Spiritual Warfare

There are two primary errors when it comes to spiritual warfare—over-emphasis and under-emphasis. Some blame every sin, every conflict, and every problem on demons that need to be cast out. Others completely ignore the spiritual realm and the fact that the Bible tells us our battle is against spiritual powers. There is an invisible spiritual world, and there is an invisible spiritual war. Somehow most Christians especially in America and now we are stating to export this false teaching that Christianity is anything but war. Most churches do not even preach on spiritual warfare even though the bible explicitly states it numerous times. We have bought into a christianity where you can have your life and sprinkle some Jesus on top and totally ignore the warfare. We are not on a cruise ship, we are on a battleship, we cannot trade in our weapons of warfare for sipping drinks with little umbrellas in it by the pool.
2 Timothy 2:3-4(HCSB)3 Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. 4 No one serving as a soldier gets entangled in the concerns of civilian life; he seeks to please the recruiter.

As soon as we confess Jesus as our Lord and Savior we are drawn into a spiritual battle. It is a battle where eternal death or eternal life is at stake. It is a battle with one who is 100% committed to drawing us away from God. It is a battle that calls us to make the spiritually lost a priority as we stand in unity with Jesus. Is this the battle that we are winning? Are we truly concerned that there are real people that will die and go to Hell? Are we concerned with it? Do we know that we are in a battle, even though it is invisible and spiritual it is real and it is eternal.

There are three enemies that we deal with and have to discern which they are so we can engage them in battle correctly. The World, The devil and the Flesh.

Ephesians 2:1-3(HCSB)And you were dead in your trespasses and sins 2 in which you previously walked according to the ways of this world,(the World) according to the ruler who exercises authority over the lower heavens(The Devil), the spirit now working in the disobedient. 3 We too all previously lived among them in our fleshly desires, carrying out the inclinations of our flesh and thoughts, and we were by nature children under wrath as the others were also.(The Flesh)

The basic strategy for our warfare:

Crucify our flesh. Romans 8:12-14(HCSB)12 So then, brothers, we are not obligated to the flesh to live according to the flesh, 13 for if you live according to the flesh, you are going to die. But if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.14 All those led by God’s Spirit are God’s sons.

Hate the world system. 1 John 2:15-17(HCSB)15 Do not love the world or the things that belong to the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in him. 16 For everything that belongs to the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride in one’s lifestyle—is not from the Father, but is from the world. 17 And the world with its lust is passing away, but the one who does God’s will remains forever.

Stand against the devil. Ephesians 6:10–18(HCSB)10 Finally, be strengthened by the Lord and by His vast strength. 11 Put on the full armor of God so that you can stand against the tactics of the Devil. 12 For our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the world powers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavens. 13 This is why you must take up the full armor of God, so that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and having prepared everything, to take your stand. 14 Stand, therefore, with truth like a belt around your waist, righteousness like armor on your chest, 15 and your feet sandaled with readiness for the gospel of peace.16  In every situation take the shield of faith, and with it you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.17 Take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is God’s word. 18 Pray at all times in the Spirit with every prayer and request, and stay alert in this with all perseverance and intercession for all the saints.

But the key to successful spiritual warfare is finding the biblical balance. Jesus sometimes cast demons out of people; other times He healed people with no mention of the demonic,sometimes we have to separate ourselves from the world,and othertimes we have to as the apostle Paul instructs Christians to wage war against the sin in themselves. Romans 6:1-13(HCSB)What should we say then? Should we continue in sin so that grace may multiply? 2 Absolutely not! How can we who died to sin still live in it? 3 Or are you unaware that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? 4 Therefore we were buried with Him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too may walk in a new way of life. 5 For if we have been joined with Him in the likeness of His death, we will certainly also be in the likeness of His resurrection. 6 For we know that our old self was crucified with Him in order that sin’s dominion over the body may be abolished, so that we may no longer be enslaved to sin, 7 since a person who has died is freed from sin’s claims.8 Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with Him, 9 because we know that Christ, having been raised from the dead, will not die again. Death no longer rules over Him. 10 For in light of the fact that He died, He died to sin once for all; but in light of the fact that He lives, He lives to God. 11 So, you too consider yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, so that you obey its desires. 13 And do not offer any parts[i] of it to sin as weapons for unrighteousness. But as those who are alive from the dead, offer yourselves to God, and all the parts of yourselves to God as weapons for righteousness. 14 For sin will not rule over you, because you are not under law but under grace.

There’s four facts that, before we talk about this, you absolutely need to know.

Fact No. 1:  God has defeated Satan. The bell just din’t ring yet. He has delivered us from sin’s penalty, and power, and ultimately will deliver us from sin’s very presence. In the meantime, we’re involved in guerrilla warfare with demonic forces.

Fact No. 2:  As believers, we have been transferred from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of light with all the rights and privileges and position that being a child of God involves.

Fact No. 3:  The spiritual battle that we fight involves a responsibility on our part to put on the spiritual protection that God has provided for us.  We can and we will resist the enemy’s attempts to deceive, accuse, and cast out when we stand firm by what?  First, being honest with God about ourselves and others: This is the prerequisite to all spiritual battle.  Second, responding to the truth that God shows us about His will for our lives which includes righteous living.  And third, a clear understanding of the Gospel and taking opportunity to readily share it by evangelism.

Fact No. 4:  The vast or great majority of all spiritual warfare never need go beyond the regular practice of living out your position in Christ by faith.  What we’re talking about now is not necessarily the norm.  Our practice of Paul’s metaphor, the spiritual armor, protects us from Satan’s ongoing attempts to break our fellowship with Jesus and, as a result, greatly minimizes any impact of the enemy.

