“Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of God that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.”
“Neutrality isn’t an option – we’re already in the fight”
The apostle Paul knew that neutrality was not an option in the war against Satan and his hoards. He exemplified this in his writings and provided ample evidence by the experiences he had of spiritual warfare. In Paul’s letter to the Ephesian group of believers, and thus to the Universal Church he goes to great lengths to explain that spiritual warfare is the primary struggle the church and by that we mean the individual believer is engaged in. It is a warfare that touches every single area of our human experience.
The truth is, and sometimes it is an especially difficult one to face up to is that we are in an on-going spiritual warfare involving the everyday lives of every believer. The war will not cease until we find ourselves joining Jesus at His second coming, and then it will only be for a short 7-year period until we return with Him for the final onslaught.
There is an old saying that says “Keep you friends close and your enemies even closer” I am not advocating that we should keep Satan close, but we should at all times recognise the reality of the position we are in, and especially in respect of his malicious activities.
- FACT – If you are a child of God, Satan is after you.
If you are walking after Christ, you can be sure that Satan is after you. On the other hand, if you are not facing conflict from the enemy, then you are living a life of immorality or laziness. Immorality is defined as “conflicting with generally or traditionally held moral principles”. We as the children of God have a new perspective, a revised viewpoint and altered set of values these are all generated from our new birth. We have inherited the DNA of our new Master, Lord and Saviour.
Conflict can be found in so many differing way, and at times it is arduous and at other manageable, but if at any time it is not recognisable then spiritual laziness is the most probable source and if that is the case then he is not seeking to devour you because he already has you.
- FACT – Spiritual warfare is not optional in the Christian life.
If you are a believer, you are involved in the struggle. No one else can fight the battle for you. There are no elite Christians who specialise in rebuking the devil.
- Our Struggle Is Real, Personal, and Supernatural
- Our struggle is real.
All of us are corporately involved in this “great war” between God and the enemy. This war is not imaginary.
- Many people believe the devil, or Satan, is not a living being but is a symbol of evil.
Some people do not believe in the supernatural. They are purely materialistic and cannot envision any life beyond the physical plane. They see Satan as a symbol of evil, not the embodiment of evil.
- Other people blame the devil for everything.
These folks see a demon behind every bush and around every corner. They routinely cast demonic hordes out of crashed computers and faulty traffic lights.
- The biblical reality is that Satan and his demonic legions are alive and well on planet Earth.
Somewhere in the middle is the biblical reality. Satan is the enemy of God. Because he cannot do anything to God, he chooses to attack what is precious to God… us.
- Our struggle is personal; we wrestle in a fight to the death.
The word “wrestle or struggle means hand-to-hand combat to the death. Whether you realise it or not, every day you are locked in a personal battle with the forces of darkness. Every day the enemy tries to get a new hold on you or attack some weak area.
- Our struggle is supernatural, and cannot be won on our own strength or with earthly tactics.
Our struggle is not against “flesh and blood,” but against even more powerful enemies. We not only fight against Satan, but against his legions of “principalities, powers, rulers of the darkness of this age” and the “spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.”
A prime example of this is found in “Acts 19:13 – 16” – “Then certain of the vagabond Jews, exorcists, took upon them to call over them which had evil spirits the name of the LORD Jesus, saying, we adjure you by Jesus whom Paul preacheth. And there were seven sons of one Sceva, a Jew, and chief of the priests, which did so. And the evil spirit answered and said, Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are ye? And the man in whom the evil spirit was leaped on them, and overcame them, and prevailed against them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded.”
The disciples were set running because they had forgotten that victory is not in a “formula” or a “Methodology” or even in living a “Religious Life”, it is found in living near to the Master, walking in the Spirit and knowing when to act and when not to act. It is all down to the “Authority” we have in Christ, being recognised and available, without being both diluted and deterred.
