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Spiritual Warfare

Question: "What does the Bible say about Satan and the subject of spiritual warfare?"

Answer: We are in a real war against the devil and his many demonic forces. As the Bible says in Eph 6 the battle is not against flesh and blood. Many Christians do not know we are in a war, nor are they equipped to handle themselves, because many pastors and authors completely ignore this subject. The Bible says "the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons" (1 Timothy 4:1, ESV). With such a statement it seems obvious that demons are behind much of the deception and false doctrines circulating today. Demons are deceptive and often do not use men to present evil in its naked deformity, but present evil and make it look like its from God and consequently many more are deceived. Satan utilizes numerous strategies in his attempt to divide people from God and destroy the church. I will highlight a few of his strategies and give you scripture to defeat and fight him in your battle for doctrinal truth and for righteous living.

Indifference

The first strategy I believe the devil uses is indifference as he wants us to think that he does not exist. Some recent surveys by the Barna group indicate that many evangelicals do not even believe that Satan exists! This shows why so few churches even speak of him. Many are very concerned about preaching self-help, and Satan and his minions infiltrate such churches and deceive those into thinking that the most important person message to preach is about self-help, and the fulfillment and happiness of the individual. Such churches do not even know they are being deceived, and this goes to show their apathy towards spiritual warfare. I wish I could say that such churches are in the minority, but this is not so. When was the last time you heard a sermon on spiritual warfare and the strategies of Satan? The last time I heard one was many months ago. You would think that pastors would preach on this subject more, but they do not, and consequently many believers have rationalized Satan out of the picture. They blame themselves for their temptations and struggles, and do not credit Satan to any of it. I am not trying to argue that God is not in control of his universe, but I am arguing that God allows Satan to tempt and test his children. There are countless books on spiritual warfare (some of which I have listed at the end of this article) and Christians should buy some to aide them in their fight against Satan. Ephesians chapter 6 has a bit to say about spiritual warfare and how to fight Satan. It would be a good passage to commit to memory. I will have more to say about this chapter at the end of this article.

Infiltration

I believe another major strategy that the devil utilizes is infiltration. The devil gets in the lives of those that tolerate sin (Eph 4:27). In the Garden the serpent deceived the woman & the man to disobey God and he used clever and deceptive speech to do so.

When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and
pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took
some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her,
and he ate it (Gen 3:6, NIV).

One of his biggest lies is Hedonism (the pursuit of pleasure) which is deceiving many today. Eve did not think before she sinned but simply felt and let her sensations take over. Eve thought it was best to feel and experience rather than to think, just as many today make their decisions on their emotions. As Christians live in a ungodly world we need to be set apart and not fall for the lies and deceptions of Hedonism. I myself am a lover of food. If food were my god it would be very easy for me to eat at lots of different restaurants, and spend lots of money on buying lots of different types of foods, as the different styles and flavors of food are endless. But food is not my god and I have learned and trained myself to be Godly, and in being Godly I have set apart myself for holiness and holiness involves saying no to the pleasures of the flesh. Learning
to say no is not easy, and often takes prayer, and trial and error.

Another major one of the serpents lies is the lie of Pantheism. In Gen 3:5 the text reads "For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil"(NIV). Pantheists believe that everything in nature is God and we are all a part of God. To the Pantheist the final reality in all the universe is spiritual. Pantheists deny matter and the material universe in order to escape into the reality of the mind. The spiritual universe exists in the mind of the Pantheist and the only true reality. Pantheists believe that man is his own savior and that it was not us that fell but God. These Pantheists are obviously under the lie of Satan and his demons, and the devil has used not only the Star Wars films, but many other movies, books, music, and methods to get the lie of Pantheism into society. Christians that are wise, will be discerning and will know the word of God (1 Pet 2:2) so that they can be able to detect and discern these lies, just as how the Bereans in Acts 17 were truly discerning and searched the scriptures and tested Paul.

Another of the serpents lies that is all over the culture is the lie of Relativism. To the relativist there is no such thing as absolute truth, for what is true for you may not be true for me, for truth is all relative. The philosopher John Dewey can be blamed for giving relativism credibility in America. Relativism thrives in our culture and so many do not believe in any absolute truth. For example many think there is nothing wrong with living with someone they are not married to. They think that they can do or so whatever they wish, and no one can impose their morals, ethics, and beliefs on them. These people will often accuse the Bible believing Christian as a "Bible thumper"or "hate monger." I personally have been accused of being "divisive" on internet message boards where relativism was the dominate philosophy. What really surprised me was that many of those that have called me divisive have professed to be Christians! They have called me divisive because I hold to a biblical standard, and although I am far from perfect the word of God is my authority. The word of God does not teach that life is all about us, and all about us finding our dream job and being fulfilled. Life is about obeying God (Ecc 12) and carrying out his commission of evangelism to all the nations (Mt 28, Mk 16). I am a slave of Christ and my duty is to obey my master. John MacArthur wrote a most excellent book "Slave" that I would strongly encourage you to purchase. I am convinced that there will be many professing believers who have been changed by the lies of relativism that will be told by Christ to depart from him, for He never knew them (Mt 7:23). There is such a thing as absolute truth and it is contained in the Word of God, and those that want to know truth must get to know God whom is truth (John 1:17, 14:6).

