The Battle for Our Eternal Destiny

A spiritual war is raging for the possession of souls. The following is a compilation of excerpts taken from Manual for Spiritual Warfare. In this manual, Paul Thigpen explains the spiritual warfare for the eternal destiny of our souls, the rules for doing battle, knowing our comrades and commander, and how we can attain final victory through Our Lord, Jesus Christ.

A Spiritual War

Like it or not, you are at war. No matter who you are — whether or not you know it — you have a mortal enemy who wants to destroy you, not just in this life, but in the next. No matter where you live on this planet — whether or not you can see it — you live on a hotly contested battlefield, and you can’t escape the conflict. It’s a spiritual war with crucial consequences in your everyday life. And the outcome of that war will determine your eternal destiny.

The First Rule

The first rule of any type of warfare is to know your enemy. How can you fight an adversary you can’t identify? Worse yet, how can you avoid being a casualty in a battle going on all around you if you don’t even recognize that you’re in danger? Your adversary is the Devil, with his army of demons. Your battle with him rages not only all around you, but also within you, a fierce conflict for control of your mind, your heart, and your ultimate destiny. The world may scoff and tell you there is no Devil and no battle. But the world has been blinded to these realities by the Enemy himself. Its skepticism is part of his stealth strategy: Those who deny his existence are an easy prey.

Know Your Commander

Our Commander, the Lord Jesus Christ, the Conqueror of hell and death, calls us to battle alongside Him against the Enemy so that we can have a share in His victory. To fight the good fight, however, we must know not only our adversary and his strategies; we must also know the comrades that our great Commander has given to us.

The Book of Revelation describes Christ’s final return to earth in glory as a Warrior leading a charge in battle against Satan and his allies, with “the armies of heaven” accompanying Him (see Rv 19:11–14). In his two epistles to the Thessalonians, St. Paul specifies who is in those armies: When Christ comes in His final glorious triumph, He will come “with all his saints” (1 Thes 3:13) and “with the angels of His power, in flaming fire” (2 Thes 1:7–8). Even now, those hosts of saints and angels are our comrades in battle. 

Our Comrades

Whenever the Enemy’s assaults on us seem to multiply, we should call on Mary not just as our Blessed Mother, but as a mighty warrior before whom the demons tremble. As St. Bonaventure once put it: “Men do not fear a powerful, hostile army as much as the powers of hell fear the name and protection of Mary.” Other saints through the ages also provide us wise counsel and radiant examples of how to conquer the Devil through faith, prayer, and personal holiness. St. Anthony of the Desert, St. (Padre) Pio of Pietrelcina, St. John Vianney, St. Teresa of Ávila, St. Gemma Galgani, and numerous others even survived physical assaults from evil spirits and ultimately bested their diabolical adversaries. They know what it means to fight and to win. So we can rely on their intercession and other assistance in fighting the Enemy. 

These holy men and women of God are eager to assist us. We can approach them through prayer, through studying and imitating their lives, and through veneration of their relics, which the Enemy finds repugnant. It should come as no surprise, then, that the Litany of the Saints is prayed as part of a solemn exorcism

Victory Through Our Lord

The battle for our souls and our eternal destiny can be terrifying. The Enemy is evil beyond the telling, a prince of horror with powers far beyond our own. How can we possibly defeat “that ancient Serpent who is called the Devil” (Rv 12:9)? The good news of the gospel is that Our Lord, by His passion, death, and resurrection, has already defeated the Devil. Christ came so “that through death He might destroy him who had the empire of death, that is, the Devil” (Heb 2:14).

“Thanks be to God, who has given us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ!” (1 Cor 15:57). If we belong to Him through Baptism, if we remain His friends till the end through a life of cooperation with His grace, then however fiercely the battle may rage, the outcome for us is assured. Jesus said: “I give them everlasting life, and they shall never perish, neither shall anyone snatch them out of my hand” (Jn 10:28). For this reason, we must never forget St. John’s stirring words to Christians in battle about their triumph over the enemies of their souls: “You are of God, dear children, and have overcome him, because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world” (1 Jn 4:4). His triumph is ours.

This article is taken from a chapter in Manual for Spiritual Warfare by Paul Thigpen, PhD which is available from TAN Books



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