A spiritual battle behind the scenes

In military strategy camouflage and distraction are common features. There’s a spiritual battle going on behind the scenes which in many ways reflect this.

The primal lie

“Has God indeed said, ‘you shall not eat of every tree of the garden’”? (Genesis 3:1).

With that subversive question, the devil draws Eve into a dangerous conversation. He tempts her to respond to a story that is already wrong in itself. Today we would call it 'framing'. She chooses to engage in the conversation.

“Then the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil” (Genesis 3:4-5).

Eve gives in. The primal lie takes root in human history.

These are the basic ingredients of the deception:

  • First of all, God's intentions are being questioned. Does He really intend good for you? Could it be that He withholds desirable pleasure, knowledge, and power from you?
  • Once you have questioned God's thoughts, there is room for the introduction of a lie. Don’t you know you can become your own god! Direct your own life, only then you will be truly happy.
  • The false promise settles in: I'm better off without God.

Do you wonder why God allowed this deception? Read about it in [the risk of love].

The primordial lie that we ourselves can be like gods and achieve immortality on our own, runs like a thread through all religion that has developed over the past thousands of years. You can raise yourself to a state of divinity, enlightenment and insight through meditation, karma, good works, rituals, or even modern technique. In fact, deep inside you are a god yourself, intrinsically connected to all life. It is just as The Lost Keys of Freemasonry puts it:

'Man is a god in the making' (quote in G. Kah, En Route to Global Occupation, Huntington House Publishers, pg. 126).

In our days, this same old lie appears on the world stage, among other things in the rise of new age and transhumanism. Man builds a future for himself, supported by money, secular science, politics & technology. You don't need God anymore, do you?

Have you noticed that one can also encounter the primal lie in places where you might not expect it at all? In the official catechism of the Catholic Church, Jesus' mission is described as follows:

“For the Son of God became man to make us God. The only begotten Son of God, because he wanted us to share in his divinity, took on our nature, that, having become a man, he might make us gods” (article 460, pg. 114. Catechism of the Catholic Church, Gooi & Sticht, 2008, translation of the official Dutch publication).

Fake promises

While the devil and his dark team have a lot of influence, they aren't exactly creative. They supply counterfeit. Cheap extracts of what the eternal God does. In the timeline you will find that God is building a global community, across all generations and places. His goal is to live together in a loving covenant with all these people, forever. The devil sets up an anti-community in response. A community that does not want to live under God, but without God.

The prototype of this counterfeit is the ancient city of Babylon. Initially, it was a real, historic city. Later in the Bible, Babel became the symbol of the world living apart from God. In the last Bible book (Revelation) the city of Babylon again shows up, in the context of the final battle [a global pact]. It is opposite to the heavenly city of Jerusalem, the place where God dwells among His people. Early on in history, Jerusalem had functioned as a real, historical counterpart of Babel [God's Covenant at the Crossroads of Great Powers] and [490 - Israel]. Later, the city of Jerusalem, like Babylon, would get a symbolic meaning. The project of Babel will collapse at the end of time, unfinished, and the new, heavenly Jerusalem forever will take its place.

This historic city of Babel, in the Mesopotamian region (present day Iraq), was to become the cradle of all human religion we know today. From that location, the people, along with their religious ideas, symbols, and customs, have spread throughout the world [Ancient Babylon mingles among the nations].

The ideology to build a world empire on earth, ignoring the one true God, has persisted ever since. There are all kinds of lines from this ancient time, through history, to the here and now. Would it still be possible to finish the tower? In any case, the lie of self-deification, in a new guise, still fuels the anti-Christian powers at work in our day. And yes, it still goes along with the same false promises. Promises of peace, security, and happiness. No, we will not die. We don't need salvation. We take life into our own hands. We will be like God! But likewise in our time, that promise will prove to be of no worth.

All signs indicate that in our days we are going to see the climax of a six-thousand-year-old conflict. So maybe it's a good idea to make up your mind and exchange the fake for 'the real thing'. What about you? Do you have solid ground under your feet?  

