Lent and spiritual warfare

Anyone who thinks that Lent and spiritual warfare don’t go together has another thing coming. Anyone who dismisses spiritual warfare altogether has another thing coming, as well. One way or another the enemy will be trying to get us off track, out of the grace that is ours in Jesus and away from the way of the cross which amounts to their defeat. The victory of God is in the cross of Jesus, which refers both to his death and resurrection. And his followers are to follow suit, to walk that same path into resurrection power and life in and through him.

Yes, there are spiritual entities out there, not flesh and blood, but often behind flesh and blood. Not that humans can’t be evil, we all have evil in ourselves. But they stir up the glowing ashes and pour fuel on the fire. And they seek to undermine God’s work in Jesus, which in essence is always the way of death and resurrection. We see a prime example of this after Peter’s great confession that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God (those two terms being synonymous at the time, Son of God not yet bursting through to its full Trinitarian meaning I’m guessing).

From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.

Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. “Never, Lord!” he said. “This shall never happen to you!”

Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.”

Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life[e] will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what they have done.

Jesus addressed Peter as Satan, but that thought is not far removed from the idea that Jesus was addressing the entity behind Peter’s words as well. Satan means opposer, but it is also the prime name for the devil. And we might as well face it: we in Jesus are in a spiritual battle. Yes, the war has been won in the victory of Jesus at the cross. But we won’t do well if we fail to accept the reality of this battle. It is something we have to face and from time to time live in as in walking in the muck and the mire, which is anything but pleasant. And Lent is prime time (as much as any) for this to be to the fore. To be forewarned is to be forearmed to a significant extent. We need to be ready and to accept it as part of our following of Jesus in this life.

2 comments on “Lent and spiritual warfare

  1. Joycemb says:

    I used to be so fearful and miserable during the ‘high’ holidays, as I was told the devil was more active during those times. Every little thing that went wrong, including my moods, I blamed on the devil and felt so ‘defeated’ until the holiday was over. It took me a while to learn that the devil was not in my bad cookie recipe or my sore toe, but that we can live as victors when assaulted or just having a bad day. I take spiritual warfare very seriously, but found I had to really grow in understanding just what it was. Does this make sense?

    • Joycemb, Yes, that makes all the sense in the world. We can engage in spiritual warfare in terms of Ephesians 6:10-20 only from the victory that is ours in Jesus as spelled out in the rest of that letter (and elsewhere).

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