Most Christians are familiar with the phrase “the spiritual battle,” a term used to describe the war raging between the forces of good and evil. It is the ageless war between light and darkness, between God and His archenemy, the Devil. Unfortunately, all humankind—every man, woman, and child who has ever lived—is in the middle of the war, caught between the two great opposing armies. The war that started in the heavens above has spilled over the borders of the spirit realm into the Earth.
Wars between nations are generally fought for a variety of reasons. Sometimes it’s about acquiring new lands, seizing goods and riches, or simply increasing political power. In the case of the spiritual battle, the objective sought by both sides is the fertile soil of the minds and hearts of humankind. God’s ultimate plan has always been to have a kingdom filled with those who love Him and want a real relationship with Him, which He aims to accomplish through love and giving people the freedom to make their own choices. The Devil, on the other hand, is doing all he can to thwart God through coercion, manipulation, lies, and deceit. Although Satan desires to have followers who will openly and brazenly follow him, he will settle for much less. In his twisted thinking, he will accept the crumbs of people simply rejecting God as a victory for him.
As time marches on, Satan’s forces continue to promote immorality, rebellion, greed, and all manner of sinfulness, while the forces of Righteousness promote order, respect, love, and holiness. This makes the boundary line between the two opposing sides very clear. In this war, there is no safety afforded to those who prefer to sit on the proverbial fence—because as someone once said, “The Devil owns the fence.” Jesus made this crystal clear when he told his followers that whoever is not with him is against him, and whoever does not gather with him scatters (Matt. 12:30). In order for us, the children of God, to navigate the minefields of this war surrounding us, we need to be clear on the battlefields on which this war is being fought.
Strategies change but the battlefields remain the same
Over time, the various moves and strategies of the Evil One has changed, but the war continues to be fought on the same battlefields. When we step back from the frontlines of war, we can see the battles being waged on seven major battlefields.
- Media & Communication
- Arts & Entertainment
- Business & Economy
Many Christians have given little thought to these seven battlefields and the amount of influence they exert over them, despite the fact that Loren Cunningham, of Youth with a Mission, and Bill Bright, of Campus Crusade for Christ, first spoke of them in 1974—over forty years ago. As followers of Christ, we must become better at discerning the moves of the Enemy on these battlefields in order to aid the forces of God in this conflict. Doing so will help us all to improve in employing the proper countermeasures, which aids the forces of light in mounting effective offensive actions.
The Seven Battlefields
In the Book of Proverbs, God informs us that the two major ways that people’s hearts are influenced are by the things we see with our eyes and hear with our ears. This may be why God provides the reader of Proverbs with so many warnings to protect his or her heart by being very careful about what we look at and listen to. Like any great war that involves many different battlefields, the one being fought for the hearts of humankind is happening in seven different arenas of life:
1. Media & Communication
The ability to exchange ideas and disseminate information, whether true or false, is one of the most important ways to influence and control people. This is why the battlefield of Media and Communication is a critical arena for the armies of light and the forces of darkness. Since the beginning of time, the Adversary has attempted to control mankind by shaping thought, which he does by controlling information. The story of Nimrod and the Tower of Babel is a perfect example of how the Devil was able to use mankind’s singular language as a means to promote his evil agenda of rebellion against God (Gen. 10-11). The fact that God stepped in and shook things up by limiting man’s ability to communicate demonstrates exactly how key this field of combat is in the spiritual war.
Since humankind’s dispersion following the confusing of languages at the Tower of Babel, our ability to freely communicate has been very limited. Even when translations into multiple languages could be made, in the past it still took time for hand-written or spoken royal edicts to filter through the empires, and for vital information from remoter regions to make its way back to the rulers.
This greatly changed in 1440 when Johannes Gutenberg invented the printing press. Suddenly our ability to communicate exploded. It was estimated that in the mid 1500’s the Reformation of Christianity was greatly fueled by Martin Luther’s 95 theses being printed over 250,000 times in a very short span. Bibles were the first thing to ever roll off the press, which allowed the masses to question the ruling powers by undermining their ability to control social thought.
