Editor's Note: The following is a report on the practical applications of Jack Graham’s new book Unseen: Angels, Satan, Heaven, Hell, and Winning the Battle for Eternity (Bethany House Publishers, 2013).
Although a spiritual battle between good and evil is constantly going on around us, it’s easy to neglect giving it our attention, since the spiritual forces at work in it are usually invisible. Angels and demons are no less real than other people are, however, and their impact on us is significant.
The Bible urges us to pay attention to the battles taking place in the unseen spiritual realm that surrounds us. We can’t afford to fritter away the time and energy God gives us by ignoring our roles in battles that will have eternal consequences. As Christians, it’s vital to engage in spiritual battles, because the more we do, the more we can overcome evil in this fallen world by God’s power working through us.
Here’s how to fight and win spiritual battles for eternity:
Ask God to give you spiritual eyesight. Pray for the ability to see how unseen spiritual forces impact your daily life. Ask God questions about anything you wonder about angels, demons, heaven, and hell. Keep in mind that God welcomes your questions and wants to give you the knowledge, wisdom, and discernment you need to fight and win spiritual battles.
Get to know how Satan operates. Don’t let the unpleasantness of thinking about Satan prevent you from learning what you need to know about this demon who leads the spiritual forces of evil in our world. God created Satan as a holy angel, but Satan rebelled against God and fell into sin, becoming the leader of the fallen angels who are caught in sin and now work for evil purposes. Satan tries to lead people astray by appearing desirable even as he pursues evil actions with evil motives. He twists the truth with lies designed to pull us away from God. Satan’s primary strategy for tempting us to sin is urging us to focus on selfishness and pride rather than on trusting God’s purposes for us. Keep in mind, though, that Satan’s power is limited, while God’s power is unlimited – and if you’re a Christian, you have the spiritual authority you need to overcome any of Satan’s schemes against you.
Learn about the ministry work of holy angels. Angels serve God by worshipping Him and accomplishing his will. They serve people as messengers from God, and they’re constantly at work observing us and going back and forth between heaven and Earth on missions that include guidance, protection, and communicating the Gospel message. Pray regularly for God to send angels into your life to help you with whatever you need.
Put on your battle gear. Just as soldiers prepare for earthly battles by putting on physical gear, it’s important for you to prepare for spiritual battles by putting on the gear that the Bible describes as the “armor of God.” Put on the “belt of truth” by living with honesty and integrity. Put on the “breastplate of righteousness” by pursuing purity. Stand on the “Gospel of peace” by trusting God to empower you to deal successfully with any situation you face and letting the reality of his help give you peace in all circumstances. Put on the “shield of faith” by having faith in God’s promise to do what he says he will do, which will give you courage when you face challenges. Put on the “helmet of salvation” by protecting your mind from unhealthy thoughts and asking the Holy Spirit to renew your mind. Wield the “sword of the Spirit” by using the power of the Bible to cut through the many different messages communicated to you each day, so you can discern what’s true and what’s not. The way to put on all of this gear is to pray, asking the Holy Spirit to guide and empower you.
Pay attention to a vital battleground: your mind. Satan often attacks us by planting the idea that we can’t trust God in our minds. Every sin can be traced back to that one deceptive thought. Since what you think ultimately becomes what you do, it’s vital to pray regularly for the Holy Spirit to renew your mind, helping you to think thoughts that are praiseworthy, positive, and productive.
Use the power of God’s Word to fight. The more you know and understand the Word of God (the Bible), the more effective you can be both offensively and defensively in overcoming evil with good during spiritual battles. You can do so by reading it through, thinking clearly about it, writing it down, praying about it, applying its truths to your life, and communicating its messages to other people.
Use the power of prayer to fight. When you pray, God will bless you with power, protection, and provision. Pray in Jesus’ name, calling upon His resources, merit, and strength. Aim to pray by faith, in humility, with a pure heart, consistently, and with devotion as an act of worship. When you pray like that, your prayers will be effective against evil and help usher good into any situation.
Pay attention to the condition of people’s souls. Make daily choices that will expand your own soul, drawing you closer to God. Develop a habit of asking yourself, before making decisions,: “How will this affect my soul?” When interacting with other people, remind yourself regularly that they have eternal souls – so it’s important for you to talk with them about faith and pray for them.
Prepare for judgment day. Remember that all of us will one day appear before God and have to explain the decisions that we made during our lives on Earth. Let that knowledge motivate you to live a holy life.
Live like hell is real. Even though it’s tempting to think that hell isn’t a real place, the fact remains that it does exist. Keep in mind that Jesus didn’t die to save us from a nonexistent hell; he died to save us from the real danger of spending eternity in hell, apart from God, experiencing the profound suffering that happens when people are separated from their Creator. Let your knowledge of hell motivate you to pursue God more, and to warn others about hell.
Live like heaven is real. Celebrate the fact that heaven is a real place, and prepare to go there one day by placing your faith in Jesus and following his guidance when making decisions. Look forward to an active life in heaven, worshiping God; learning more about God; doing meaningful work; resting; eating; and joining Jesus, the holy angels, and other saints to reign victoriously over the universe!
Adapted from Unseen: Angels, Satan, Heaven, Hell, and Winning the Battle for Eternity, copyright 2013 by Jack Graham. Published by Bethany House Publishers, a division of Baker Publishing Group, Bloomington, Mn., www.bethanyhouse.com.
Dr. Jack Graham is the pastor of Prestonwood Baptist Church, one of the nation's largest, most dynamic congregations. He can be seen and heard across the country and throughout the world via PowerPoint Ministries, broadcast weekly on TBN, Daystar TV, and hundreds of radio stations around the country. Dr. Graham has a master of divinity degree with honors and a doctor of ministry degree from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. He and his wife, Deb, live in Frisco, Texas, and have three grown children. Learn more at www.jackgraham.org.
Whitney Hopler, who has served as a Crosswalk.com contributing writer for many years, has written extensively about angels at: angels.about.com. She is author of the Christian novel Dream Factory, which is set during Hollywood's golden age. Visit her website at: whitneyhopler.naiwe.com.
Publication date: December 27, 2013