NATURAL PARALLELS OF SPIRITUAL WARFARE
Upon completion of this chapter you will be able to:
• Write the Key Verse from memory.
• Explain why "warfare" is used to describe the conflict between good and evil.
• Summarize natural principles of warfare applicable to spiritual warfare.
• Apply natural principles of warfare in the spiritual realm.
KEY VERSE FROM THE ARTICLES OF WAR:
This charge I commit unto thee, son Timothy, according to the prophecies which went before on thee, that thou by them mightest war a good warfare. (I Timothy 1:18)
The early Church viewed their spiritual experience in terms of warfare. Protection is described as the "armor of God." The Word of God is compared to a "sword." Satan’s attacks are fiery darts and faith is the "good fight." Believers are told to "war a good warfare."
Why did God choose the example of natural warfare to describe what is happening in the spirit world between the forces of good and evil? The answer is found in a basic Biblical principle:
Natural principles of spiritual truth. God uses natural principles to explain what is happening in the spirit world. We can understand what we see in the natural world. When parallels are drawn between something in the natural world and the spiritual world, then we can understand the
spiritual because of the natural.
Jesus used this principle often. He used the example of a natural harvest to illustrate the great spiritual harvest to which He was calling laborers. There are many parallels between natural harvesting and harvesting in the spiritual world.
The same is true in relation to warfare. There are many principles of natural warfare which have
been studied and applied by experts at physical war. These natural principles are applicable in
spiritual world. This chapter presents principles of natural warfare and applies them in the
spiritual realm. It reveals why God used natural warfare to describe the ongoing spiritual war in which believers are engaged.
NATURAL PARALLELS OF SPIRITUAL WARFARE
Here are the natural principles of warfare that are parallels of spiritual battle:
THE DEFINITION OF WAR:
A simple definition of war in the natural world is "an act of force intended to compel our
opponent to fulfill our will." This definition is applicable also in the spiritual world. Satan is constantly using the forces of evil to compel you to fulfill his will.
A WARTIME LIFESTYLE:
When a nation is at war, the life-style of that nation is affected. Men give up their jobs to fight for their nation. They spend hours in preparation and training. Funds are drawn from the
economy to aid in the battle. Residents are alert to invasion and extra guards are posted at
In the spiritual world many believers are totally unaware of the warfare raging around them and have not adopted a wartime lifestyle. Church fellowships plan programs and parties but they do not have a battle plan. They live in luxury and ease while the enemy is claiming the souls of unnumbered men and women without Jesus Christ. Members of the fellowship are discouraged, depressed, and living in fleshly sins. They are victims of a war they do not even know exists. You must understand: We are at war! We should adopt a wartime life-style in the spirit world. Spiritual warfare should become the focus of our lives. We should spend time in preparation and training. We should learn of and put to use our spiritual weapons.
We should designate material wealth to extending the Gospel message to claim nations being
threatened by Satan. We should be alert to invasion from the enemy and post extra guards at the borders of our heart, mind, tongue, soul, spirit, home, community, and church fellowship. We are at war, and our life-style in the spirit world should reflect it.
THE OBJECTIVE OF WAR:
The main objective of warfare in the natural world is victory over the enemy. This is also the main objective in the spiritual world. To achieve victory in natural warfare, there are many short-range objectives that must be met. Individual battles must be won and separate territories claimed. Each of these individual battles contribute to the final goal of victory.
The same is true in the spirit world. Our long-range goal is victory over the enemy. But we must break down this long-range objective into more specific objectives. We must know the
objectives God has for us in spiritual warfare in our family, church fellowship, community, and nation. We must identify the specific territory assigned to us for conquest.
Each soldier in a natural army has a different position and responsibility in the battle. The same
true in the spiritual world. You must identify personal objectives which will contribute to the
overall goal of victory. The battle commander assigns objectives to soldiers in the natural world. God is your spiritual battle commander and He has set specific spiritual objectives for you as a Christian soldier.
Knowing the objectives for war is not enough. A soldier must receive basic training on how to achieve these objectives. In the natural world this training includes learning about the enemy, his tactics, how to use the weapons of warfare, and the battle plan.
