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How to recognize spiritual warfare

Updated: Jan 29

By: Lizzie Williams

When I was growing up in church, we talked about God all the time (duh), but I feel like one thing I was never prepared for were the attacks that the enemy would heap upon me. I mean yeah, I knew the verses about how he prowls the earth like a lion, looking for prey (1 Peter 5:8), and that he comes to steal, kill, and destroy (John 10:10), but I never knew what that would look like in my life. You might be in this same boat. And while we know to put on the armor of God and pray, we don’t always know when we are facing attacks. Well, it’s kinda hard to defend yourself against the enemy when you don’t even realize he’s attacking you. So here are some ways to recognize that you are facing spiritual warfare.

Sign #1: The things you are hearing, and possibly even believing, do not line up with what God says. This is the first and most important red flag. The enemy is a liar who wants to pull us away from the truth. Why? Because the truth is that he is defeated and we are saved. And that is threatening to him. The biggest problem with this tactic of his is that sometimes we may not know the truth, especially if we are new to the faith. Something we also may not realize is that even the thoughts in our head can be caused by spiritual warfare. Thoughts like “I’m not good enough,” “I’m worthless,” “I messed up too badly,” or “I’m alone” do not line up with God’s truth, but we think them often without recognizing the weight of what they mean. We don’t realize “hey, maybe the enemy is telling me lies and I’m believing him.” Maybe it has become so second nature for us to think so poorly of ourselves, others, or life that we don’t realize we are habitually letting the enemy feed us lies.

Sign #2: It makes you question if God is really good, either by direct doubt or by twisting God’s words. The enemy gives this tactic away right from his first encounter with humans (Genesis 3). Literally, the first words he spoke to Adam and Eve were “Did God really say…?” So if you begin to question God and his character more intently, then check your motivations as to why. It’s natural for us to have doubts because we are human and cannot always fully understand God. But if you feel like you’re being pulled in the wrong direction, definitely stop and analyze. He tries to deceive you, to make you question God, by twisting things you might already believe.

Sign #3: It actually feels like you are fighting. This one is tricky because we aren’t promised an easy life, but instead, God actually says that following him will bring suffering (2 Timothy 3:12, John 15:18). So how do we know if it’s suffering or war? We can check what is causing the suffering and if it is stealing our joy. There is a difference in happiness and joy. Happiness comes from things of this world and is temporary whereas joy comes from God and is forever (Psalm 16:11). So when you feel that joy being ripped away from you, that’s a big issue! There’s only 1 bad hombre that wants to steal your joy and that’s Satan. And I think the best way he does this is by making sure we don’t spend time with God. (Because the more we are filled with God, the more joy we have). Well, what does our time get filled with? School, jobs, friends, family, social media, you name it. Yes, these are all very important things (maybe not social media…), but if we let them fill time that should be spent with God, then ultimately they become idols. Do not let this happen! Be aware of the busyness in your life and do not sacrifice time with God for anything!

So, you realize that yikes, the enemy may have a foothold in your life. Well, you’re not alone. He sneaks in without us realizing and then we feel stuck. But we aren’t stuck. In addition to lots of prayer, the best way to combat each of these ways that enemy tries to trick us is simple: read you Bible. Reading your Bible is more than just reading, it’s a way to get to know God. How does this help? Well, we can’t recognize lies without knowing the truth. I once heard someone in a sermon say that when professionals are trained to recognize fake artwork, they don’t study the frauds. They study the original painting so well that when they see the fake, they immediately recognize that it isn’t correct. So our best solution to realize when the enemy is lying to us (sign #1) is to know God’s truth. Then, when we face the lies, we can shove the truth right back in Satan’s face. I know this works because it’s how Jesus withstood temptation for 40 days in the desert (Matthew 4:1-11). Additionally, knowing what God says helps us to fight against the enemy when he asks “did God really say…?” (sign #2) because we will know what God actually said! And lastly, spending time with God, fills us with joy that only he can provide. No time with God = lack of joy (sign #3). Think I’m wrong? Check out the armor of God and see that every single piece of armor requires you to read and know God’s word (Ephesians 6:10-18). Also, part of the armor (the sword) actually IS the Bible. So get reading, friends, and get ready to kick the devil out of your life.

Feeling pumped up and motivated to tell Satan to hit the road? Then, jam to “Not Today Satan” by KB. (it’s Jesus rap and it’s truly a bop!!)

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