Have you ever read the famous “spiritual armor” passage in Ephesians and not really known what to do with it? Let my friend pastor Brian Borgman and co-author pastor Rob Ventura walk you through this tricky yet essential passage of Scripture in their new book, Spiritual Warfare: A Biblical and Balanced Perspective, now available for 50% (only $6.50) at WTS Books (while the Kindle version is only $2.99). Endorsers include Voddie Baucham, Carl Trueman, David Murray, and Paul Washer. The Foreword is by Steve Lawson. Brian was kind enough to answer a few questions for us about the book.
You’ve written a book on spiritual warfare. What are some common ways that Christians misunderstand this concept today?
There really are two extremes that are common. On the one hand you have Christians who view everything through the lense of demons, the devil and supernatural activity. Frequently they look at the Christian life in terms of deliverance, casting out demons, binding demons, spiritual mapping, formula prayers and so on. The obvious problem is that more basic issues like repentance, obedience, the power of God’s Word and the Holy Spirit in the ordinary means of grace are neglected or ignored. On the other hand, you have many who live as if the devil is a myth. Theologically he is a category, but practically he is virtually non-existent. This perspective suffers from a closed worldview, where there is very little interaction between the natural and supernatural. So the idea of spiritual warfare is not a daily reality. Both extremes are dangerous in their own ways and should be avoided. This is one of the reasons why our subtitle is “A Biblical and Balanced Perspective.”
What is Paul trying to do in Ephesians 6?
The background to Ephesus is crucial for understanding Ephesians as a whole. But it is Eph 6:10-20 which reaches something of a climax. The Ephesians were immersed in a culture and worldview that was very open to the powers, to spirits and to the occult. All we need to do is read Paul’s ministry in Ephesus in Acts 19 to see this super-spiritually charged society. Paul’s strategy in instructing the Ephesians then is not to deny the realities of the powers, but to put them in proper perspective. Paul’s treatment in Ephesians 6 is really rooted in the OT and Eph 1. Christ Himself is the Divine Warrior (Isa 59:16-17). He is the risen victor over the principalities and powers (Eph. 1:20-22). As we are in union with Him, He is our strength, He is our armor. So the focus in Eph. 6 is ultimately Christ Himself. Paul masterfully unfolds the armor for application in the fight, but we fight in the victory of Christ, the strength of Christ and the armor of Christ.
How can our application of Eph. 6 strengthen our personal discipleship?
Personal discipleship, I take to mean, is our daily commitment to follow Christ as Lord. It is our lives lived for His glory, by His glory, in joyful obedience to His will. If I understand Eph. 6, then I realize He has provided everything I need for a vibrant life as a follower of Jesus a soldier of the Cross. The armor can focus me in ways that strengthen my resolve in walking with Christ and standing firm in the battle. Eph. 6 is a great reminder to me about the battle, the provisions and the secured victory.
And our prayers for others?
Eph. 6 reminds us that others are a spiritual battle. So it can change the way we pray for our wives, our children, our fellow church members, pastors, missionaries and others doing the work of the Kingdom. It can also change our perspective, because as we pray for others, as Paul teaches, we remind ourselves to be patient with others, knowing they are comrades in the great struggle. They are not our enemies, the devil is our common enemy. We are also reminded how powerful prayer is in the battle.
How can churches can do a better job at cultivating corporate prayer?
I remember reading Spurgeon years ago on “Only a Prayer Meeting.” He talked about how central and vital prayer is for the body of Christ, especially the local church. We need to recover the importance of congregational, corporate prayer. It seems that the prayer meeting has fallen on hard times. That is probably because we have become too programmatic in our understanding of ministry. We need to recover the truth that prayer is one of our great weapons in this war. All we need to do is read the book of Acts to see the Kingdom-advancing power of corporate prayer. I do hope that this book does stir our desire to pray earnestly and preach fervently and make inroads into the kingdom of darkness.
Thanks, Brian, for taking the time to write this book and to interact with us.