When I was around 16 years old, I had invited a kid I barely knew over to hang out for the day. My parents were gone, but had the foresight to have a family friend stay with us. We were in my room playing video games when his eyes rolled into the back of his head and they came back down looking different. He looked at me and said, “Fight me!” I wasn’t sure what he meant, but I knew if we got into an altercation, I wasn’t going to make it. I responded in a whisper that I wouldn’t fight him. He got angry and began repeatedly asking me to fight him. Our family friend sensed something, opened the door, noticed I was upset and got me out of the room. I began praying for about 15 minutes while I was locked in the bathroom. When I came back out, he had changed back to normal.
Spiritual battles present themselves in the physical realm all the time. In 1 Samuel 17, Goliath was dressed for battle and called out to the Israelites to come fight him. They were terrified. How could anyone beat such a man? Saul offered money, his daughter, no taxes and more, but no one was willing to fight Goliath until David came around. He recognized it as a spiritual battle immediately. They tried to dress him up in Saul’s armor, give him a sword and instructions, but David knew better. In verses 45 and 47 David called out to Goliath, “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…And that this entire assembly may know that the LORD does not save with the sword or with the spear; for the battle is the LORD’S and He will hand you over to us” (AMP). David won the physical battle because he had won the spiritual battle first.
In your life, there may appear to be people who are attacking you, your character, your work, your calling or something else. Understand that it is more than likely a spiritual attack to produce fear, anger or doubt in you. Ephesians 6:12 reminds us, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood [contending only with physical opponents], but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this [present] darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly (supernatural) places.” If you fight a spiritual battle in the physical, you will lose the battle that matters. Spend time in prayer, put on the full armor of God and fight on your knees praying against the spirit that is guiding the other person. The enemy will use whomever he can to immobilize you and to keep you from living the life God created you to live. Stay strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.
It’s no secret that we live in a very divisive time in history. Our country is split almost evenly among two ideals, and each side believes they are right and the other is wrong. We have turned against each other politically, racially and ideologically. Each side openly mocks the other, and when one side doesn’t get their way, it feels like the world is going to end for them. Our emotions are supercharged to the point we actually think that the people on the other side are our enemies. It has gotten so bad that some think that we are headed for another Civil War.
I recently got to hear Miles McPherson preach. He spoke about how we’ve been placed into groups and how we’ve learned to refer to people by their group name. When you and I pick a side, it automatically puts us against people. Think about that for a second. You and I as Christians have allowed the culture of this world to turn us against people. People that Jesus loves and died for. How can you and I share the Gospel or show what a godly life looks like if we are against people? We’ve been blinded into thinking our battle is against flesh and blood when we’ve been specifically told it’s not.
Malachi 2:10 says, “Don’t we all come from one Father? Aren’t we all created by the same God? So why can’t we get along? Why do we desecrate the covenant of our ancestors that binds us together?” (MSG) It’s time for you and I to take off the world’s lenses and see people as brothers, sisters and neighbors instead of as groups and enemies. We can’t afford to fall into the trap of turning people into our enemies. We must learn to love instead, and to see people the way God sees them…as His creation that He loves and sent His Son to die for.
I’ve known many people in my life who have followed the call of God only to return when hard times hit them. I call it the Jonah effect. The thought process goes like this. If they really were following God’s call then they would see whole cities saved as Jonah did when he finally went to Nineveh. They go, they show up, and everything works out perfectly. However, when they’re faced with constant obstacles and apparent set backs, they feel like they went the opposite direction from God’s will. Therefore, they feel they need to quit and go back to square one.
Think about Moses for a minute. I think we can all agree that in Exodus 3 and 4, God called him to go to Egypt and set His people free. So why didn’t Pharaoh just release them the first time Moses asked? Why did Pharaoh make their workload harder? Why did the people whom Moses was trying to get set free urn on him? Because there will always be resistance when you’re in God’s will. The enemy is unwilling to just surrender territory he has built strongholds in.
When you and I face obstacles and challenges while following God’s voice, we shouldn’t turn around and go back home. We should stay and fight the spiritual battle in front of us. We need to put on the spiritual armor that God laid out for us in Ephesians 6. We need to be prayed up and dressed for battle expecting a fight whenever we are following God’s call. We shouldn’t expect an easy road just because we are following God’s call.
More often that not, those obstacles in our way tend to be people. Moses had Pharaoh, David had Saul, Elisha had Jezebel, and you may have someone too. I think it’s important to remember that Ephesians 6:12 tells us, “For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places” (NLT). The people who stand in our way are not the enemy. We must fight the enemy who is behind the scenes if we are going to win the victory. It may take some time and a lot of effort, but God called you to that particular battle for a reason.
Don’t be like so many who run when there’s trouble. Don’t fall for the Jonah Effect. If you’re facing resistance, and it appears that people are blocking you from accomplishing God’s will, look behind the scenes. Your battle is not with that person or people. Your true battle is with the enemy behind the scenes. Fight on your knees, but still show up to accomplish God’s will day in and day out like Moses did. When he faced resistance, he went back to God each time looking for help. Moses fought his way to victory and so will you if you don’t get discouraged and turn around.