Unlike a bar fight, spiritual Krav Maga — spiritual self-defense — has some basic ground rules. It’s not a free-for-all, fist-flying, chair-throwing, bad-tempered brawl. We are servants of a great and merciful God, and we are therefore subject to the rules of his Kingdom. Still, some of the same underlying assumptions apply.
1. Get in shape. Like with any martial art, you just don’t jump into it immediately, ready to fight from day one. There is preparation and training. And there is physical conditioning. The same applies spiritually. Spiritual Krav Maga relies on the power of God for its effectiveness, and we must do our part to act as triggers to unleash that power. That means we have to be spiritually in-shape. We need to be in-tune with God, solid in our relationship with him. We have to be prayed up, strong in faith, well-rested in him, and well-fed in spirit. The story comes to mind of the seven sons of Sceva who tried to imitate Paul and cast out demons. Though they were religious, they didn’t have the relationship with God Paul did. And they were overpowered, beaten up, wounded, and sent on their way defeated (Acts 19:11-16). Or, after Jesus and his inner three disciples come down off the hill after his transfiguration, the other disciples are trying unsuccessfully to cast an epileptic spirit out of a boy. They’re confused by their failure. Weren’t they doing everything correctly? But Jesus explained that their faith was weak, that sometimes they needed additional preparation of prayer and fasting before tackling that particular battle (Mt 17:15-21). And it’s no different for us. We have to be on sure ground with God; knowing who he is and who we are. Be prepared, build your spiritual muscles before jumping into a fight. You have to commit to a life of spiritual discipline if you want to be a skilled fighter — even just to protect yourself and your family.
2. Act only under orders. We are not ronin, rogues or vigilantes. We do not go off looking for a fight, or take on battles we have no business being in. As servant warriors of the King, our job is to accomplish the mission HE assigns to us, not run off with our own agenda. And this ties in with being prepared mentioned earlier. We need to be sensitive enough to hear the Spirit’s voice, to discern his leading, to make sure we’re not acting on impulse or misunderstanding. We have to be confident that what we’re doing is according to his will and his plan for us. God has the entire battle strategy lined up, and we will only be effective when we’re acting in accordance with that plan. Because God isn’t going to empower anything he hasn’t authorized.
3. It’s better to fight in pairs. There’s nothing like having a buddy guard your back when you’re in a fight. And when the thugs come at you in groups — and don’t they always? — having another set of fists helps even the odds. The spiritual side of this is the power God has imbued agreement and unity. Like in corporate worship, there is a distinct increase in the dynamic level of God’s presence and power when saints worship and pray together. There is a special manifestation of his presence when two or three are gathered. And, as he said, “if two of you shall agree about anything, it will be done for you” (Mt 18:19-20). Perhaps that’s why Jesus sent the disciples out two by two. From the very beginning, God ordained that we should not be or act alone (Gen 2:18). So, find someone to train with; find someone to fight alongside you. Remember, there is no such thing as a Lone Ranger Christian — and even the Lone Ranger needed Tonto.
4. Never against people. This is where spiritual Krav Maga is directly opposed to physical Krav Maga. We employ physical and material triggers to unleash God’s power, but our weapons are never against human beings. “We wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities and powers …” (Eph 6:12). People are often used by the enemy as weapons against us, but we must keep in mind that God still loves these people. And it’s hard to have confidence in God’s support when you’re trying to beat up another one of his kids. God deals with people; he will be their judge. That is not for us, nor is it for us to beat them. When Jesus sent out his disciples, some of them were rejected, thrown out of town, and probably physically abused. They asked for permission to call down fire from heaven to destroy those people. Obviously, those people were opposing God and his movement, so they needed to be removed. (The disciples’ bruised human egos probably had something to do with it as well.) What was Jesus’ response? “You do not know what kind of spirit you are of, for the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them” (Lk 9:55) — or put another way, “that’s the enemy’s way; that’s not how we do things.” God’s heart is that everyone would come into relationship with him; people are his Number 1 priority. We need to stay focused on the driving force behind people, and attack that enemy.
There are probably many other underlying rules of engagement, many more principles for effective spiritual combat. But if we do not master these four basics, we will always be held back from reaching full impact. Our lives are a spiritual battleground, and the stuff that blows up in our daily lives is just the material shrapnel driven by spiritual energy. We need to be trained and conditioned, ready for the fight, and we must only act under God’s authority, in accordance with his strategy and plan. And while we should adopt the aggressive attitude and methodology of Krav Maga, our main fight lies in a different dimension.
Krav Maga !