Spiritual Warfare: A Biblical & Balanced Perspective
Brian Borgman & Rob Ventura
Reformation Heritage Books, 2014
Spiritual warfare is real, wreaking havoc in our world. It is not a war of bullets, bombs and drones; of planes, warships and tanks; but a war that rages in the hearts and minds of all who listen to satanic lies – lies bombarding us from many directions, but always rooted in that malignant being known as the devil. These lies lure us away from worshiping and obeying the one true God revealed in the 66 books of the Bible.
Beginning in the Garden of Eden, where Adam & Eve rebelled against God by believing the serpent’s lie that eating forbidden fruit would make them like God (Genesis 3:1-24), this war has raged uninterrupted to this present day.
When coming to spiritual warfare, there are two extremes to avoid: first, an excessive interest in the devil, demons and their strategies that seems to outstrip the Bible itself; and second, a dismissive attitude or denial that the devil “prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8 ESV) – that this war is real and raging. Borgman and Ventura, recognizing the danger in both extremes, set out to give a biblical and balanced perspective on living faithfully in a spiritually ravaged world.
Living the Christian life is not merely about mastering one truth or even a set of principles. Rather, it is learning to think and act biblically. We must be reminded of certain truths frequently so that we don’t become unbalanced or myopic in our view of the Christian life. One such truth is that we are in a war of the most serious nature, and that war is not with flesh and blood but against spiritual forces of darkness. This vital truth ought to shape our worldview. Unfortunately, some Christians almost completely ignore the reality of this war. Others, however, seem to give it far more attention than Scripture does. There is certainly danger in both extremes (p.1).
Having stated the need for balance in understanding the nature of spiritual warfare – of living victoriously over sin and temptation – the authors provide a brief overview of the biblical history of spiritual warfare followed by a careful, concise study of Ephesians 6:10-20, the fullest biblical treatment of the topic. The discussion unfolds as follows.
- Be Strong in the Lord
- Put On the Full Armor of God
- The Schemes of the Devil
- The Nature of Our Conflict
- The Belt of Truth
- The Breastplate of Righteousness
- The Gospel of Peace Footwear
- The Shield of Faith
- The Helmet of Salvation
- The Sword of the Spirit
- Warfare Prayer
- Warfare Prayer and Proclamation
- Spiritual Warfare Debriefing
Three appendices add excellent value to this small volume.
- The Sovereignty of God and Satan
- Can a Christian Be Demon-Possessed?
- Christian, Pray for Your Pastors!
Devoting three chapters and one appendix to vital place of prayer in spiritual warfare, Borgman and Ventura tell us that “prayer the critical component of our warfare, saturating each piece of our armor” (p.88). In support of that assertion, they quote Joel Beeke:
Prayer is critical because every piece of Christian armor is useless without it. Prayer is like oil. Just as every part of an engine is useless without oil, so every part of Christian warfare is vain without prayer. Fighting Satan without prayer is like David fighting Goliath in Saul’s armor. The armor doesn’t fit, and it is ineffective against the blows of the enemy” (Beeke, Striving Against Satan, 56) (p.88).
Readers seeking information on spirit-world hierarchies, prayer mantras and demon-busting strategies will need to look elsewhere. Borgman and Ventura are content to say all that Scripture says and nothing more; concerned to draw believers back to the sure Word of God. There is nothing novel or sensational here – just solid, careful biblical exposition that builds the believer up in faith.
Each chapter concludes with four probing questions for discussion and reflection making this a great book for a small group study. Pastors will also find this a great resource in helping to develop a series of expositions on Ephesians 6:10-20. This is how I’ve made use of the book.
I warmly recommend this biblically faithful, reader-friendly and balanced treatment of spiritual warfare.