Is what you are experiencing spiritual warfare, or ‘just life?’

For many months I blithely walked around my favourite local park, enjoying the gardens, the scenery, and my time out, oblivious to any dangers that might be lurking in the shrubbery.

Then one day I read a newspaper article about a boy who had been bitten by a snake in the same park just a few days before, and had been taken to hospital.

We are Kiwis living in Australia. We don’t have snakes in New Zealand. We can walk in the bush in our ‘jandals’ without a care in the world.

On my next visit to the park, I was on high alert. Tense, and on edge, I watched the path and was alerted by every rustle in the bush. There seemed to be an awful lot of rustling! I did not enjoy the walk that day.

Sure enough, I soon settled down and was back to taking pleasure in my walks. However I took some basic precautions; not veering off the paths and ensuring that I had my mobile phone with me if I was walking alone.


Balance in Spiritual Warfare

In Luke 10:19-20, Jesus said,

“I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you. However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”

Like my response to snakes in the park, there are two errors that we can fall into with regard to spiritual warfare. One is to ignore it altogether (2 Cor 2:11) and at the other extreme, to make too much of it.

Balance requires us to always step back and discern whether what we are experiencing is spiritual warfare, or just something happening that is physical and emotional, or a combination of both.

Our goal in spiritual warfare is not to draw or pay attention to what the devil is doing. It is to focus on God and pay attention to what HE is doing—and not put up with less than His best.


12 Signs you may be Experiencing Spiritual Warfare

Here are some signs of a spiritual battle taking place. Being alert to these can help you weigh up whether or not a situation is being affected by spiritual warfare.

1. Changes for the worse (especially sudden or severe) in areas of health, finances, relationships

Important note: When we are sick or when bad things happen to us, it is not always the devil that causes it
·It may be just physical
·Sometimes it is just life
·Sometimes (e.g. financial or relationships) it is others’ or our own wrong choices.

2. Temptation to sin—beyond the normal

Temptation originates with our own weakness and ungodly desires (James 1:13-15) but the enemy can use situations and people around us, to apply extreme or sudden pressure on us in these areas.

3. Pattern of recurring negative events

Note that this can also be indicative of a curse in operation.

4. Atmosphere – of pressure or oppression

In Rom 14:17, the Apostle Paul tells us that the Kingdom of God consists of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. When we are robbed of these things, we need to pay attention. What happened?

5. Severe discouragement

We need to particularly pay attention when the first signs of discouragement strike. Discouragement or confusion should be like an orange flashing light, alerting us to the possibility that we are in a spiritual battle.

According to Rick Joyner, the progressive ‘sting of witchcraft’ is: discouragement, confusion, depression, loss of vision, disorientation, withdrawal and despair leading to defeat. These are the signs we need to pay attention to when on the alert for spiritual warfare in our personal lives and ministry [1]. One example of this in operation is Elijah’s response after he was threatened by Jezebel. (1 Kings 19)

6. Crippling condemnation

The conviction of the Holy Spirit is specific and brings conclusion through repentance, but condemnation is cloudy.

7. Intimidation and Fear (I Can’t)

This is especially so when the fear is pressuring you to stop moving in the direction of God’s revealed will for your life, or that of your family, ministry or church.

8. Confusion

The enemy thrives in confusion. We think it’s us. Everything gets hazy. Confusion is often an attack on our minds, but it can also be apparent in relationships where communication becomes distorted, perverted and misrepresented.

9. Anything that brings pressure to bear AGAINST God’s revealed will for your life

10. Pressure (beyond the normal) on important relationships

11. Battle in the mind – negative ‘tapes’ playing

Our mind (and that of others) becomes a central battleground (2 Cor 10:5), where the enemy tries to sow messages that are contrary to the word God has spoken to us or revealed in the Bible underscoring feelings such as failure, fear, condemnation, hurt, or even attack and accusation of others.

12. Distinct start time,

With spiritual warfare, there is usually a distinctive time of onset. If you have an ongoing history in one of the above areas, e.g. fear, relational or sin issues, it is probably not warfare. It may be personal ‘baggage’ that you need to deal with.

The Battle Won

And having disarmed the powers and authorities, [Christ] made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross. (Col 2:15)

The good news is that Jesus has won the battle for us on the cross. We can apply the authority He has given to us and enter into His victory.

In the next blog post I will begin exploring some ways to deal with spiritual warfare once you have discerned it taking place in your personal life, church or ministry.

Snakes Alive!

My first real-life encounter with a snake came later, in another park. My husband Malcolm (aka The Hunk) and I were exploring a trail when we came across a poisonous brown snake barring the way to our destination.

