What Does God Most Care About? Looking beyond religious rituals. By Dennis Prager This column…
Spiritual Warfare in the Culture War
By Ed Vitagliano
It is clear that America is in the midst of a moral, political, and cultural upheaval that rivals that of the 1960s – or perhaps even the Civil War era.
Furthermore, a Christian would have to be totally devoid of discernment to miss the clear signs of a devastating spiritual war engulfing our land and its people.
Here are seven principles outlining the reality of the spiritual warfare that exists behind the curtain of the culture war.
#1 – There is a spiritual reality behind earthly conflict.
Of course, this is the most obvious place to start. The most familiar spiritual warfare passage in the Bible is Ephesians 6:10-18. In vs. 12, Paul says,
“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.”
Christians are involved in a “struggle.” Paul clearly assumes this to be true. However, the struggle seems as if it is only in the realm of the physical world – i.e., people and circumstances. But our struggle is “not against flesh and blood.” It’s actually a much deeper battle.
When you consider the ongoing culture war in our nation, it’s not about what we might think it is. It seems as if the natural world is all that matters, but it’s not. It’s not simply the politics, the trash coming out of Hollywood, or the hundred other things that are convulsing our culture.
There are evil powers assaulting the church and the truth. They are enslaving millions in thick chains of darkness and dragging them away into ruin. And, like a demonic twist on the story of Samson (Judges 16:25-31), these wicked principalities and powers aim to take down the entire nation in a catastrophic fall – and probably Western Civilization with it.
With that in mind, there is no middle ground. There is no room for wimpy Christians who will not stand for the truth or who worry about offending people. We don’t have to be jerks, but we do have to be warriors.
#2 – That spiritual conflict requires a heavenly perspective.
Notice that Paul says these demonic powers dwell “in the heavenly places.” Who else is in the heavenly places? Of course, Jesus Christ is seated at the right hand of God – far above all wicked spiritual rulers (Ephesians 1:20, 21).
The church is also seated “with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:5, 6). What is the church doing up there in the heavenlies? Positionally, we are seated in heavenly places because Christ is there, we are in Christ, and wherever He is, we are.
However, there is additionally this consideration: Despite the fact that we live natural lives down here, we must view our battles from up there. In other words, we must have a heavenly perspective. We must have God’s perspective – an eternal perspective. Since we are seated with Jesus Christ, we must have the perspective of Christ.
Psalm 2 is a perfect example. The nations rage against the Lord and His Christ. They conspire, they agree, they work to break His restraints off them.
We might see that and get very, very angry. Like Jesus’s disciples, we might want to call fire down from heaven and devour sinners. We might be overcome with anger and forget that we, like our spiritual enemies now, were once rebels and blasphemers.
But God sits in heaven and laughs – because He knows the final outcome. In fact, God knows that some of those very same rebels will one day repent and join themselves to Him. In the midst of the battle, Christians should also be encouraged that our God is sovereign – and in control of history.
#3 – The coming of Jesus Christ brought light into darkness.
In Matthew 4:12-17, we see that those who dwelled in darkness and “the shadow of death” saw a “great Light” – the coming of the Son of God to earth. The core message of Jesus Christ was “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
It is hard for us to comprehend the spiritual state of the world when Jesus came. Outside of Israel, there was not one flicker of light anywhere in all the world. Nothing. Other than Israel – and a few scattered Jewish communities – everywhere one traveled, from one end of the earth to the other, there was only idolatry, false religion, and spiritual darkness. There was not a single oasis in that barren desert. There was not a single lamp lit by biblical truth in the pitch-black darkness. There was no temple other than those occupied by demons. There were no priests or priestesses other than those who counseled people away from the One true God.
The oppressive grip of darkness was broken the moment Jesus was born. He was and is the Light of the world, and His coming was like flipping on the lights in a cellar filled with rats and roaches. More than that though, His first coming, like the invasion of Normandy in 1944, was an invasion of occupied territory.
It was a shock to the demonic rulers who had long oppressed humanity. The coming of Jesus Christ stunned the enemy, as we see in His earthly ministry:
And [the demons] cried out, saying, “What business do we have with each other, Son of God? Have You come here to torment us before the time?” (Matthew 8:29)
There is clearly something going on here: The demons exhibit surprise, bewilderment, and fear – of Christ’s power and the Day of Judgment, when the demons will be tormented.
#4 – Christians carry on the work established by Christ.
We are the follow-up to this invasion – and we push ever forward into the darkness. Matthew 5:13-16 declares that we are the salt of the earth and the light of the world.
For 2,000 years, a faithful portion of the church has taken seriously the words of Christ that we be salt – opposing decay and death – and light – opposing darkness and blindness.
Proof of this is found in a simple fact: The earth is no longer in complete and total darkness! The light continues to blaze brightly in the darkness!
#5 – The “empire always strikes back.”
Wherever light goes, it immediately comes into conflict with darkness. Remember the core message of Jesus as He entered the “world system”? “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 4:17).
That is absolutely a challenge to the darkness. Jesus is announcing that the authority of heaven has come, and all people are commanded to cease their wicked ways.
In Acts 17:30, Paul says, “Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent.”
However, the power of darkness does not slink away into the shadows. Remember those “rulers,” “powers,” “world forces of this darkness,” and “spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places” that Paul mentioned in Ephesians 6? They are ferocious and totally depraved demonic entities, with seething hatred for all things that point to God, for all people made in His image, and especially for those souls who love Jesus Christ.
This means we can always expect a satanic response as we move to shine the light of God’s truth in the darkness.
#6 – There are only two sides in this war.
Therefore, as we might expect, there’s no demilitarized zone. People must choose their side.
This is one of the powerful messages of the book of Revelation, where we see but two choices– the Lamb of God and the beast from the sea – two women – the bride of Christ and the harlot of Babylon – and two cities – the New Jerusalem, the holy city, and Babylon, the great city.
As a result, there are only two destinies for the souls that inhabit this battlefield: those who have their names written in the Lamb’s book of life and those who do not.
#7 – We are an expression of that war – right now in America.
We are to resist the dark lies of this hierarchy of demonic leadership in Ephesians 6 by using every spiritual weapon at our disposal. However, “spiritual” doesn’t mean there is no accompanying natural effort.
We can stand for righteousness and God’s truth in a hundred different ways. We can obviously pray, preach, and teach, but we can also write a letter, rebuild a flooded home, serve food in a soup kitchen, offer counsel in front of an abortion clinic – and vote!
If Christians can’t see that the culture war is a manifestation of a spiritual war – they’re blind. If Christians can’t see that this is a time to be salt and light – they’re disobedient. If Christians refuse to take sides when war has erupted coast to coast – is it unfair to suggest that at least some of these believers might very well be cowards?
This is a day when every soldier of light must put on the full armor of God and stand in the gap for America – because if she falls, all of Western Civilization falls with her.
But if we volunteer freely in the day of His power (Psalm 110:3), our God is so big and so powerful and so full of mercy and grace – I am convinced that America can shake off her chains and once again become a nation whose God is the Lord.