Everyday Discipleship Lesson 2: Spiritual Warfare cover

Everyday Discipleship: Lesson 2 – Spiritual Warfare

Part 1: The Basics

Week 2: Spiritual Warfare and Doubt

Remember:

  1. Each week, bring your Bible, journal, and discipleship book to the weekly meeting.
  2. Bring your questions you’ve had from what you’ve read in the Bible each week or questions from the study – anything. Bring your questions.
  3. Start praying about and preparing your testimony. Eventually, you will share your story with the group.
  4. Have you joined the YouVersion group and any chat/text groups your discipleship group has joined? If you need help, contact your leader.

Lesson 2: Spiritual Warfare and Doubt

Weekly Meeting

Icebreaker:

  1. Did anyone share their faith with another person this week? What was it like? What happened?
  2. Share your memory verses with a partner: 1 Peter 1:3-4; John 14:6
  3. Did you finish the book of John? Do you have any questions?
  4. Have 1-2 people prepared to share their testimonies. Begin with leader(s), and eventually, everyone will share their stories.

Introduction:

  1. When you hear the term “spiritual warfare” what do you think of? What do you think it means?
  2. What have you heard about spiritual warfare or seen on TV?
  3. Who are we battling?

The first thing we must understand is that we have an enemy, and he is real. He will do his best to distract us or even destroy us, and he will also try to get us to fight against the wrong enemy. Our enemy is not that person who gets on our last nerve or our spouse who irritated us at the breakfast table. We do not battle flesh and blood but Satan and His evil ones (Ephesians 6:12). We also battle our own sinful desires and selfishness (James 4:1). Our battle is spiritual and must be found in the spirit (2 Corinthians 10:4).

We use the word of God, the joy God gives us, and prayer in this battle. We use God’s strength, not our own. We must learn to flee from temptation and guard our thoughts and desires. However, even in doing that, we must rely on the strength of God in our lives (2 Corinthians 12:9).

  • How do we fight an enemy we cannot see?
  • How do we know if we are being tempted?
  • Have any of you had any doubts or had feelings/thoughts of unworthiness about your relationship with God? How did you handle it?
  • How do you feel or what do you think about the fact that you have such a determined enemy?

Scripture Reading: 1 Peter 5:8, Ephesians 6:10-20, Psalm 28:7, Romans 7, Galatians 5:17, John 10:10, James 5:16, 2 Corinthians 10:5, Romans 12:1-2, Philippians 4:8

Discussion:

  • When an army goes to war, they do not just invade and hope for the best. They plan and strategize. Take a few minutes and strategize what you can do when you are tempted. Work with a partner or as a whole group.
  • Go through the full armor of God. What is the importance of each piece of armor?
  • How can the joy of the Lord be our strength? What does that mean? What is the opposite of joy, and how does that affect our faith?
  • If the battlefield is the mind and heart, how can we protect them?
  • What does it mean to take every thought captive?

When we are facing temptation or struggling with sin, our first response should be prayer. Satan will try to tell you that prayer is the last thing you should do, especially if you’ve sinned. He attacks with shame and makes us feel we should try to do better before we return to God. It is a lie. Turn to God, pray, confess your sins, and be restored in your relationship with God.

Traps to avoid:

Pride – It is easy in our human weakness to become proud and puffed up. Instead of us helping others, they just feel judged by us. It is a subtle tool of the enemy. If he cannot get us to not use God’s grace and gifts in our lives, then he will try to get us to abuse them. Remember, the battleground is our mind and heart. We must guard them constantly and pray constantly. The Bible tells us if we lack wisdom to simply ask God for it, and He will give it to us (James 1:5).

  1. Do you have any questions about this lesson or what you’ve read this week?

Key Point:

The Word is my Weapon; Joy is my Strength; Prayer is my Power

As we walk in our faith and read Scripture, we find that God gives us His Word as not only a weapon but a mirror that shows us where we are being deceived and need to be set free. The joy of the Lord and the joy of our salvation gives us strength; it keeps us strong in facing all that life brings. Prayer gives us power because we are taking our problems or temptations to God, and He is all-powerful over all things.

Discipleship in Action: As you grow in your freedom in Christ, you will want to help others be free. God may give you a ministry of helping people find healing or freedom in their lives, in an area that you’ve found freedom. (2 Corinthians 1:4) You will be burdened for those who struggle in their spiritual life, who are defeated by addiction or temptation. As you act on this passion and purpose, remember to guard your heart and mind.

Prayer Time: Keep a prayer list and note answered prayer. Share prayer requests as a group, and as you pray, remember to thank God for His generous grace and mercy that has saved us. Thank Him for the relationship we can now have with Him.

