One of my primary reasons for writing this article is to address the near-certainty that our clients will face spiritual opposition when looking for a counselor, or even when deciding to reach out to someone at all. Your mind is the battlefield in this war, and the conflict intensifies when you move toward things like honesty, security, and repentance. Your enemy doesn’t want you to do that. The enemy does not want people talking about important issues with each other, much less with a Christian counselor who does it for a living. Dealing with your ‘stuff’ is the path toward healing, and the truth will set you free (John 8:32). That means that the Kingdom of God is available to us here and now; the Holy Spirit will bless it, but the enemy hates it.
The Enemy Attempts to Deceive You with Lies
Spiritual opposition may take different shapes. For example, you might experience a sense of dread that drowns your resolve to make that phone call. Someone might say something hurtful about your needing counseling, or you might despair of being worth anyone’s help at all, or you may doubt that anything can help you. Lies that evoke disabling fear and isolating shame are keen weapons. You may be offered the thought that everyone would be better off without you around – that is a lie. This suggestion toward suicide is the enemy’s boldest weapon, and it is usually launched only when people are already deeply hurting. By the time it is deployed, many precious souls are too hurt to recognize it for what it is: an audacious attempt to take your life through lies, because you are a threat to the enemy, important to humanity, and beloved of God. If you are struggling with thoughts of suicide, do not fight alone. Get help, call the Crisis Line at 866-427-4747, and tell a loved one or a trusted leader like a pastor.
Spiritual Warfare Can Occur on the Practical Level
On the other hand, spiritual warfare also happens on a practical level: your phone might die as you make the call, scheduling complications might prevent you making an appointment, simultaneous crises might make you suddenly preoccupied, or you might get in a big fight with a loved one. And that’s to say nothing about the complexity of finances. The other day a potential client of my colleague at Bellevue Christian Counseling was unable to use the website although it was functioning perfectly. I have noticed how life-issues seem to erupt around new clients just when I am connecting with them.
The Mind is the Battlefield in the Spiritual War
As I have said, the mind is the battlefield in the spiritual war. Throughout life, it is of great benefit to be able to identify spiritual attack and warfare when it is happening. Here is my list of the weapons the enemy employs against humanity in the spiritual war – these are conditions that should signal that you are under attack and should be on your guard.
- Doubt. The devil’s first lie was that God is not truly good: doubting our identity in Christ and the joy of God is the language of hell.
- Distraction. Life is designed to be passionate, but only one passion is the Way, the Truth, and the Life: our attention is our worship.
- Temptation. Worshipping selfishness betrays God, others, and yourself.
- Condemnation. Shame tells you to hide from God, conviction urges you to return to Him.
- Isolation. Insecurity avoids intimacy, and shame feeds this like a fire – your enemy strikes most openly when you are isolated. Love is the true measure of strength; a mighty person wields depth of relationship as well as solitude.
- Division. Relationship is the currency of the Kingdom of God: division is true poverty. The best strategy in war is to arrange for your enemies to fight themselves.
- Hurt. Emotional, spiritual, and physical disease and wounding sows weeds in the tender soil of the soul.
- Fear. The enemy says “I am powerful and terrifying, and you’d better not make waves.” But the Prince of Peace is awesome, and the Prince of Lies is not: fear God, and no one else.
- Negativity. Your eye is the lamp of your body. If you see the world through a cynical filter, you will only notice where you were right about the world and the people in it. And you will rot with it.
Spiritual Warfare Means Engaging in Positive Assault
Remember that we are not in boot camp, learning only to defend against assault. Christ declared war upon death and killed the enmity caused by human sin (Ephesians 2:16). We must not only stand our ground against the enemy’s attacks and schemes, but be bold to take ground. We need to finally comprehend spiritual warfare as an assault on the part of the saints of the Kingdom of God.
This means that spiritual warfare is getting out of bed in the morning, refusing to believe lies about yourself, giving friendship to those who are the least, blessing someone who is against you, physically walking with the Lord, etc. Ultimately, keeping your attention on Jesus (Matthew 14:30-1), worshiping in spirit and truth (John 4:23), and walking in your spiritual gifting (1 Corinthians 12:7-11) are how Christians do war to destroy the works of our enemy and to take territory for the Kingdom.
Christian Counseling Can Empower You for Spiritual Warfare
Jesus never called us to fight alone – He said that the real fight is loving each other enough to join ranks with each other, as He joined with us by becoming a man. Professional Christian counseling can help you recognize the opposition in your spiritual journey, help you to understand God’s purpose for you in this life, heal battle wounds, and take a stance of advancing the Kingdom.
Isolation by Hendrik Dacquin / Flickr Creativecommons.org; Businessman Looking Tired Stock Photo by imagerymajestic, published on 06 July 2012 Stock Photo – image ID: 10090542