I’m grateful to the leaders of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina for inviting me to teach about discipleship and spiritual warfare earlier this week. I am convinced that discipleship is offensive spiritual warfare. Here’s why – and how you might strengthen your church’s strategy:
- Believers cannot defeat the enemy unless we’re wearing the full armor of God. That’s just basic Bible – Ephesians 6:10-17.
- Wearing the armor is both positional and behavioral. For example, we wear the breastplate of righteousness because God gives us His righteousness. Out of that righteousness, though, we must decide to make righteous choices. Wearing the armor cannot be separated from how we live.
- Believers know how to wear the full armor of God only when we teach them. Despite what churches seem to imply when we don’t disciple believers, we don’t learn how to wear the armor by osmosis. Somebody must teach us how to wear it and live it out practically.
- Disciplemakers must themselves be wearing the full armor of God. Believers who live in secret sin or operate by their own power aren’t good disciplers. Biblical discipleship means challenging others to imitate Christ by imitating you (1 Cor 11:1).
- When we don’t teach believers how to wear God’s armor, they will lose spiritual conflicts. That’s inevitable, because unarmed warriors don’t win battles.
- No believer is intended to fight these battles alone. If we reach new believers but then don’t immediately walk with them, we set them up for defeat. Any gap between their conversion and our teaching them is an open door for the enemy’s arrows.
- Discipleship must thus begin one-on-one. Larger group studies are great – and needed – but they are not enough. All new believers need a mentor who will walk beside them, teach them, challenge them, and pick them up if the enemy temporarily wins.
- Discipleship is teaching believers to wear the armor as they, too, evangelize others. Part of wearing the armor is speaking the gospel of peace to others. That means discipleship and evangelism can’t be separated. Each part of the Great Commission should continually feed the other.
- This kind of discipleship doesn’t happen by accident. That is, we must have a strategy to accomplish our goals. The enemy, who is a schemer (Eph 6:11), often wins because he operates with more strategy than our churches do. Congregations that function only from Sunday to Sunday don’t usually threaten the enemy.
- Discipleship that takes on the enemy can begin in your church TODAY. Take this challenge: begin investing in one newer believer and one longer-term believer. Help each other wear the full armor of God and take on the enemy for God’s glory. Watch this site next week for more practical ways to make this investment.
Reminded me of your book Discipled Warriors: Growing Healthy Churches That Are Equipped for Spiritual Warfare, one my favorites on disciple making.
Thanks, Steve, for your work — and for your kind comment about the book.