The War

Written by: Jeremy White, Lead Pastor of StoneWater Church

Introduction

Life is full of daily battles: battles in marriage, battles at work, battles in parenting, internal battles with yourself. As I am writing this, I am thinking of three conversations that I had today with people who are going through real-life battles. One guy in his fifties just learned that he has cancer and has been given only months to live. Another conversation involved a mom whose child wants nothing to do with her, and my lunch conversation involved encouraging a great husband and dad who recently lost his job. In all three situations, real people were fighting to move forward.

This workbook is a tool to help you prepare as a believer for the warfare at hand. The war that you find yourself in is a war between light and darkness, good and evil, Jesus and Satan. The warfare that I am talking about is spiritual in nature but very much real. Thankfully, our King, Jesus, gives us weapons to fight the battles we face daily. This workbook’s goal is to help you as a believer learn how to use those weapons.

In order to truly get the most out of this workbook, you need to be in a group. After each section, there are Group Questions (GQs). The GQs and the time you spend with your group have the possibility to truly change your life. We grow strong spiritually as we spend time with God’s Word, God’s Spirit, and God’s people. I challenge you to make every effort to connect yourself to a group and to walk with others through this study.

The study was written by Pastor Brian Bagley (Granbury Campus Pastor), Pastor Joey White (Church Planting Pastor and Co-Founder of StoneWater Church), and myself (Jeremy White, Lead Pastor of StoneWater Church). Each of us contributed two sections apiece. The workbook contains six sections and eighteen chapters. It is designed for you to complete one section per week which translates to only three chapters.

The workbook has a progression to it. It starts by describing the war and the enemy (ies), then moves to look at angels and demons, followed by the Armor of God, the Weapon of Prayer, and concludes with bonus weapons. What I like about the progression is that the material gets more practical the further you go. So, stick with it! Show up to your group and be ready to share. I believe that this study is going to grow us as a church in more ways than one.

Group Questions (GQs): First Group Meeting

If your group has not had time to finish section one, then I want to encourage you to start by having someone read the introduction aloud and then answer the following questions as a group

1. Have everyone introduce themselves by sharing: their name, where they grew up, and favorite dessert (you may consider having desserts next week at group).

2. Have someone read the introduction aloud.

3. Have everyone answer the question: What is the biggest battle that you have faced in life thus far?

4. And the question: What is a battle (large or small) that you are facing right now?

5. Describe a time that God showed up in the past as you were fighting a battle.

6. Ask everyone: What are you hoping to get out of this group? Why did you join a group?

7. And also ask: What is the best way for this group to encourage you to stay connected to the group and engaged in reading?

8. End by having the group leaders pray over the group.

Information

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  • Part I: The War

    Read Chapters 1- 3
  • Part II: The Enemy(ies)

    Read Chapters 4- 6
  • Part III: Angels and Demons

    Read Chapters 7- 9
  • Part IV: The Armor of God

    Read Chapters 10- 12
  • Part V: The Weapon of Prayer

    Read Chapters 13- 15
  • Part VI: Bonus Weapons

    Read Chapters 16- 18

Chapter 1: We are at War

Big Idea: We are in a spiritual war that has physical and eternal consequences.

The Bible describes the Christian life as a war with Christians fighting as soldiers for King Jesus. Sure, the Bible uses other word pictures and images to describe different aspects of our faith, but one that we cannot deny is that we are at war.

Look at some of the descriptions of followers of Jesus from the New Testament.