In the spiritual world believers often enter the battlefield without this basic training. They do not understand the tactics of the enemy. They are not aware of their spiritual weapons and how to use them and they have not studied the battle plan (God’s written Word).
In the natural world, to send a soldier to the battlefield without basic training results in defeat. The same is true in the spirit world. You must be trained in spiritual warfare if you are to
experience victory. When a soldier enters basic training in the natural world, he leaves civilian life behind. He is no longer entangled with civilian affairs but is concerned with the army in
which he has enlisted.
In the spiritual realm, in order to war a good warfare we must not be entangled in the affairs of life. We are not civilian citizens of this present world. We are warriors of the Kingdom of God:
Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.
No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please Him who hath chosen him to be a soldier. (II Timothy 2:3-4)
Enemy nations always spread false propaganda (information) about each other. Satan also
injects false propaganda into your mind if you allow it. You will learn more about this when you study "The Battle In The Mind" in Chapter Fifteen.
One of the strategies of nations at war is to weaken the enemy by diplomatic proposals. These
are suggestions of compromise. Through such proposals each nation tries to gain advantage over the other. In spiritual warfare, Satan attempts to make believers compromise with sin. He knows such "diplomacy" will result in spiritual weakness.
When nations are at war, there is always an intricate organization of intelligence. Each side has intelligence forces dedicated to gathering information about the other. The intelligence forces collect and analyze all available information on the enemy. They communicate what they have learned to the soldiers engaged in combat.
In spiritual warfare your knowledge of the enemy and his tactics are vital to victory. The Bible is your "intelligence manual" which reveals information on the enemy. As you learn of Satan’s
strategies and the Scriptural counter strategies, you should communicate these to other Christian soldiers. Satan gathers information on you too. He learns your points of weakness and targets
them with offensive attacks.
OFFENSIVE AND DEFENSIVE WARFARE:
Armies in the natural world use both offensive and defensive strategies. As you have learned, offensive warfare is an aggressive advance against an enemy. Defensive warfare is when the enemy attacks and you must defend your territory.
You have learned that parallels of both offensive and defensive warlike situations exist in the
spiritual world. When Satan attacks you must use defensive spiritual warfare. When you are
claiming new territory for God, such as sharing the Gospel with those who have never yet heard
it, you are conducting offensive warfare. You are claiming new territory in the name of the Lord
A great general in the natural world once told his troops, "We are not going to dig foxholes and
wait for the enemy to come shooting at us. We are going to move ahead, and move fast." (A
foxhole is a hole in the ground in which a soldier can hide). The general said, "When you dig a
foxhole, you dig a grave. When you are in that foxhole and fire at the enemy, he knows your
exact location…We will keep moving and the enemy will always hit where we have been and not where we are." This general did not believe in defense. His theory was that if the enemy was
constantly under attack, there would not be any need to defend. He realized that the force
moving in offensive warfare had advantage over the defending forces. He said, "We will fight on our terms and we will win."
In spiritual warfare, he who understands the objective of warfare as the defeat of the enemy will not easily be reduced to a defensive position. To gain total victory, offensive fronts are required.
In every war there are weapons which are used. They may be simple weapons such as a spear or bow and arrow, or they may be complex weapons such as a missile system. The soldier must know what weapons are available for use and how to use them. Some weapons are specifically designed for defensive warfare while others are for offensive warfare.
This is also true in the spiritual world. As a Christian soldier you must be aware of your spiritual weapons and know how to use them. As you have learned, there are both defensive and offensive spiritual weapons. The difference is that your weapons are spiritual weapons. Never be reduced to trying to use ineffective natural weapons to fight spiritual battles.
Terrorism, sabotage, and ambush are all surprise attacks and are methods used by natural armies at war. These methods have two things in common: First, they are violent offensive methods. Second, they all have an element of surprise. The target at which such assaults are directed is caught unawares and is unprepared. Confusion and defeat usually result.
