We’re going to change things up a bit in this Marriage Insight. We’re going to share something extremely important—Spiritual Warfare in Marriage. This is the first time we’ve addressed this particular topic in more than 20 years. It has to do with the issue of spiritual warfare within marriage.
We’re not looking for the devil under every rock. However, we do want you to be aware of a very real threat to your marital unity. The enemy of our faith wants to destroy you and your marriage!
The Spiritual Warfare Fight in Marriage
Jesus warned us in John 10:10: “The thief [the devil] comes to steal, kill and destroy…” And one area of living that the enemy works hard on to destroy is the marriage relationship. Dr. Carol Peters Tanksley, sums up pretty concisely how the enemy “attacks” our marriages. It comes from her article in Charisma Magazine:
“A million things could be affecting your marriage negatively: your spouse’s mistakes, your own mistakes, differing personalities and expectations, lack of communication, busyness, financial or parenting hardships, sickness, extended family problems, and many more.
“But none of these are the real enemy of your marriage. And the enemy of your marriage is certainly not your spouse, regardless of how misguided or lazy or inconsiderate they may be.
“Behind all the junk, the unrealistic media messages, the personal failings, the conflict and the busyness and the overwhelming problems life brings, there is someone who is out to destroy your marriage. He’s behind the culture of divorce and infidelity, the addiction and abuse. And he’s behind the apathy that often sets in when marriage misery takes root. The enemy of your marriage is God’s enemy—Satan and his kingdom.”
To give you a little insight into some of the ways the enemy works behind the scenes of our marriages, the following is an article that we encourage you to read. See if you can relate to some of these warfare battles within your marriage:
Spiritual Warfare: Frontal Attack
As Dr Tanksley points out, spiritual warfare in marriage is rarely an all out frontal attack. Here’s another way to look at what we’re up against:
“Biblical marriage points people toward God. He ordained marriage and was there when Adam and Eve were first joined together. It is a picture and witness to this world of Christ and His Church. (See: Ephesians 5:31-32.) It is good and holy. And Satan hates everything about it. He wishes to destroy your marriage (along with your life, testimony and family).
“This isn’t to scare you, but to remind you to be watchful. Your adversary, the devil is as a roaring lion, walking about seeking someone to devour (1 Peter 5:8). He often uses the troubles of this world to divide a husband and wife. He’s crafty and knows how to tear couples apart. And he would love nothing more than for you to give up on each other. He wants you to throw in the towel, and say to the world that marriage is too hard.” (Kimberly Williams from the Liveyourbestmarriage.com article, “When Life is Hard”)
So, we’ve clearly identified who the real enemy is in our marriage — the devil. And we know his plan is to destroy our marriages. Here are a few important points to consider as it pertains to Spiritual Warfare in Marriage:
Important Spiritual Warfare Points
• You are most vulnerable when you, your marriage partner and God—are not standing in unity.
Keep in mind what we’re told in the scriptures: “A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.”
“When the enemy can get us off our knees, he is helping us to cut off our only source of help and hope. When couples refuse to pray individually and together, the devil can get a foothold in their marriage. The times when prayer seems the most difficult are the very times we need prayer the most. When a couple is under spiritual attack, the enemy can make us feel too busy to pray. It is too hopeless to pray, and too pointless to pray. So a weakening of a couple’s prayer life could be a sign of their being under spiritual attack.” (Pastor Jack Wellman, from his article, 4 Signs of a Spiritual Attack on Your Marriage)
When you sense you are under spiritual attack, this is when you have to fight every natural tendency to NOT PRAY. Instead, you and your spouse should pray together. Be sure to pour out your pain, frustrations and anger to God. He can take it! And He can begin to show you a new way to handle whatever the enemy is using to divide you.
• The enemy of your faith will try to trick you into believing falsehoods about your spouse and your marriage.
It’s important to know this.
“Often the battle occurs in the mind. It is easy to listen to the lies of the enemy, who twists and distorts the truth. This creates perspectives that can cause us to be self-focused. Try to take a step back and stand outside your situation. Ask the Lord to reveal to you any areas where you may have the wrong focus. You cannot change another person, but you can look inward. You can allow God to help you see where you need to make changes in yourself. Claiming the verse below will help you stay strong and move forward in obedience to Christ. God always blesses the man or woman willing to humbly seek Him.”
“We are destroying speculations, and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God. And we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.” (2 Corinthians 10:5) (Quote by, Beth Steffaniak, from her article, “Three Ways to Fight Spiritual Attacks on Your Marriage”)
Here’s another point to consider:
• We may think our fight is with our spouse.
And that could be true. But when we fight, the enemy of our faith tries to needle us to take things onto a more destructive path.
“Oftentimes people assume that the struggle they are facing is just a natural battle. Yet just beneath the surface there is something far more complex taking place. They are under a spiritual attack!