In the past 100 years, the field of communication has exploded with the telegraph followed by the telephone, radio, and television. Just as the battlefield of Media and Communication can be used for good, it can also be a source of much evil. Today we are again seeing a great clashing of spiritual swords with the exponential explosion of communication through the Internet and social media. Ideas can now traverse the globe in mere seconds. It is no coincidence that false information dominates this stage.
2. Arts & Entertainment
The field of Arts and Entertainment, which includes the music industry, television shows, movies, and books, is very similar to Media and Communication in that it is about the transfer of information—although it is a much subtler way of influencing the minds and thoughts of humankind. God tells us that “bad company corrupts good character (1 Cor. 15:33), which is why the kind of company we keep with our thoughts is heavily influenced by the things we see and hear.
Nowadays television, movies, and the Internet bring all kinds of ungodly content into our homes and workplaces as they promote sensuality, spread lies, or instill fear and a desire for vengeance. When used for evil, the Arts & Entertainment can desensitize the populace to all kinds of godless behaviors and ideas. It has been said that by age 18, children spend more time subjecting their minds to the influence of the arts and entertainment than they do in the classroom. On the other hand, these things can also be used to praise and worship the Creator and to spread the gospel. How it is being used depends on which army is winning the conflict.
Most people readily understand the tremendous influence that the Arts & Entertainment and the Media & Communication have on people, but the battlefield of Education is equally impacting on minds and hearts. In the western world, a child begins formal schooling as early as four or five years old (children now attend formalized “pre-school” at age 4). Even just between the first and twelfth grade, the average child spends close to 11,000 hours1 in the classroom. Consider too the additional time spent doing homework assignments, extracurricular activities, and additional years of schooling at the university level, and you can see how people can literally be programmed to think and act a certain way by such a constant environment.
It should be no wonder, then, why we are seeing an explosion in anti-Christian worldviews as children are bombarded by thousands of hours of secularism, scientism, materialism, pluralism and gender issues. Clearly the battlefield of Education is especially harmful when you have academia geared toward an anti-God environment.
In his book Invading Babylon, author Bill Johnson stated, “While it could be argued that the entertainers today have the greater role in shaping the minds of the young, it is the educators who generally shape the minds of the entertainers in their way of thinking.”2 It is no wonder that we are now seeing more youth that are confused, lacking a moral anchor, and are becoming a generation of “nones”—no god, no morals, no genuine right or wrong.
Unfortunately, much of the intrusion of the various worldviews that promote anti-Christ type attitudes is the result of Christians not being more engaged in, or even abandoning altogether, the battlefield of Education. Turning the primary responsibility of the education of our children over to “professional” educators plays right into the Enemy’s hand. No parent would ever think of sending their child to a restaurant where 1 in 10 people die of food poisoning, but yet many never even think twice about sending their children into an educational system where they are routinely exposed to poisonous thinking and belief systems. I am not against public schools, but parents cannot be absent when it comes to what our children are being taught. We must remain engaged in this battlefield if we are to counteract the forces of evil.
4. Business & Economy
Godly people conduct themselves ethically in business and the handling of money. For them, unlike the ungodly, the ends do not justify the means and acting with integrity is highly treasured, even if it means losing money in a business deal or an investment. Contrast that with the ungodly who will steal, cheat, and lie as they seek unjust enrichment, even when it comes at great loss and pain to others.
The battlefield of Business and Economy is vitally important to both the armies of God and the Devil because it’s often through the medium of money that good and bad is greatly promoted and sustained. Consider how the other battlefronts are supported through business and the economy. The bottom line is that Hollywood and the music industry are essentially just businesses; they cease work when the money stops flowing into them. Even television networks such as NBC, CBS, FOX, and others must be supported through advertising revenue. Cut off the revenue, and their ability to promote their agendas shifts into neutral—it goes nowhere.
Money is power, and it buys influence, which is why there are so many verses in the Bible that speak of money and goods, and the godly way of handling of them. The importance of this battlefield can be inferred simply from the fact that there are about 500 verses in the Bible on prayer, but there are over 2,350 on the handling of money and possessions. 3
There is a reciprocal, albeit almost a parasitic, relationship between the battlefield of business and the others. The kind of person who wins on the battlefield of Media, Arts, Communication, and Education determines the kind of person who will lead in Business, and the kind of person leading in Business in turn supports them. God has given us clear instructions concerning business and the economy;
Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”Hebrews 13:5 NIV
Government is the ultimate form of control over other people, and those who govern are determined and swayed by all the other battlefields (Media, Entertainment, Education, Business, Religion, and Family).
