I don’t know a lot about war, but I know this much: weaponless armies don’t win many battles. This is as true in spiritual warfare as it is in any other military endeavors.
God brought this to my attention the other day when I was reading in 1 Samuel. For decades, the Philistines had oppressed the Israelites. In spite of their boorish reputation, these Philistines were not stupid. They knew that if they kept the Israelites unarmed, they would have the upper hand. So the Philistines created a monopoly on blacksmithing. I’m not sure how they pulled this off, but they did—it says so in 1 Samuel 13:19: “There were no blacksmiths in the land of Israel in those days. The Philistines wouldn’t allow them for fear they would make swords and spears for the Hebrews.”
As I puzzled over this passage, the Holy Spirit made some connections for me. There’s a battle raging all around God’s people—but many of us are weaponless, or act is if we are. Just as he did in Samuel’s day, the enemy continues to work hard to keep God’s children unarmed and defenseless.
Our weapon, of course, is God’s Word. However, in spite of the fact that Bible ownership in the United States is at an all-time high, Bible literacy is in steep decline. The Christian Post reported that “Although approximately 88 percent of Americans reportedly own a Bible, less than half of those people read the Bible more than once a month.”*
Could this explain why many describe our culture as “post-Christian”?
If God’s people don’t read, study, and internalize His Word, we are easily taken in by the enemy’s subtle deceptions. We fall for his perversions of the truth. We embrace his twisted world view. We naively adopt his self-serving attitudes. We fall for his discouragement and intimidation. We stand helpless when he robs us blind of everything that matters. And our whole culture pays the price.
Sometimes we get the impression that spiritual warfare is as simple as knowing a few choice verses that we can lob at the enemy when he attacks. We might toss a few grenades, reminding the devil that we’re “the head, not the tail” and that “no weapon formed against [us] will prosper” (Deuteronomy 28:13; Isaiah 54:17).
But winning spiritual battles requires a lot more than knowing a few key verses. The whole counsel of God’s Word is our arsenal. Being effective in spiritual warfare is
- having the right word for every occasion, as Jesus did when Satan tempted Him (see Matthew 4).
- knowing Scripture so well that we are able to discern the subtle ways the enemy twists it.
- finding strength and hope in God’s truth so that the enemy’s arrows of fear and defeat don’t take us out.
- being grounded in God’s wisdom so we understand the times we live in and know how to respond to them.
- Being trained—by God’s Word and His Spirit—in godliness (see 1 Timothy 4:8) so that we are in a constant state of battle-readiness.
Unlike ancient Israel, there are still blacksmiths in our land. Thank God for that! We have nearly limitless opportunities to purchase, study, enjoy, and be fortified by God’s Word. Oh, friends, let’s do it! Let’s be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power so that when the day of evil comes, we can stand our ground and keep standing! (Ephesians 6:10, 13).