My intrepid husband crept closer to the snake doing his best Steve Irwin impression (‘Crikey! Isn’t it a beauty?)

I, on the other hand, dug my heels in and refused to progress any further, even when the snake veered off into the undergrowth. What if it was there again when we returned?

It seems that some things never change!

[1] Rick Joyner, The Surpassing Greatness Of His Power, 1996, Whitaker House:New Kensington


Spiritual Warfare Online Course

I have just launched first new online course, ‘Spiritual Warfare 101: How to Identify and Overcome Spiritual Attack’ and I warmly invite you to join me!

This course includes around 30 mini lectures on video, and is full of Biblical wisdom and strategies to help you overcome in time of battle. There is also a downloadable full transcript in PDF version.

And once you’re in, there is no expiry date.

The Bible has great news. If you have discerned signs of spiritual warfare, you do not have to be weighed down by spiritual oppression or put up with pressure and attack! Find out more about the course, ‘Spiritual Warfare 101: How to Identify and Overcome Spiritual Attack’ here.


Related Posts:

Responding to Spiritual Warfare Pt 1: Identify the Enemy’s Strategy

How to Wage Spiritual Warfare: Specific Strategies You Can Use

6 Reasons Why Moving in the Opposite Spirit is Powerful


© Helen Calder Enliven Blog – Prophetic Teaching
Enliven Ministries—a part of the David McCracken Ministries family.

74 thoughts on “12 Signs Of Spiritual Warfare”

  1. I can’t tell if this is spiritual warfare, a deep depressive despair, or a combination of the two.
    I’m going through some really difficult times and I can’t tell if this terrible heartache I feel is a spritual attack to cause me to despair or if I really am “legitimately” depressed. A relationship to a man I thought I’d marry ended about a year ago and I’ve been struggling to forget him and banish this heartache, which literally feels so heavy in my chest and it’s not because of any actual heart problems. This heavy achy feeling is accompanied by feelings of utter despair for my future, not just because of losing this guy but because of my employment (lack of decent paying and enjoyable) prospects and financial state, which has never been stable because I just don’t and never have made enough to save or have any decent quality of life.

    I’m just really tired of it. Every year, I keep thinking the next year will be better so I keep hanging in there, hoping that God will come through but I feel like my prayers are being heard, but ignored by God. It’s becoming to the point where just putting one foot in front of the other and taking it day by day as people advise, just isn’t gonna sustain me anymore.

    The emotional pain I feel in my heart and chest despite prayers and begging to God to lift it refuses to budge and I am thinking of turning to alcohol to numb the pain since no amount of Bible reading and crying out to God and sharing my pain with others is relieving this pain. Antidepressants caused me so many side effects years ago when I first tried it that I could not live with the side effects so I stopped.

    It has been an ongoing battle and I am really losing hope. I used to be more hopeful when I was younger despite being very depressed but I am just weary now. My dreams of the kind of life I want looks like it’s never going to come true and by the time it does, it will be too late because of my age.

    So how do I know if I am under spirtual attack or if I am truly going through a true depression and unresolved grief?

    1. Hi Sophie, I’m so sorry to hear of what you have gone through. It is a very good question – the reality is, we are triune beings (body, soul and spirit – 1 Thess 5:23) and depression can have an impact and cause in each of these areas.
      The way to tell whether it is spiritual warfare is – does waging spiritual warfare make a difference? This could include receiving prayer ministry (info here https://www.enlivenpublishing.com/blog/2012/09/11/prayer-ministry-ideas-and-guidelines/ or having someone pray with you, or your own personal praise/warfare prayer. Does it make a difference or even shift it for a period?
      Also sometimes we need to treat our souls and bodies as well. I have experienced the unresolved grief for 3 years a long time ago, counseling didn’t seem to shift it, but an encounter with God, His Presence and His joy healed my soul and set me free. (I mention that here https://www.enlivenpublishing.com/blog/2013/05/28/shekinah-why-seek-the-presence-we-already-have/
      Another time I came through burnout and depression, spending special time with God in one of my spiritual pathways helped bring me back to life. https://www.enlivenpublishing.com/blog/2010/07/05/how-to-discover-your-spiritual-pathway/
      Sophie, I pray that you are encouraged and uplifted, that you experience the sweet Presence of God, His breath, and know that this will pass. Keep persevering and resist the temptation with the alcohol. May you discover the keys to the new life your Heavenly Father has for you.