“What is a spiritual attack? …A spiritual attack is a series of events coordinated by the demonic realm in order to abort promises, shipwreck faith, oppress a believer and stall out destiny. Your fight is not with your spouse. It is with demonic forces–regardless of the indifferences, bullheadedness, stubbornness, etc. The enemy is using the circumstances of your marriage to abort promises, shipwreck faith, oppress you and stall out your destiny.” (Alex Colón, from his article, “7 Ways to Recognize When Your Marriage is Under Spiritual Attack”)
Another Spiritual Warfare Tactic to Note:
• Keeping secrets from each other ushers the enemy in to pit you against each other.
“Secrets: Anytime we’re hiding anything—especially from our spouse—the enemy is winning in some way. Honesty breaks the enemy’s strongholds.” (Chuck Lawless)
You give the enemy leverage when you keep secrets from each other. Just so you know, there is a difference between secrecy and privacy. Sometimes a spouse needs a bit of privacy for some reason. But keeping a secret from his or her spouse is another thing.
To learn more, here is an article you can read that explains both:
• When life gets busy, beware!
That’s when we can get so caught up in just trying to survive that we let our guard down. Our imaginations can be a feeding ground for the enemy of our faith. The aim is to amp things up and plant untrue thoughts into them. Here’s an example from Suzanne Gosselin that illustrates this:
“With the birth of our third child, we found ourselves the parents of three children under 3, and our stress levels hit an all-time high. I felt like a failure as a wife and my husband’s apparent lack of care for me made me angry. I knew these thoughts were straight from the pit, but as hard as I tried, I couldn’t seem to fix things. One morning it hit me: Something bigger is going on here.
“The Bible is clear about the spiritual battle around us. Paul writes, ‘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‘ (Eph. 6:12 NIV). But in the heat of the moment, when tensions rise and feelings get hurt, sometimes I forget about those unseen forces who are trying to destroy what God has established.” (From Suzanne Gosselin’s article, “When Your Relationship is Under Attack”)
So, be on the alert. Be aware of this plot of the enemy. Pray individually; pray together, and work together to partner together in every area of life.
Last Point on Spiritual Warfare Attacks
There are many, many ways the enemy of our faith attacks our marriages. But below is one that we want to point out here.
• Resentment and Bitterness can creep in to divide you even further, if you don’t fight it.
You think you need to fight with your spouse. And that may be true if you do that in healthy ways. But be especially aware of the fact that the enemy works best by fann the flames of bitterness.
“If you don’t move swiftly at the first feelings of resentment or unforgiveness toward your spouse, you may find contention hiding in your home. Hebrews 12:15 warns how roots of bitterness cause trouble and defile many relationships. This begins with your marriage. And then it spills over into your connections with your children.” (Rhonda Stoppe, from the Focus on the Family article, “When the Enemy Attacks Your Marriage”)
Cindy and I (Steve) have fallen for every one of these spiritual “assaults” at different times in our marriage. And there are literally hundreds more that could be mentioned. The Devil knows what/where our weaknesses are and that’s where he attacks. It’s important to remember:
“This enemy of our souls launches his total arsenal against our marriages in order to divide and conquer. He is seeking to prove to the onlooking world that God is a fraud. He tries to prove that his program of love and grace is really a sham and will ultimately end in complete ruin.” (From the Crosswalk.com article, Marriage Warfare)
Fighting Spiritual Warfare Attacks
We’ve found there is only one way we can ward off these attacks to kill our marriage. It’s using God’s Word (the “Sword of the Spirit”) to fight our foe. For example:
“Be of sober spirit. Be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. But resist him. Be firm in your faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world.” (1 Peter 5:8-9)
Additionally, use the following scriptures to pray through and fight the enemy of our faith:
“Therefore take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day. And having done everything, stand firm. Stand firm therefore, having girded your loins with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace. In addition to all, take up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.
“And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the spirit, which is the word of God. With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit. And with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints.” (Ephesians 6:13-18)
And there are more scriptures to pray through and apply. Just look throughout the Bible. As you look to Him, God will lead you.
Cindy and I will be the first to admit that reading these verses is a lot easier than living them out. That’s especially true when we’re under attack. But we’ve found that they work when we apply them!
Here are a couple of thoughts we want you to prayerfully consider:
- In the realm of Spiritual Warfare, we can never let our guard down.
- It’s important to remember the Devil can’t make you do anything. He only has the power to tempt you. But he will set the trap. However, we are the only ones who have the power to say “yes” or “no” to the temptation.
Finally, we urge you, don’t try to engage in this battle alone. Remember, 1 Corinthians 10:13:
“No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful. He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.“
Please take advantage of all that God offers you to fight the good fight.
We hope with everything within us that you will! Above all, may we together continually work to reveal and reflect the heart of Christ within our marriages!
Steve and Cindy Wright
— ADDITIONALLY —
To help you further, we give a lot of personal stories, humor, and more practical tips in our book, 7 ESSENTIALS to Grow Your Marriage. We hope you will pick up a copy for yourself. (It’s available both electronically and in print form.) Plus, it can make a great gift for someone else. It gives you the opportunity to help them grow their marriage. And who doesn’t need that? Just click on the linked title or the picture below to do so:
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