On Your Own

Memory Verses: Proverbs 4:23, 1 John 4:4

Extra Reading: Read Mark 4, Matthew 4, and start reading the book of Acts. Remember to write down any questions you have as you read. Ask them at the next meeting or when you meet with your discipleship leader one-on-one.

If you like to read books, a few Christian books on this topic that are excellent are:

The Screwtape Letters by C. S. Lewis: This is fiction, but in the telling of the story (an older demon training a younger demon), Lewis shows how Satan and his demons work. It’s a short book, and very interesting.

The Spiritual Warfare Answer Book by David Jeremiah: Like the title says, this is an answer book and kind of a handbook on spiritual warfare. It is very helpful, based on Scripture, and will help readers understand quite a lot about spiritual warfare.

Neil T. Anderson’s books, Steps to Freedom in Christ, The Bondage Breaker, Victory over the Darkness: I have not read any of his other books. but we have found these books to be very helpful in our ministry. When helping someone who is possessed or who is being harassed by demons, we can cause a violent encounter at times. When we approach the situation with God’s word first, the person can choose to reject the demon and receive Christ and be saved in the case of possession. In the case of harassment, the Word of God, the truth, will usually destroy the fear and set the person free. These books helped us help many people.

Please note: whenever we are reading a person’s book or learning from someone’s teaching, we need to be aware of the Holy Spirit’s help. Sometimes we will sense that the person said something wrong. Or, because we know God’s Word, we can see the discrepancy clearly. The Bible is trustworthy, and all things must be compared to it, not just what sounds good or what we think makes sense. Also, because I recommend a book does not necessarily mean I recommend a whole ministry or every other book the person has written. The reason I say that is because in our world today, some walk away from the Truth, and we never know who might do that next. So, be aware. If you hear something that causes a red flag, pray about it and talk to the one discipling you or to your pastor.

I also understand that some may have differing views regarding spiritual warfare or other lessons we provide. We strive to be biblically based, holding to historical Christianity. We may differ on some minor points, but we will never compromise the Gospel.

Homework: Write out your testimony (if you haven’t already), and keep it in your Bible (or write it in one of the blank pages at the front or back of your Bible)

  1. My life before Christ
  2. How I knew I needed Christ
  3. How I became a Christian
  4. My life since I’ve known Christ

Treasuring your testimony keeps you tough in the testing. When the enemy tries to tell you that God is not real, that all this is just in your mind, or that God could never save you because you are too bad, go back and read your own testimony. Let the Holy Spirit minister to your heart, and remember all that God has done in your life. After reading your testimony, thank God again for saving you and for what He’s doing in your life.

Five Daily Devotions:

Monday: The Truth Sets You Free

Scripture: John 8:31-32, 44

          It’s always interesting how we can be deceived. Unfortunately, by the very nature of deceit, we have no idea we’re being deceived, or we wouldn’t be deceived. When I was about 8 years old, in Sunday School class, we learned the story of Adam and Eve eating the forbidden fruit. As the teacher told the story she showed a typical Sunday School picture, except in this picture Adam was napping under a tree while Eve talked with the serpent. She gave Adam the fruit to eat, and my little eight-year-old brain thought it was terribly unfair for God to punish poor Adam who was half asleep and surely didn’t realize what Eve was giving him. I was so upset that God was harsh with Adam and kicked him out of the garden when he was probably too sleepy to realize what was going on. This subtle misunderstanding of what really happened clouded the way I read that chapter of Genesis for years. It wasn’t until my friend told me to forget that picture and just read the chapter without a pre-conceived idea about it that I realized the truth. Adam was right there with Eve. He wasn’t groggy or confused. He stood by silently while his wife talked with the serpent and took the forbidden fruit. And he ate some too. Then, the story made sense. However, for years I struggled with understanding God’s character. If this had taken deeper root in my heart, we can imagine it would seriously colored my understanding of God as an unfair God who was harsh – definitely not a God filled with love, grace, and mercy. The truth set me free to understand God as He is.

Jesus’ teaching in John 8 is about becoming a follower of Christ. If we follow Him, we know His words are true, and the truth sets us free. It sets us free from sin.

The Jews of the day keep saying, “We are the children of Abraham.” They want to hold onto tradition and religion instead of God’s Word and a relationship with Him through Christ. We are not set free from sin unless we follow Christ.

In our daily walk with God, this same truth sets us free from the lies of Satan that we have believed, but we won’t know we’ve been deceived if we don’t know God’s Word and don’t listen to the Holy Spirit. Verse 44 affirms that Satan is the father of lies. He wants to deceive us. Part of our daily spiritual battle is to hold onto God’s truth and to reject the lies of Satan.  

