Faith/My Faith/Teen Faith

Victory Over Spiritual Warfare

For Christians, Jesus’s death on the cross represents a final victory over sin. In giving Himself totally and freely, Christ makes way for all to rise with Him into new life, even amidst the reality of death. Not only is this victory final, but it’s also everlasting – as long as we remain in relationship with Christ, we can enjoy free participation in the victory of His death and Resurrection.

Sometimes in the spiritual life, we talk a lot about “spiritual warfare.” This phrase refers to the truth that there is a cosmic division between the good things of God and the evil things of Satan. There exists a very real and definite difference between good and evil, and each of these two realities ultimately serves one of two masters. Heaven and Hell are both important parts of the Christian worldview. But, just because Satan, evil, and Hell are real pieces of Christianity that we ought not to forget, it doesn’t mean that these things should make us nervous or freak us out. Instead, these realities can serve to remind us that there is indeed an alternative to following Christ. But it’s an alternative we want to avoid.

On our Christian journey to do good and avoid evil, the crux of our mission is to walk with Christ. Christ has already won the victory over sin and Hell. Therefore, we aren’t responsible for winning this victory ourselves. Instead, we’re called to lean into Christ’s extant victory. I give here some practical ways in which we can stay close to Christ, by avoiding evil and remaining in the triumph of the cross. These are practical suggestions toward forming good habits, not superstitious rituals to ward off evil, for we ought always to focus more on staying close to Jesus than on pushing away evil spirits.

Prayer

If we want to foster a friendship with Jesus, we have to spend time with Him – there’s really no way around this, I’ve tried. When we pray, we offer our time, our space, and our very selves to the Lord, asking Him to speak truth into our lives and to be with us as we journey onward. In the past, I’ve viewed prayer as a homework assignment that I needed to submit each day or as a turn taken in time-out to make up for something wrong I’d done. Of course, neither of these images are true. Instead, prayer is dynamic and difficult! When we sit down to pray, we bare our souls before the Lord, trusting that He has our best interest at heart and that He is ready to meet us just where we are. If we hope to stay close to Jesus, we must be honest with Him about the things that are really going on in our lives. We must be truthful in prayer, not holding back, or talking around central issues. Christ yearns to make us holy like Himself, but He can only do so if we permit Him to see into the depths of our hearts.

Make Holy Friendships

The Christian life was never meant to be lived alone. Christ gathered twelve Apostles to live beside Him as He journeyed through His earthly ministry – even Jesus had friends to help him along the way! Moreover, were we to search through the vast treasury of Christian saints and heroes, we’d find there as well that almost no holy person became holy all on his own. We find pairs like Francis and Clare of Assisi, Teresa of Avila and John of the Cross, John Paul II and Mother Teresa – friends working together to draw each other nearer to the heart of Christ. If Jesus and the Saints lived this way, then we ought to do the same. In the Christian life, we will be made holy by the initiative of Christ, presented to us through others. Moreover, as we struggle against evil, we are made stronger when others share our struggles. To foster true Christian friendships is an essential piece of our formation after the model of Christ’s goodness.

Frequent the Sacraments

In the Catholic Church, we are blessed beyond measure to encounter God through the privileged moments of the Sacraments. If we wish to remain close to Christ, we can trust that we’ll find Him in the Sacraments. Now, when we talk about staying close to the Sacraments, we’re mostly referring to two of them. Rarely will we remain close to Holy Orders or Marriage – instead, we’ll participate most often in the Eucharist and Confession. In both of these two most common Sacraments, we meet Jesus in a unique way. In the Eucharist, we gather with our Christian community to give thanks to God for all He has done and ask for the grace to move forward. In Confession, we come before the Lord in honesty and account for ourselves by telling the story of how we have strayed from Him and expressing our desire to return to communion once again. In each of these Sacraments, the Lord comes down to meet us in an intimate way. Accordingly, participating in the Sacraments can strengthen our relationship with Jesus and enables us to open ourselves more fully to Him.

Day to Day

In the Christian life, there is a real conflict between the forces of good and evil. But, on a cosmic level, that conflict has been won by Christ through His triumphant Resurrection. The conflict that remains is on a personal level. Most likely, our most immediate encounter of the divide between good and evil will be in our personal choices. In our own lives and in our own hearts, we’re presented each day the parallel opportunities to follow Christ or stray from Him. These decisions are perhaps less cosmic, but they’re important even so. The reality of the division between good and evil can freak us out if we view it with fear, but if we see it in reality, we might see this division as an opportunity to choose Christ. We can rejoice when we accept the grace to choose Christ, and we can ask for mercy when we have turned away from Him.

As we strive to do good and avoid evil, we ought to rejoice in the crucial truth that we are not alone. Christ wants to walk with us along the journey! He comes to us in the quiet of personal prayer, in the holy friendships of the Christian life, and in the privileged encounters of the Sacraments. As each of us continues our journey to live in Christ’s love, may we all pray for the grace to stay close to Jesus and to trust in His infinite mercy and love.

Photo by Daniil Shlive on Unsplash

About the Author

Nick Bernard

I once played a character named "Jim" on an ad for my city's local Catholic radio station, and my friend Kelly played "Kathy." Unfortunately, my career in radio was pretty short lived (maybe twenty minutes total?). My relationship with Jesus is simultaneously beautiful, raw, intimate, and wild, and I wouldn't have it any other way. The Lord continues to invite me deeper into His love, and I can't wait to see where He'll take me next. If you'd like to follow along with me in my journey with Christ, you can find me on Instagram @n1ckb3rnard.

Want to write for Life Teen? Click Here to learn more.