Remember back in the 80’s, when spiritual warfare meant praying for people and casting out all of their demons? It was quieter work in the 80’s than it was in the 70’s, but that was what we knew of spiritual warfare.
Remember in the 90’s when spiritual warfare meant figuring out what all the territorial spirits (these are disembodied demons, maybe because we cast them all out in the 80’s) were in a region, and praying against them? You’d hear stories about so-and-so who went to such-and-such and holed up in a hotel room and prayed until the territorial spirit appeared to him. Spiritual warfare in the 90’s was a much bigger deal.
I’m not saying these understandings about spiritual warfare are all wrong or bad, but I do have a problem. I don’t see Paul in Acts (or anybody else in the New Testament for that matter, including Jesus) getting too concerned about dealing with demons, he just dispenses the ones that come along his path. No real need to go beating the bushes for them. But when he gets to the stronghold of Ephesus (you know, where the worshippers of Artemis shout him down for a couple of hours) he doesn’t change his way of dealing with things at all.
I have a new thought. It’s far less sexy… but it’s something anyone can handle. Here’s true spiritual warfare: go home, love your spouse, and care for your kids. Be nice to one another, and think of each other more highly than you do yourself. Don’t gossip, but bless each other instead. Pray for one another. When you do each of these things, you push back the darkness encroaching on your life, just an inch. When we all do it, there are a lot of inches on a lot of fronts, and we live in unity in the process. The Evil One loses ground in this fashion, and he flees. Whether some demon is oppressing an individual or doing the territorial thing, it doesn’t matter. With enough light shining an inch more at a time, he’ll get sick of it and run away someplace darker.
That’s true spiritual warfare… and when you see it this way, it’s as attainable as not getting angry in a traffic jam. Maybe even easier.