10 Signs of Spiritual Attack

Spiritual warfare is a reality (Eph. 6:10-20). Based on my years of studying this topic, here are some anecdotal signs of attack I’ve seen – particularly, if not primarily, on those Christian leaders who are taking steps of faith to get the gospel to a lost world:

  1. Unusual marital and family conflict. I’ve seen some of the healthiest homes face surprising strife when they take strong steps of obedience. Marriages are particularly a target.
  2. Recurring and uninvited temptations. For example, the man who has lived in purity for decades is shocked by past images that suddenly erupt in his head. Battles won long ago erupt again. 
  3. Strong discouragement and defeat. One day, hope and faith resound; the next day, disbelief and struggle reign, at least temporarily. Nothing has changed, except the enemy is attacking. 
  4. Crippling doubt. You may have been moving in faith for some time, but you begin to hear messages like, “God is not going to use you. You’re not going to make much difference.” The enemy’s goal is to get you to quit.
  5. Team disunity. From the Garden of Eden, Satan has sought to turn people against each other. A divided team doesn’t pose much threat to the enemy. 
  6. Personal isolation. Under attack, even extroverts will sometimes withdraw in the battle. The problem is that leaders who fight battles alone most often lose. 
  7. Changing focus. Satan has a way of turning faithful believers away from the blessings of obedience to the potential loss because of obedience. “Look at what you’re giving up,” he says.
  8. Prayer struggles. Sometimes, the leader who has always prayed diligently finds prayer unexpectedly difficult as he moves into the front lines. Prayerlessness equals powerlessness, and the enemy knows that fact.
  9. Reading distractions. The Word of God is the sword we use in the battle. Distractions that keep us from reading—including the “good” work of ministry at times—can be a tool of the enemy.
  10. Demon hunting. This one might be a surprise to you, especially given the topic of this post. But, if you come out of this reading and find a demon behind every rock – a demon that’s causing every issue you face – you’re likely under attack. Satan has a way of distracting us by claiming more power and influence than he really has. 

What would you add to this list? 


  • Josh Feltner says:

    Wonderful word brother! I look forward to reading your thoughts and teaching every single morning. My email inbox is getting full of ones I don’t want to lose or forget about!! — Thank you

  • david mcbryar says:

    Something that surprised me in your Spiritual Warfare class is that we must be aware when everything seems like it is going great. David struggled in Spiritual Warfare not when he depended upon God as he faced the giant Goliath but when he had a multitude of soldiers at his disposal and he depending upon the army’s might instead of God’s might. The Shepherd boy was much more in tune with God than the mighty king!

  • Beth Whitworth says:

    I would add unexplained disobedience of children. Sometimes we dismiss a child’s behavior to the changes of ministry, developmental age or extenuating circumstances. While any of these may be the cause, don’t overlook the fact that you are serving as a family and they are not exempt from attack as well. Pray with your children regularly, use patience and love then guidance and correction. Always keep the belief that our God is the most powerful and able before them and don’t focus on spiritual attacks but upon God victories!

  • Brenda Harshman says:

    Family conflict, causing discouragement and defeat, causing disunity…you hit the nail on the head. The storm has battered us for over 10 years now, and it exausts even the strong. Spend the weekend on the verge of tears and this morning woke to these words that let me know someone knows how we feel. Praise God for His faithfulness, especially during months sometimes years of yearning for resolution and peace. Thank you Chuck, for these teachings on Spiritual warfare. Even though I have known the Lord for 55 years now, this is new ground we are walking. We can always learn from the scriptures…because it is timeless.

  • Jerry Lanford says:

    This is one I would add to the list.

    11. Unspiritual feelings, these are feelings that are not a reflection of the fruit of the Spirit found in Galatians 5:22-23. These feelings should be a “red flag” that you’re under attack. These attacks need to be counter-attacked with scripture reading (the Sword of the Spirit), faith-filled praying scripture (the shield of faith), and meditating on the Word of God.

  • I might add the timing of various crises as in Job’s situation. If several negative events come simultaneously, I think it is a good signal you are under spiritual attack.

  • Jyotsna Macwan says:

    Blessed by the small but to the point pointers. Indeed we need to be cautious when such things happen in our lives. Would now want to read 11. Ways to counter attack spiritual attacks 🙂

  • Jyotsna Macwan says:

    Thank you for the pointers. Blessed
    God bless you.

  • Kenneth Lewis says:

    Thank you Dr. Lawless for this timely word. Number 7 certainly resonates with me having transitioned from the corporate marketplace to vocational ministry. Appreciate your service to the body of Christ.

  • Mike Spivey says:

    Would you add physical health being under attack?

    • Chuck Lawless says:


      There is biblical evidence that the enemy can influence health (though there is no evidence that every illness is demonically influenced), so I would see that as a possibility. 

  • Jacki Vinson says:

    Hi Chuck, what are your top recommended resources on spiritual warfare? I’ve read Spurgeon’s “Spiritual Warfare in a Believer’s Life,” and found it helpful, but it has been years ago. Any others? I would specifically like something practical, scriptural and not sensational.

    • Chuck Lawless says:

      Here’s one list of books, Jacki. http://chucklawless.com/2016/12/8-recommended-books-on-spiritual-warfare/  Thanks. 

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