5 Basic Truths of Spiritual Warfare

Part One


Dr. John Hoole – August 11, 2019




In our last lesson, I presented to you what I called the “5 Basic Truths of Spiritual Warfare.”


1.  First Basic Truth: There is an invisible world.


2.  Second Basic Truth:  We are involved in an invisible war.


3.  Third Basic Truth:  Our Foe is Formidable


4.  Fourth Basic Truth:  We must respect our foe, but not fear him.


5.     Fifth Basic Truth:  We do not fight for victory, we fight from victory.



During our previous lesson, I said I would expand on these 5 truths in future lessons.  Today, Lord willing, I want to talk about the first two.


                •  There is an invisible world.


                •  We are involved in an invisible war.


1.  First Basic Truth: There is an invisible world.


We need desperately to be convinced of this truth.  John Milton, the English poet who wrote “Paradise Lost” and many others, said this:  “Millions of spiritual creatures walk the earth unseen, both when we sleep and when we awake.”  That is a good quote, and is certainly true, but let’s start with the Scripture.


Colossians 1:16 NKJV


16    For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him.


This informs us that Christ created both that which is visible and invisible  We need to understand that there is an invisible world.  The Bible does not introduce to us this world just in passing.  The Scripture we just read is not an isolated text.  The invisible world is just as real as our visible world.


You and I live in a world made by an invisible Being, and this world is thick with invisible things.  They are all around us, in a sense, but not immediately obvious, probably because the visible world is so imposing.


A good example of the invisible world is found in 2 Kings 6.  I alluded to this passage in our last lesson, but today let’s look at it more carefully.


2 Kings 6:8-9 NKJV


8      Now the king of Syria was making war against Israel; and he consulted with his servants, saying, "My camp will be in such and such a place."

9      And the man of God sent to the king of Israel, saying, "Beware that you do not pass this place, for the Syrians are coming down there."


The story tells us that when the king of Syria (Aram) planned to attack Israel at a certain place, the Spirit of God would reveal that to prophet Elisha, who would then tell the king of Israel.  After the same occurred several times, the Syrian king thought he had a traitor in his own camp.  Then he was informed that the person who knew the inside info. on the plans of the Syrians, was the prophet Elisha.  So the Syrian king attempted to capture Elisha.  But Elisha was quite illusive, because he knew their plans in advance.  They received information as to where Elisha was, and surrounded the entire city.


The next morning, Elisha’s servant woke up at sunrise and went outside.  Surrounding the city of Dothan were hundreds, maybe thousands, of horses, chariots, and warriors.  The servant panicked and wakened his master.  When Elisha assessed this dire situation, he offered one of the stranger statements in all of Scripture.  He said: “Do not fear, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them” (2 Kings 6:16).


The servant must have thought the old prophet had lost a cog in his mind.  His prophecy may have been great, but his math was terrible,  These two men were surrounded by a vast army of professional killers.  And each of these soldiers were dedicated to the wish of the evil Syrian king.  The prophet and his servant were preparing for breakfast, not for war.  In the eyes of the servant, the situation was hopeless.  But Elisha calmly assured the young man that the two of them had the upper hand.


As the story unfold, we see what Elisha meant.  He prayed that his servant’s eyes would be opened to the reality of God’s invisible army.  When the servant looked with new eyes that could see into the invisible, he was amazed to see that behind the armies of Syria were horses and chariots of fire.  God’s heavenly forces were ready to fight supernaturally for the servants of God.


For a moment, the invisible became visible, and it was incredible.  But, for the Syrian enemies, the reverse was true.  The visible suddenly became invisible – they were struck with blindness.  In their blindness, the Syrian army was led straight into the king of Israel and his forces.  The invisible world turned out to be just as real as the visible world – and more powerful.


The Bible is very clear about the existence of angels, Satan and demons and that they are organized by role, power and rank.  We may not know all the details, but we do know what the Bible affirms – there is an invisible world.


2nd Basic Truth:  We are involved in an invisible war.


