Spiritual warfare as waged by the believer takes place on the three fronts, often referred to in Scripture as the world, the flesh, and the Devil. The world refers to our present world system, which is controlled by Satan (as in 1 John 2:15-17); the flesh refers to our sin nature (as in Romans 7:5); and "the Devil" includes Satan and his demonic host (Ephesians 6:12). This study will address the believer's spiritual warfare against Satan and his demonic host.
Satan's temptation of Eve demonstrated that his nature was already corrupted with evil, indicating that his rebellion against God took place prior to the Edenic temptation. Passages from Isaiah and Ezekiel describe his insurrection.
12. How you are fallen from the heavens, O shining star, son of the morning! How you are cut down to the ground, you who weakened the nations! 13. For you have said in your heart, "I will go up to the heavens, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will also sit on the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north. 14. I will go up above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the Most High."
~ Isaiah 14:12-14 ~
15. You were perfect in your ways from the day you were created, until iniquity was found in you. 16. By the multitude of your trade, they filled your midst with violence, and you sinned. So I cast you defiled from the height of God, and I destroyed you, O covering cherub, from among the stones of fire. 17. Your heart was lifted up because of your beauty; you corrupted your wisdom because of your splendor. I have cast you to the ground. I will put you before kings, that they may see you. 18. By the host of your iniquities, by the iniquity of your trade, you have defiled your holy places. So I brought a fire from your midst and it shall devour you, and I will give you for ashes on the earth in the sight of all who see you.
~ Ezekiel 28:15-18 ~
Revelation 12:3-4 is not a description of Satan's original rebellion, but it does reveal how many angels he was able to win to his camp: 3. And another sign was seen in the heavens. And behold a great red dragon.... 4. And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and cast them onto the earth.
Keil and Delitzsch render Ezekiel 28:16 and 18 as follows: 16. On account of the multitude of thy commerce, thine inside was filled with wrong, and thou didst sin.... 18. Through the multitude of thy sins in thine unrighteous trade thou hast profaned thy holy places.
Strong's Concordance gives three possible translations of the word translated commerce and trade: trade (as peddled), merchandise, traffic. Whatever Satan peddled was not of a material nature, as material trade does not take place in heaven. What he must have peddled were promises of power and glory related to his five I wills of Isaiah 14:12-14, above.
Satan seeks to destroy the entire human race. Isaiah 14:12 refers to him as the one who "laid low the nations." Revelation 12:9 calls him "the deceiver of the whole world." 2 Corinthians 4:4 says, ... the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving ones, so that the light of the glorious gospel of Christ (who is the image of God) should not dawn on them.
Satan blinds individuals to the light of God, and brings down nations morally and in every other way because its citizens are spiritually blinded.
Not satisfied with having won the allegiance of a third of the angels, Satan drew the human race into his rebellion against God with his successful temptation of Eve in the Garden and the subsequent sin of Adam in following of Eve's lead (Genesis 3:1-6). Our first parents' sin resulted in the depravity (sin nature) of the entire human race and in the curse upon the earth and every earthly creature (Genesis 3:14-19).
Human depravity soon found its expression in the murder of Abel by Cain (Genesis 4:1-8) and in the gross wickedness of virtually the entire human race:
Genesis 6:5: And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart [was] only evil continually.
For this cause, God purged the corrupted human race by means of the Noahic flood (Genesis 6-8); but man's innate wickedness climaxed again at the tower of Babel, an astrological observatory whose purpose was to spurn the worship of God by seeking guidance from the stars and by worshiping demons, for which cause God scattered them abroad by means of confounding their language (Genesis 11:1-9).
Indeed, Satan attacked our Lord directly.
When Herod heard that the magi had come to worship the recently born King of the Jews, he ordered the slaughter of all males below the age of two in the vicinity of Bethlehem (Matthew 2:1-16). That Satan was behind this attack is shown in Revelation 12:1-5:
1. And there appeared a great sign in the heavens, a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon was under her feet, and a crown of twelve stars on her head, 2. and having a babe in womb, she cries, being in travail, having been distressed to bear. 3. And another sign was seen in the heavens. And behold a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns and seven crowns on his heads! 4. And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and cast them onto the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman being about to bear, so that when she bears he might devour her child. 5. And she bore a son, a male, who is going to rule all nations with a rod of iron. And her child was caught up to God and to His throne.
Genesis 37:9-11 explains the symbolism. The sun was the patriarch Joseph's father, who was Jacob or Israel; the moon was his mother, Rachel; and the eleven stars are Joseph's brothers who, with Joseph, make the twelve stars, which symbolize the patriarchs of the tribes of Israel. Therefore, the woman in the midst of these symbols represents the nation Israel whose child, who is going to rule all nations with a rod of iron, ascended to His heavenly Father after His resurrection. The Revelation passage reveals that before the child was even born, the dragon and his demonic host were poised on earth so that when she bears he might devour her child. Thus, the slaughter of the babes of Bethlehem.
