In a recent video about spiritual attack on his YouTube channel, Dr. Russell Moore explained some errors Christians make in regard to spiritual warfare, one of which is a tendency to ignore it altogether.
“In this sort of secularizing environment, Christians, even very biblically-oriented Christians, often want to blame biology exclusively without ever thinking about the reality of the demonic,” said Moore. But this is a reality we must be aware of in order not to fall prey to it.
The Bible on What a Spiritual Attack Actually Is
Dr. Moore began by acknowledging that sometimes people do go to the extreme of over-spiritualizing their circumstances. He gave the example of a woman who attributed her bad temper to a curse and wanted help getting it “magically removed.” It is fairly obvious to most of us, he said, that the woman’s problem is not spiritual in any kind of mystical sense, but comes from her own lack of self-discipline.
But while Christians do sometimes spiritualize their problems in a similar way that avoids personal responsibility, more often than not, our problem is that we forget our difficulties could be connected to a spiritual reality. People on this extreme might view their temptations only in light of how they are biologically or psychologically wired. Those considerations are valid, said Moore, “But very rarely in most circles do we talk about the reality of unseen, invisible beings—when in reality every culture has recognized the presence of something spiritual that does not have our interests at heart.”
There is no question that the Bible acknowledges the presence of such beings, he said, citing the numerous times Jesus encountered demons in the gospels: “You are in a place of spiritual warfare, the Bible says, all the time, overtly or covertly.”
A Spiritual Attack Takes Two Forms
The reason it’s easy to be unaware of spiritual warfare could be because spiritual attacks against Christians take one of two forms: deception or accusation. One example of a spiritual attack in the form of deception was when the serpent deceived Eve in Genesis 3. Moore also mentioned Proverbs 7 as a helpful illustration of the subtle nature of deception.
The passage describes a young man being seduced by an adulteress and calls him an “ox going to the slaughter.” When an ox is about to be slaughtered, said Moore, it is totally unaware of what is happening to it. In the moments before its death, it feels comfortable and well-fed. This is what it is like for believers to be led along the path of deception.
But demonic beings do not merely deceive us. They also accuse the faithful, which, according to Moore, is how demons attack people “more broadly speaking.” The Book of Job gives us a behind-the-scenes look at Satan accusing and launching a prolonged attack against a man whom Scripture describes as “blameless.”
So how do you know if you’re experiencing spiritual warfare? “Well,” said Moore, “You are. You may not see it, you may not recognize it, but if you’re not dead, then that means that you are in the middle of a fight. And if you don’t realize that you’re in the middle of a fight, that probably is because you’re surrendering to the fight.”
The reason we know we are in a fight is the Bible itself informs us that we are. The New Testament is full of warnings to that effect, instructing Christians to beware of temptation, stand against the devil, and put on the full armor of God (Eph. 6). And the Bible does not tell us to fight demonic forces by seeking out mystical or esoteric solutions, but by standing in the power of the gospel.
Through the gospel, we break the power of both deception and accusation. We remember the truth of who God is and who we are in him. And we remember that the devil’s accusations are no threat to us. “Often when we’re being accused by the Accuser, everything he’s saying is usually true,” said Moore. “But if I’m in Christ, I’m crucified with Christ, which means I have already undergone the judgment of God. I have already been raised with Christ, which means that my life is seated with Christ at the right hand of God.”
Because of this reality, we do not need to fear that God is angry with us or condemning us. “If I want to know what God thinks about me,” said Moore, “I just have to answer the question, what does God think about Jesus? Because my life is hidden in his life.”