In our last lesson – the Introduction to Spiritual Warfare – we discuss the terms or word pictures that we find in the Scriptures to speak of the Church.  In that discussion, I provided you with 9 word-pictures.  In our discussion, you provided a few additional ones that were not on my list.


The last one I showed on my chart was the Church as an army – taken from Ephesians, chapter 6.  In today’s lesson, I want to expand on that thought.  This is a more graphic picture of the church than the others, and some might think it gives the church a rather negative description.  Some might object to describing the church in military terms.  They might say, “I thought we worshiped a gentle Jesus.”  “I thought Jesus told us to turn the other cheek.”  They might add, “Jesus never picked up a sword, did he?”


While discussing the church as an army may not fit well with all the descriptions of our Lord, Jesus did, in fact, talk about the sword.  In Matthew 10:34, Jesus says He came not to bring peace, but a sword.  Jesus knew that we were going to be engaged in conflict and tension because of the Gospel.


You really cannot read your Bible, and not come face-to-face with the concept of war.  It really does dominate the Bible.  J.C. Ryle says, “The history of Christ’s true church has always been one of conflict and war.”


The military metaphor is probably not very popular, at least not in the American society of our day.  Christians are told to dialogue with people of differing faiths.  And we are told not to say things of another faith that is harsh.  We must have friendly conversations with them in order to solve our differences.


I do believe that, as Christians, we should interface with all people with the love that Jesus has loved us.  However, I do believe that we can establish from Scripture a strong argument for seeing the church as an army.  The military metaphor is quite substantial.  In fact, we could almost go anywhere in our Bible to find war mentioned.


Think of the Old Testament; think of how much of the historical narrative is punctuated with war.  In the Book of Exodus, you have the word “war” five times.  In the book of Numbers, twenty-one times.


                       Deuteronomy – 10 times.

                       Joshua – 17 times.

                      Judges – 10 times

                      1 Samuel – 8 times

                      2 Samuel – 9 times

                     `Psalm – which is a book of worship – mentions war 8 times.

                               King David, who wrote most of the Psalms, was a man of war.


This may surprise you, but God places Himself under the image of war.  He is called the “Lord of Hosts.”  This is the English translations of the Hebrew, “Yahweh Tsabaot.”  Yahweh is the Hebrew name of God, meaning “I Am.”  It shows God’s self-sufficient and self-existent nature.  It is the name by which He instructed the people to remember Him throughout all generations.


Tsabaot, however, comes from the Hebrew Tsaba, which is the Hebrew word for army.  In the Bible, Tsabaot is used in three ways.  All the created celestial bodies – sun, moon and stars – are called a host.  So are all the angels of God referred to as a “host” or and “army.”


But the hosts which God command is not limited to celestial bodies or angelic beings.  It also extends to human armies of believers.  Consider what David said to Goliath in the Valley of Elah (Elah mentioned in 1 Samuel 17:2, 19)..


1 Samuel 17:45 NKJV


45    Then David said to the Philistine, "You come to me with a sword, with a spear, and with a javelin. But I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied.


The armies of Israel were under the leadership of Yahweh.


        The phrase, “Lord of Hosts,” is used in the Old Testament 278 times.


I can hear someone say (not, of course, in this crowd today) that the use of military terms may have been mentioned in the Old Testament, but, in the New Testament, didn’t things change?  You are right, we are New Testament believers, but even when you pick up the New Testament, you hear swords clashing, you see soldiers marching.  The war terminology does not disappear once we turn to the New Testament.


There are a “host” (if I may use that word here) of Scriptures in the New Testament that identify the followers of Christ, at times, as an army.  We are not going to look at them all today.  I really want to focus on just one.


Ephesians 6 is the go-to passage where the body of Christ is mentioned in military terms.  We will address that chapter thoroughly, but not today.


The first of the many trips to the Holy Lands God has allowed me was in October, 2003.  It was also one of the longest trips – including Egypt, Israel and Jordan.  And, ever since then, this class has heard me use Matthew 16 in many of my lessons.  It has become one of my favorites because of the monumental thing said by Christ there.  The place is Caesarea Philippi, the most northernly recorded place where Jesus is said to have gone.  Those of you going to Israel later this year will be visiting this place.