I do not believe there is one particular form of government that is good or evil in itself. While it is true that there are some that are more inclined toward evil, or are more easily manipulated by it, a righteous government exists whenever the leadership governs righteously. A dictatorship can be kind and benevolent, if you have a kind and benevolent dictator. Even a representative form of government, like the one we have in the United States today, can become corrupt when you have elected elites who are more devoted to self-interest and personal enrichment than they are to governing in accordance with God’s desires and ways.
The actual type of government is irrelevant, because a government simply reflects the nature of those who are in position to govern. God even tells us that there is a day coming when a sole King will rule, and it will be a great and wonderful time because that King will righteously administer justice and promote peace (Rev. 20:6). Speaking of the 2016 Presidential election in the United States, Dr. Lance Wallnau correctly stated in his book, God’s Chaos Candidate:
“This is not a conflict, as some would like to make it, between opposing political parties or economic views. It is a conflict of a much more fundamental and cosmic nature.”4
Clearly, as followers of Jesus, we need to pray for an increase in godly leadership in government.
I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people—for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior.1 Timothy 2:1-3 NIV
Of all the various fields of spiritual engagement, Christians tend to be the most familiar with the battlefield of Religion. Here the enemy lines stand out distinctly with their erroneous beliefs and idolatrous falsehoods. Although Christianity continues to spread, so too does paganism. It is reported that out of a world population now approaching 7 billion people, there are about 2.2 billion Christians, 1.6 billion Muslims, 1 billion Hindus, and 360 million Buddhists 5. Add to this mix the other minor world religions, plus the New Age movement, Spiritism, Mysticism, and Witchcraft, and you can see there is a formidable foe out there. All of these movements are violations of God’s first command: to worship the only true God.
One thing we can be sure of as we draw closer to the return of Christ is that false belief systems will increase. People will slurp up lies like cold milk to wash down yummy chocolate chip cookies. Despite the rising opposition, we must not grow weary in our attempts to reach others with the Good News of Jesus. Far too many Christians have gotten soft, becoming spiritual couch potatoes, as they fail to confront wickedness—tolerating, and even participating in it. Additionally, Christian leadership is often unclear on the teaching of biblical mandates, and in their fear of a loss of attendance—loss of money—they fail to be the collective conscience of society that they could and should be.
Like it or not, Christians are being pushed right into the middle of many social controversies. Losing the battle of religion will result in the collapse of all freedoms. In many ways, the Christian church has become “salt that has lost its savor.” (Matt. 5:13) We must fight fearlessly on this battleground or soon we will be seeing the signs saying, “Welcome to the Coliseum, Folks!”
The family unit has been under attack since the dawn of man. Just a cursory look at families today shows a picture of fractured households, single-parent situations, abuse, hatred, and many other kinds of division. God intended for the family to be a unit with a father-mother team leading the children. We have biblical evidence since Genesis 4 of a spiritual attack on the family, starting with the very first family of Adam and Eve, whose first son murdered his brother. The Bible is full of stories depicting the assault on the family.
Why so much focus on the family? Because it is the most fundamental unit of society. Break the family down, and soon you will have a breakdown in society. This is why all the previously listed battlefields are aimed as attacks on the family—financially, emotionally, spiritually, mentally, physically, and even educationally. Fathers and mothers must step up and lead their families righteously, actively teaching and training their children in the true ways of God and His Son, Jesus. This is the most important battlefield of all, and it is the one place where we can exert the greatest influence over our children and the future generations.
Called to the battle front
After looking at the seven battlefields it can seem as if we are completely surrounded by the spiritual war—and the reality is that we are. Although this can be depressing, we must be careful not to over-spiritualize things and begin to see ghosts behind every post. We take comfort in knowing that the battle is between God and His Enemy, and victory has already been secured through Christ. The point of understanding the seven spiritual battlefields is so that we properly discern what is happening. This equips us so that we never retreat from the battle line; instead, we can engage the culture for the forces of light on each front.