There’s a war in your home. Today AMBrewster helps Christian parents understand who their enemy is not and then introduces them to the first of their three spiritual enemies — the soldiers with the lowest impact.
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It’s quite possible that today’s topics may be one of the most important in the series.
That’s not to say the others won’t be practical or necessary in our discussion of spiritual warfare in the home, but I believe today’s discussion has the ability to absolutely revolutionize our families if we truly grapple with the biblical Truth and start living it out with our families. And I believe the impact can be so massive because our personal delusions in this area are so prevalent.
But before we unroll that scroll, I’d like to share something personal.
I believe 100% in the sovereignty of God, and I love to watch how God chooses to work. His leading me and my family from Victory Academy for Boys to invest full-time in the start-up of Truth.Love.Parent. as a non-profit was clear and obvious.
What wasn’t obvious was that God was tasking me with starting a 501(c)(3) two months before a pandemic rocked the world and the American economy took a nose dive.
I’m am thrilled to say that God has provided for my family, TLP is going strong, and I believe we’re primed to see the next phase of our growth as an organization. Of course, that could be my irrational optimism showing, but I believe it’s something more.
Our mission is to glorify God by equipping dads and moms to be the parents God called and created them to be. The need is real, the purpose is Christ-honoring, and the method is biblical, so I believe there is definitely a place for TLP in this world.
But, as many of you know the Lord never gives us more than what we need. For some, that's millions of dollars in the bank, but for TLP, it’s just what we need to pay the bills.
Now, TeamTLP and I are overjoyed to be doing this work, and we’re trusting God completely every day of the week. But we also know that God uses His people to spread His Word. Just like He’s not about to appear on a late night talk show to share His Gospel, He’s also not going to drop money into TLP’s bank account out of nowhere.
He’s going to use His church — His people.
So, I want to ask you to consider what part the Lord may have you play in the financial support of this ministry. I mentioned before that a mere $3,000 a month would be a modest, yet adequate starting place for this ministry.
You can imagine that it wouldn’t take very many people to make that a reality. But as long as everyone is assuming that everyone else will do it . . . no one will do it.
That’s why I’m talking to you, and not the person next to you. I’m asking if you could afford to sacrifice the equivalent of one Starbucks coffee a week to help the Truth of God’s Word encounter families all around the world?
Now, some of you can’t. I understand that. You legitimately cannot afford to take the food out of your kids’ mouths to give to TLP, and I don’t want you to. In fact, I forbid it. But if you have been blessed, and your family has benefited from this ministry, and you have the resources, please prayerfully consider what part you may play.
You can learn more by clicking on the “5 Ways to Support TLP" link in the description of this episode. Or you can go to TruthLoveParent.com and learn more about what it means to be a TLP Friend. All the information you need is there, and I’m excited to see how God is going to use you in this next phase of TLP’s ministry.
Okay, please avail yourself of our free episode notes and transcripts at TakingBackTheFamily.com.
Now, let’s talk about our family’s false enemy.
My biggest concern with this first topic is that we may be tempted to dismiss the whole episode because we “know this truth already” but then we go back to living the way we always have — deeply steeped in a damning delusion — painfully obvious to everyone around us but oblivious to us.
What good is it to know something if we don’t believe it?
“I do believe it!” I may hear some of you say. But remember, belief produces behavior. If you truly believe what we’re going to discuss, then your family life will be characterized by it. If you’re not living it, however, it’s because you don’t really believe it.
Let’s all choose to open our minds, see this subject anew, and then really choose to believe what God has to say about it.
At the end of our last show I gave you a spoiler about who our false enemy is. Let’s turn our attention back to Ephesians 6:10-12 to revisit it, “Be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.”
We’re going to focus on the second half of this list next time. For now, though, here is the one key truth with which we need to grapple . . .
1. Your family struggle is not against your family.
I know we think we know this. I know when we stop and meditate on this Truth, we all agree with it. But practically we don’t believe it as we should.
Your conflict is not with your daughter. It’s not with your husband. Your main problem is not your son. It’s not your parents. Your enemy is not your wife. Your family’s enemy isn’t even that bad influence at school. Technically, your family’s enemy isn’t even you.
For sake of blatant repetition, this is the Truth we all know but too often refuse to believe.
I do this all the time. You do it too.
Your children are being wicked in the next room, and you swoop into it with one objective in mind . . . get my kids to stop what they’re doing. Our kids become the target. Their behavior modification is the goal.
Your spouse is being a pain in the neck, and you pit yourself against him or her — each of you trying to manipulate things to go your way.
Far too often children will foolishly view their parents as the only barrier to an enjoyable life.
We’ve convinced ourselves that if we could simply remove that one bad influence in our children’s lives, all would be well.
