I grew up in a home where everything was spiritual. I mean everything.
The good parking spot at Walmart? “God’s favor.”
The $20 bill you found on the sidewalk? “God’s blessings.”
The good grade on a test you didn’t study for? “God’s wisdom.”
You get the drift. Everything wasn’t just spiritualized but over-spiritualized. Is it true that the Bible says, “Every good and perfect gift comes from above”? Absolutely. The problem is that we have a tendency to define what is “good and perfect” instead of leaving that to God.
For example, maybe it’s actually better for me to park a little farther away from the entrance to get extra exercise. That $20 bill I found? That was someone else’s lunch money for the week. And maybe the worst thing for me was acing a test I didn’t study for because it actually encouraged bad habits.
See what I mean?
Here’s the thing: Because of that over-spiritualization, as I grew older, I did what many of us are prone to do when we were raised “a certain way.” I swung the pendulum the other way. I started seeing almost nothing as spiritual. I came up with explanations that my natural mind could handle. That’s not to say there was no room for the spiritual, but there wasn’t much.
That’s a problem. And that’s the point of this post. It’s to explain – to remind us – that the spiritual world is real. Very real. And while some of the things we attribute to the spiritual world don’t belong there, I have learned that much more is spiritual than I realize.
So how did I get there – get “here” really? It all comes down to Paul, one of the most prominent Christians ever. In the Bible, he has these curious words that you might not expect from such a stalwart of the faith.
Here’s what he says in the biblical book of Romans:
For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it. So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me.
Here, we have this incredible Christian saying, “There’s something bigger at work.”
Let me pause here for a second. If you’re wondering how to decipher what is spiritual, especially a spiritual attack, Paul is giving us a good litmus test.
Have you ever wanted to stop doing something that you know is bad for you? Have you ever wanted to do something you know is right but couldn’t bring yourself to it?
Paul is telling us, “Hey, that’s sin.” And sin, by the way, is the ultimate spiritual attack. Let me be clear, that doesn’t mean that if you want to go for a run and it’s cold out and you can’t bring yourself to it that it’s a spiritual attack. But guess what: It could be. If you’re struggling with your health, and that struggle is keeping you lazy, and that laziness is affecting your family life, then you may want to dig into that.
Here’s my point (and Paul’s): Spiritual attacks, also called spiritual warfare, are present in our lives on a daily basis, and they look a lot like not being able to just “will” ourselves into right thinking or right actions. For that, we need to tap into a higher power.
In case you need further convincing about how “real” the spiritual is, we can turn again to Paul. In another one of his books, Ephesians, he writes it out clearly:
“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”
Pretty clear, right? There is a “dark world,” “spiritual forces of evil” and a “heavenly realm.”
Does that mean we never have physical struggles? Not at all. But the point is that our war is bigger than our individual battles.
I speak from experience here. I have been diagnosed anxiety and OCD. Those are real, physical issues. I take medication for them. I go to therapy for them. My brain isn’t wired “correctly.” It’s a medical issue. However, it’s also a spiritual issue. There are spiritual aspects at work. I have a pride issue. That pride issue says I can control everything so my mind races to do that. I have a control issue so my mind looks for ways to try and control every possible outcome. I have a trust issue so my brain hates uncertainty and looks for ways to create it at all costs, much to my detriment. And when I can’t, my body has a physical reaction.
The point is that there is a physical issue, yes. But there is also a spiritual one. We are both physical and spiritual beings. We can’t ignore either.
So why write about this now? Well, I think we’re in a season where, more than ever, we are exposed to the spiritual, even if we don’t realize it. Halloween is a time when we are confronted with spiritual ideas and concepts nearly constantly. I’m actually really appreciative of Halloween for that fact. It gives me an opportunity to talk to my children about how “real” the spiritual is. About how we have to take it seriously. About how it is all around us.
I’m not saying what you should or shouldn’t celebrate or do. But no matter where you fall, you should use this “season” to think about the spiritual aspect of your life. How not everything is physical. How the world has an enemy that operates outside of just what we can experience with our physical senses, and he’s doing everything he can to destroy us.
That’s no hyperbole. It’s a fact. And my prayer is that you use this Halloween season to remind you of that, prepare for it and then fight back.
We’ve been equipped with armor to do just that. Let’s not forget that. And that armor is for way more important things than to fend someone off for a prime parking spot at Walmart..