Fighting Spiritual Battles with Spiritual Weapons
Devotional by Pastor Steve Marquez
Calvary Chapel Pastor Steve Marquez has been battling Stage 4 Renal Cell Carcinoma, (kidney cancer) since 2014. Formerly the senior pastor of Calvary Chapel Fort Smith, AR, he and his wife Monica stepped down in 2017 to start Stage 4 Ministries (stage4ministries.com). This ministry serves to love and pray for those in the Stage 4 time of life and to bring hope to the hopeless.
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Ephesians 6:10-13, ESV
I often feel the foul, sulfur-stenched breath of the wicked one on my neck as he pours forth whispers of death to persuade my heart and mind that God is no longer with me. That, for the last time, I had reached the end—the last step—pushing me beyond the cliffs of grace toward the treacherous rocks below.
“When I would heal Israel, the iniquity of Ephraim is revealed, and the evil deeds of Samaria, for they deal falsely; the thief breaks in, and the bandits raid outside. But they do not consider that I remember all their evil. Now their deeds surround them; they are before my face.” Hosea 7:1-2, ESV
As a cancer patient who has been close to death many times, verses like these appear as judgments to me. Was the enemy of my soul accusing me of a certain sin? Had I been angry for the last time? Had I been guilty of coveting things that were not meant to be mine for the last time, and now I would pay for it? Nothing could be further from the truth. The evil one understands this, but still he attacks with brutality and the force of truth distorted by wicked intents.
I feel this intimately. It fills my head as a cloud, my heart is ripped apart, and the cold hand of loneliness grasps it to squeeze the last drop of blood. This is a battle that must be fought with the greatest of weapons. I cannot win this on my own. In fact, I have no hope of victory apart from the Holy Spirit, the one who empowers us to fight that spiritual battle. Paul told the Corinthians not to depend upon carnal weapons—those that we can grasp with our hands–a sword, a knife, a gun. These would have no effect on Satan, the greatest of terrorists, and all his radicals.
For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ. 2 Corinthians 10:3-5, ESV
This is precisely how I have beaten back the enemy when in darkest of times. I learned years ago that when the enemy attacks the mind, I fight by not allowing the discouragement to settle in. I tell myself that this is not the will of God for me and that even in this, though, I must obey Christ, not the flesh. It is not an easy struggle; sometimes it is just life, but it must be done. The battle is found in the spiritual realm. I must take off the armor of King Saul—the flesh—and put on the armor of light, the armor of the Spirit.
Paul describes in Ephesians Chapter 6 both the armor I must fight in and the manner in which I fight. I do not obtain the victory by fighting a fleshly battle in spiritual armor. Likewise, I do not fight a spiritual battle in the flesh. I must do both at the same time.
Each occasion the enemy comes to me and tells of my unworthiness, I must remember that my strength does not come from the muster of the flesh, but that of the LORD! It is His might that is my delight. When I put on each piece of the armor, I must remember that I go to fight the demonic that would wish my soul condemned in my heart, even though I am set free in the Spirit. The powers of this present darkness and the spiritual forces of evil would have me cowering in a corner and out of the fight. But I am not.
My battle consists of me placing myself in the center of His strength; when I do, I fight with the light on my side, and the God of peace preserves my heart and mind. The spiritual victory, which “appears” to be mine, is sure because of a sole benefactor: Christ! It is His might, His strength, His hope, and His supremacy. I must let this sink in and win the battle in the mind so that my hope would not be diminished and my peace interrupted.
Ultimately, expectation rests in the success He provides. That being the case, there can be no other outcome but ultimate, unwavering, and unchanging spiritual victory. The work of the Holy Spirit is more than a strategy. It must, in the long run, become an intimacy.
Until the next time the enemy breathes on my neck, and I will fight again and again and again …
All verses above are quoted from the English Standard Version.
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