Halloween tends to remind us about spiritual warfare, at least it does for me. The verse quoted frequently for spiritual warfare is; “Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness [...]” (Eph 6:12). These are good reminders, but what can we actually do about it? We often attempt to work through them alone but spiritual struggles are not just hidden within individuals, nor are they to be fought alone. The spiritual struggles we engage in involve the whole church, and are visible since they include people.
An example of spiritual battle is the one that occurred on Crete. Titus was the appointed pastor to the small island, and his first job was to engage in spiritual warfare. That is, there were “many rebellious people, idle talkers, and deceivers, especially those with Jewish connections” (Titus 1:10). This battle against the gospel was obvious to everyone, and it included many churches on the island, and it had to be stopped. Moreover, we can learn a lot about engaging enemies by reading Titus but there are two items that prove to be especially helpful: First, nobody is in this battle alone. Second, this battle is frequently visible.
You are not alone. By taking a step back we realize that the spiritual fight for the gospel includes more than just one individual. This is why Paul wrote this letter to Titus which was then read to all the churches on Crete. Paul wasn’t going to handle this by himself, nor was Titus. In fact, no one can engage such things alone, not even you or me.
We are not to engage in warfare alone. Paul specifically told Titus to recruit faithful elders to stop the rebellion (Titus 1:5-11). Please note the “s” on the end of “elder” in verse 5. That is, each local church was to have more than one elder so as to engage the enemies together, and when we engage the enemy together we often win. On the other hand, sometimes we face struggles as individuals. Perhaps you may be evangelizing a person and they keep refusing to trust in Christ. That is heavy stuff; we are not to engage in these struggles alone. Bring it into the light by teaming up with a Christian brother or sister for prayer, or talk to an elder.
Whatever the fight may be, from any color of temptation to those people who are trying to get you to doubt your faith, please get the help that you need quickly. The church exists to help one another. This is why we emphasize ministries like grief share, Sunday school, and our worship service. We need each other, and the enemy tends to stay away when we are gathered. You’ve never seen a pack of coyotes try to devour a herd of deer, but we all know what happens when a pack gets a young deer by itself.
Speaking of deer, here in eastern Oregon they are fairly visible. If you’ve ever lived on the west side of the Cascades you remember that the deer over there are not as visible through all of the brush, which makes them harder to hunt. So like the deer around here our spiritual enemies don’t really lurk in the brush, they are visible. We often think that spiritual warfare happens in some other world, a demonic world, where God and the devil are fighting each other. But when we read the Bible we learn that isn’t the case so much. As it turns out, it isn’t the case at all. The church’s enemies are visible. Titus was facing very real and visible enemies. They were the false teachers. Likewise, Paul instructed the Ephesians to put on the full armor of God, and to pray for him as he preaches the mystery of the gospel (6:18-20). Make no mistake, anytime the Bible is read, taught, proclaimed, lived out, memorized, or meditated upon, you are engaging in spiritual war, and it may be with a person close to you. And the very thing that we pick up to engage in this war, is the very thing that protects us. Ephesians teaches us that our armor is truth, righteousness, the gospel, salvation, and the word of God (Eph 6:10-17). So it shouldn’t surprise us when we read that Titus was to give careful instructions to his men, so that they would use the word of God to stop the enemies of the gospel. Thus we use the word of God to guard the gospel.
The marvelous thing about all of this is that we have no reason to be fearful. We have every tool that we need to engage in this war, specifically, the Bible and prayer. Importantly, you have a church family who loves you and does not expect you to struggle through life on your own, in fact, Christian living is impossible to do alone. You need the church and the church needs you. Also, remember that you can usually see and hear your enemies. Unfortunately, we are exposed to the world which provides a variety of temptations, along with people who are trying to get us to stop believing in the gospel of Jesus Christ. Be sure to bring those struggles to the light. Furthermore, as we engage others face-to-face or online remember that our aim is that they would become healthy in the faith (Titus 1:13). When Jesus draws unbelievers to himself, that is the true victory. So let’s not worry about those Halloween ideas of spooky invisible spirit worlds, let’s face spiritual life together today, and plan on victory in Jesus.