As terrorists who sabotage and ambush, Satan also uses the methods of violent, offensive,
surprise attacks. He will attack when you least expect it in areas of your life left unguarded. Do
not assume the enemy will furnish you with warning of his attacks. This does not happen in the natural world of war. Neither will it happen in the spiritual world.
In every war there are "decisive battles." These are battles which determine the outcome of the entire war. Decisive battles are important because of the territory involved in the fight. If an army wins control of a certain strategic territory he can gain control of surrounding territories. In spiritual warfare there are also decisive battles. For example, if you fail in the battle of the mind and tongue it will affect your soul, spirit, heart, and possibly your entire body.
In the natural world, the greatest concentration of troops are sent to a decisive battlefield. In the spirit world this should be true also. Concentration of your spiritual resources in strategic
locations is necessary for successful warfare. This is true also in terms of the spreading of the Gospel. There are times when the spiritual harvest is ripe in key geographic areas of the world and evangelistic forces should be concentrated in that field.
Unfortunately, this is not always so. The greatest concentration of ministers at present is in the United States of America where there is a church in most every community and Christian radio and television programs readily accessible to every home. In the remaining nations of the world there is the greatest concentration of population and many people groups beyond the reach of an effective Christian witness. There are very few trained ministers there to reach them. The enemy is staging decisive battles in many of these nations, warring for the hearts, minds, and souls of men and women. Meanwhile, our spiritual forces are concentrated elsewhere.
Communication is very important in natural warfare. The troops must be able to communicate
with their commander to receive instructions and encouragement. The enemy will try to sever
communication between the front line troops and their leader, knowing this will result in failure on the battlefield.
In spiritual warfare, Satan wants to destroy your lines of communication. He will try to prevent you from praying and reading God’s Word, as these provide instruction and encouragement for spiritual warfare. If you are so busy at war that you neglect communication with the
Commander, you can be easily defeated. Christian ministry is a legitimate means of fighting the enemy. But if you run out of spiritual power, it ceases to be effective. Your power on the front lines comes from communication with the battle Commander. You must constantly receive His instructions and encouragement through prayer and study of His Word.
In warfare in the natural world there are two kinds of targets: Moving targets (such as a boat,
airplane, tank, or troops) and stationary targets (such as a weapons depository, troop
headquarters, etc.). The moving targets are the greatest threat in natural warfare because they are
offensive. They are on the move to conquer territory.
In the spiritual world, Satan is most concerned about moving targets. He targets the man and woman who is aggressively moving into the battlefield of spiritual warfare to conquer enemy forces. Satan will attack stationary targets also (believers who are not engaged in offensive
warfare). But remember, when you are on the move for God, you are a prime target for Satan. He wants to defeat your advances into his territory to claim the souls of captive men and women.
ATTACKS AND COUNTERATTACKS:
In natural warfare when one side attacks, the other side counterattacks. A counterattack is an
attempt to stop enemy forces from advancing and to regain lost territory. Satan counterattacks
every offensive move made by believers. When you decide to pray more, read the Word of God, or enter a ministry, he will immediately stage a counterattack to prevent you from advancing. If you are aware of this strategy of counterattack you will be prepared and not caught off guard.
In military terms, there are basically three forms of attack. Similar attacks are launched by the
enemy in the spiritual world.
1. A frontal attack: These are direct, frontal attacks. The temptations of Satan are like a
straight forward frontal assaults in the natural world. These direct spiritual assaults should be met by resisting Satan which causes him to flee.
2. A siege or blockade: A siege or blockade in the natural world is when the enemy takes
control of territory not belonging to him. Spiritual bondage is similar to a siege or blockade in the natural world. The enemy breaks through your spiritual walls and part of your life is brought under his control. He does not actually possess the area, but he prevents you from functioning properly for God’s glory. The way to deal with spiritual siege or blockade is by using the powers of binding and loosing learned in this course. The enemy should be bound and the area of life
under his control loosed from his power.
3. Invasion and occupation: When an enemy invades in the natural world, he occupies and controls a territory. This is similar to demonic possession in the spirit world. The unsaved or backslidden person is under the control of an evil spirit which has entered to possess them. The way to deal with this type of attack is to bind the enemy and cast him out.
