Worship invites spiritual battle. I’ve heard this statement before, but for some reason, it really struck a chord in my heart this week. We don’t talk much about spiritual warfare nowadays (at least in our Western Culture). Maybe its because we don’t know what to say about it. Or perhaps we think it’s somewhat nonexistent because we cannot see it; we can only feel its effects. . Either way, spiritual warfare is a very real thing, whether we choose to acknowledge it or not.
In the book of Ephesians, Paul reminds the church in Ephesus, and us, that we’re not battling against, “flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places (Ephesians 6:12).” What does Paul mean by this? Well, first, let’s look into the phrase, “spiritual force of wickedness:”
The “spiritual force of wickedness” is Satan. Satan has always been jealous of God. He recognizes the glory and supreme majesty of God but wants the fame for himself (Ezekiel 28:14-19). That’s ultimately why Satan so badly wanted Jesus to bow to him in the desert (Matthew 4:1-11). But only God is God. There is no one, and will never be anyone, like Him. He will not share His glory with anyone or anything (Isaiah 42:8).
So Satan, out of selfishness and wickedness, continues His devious work in the desert with us in our world today. All he wants to do is keep God from receiving the glory due his name. He knows that all of creation was designed to glorify God (Psalm 19:1-6), so he fights to keep us from doing this.
I’m reminded of something that my Dad used to tell me growing up. He’d say that Satan doesn’t try to distort evil because that’s counterproductive. Instead, he tried to distort what’s good. Think about it. Creation, including us, was created to glorify God (which is a good thing, no doubt) but creation also tends to become our downfall. Satan has distorted the goodness of our bodies into evil through lust and pornography. He’s distorted the goodness of our words into evil through gossip and slander. The list goes on and on.
When we lose sight of why we were created through distractions such as these, we’re in even greater danger. We risk not living to our full potential and grant Satan access into our hearts and minds. We must stay on the alert (1 Peter 5:8) and fight.
How do we fight? By doing the very thing Satan doesn’t want us to do; we worship God. I believe that when we worship God through activities such as singing, praying and spending time in His Word, we find strength. God gives us the energy, strength and grace we need to make it through each and every day (Isaiah 40:28-21).
The challenge for all of us is to recognize and lean into the power of worship, especially on Sunday mornings. So many of us are tempted to go through the motions because we’re tired, had a rough week, feel rushed, have a big to-do list, etc. All of those things may be true, but they shouldn’t distract us from giving God our full attention when we worship Him through our singing, praying and hearing from His Word. In fact, we should take heed when life begins to distract us. Perhaps that’s a sign that Satan is trying to distract us from being who we were created to be.
Consider a war movie like Gladiator or Braveheart. The victor uses the enemy’s weakness to win. Satan uses the same tactic on us so we must always be on our guard. When we are tempted, we should worship God. When we are tired, we should worship God. When we are frustrated, we should worship God. When we are afraid, we should worship God.
I pray that we become aware of the reality of our spiritual battles and do not grow tired of the fight.