Images of the Christian Life:

1. Children of God: (Ephesians 2:19) illustrating the fact that we are members of God’s household. 

2. Disciple: (Luke 14:26-33) stressing our commitment to obey and follow Jesus.

3. Christian: (Acts 11:26) meaning little Christs, which points to our imitation of Jesus.

4. Sheep: (Acts 20:28-29) expressing our vulnerability and need for Jesus’ leadership.

5. People of God: (Titus 2:11-14) pointing to what an honor it is to be chosen as his special people.

6. The Church: (1 Corinthians 10:32-33) calling us to be a gathering of people different from the world.

7. Members of the Body of Jesus: (1 Corinthians 12:27) painting the picture of our connectedness to each other.

8. Saints: (1 Corinthians 1:2) referencing that we are set apart as holy and righteous in God’s sight.

9. Aliens: (1 Peter 2:11) reminding us that our home is in heaven, not earth.

10. Priest: (1 Peter 2:9) giving us confidence to know that we have the ability to go directly to God the Father through Jesus the Son and our High Priest.

11. Soldier: (2 Timothy 2:3-4) describing the fact that we are involved in a spiritual war.

2 Timothy 2:3-4 (NKJV)

You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier. 

This verse describes us as soldiers engaged in a war. As Christians, we are enlisted into the battle by Jesus the day he calls our name to follow him. 

You may be thinking, “War, soldier? I thought I was signing up to go to heaven after a good life here on earth.”

We have been raised in a scientific age, our perspective in life lends itself to see all our problems in a 4-dimensional world. We see life in 4 dimensions: length, width, height, and time. What if I were to tell you that there is a 5th dimension? It is a spiritual dimension, and even though it’s spiritual and often unseen, it affects the physical world. 

For instance, if we have financial problems, we attempt to solve the problem by working harder, getting a better job, or cutting our bills. That is 4th dimensional problem solving, and that’s the way almost everyone in this world solves problems. If we take a 5th dimensional (spiritual) approach to solving financial problems, we look at the problem knowing that there is a spiritual adversary who is a thief who wants to steal, kill, and destroy every part of our lives (John 10:10). Therefore, we may begin to solve the problem first with prayers by asking God, who is our provider, for wisdom and provision. 

Here’s another example that is a little more personal. If we have conflict in our marriage, 4th dimensional problem solving looks like going to counseling with a psychologist and relying on secular wisdom to fix our marriage problems. (If you are a psychologist, I’m glad you are here.) A spiritual or 5th dimensional approach, is instead open to the reality that your marriage may be under attack spiritually by an enemy who hates the glory that marriage brings to God. 

If we are open to recognizing there is a spiritual war taking place in the 5th dimension, then it creates in us a desire to learn more about the war, our weapons, and how to fight. 

The war that we are in is a spiritual war. A 5th dimensional battle that affects the other 4 dimensions—our physical world. This war affects your mood for the day, your relationship with your spouse, your work, your habits, your thoughts, your pleasures, your joy, your quality of life now, and whether you will experience heaven or hell in eternity. This war is a battle for your life and soul, and it has eternal consequences. 

Questions for Reflection:

1. Describe a time in your life when you recognized that there is more to this world than what we see in 4 dimensions?

2. Does it excite you or scare you to think that as Christians we are caught in a spiritual war? Why?

3. What’s one problem that you have in your life currently that may actually be a result of being in a spiritual war?

Chapter 2: History of War

Big Idea: We are in a spiritual war that has physical and eternal consequences.

I love history, especially war history. Give me a pillow, a nice sofa, a Dr. Pepper, popcorn, a WWII documentary, and I’m as happy as an Aggie with a date at Midnight Yell. 

Part of fighting our battles in the present and future requires us to know the history of this spiritual war. Let’s learn some war history from the Bible.

The war began even before the world began. 

Stage 1 – Before the world began…God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit existed.

The Bible says the Father loved the Son.

John 17:24 (NLT)

24 Father, I want these whom you have given me to be with me where I am. Then they can see all the glory you gave me because you loved me even before the world began!

Before the world began there was communication between the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. There was also love and honor given to the Son (John 17:5).

Stage 2 – God (Father, Son, Spirit) created everything in the heavens (including the spiritual dimension) and the earth. 

Genesis 1:1 (NLT)

1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

Creation includes man and woman.  God created man and woman and placed them in the Garden of Eden to work it and rule the earth as vice-regents under Him. As long as man obeyed God, life would be great between him and God, between him and woman, between him and creation. This was paradise. 