In order to be effective in natural warfare, an army must be mobile. The forces must be able to
move to the place where offensive action is to be taken. If they are trapped and held immobile by the enemy, they are ineffective.
Mobility is a requirement in the spiritual world if you are to carry out the orders to "go into all the world and preach the Gospel." Are you a Christian soldier that has been immobilized by the enemy or are you actively pursuing the command to advance with the Gospel message?
A soldier does not put on armor and take up his weapons just to sit comfortably at home in front of a fire. He not only prepares for battle, he goes to the battlefield. Some Christian soldiers
prepare for battle, but never leave the security of their home or church fellowship to go to the battlefield. The war is going on in the streets of our cities. It is going on in villages yet
unreached with the Gospel message. No matter how prepared we are spiritually, we will never win the battle unless we are mobile for the Lord Jesus Christ.
A soldier does not gain skills as a warrior by just studying the books on warfare. He advances in
skill through experience on the battlefield. Study of your spiritual warfare manual (the Bible) is
important, but the battle will never be won unless you put what you have studied into practice.
Skill in spiritual warfare comes through experience and application, just as it does in the natural
War is a team effort. Soldiers must cooperate with one another in their effort to defeat the
enemy. They must come under the direction of one commander. They move forward as a united front. They do not fight in their own name, but on behalf and in the name of their country.
Believers must learn to cooperate in the arena of spiritual warfare. Instead of fighting each other, we need to concentrate our attack against the enemy.
In the natural world when a soldier is wounded, his friends make every effort to rescue him. When the troops move forward, they move as a unit. They do not leave the weak behind, but place them in the center with strong warriors ahead and behind until the weak have recovered from their wounds.
The Christian army tends to shoot its own wounded. When a believer falls in battle we gossip about him or give up on him. Instead, we should rescue these spiritually wounded and surround them with our strength. The forces of God should move ahead as one united front, not as a
straggling group trailed by wounded warriors who fall and die by the wayside.
We are not fighting in our own name. We are fighting in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. We are not fighting in our own behalf. We are fighting on behalf of our spiritual nation, the
Kingdom of God.
A soldier on the battlefield in the natural world does not do as he pleases. He follows orders
from the commander. Total obedience is required. There is nothing in war of greater importance
than obedience. The same is true in the spiritual realm. If you are to be effective in spiritual
warfare, you must follow the instructions of your Commander. You must be in total obedience
A great general in the natural world once said, "If you are afraid of being shot at, you are
whipped before you start…Fear kills more people than death." Do not fear failure in spiritual warfare. If you are afraid of being shot at by the enemy, you are defeated before you start.
The brave general also said, "There can never be defeat if man refuses to accept defeat. Wars are lost in the mind before they are lost on the ground. No nation was ever defeated until the people accepted defeat."
As in the natural world, there can never be defeat if you refuse to accept it. Spiritual battles are lost in the mind first. Refuse to accept defeat in your mind.
CONQUERING THE LEADERSHIP:
One important general frequently expressed his personal wish that he could fight the highest enemy leader and the victor of the personal fight would settle the war. This has already been done in the spiritual realm by our Commander. Through His death and resurrection, Jesus
conquered the power of the enemy. The final outcome of the war is already revealed in God’s Word. But the rebel forces of resistance are still in the land. Jesus conquered the leadership, but to us is given the task of overcoming these pockets of resistance.
In speaking about commitment, a famous general said:
"We are lucky people. We are at war! We have a chance to fight and die for something. Many people never get that chance. Think of all those poor people you know that have lived and died for nothing…Total lives spent doing nothing but eating, sleeping, and going to work…"
As believers, we are at war in the spirit world. We have an opportunity to fight and die for
something. We do not have to spend our lives in routine monotony of eating, sleeping, and working. We fight for a Kingdom to which there will be no end. We fight for a Commander who has already conquered the enemy forces. Our victory is assured. We have something worth living for, fighting for, and if called upon to do so, worth dying for.