I want to go through the details of the biblical narrative again today.  As I go through it, I want you to observe where it is that the church is pictured as an army.  But, it does so without using the word ‘army.’  So, you will really have to be observant.  I am sure that some of you here today already know the answer, but let me go through what happens here.


Jesus and the disciples had been in the city of Bethsaida, and they walked some 25 kilometers north.


Matthew 16:13 NKJV


13    When Jesus came into the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, saying, "Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?"


                This account is also told in Mark 8 and Luke 9.


At Caesarea Philippi, we visited the place you are looking at now.  I will come back to this picture,  but first I want to show you a few more scenes of the area near this cave.  I climbed the hill to the left of the cave, and took a few pictures.


In this photo, you see the cave at the far left.  But, now you are able to see what archaeologists have uncovered in this area.


Let’s move a little closer.  What you see are the foundations of several temples and courtyards that existed in the 1st century when Christ and His disciples were here.


Here is an artist’s conception of what this area might have looked like when built by Philip the Tetrarch – son of King Herod the Great. It was similar to other Roman cities of that era.  While the city of Dan, 5 miles west of this city, was a Jewish city, Caesarea Philippi was a gentile city.  Caesarea Philippi is located in the very northern part of Israel.  Christ comes to this place, a place that during the first century was used for pagan worship.


Inside the cave you see in this slide is a large spring of fresh water.  This is one of the 3 headwaters of the Jordan River, which join in the Huleh valley, then flow into the Sea of Galilee.


At this location, we are 350 meters (1,100’) above sea level  (Sea of Galilee is 205 meters (670’) below sea level) and are on the southern woodland slopes of the 2,900 meter (9,200’) Mount Hermon.


The spring in this cave produces an immense amount of water.  Looking into the cave, you see what looks like very little water.  That is a great difference from what it looked like only 182 years ago.  Until 182 years ago, the water flowed out over the ground in front of the cave.  An earthquake in 1837 caused debris from the rock cliff above to fill the ground in front, and partially inside the cave, and since that time, the water has flowed underground to the pools you see.


These pools are not still or standing water.  As you can see in this video, the water is moving quite rapidly.


Just to the right of the cave entrance, you will see a large hole carved out of the rocky face of the cliff.  You can also see a small recess carved above the larger.


Before this area was called Caesarea Philippi, its name was Panias (or Banias in Arabic – Arabic alphabet has no letter “P” in it).  This was to honor the mythical Greek god Pan.  Those carved holes once held idols to the god Pan.


If you examined further along this rock cliff, you would see many other holes carved for placement of idols.


With that in mind, this would be a natural place for Jesus to stop for refreshment with his disciples, and then ask them, "Who do people say I am?"   Jesus often taught his disciples using illustrations and parables that were related to the physical context in which He was ministering.


For instance, Christ said “I will make you fishers of men” while they were mending their nets.  And He spoke about a “sower who went out to sow,” at a location where they could visibly see sowing occurring.


So, Jesus asks the disciples, "Who do people say I am?"    In Matthew 16:14, the disciples answer: “Some say you are John the Baptist, some say Elijah, others say Jeremiah, or one of the prophets.”


Then Christ turns the attention away from who other people say He is, to asking his disciples, “with regard to what you see here and the gods worshiped in this place, who do YOU believe I am”?


In answer to Christ's questions, Peter declared, “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God,  In saying that, it challenged all the gods in the holes of the cliff whether they be Baal, Pan, Zeus or the emperor himself.  To me, this implies that Christ walked to this place specifically to teach his disciples this lesson.  This is the only biblical record of Christ in Caesarea Philippi.


After Peter makes his declaration concerning Christ, Matthew 16 records 3 historic statements and predictions pronounced here by Jesus.


1.  The Church


Matt 16:18 NKJV


18    And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. 


For the first time, Jesus announced His purpose to build an ecclesiaThe Church – a community of the redeemed, called out to be His Body on earth.