In the book of Colossians, Paul accounts for God creating the unseen world.

Colossians 1:16 (NLT)

16 for through him God created everything in the heavenly realms and on earth. He made the things we can see
and the things we can’t see—such as thrones, kingdoms, rulers, and authorities in the unseen world.      Everything was created through him and for him.

According to the Bible, these angelic beings were: spirits, immortal, holy, excelled in knowledge, powerful, innumerable, created to praise God, to execute his commandments, yet they also had a free will to either follow God or rebel. 

Stage 3 – A rebellion took place in heaven and a great angel turned evil (Lucifer/Satan/devil).

Revelation 12:9 (ESV)

And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world—he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him.

Basically, a beautiful and powerful angel (Lucifer) who was high ranking in authority and close in proximity to the throne of God became proud. His pride corrupted his wisdom. He became determined to be like God and to take God’s rule from him. He led a rebellion and managed to lure about a third of the angels to follow him. He underestimated God’s power, lost the rebellion, and as a result, he was cast down to the earth.

For more on this rebellion, dig into Isaiah 14:12-15 and Ezekiel 28:11-17.

Satan now rules and leads a kingdom of fallen angels, also known as evil spirits or demons. This was the beginning of the Kingdom of Darkness. Satan’s overall strategy is to thwart the plans of God. In the next stage, we see Satan gaining more power and control in this world. 

Stage 4 – In the Garden of Eden, Mankind fell into sin and into the Kingdom of Darkness.

Genesis 3 records the original sin. This is known as the Fall of Mankind. It plays out like a strategic battle. The serpent’s (Satan’s) battle plan was to lie and deceive the woman, Eve. Eve had her guard down as the serpent cleverly carried out his plan by enticing her into desiring the forbidden fruit. As Eve was lured into following her temptations, she convinced her husband to disobey God and eat of the tree. This was a win for Satan and his Kingdom, and it was a loss for all mankind, one that would have serious consequences.

 The Consequences of the Fall include:

  • Sin and death were passed to all mankind.
  • Loss of communion and relationship with God.
  • Creation was cursed.
  • Conflict between husband and wife.
  • Judgment and eternal separation from God in what is referred to as Hell.

Genesis 3 describes how we find ourselves living in a broken world. The brokenness that Mankind experienced revealed that there were and are real life consequences associated with the spiritual war.

Questions for Reflection:

1. What feelings arise in you when you think about the Fall of Mankind in Genesis 3?

2. How much have you thought about or been taught about Satan?

3. What brokenness do you see in this world? What are three areas of your life that you see brokenness? 

Chapter 3: Tale of Two Kingdoms

Big Idea: We are in a spiritual war that has physical and eternal consequences.

The Tale of Two Kingdoms involves the Kingdom of Darkness and the Kingdom of Light also known as the Kingdom of God. The Kingdom of Darkness is led by their prince, Satan. The Kingdom of God is led by their King, Jesus.

1 John 5:19 (ESV)

19 We know that we are from God, and the whole world lies in the power of the evil one.

Because man chose to defer to Satan and disobey God (Genesis 3), God turned over to Satan the authority that man had originally been given in the Garden. It’s hard to believe, but Satan actually has legal rights to do what he does. Read the book of Job, and you’ll see an example of how God allows him to operate.

Satan is now the prince of this world. Adam and Eve were the governors of the land, but when they bowed the knee to the serpent, they—in essence—gave their governorship to Satan. There’s a new governor, and he’s not nice. 

Here are a couple of ways that Satan exerts his rule:

1. Satan blinded Mankind to the truth about God.

2 Corinthians 4:4 (ESV)

In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.

Satan keeps people in the dark to the truth about God and about life. It’s hard to get any real traction in life if you are always in the dark or blind. Our blindness keeps us bumping into the same things, and we have no idea what or why it happened.

