In this article, we will look at the reality of spiritual warfare. We will see who our enemy is, his operations in our lives, his limitations, and we will also understand how to fight against him.
Some Christians believe that Satan is simply a metaphor for evil. In their minds, God uses a fictitious character to symbolize all that is evil in the world. However, the Bible teaches that Satan, and his demons, are in fact real. Much of the ministry of Jesus dealt with this supernatural threat. “And he healed many that were sick of divers diseases, and cast out many devils; and suffered not the devils to speak, because they knew him.” (Mark 1:34, KJV). Satan and his demons are real.
It is important to understand that Satan cannot be compared to God. It is a misconception to view Satan as being a “negative” God. Satan is just another created being. He is in no way even close to being equal with God. God is not really fighting Satan, we are. In fact, Satan answers to God, and our Father has complete control over him. God is omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent, and he has no beginning and no end. Satan had a beginning, he does not know everything, he is not all powerful, and he is not present everywhere. In fact, there may be other created beings, angels, who are more powerful than Satan, but the Bible is not clear on that.
In the book of Job, we see that Satan is limited to what he can do to men. He needs to get permission from God in order to attack God’s creation. “And the Lord said unto Satan, Behold, all that he hath is in thy power; only upon himself put not forth thine hand. So Satan went forth from the presence of the Lord.” (Job 1:12). Satan could not touch Job until God instructed him to do so, and God even set limits to what Satan could do. Later in the book of Job, God allows Satan to further test Job. “And the Lord said unto Satan, Behold, he is in thine hand; but save his life.” (Job 2:6). We see that Satan cannot do whatever he wants to do, our Father is very much God. And, he is in total control over all of his creation.
Satan does attack God’s children. We are warned throughout scripture of the enemy's desire to destroy us. “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:” (1 Peter 5:8). Jesus warned Simon in Luke 22:31-32, “And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.” And the Apostle Paul also recognized the enemy's desire to hinder our work for God. “Wherefore we would have come unto you, even I Paul, once and again; but Satan hindered us.” (1 Thessalonians 2:18). We are under attack, but God has equipped us to handle any spiritual assault.
God has given us power and authority over Satan and his demons. “And the seventy returned again with joy, saying, Lord, even the devils are subject unto us through thy name. And he said unto them, I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven. Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you. Notwithstanding in this rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you; but rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven.” (Luke 10:17-20). Satan and his demons are actually subject to God’s children. In other words, we can tell him what to do.
In order to exercise this spiritual authority, we have to be walking in faith. In the book of Matthew, chapter 17, we see an instance where the disciples could not cast out a demon. Jesus stated that it was because of their unbelief. “Then came the disciples to Jesus apart, and said, Why could not we cast him out? And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you. Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting.” (Matthew 17:19-21). We see that some demons seem to be stronger than others. But through prayer and faith, we will obtain the victory.
Sometimes we forget that we have help. We may have supernatural enemies that we can’t see, but we also have supernatural friends that we often cannot perceive. “For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways. They shall bear thee up in their hands, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone.” (Psalm 91:11-12). There are more angels than there are demons. And since they are operating under the direction of God’s word, they are much more powerful than Satan’s demons. “Bless the Lord, ye his angels, that excel in strength, that do his commandments, hearkening unto the voice of his word.” (Psalm 103:20). Because we have been given the authority to speak in Jesus’ name, when we speak God’s word, the angels will back it up. “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father. And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it.” (John 14:12-14).
There are many ways that Satan attacks. His main battlefield is the human mind. That is why God has given us supernatural weapons to fight with in this arena. “ For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;” (2 Corinthians 10:3-5). Satan’s main strategy is to get us to doubt God’s word. He wants to discourage us and make us ineffective for God’s kingdom.
Satan often tries to confuse us with false teaching. False teaching can hinder our faith and cause us to be ignorant of who we are in Christ and to what God has given us. We must allow God’s Spirit to “filter” all spiritual teaching. “These things have I written unto you concerning them that seduce you. But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him.” (1 John 2:26-27).
The Bible is also clear that demons are behind some illnesses. At times, Jesus would cast out a demon, and the person’s physical affliction would stop. We read about such an occasion in Luke 13:10-16:
And he was teaching in one of the synagogues on the sabbath. And, behold, there was a woman which had a spirit of infirmity eighteen years, and was bowed together, and could in no wise lift up herself. And when Jesus saw her, he called her to him, and said unto her, Woman, thou art loosed from thine infirmity. And he laid his hands on her: and immediately she was made straight, and glorified God. And the ruler of the synagogue answered with indignation, because that Jesus had healed on the sabbath day, and said unto the people, There are six days in which men ought to work: in them therefore come and be healed, and not on the sabbath day. The Lord then answered him, and said, Thou hypocrite, doth not each one of you on the sabbath loose his ox or his ass from the stall, and lead him away to watering? And ought not this woman, being a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan hath bound, lo, these eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the sabbath day?
Sometimes we face physical enemies, men, who are actually being motivated by demonic forces. It was Satan who motivated Judas to betray Jesus. “Then entered Satan into Judas surnamed Iscariot, being of the number of the twelve.” (Luke 22:3). When we face a human enemy, we need to ask for God’s wisdom in order to determine the true source of the threat. If the Holy Spirit reveals that demonic forces are motivating someone to attack us, we then need to use our spiritual authority against that spiritual force instead of trying to fight the spiritual using physical or natural resources.