Satan attacked our Lord immediately after He was launched into ministry at His baptism, this time by trying to get Him to sin (Matthew 4:1-11; Mark 1:12; Luke 4:1-13), which would have disqualified Him from being the sinless Lamb of God, which takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29, 36). He attacked again when He moved Peter to rebuke Jesus for speaking about going to the cross (Matthew 16:21-23). He attacked Him repeatedly through Yeshua's unbelieving Jewish brethren by getting them to try to kill Him on a number of occasions (John 10:31), but in the wrong way, so He would not fulfill the prophecies of His crucifixion (e.g., Psalm 22:16), and at the wrong time, so He wouldn't be the Passover Lamb (Isaiah 52:13-53:12), nullifying the atonement aspect of His death. Finally, Satan attacked again to kill Jesus, using as his agents Judas Iscariot, the son of perdition (John 13:2, 27; 17:2), and the Jewish spiritual leadership (Matthew 26:14-15). (However, God, in His providence, saw to it that Jesus did die at the right time and in the right way. It was the plan of the chief priests to kill Jesus, but not on the feast day, lest there be an uproar of the people [Matthew 26:5, Mark 14:2], which would have been consistent with Satan's desire to kill Jesus at the wrong time; but when Jesus let Judas know that He knew that Judas was His betrayer, Judas went to the high priests [John 13:27-30] and no doubt informed them that Jesus knew of the plot. The chief priests then sought to take Jesus immediately and delivered Him to be killed in the right way and at the right time [Matthew 26:17-30, 47-49; Mark 14:1-46; Luke 22:1-47; John 18:1-3]), though they were blind to it, causing Satan's plan to be overridden.)
Yeshua, of course, did become the slaughtered Lamb of God, rose from the dead, and birthed the church. Satan now focuses his attacks on the church, the corporate ambassador of Christ on earth, as well as on Israel.
By means of false doctrine and sinful enticements, Satan has succeeded in causing the corruption of the beliefs and morals of many believers; indeed, of perhaps all believers, to one degree or another. In Acts 20:29-30, Paul said to the Ephesian elders, 29. For I know this, that after my departure grievous wolves shall enter in among you, not sparing the flock. 30. Also men shall arise from your own selves, speaking perverse things in order to draw disciples away after them.
Satan has scored victories in the lives of all believers by getting all to sin (1 John 1:10), some to such an extent that they have become useless for godly service (1 Corinthians 9:27; 1 Timothy 1:19). False doctrine and sinful temptations have poisoned the church spiritually, led to ungodly practices, shattered the church into thousands of slivers, and ruined the lion's share of its potential witness. He has also attacked the church furiously and unceasingly since the day of its birth by means of social ostracism and physical persecutions in every degree, even causing the murder of believers in the millions.
Satan's attacks on the church are an indirect attack on unbelievers. To the extent that he can neutralize or corrupt the church he can neutralize and corrupt the church's witness to the world. But he attacks unbelievers directly, also, by blinding their minds to the truth of the gospel: 2 Corinthians 4:3-4: 3. But also if our gospel is hidden, it is hidden to those being lost, 4. in whom the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving ones, so that the light of the glorious gospel of Christ (who is the image of God) should not dawn on them.
In addition, he seeks to kill unbelievers while they are yet in that state of blindness lest the Lord open their eyes and they be saved, as is evidenced by the ceaseless killings and wars upon the planet whose kosmos he controls (James 1:15 and 4:1).
Jesus, Paul and James said, You shall love your neighbor as yourself (Matthew 22:39; Galatians 5:14; James 2:8), and Jesus said, Love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who despitefully use you and persecute you. (Matthew 5:44)
In other words, we are to love all of the unsaved, even our enemies and the unsavory.
First and foremost, the Christian must seek to rescue the unsaved from the attacks of Satan by seeking to make them disciples of the Lord. Matthew 28:18-20:
18. And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, All authority is given to Me in Heaven and in earth. 19. Therefore go and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20. teaching them to observe all things, whatever I commanded you. And, behold, I am with you all the days until the end of the world. Amen.
The making of disciples, of course, must begin with the preaching of the Gospel. Mark 16:15-16: 15. And He said to them, Go into all the world, proclaim the gospel to all the creation. 16. He who believes and is baptized will be saved, but he who does not believe will be condemned.
Secondly, the Christian is to administer acts of mercy and of power to the unsaved ( Matthew 14:15-21; 20:34), including feeding the hungry, counseling the troubled, and administering healings and exorcisms as the Lord provides leading and empowerment. Such ministry is of great value in itself (James 1:27), but it also softens the hearts of many to the ministry of the gospel, which is the greatest ministry of all.
