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Jonah 2:8 “Those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs.” NIV


Who could imagine that one simple verse of Scripture could pack so much truth. If you want a definition that will tell you the nuts and bolts of spiritual warfare, Jonah nailed it right on the head.

spiritual warfare

There was once a man that was brought to the altar where a well-known evangelist was praying for the people after a service and the man’s family told the evangelist that the family member they brought before him was troubled by a demon, the evangelist laid his hands on the man’s head and said: In the name of Jesus I command you to leave this man right now, to which the man that was being prayed for responded while pointing at his own head; you stay right there you hear.

It was kind of funny when the evangelist told the story many years later; but in reality that is at the root of why so many Christians fail in their battles to conquer their demonic tormentors. All the spiritual warfare tools at your disposal are of no avail if your right hand is telling the enemy to leave, meanwhile your left hand is telling your enemy to stay.


Jonah did not just stumble into this revelation by chance, it was revealed to him while dealing with the consequences of his disobedience to God.


Jonah 2:2 “...I cried out to the Lord because of my affliction, and He answered me. Out of the belly of Sheol I cried, and You heard my voice.”


Jonah had some issues that he needed to work out, probably the most pressing of his issues was that he did not see eye to eye what the will of God was for his life. He was called to be a prophet, and when God sent him on an assignment that he personally disagreed with, he decided to go on a different direction.


But even in his disobedience there was something that Jonah knew that perhaps many believers today do not know. And that is that when they are in open rebellion to the will of God for their lives, in reality what they are actually doing is getting deeper into idolatry and witchcraft.


1 Samuel 15:23 “For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, He also has rejected you from being king.”


The reason that Jonah said that those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs was because that is exactly what he had done; he had rejected the Word of the Lord for him, and just like it cost Saul his kingship it almost cost Jonah his life.


The difference between Jonah and Saul was that Jonah understood what his sin of rebellion had caused and he repented, but as far as king Saul was concern even to his bitter end he consulted a witch in his search for God. The king could not tell the difference between light and darkness.


Jonah 2:9 “But I will sacrifice to You with the voice of thanksgiving; I will pay what I have vowed. Salvation is of the Lord.”


There are two crucial points that we need to learn if we are going to be successful in spiritual warfare: Number one is repentance, once our stubbornness and rebellion is exposed, we need to offer the sweet sacrifice of repentance and thanksgiving to the real God, the God that is convicting us by pointing out to us our sin.


The second point is that it behooves us to recognize that Salvation can only come from God. Now stay with me, there is something deeper here that we need to understand because this is not as simple as we think it to be.


In the spiritual realm there are only two forces at work that war against one another, light and darkness. You may say, well that is easy, not so, specially when the creatures of darkness can transform themselves into something that they are not, creatures of light.


2 Corinthians 11:13-15 “For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ. And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness, whose end will be according to their works.”


After reading those three verses we realize that spiritual warfare is not as easy as recognizing the difference between day and night, is it? But here is the key, in the end their work will always be one of rebellion against the Word of God. Once Jonah realized that, it was not hard for him to understand that repentance was more than being sorry for his rebellion but that it also required him to become obedient to the call of God, for after all obedience is better than sacrifice.


Now let us examine how was it that Jonah got into the predicament that he got into, in other words, why did he disobey God’s plan for his life to begin with?


Jonah 4:1-2 “But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he became angry. So he prayed to the Lord, and said, ‘Ah, Lord, was not this what I said when I was still in my country? Therefore I fled previously to Tarshish; for I know that You are a gracious and merciful God, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness, One who relents from doing harm.’”


Here Jonah really gets into what was really bothering him; God had called him to intercede for some really bad people and was told to go and preach to them that God was about to destroy them for the evil that they were perpetrating. Jonah, knowing that God is a merciful God who is full of compassion, One who relents from doing harm, thought that if he preached and they repented, that God would forgive them, and Jonah did not want that to happen and that is the reason why he fled to begin with.


