Friday, June 10, 2011

What is Spiritual Warfare?

I just came across a post from (e)mergent Voyageurs on the topic of spiritual warfare. Interestingly Jamie Arpin-Ricci doesn't see spiritual warfare as praying ‘against the principalities and powers’. Instead he interprets it as referring to resisting human injustice for example in political terms.

He writes this post in the context of being missional and in response to this question:

“How does a ‘missional’ Christian stand against the systems/powers of injustice in the world? What are the weapons of your warfare?”

He takes two main passages from the Bible:

“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For 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 6:10-12, NIV)


“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. And we will be ready to punish every act of disobedience, once your obedience is complete.” (2 Corinthians 10:3-6, NIV)

Jamie sees Ephesians 6 as a mandate to confront people responsible for injustice, suffering, exploitation and marginalising the poor. This is how we stand against the ‘powers’. He sees these ‘powers’ as refering to the unjust systems of our world - presumably with spiritual forces behind them.

He interprets 2 Corinthians 10 like this:

Firstly he sees it as indicating that we should live in the ‘opposite spirit’ to that we wish to overcome. For instance, we should live generously and not support businesses that perpetuate the poverty we wish to overcome.

I would add that too often we stop reading before the end of the story of the Prodigal son and miss the point that Jesus was making. Let us not be mean spirited like the Prodigal's elder brother but instead let us remember to embrace those on the margins who need someone to stand up for them.

Secondly Jamie points out that we should bring the light by researching areas of injustice and publicly speaking out about them. But we do need to take care that we protest appropriately in a Christ-like manner.

Thirdly he concedes that this should involve prayer. This is essential to centre our own spirit as we work against evil. But prayer is only part of the action and we should not downplay the importance of our lifestyle and our protest in spiritual warfare.

I would also add that 2 Corinthians 10 appears to involve challenging evil within the church and not just outside. It may even involve rebuking our friends. And what if they don't agree with our challenge? Yes, there is a place for church discipline but I think it is important to say that when Christians disagree we should do so ‘on our knees with open Bibles’. We need to accept that sometimes we may have to agree to disagree and still stay friends.

Overall I tend to agree that spiritual warfare is more about standing up for what is right than it is about shouting at the devil.

Check out Jamie's original post here and let me know what you think.


Jamie Arpin-Ricci said...

Wow, I hadn't thought about that piece in a while. Thanks for the affirming words. If case you might not know, I am not blogging at

David Derbyshire said...

Great to hear from you Jamie! I think you meant that you are now blogging at as there is a recent post there. Every blessing. Dave