But it’s simply not true. The real enemy is not your troublesome teen or terrible two. The real enemy is not the husband who acts like a jerk or the wife who won’t stop nagging.
The real enemies are the ones who are convincing you that your family members are the real enemies. But they’re not.
Now, I know that I’ve framed this as a negative statement — “The enemy is not . . . .” And you may now want to move on to discussing who the real enemy is because — again — you believe you already understand perfectly fine that the enemy is not your family.
Never fear, we’re going to spend the next three episodes detailing who the real spiritual enemy is. But for now, I want to challenge you to really look at your life.
When your children sin, do you get mad?
When your parents are unkind, do you get mad?
You probably do.
But at whom are you mad?
If we’re honest, in the knee-jerk moment, we’re mad at our kids. We’re hurt by our spouse. We’re annoyed with our parents.
This first reaction, the initial response, proves that we don’t really understand who the enemy is.
I love you and your family in the same way that I love my own family, so please hear what I’m saying knowing that it’s motivated by nothing but love for you. This isn’t condemnatory judgement. This is a Bible-informed critique of our actions.
If you find your anger and annoyance and aggression focused on a person . . . you are in the wrong. Sure, your kids or your spouse or your parents are sinning too, but that doesn’t remove your sin.
Our warfare is spiritual, not physical.
Now we need to ask the question — why is it so easy to miss the spiritual realities for the physical realities? If we know the enemy isn’t our family members, why do we still believe our family members are our enemies?
And if you’re still struggling with the fact that there is a difference between knowing and believing something, I strongly encourage you and your family to listen to “The Merest Christianity” series. It’s probably one of the most important things your family can understand about why you do what you do, and it will help you biblically understand the very massive difference between knowing something and believing something.
Moving on, last time we talked about the fact that it’s so normal for us to forget about the spiritual realm because our five senses are so incredibly intoxicating. They’re loud and — literally — in our faces.
I believe this is why God commands us to “be still and know that [He] is God” (Psalm 46:10). It takes a purposeful, quiet focus in order to see past the physical to the very real and ever-present spiritual realm.
We need to be intentional and premeditated as we consider the spiritual realities of this world; otherwise we’ll lash out at the closest tangible thing we can reach.
This is why some of us stub our toes and respond by slamming our fists on a desk or table or counter. Instead of focusing our energies on what really matters, we plunge all our effort into the futile task of punishing an innocent flat surface.
Now, I need to make sure I’m not being misunderstood. I’m not suggesting your children are innocent. I’m not suggesting that they don’t need consequences. I’m not saying that your parents or your spouse are angelic cherubs and you’re the only wicked Cretan. This concept is very multi-faceted, and I don’t want to reduce it to a simplicity that obscures the reality of the situation. I simply want us to start by acknowledging our foolish predispositions — our incessant choice to attack our false enemies.
Your parenting struggles are not you-versus-your-kid. Your marital strife is not you-versus-your-spouse. Your parents are not your enemy. But if this is the stance we take nearly every single time there’s a family conflict, and if it’s evident in the way we respond to the struggle, then we need to be honest with ourselves.
Another reason we need to be intentional in this arena is what I said earlier. Our real spiritual enemies are trying to convince us to attack the wrong people.
The last chapter of Micah starts with a depressing depiction of the state of the Jewish nation. Micah 7:1-6 reads, “Woe is me! For I am Like the fruit pickers, like the grape gatherers. There is not a cluster of grapes to eat, Or a first-ripe fig which I crave. 2 The godly person has perished from the land, And there is no upright person among men. All of them lie in wait for bloodshed; Each of them hunts the other with a net. 3 Concerning evil, both hands do it well. The prince asks, also the judge, for a bribe, And a great man speaks the desire of his soul; So they weave it together. 4 The best of them is like a briar, The most upright like a thorn hedge. The day when you post your watchmen, Your punishment will come. Then their confusion will occur.”
Like I said, it’s pretty dark. But then Micah caps his description of the decadent sin of the Jewish families by giving this sad advice: “5 Do not trust in a neighbor; Do not have confidence in a friend. From her who lies in your bosom Guard your lips. 6 For son treats father contemptuously, Daughter rises up against her mother, Daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; A man’s enemies are the men of his own household.”
Now, does that last sentence disprove what I’ve been saying. Is God saying that man’s enemies are — in fact — the men of his own household?
No, and again I say, no! It just so happens that when we are living in sin, deluded and foolish and deceived, that we make our family our enemy. We lie and treat each other contemptuously. And that’s exactly what the real enemy wants!
The real enemy is already winning in our homes when they have convinced us that they aren’t the enemy and that we need to focus all our energies on tearing each other down.
