The Battle for the Mind is Spiritual Warfare
St. Paul closes out his letter to the churches in Ephesus with his famous treatment of spiritual warfare. Unlike physical battle, however, spiritual battle is not waged with weapons that we can see, or sense. These weapons are not swords or spears of iron, or machine guns made of steel, nor missles fashioned by human hands. Rather this battle is primarily a battle in the invisible realm, the realm of the immaterial and spiritual:
"Finally, be strengthened by the Lord and by His vast strength. Put on the full armor of God so that you can stand against the tactics [schemes] of the Devil. For our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the world powers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavens." (Ephesians 6:10-12 HCSB)
It is abundantly clear that Paul is not talking about real armor of chain mail or kevlar vests. Nor are the authorities and rulers he mentions literal earthly kings or magistrates, supreme court judges or congressmen, since they themselves are also of flesh and blood. No, Paul means actual immaterial, yet concrete entities that can manipulate and control human beings, even if only partially. These are demonic agents that can influence us if we are not walking in the Spirit of God. But, how can immaterial beings like demons do such a thing? Well, the main tactic of the enemy is to influence that part of us which is also immaterial, namely our minds, and as a result, the thoughts our minds produce.
In another part of the scriptures, Paul reminds us that to win this war we must fight in the this realm of thoughts and ideas, for it is where the real battle is waged:
"For although we are walking in the flesh, we do not wage war in a fleshly way, since the weapons of our warfare are not fleshly, but are powerful through God for the demolition of strongholds. We demolish arguments and every high-minded thing that is raised up against the knowledge of God, taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ." (2 Cor 10:3-6 HCSB)
So, it is evident that spiritual attack takes place primarily in the mind of the believer. If that is the case, then our minds are where we must be equipped to take the battle to the Devil, his powers and his principalities. But, without training, how can a soldier fight? Just like in any military, to become proficient in the ways of war, a soldier first learn to crawl, then walk, and then run in their given discipline. No infantryman goes into battle without first spending hours and hours on the range practicing marksmanship. No airborne ranger jumps into enemy territory without first spending hundreds of hours doing practice jumps onto friendly drop zones. And so it is with the Christian life. Although we always have the Spirit of God with us, part of our sanctification is allowing ourselves to sit as disciples and be trained in the faith.
So, Christian Soldier, are you ready to go out and fight on the battlefield of ideas? Are you prepared to engage with an immaterial enemy who is out to deceive with "high-minded" things and half truths? Are you equipped to tear down strongholds and demolish arguments?
If you are ready to engage in this fight, then New Hope Academy is the place for you! Come and join us this October for a whole new round of seminary-level classes designed to train you and prepare you for the battle that is not against flesh and blood.
in Christ, Anthony Costello