Like it or not, all Christians are at war, but as Ephesians 6:12 says:
“we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the world’s rulers, of the darkness of this age, against spiritual wickedness in high places.”
Second Corinthians 10:3-6 adds to this telling us how we war, informing us:
“For though walking about in flesh, we do not war according to flesh.
For the weapons of our warfare are not fleshly, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds, pulling down imaginations and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought into the obedience of Christ; and having readiness to avenge all disobedience, when your obedience is fulfilled.”
And First Peter 5:8-9 tells us why we are at war and to be prepared, saying:
“Be sensible and vigilant, because your adversary the Devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking someone he may devour; whom firmly resist in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions in the world are being completed in your brotherhood.”
For all born-again Christians, the idea of sitting patiently doing nothing while waiting for the second coming of the Lord, should be an anathema. Jesus gave us the Great Commission which we need to work out each and every day or our lives – for soldiers in the Army of the Lord have no days off; there is no home-leave. This is also reinforced in James 2:17 saying that even if we have faith, but no works, then the faith by itself is dead.
However, before we start off to war, we need training. All soldiers get training; the Army of God is no different. Fighting a Spiritual War is not unlike fighting a natural war, though as above, the weapons are different and we are fighting a defeated enemy. This does not mean the enemy is ineffective and will not fight back – they are after all fighting hard to delay the inevitable: eternity in Hell. Yet they are defeated and will run when we approach them fully armed, as all Christians ought to be. First Corinthians 15:46 explains that we need to do things first in the natural before the spiritual. With that in mind, let us let us look to the nine “Principles of War” which The United States Armed Forces use, and based on that proven document, let’s draw conclusions and principles which Christians can to use in the Spiritual War which we fight against Satan and his minions. The headings and words in italics are from the USAF standard document.
“Direct every military operation toward a clearly defined, decisive and attainable objective. The ultimate military purpose of war is the destruction of the enemy’s ability to fight and will to fight.”
For each and every Christian, we need to know what is God calling us to do in for Him.
We need to know for certain what God’s calling is, for your Ministry. We need to know the first objectives which we are called to achieve, so that we cannot be distracted by the enemy toward non-important issues. Be certain of this, one of the main tactics of the enemy is distraction. The enemy will do its best to change our direction of thought and action as he did in the Garden of Eden, by casting doubt, questioning our priorities and asking us, “That’s not really what you agreed, is it?”
If we do not know the objectives of our lives in Christ, or our roles in the Body of Christ, or God’s objectives for our own personal Ministry, we will be distracted easily by the enemy into blind alleyways which lead nowhere. We will work and work and achieve nothing. In Christian terms, we will bear no fruit. Until they know what their battle objectives are, soldiers keep in training or in the barracks – they certainly do not venture out onto the battlefields, else they will just become casualties.
“Seize, retain, and exploit the initiative. Offensive action is the most effective and decisive way to attain a clearly defined common objective. Offensive operations are the means by which a military force seizes and holds the initiative while maintaining freedom of action and achieving decisive results. This is fundamentally true across all levels of war.”
No battle or war was ever won by an army who only concentrated on defence. We don’t win on the defensive only, we can’t. We must take the fight to the enemy and displace them. To achieve this, we need to be proactive and anticipate what the enemy can do, and will do, against you, to slow you down or stop you in your objectives against him.
For Christians, taking the offensive means Praying-out ahead of the battles, ahead of the actions and plans which you are about to undertake against him.
Prayer and Intercession, are two words which do together, but are completely different in meaning and scope. Prayer is safe and typically brooks little backlash from the enemy. Intersession is different. Intercession, or intercessionary prayer, means standing between the enemy and those whom you are praying for. Intercessors get beaten-up a lot. It is a hard life, as the enemy will fight back and release as much power against you as they can muster, to overcome you. If you are doing intercessory prayer for the senior Pastor, the whole aim is to take hits for him, so he can do his duties and accomplish his God given objectives.
Being on the offensive means taking the fight to the enemy and going hard against strongholds in the local community. It means engaging the enemy wherever you find them and then going out and looking for more.
“Mass the effects of overwhelming combat power at the decisive place and time. Synchronizing all the elements of combat power where they will have decisive effect on an enemy force in a short period of time is to achieve mass. Massing effects, rather than concentrating forces, can enable numerically inferior forces to achieve decisive results, while limiting exposure to enemy fire.”