As we read the Scriptures, the Holy Spirit will help us apply the truths to our lives and help us break down the lies we’ve held onto in our lives.

Questions to Ponder:

  1. Has God shown you where you used to believe something that was a lie of Satan?
  2. Where do you struggle to believe what God says?
  3. What are ways you think Satan feeds us lies? How can we guard against it?
  4. Have you doubted that you are really saved? How have you combatted those thoughts?

Pray for God to reveal His truth to you each day and to show you where you are believing a lie. Each time a lie is revealed, confess it to God, and then reject it. Find a verse in Scripture that reminds you of the truth that proves that lie was wrong.

Tuesday: In My Weakness, He Is Strong

Scripture: 2 Corinthians 12:9-10

          One week my husband, who is a pastor had a crazy week with so many appointments ministering to members of our church that he literally had no time left to really prepare his sermon. He was panicked, but he prayed for God to be strong in his weakness. He had prepared a sermon outline, and he thought he had those notes even though he had not had time to add much to it. He was shocked when we got up to preach, he realized he didn’t even have the outline. Well, he had the outline everyone else had with blanks for taking notes. He had a partial outline that he filled in for everyone by reading the verses by each point. He felt like it was the worst sermon he’d ever shared in his life. He prayed for forgiveness and for God to use it somehow. To his surprise, this giant of a man came down the aisle at the end of the service crying. He gave his life to Christ that day. God is so amazing. He does what we can never do. He works through our feeble efforts and our weaknesses to bring glory to His name.

          In these verses Paul is talking about how God has worked in his life, and he boasts about the Lord. Then, he talks about how God gave him a “thorn in the flesh” to keep him humble. He prayed three times for God to remove this affliction, and God said no. The Lord impressed upon him that this served a purpose in his life.

          The reason we want to share these verses with you today in this section about spiritual warfare is two-fold:

  1. Some will say that God always heals, that He wants all Christian to be healthy, wealthy, and wise, and that if you are not healed, you just don’t have enough faith. Other than God wanting us to be wise, these are all lies, or at best, exaggerations.

In Matthew 17:20 Jesus tells the disciples that we only need faith the size of a mustard seed to move mountains. Certainly, if we believe God can heal, and we ask Him to heal, we have enough faith to see it happen. The Scripture where He is talking to the disciples about this was when they could not heal a boy possessed by a demon. Even in their lack of faith, Jesus still healed this boy. Even when the disciples were afraid in the storm, Jesus still calmed the storm even though he asked them where their faith was. These stories demonstrate that it really isn’t up to our amount of faith to determine whether God heals us. It is God’s plan. It is His will that is done, and it is what glorifies Him most that will be done. One theologian teaches us to pray, “Lord, please heal me, but if You will be glorified more by my illness/affliction/discomfort, then let it continue that You may be gloried in my life.”

  • God’s grace is sufficient for whatever we are going through, even temptation. In our weakness, He is strong. And He tells us in 1 Corinthians 10:13 that He will always make a way for us to escape temptation.

The conclusion then is in whatever situation we find ourselves, we trust God and pray that He is glorified. We pray as Jesus did, “Not my will, but Yours be done.” God may choose to heal or deliver us, or He may choose to walk with us through the illness or as we walk through overcoming addiction. We fight every temptation, struggle, attack from the enemy, or old habit we still cling to by prayer and God’s Word. We ask for help, for healing, for God’s supernatural intervention, and if He says, “No,” we keep walking, trusting, and growing as Christ walks along with us.

Questions to Ponder:

  1. Is it difficult for you to imagine God being glorified through someone’s suffering?
  2. Do you believe God can heal people supernaturally? Do you understand why He may choose not to at times?
  3. Is there an area in your life for which you are praying for healing? Can we join you in that prayer?
  4. In what weaknesses in your life do you see God being strong?

Pray for wisdom and God’s leading in your life. Pray for healing, but also pray with understanding that God’s will should be done. Pray that you will see the way out of every temptation and take it. Thank God for all He is doing in and through your life.

Wednesday: Put on the Full Armor of God

Scripture: Ephesians 6:10-20

          Satan tried to destroy some of the best plans we have, and he will use anyone he can. One day we were setting up for an event, and one of my dear Christian friends came over and just blasted me. She was literally screaming at me in front of everyone. I stood there in shock, trying not to cry or scream back. I prayed for God to intervene. Thankfully, He answered that prayer, and when she stopped yelling at me, I heard myself answer her calmly working to solve the problem that had her so upset. I was shaken up, but I was fine thanks to God’s help. A new Christian in our group witnessed the whole thing, and she began to cry. I went over to her to see if she was okay. She said she had never seen anyone respond to someone like that without yelling back. She was shaken by that, but it changed her life. I was in awe of God and what He had done that night. He had shielded me and had extinguished the fiery darts Satan was throwing at us through a friend who got upset. I’ll never forget that, and I’m happy to say I am still good friends with both women. God is so good.  