The lie of Esotericism is also widespread in our culture. Esotericism means the belief in a transformation of consciousness that initiates us into true spirituality. Many years ago I attended a church that was very big on trying to experience God. In their midweek service people would all gather together in a room that was darkened with candles everywhere. Everyone that gathered there got on their knees and attempted to have an "experience with God." Sometimes people would claim that the Lord directly spoke to them and told them something, and other times no one experienced anything. Those that had an "experience with God" in such a setting were deemed as the most spiritual and closest to God. People would learn and try to model after their example. At the time I was ignorant and had no read up on the danger of such a setting and its pathways to the New Age movement. There are two pathways to this "experience" that is common in Esotericism that Satan and his demons can use. One of these is called transcendental meditation, and the other is psychedelic drugs. Sadly there are professing Christian counselors that practice transcendental meditation and unfortunately some years ago I was in a transcendental meditation session. Transcendental meditation and the quest for an experience are all over the Charismatic movement. Charismatics believe in new and continuing revelation so its no wonder that many seek an experience with God. They do not seek to know God by studying the scripture unfortunately, and with regret the devil and his demons are stationed all over the many Charismatic churches in the world, and deceive people all the time. The only defense against the lies of Esotericism is the scripture and those that know it will keep far away from churches that practice Esotericism.

Intervention

Intervention is another one of the devil's tactics that he uses against Christians. Satan does whatever he can to get Christians sidetracked in their lives and on other things rather than on God. Looking at the state of the Church today I'd say that he has been very successful. Satan & his demons have kept many Christians fighting and dividing over secondary issues of doctrine and church methodology. Christians argue, debate, and divide over the secondary issue of Church music. Music style is a preference and if the doctrine is Biblical there is no reason to divide over preferences. I have been in churches where the music was all contemporary, I have been in churches where the music was all traditional, and I have been in churches where the music was blended. I personally can live with all forms of music just as long as the doctrine behind the songs is Biblical. Another powerful tactic that the devil uses in his intervention game is to get Christians to overspend on their pleasures, and work so many hours at their jobs trying to pay back their debts, that they rarely have time for God, their churches, and investing into the things that really matter. The devil has been quite successful as countless Christians are in deep debt, rarely have time for God, work regularly on Sundays, and spend so little time if anytime in the things that really matter for eternity. Evangelism is a commandment (Mk 16, Mt 28) yet so few Christians do it. So few Christians do it probably because they are so involved in "good pursuits" and not "eternal ones" like evangelism.

Battling the Devil

The best way to fight the devil is to know your armor described in the book of Ephesians chapter 6 verses 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 (NIV).

I cannot address every piece of the armor here in this brief space but to summarize I believe that the armor is Christ himself, and I conclude that by harmonizing this passage along with Romans 13:14 which says "But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires"(ESV). When we put on the Lord Jesus Christ we will mimic him in our everyday life. This means that we will strive for holiness, and strive for separation from the worlds sinful practices. I am not trying to make a list of do's and dont's but will say that Christians that are mature in the faith and seek to stay away from temptation will avoid certain environments, movies, television shows, music, and certain people because of the temptation to sin. It is wise for Christians to AVOID seeking counsel from an ungodly person (Ps 1:1), it is wise for Christians to AVOID watching movies that promote sexual fantasies and homosexuality (1 Jn 2:16), and the list goes on. So many today will be quick to label anyone a legalist who seeks to obey God and pursue holiness (2 Cor 3:18). But we must remember Christs word in Jn 15:18-19 "If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you"(ESV). Christ promises that we will be hated by the world. Christians that are well liked and accepted by the world probably are not standing for the truth, are compromising their testimony, and so Satan does not bother them, as they are useless and worthless. Lets not act like that, but lets shine as the stars (Dan 12:3) in this dark world, and only be hated because we stand for Christ, and not be hated because of any other reason for the devil hates Christians that truly stand for Christ and are an effective witness. Being an effective witness will most likely lead to hate and persecution, but as Christ said "if the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you" lets not lose sight of our eternal and future home, and what we need to do on this earth for Christ.

Recommended Resources: 

The Strategy of Satan-Warren Wiersbe
The Serpent of Paradise-Erwin Lutzer
I Never thought I'd see the Day-David Jeremiah
Invasion of Other Gods-David Jeremiah
The Truth War-John MacArthur
Slave-John MacArthur

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