Updated: Sep 8
I began reading The Christian's Spiritual Warfare by Charles Spurgeon - a collection of his sermons on the topic. Growing up, and even now, I find spiritual warfare is often taught and understood in the context of our comforts. Something happens in life or circumstances that becomes difficult and it's often given the label of spiritual warfare: we become physically ill, our career isn't going the direction we'd like, or our ministry is facing challenges.
He reflects, in chapter 2, on the parable of the sower (Luke 8), to focus not on our circumstances but on our awareness of the enemy’s attribute of punctuality. When the seed of God's word is sown, falling along the path, "the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved" (Luke 8:12). He writes, "the arch-enemy of God and man is opposed to the salvation of souls, and therefore he is present with destructive power wherever the seed of the Word is being sown." 
Our salvation and our sanctification are a gift of grace extended out of the gospel revealed through Scripture. Consider your times abiding with the Lord in scripture reading, or gathering for bible study, and entering the weekly worship service. Perhaps we count them as habits or routine. Every moment in the Word may not be emotion-filled, but this parable reminds us that where the Word of God is, the enemy is eagerly waiting and ready to destroy it, because it holds promise of transforming life.
Do we so value His Word?
Have we considered how quickly the seed gets taken? That he’s waiting for it to land only to swipe it away like a seagull, stalking, anticipating, waiting for you to go dip your toes in the water so he can steal the bag of chips you forgot to put back in the cooler.
How can we respond?
Reverence for the Word
How do you prepare to watch a big playoff game? Do you turn off your phone, set the kids up with an activity, make snacks, invite friends, maybe order takeout?
You get ready for the game so there are no distractions.
Do we treat our time before the Word with the same reverence?
Walking away from our spot on the beach without any awareness of the seagulls lurking along the boardwalk, we’ll be careless and forget to stow our crunchy goods in the sealed cooler. In the same way we may be nonchalant to our morning moments in the Word, gathering with our bible study group, or attending a worship service, dismissive of an eager enemy seeking to snatch a word of truth. A glowing neon “Open” sign brightly signals welcome and whenever Scripture is opened before us, it’s our signal to pay attention to the seeds of truth drifting toward us.
Entering a worship service in Tanzania, the attenders - whether they were late or on time - would sit and whisper a prayer before engaging in the service. This practice challenges and encourages me to intentionally consider my own awareness and readiness to take a posture of receiving.
Cultivating the Soil of our Heart
How can we prepare the soil of our heart to receive the seed, that it would find a hospitable environment?
The gospel truths unveiled during these times with the Word are intended for our sanctification. In praying for us Jesus asked the Father, “sanctify them by the truth, your word is truth” (John 17:17). God's Word is for teaching, correcting, rebuking and training in righteousness, so if we're not aware of it, we will miss it, to our own detriment.
John Flavel writes, “the greatest difficulty in conversion is to win the heart to God and the greatest difficulty after conversion is to keep the heart with God.” The soil of our heart must be ready to receive the seed; the hardness of sin must be tilled with confession and repentance, the malnourishment fed with habits of grace and the parched lonely land watered in community.
What is the condition of our heart?
Persevere with Hopeful Expectation
Being on guard and alert is tiring, like the last hours of the night shift exhaustion kicks in and every action requires more effort.
If the enemy is punctual, hovering and lying in wait, how is it possible for us to continue on high alert?
There’s reward in our perseverance. Though we become weary, frustrated even, with an eager enemy, God’s Word not only provides our source of strength for the fight, but the promise of complete victory when He returns. We have been saved from the penalty of sin in salvation, we’re daily sanctified from sin’s power and one day we will be saved completely from sin’s presence.
“The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever” (Isaiah 40:8). So we hold onto this hope and step forward with confidence, maybe even in an eagerness of our own to make the most of every opportunity given us for the glory of God and the good of others.
 Charles Spurgeon, The Christian’s Spiritual Warfare
 John Flavel, A Saint Indeed
 Jen Wilkin, Ten Words to Live By: Delighting in and Doing What God Commands