Mass means to assemble in numbers at the right place and at the right time to send devastating blows to the enemy. Mass, means that there are no jobs for lone rangers in the Army of God; for as Jesus said in Matthew 18:20, when two or three are gathered in His name, He will be with them. The reality of this, is that if we pray as one, we only pray with the power of one. But if two or three come together in prayer, the effect is not multiplied by 2x or 3x, but infinitely, because as Jesus promises in Matthew 18:20, He will be there with us in prayer! Now that is power in prayer!
We also need to remember that no matter what our denominational views are, no matter the details of our theology or doctrine, we are all part of the Mass, the Body of Christ, the Church of Christ. We all need to come together and pool resources for the betterment of the Kingdom. Our leader, our God, expects no less from us.
This means that it does not matter who gets the credit! There is no need to worry about getting credit, for it is all about God’s Kingdom. It is not about bricks and mortar, it is not about our egos, it is not about us in any way. We are soldiers in the Army of the Lord and all glory and all spoils are His and His alone.
In the army, all soldiers who participate in a battle receive a battle ribbon to signify they took active part – whether as a front line trooper, a cook or as a general. The function does not matter – all that matters is taking part for the Kingdom’s sake and giving all glory to the Lord at all times.
Economy of Force:
“Employ all combat power available in the most effective way possible; allocate minimum essential combat power to secondary efforts. Economy of force is the judicious employment and distribution of forces. No part of the force should ever be left without purpose. The allocation of available combat power to such tasks as limited attacks, defence, delays, deception, or even retrograde operations is measured in order to achieve mass elsewhere at the decisive point and time on the battlefield.”
We need to use as small a force as possible against the enemy to achieve the primary objectives we have been set. We need to look at the primary objectives, the primary issue, and deal with them and them only, leaving secondary issues for later and for others. The enemy will try to deceive us and send after nuisances. Do not be detracted, but go after prime objectives.
Small specialist trained groups, as small as two or three praying in one accord in His name, can and will have a more dramatic and powerful effect than a whole church congregation, because it is hard to get a whole congregation praying in one accord; some are stuck on their own things, while some many even be praying against the prayer leader because they want to go home or they don’t like that person very much. Large groups certainly have their uses and advantages at the appropriate times and for the appropriate tasks, however, well trained small groups can and do conquer battlefields and accomplish all the primary objectives, before the large group even arrives on the scene. It happens in the natural, it will happen in the spiritual too.
“Place the enemy in a position of disadvantage through the flexible application of combat power. Manoeuvre is the movement of forces in relation to the enemy to gain positional advantage. Effective manoeuvring keeps the enemy off balance and protects the force. It is used to exploit successes, to preserve freedom of action, and to reduce vulnerability. It continually poses new problems for the enemy by rendering his actions ineffective, eventually leading to defeat.”
Be ready to move rapidly when needed, to get people into the right place , even in the midst of battle. We need to be available, remaining vigilant and agile, to counter any unexpected change of tactics by the enemy. If we are not ready and prepared, the enemy, in the heat of battle, can outflank, or out manoeuvre us. If we are not prepared and agile enough to change swiftly and at short notice, we may well be caught flat footed and be defeated. We may well find that the enemy has moved on and we are wasting time and resources assailing a target which is suddenly of no strategic value or importance, while the enemy has moved and counter attacked elsewhere.
To be highly manoeuvrable and agile, we need to be in training all the time. For a Christian, this means constantly reading the Bible, the very Word of God, which as Hebrews 4:12 says “is living and powerful and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing apart of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”
It means having and maintaining a close relationship with God while being filled and continuing to be filled with the Holy Spirit.
It means being ready and able to carry out His orders all any time.
It means being abreast of all the works the Lord is doing, and being focussed on what is happening in the bigger picture.
It means knowing what the enemy is doing. To achieve this, we need to be aware of current events. We need to walk with a Bible in one hand and a newspaper in the other, so we can see where the enemy is concentrating his forces. If we are not aware of the focus of the enemy, we will not be able to engage them in timely fashion at our convenience, catching them before they have established their fortresses. Assailing the enemy before they establish themselves, is easier than dislodging entrenched positions. We need to be aware of the manifestations of the enemy, and quickly manoeuvre to overcome them.
Unity of Command:
“For every objective, seek unity of command and unity of effort. At all levels of war, employment of military forces in a manner that masses combat power toward a common objective requires unity of command and unity of effort. Unity of command means that all the forces are under one responsible commander. It requires a single commander with the requisite authority to direct all forces in pursuit of a unified purpose.”