  2. I had a very good learning on your enliven blog on discernment. It took me 10 years looking back where it’s all exhausting physically, mentally and emotionally. Because, of the wrong choice and options I made. Now, it made me realized that the heat of the battle made me hunger for the Almighty and took me to a place where Christ can make me safe from now on. May your wisdom be a grace to life’s surprises.

    1. Hello Cher, I’m glad the blog has been a blessing to you. May you continue to glory in the safety of the shelter of His wings (Psalm 91)

  3. I didnt really understand 12 where is says relational or sin issues. What does that mean? Ive experienced all these things ever since ive recommited my life last year Oct but i must say things were better when i just started out. I also struggle with a particular sin even up until now. Pray for me also

    1. Hi Kishna,
      Yes great question. When we struggle with ongoing sin issues we need to deal with the sin. When spiritual warfare is taking place there is an intense, beyond the normal temptation to sin that lasts for a season and can be dealt with through our response.
      With ongoing issues (a pattern) of sin, the best way to deal with it is not just to confess and pray about it privately to God (especially is you keep falling into it) but to bring it ‘into the light’ (Eph 5:8-16) through finding a safe person/leader to share, confess and pray with and help you with accountability. I do pray for you, for strengthening and courage. Bless you.

  4. Hello, I don’t know where to begin. I believe I am being attacked in my dreams. Although, while awake, I feel crazy for thinking such a thing. Recently, I have had a lot of physical ailments, not appropriate for my age, financial hardships, and undo stress upon all of the family. Despite this I was still pushing and doing well. I have ALWAYS been, well let’s say, sensitive to the spirit world. As my Grandmother was, and my mother as well. I was told we have a “gift,” although I half heartedly believed it. With that back story being said, my children in our old home, told me about “the shadow guy” that venture into their room, now usually I would shrug this off and speak to them but it wasn’t just one, it was ALL THREE of my daughters. To make it worse, my son, was having night terrors, but these weren’t normal. He was running for his life, eyes wide open with deer in the headlights look. It took everything I had to wake him. Usually a cold, cold washcloth. He asked for a cross necklace, which he received on Jesus’s birthday, because it made him feel safer, this coming from a 9 year old boy. We moved, things seemed to have settled, but then (I was in the military) we moved again, and “odd” things started to happen around the house. Doors closing on its own, my daughters doorbell to her room going off by itself, but most importantly, we were given a puppy for Christmas, in this home, the hair stood up on the back of her back, and she was barking and growling and following something with her eyes that we could not see. The dreams started here. Before we received the dog. Dreams of me protecting a child that I didn’t know, in a room, that had a steep stairway. I was trying to desperately get this child out, and I was shouting and using all my energy to tell this dark image, entity, whatever this was to leave her alone. I woke when I safely got her out of the doorway and started to descend down a VERY steep set of stairs. I, now, have night terrors, per my husband. I will wake, and sometimes open my eyes and look at him like I don’t know him, sometimes waking in pure terror. I don’t remember dreams completely anymore, but I know I fight hard, and my husband has told me I speak in my sleep and I fight in my sleep. But, now, something more frightening is happening. I am waking with physical marks on me. Marks that I could not have done. I.e. a severely reddened scratch on my thumb, and a handprint, but only the red outline of someone grabbing me from under my arm, physically impossible. By the way when I woke, the thumb that has a small scratch, that hurts WAY more than it should, was completely numb. I have just recently started praying with all of my heart and soul, that I give my worries and will to Jesus and God, and that they lead the way, so that my family and I will be protected, healed, and we do his will. I pray that my family’s worry is lifted. I started to read a book given to me at Christmas by my mother of angel encounters here on Earth, the past two days. I fell asleep the first night reading it. When I woke in the morning I grabbed the book, but accidentally spilled coffee on it. I blew it off until I was walking with it in my hand, not five minutes later, and I dropped it, or so I thought, but it landed in a very small waste basket which was about three steps behind me, so it was almost like it was knocked out of my hand. I feel kind of crazy thinking of these things, but I my mother gave me my now deceased grandmother’s Catholic cross, that now resides next to my side of the bed. I am going to get a cross necklace as well, and it will never be removed. I have told this thing that it is not welcome in this home, in my dreams, and in this family, We belong to Jesus, and it has no place in my dreams, or in this home. This may sound a little outlandish to most, but if you are a believer, and if you have been through something similar, please let me know. I would like an answer as to how to go about this. I will not give this any more power over myself or my family. But I need to rid this. I have developed agoraphobia, and I was the complete opposite, a fun loving, making people laugh, very independent people person. This has done a 180. I have been through a lot in this physical life, but these symptoms have abruptly started. Do I or someone in my family have something attached to them? Is it attached to all of us. Or is this my imagination gone wild, although I cannot explain, the perfect outline of finger marks on the under side of my arm. Thank you.

