Several weeks ago Kellie asked me what some of my all-time favorite Bible verses were. That led me to take a trip down memory lane and I wanted to share my Top 10 verses and why they impacted me. Here’s the 6th one on my list. May God speak to you about your story as you read mine.
Ephesians 6:12 (NIV) – 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.
Why this verse is in my Top 10: I was Catholic for the first 18 years of my life. I went to mass every Sunday and made all of my sacraments up through confirmation. During that time, I don’t ever remember a homily or a catechism lesson on topics like Satan, demons, or spiritual warfare. Maybe they did teach on those things and I just don’t remember. But either way, Satan, demons, and spiritual warfare had no part in my theology back then.
Then I started attending Kensington in 1996. Back then, if you would have asked me, “Do you believe in Satan and demons and spiritual warfare”? I would have said “yes” because they are talked about in the Bible and I believed the Bible was inspired by God.
But if you would have asked me . . . How do those beliefs impact your life? How does the existence of Satan influence how you live? Do you believe there is a spiritual war? I would have been stumped. I would not have had an answer for you. I believed in the devil and in spiritual warfare (in theory) but didn’t think about it all that much.
And that continued on when I went to seminary.
A few years after walking through Kensington’s doors for the first time, I moved to California to attend the International School of Theology. And while we had theology classes that discussed Satan and the angelic realm, those beliefs still didn’t affect my life all that much. For example, the seminary offered an elective on “spiritual warfare.” I did NOT take it because I didn’t see how it was relevant.
What I realized while I was in seminary was there wasn’t much room for the devil in my worldview.
After all, like most Christians I believed “God was in control.” “God is in control” was a favorite phrase of mine. And if he was in control of everything, then he was in control of Satan. And if that was true, then there really wasn’t a spiritual “war” going on. Or if there was, God was in control of both sides anyway. He was playing both sides of the chess board.
So in seminary I realized there wasn’t much room for the devil in my worldview. So I graduated from ISOT and got my Master of Divinity degree and got hired at Kensington. And that is when I started to realize for more than three decades of my life I had been asleep. And I finally started to wake up to the reality of the war. And that was about 7 years ago. I had read Ephesians 6:12 numerous times in the past but I finally started to believe Paul meant what he wrote.
And I wanted to share this because I bet many of you are still sleeping like I used to be. And those of you that are awake need a reminder of the battle you are in.
Christians need to stop living like we are on a perpetual vacation, viewing the world as a resort where “God is in control” and wake up to the reality that we are in a war zone that is ruled by the evil one.
By the way, if you want to “wake up to the reality of the war” here are three books that were instrumental in helping me wake up to the reality of Ephesians 6:12:
Frank Peretti – This Present Darkness
C.S. Lewis – The Screwtape Letters
Greg Boyd – God at War
***Note: Please join us Sunday December 19th at 6:00pm. This will be the next monthly “preview service” of The Eastside Vineyard Church. It will also be our Christmas service! We’ll have a time of worship (singing your favorite Christmas carols), an in-depth Bible message, communion, and an opportunity to receive 1-on-1 prayer. Go to tevchurch.org for all the details.**