Seeing Jesus, he cried out and fell before Him, and said in a loud voice, “ What business do we have with each other, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg You, do not torment me.” For He had commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man. For it had seized him many times; and he was bound with chains and shackles and kept under guard, and yet he would break his bonds and be driven by the demon into the desert. And Jesus asked him, “What is your name?” And he said, “Legion”; for many demons had entered him. They were imploring Him not to command them to go away into the abyss. (Luke 8:28-31 NASB)
At times I am tempted to view spiritual warfare as easy. I think of this warfare as easy, not in the sense that I’m all that, but in the sense that my enemy is a wimpy defeated foe who runs at the first sight of resistance. This is probably one of the dumbest approaches to spiritual warfare I can have. Yes, if we resist the devil, he will flee, but how long and how much must I endure through my resistance? I doubt very seriously if modern American Christians are ready for siege warfare against the devil or from the devil. But permit me to point out one of the frightening aspects from the verses above that should give us reason to consider stiffer spiritual defenses and more aggressive spiritual offenses.
KNOW YOUR ENEMY
First off, notice that these demons didn’t just fly out when Jesus commanded them to. Look at verse 29, “For He had commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man.” That means it didn’t just come out when commanded. Think about that, even the demon where Jesus explains that some take prayer and fasting still immediately obey Jesus, but this legion does not. This enemy is particularly tough. In other words, even some demonic forces are strong enough to negotiate with the Son of the Most High God. That better wake us up. Our enemy is a strong foe, even in the face of God Himself.
What I learn from this is that I need to take spiritual warfare more seriously. Now, what does that mean? What I mean by “seriously” is that I need to approach spiritual warfare as protracted warfare, not as a single engagement. There are very different approaches to those two types of combat especially mentally, even though both are violent and both are deadly. Historically, when an army planned on a “single engagement” and found themselves in “protracted warfare”, they lost. On the other hand, armies which planned on protracted warfare could lose single engagements and still win the protracted war. If we’re honest with what our Master reveals in Scripture, He clearly describes the protracted variety of combat. The quality Paul and the other disciples point to in determining a valid believer is enduring in a life pleasing to God. Endurance isn’t as necessary for single engagements as much as for protracted engagements.
THE PROTRACTED DEFENSE
Every offense should include a valid defense of some sort. In Vietnam, American forces often operated out of spaced “fire bases” which provided artillery support to extended patrols. But they also provided excellent targets for the enemy. The surviving ones had excellent defenses. Patrols or offensive operations could be supported only if the base defenses held. So, while I’m no tactical genius by any stretch, permit me to suggest some possible protracted defensive measures, using a “fire base” as an example*.
1. Establish a strong perimeter. In this step boundaries with yourself and others is crucial. In a firebase, the perimeter had wire and traps and other obstructions to impede an enemy from entering the base. The key was often depth. In boundaries with ourselves and others, depth is also important. Redundancy of barriers to protect our spiritual health, our mental health, and so on become crucial. We must impede our enemy’s encroachment into our lives as much as possible. Prayer toward this is essential; surrender, relinquishment, praise, declaration, and time are the ingredients to such prayer.
2. Weapon placement. It took a variety of weapons to defend against a determined enemy. There were rifles, grenades, machine guns, mortars, and even cannon which were organized in such a way to defend the established perimeter. The unique qualities of these weapons required unique placement to effectively use them to defend. They all had different effective ranges and different areas of effect. A bullet was limited in its area of effect while an explosive round from a cannon took out a much larger area. This had to be accounted for in their defensive use, and the key term was layers. First small arms, behind which were machine guns, behind which were mortars, behind which were cannon. This ensured any enemy was hit by everything wherever they attacked the perimeter. We have to be aware of the variety of defensive weapons we have as well. To say we should pray is right, but we need to also be wise about what we pray, what sort of prayer we pray, and so on. And not everyone needs to pray the same thing or the same type of prayer at the same time. It is in the varied weapons of a defense where their effectiveness is maximized. This provides part of that depth of the perimeter I mentioned before. But also requires the elements below.
3. Overlapping fields of fire. While the most terrifying defenses in a firebase may have been the artillery used in a “direct fire” mode it was slow. As dramatic as these weapons were, the foxholes provided the real backbone to the defense. The key to their effectiveness was their ability to overlap their fields of fire. Multiple foxholes could direct their defensive fire on the same part of the perimeter. They had each other’s back, and so should we. Never defend alone! Our King always intended for us to fight (and defend) as a group. We refer to these groups as “churches”. The principle of overlapping fire means you defend within the context of a church. So, get your butt back in church, now. They need you and you need them. Form a team of believing, praying guys or girls who you know have your back and know you have theirs. Overlap your defense, layer your prayers, leave no brother or sister defenseless.
4. Supplies. A siege is designed to out last a defensive position. Unless you have a means to replenish your supplies you’re going to lose, eventually. People rarely consider logistics as a defensive measure. That is the real difference between a single engagement and a protracted war. The protracted war requires a strong protected logistical system. The truth is we can’t hold out alone, cut off from resupply for long. The tough defense of Bastogne during World War II by the 101st Airborne Division held, but determination was only part of the story, albeit a huge part I’ll get to next. They had supplies, and they managed those supplies really well. It was hard, more than I can imagine, and while they did without a lot, they had most of what they needed. We need to care for the logistics of long-term spiritual warfare. The logistics of our warfare is the resupply from our King. I think of this primarily in terms of Bible study. Scripture refers to itself as a “sword”. In our day think “rifle”. The point is that we need to replenish our supply from Scripture constantly. Seeking knowledge of our Master, His plans, His goals, and His techniques are necessary, and need constant replenishment and reinforcement.
5. Determination in the face of overwhelming odds. ” Never give up! Never surrender!” repeats Tim Allen over and over in one of my favorite movies, Galaxy Quest. The motto of the British Special Air Service (SAS) is “Who dares wins!” The US Army used to have as its unofficial motto, “Death before dishonor”. The most important element to wilderness survival is a determination to survive at all costs. Endurance makes up for a lot of deficiencies in other areas, and this is true of spiritual warfare as well. Revelation, Jesus’ “little apocalypse”, Paul’s letters, and Peter’s letters all point out the ones who endure to the end will be saved. And in each instance there is a lot to be endured. None of them paint a nice picture of enduring except to say that it results in salvation. I call it my “Theology of the Last Man Standing”, but I think I’m the only one using that term (it’s kind of stupid, so I’m not surprised it hasn’t caught on). The key here is that this step is best done before the trial begins. It can be done during, but it’s much more effective if this is settled before the enemy attacks. This is what made the defenders of Bastogne so amazing and enabled them to endure for so long under constant bombardment. It is crucial for us as well in our spiritual defense. Determination in the face of the enemy’s attack means always returning to the defense, even in the failure of some point of the perimeter, weapon system, logistical error, or our own weakness, never give up. Get up and continue to defend against the enemy.
I think it best that I cover the protracted offense in another entry since this one is already huge. Tune in next time for the exciting conclusion in the next episode! In the mean time, remember this:
Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you. Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. But resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world. (1 Peter 5:6-9 NASB)
Stand strong! Stand together! Never surrender!
* I was not in Vietnam, nor any other military conflict. I was in the military, but only studied these measures without an opportunity to practice them. Anyone with experience please help me with my descriptions where they fail from my lack of understanding.