One of the first things that we do when fighting a supernatural enemy is to submit to God. Once we are in God’s will, the demonic influence is not fighting us, it is fighting God. “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded.” (James 4:7-8).
We also need to pray for guidance and wisdom when facing a demonic opponent. Some situations do not have pre-fabricated answers. An attack is often dynamic in nature, and it will sometimes be crafted just for you. Ask God to show you what to do and how to fight.
The enemy tries to get us to doubt God’s word. So, we must stay focused on God’s word, and believe God, despite of what is going on in the natural. This is one of the most important and powerful tactics for defeating Satan. If Satan can get you to doubt God’s word, you will not be able to receive God’s blessings.
There is strength in numbers. “Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven.” (Matthew 18:19). Find like minded Christians who will pray in agreement with you concerning spiritual warfare. Be sure that you are praying in agreement; two or three Christians praying for different things is not praying in agreement. When you ask your spiritual family to pray, try to be specific as possible. For example, if you are praying for healing, your prayer circle needs to be on the same page. It is not good when one person is praying for God to maintain you through your sickness, and another is praying for your financial needs to be met. Praying in agreement means praying for the same thing.
You must know who you are in Christ. You do not belong to Satan or to any of his demons. Jesus has delivered you from Satan’s kingdom. “Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son:” (Colossians 1:13). You are your own walking embassy. You may dwell on earth, but your citizenship is in heaven. You are in God’s kingdom.
Because of Christ, you were given eternal life. You have eternal life at this very moment, you do not have to wait until you die to receive it. “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.” (John 5:24). Do not let the enemy tell you that you have lost your salvation. Once you are saved, you are always saved. “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand.” (John 10:27-29). This is a foundational truth that you must receive if you are to be totally victorious against the forces of Satan. If you are God’s child, nothing will ever change that.
Did you know that God united his Spirit with your spirit when you were born again? “But he that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit.” (1 Corinthians 6:17). Other translations make it clear that we become one in spirit with God when we come to Christ. This is one of the greatest blessings of the new birth. Not only is God in us, he is also a part of us, and we are a part of him. So, when we fight against Satan, God is right there with us.
In the book of Ephesians, we find a detailed plan for fighting against Satan. The Apostle Paul uses symbolism to teach us about spiritual warfare. This is a powerful lesson that we will just touch on. But you must meditate on this passage in order to receive full illumination on what God is trying to teach you. Ephesians 6:10-18 reads:
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. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;
Paul is giving the Ephesians a lesson in spiritual warfare based on an image that they were very familiar with, a Roman soldier. Paul links various pieces of the soldier’s armor with spiritual attributes that are necessary to posses when engaged in demonic warfare. We find the following equipment listed: belt of truth, breastplate of righteousness, sandals of peace, shield of faith, helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit. The Christian puts on all of this equipment by faith, through the knowledge of who we are in Christ, and the knowledge of what God has given to us.
The belt of truth is applied by knowing the truth about who you are in Christ. It is accepting God’s truth over the lies of the enemy.
We use righteousness as a breastplate. This does not mean our own righteousness, it is the righteousness that was imputed to us when we came to Christ. “And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:” (Philippians 3:9). You apply the breastplate of righteousness by understanding that you are “right” in the site of God because of what Jesus has done, it is not based on your works.
The next item is sometimes hard to be understood. It is best to look at various Bible translations to understand what the sandals of peace are. Some translations state something like, “Have your feet shod with the peace that comes from the gospel.” Something to that effect would probably be a more accurate translation. This part of our armor deals with our stability. If you do not have peace in your life, you will have no stability. But, we can have peace because we have peace with God through the gospel. We are no longer at war with God, and our eternal destination is secure. We walk through our battles with the peace that comes from God. “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.” (Romans 5:1-2).
The shield of faith is our protection. We access the promises of God through faith. Faith lets us stand firm in the midst of an attack because we know that we have the victory in Christ. The shield of faith takes away the sting of any attack launched against us by Satan. We believe God’s word over what we see.
To put on the helmet of salvation is to receive the truth that we have been saved. We understand that we have been delivered from the wrath of God because of the blood of Jesus. “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life. (Romans 5:8-10).
Our last piece of equipment is the sword of the Spirit. The Lord used his word to fight against Satan when he was tempted in the wilderness. This is our example. Matthew 4:1-11 reads:
Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil. And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterward an hungred. And when the tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread. But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. Then the devil taketh him up into the holy city, and setteth him on a pinnacle of the temple, And saith unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone. Jesus said unto him, It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God. Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me. Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve. Then the devil leaveth him, and, behold, angels came and ministered unto him.
When Satan comes against you with a lie, you counter it with God’s word. This is one of the ways that you use the sword of the Spirit. When Satan comes with the lie of sickness, you counter with God’s word on health. If he, Satan, tries to bring financial ruin, you respond with God’s word on prosperity. The sword of the Spirit attacks the lies of the enemy.
Spiritual warfare is real. We have a real enemy who hates us. He is often invisible, and he is crafty in his approaches to do us great harm. But what we have on our side is much greater. We learn about spiritual warfare not to cause fear, but to understand our enemy and to gain an assurance that God has already given us the victory. “Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.” (1 John 4:4).