Let’s fast-forward hundreds of years in Israel’s history all the way to the time of Christ. In Matthew 10:16-22 Jesus is about to send the disciples out into the world, and He says, “Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves; so be shrewd as serpents and innocent as doves. 17 But beware of men, for they will hand you over to the courts and scourge you in their synagogues; 18 and you will even be brought before governors and kings for My sake, as a testimony to them and to the Gentiles. 19 But when they hand you over, do not worry about how or what you are to say; for it will be given you in that hour what you are to say. 20 For it is not you who speak, but it is the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you.”
That’s not how things should be, that’s definitely what it was. And listen to how Jesus caps off His description of how bad it will be . . .
“21 Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; and children will rise up against parents and cause them to be put to death. 22 You will be hated by all because of My name, but it is the one who has endured to the end who will be saved.”
These people had bought the lie that their family members were the enemy, but this passage is different than the Micah passage. I would argue it’s far worse.
In Micah we have a picture of self-destructive, dysfunctional families — their selfishness and self-worship pitted against one another.
But in Matthew we see that family members were going to rise up and kill family members specifically because the family members were living righteously and following Christ.
This is why, in Luke 12:51-53, Jesus says, “Do you suppose that I came to grant peace on earth? I tell you, no, but rather division; 52 for from now on five members in one household will be divided, three against two and two against three. 53 They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.”
Now, it appears as if Jesus is saying that He’s the one deliberately creating division. But — remember — we need to allow Scripture to interpret Scripture.
Isaiah 9:6 — a very familiar verse — tells us that “a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.”
In II Peter 3:9 we read, “The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.”
John 3:16 and 17 tells us that “God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.”
Jesus’ words in Luke 12 teach us that Jesus is clearly exclusive. He is the only way, only Truth, and only life. No man comes to the Father, but by Him.
Jesus is not setting forth an all-inclusive religion where everyone can get to God their own way. What He’s teaching is going to fly in the face of humanity’s self-autonomy and self-worship.
Jesus knew that when He said narrow is the way that leads to life and few there be that find it, people were going to hate Him for that. They were going to hate that they had to stop worshipping themselves and start worshipping God in order to have eternal life.
Jesus knew the Good News of the Gospel was also a stumbling block. In I Corinthians 1:21-24 we read, “For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not come to know God, God was well-pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. 22 For indeed Jews ask for signs and Greeks search for wisdom; 23 but we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles foolishness, 24 but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.”
Jesus knew that families members were going to be divided in their worship — some choosing to follow Christ and the others hating them for it.
Any and all family division, disunity, and disharmony is a result of the fact that people have chosen to ally with the enemy and — therefore — their real allies have become their enemies.
1. Your family is not your enemy.
2. Your family is your ally.
There are so many passages we could cite. We’ve dedicated so much time on previous episodes to Deuteronomy 6, but there’s also Ephesians 6:1-2, “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 2 Honor your father and mother (which is the first commandment with a promise), 3 so that it may be well with you, and that you may live long on the earth. 4 Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” The first verse alludes to Exodus 20:12 where God gives the 10 Commandments for the first time.
And there are a lot of other passages that speak to the relationship between parents and children and husbands and wives.
Proverbs 23:22, “Listen to your father who begot you, And do not despise your mother when she is old.”
Ephesians 5:33, “Each individual among you also is to love his own wife even as himself, and the wife must see to it that she respects her husband.”
Psalm 101:13, “Just as a father has compassion on his children, So the Lord has compassion on those who fear Him.”
And we can’t neglect all of the general commands all throughout Scripture to love each other and respect each other and be kind and unified.
The family — in particular — is this beautiful, God-ordained group of people designed specifically to accomplish the work of God in your life.
For all intents and purposes, you have a say in the relationships in your life, but you don’t pick your family you’re born or adopted into.
My point is, God has sovereignly and divinely orchestrated your family to bring Him the most glory and you the greatest good. It’s our responsibility to recognize that our family members are not our enemies. They are our divinely chosen allies.
And even when they takes sides with our real enemies or are kidnapped by our enemies, we should fight to win them back, not fight to destroy them.
Now, like I said before, this is a complicated discussion. We will dip back into this topic on Part 4 and Part 11, and we’ll pepper it in all through-out so that when we’re done with this study, we will have a solid and practical understanding of what the spiritual war is, how it works, and how God expects us to fight it.
Thank you for spending this time with us today. Please share this episode on your favorite social media outlets so other families can learn that they should not be fighting each other. Their struggle is not against flesh and blood. Their family members are not their enemies.
And if you need help for your family because you’re all treating each other like enemies, please write us at Counselor@TruthLoveParent.com. I would love to offer specialized help for your family.
Remember, if we want our children to grow up into Christ, we must parent in truth and love.
To that end, join us next time as we look at the Truth about the first of three spiritual enemies.
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