2.  His call to descipleship


Matthew 16:24-26 NKJV


24    If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. 

25 For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. 

26 For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?


Jesus is saying that His Church, His body, will be composed of those on earth who would deny themselves and follow Him.


3.  His coming death and resurrection


Matthew 16:21 NKJV


21    From that time Jesus began to show to His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day.


                He tells his disciples of his impending death for the first time.


Here’s my question:  Did you observe where the church is seen as an army of soldiers?  It is found in Matthew 16:18, in His statement about the Church.


Jesus said, “I will build My church.”  Now, that doesn’t sound like a military image.  It sounds more like a building analogy.  But did you notice the remainder of the verse.  “And the gates of Hades will not prevail (overcome) it.”


The “it” spoken of here is the Church.  How many of us has seen this verse as picturing the church as being on the defensive against the powers of hell?  That is not the picture here.  The church is not on the defensive here.  The church is on the offense.  The church is aggressively attacking.


“The gates of Hades will not prevail.”  Gates are not offensive weapons.  -  Gates are defensive in design.  You hide behind gates – they are there to protect. – they surround a city.  What I see here is that the devil and his army are hunkered down, hiding behind gates.  The devil and his minions are on the run – they are in the defensive mode.  Somebody is attacking them. – Who?  The Church.  The church, with their gospel-battering rams, are attacking the gates of Hades.  The church is on the offensive in this war.


To conclude our lesson today, let me tell you a story about a British soldier.  Sir William Slim knew war as well as any man.  As a distinguished commander, he served in the British army, fighting in both World Wars.  He was wounded three times.  He was a brilliant strategist who wrested victory from near-certain defeat more than once.  He was beloved by his men and is revered in British history.


When asked where he learned his greatest lesson as a soldier, Lt. General Slim told a story so simple yet effective that to this day, it is repeated in the training manuals of the United States Marine Corp.


“Many years ago,” he said, “as a cadet hoping some day to be an officer, I was pouring over the ‘Principles of War’ manual, listed in the Field Service Regulations, when the Sergeant-Major came up to me.  He surveyed me with kindly amusement.  ‘Don’t bother your head about all them things, me lad,’ he said. “There is only one principle of war and that’s this.  Hit the other fellow, as quick as you can, and as hard as you can, where it hurts him most, when he ain’t lookin!’  That is war in its simplest form.


From the earliest day, war has been easy to define.  Opposing armies had names; each represented its own nation or leader; each wore identifying uniforms and used similar kinds of weapons.  The armies met on identifiable battlefields, and the war had a beginning and an ending.  They had political leaders, who sanctioned the army’s participation in a war.  And those leaders were available to sit down at the end of a war, sign a treaty, and agree the war was over.


One of the first signs that the nature of modern military engagement was changing appeared during the Vietnam War.  A new kind of military conflict emerged – called guerrilla warfare.  The term “Guerrilla” is of Spanish origin.  The Spanish word for war is “Guerra,” from which “guerrilla” is derived.


This kind of war is more confusing.  You don’t always know who is the enemy – they didn’t always wear identifiable uniforms.  “Guerrilla” means “little war.”  I could involve a small group conducting “hit-and-run” attacks.


For the Christian, it might seem the definition of our spiritual war is even less defining.  The Christian’s enemy is not in uniform, and he does not meet us on an easily identifiable battlefield.  He uses ruthless and unconventional tactics, such as deceit, deflection and disguise.  And, furthermore, this enemy is invisible.


While this war seems confusing and undefinable to us, we have a Commander who sees things very clearly.  And we are going to need his help in giving to us the perfect intelligence needed to defeat our enemy.  We can never fight this war alone.


Unlike human armies, which face physical opponents, Christians face intangible and invisible opponents.  Under normal conditions, the enemy against which we wage war cannot be perceived by human senses.  The danger we face is attempting to rely upon our own reason and experience to develop personal human strategies for our warfare.


Because we know very little about the strengths, capabilities, and strategies of our opponent, and because we cannot usually see into that realm, we must rely exclusively upon the combat information revealed to us in the Scriptures.  Although God has not told us all the things He knows, He has told us all we need to know for the battle.