          God calls us to be strong and courageous, and He gives us the grace and strength to be strong and courageous. Notice the verses that follow this command to be strong IN THE LORD and in HIS great power – put on the full armor of God. We do not muster up strength or grit our teeth through the fear trying to be courageous. God equips us and clothes us enabling us to be both strong and courageous IN HIM, not in our own strength and our own weak-kneed courage. With Him, all things are possible – even standing with strength in the face of our biggest fears, anxieties, and spiritual battles.

          Verse twelve is such an important reminder. We are not battling each other or people who don’t believe like we do. We aren’t even battling those who treat us badly. Our battle is in the spiritual realm, against the enemy of God. And we fight this battle in prayer, in knowing God’s word, and holding on to faith and truth.

We may sometimes think of the armor of God as protection, which it is. It protects us from the lies and schemes of the enemy. However, we also need to look at what each piece represents in living the Christian life. We stand strong in the Truth of God’s Word, and we could remind ourselves that the Truth is also Christ, and like He said in John 15, we remain in Him. Remaining in Christ, abiding in Him, is where we find strength.

The breastplate of righteousness challenges us to live life the way the Bible teaches. It’s about having the fruit of the Spirit in our lives and making the choice to live a biblical culture even when it goes against our ethnic cultures. Living this way protects our hearts and minds. It protects us from falling into the lies of the enemy or compromising the Word of God.

Verse 15 is about the Gospel, and it reminds us of the verses that say how beautiful are the feet of those who carry the Good News (Isaiah 52:7; Romans 10:15), but verse 15 reminds us that the Gospel we carry also protects us. The Gospel reminds us that Christ has completely paid the price for our sin. He has forgiven us and made us new creations. The enemy may try to get us to doubt our salvation, but the Gospel reminds us that Christ saves us and holds us in His hand. Each piece of armor breaks down the fears of this world and the doubts in our hearts. In the armor of God we stand firm on the solid rock of Truth and find victory in the spiritual battles we face.

Verse 16 reminds us that our faith doesn’t just protect us by blocking Satan’s arrows, but our faith extinguishes, stops, puts out Satan’s fiery arrows. Our faith is a shield protecting our hearts and our whole body. Some Roman shields were tall enough to stick in the ground and hide behind. We’re not talking a little shield that we’re moving around constantly trying to stop the arrows. It’s a cool picture to realize the protection our Father is giving us.

In verse 17, the helmet of salvation covers our heads. Both the knowledge of our salvation and the Word of God help protect our minds from the lies of the enemy. Our God is a loving Father who forgives and protects His children.

Verses 18-19 are a call to pray. One of the temptations in life is to stop praying because we’re discouraged and want to give up. The minute we let that kind of defeat creep into our hearts and minds, prayer stops. Faith dries up. We’re either too lost in our own thoughts and grief or we feel so guilty we don’t want to look up to God. Don’t let doubt, discouragement, or guilt stop you. Look up to God and pray with whatever tiny morsel of faith you have, whatever tiny spark of hope is still trying to ignite, and pray. Our hearts and emotions are unreliable. Sometimes they are our worst enemies. If we can teach our children early that when they feel bad, pray, it will become their first reaction in life. We can practice the same thing too and develop the habit of turning to God at all times. When we’re afraid, pray. When we’re angry, pray. When we are happy, joyful, silly, or stubborn, pray, pray, pray. At all times.

Then Paul prays in verses 23-24 for God to give us peace, love, faith, and grace. It’s like we’ve got everything I need to live this life — God’s peace to carry us through the scary, hard times; God’s love to give us life and hope; God’s faith to strengthen and guide us; and His grace for all those times we fail. What an amazing blessing/prayer for each of us today.

Questions to Ponder:

  1. How can we put on the full armor of God each day?
  2. Who is the armor protecting us from?
  3. How does it make you feel to realize God has provided this armor for each of us?
  4. What should be our first response when we fail or when we are fighting a spiritual battle?

Pray and thank God for His provision for us in the battles of life.

