This is an excerpt from my upcoming book “The Gamer’s Guide to the Kingdom of God” which will be sold through Amazon.com.
There are a number of different aspects to combat in the spiritual realms and each one has its own place and importance. Before explaining further, however, it is important to understand what this “heavenly combat” actually looks like. For some this concept conjures up images of witches and warlocks casting curses and dark spells over a campfire in some remote province of Africa or South America. For others this involves a Catholic Priest wielding a flask of holy water, shouting, “The love of Christ compels you!” For yet another this might include visions of angels and demons hovering above the earth clashing in an otherworldly battle unnoticed by the people below. All of these are correct in their own way, yet none of them paint the whole picture.
To gain a better understanding of spiritual combat, we must start by knowing who the enemy is. Ephesians 6:12 says, “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.” The battle first and foremost is not a fight against other people. It can be easy to fight back against others who are doing unkind things to us, (and there are times to take court action or similar) but as a whole, our focus needs to be on the spiritual battle we are in, and that battle must be waged accordingly. Verbally or physically attacking others will never solve spiritual problems, although it very well may compound them.
Unlike some games that make use of redemptive violence, such as murdering the evildoers to reduce the overall ratio of good to evil in the world, this does not exist in the Kingdom of God. We do not fight fire with the same fire, but rather we operate the opposite as those in this world do battle — we operate out of love at all times. And we are not left without assistance, as both protection and weaponry are afforded us for this selfsame battle. Ephesians 6:13-18 goes on to explain further: “Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.”
The armor is not just a conceptual construct, but literal armor. In How Satan Stops our Prayers: Combat in the Heavenly Realms John Mulinde discusses a conversation he had with a former follower of Satan who often had made war against the followers of Jesus and what that man had explained to him about the Armor of God:
“The man said that when prayer breaks through like that, the answer will always come. He said he did not know of a single case in which prayer broke through and the answer did not come [from heaven].
He said that the answer always came, but that in most cases, it never reached the person who asked for it. Why? The battle in the heavenlies. He said that after they [the demons] succeeded in cutting off the open heaven and restoring the rock, they would watch the person and wait because they knew the answer would definitely come.
Then the man said something that really shook my faith. It was because of what he shared next that I fasted for ten days asking, ‘Lord, is this true? Can You prove it to me?’ The man said that every Christian has an angel who serves them. Now we know the Bible says that angels are ministering spirits who minister to us. He said that when people pray, the answer comes in the hands of their angel. The angel brings the answer, just like we read in the book of Daniel. Then he said something that was difficult to receive: If the one who prays knows of the spiritual armor and is clothed with it, the answer comes by an angel who is also clothed in full armor.
However, if the one who prays doesn’t care about being clothed in spiritual armor, their angel comes to them without spiritual armor. When Christians are careless about the kinds of thoughts that enter their minds and do not fight the battle for their minds, their angels come to them without helmets. Whatever spiritual weapon you ignore on earth, your angel does not have it when he serves you. In other words, our spiritual armor is not protecting our physical bodies; it is protecting our spiritual exploits.
The man said that as the angel was coming, they would watch him to find the areas that were uncovered and then attack those areas. If he didn’t have a helmet, they would shoot at his head. If he didn’t have a breastplate, they would shoot at his chest. If he didn’t have shoes, they would make a fire, causing him to have to walk through fire.
Now, I am just repeating what the man said. Actually, we asked him, ‘Can angels feel fire?’ You know what his reply was? ‘Remember this is the spiritual realm. They are spirits dealing with spirits. The battle is intense. When they overpower an angel of God, the first thing they go after is the answer he is carrying, and they get it from him. They then give it to people who are involved in cults or witchcraft, so people might say, ‘I got this because of witchcraft.’’”
As Mulinde and the man he spoke with explained, the Armor of God is real. It is a spiritual armor that has real form and substance and actually protects from spiritual attacks. This armor is important because it not only protects us but allows the angels God has assigned to us to use similar armor to ensure their and our protection, as well as to ensure that the answers to our prayers reach us.
The real question is: How is this armor engaged? Armor is only useful if it can be equipped, which it can. Personally I use the power of declaration. For instance, at times I have prayed and said, “Right now I put on the Belt of Truth, the Breastplate of Righteousness, the Shield of Faith, Helmet of Salvation, and Sword of the Spirit in Jesus’ name.” I have also envisioned myself donning armor to protect myself. According to Hebrews 11, faith is the substance of things not seen. If we choose by prayer or even physically acting out putting on invisible clothing to equip spiritual armor by faith, we can expect that the actual substance is being applied to us, and therefore to our angelic forces as well.
I believe we need to actively engage the attributes of that armor to wear it. As an example, Isaiah 59:17 says, “He put on righteousness as his breastplate, and the helmet of salvation on his head; he put on the garments of vengeance and wrapped himself in zeal as in a cloak.” To explain what I mean by sharing the above verse, by my count there are 22 different places in the Bible where nonphysical objects are used as clothing, whether by God, people, or other forces of nature. The attributes they were clothed with were salvation, thick darkness, joy, shame, disgrace, gladness, splendor, majesty, cursing, righteousness, strength, dignity, vengeance, zeal, terror, despair, gloom, majesty, power, imperishability, heavenly dwelling, and even Christ.
While this is a lengthy list of intangible things that one can be clothed with, the point remains that wearing them looks like something. In other words, there is an experience to go along with the idea of wearing the above-named attributes. When clothed with terror there should either be something that makes us terrified or something about us that terrifies others and being clothed in gloom will likely bring a dark rainy cloud with us wherever we go. If putting on garments of strength, dignity, or righteousness, there should be something about us that causes us to stand with your shoulders just a bit higher and that causes others to stand up a bit straighter when we are around them as the shame, disgrace, and burdens fall off.
To engage the attributes of the armor of God, I believe we need to purpose to live according to those attributes. We ought to live lives that are truthful, righteous, peaceful, full of faith. We must actively pursue and engage physical and emotional healing and deliverance from darkness in our thoughts and actions. In order to do this, to emulate the way Jesus lived, we simply follow Him. As we embody His attributes more and more, the armor becomes even more effective in our lives. Having it and using it, however, are two different things. The armor of God is spiritual in nature and is available to anyone, but as Paul mentioned in Ephesians 6, he exhorted them to actually put it on. This means that it is possible to have it but not wear it. It is important that we actively clothe ourselves with spiritual armor and “put on” the attributes of our King so that we, too, may be equipped for spiritual warfare.