People conflicts are responsible for a lot of the spiritual warfare we go through. We get distressed mentally and emotionally when we are in disharmony with others. Offenses try to take root inside, and we find ourselves feeling bruised, barraged with critical or angry thoughts, experiencing fear of what might be coming next. The next three keys deal specifically with warfare over people issues:
Remind yourself that people who are giving you grief are not the real problem. This is probably one of the main ways we miss it in spiritual warfare. Much of our soulish thinking has to do with smoldering resentment of ways people have offended, annoyed, or wounded us. We carry on imaginary conversations with them — telling them off, putting them in their place, rehearsing what they said or did over and over again.
We need to be aware that people who give us a bad time are mere instruments of the enemy. Evil spirits are pulling their strings — to yank ours in response! This is why Paul reminded us, “For we don’t wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places” (Ephesians 6:12).
Quite honestly, even our Christian brothers and sisters can be real tools of the devil, although often unwittingly. They say stupid things, we feel devastated, and we don’t even stop to consider where it is really coming from.
Overcome by praying blessings upon those who hurt you. In Matthew 5:44, 45, Jesus said, “Love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who despitefully use you and persecute you, so that you may be the children of your Father which is in heaven ….” While this is a familiar Bible passage for many of us, it seems that walking it out has been all but lost in the Church today.
When we speak blessings upon those who mean us harm, choose to respond with kind acts toward them, and, especially, pray good things for them, several changes take place:
- We increase in being like our Father in heaven, because we are choosing His ways.
- Sustained prayer for others inevitably leads us into loving them. This is a spiritual principle. After a while, we don’t have to grit our teeth and endure around them, because we take on the Father’s own love and compassion for them. The change inside ourselves can be amazing!
- We pave the way for the person to be softened and freed from his bondage, especially as we release benevolent prayer for him. The enemy’s hold on him is weakened.
- Many times, those who have persecuted us will have a change of heart toward us, as they experience our kindness. Love wins.
- Even if the person continues to treat us badly, our Father sees. He returns the blessing we have bestowed upon our adversary back to us.
Commit to staying inside the walls of 1 Corinthians 13:1-7. That’s the “love chapter.” If you are going through a struggle with how you feel or think about a person, fill yourself with this passage daily. Determine to align with it. Yep! This will take some dying to self!
Sometimes you need others. No matter how strong or mature in the Lord you are, when you are embroiled in a spiritual battle, sometimes you need support. Surround yourself with believers who will pray with you, listen to you, cry with you, and share their insights. We all need friends who care and who can be trusted, who will love us in our weaknesses and stand with us when we are under attack.
I know some of you may not feel like you have that in your local church. Perhaps a home fellowship, such as a prayer or Bible study group, can meet the need. My husband and I have developed close relationships through a couple of home fellowship groups we are part of.
You may be able to find a support group through people you engage with via social media. I have gradually gotten to know some trustworthy people in this way. They have become wonderful friends with whom I can share, even though we’ve never met in person.
It will take time to establish trust with others, so start making these relationships happen now. Being transparent and expressing need involves risk, because it makes us vulnerable. Test the waters a bit before a spiritual crisis arises. Generally speaking, you will be surprised by how caring people can be.
Losing a battle is not the same as losing the war. In every major conflict, you’re going to lose a few battles. That’s why the Lord said in Proverbs 24:16, “A just man falls seven times, and rises up again,” and in Psalm 37:23, 24, “The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD…. Though he falls, he shall not be utterly cast down, for the LORD upholds him with His hand.”
If you fail, as long as you get back up and fight again, you will win in the end. Jesus is there to help you. He is The Overcomer, and He’s committed to bringing you through.
This concludes our Personal Spiritual Warfare series. I’d love to hear your tips for how you have overcome. By sharing, you will encourage others.
Previous: Part 6 — Keys for Overcoming
The Intercessor Manual, by Lee Ann Rubsam
Your Intercession Questions Answered, by Lee Ann