Spiritual Warfare

Spiritual Warfare

What causes a person to behead another human being? What causes them to cheer as they drown or burn a living person? What causes someone to dissect an unborn baby and sell its body parts? What causes a person to enter a church, theater, or school and kill people they do not know? What causes people to call evil good, and good evil? The cause for all this is same spirit that influenced religious people and a civil government to crucify the Son of God.

You might think spiritual warfare is only for missionaries working in heathen places. Sadly, in this country, we call demonized people insane and lock them up without receiving the deliverance they need from Jesus Christ. The Bible tells us there is a real devil and there are real demons. And every Christian is in a real war - a life-and-death struggle with a vicious enemy.

You might say, "Well, I'm not sure I believe that." Or you might mistakenly think, "If I leave the devil alone, he'll leave me alone." But the war is on, and we're in it whether we like it or not - or disagree with it. It's not just for some Christians, and it's not part-time. The war is on for every Christian, 24/7, every day of the year. You are engaged in spiritual warfare whether you know it or not. And if you are not fighting the enemy, you will become a casualty of this war.

Ephesians 6:10-18 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints. 

Other versions use the term “wrestle” instead of “struggle” to describe the conflict. With either word, the idea is that this conflict is continuous. In most sports, the players are given a "time out" to catch their breath. But not in wrestling. Once the wrestler enters the ring, he can't let his guard down for even a second or his opponent will pin him to the mat.

Likewise, Christians can't say, "Time out devil, I need a breather!" He doesn't take weekends or any day off. He doesn't take it easy on you when you've been through a tragedy or been hurt. That's when he pours on the heat. He's the original kick-'em-while-they're-down person. He is totally evil. He has no sense of mercy, sympathy, or what it means to have a fair fight. There's no practice and no warm-up. Satan is fighting a real battle against every one of us. We need to learn how to conduct spiritual warfare so we can fight back.

Recognizing you're in a war is a big part of victory. Satan is a terrorist. We are losing the War on Terror because we won’t admit we have an enemy, nor that we are at war. Like a terrorist, the devil takes advantage of our ignorance. But when we are aware of his schemes, he can't do what he planned.

1 Pet. 5:8 Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings.

We must keep our eyes on Jesus at all times - but also be aware of the devil. The Bible says we must not be ignorant, but instead "stand against the devil's schemes." The enemies we face are not "bad vibes," or "negative energies in the universe," or the "dark side of the force." They are demonic spirits who think, talk, listen, observe, and plan strategies.

2 Cor. 2:10-11 If you forgive anyone, I also forgive him. And what I have forgiven--if there was anything to forgive--I have forgiven in the sight of Christ for your sake, in order that Satan might not outwit us. For we are not unaware of his schemes.

Unforgiveness plays into the hands of Satan. These verses show how forgiveness outwits Satan and thwarts his schemes. Do you see a pattern of hurt and rejection in your life? Or perhaps you're bothered by suicidal thoughts, or trapped by the slow deadly addiction of drugs and alcohol. Does some strife always seem to happen in your family? Look for the enemy's strategies and recognize the patterns - then once you recognize what he is up to, avoid it. Turn away and begin to worship the Lord and praise Him. Refuse to be hurt. Refuse to get angry. That's warfare. Nothing defeats the devil faster than resisting what he's trying to do.

James 4:7 Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

This is active warfare! Submit to God and resist the devil. Rebuke him by saying, "Devil, I cut off your strategy in Jesus' Name. You've been doing this to me for 15 years, but I'm on to you and IT'S OVER! Get behind me.” He may try it several more times, but when you've convinced him that you're convinced of your spiritual authority, he will stop attacking from that angle.

There are two extremes to avoid. Some people tend to blame every adversity on the devil, always assuming it's a demon. They're impressed by the heaviness and the oppression. They claim to know all the spirits and the "sub-spirits." This can be an unhealthy preoccupation.

But there are others who never admit the devil is doing anything. They don't want to even think about it. They say, "Let's not give the devil publicity! Let's just keep our eyes on the Lord." They may be frightened or maybe they don't want to be like some of the "demon chasers" they know. Unfortunately, we can't make the enemy nonexistent by refusing to recognize he's here.

So, how do we stay balanced? Don't assume the devil is behind something, but don't refuse to consider it either. How will you know? Ask God. One of the gifts of the Holy Spirit is discernment of spirits. The Lord will give you power over the demon or grace to endure and overcome its torment for God’s glory. Either way, trust God’s wisdom, grace, and love for you. Paul experience this and explained it this way:

2 Cor 12:7-10 To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me.  But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

Therefore, be aware of what the devil does, but don't be controlled by his activity. Being aware won't hurt you - the Bible refers to demons and Satan all the time. By knowing your enemy, you know his weaknesses and schemes.  Find out what the devil is doing, but spend more time studying God and His greatness. Otherwise, you'll end up with a big devil and a small God in your mind.

1 John 4:1-6 Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world. You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. They are from the world and therefore speak from the viewpoint of the world, and the world listens to them. We are from God, and whoever knows God listens to us; but whoever is not from God does not listen to us. This is how we recognize the Spirit of truth and the spirit of falsehood.

Do not fear the spirit world. We can defeat the devil defensively and the offensively. God gave us weapons for offense and armor for defense, which means we're prepared for both. Christ is our armor, righteousness, salvation, shield, and truth. The Word of God is our sword and prayer is our method of attack. Remember, "the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world." We can be "strong in the Lord and in the power of His might." We have the power of prayer!