Visible and invisible

The first strategy in a battle is to remain invisible for as long as possible. That is why military vehicles are inconspicuously colored and military strategists try to stay under the radar of the opponent as much as possible. As soon as the parties have come into contact with each other, the battle erupts openly. The same is true in the spiritual world.

The devil, with his spiritual army of demons, tries to remain invisible at first. In our western, materialistic world this works quite well. We usually don't consider what our eyes don't see. And we have ‘learned’ (especially through laughable and misguided representations in medieval art) that the devil is a fantasy figure of long ago. The devil not only hides behind materialistic philosophy, but also behind a torrent of beautiful words. He appears 'as an angel of light'.

Yet the craving for spirituality, mysticism, oriental meditation, witchcraft, dark elements in movies and games, and new age is openly increasing in the world. Spiritual warfare is becoming more and more overt. If you want to stand your ground in this battle, know what it is all about and put on the full armor of God!

The Spiritual Armor

Are we only spectators, or victims, of this great battle, or do we have a part in it ourselves? At the end of his letter to the Christians in the ancient Greek city of Ephesus, the apostle Paul refers to the spiritual warfare behind world history (Ephesians 6). He is modest when it comes to what we as humans can achieve in this regard. After all, it is God's battle. It is not primarily a struggle between human interests, but a conflict of spiritual powers.

But what we can – and must – do is hold out. Using the example of Roman armor, Paul explains what that means.

“For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rules of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand (Ephesians 6:12-13).

That armor consists of a number of parts:

  1. The belt of truth that holds everything together. It's about truth and lies. And for the courage to speak the truth. Every time you do that, you're on the front line.
  2. The armor of righteousness. It's not just about what you say, but it's important that your lifestyle also matches that. Living a righteous life protects you from assaults.
  3. Sandals that are willing to take the gospel everywhere. Our feet take us to all kinds of places. Talking about God in church is easy, but do you dare to do that in the student association or at work? If you lead a double life, you will become spiritually weak.
  4. The shield of faith to quench the flaming arrows of the evil one. There are always weak spots in the armor of righteousness. No man is perfect. The arrows of accusations about your mistakes and limitations can hit hard and silence you. By living from God's grace over your life you remain protected against such (possibly justified) charges. You don't have to be perfect first to represent God's gospel.
  5. The helmet of salvation. What influences do you allow into your thoughts through books, music, connections, movies, and games? If you feed yourself with what is good and true, God will have plenty of room to renew your mind. True thoughts are like a helmet that protects you. But if you allow your thinking to be polluted, your thoughts become clouded and obscured, and you will not be able to speak truth and life. It makes you prone to lies, pride, fear, shame, and guilt and all of this makes you vulnerable in this battle.
  6. The sword of the Spirit, God's Word. Opposite to the Roman sword, symbol of power and war, there is a very different sword here. Not by money, muscles and show of power, but by getting familiar in God's Word, the Bible, you can stand against attacks, deception and feints made by the enemy.  

It's all about liberating truth or deceptive lie. This great war comes together in one focal point: the courage to speak the truth of the gospel, in your family, at work, in politics, the pub, or at the university. Even Paul, that famous apostle, asks for help:

“(…) praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints, and for me, that utterance may be given to me, that I may open my mouth boldly to make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak” (Ephesians 6:19-20).

Across history, it is the unique position of Jesus and His Gospel that are at stake. In the timeline you can follow the trail of this battle through the ages, being confident that Gods victory is certain.

Identifying evil

A common thread in the Bible is that evil cannot simply be identified with 'other' people or groups. It's too easy to blame others and exonerate yourself. Everyone is part of the problem. The heart of the problem is the problem of the human heart. Every person needs God's grace and salvation.