  5. Hi I would like to know if it is a spiritual attack I’m experiencing regarding the relationship I’m in. Since I can remember thing’s have always seemed to go wrong for me. And all I’ve ever wanted was to be happy and find that special someone. Now that Ive reconnected with someone from my past who I feel as though is my soul mate I am now met with confusion about whether he is the right one for me. This confusion started about 5 months. The first 5 months were bliss. And I feel as though some events have occurred to test our love and patience for each other as he is incarcerated. Which is another thing but I never questioned it before but I am now. I have fear that he will get out and do the wrong thing by me but like I said I never questioned it before. But at the same time I am taking precautions to not be nieve which could lead me to being hurt. And so now I feel as though because I am sticking it out with him I’m getting more and more confused. Is this a spiritual attack against my happiness??

  6. I believe that god has giving me this gift of discernment In 1995. I was born in 1967 and even as a little girl i loved going to church with my next door neighbors or just whoever was going i would go with, and in all my years of growing up i was friends with everyone i had Catholic friends that i went to church with i had Pentecostal friends i went to church with but most of all my friends were Baptist in my jr high and high school years i got involved with the youth groups going to summer camps winter camps chior tours musicals ect….. was Baptised whatnot although my parents were not church believers ending with that note when i got married it was with a non christian we had three children that were not brought up as christians in the church on the account that i quit going and fell short and now im divorced my kids are grown with families of their own and only one of my three children truly loves the lord and is bringing up his three children to love the lord as well.Back to the discernment right before my divorce in 1995 i was so confident in my Christianity that i decided to biblicaly prove to my cousin who had married into Jehovah witnesses that her not believing in trinity was wrong, even though it was right to her. Then one night my husband at the time and his older brother decided to go fishing when all of a sudden up out of the blue something of a demonic figure appeared outside my bedroom window i remember thinking man for a evil spirit or whatever I was seeing sure was beautiful and to this day i still wonder if what i saw was satan himself but i dought it i knew exactly what to do i prayed in the name of the lord jesus Christ be gone leave and so it did. The next morning when my husband at the time got home from fishing he says to me oh you saw him too huh. The next night i saw it again except for this time it spoke what i dont know i began to pray on my knees and this time i called upon the angles of protection from the spirit realms once it was gone i closed that door.

  7. Continued from 1995 receiving the gift of discernment. Years later in 2008 I had a friend who had just lost a loved one and for months after that he kept telling me that he had a spirit in him and for me that is not even possible because of my lord jesus Christ being in my heart holds a very Bright light therefore the only spirit i have in me is the holy spirit so i dismissed his alleged comments although I did notice that he kept talking to himself but thought nothing of it untill one day when I was asking my friend about something when the spirit spoke through him in an unknown language right straight directly to me it spoke to me i said what are you talking to me and it spoke again i don’t have no clue as to what it said or asked but i said in the name of the holy spirit and christ jesus my lord be gone, leave, ,,,get out, scram Twice i said this then it casted out of him i told me friend boy you werent kidding what the heck was that my friend said wow how did you do that?

  8. I have been dealing with this allot over the past few years. Negative thinking first. Then feeling what it was like to be burned by the enemy’s hell. Then one day I repented to get the covering of our heavenly father. Weired things have been happening to me. I still get these thoughts in which I do not want God has brought me a mighty long way. I’m dealing with relationship problems. Sins that I don’t need and are very unhealthy. My thinking is fuzzy. How do I get back to God and his promise. I don’t want these things in my heart and mind. God is good. Some one please give me advise. More on my testimony when I get someone who’s experience.

  9. I shanice was told I had a cursed on me I’m 49 years old I’m feeling negative spirits in my body moving and attacking me when I lay down to sleep when I started feeling that I got on the internet ask what was going on with me I was told that someone had put a hex on me doing the time my mother was pregnant with me I went to a spiritual advisor two of them the first one said that she can help me I gave her a thousands of dollars it was still on me I became very afraid I went to the second advisor gave her a thousands of dollars now I’m in debt with my Financial still having the same problems I am now in church receive God hoping that the spirits will stop bothering me I know what the word says I wonder why was that curse on me and how to get it off do the word of God without spending thousands of dollars of money I don’t have anymore money I meant that now I’m trying to believe what the word says why am I the victim my relationship went bad I’m afraid I don’t know what to do I’m trying to stay in the word and attend church functions I need help I won’t be spared to stop bothering me can you help me give me some time advice from the Lord I’m not going to anymore witches

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