2 Cor. 10:3-4 For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.

We don't struggle against evil to get saved or stay saved. Salvation is a gift of God's grace and He can keep us from falling. But we must defend our faith from the enemy's attacks, lies, seductions, deceptions, and temptations. We must declare, "I'm standing firm, devil, and you are not coming in this temple!"

There are three areas of our temple to defend.

OUR MIND. The devil loves to put thoughts into our mind. We can be born-again and heaven-bound, but if we keep wrong thoughts, our effectiveness on earth is diminished. We must war against thoughts that don't agree with the Truth. Take them captive and focus on Jesus.

2 Cor. 10:5 We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.

If it's a thought of pride, fear, unbelief, lust, depression, or condemnation, it needs to be cast down. That's something we have to do. Rebuke Satan in the Name of Jesus. Refuse to dwell on it. Turn your mind to God and make your thoughts agree with His Word.

OUR HEART. Our "heart" includes our attitudes and emotions.

Ephesians 4:25-27, Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body. "In your anger do not sin": Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold.

We give opportunity to the devil if we don't deal with our wrong attitudes. Arrogant, rebellious, unforgiving, selfish, and contentious attitudes open up a door for the enemy to have a foothold in our life, marriage, church, nation, and world.

The devil only has access to our lives through sin. Jesus defeated every demonic power on the cross 2,000 years ago - but Satan is still active to the exact degree people allow him to be. Sinners are not the only ones allowing him to work. Christians allow him to work when we don’t resist, when we sin, and we don't repent of our wrong attitudes.

Matt 15:19 For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander.

So we must repent of any wrong attitudes on a regular basis - like brushing our teeth. It's something we must do. We "put off," the old man and "put on" the new man. That keeps the devil out of our heart.

Proverbs 4:23-27 Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life. Put away perversity from your mouth; keep corrupt talk far from your lips. Let your eyes look straight ahead, fix your gaze directly before you. Make level paths for your feet and take only ways that are firm. Do not swerve to the right or the left; keep your foot from evil.

There is a heart and mouth connection. Therefore, Satan will use OUR MOUTH if we let him.

Luke 6:45 The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks.

The mouth is a powerful instrument and the devil knows it. Our mouth has spiritual power for either good or evil. The same mouth can pronounce a blessing or a curse.

Jas. 3:9-10 With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God's likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be.  

Our words can be an instrument for the human spirit, the Holy Spirit, or an evil spirit.

The enemy loves to inspire us to speak unbelief, slander, gossip, and hurtful, harsh sarcasm. Many of us carry wounds from things said to us years ago. Don't let the devil bring curses through your mouth. Rebuke him and pray what David prayed in Psalm 141:3, Set a guard over my mouth, O LORD; keep watch over the door of my lips.

In sports, the offense tries to find a way over, under, around, or through the opponent - to the place of scoring. Unfortunately, in spiritual warfare many Christians only do defense. That's not what Jesus intended when He said, "…I will build My Church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it."

The gates of hell won't prevail if we move against them, but they will continue to stand if we don't attack! We need strategies of prayer and ministry to smash down the gates of hell. This is why it's so important to preach the Gospel and live it—bringing light into the darkness of this world. Christians, who compromise, aid the enemy, because people can't see the light. There are demons trying to keep us from preaching the Gospel. That's why most Christians never do. Through prayer, we can drive back the darkness hovering over people's minds so when we share truth in loving and appropriate ways, they can hear it and receive it.

Colossians 2:15 And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.

Jesus died to destroy the works of Satan and bring us salvation. After the Resurrection, Jesus gave us His authority to use in His Name. That means God has done everything to Satan He's going to do - except for punishing him at the end! The rest is up to us to use the power and authority Jesus gave us. God also gave us the awesome power of choice. If we sin and act selfishly, we allow the enemy to work. But if we exercise our free will and authority in Jesus' Name, we can drive the enemy out. It's just that simple.

We are the ambassadors of Jesus Christ, the Children of God. He gave us the Holy Spirit so we would have power to be witnesses of Jesus and do His work while we are here. Jesus said: You resist the devil. You heal the sick. You cast out demons. You pray for the Kingdom to come and for the will of God to be done on earth as it is in heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven. I give you power over all the power of the enemy.

Luke 10:19-20 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." 

God is expecting His people to know their authority and to exercise it. If we don't rise up to drive out the enemy, he'll stay in control. In the Promised Land, God gave the victory, but the people had to do the fighting. We need to get angry enough at the devil to refuse him access by defensive warfare - and then push him out with offensive warfare.

Through prevailing prayer and resisting and cutting off the strategies of the enemy, we will see change in our lives, in families, in cities, and in the world. Be as specific as you can be in spiritual warfare. Let the Holy Spirit lead you and empower you as you bind the powers of darkness and pray for a revelation of Jesus Christ into people's hearts. Warfare is hard work and it will continue until Jesus returns.

Satan’s greatest lie is telling us he doesn’t exist. He is the reason for evil in this world, not God. God has given us authority over Satan in Jesus’ Name. However, without the Holy Spirit, Christians have no power against the enemy. When you arise each morning, ask your Father for His grace to die to yourself and live for Christ, and for the power of the Holy Spirit. That’s how we prepare for battle.

Unfortunately, if Jesus is not your Lord and Savior, you are a captive of Satan. He doesn’t war against you because you are his. We are inviting you to change sides in this war today. With that invitation, you may a sense fear and anxiety. Those feelings are from the devil to keep you in bondage. Do you want to suffer his fate—eternity in Hell? If not, run to your Savior, Jesus Christ. Confess Him as Lord and the Son of God. Ask Him to forgive you of your sin and be baptized. He will forgive you and give you a new life, born of the Holy Spirit, who will give you power over the enemy.