Yet it is true that evil powers can manifest themselves remarkably clearly in certain people or organizations because these powers are given plenty of space. In that case it is necessary to be extra alert. It is possible to point out concrete situations, persons, or institutions where the darkness exerts its influence. So did the biblical prophets and Jesus Himself. They confronted individuals, certain groups and even entire nations with the wicked path they were walking. In the timeline, we identify, based on biblical prophecy, where the epicenter of the evil forces is located. Understanding this is indispensable for developing sound spiritual discernment about what’s going on in the world.

Judgments about people, organizations or developments can therefore be justified, if your own attitude is in accordance with the gospel. Keep in mind the following distinction. We can, with the help of the Bible, God's Spirit, and the community of saints, make judgments about practices and ideas found in the world, but the final judgment upon individuals is up to God and not us. If you keep that in mind, you can become sharp in your discernment and at the same time love even your worst enemy, because you leave the final judgment to God.

Judgment, contrary to what postmodernism would have us believe, is not by definition negative. When a mother serves a healthy meal to her child, it implies moral judgment. If she encourages that same child to get off the couch, that is also a form of judgment. Forming a judgment can be very positive. In fact, no one can live without it. Notice that the postmodern view, which implies you are not allowed to judge anything, naturally contains a judgment itself. Few cultural-philosophical trends are as inconsistent as our contemporary postmodern climate. The question is not whether we form judgments, but how we do it and for what purpose. This applies if you are a follower of Jesus. Developing spiritual discernment is vital to navigating world history as a Christian. The timeline helps you with this by showing how the spiritual battle has manifested itself over time up till our own days.  

Don’t be scared

Should you be afraid of finding yourself in the middle of the battlefield? Not if you belong to the CEO of heaven and earth, Jesus. He assured us:

“And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth” (Matthew 28:18).

It can be quite stormy on a micro and macro level. But ultimately God is 'in control'. He allows a lot, because He gives people freedom [see: the risk of love], but when He draws a line, it is over. The pretentious project of Babel ended with a snap [the migration of all nations]. The great statue of Babylon [see: Babylonia] will instantly collapse. When Jesus comes again, as He has promised, all boasting, and pride will be over immediately. Life can be troubling at times, but the outcome is certain.

“Those who trust in the LORD are like Mount Zion, which cannot be moved, but abides forever. As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the LORD surrounds His people from this time forth and forever” (Psalm 125).

A definite end

The spiritual battle behind the scenes is real, but temporary. The Bible knows nothing about yin and yang, about an eternal battle between good and evil. Only God is eternal (1 Timothy 6:16). That gives perspective. God is in the lead in this spiritual battle. Note the wording of Genesis 3:

“(…) And I will put enmity between you [the serpent] and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed. He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel” (Genesis 3:15).

God Himself sets up the enmity and provides the outcome. He promises that the serpent's head will be crushed. Erelong it will be end of story for God's adversary. God will start the new world. The primordial promise of salvation has been a prized possession for mankind for thousands of years. Everyone who has trusted in this promise has been incorporated into God's worldwide community. God's promise to our ancestors Adam & Eve forms the very first reference to…

Further investigations

  • Genesis chapter 3
  • Ephesus chapter 6
  • Revelation chapter18

The South African professor Walter Veith gave a series of 35 lectures in 2002. In it he showed step by step that world history can be understood as a 'total onslaught' (an all-encompassing attack). An attack on what or whom? On the uniqueness of Jesus, the Son of God. Jesus may be a religious hero or a prominent historical figure. But He may not be the Alpha and Omega, not the only begotten Son of God, not the Prince of Peace who rules all world history. The attempt to strip Jesus of His unique position and sideline Him is the deepest spiritual impetus behind many developments in our world. Veith thus concretizes the long running 'enmity' between the devil and the great descendant of Eve: Jesus of Nazareth (Genesis 3:15). You can find this Total Onslaught series on YouTube. Don’t look for a slick production here, but you will find a contribution that gives food for thought. It will be referenced a few times further down the timeline.