Ephesians 6:10–12(HCSB) 10 Finally, be strengthened by the Lord and by His vast strength. 11 Put on the full armor of God so that you can stand against the tactics of the Devil. 12 For our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the world powers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavens. This text teaches some crucial truths: we can only stand strong in the Lord’s power, it is God’s armor that protects us, and our battle is ultimately against spiritual forces of evil in the world.

Some suggest all we need to do is bind Satan-and just say, “Satan, I bind you,” and he is caught. They cite Matthew 12:29(HCSB)29 How can someone enter a strong man’s house and steal his possessions unless he first ties up the strong man? Then he can rob his house.,

But Jesus was dispelling the Pharisees’ foolish accusation that He worked under Satan’s power (Matthew12:27-28), not relating a scenario whereby believers could “bind” Satan. He used the illustration of a thief, who, planning to rob a strong man’s house while the man was there, would first have to bind him or risk being arrested and beaten. Jesus’ point was that He had demonstrated to the Pharisees and all Israel His power over Satan and the kingdom of evil. Only God has the power and authority to enter the very house of Satan, successfully bind him, and carry off his property. Even Paul was hindered by Satan

1 Thessalonians 2:18(HCSB)18 So we wanted to come to you—even I, Paul, time and again—but Satan hindered us. Are we to assume he didn’t know the correct formula?

There is no magic phrase or mantra we can say that will bind Satan, but God has not left us without a divine strategy for dealing with him. God’s strategy centers on objective truth, not subjective experience. It begins with sound doctrine, not mystical technique. Yet ironically, those who talk most about warfare against Satan often minimize the importance of doctrine.

2 Corinthians 10:3-5(HCSB)3 For though we live in the body, we do not wage war in an unspiritual way, 4 since the weapons of our warfare are not worldly, but are powerful through God for the demolition of strongholds. We demolish arguments 5 and every high-minded thing that is raised up against the knowledge of God, taking every thought captive to obey Christ.

A word of caution concerning spiritual warfare is in order. Nowhere in Scripture are we instructed to speak to demons or to Satan. The name of Jesus is not a magic incantation that causes demons to flee from before us. The seven sons of Sceva are an example of what can happen when people presume an authority they have not been given Acts 19:13–16(HCSB)13 Then some of the itinerant Jewish exorcists attempted to pronounce the name of the Lord Jesus over those who had evil spirits, saying, “I command you by the Jesus that Paul preaches!” 14 Seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, were doing this. 15 The evil spirit answered them, “I know Jesus, and I recognize Paul—but who are you?” 16 Then the man who had the evil spirit leaped on them, overpowered them all, and prevailed against them, so that they ran out of that house naked and wounded.

Even Michael the archangel did not rebuke Satan in his own power but said Jude 1:9(HCSB)9 Yet Michael the archangel, when he was disputing with the Devil in a debate about Moses’ body, did not dare bring an abusive condemnation against him but said, “The Lord rebuke you!”.

When we start talking to the devil, we run the risk of being led astray as Eve was. Genesis 3:1–7(HCSB)Now the serpent was the most cunning of all the wild animals that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You can’t eat from any tree in the garden’?” 2 The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat the fruit from the trees in the garden. 3 But about the fruit of the tree in the middle of the garden, God said, ‘You must not eat it or touch it, or you will die.’” 4 “No! You will not die,” the serpent said to the woman. 5 “In fact, God knows that when you eat it your eyes will be opened and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” 6 Then the woman saw that the tree was good for food and delightful to look at, and that it was desirable for obtaining wisdom. So she took some of its fruit and ate it; she also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. 7 Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made loincloths for themselves. Our focus should be on God, not demons; we speak to Him, not them.

Ephesians 6:13–18 is a description of the spiritual armor God gives us. We are to stand firm with the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the gospel of peace, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, the sword of the Spirit, and by praying in the Spirit. What do these pieces of spiritual armor represent in spiritual warfare? We are to know the truth, believe the truth, and speak the truth. We are to rest in the fact that we are declared righteous because of Christ’s sacrifice for us. We are to proclaim the gospel no matter how much resistance we face. We are not to waver in our faith, trusting God’s promises no matter how strongly we are attacked. Our ultimate defense is the assurance we have of our salvation, an assurance that no spiritual force can take away. Our offensive weapon is the Word of God, not our own opinions and feelings. And we are to pray in the power and will of the Holy Spirit.

Romans 13:13-14(HCSB)13 Let us walk with decency, as in the daylight: not in carousing and drunkenness; not in sexual impurity and promiscuity; not in quarreling and jealousy. 14 But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no plans to satisfy the fleshly desires.

Jesus is our ultimate example of resisting temptation in spiritual warfare. Observe how Jesus handled direct attacks from Satan when He was tempted in the wilderness (Matthew 4:1–11). Each temptation was combatted with the words “it is written.” The Word of the living God is the most powerful weapon against the temptations of the devil. Psalm 119:11(HCSB)I have treasured Your word in my heart so that I may not sin against You.

The first part of the armor is the belt of truth. God never intended His people to worship Him apart from the use of their minds. Real spirituality begins with a precise understanding of truth. Yet much of contemporary Christianity is heading down the paths of mystical experience and fantasy.

We don’t battle Satan with magic words and imaginary forces; we rely on the power of His truth as it brings even our thoughts captive to our Lord. That is genuine and ultimate victory over satanic forces.

No matter how Satan attacks, the solution is the same. We stand in the truth. We don’t need to learn hidden strategies to fight Satan. God’s truth is the supreme weapon against the father of lies. John 8:44(HCSB)You are of your father the Devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning and has not stood in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he tells a lie, he speaks from his own nature, because he is a liar and the father of liars. Only when we know the truth and commit ourselves to obey it will we stand strong.

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