"Ephesians 4:26-27: 26. Be angry, and do not sin. Do not let the sun go down upon your wrath, 27. neither give place to the Devil.
Dr. Fruchtenbaum writes, "In this passage, give place means 'give a beachhead.'" (Fruchtenbaum, Arnold G. Radio Manuscript #19: The Darkness of Demonism. San Antonio: Ariel Ministries Press. P. 21). A beachhead is a strip of territory just within enemy territory.
We are to put up a sign on the borders of our lives that says to the enemy, "No Trespassing!" Upon recognizing when he is on the attack, we are to resolve to prevent his entry into our lives in any degree. We are to do that by resisting him; but if he does gain entry, whether through our lack of vigilance or through our rolling out of the red carpet for him, we are to repent and force him out through resistance, even by commanding him to leave, if necessary, as Jesus did with Peter (Mark 8:31-33, below). If need be, we are to seek the prayers, counsel and assistance of mature brethren in getting the job done. That's what the body of Christ is for.
2. The Christian Is to Resist the Devil
James 4:6-7: 6. But He gives more grace. Therefore He says, God resists the proud, but He gives grace to the humble. 7. Therefore submit yourselves to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
1 Peter 5:8-9: 8. Be sensible and vigilant, because your adversary the Devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking someone he may devour; 9. whom firmly resist in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions in the world are being completed in your brotherhood.
We are to resist the Devil in humility, but firmly, and in the faith, meaning within scriptural truth and obedience.
3. How Is the Christian to Resist the Devil?
We'll glean some principles from the Epistles, and then see how the Lord resisted Satan.
3. For though walking about in flesh, we do not war according to flesh. 4. For the weapons of our warfare are not fleshly, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds, 5. pulling down imaginations and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought into the obedience of Christ.
~ 2 Corinthians 10:3-5 ~
Various literal translations render high thing as "mental elevation" or "arrogance".
We are not to attempt to defeat Satan by fleshly, or carnal, means. We are not to berate him, lose our tempers at him, or in any other way employ the world's means of gaining dominance. To do so would be to lose a round to Satan, not win one, as we'd actually be calling upon him to mold our attitude. We must defeat him by being mighty through God, through spiritual means, by means of the Spirit's guidance and empowerment, to pulling down imaginations. Various literal translations render imaginations as reasonings and arguments. In other words, the battle is in the thought realm. We're to purge out satanic thoughts and reasonings and replace them with godly thoughts and reasonings. This is done by "eating" the Scriptures and meditating on them before the Lord.
To sum up this passage, defeating Satan requires the employment of biblical truth in a godly manner and attitude.
This is spelled out in Ephesians 6:10-18:
10. Finally, my brothers, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. 11. Put on the whole armor of God so that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the world's rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual wickedness in high places. 13. Therefore take to yourselves the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. 14. Therefore stand, having your loins girded about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness 15. and your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace. 16. Above all, take the shield of faith, with which you shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. 17. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God, 18. praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching to this very thing with all perseverance and supplication for all saints.
Verse 12 tells us whom we battle against. Though satanic temptation or attack may come through another person or groups of persons, we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the world's rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Our battle is not against people, but against demons, spiritual wickedness in high places. Consistent with the assertion of 2 Corinthians 10:4, that the weapons of our warfare are not fleshly, verse 10 tells us that we are to be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.
Verses 13 through 18 tell us that we are to do that by putting on the whole armor of God.
· We are to have our loins girded about with truth. Isaiah 11:5 says of the Messiah, righteousness shall be the girdle of His loins. The warrior's sword was hung from a belt about his waist. What enables the Christian warrior to bear his sword is the fact that he stands in Christ's righteousness, which has been imputed to him at the moment of his salvation, For He has made Him who knew no sin, to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. (2 Corinthians 5:21)
He is also to walk in righteousness, living a life dedicated to honoring Christ. This, too, will enable him to carry his sword comfortably, properly and handily.
The Christian warrior is to have on the breastplate of righteousness. Here again we see righteousness come into play in his warfare against the devil; only here it is for the protection of his heart and lungs, both necessary for life. Translated into spiritual terms, his righteousness will protect him from Satanic attack that may cause him to become shipwrecked (1 Timothy 1:19) or a castaway (1 Corinthians 9:27), that is, killing his usefulness for the Lord's service. Speaking of the Lord again, Isaiah said, in 59:17, For he put on righteousness as a breastplate, and an helmet of salvation upon his head;
· The helmet of salvation of Ephesians 6:17, represents protection of the believer's thought life in that, despite the fiery darts that the Wicked One seeks to shoot into his mind, he will retain the assurance that he has the ultimate victory and can gain the immediate victory by virtue of his salvation and standing in Yeshua.