2. Satan influences both individuals and culture.

Ephesians 2:1-3 (NLT)

2 Once you were dead because of your disobedience and your many sins. You used to live in sin, just like the rest of the world, obeying the devil—the commander of the powers in the unseen world.[a] He is the spirit at work in the hearts of those who refuse to obey God. All of us used to live that way, following the passionate desires and inclinations of our sinful nature. By our very nature we were subject to God’s anger, just like everyone else.

Satan drives the boat of culture. Culture pulls and entices our fleshly desires. We often submit to our fleshly desires. (More about this in the chapters IV-VI.)

3. Satan’s tactics are lies and deception.

John 8:44 (NLT)

44 For you are the children of your father the devil, and you love to do the evil things he does. He was a murderer from the beginning. He has always hated the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, it is consistent with his character; for he is a liar and the father of lies. 

Revelation 12:9 (ESV)

And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world.

This word deceiver is the Greek word planao—it implies that Satan leads us astray from what is true, moral, and accurate. He is leading us into danger, pain, hurt, and death. His goal is to keep us from finding God’s good, perfect, and eternal plan for our lives. He plays the role of spoiler, and he plays it well.

Now let’s turn to the Kingdom of God.

Jesus came to destroy the work of the devil and establish his Kingdom.

When Jesus came to earth, he came ready to go to war with Satan and his Kingdom of Darkness. He came as a warrior and a King.

1 John 3:8 (ESV)

Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil.

Evidence of the war is seen as early as Jesus’ birth. Jesus was born and immediately King Herod tried to kill him. Herod was full of pride and fear, marks of the Kingdom of Darkness.

Matthew 2:13 (ESV)

13 Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you, for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.”

Revelation 12 may give us insight into this war. 

Revelation 12:4b-5 (ESV)

And the dragon stood before the woman who was about to give birth, so that when she bore her child he might devour it. She gave birth to a male child, one who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron, but her child was caught up to God and to his throne,

We also see evidence of the war between Jesus and Satan in the wilderness immediately following Jesus’ baptism in Luke 4.

Where Adam lost the battle in the Garden of Eden, Jesus won the battle in the wilderness. Jesus did not succumb to any of Satan’s lies or deception. 

Another instance of the war between the Kingdoms is seen every time Jesus exercised his power to heal and cast out demons. The casting out of demons demonstrated that there was a new sheriff in town and his name is King Jesus. 

Mark 1:34 (NLT)

34 So Jesus healed many people who were sick with various diseases, and he cast out many demons.

Satan attempted to prevent the cross through Peter in Mark 8:32-33. You also see Satan filling Judas in an effort to kill Jesus in Luke 22:3.

At the cross, Jesus showed himself to be the conquering King. Satan and his forces thought they had won the war, but they did not know that the cross was God’s plan to redeem mankind and set Jesus up as the conquering King. The climax of the war happened at the cross and empty tomb. In his death and resurrection, Jesus conquered Satan and put him to shame. Bam! (Sorry, I got excited.)

1 Corinthians 2:7-8 (NKJV)

But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the ages for our glory, which none of the rulers of this age knew; for had they known, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.

In killing Jesus, Satan and his forces made a strategic error. If they would have known what they were doing, they would not have crucified him. 

1 Peter 1:17-21 (NLT)

17 And remember that the heavenly Father to whom you pray has no favorites. He will judge or reward you according to what you do. So, you must live in reverent fear of him during your time as “foreigners in the land.” 18 For you know that God paid a ransom to save you from the empty life you inherited from your ancestors. And the ransom he paid was not mere gold or silver. 19 It was the precious blood of Christ, the sinless, spotless Lamb of God. 20 God chose him as your ransom long before the world began, but he has now revealed him to you in these last days.

21 Through Christ you have come to trust in God. And you have placed your faith and hope in God because he raised Christ from the dead and gave him great glory.

King Jesus conquered sin and death and all the effects of sin. King Jesus broke the curse of death and gave forgiveness and life at the cross and resurrection. Satan no longer has a hold on those who are covered by the blood of Jesus from the cross. 