All members of the Army of God are on the same team and need to fight as one cohesive unit. Whether we fight as a small group or a whole congregation, or a regional congregation of congregations, we need to remember that the boss leads. Our boss, our Commander in Chief, is none other than God through His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ. From Him, we all get instructions and we all get the same instructions.
God has also given us leaders in our Churches whom we need to follow, despite any differences we may have with that person. We need to submit to God given authority and this is very important to God.
Similarly, God is no respecter of denominations and so we need to work across denominations. We need to forget the denomination rules and rely wholly on Kingdom Rules. We do not owe our allegiance to our denomination, but to the King. At the end of the day, we will be judged and be required to stand before the King, all alone. At that time the words of Philippians 2:12 will suddenly come into clear focus for us: “Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, cultivate your own salvation with fear and trembling.” We are to cultivate our own salvation with fear and trembling, but it is not about us. It is not about our denomination. It is not about our ministry. It is all about God’s Kingdom. It is all about our God to whom we have sworn allegiance and who, as Genesis 15:1 says, is our shield and exceeding great reward.
God needs and requires unity in the Church, but today we are divided. Being divided, we cannot accomplish what God wants. Unity of Command, requires a united Church, a united Army of God. As His soldiers, we need to provide that.
“Never permit the enemy to acquire unexpected advantage. Security enhances freedom of action by reducing vulnerability to hostile acts, influence, or surprise. Security results from the measures taken by a commander to protect his forces. Knowledge and understanding of enemy strategy, tactics, doctrine, and staff planning improve the detailed planning of adequate security measures.”
In the Army of God, all are watchmen. Watchmen are never quiet. When danger is seen, it is the sworn duty of all watchmen to call out loudly and warn the people. Watchmen must never tire, for they are on call and on duty all the time providing security from the enemy’s sneak attacks and changes in strategy and positioning.
As we enter the end days of this present age, the attacks of the enemy are becoming more frequent and more focused. We need to know their strategies and their rules and aim for their commanders. The watchmen provide this strategic information.
The enemy are certainly aiming for our commanders, and our pastors and spiritual leaders are now falling, as our watchmen and our army fails to protect them. We need to especially protect our pastors and spiritual leaders, else they are fall in unprecedented numbers to the wiles of the enemy.
Strange as it may seem, pastors and spiritual leaders all have the same problems as all others. The only difference is that they are under constant attack by the enemy. We need to hold them up in prayer support and hold them accountable and secure. When they err, trip and slip, we need to help them up and bless them, not run them out of town as worthless sinners. Keeping our leaders accountable and in humble submission to God, helps keep them in the position of servant leaders, which God requires of them.
“Strike the enemy at a time or place or in a manner for which he is unprepared. Surprise can decisively shift the balance of combat power. By seeking surprise, forces can achieve success well out of proportion to the effort expended. Surprise can be in tempo, size of force, direction or location of main effort, and timing. Deception can aid the probability of achieving surprise.”
We need to surprise the enemy every possible chance we can get. There is no need to advise in advance what we are going to do against him and his positions. Satan cannot read our minds and he is not omnipresent. If we don’t announce our plans in advance to the enemy, we don’t give him the chance to prepare and bring in stronger reinforcements, or prepare a counter attack.
When we take the enemy by surprise, we can have easy victories. Take for example, delivering tracts or evangelising door to door. If we plan and let Satan’s minions know what will be done, where and when, for sure he will arrange counter measures. Instead, we can take him by surprise and leave the areas to be visited to a last minute decision by the Lord. Working systematically through a region, street by street, just guarantees the enemy will be prepared with counter measures against us.
“Prepare clear, uncomplicated plans and concise orders to ensure thorough understanding. Everything in war is very simple, but the simple thing is difficult. To the uninitiated, military operations are not difficult. Simplicity contributes to successful operations. Simple plans and clear, concise orders minimize misunderstanding and confusion. Other factors being equal, parsimony is to be preferred.”
Plans made and distributed need to be clear and simple to understand. The objectives of each action require to be understood by all participants, together the concepts behind them. This way, all will know their job and duty. If the enemy changes things, we will still know the battle concepts so that we may quickly manoeuvre into a better battle formation or location and counter his advances and changes. We all need to know the commander’s objectives in our hearts and we need to know it in a language which is understood by all our fellow soldiers. We need to use common, plain language and not ‘Church language.’ It take time for Church language to be learnt. We need to communicate effectively, especially with brand new Christians who are on fire for Christ, and who only enlisted in the army yesterday.
Amen and Amen.
This article is based on and around a God TV recorded talk by retired US three star Lt. Gen. W.G. Boykin‘s on the topic of “Spiritual Warfare.”