The Disciples again asked Jesus after the following episode why? Because in their confusion and disappointment they were bewildered – “Mark 9: 17 – 29” “And one of the multitude answered and said, Master, I have brought unto thee my son, which hath a dumb spirit; And wheresoever he taketh him, he teareth him: and he foameth, and gnasheth with his teeth, and pineth away: and I spake to thy disciples that they should cast him out; and they could not. He answereth him, and saith, O faithless generation, how long shall I be with you? how long shall I suffer you? bring him unto me. And they brought him unto him: and when he saw him, straightway the spirit tare him; and he fell on the ground, and wallowed foaming. And he asked his father, how long is it ago since this came unto him? And he said, of a child. And ofttimes it hath cast him into the fire, and into the waters, to destroy him: but if thou canst do any thing, have compassion on us, and help us. Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth. And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief. When Jesus saw that the people came running together, he rebuked the foul spirit, saying unto him, thou dumb and deaf spirit, I charge thee, come out of him, and enter no more into him. And the spirit cried, and rent him sore, and came out of him: and he was as one dead; insomuch that many said, He is dead. But Jesus took him by the hand, and lifted him up; and he arose. And when he was come into the house, his disciples asked him privately, why could not we cast him out? And he said unto them, this kind can come forth by nothing, but by prayer and fasting.”
It is via the discipline of “Prayer and Fasting” that additional resource becomes available to us. Under normal circumstances, we perhaps do not need to fast, but there are occasions when this is needful, and without it our true authority cannot be released.
To have authority means to have the ability to force another person (or spirit) to subject itself to you and obey you. Our authority is accessed by faith, as Jesus gave His disciples the authority to cast out demons “Luke 9:1, Luke 10:17”, but in “Matthew 17:14-21” they were unable to cast out a particular kind of demon that was apparently much stronger then usual, simply because they lacked faith see verses 19-20. In this case they didn’t lack authority; they lacked the faith that was necessary to exercise their authority. Thus we recognise that we cannot win out with the exercise of our own strength, but only through the Authority and Authority that is Faith inspired and Faith that is utilised because of recognition of the authority we have.
In NT Greek, the authority to cast out demons translates back to the Greek word exousia, and means, “privilege, that is, (subjectively) force, capacity, competency, freedom, or (objectively) mastery (concretely magistrate, superhuman, potentate, token of control), delegated influence: – authority, jurisdiction, liberty, power, right, strength.”
- Our Struggle Is Against Powerful Enemies and Has Serious Implications
- Lucifer’s forces want to hurt, destroy, and ruin our lives.
They want to hurt us, destroy us, and kill us if possible. If they cannot do that, they will settle for ruining our lives with broken homes, addictions, bitterness, despair, depression, violence, and so on.
- Our struggle has serious implications because Satan is powerful.
Unlike God, he can only be in one place at a time. However, his immense orders of demons, or fallen angels, do his bidding around the world.
- Satan is terribly evil.
No one has to teach us to sin. Every part of our nature is tainted by sin. Yet no one has fallen to Satan’s level. He is utterly evil.
- He has no conscience.
- No compassion.
- No remorse.
- He feeds on pain.
- He feeds on suffering.
- He delights in anguish and filth.
- Satan is terribly cunning. Satan has been honing his methods for millennia. His schemes include:
- The devil is a master at hiding behind the scenes. We blame others or circumstance, and do not always think that it could be Satan doing battle with us.
- Satan’s motto is “Divide and Conquer.” We need each other to defeat him.
- Satan does not so much attack our weaknesses as our strengths. He gets us to rely on our own talents or giftedness instead of the God who gave them to us.
- Our Power in Spiritual Warfare Is God’s Power
- The enemy defeats us when we rely on our own power. If you are trusting in your own power and strength, you are issuing the devil an invitation to beat you up. If you are thinking, I can handle it on my own, you are beaten and you do not even know it.
- We defeat the enemy when we rely on God’s power. Paul says “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.” King James Version. Why? Because God is greater than Satan is, Satan is powerful, but he is not even in the same class as God.
- Jesus ultimately defeated Satan at the cross. Colossians 2:14–15 speaks of how Jesus took our guilt of sin and nailed it to the cross. “Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross; and having spoiled “disarmed”principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it.” King James Version.
- In Christ, we have ultimate victory, but we do have to fight the battle. Paul says that we are to “put on the full armour of God,” a metaphor of the components of the spirit-filled life.
- Our Protection in Spiritual Warfare Is the Armour of God
- We defeat
the hordes of hell by being filled with the Spirit and living in holiness.
- Remember we cannot just send demons away. Saying “in Jesus’ name” will not necessarily make everything easier. We defeat the hordes of hell by being filled with the Spirit and living in holiness and peace. “Acts 1:8 – “ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.”
- When we rest in the Lord, we are the most secure. God said to Paul in “2 Corinthians 12:9, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my strength is made perfect in weakness.”
Wars are fought and won in small skirmishes. Sometimes we can get so overwhelmed by the titanic clash between righteousness and evil that we forget our personal battlefield.
- Are you holding your ground?
- Are you making your stand?