Satan and the Kingdom of Darkness were put to shame at the cross.

Colossians 2:13b-15

Then God made you alive with Christ, for he forgave all our sins. 14 He canceled the record of the charges against us and took it away by nailing it to the cross. 15 In this way, he disarmed the spiritual rulers and authorities. He shamed them publicly by his victory over them on the cross.

Fast forward—following the cross and resurrection, King Jesus now reigns from Heaven. He empowers us, his church (followers) by his Spirit to fight for him and his Kingdom. Our fight is a battle for souls and for life. He is our King and we ride with him.

The game is basically over for the Kingdom of Darkness. There is no possible way that Satan can win. His only move now is to play the role of the spoiler. He continues to blind, lie, and deceive. He tries to spoil victories that Christians have in this life. He knows his time is short, so while here, he will continue to fight and keep as many as possible from the light of Jesus the conquering King.

How Do We Respond?

King Jesus promises to return one day with the armies of Heaven. Life as we know it will be over, and at that point, we who believe will be ushered into the eternal Kingdom of God (Heaven) and those who do not believe will depart into the eternal Kingdom of Darkness (Hell). 

Until then there are two things that need our attention.

1. Pledge your life to King Jesus.

John 12:46 (ESV)

46 I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness.

Mark 8:34-36 (ESV)

34 And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 35 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it. 

The way of God’s Kingdom is very different. In order to win life, we must give up our life and follow Jesus.  We pledge our lives to him.  

Colossians 1:13 (ESV)

13 He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son…

When we trust Jesus as our Savior and King, our citizenship is transferred from the Kingdom of Darkness to the Kingdom of God.

2. Fight for your King, Jesus, and His Kingdom.

2 Timothy 2:3-4 (NKJV)

You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier. 

As a follower of Jesus, you are a soldier engaged in a war. We wake up every day fighting to live for our King. We fight for our family, our friends, our community, and our world. We fight to bring as many people as possible into the Kingdom of God. 

Like it or not, you were born and reborn into a war. It’s a war for the Kingdom. The war is for souls. The war has a real enemy. The enemy is a liar, a deceiver, a killer, and a thief. His plan is to keep you in the dark and to leave you wounded. Jesus becomes our conquering King when you trust in him, believe in him, and pledge your allegiance to him. As followers of Jesus, the battle for the Kingdom is why we are still here. We were left to fight for our King. 

Our King has given us weapons to fight and knowledge to engage in warfare.

We are in a spiritual war that has physical and eternal consequences.

Questions for Reflection:

1. Describe a time in your life that you pledged your life to King Jesus. 

2. Why should this war be important to you and your family?

3. What do you think fighting for King Jesus may look like in your life?

Group Questions (GQs)

1. Introduce yourself and share an area of your life where you have recently experienced a “win.”

This could be something small like finding gas for $2.99 per gallon or something big like you recently got married. No pressure; the goal is to give people a glimpse into your life.

2. What is one thing in chapter 1 that struck a chord with you?

If you get stuck, discuss question 2 from chapter 1.

3. In chapter 2, we looked at the Fall of Mankind. Describe how life in the Garden of Eden may have been before sin entered the world.

Feel free to look at Genesis 1-2.

4. Have someone volunteer to read Genesis 3 aloud.

  • Describe the interaction the serpent had with Eve.
  • Where did Adam lose the battle?
  • What else stands out to you from this story?

5. What brokenness in the world stirs your heart with compassion?

The key here is to remember that all brokenness is a result of sin. Can you identify the sin in each case of brokenness?

6. In Chapter 3, what is a Bible verse or passage that grabbed your attention and why?

Read the verse or passage out loud.

7. Is there anyone in this group that would like to share their story of pledging their lives to King Jesus?

This is your salvation story.

8. What do you think fighting for King Jesus may look like for us as a group?

Think through how this group can encourage each other in this fight of faith.