Thursday: Jesus’ Standards Are Higher

Scripture: Matthew 5:21-30; Jeremiah 17:9-10

          We’ve been in ministry for many years now, and over the years, we’ve met our fair share of nasty people. One woman in particular came to our house and told Dave she wished he didn’t have a wife and kids. Then she turned to me and said, “No offense.” I disagreed. It was very offensive and hurtful. It would have been easy to stay angry and hate her. But I knew that was not what God would want. He tells us that hating someone is the same as murder. And He commands us to love our enemies and pray for them (Matt. 5:43-44). So, that’s what I did. I prayed for her. I did my best to be kind to her. Even after we left that church, she still seemed to hate me, and she criticized almost everything I ever did in the church. She even helped in trying to get my husband fired once. I tell you this because not all stories of our obeying God’s commands turn out happy. I prayed that God would help me have a good attitude toward her and not return the malice she seemed to have toward me. I’ve asked Him to examine my heart many times to make sure I’m not holding anger toward her. And to this day, I pray she finds peace and serves God faithfully. I don’t have anger toward her and want God to use her life. The last time I saw her, she still gave me the cold shoulder, but I just smiled and said hello. I felt completely free from any ill feelings toward her.

          When we learn about spiritual warfare, we quickly realize that much of the battle is fought in our minds and hearts. It is not a physical battle where we need Christian martial arts. Saying we fight it in our minds is not saying that it is all in our minds, as in, it’s not real. It’s more real than the chairs we’re sitting on. Satan is real. Sin is real. Temptation is real. And the battle is fought mostly in our minds.

          Part of the problem is that our minds and hearts can deceive us as much as Satan can. This is why we ask for wisdom daily and for God to renew our minds.

          As we continue learning about spiritual warfare, we must understand God’s heart. We think, “Oh, I’m a good person. I don’t sin as bad as other people.” Or “I don’t ________ anymore. I’m doing better.” Or “I never murdered anyone.” But God is concerned with our hearts and where they are. Jesus, in the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew takes the commandments and clarifies them for us. We think “thou shalt not murder” and Jesus says, “Yes, but if you hate someone in your heart, it is the same as murdering them in your heart.” We say, “At least I’ve never committed adultery.” And Jesus says, “If you’ve lusted after someone in your heart, it is the same as committing adultery.” God looks at our hearts. He judges our motives and desires.

          Therefore, when we think about spiritual warfare, we must also consider our hearts and minds. We must confess the sins of our hearts and minds. See Matthew 15:19-20. Sometimes we become preoccupied with blaming Satan for all our temptations, and the truth is, even without him, we would fail because we are still tempted by our own thoughts and desires. In the battle for our minds, we must know Scripture and hold onto it. We must pray. We must guard our hearts and renew our minds (Proverbs 4:23; Romans 12:1-2).

Questions to Ponder:

  1. What can we do to guard our hearts?
  2. What practical steps can we take to avoid temptation?
  3. When we understand sin not as a set of rules but a condition of our heart, what does that teach us about God?

Pray especially for protection, wisdom, and a renewed heart and mind.

Friday: Know Your Enemy

Scripture: John 10:10; 1 Peter 5:8; James 4:7

          When I was seven, I had recently become a Christian. We were driving down the freeway one day, and I was in the back seat of the car. Back then, we didn’t have seatbelts. I heard this voice in my head insisting and pushing, telling me to open the car door as we drove down the freeway at a high speed. Without thinking I started to reach for the door handle and stopped. It’s like God woke me up to realize what I was about to do. It was then that I realized that other “voice” was Satan. I knew he didn’t care about anyone. He didn’t care that I was a naïve little girl. He is evil and hatred personified. He only wants to destroy us.

          Satan is predictable. He doesn’t do new and different things. He’s been doing the same things since the beginning of his existence. He is a liar and seeks to steal, kill, and destroy. Some people think they can bargain with the devil or reason with him. Don’t even go there. He is a liar. There is nothing good in him. He isn’t like a terrible person. He is pure evil. We must understand that and seek to have nothing to do with him. We must trust God and draw ever closer to Him.

          When we play games with our spiritual lives by toying with sin or holding on to sinful habits, we are allowing Satan to tempt us more and to cause us to walk further away from God and His Word. We need to take our commitment to Christ seriously and spiritual warfare seriously.

          On the other hand, we do not need to obsess about spiritual warfare, but rather focus on following Christ. We need to know about our enemy and how he works, but we don’t need to fear him or focus on him. We also don’t need to challenge him. That is foolishness. Keep your eyes on Christ. Stay in the Word. Stand strong in the armor of God. These are the ways to live the victorious Christian life.

Questions to Ponder:

  1. Do you worry about or fear Satan?
  2. Have you tried to bargain with him?
  3. What concerns you most about spiritual warfare?
  4. What questions do you have about it that we haven’t answered yet?

Pray and worship God.

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