It would probably be helpful to describe what in fact Spiritual Warfare is, if we are going to talk about it. There are many ways to try and frame this from scripture; the simplest way would be to suggest that it is the “kingdom of darkness'” struggle against the “Kingdom of the Son of His love” (cf. Col. 2:13). It is Satan and his minions trying to thwart the redemptive purposes of God in Christ (of course they play right into the sovereign plan of God when they do this, consider the implications of the cross). Within this broader understanding of “spiritual warfare” the Apostle speaks in applied ways to the church of the Corinthians, he says:
1Now (A)I, Paul, myself (B)urge you by the (C)meekness and gentleness of Christ–I who (D)am meek when face to face with you, but bold toward you when absent! 2I ask that (E)when I am present I need not be bold with the confidence with which I propose to be courageous against (F)some, who regard us as if we walked (G)according to the flesh. 3For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war (H)according to the flesh, 4for the (I)weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful (J)for the destruction of fortresses.5We are destroying speculations and every (K)lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the (L)obedience of Christ, 6and we are ready to punish all disobedience, whenever (M)your obedience is complete.
This really gets at the tactics of “spiritual warfare” from both sides of the equation; it speaks to how we as God’s kids are to engage the “fight,” and by way of inference it illustrates one of the ways that satan trys to attack Christ and His people — in fact a very real way that I’m sure we can all say from experience, that this is true!
In this particular Corinthian context Paul is defending his Apostleship from the attacks being brought by the so called “pseudo-apostles” who are trying to cast doubt upon Paul’s authority as an Apostle sent by Christ. In Paul’s defense he assumes that there are one of two sides an Apostle falls upon; either the side that handles the Word of God with fidelity and truthfulness, or in ways that “adulterate” and go beyond (speculate) the clear teaching of scripture (see II Cor. 4:1-5).
By way of application, for us, it becomes clear that the “affections and mind” are the locale wherein satan and his cohorts seek to undercut the authority and reality of Christ in our lives. This tactic is no different than satan’s original approach in the Garden (cf. Gen. 3); he seeks to appeal to our flesh, which desires to “question God’s Word” to us. Once we give in to this sort of methodology the kingdom of darkness has us right where it wants us; doubting the only sure-footed hope we have — Christ and His Word to us! This can take many forms — the attack that is — it can be rather subtle (masked in “light” see II Cor. 11), or it can be a full frontal attack that appeals to our wanton desires and fleshly hopes (i.e. blasphemous, immoral, self-serving, inward-curving appeals — cf. Rom. 1:18-32); no matter the approach that satan takes, at its base it starts with doubting God’s Word, and replacing it with “our word” (e.g. “I can be like god”).
My next post will be to build further upon what I only touched upon here, we will be looking at how to respond to such attacks (Paul says how here, but Jesus demonstrates it for us in His life); Matthew 4 and the tempations of Jesus will be our case study. So there will be this upcoming post, and then I will close this series with a summarizing post . . .