mouth; and when he rose up against me, I seized him by his beard and struck him and killed him. Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear; and this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, since he has taunted the armies of the living God." And David said, "The LORD who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear, He will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine." And Saul said to David, "Go, and may the LORD be with you."
1Sam 17:38 Then Saul clothed David with his garments and put a bronze helmet on his head, and he clothed him with armor. David girded his sword over his armor and tried to walk, for he had not tested them. So David said to Saul, "I cannot go with these, for I have not tested them." And David took them off.
You’re asking me to trust in armor I’ve never worn before to fight a fight that isn’t about armor and weapons. I go out in the name of the Lord Most High. I’ve tested that name. He has been faithful. He has rescued me in the past. This is just another opportunity to see that faithfulness again.
The taunts of Goliath were like walls being built up. Each taunt raised the level of the wall to where it was now impenetrable - like a fortress. But to David, 2Cor 10:3 For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses.
1Sam 17:40 He took his stick in his hand and chose for himself five smooth stones from the brook, and put them in the shepherd's bag which he had, even in his pouch, and his sling was in his hand; and he approached the Philistine.
In natural conflict you don’t take a knife to a gun fight. But in Spiritual Conflict you can take some rocks and a sling to fight a giant who has a sword and spear. Weapons used in Spiritual Conflict don’t have to match up against the weapons of a natural adversary because this isn’t natural conflict.
1Sam 17:41 Then the Philistine came on and approached David, with the shield-bearer in front of him. When the Philistine looked and saw David, he disdained him; for he was but a youth, and ruddy, with a handsome appearance. The Philistine said to David, "Am I a dog, that you come to me with sticks?" And the Philistine cursed David by his gods. The Philistine also said to David, "Come to me, and I will give your flesh to the birds of the sky and the beasts of the field." Then David said to the Philistine, "You come to me with a sword, a spear, and a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have taunted. This day the LORD will deliver you up into my hands, and I will strike you down and remove your head from you. And I will give the dead bodies of the army of the Philistines this day to the birds of the sky and the wild beasts of the earth, that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel, and that all this assembly may know that the LORD does not deliver by sword or by spear; for the battle is the LORD'S and He will give you into our hands."
Why not – God will give you into my hands? This was the Lord’s battle – a spiritual conflict – and David was merely the vehicle through which God was going to do His work. David wasn’t making the guarantee of killing Goliath based on what he could do but on what God has done and will do to demonstrate He is enough to take on giants. It was God working through David. David plus God was way more than enough.
Mouse on the head of the elephant – “We really shook up that old bridge.”
In Spiritual Conflict: The battle isn’t ours. We aren’t responsible for the outcome. Our job is to be there as a conduit through which God will be glorified. Our job is to declare God is enough!
1Sam 17:48 Then it happened when the Philistine rose and came and drew near to meet David, that David ran quickly toward the battle line to meet the Philistine. And David put his hand into his bag and took from it a stone and slung it, and struck the Philistine on his forehead. And the stone sank into his forehead, so that he fell on his face to the ground. Thus David prevailed over the Philistine with a sling and a stone, and he struck the Philistine and killed him; but there was no sword in David's hand.
1Sam 17:51 Then David ran and stood over the Philistine and took his sword and drew it out of its sheath and killed him, and cut off his head with it. When the Philistines saw that their champion was dead, they fled.
Why did David need a sword? Goliath was already dead.
Those not engaged in the spiritual battle can only believe what they see. David had to remove Goliath’s head so the people would see he was dead. And that may be all they see. The rock from the sling proved God was enough. The sword just helped those who couldn’t see the spiritual conflict know that the battle was over.
What do you need to see to know God is enough?
John 14:5-8 Thomas said to Him, "Lord, we do not know where You are going, how do we know the way?" Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me. If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; from now on you know Him, and have seen Him." Philip said to Him, "Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us."
No, Philip, it’s just backwards. Until you know I am enough for you, you will never see the Father. Until you know God is enough you will never see Him as enough.
Sometimes it just feels like Satan is a Goliath, standing there taunting us, setting up his gates to suggest he is impossible to defeat. If we’re not careful, our hearts and minds will believe him, especially when we look at our insurmountable circumstances. We will crumble, believing Satan is winning. If that’s the way you feel today, remember:
· Satan’s cannot win—he is a cast down foe. God has already judged him.
· He cannot win—God has revealed his future. He has nothing but defeat ahead.
· He cannot win —The hedges God has placed around us prevent him from free reign over us.
· He cannot win —He’s been proven a liar. His threats are just lying threats.
· He cannot win —Jesus declared victory against him on the Mount of Temptation.
· He cannot win —Jesus overcame him in the Garden of Gethsemane.
· He cannot win —Jesus disarmed his powers through His Cross on Calvary.
· He cannot win —His end is predetermined: eternal judgment. It cannot be changed.
· He will never win—Because he will never be greater than He who is in us.
Pastor decided a visual demonstration would help make his point. Four worms were placed into four separate jars. Into the first he poured alcohol. In the second cigarette smoke. The third chocolate syrup. The fourth good clean dirt. At the end of the message he said: The first worm in alcohol – dead. The second worm smoke – dead. Third in chocolate syrup – dead. The fourth – alive. He asked the congregation, "What did you learn from this demonstration?" Maxine was sitting in the back quickly raised her hand and said, "As long as you drink, smoke and eat chocolate, you won't have worms!"
1. The difference in a natural conflict and a spiritual battle is the hidden challenge of whether God is enough.
2. Whenever that question arises, the path to resolution, the intended outcome and the weapons of warfare change.
3. The issue isn’t the size of the enemy, the issue is God’s proven ability to get me to victory.
4. Victory isn’t whether the enemy dies or not. It is: have I represented God accurately and well?
5. When I don’t recognize the spiritual nature of the conflict, I will fight as a desperate man whose only hope is in a limited outcome achieved by my own strength.