Here is the point that we need to glean and it comes from God’s very own perspective, not Jonah’s; Spiritual Warfare is not against flesh and blood, but against principalities and powers! How can one be in the light of God’s mercy while wishing for the destruction of our fellow humans that walk in the darkness of this age? If God has been a merciful God to me, and He has, does He not want to show mercy also to my enemies who walk in darkness? What if He asks me to pray for those who have really hurt me? I know that He is a merciful God and that if I pray for them, and they repent, that He will forgive them immediately. But is that what I really want in my heart? Do I long for their pardon as much as God does?


1 John 2:9-10 “He who says he is in the light, and hates his brother, is in darkness until now (still in darkness). He who loves his brother abides in the light, and there is no cause for stumbling in him (has been set free from idolatry. Zephaniah 1:3).”


1 John 4:20 “If someone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen?”


So far the two aspects of spiritual warfare that we are discussing have to do with light and darkness. And the question that we pose is, if Satan and his ministers can transform themselves into creatures of light, how can we know whether we are walking in the light of God’s truth or abiding in the darkness of this world without even knowing it? And the answer is clear, if our focus is on the flesh, what transpires through the agency of man, then we are still in darkness. But if our focus is on the unseen, on what is taking place behind the curtains If you will, then we are poised to receive the revelation that comes to those who are abiding in the light of the truth of the Word of God.


Let me bring this down to our present-day reality and try to explain why understanding spiritual warfare is so critical for us in the here and now.


1 Timothy 3:1, 5 “But know this, that in the last days (our present time) perilous times will come...having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away!”


Here is what the light of the truth of the Word of God says, from such people turn away. So that when it comes to spiritual warfare, people are not the cause of the problems that we are facing as it pertains to who our enemies are, but the people that deny the reality of the spiritual problems that we are facing, from them we are to stay away, simply because they represent the false light. You see if there is no hell, that means that there is no spiritual warfare, so that by hanging out with that crowd you are out of the game before it even starts.


Jonah 1:9 “So he said to them, ‘I am a Hebrew; and I fear the Lord, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the dry land.’”


In chapter one Jonah is totally honest with his fellow shipmates about his circumstance and even tells them that they have to throw him overboard if they want to save their own lives. In the verse above he makes a bold declaration of who he is and of what he believes, it makes me wonder why was Jonah really fleeing from the will of God to begin with?


Isaiah 36:20 “Who among all the gods of these lands have delivered their countries from my hand, that the Lord should deliver Jerusalem from my hand?”


The king of Assyria was coming against Jerusalem one day, and he was bragging about his previous conquests and ended up insulting the Lord of Hosts. The king of Israel took those insulting words before the Lord and God sent an angel against the Assyrian camp and killed one hundred and eighty five thousand from his army in one night. The Assyrian king went back to Nineveh the capitol of Assyria where he was later killed. So that there was no love lost between these two people.


So that the key for understanding spiritual warfare has to do with God’s timing. There is a time for war and there is a time for peace. Hanging around those who have already made up their minds before listening to the counsel 

of God in any given matter is a hindrance to those whose call is to battle against the forces of darkness that abide in the spiritual realm.


Here are a few things that we should know about spiritual warfare: What is under God’s covering mercy today maybe under the wheels of God’s wrath tomorrow. That which is expected of us today may not be what is expected of us tomorrow. A life boat is only good when a ship is sinking, the rest of the time is an eye sore that occupies space. Real light will always expose the works of darkness.


Knowing when it is God’s time for wrath or for mercy will insure that we do what is expected of us today, even if it is totally different than that which was expected from us yesterday. Knowing when a ministry ship is sinking or stuck on a sandbar will lead us inevitably to the life boat that will preserve us from spiritual harm. That is what walking in the light means, not stumbling over the works of darkness.


If the essence of spiritual warfare is for me to rid myself of the things that hinder my walk with Jesus, so that I can fulfill His calling for my life, then knowing my position within His timing for my life is critical, especially if I am to know when I am ready from His perspective to either move, stay, or to advance into a previously unknown position that He wants me to occupy.


Ephesians 1:17-18 “That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him, the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints.”

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