Do a quick search on any online bookseller or browse the shelves at a large bookstore and you will undoubtedly be confronted with a plethora of books on spiritual warfare. Unfortunately, many of the popular books being published on this subject are unhelpful at best and unbiblical at worst.
What is Spiritual Warfare? by Stanley D. Gale rises above the ridiculous and introduces readers to a basic biblical framework for understanding spiritual warfare. Gale rightly acknowledged the existence of an unseen realm by making an appeal to the Nicene Creed.
The author introduces our archenemy, the devil and makes it clear that he appeals to “remaining sin in our flesh through the trappings of a falling world. His battle rages for our mind, heart, and will, and the frontlines of spiritual battle.” The enemy seeks to deceive, tempt, and accuse believers. Gale’s treatment of Satan’s goals and objectives is noteworthy. Unlike many works on spiritual warfare, Stanley Gale refuses to give Satan center stage.
Significantly, Jesus Christ receives center stage in this short treatment on spiritual warfare. The author focuses on the promise of a Redeemer in Genesis 3:15 and unpacks his unique mission, namely, to “destroy the works of the devil” (1 John 3:8). The author walks the reader through redemptive history and showcases the role that Christ plays as our prophet, priest, and king.
Gale turns the attention of the reader to the battle plan. The essence of that plan is the pursuit of holiness. Believers pursue holiness by practicing progressive sanctification and keeping in step with the Spirit. Gale clearly sets forth the position of every believer. We must stand. We must not stand by in a passive fashion. Rather, we choose to abide in Christ and claim his promises in the heat of battle. The author adds, “Much of spiritual warfare simply involves living out that gospel of the kingdom against the efforts of our enemy the devil, with the goal of growing in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ.”
The author continues by unpacking the spiritual weaponry of every believer. We have revealed truth. “Spiritual warfare involves not being taken captive by the teachings of this world or distortions of God’s Word but instead taking captive every thought to the obedience of our Lord Jesus.” Therefore, we must live in obedience to God’s Word and the lordship of Christ.
The second spiritual weapon is prayer. Prayer expresses our allegiance to the king and his kingdom. The author writes, “Prayer is a staple of spiritual warfare to enable us to abide in Christ, that we might stand firm and be strong and lay siege.”
The third spiritual weapon is covenant community. We are not left alone to fend for ourselves. Rather, we stand arm to arm with the people of God. We purpose to obey the king and glorify our great God in heaven.
Stanley Gale has written an extremely helpful booklet. Again, the focus is never on Satan. The supreme focus is on Christ and his redemptive work on the cross for sinners. Gale’s work would be of value in a small group setting or personal discipleship.