· The Christian warrior is to have his feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace. Isaiah 52:7 says, How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of him who brings good tidings, making peace heard; who brings good news, making salvation heard; who says to Zion, Your God reigns!
He is to be walking among the people, heralding the good news of salvation. This, too, wards off the enemy's attacks; and it speaks of a consistent lifestyle, not an occasional foray.
· Above all, he is to take the shield of faith, with which [he] shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. We are to battle the enemy in faith: It is of faith so that it might be according to grace. (Romans 4:16)
It is through faith in God's declarations and promises that the Christian warrior may appropriate the grace of God unto victory.
· All of the armor that has been mentioned, thus far, has been defensive. One more item remains: the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God, the believer's sole and all-sufficient weapon. We thwart Satan's lies and temptations by opposing them through the declaration of God's truths and admonitions.
· And all of the Christian's warfare is to be done praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching to this very thing with all perseverance and supplication for all saints. His warfare is always to be accompanied by prayer; not only for himself, but for all saints - even while he, personally, is under attack.
4. How Jesus Defended Himself Against the Devil's Attacks
1. And Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness 2. forty days, being tempted by the Devil. And in those days He ate nothing. And they being ended, He afterward was hungry. 3. And the Devil said to Him, "If you are the Son of God, speak to this stone that it might become bread." 4. And Jesus answered him, saying, "It is written that 'man shall not live by bread alone, but by every Word of God.'" 5. And the Devil, leading Him up into a high mountain, showed Him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. 6. And the Devil said to Him, "All this power I will give you, and the glory of them; for it has been delivered to me. And I give it to whomever I will. 7. Therefore if you will worship me, all shall be yours." 8. And Jesus answered and said to him, "Get behind me, Satan! For it is written, 'You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only shall you serve.'" 9. And he brought Him to Jerusalem and sat Him on a pinnacle of the temple and said to Him, "If you are the Son of God, cast yourself down from here. 10. For it is written, 'He shall give His angels charge over You, to keep You; 11. and in their hands they shall bear You up, lest at any time You dash Your foot against a stone.'" 12. And Jesus answering said to him, "It has been said, 'You shall not tempt the Lord your God.'" 13. And when the Devil had ended every temptation, he departed from Him for a time. 14. And Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit into Galilee.
~ Luke 4:1-14 ~
(Parallel passage: Matthew 4:1-11)
Four things should be noted here:
31. And He began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. 32. And He spoke that saying openly. And Peter took Him and began to rebuke Him. 33. But when He had turned around and looked on His disciples, He rebuked Peter, saying, "Go behind Me, Satan! For you do not mind the things of God, but of the things of men."
~ Mark 8:31-33 ~
Satan attempted to dissuade the Lord from going to the cross, using Peter as his ambassador. Obviously, the Lord knew this; yet, He rebuked Peter. While Peter's motive was one of love for his Master, yet his plea and urgency were so in keeping with Satan's desire that Peter's desire and Satan's were one and the same: that Jesus not go to the cross. Unwittingly, Peter had truly become Satan's vicar. Hence the sharp rebuke directed squarely at Peter - not indirectly, but directly - a point that must not be missed - and simultaneously, at Satan: Go behind Me, Satan! For you do not mind the things of God, but of the things of men.
Six things should be noted here:
Obviously, Jesus' response was sufficient: Peter's mouth was closed, Jesus won the battle against Satan's temptation, and Jesus did go to the cross.
To combine our observations from these two passages:
All of Satan's attempts to prevent the Lord's return will end in futility. Just as the Seed of the Woman went to the cross despite Satan's furious efforts to thwart Him from doing so, so the Lord will come again, have Satan bound in the abyss for a thousand years (Revelation 18:2), and finally cast him and his demons into the Lake of Fire for eternity (Matthew 25:41; Revelation 19:11-21; 20:1-2,10).
One final word: The believer is to be aware of the wiles of the devil and do battle against him, but his focus is not to be on the devil, but on the Lord.
Hebrews 12:1-2: 1. let us run with patience the race that is set before us, 2. looking to Jesus the Author and Finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and sat down at the right of the throne of God.
Let us, therefore, keep our eyes upon Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith. Amen.
If you are not a Christian, I respectfully ask you to consider my appeal.
The Bible says that if you have not invited Jesus into your life to be your Savior, you are in the grip of the Devil, though you may not realize it. Satan does not always come as a roaring lion. Sometimes he comes as an angel of light. He is the Arch Deceiver. You may think that he does not exist, or that you have power over him, or can control your dabbling in the occult if that is the case with you. Yet, Scripture - even Jesus Himself - affirms that he does exist and that you have no power over the him if you are not one of Christ's; and that when you die, you will die with your sins unforgiven, and will be cast out of God's holy presence and into Hell. This is grievous, but eternal, truth.
Believing in Jesus is winning the ultimate and eternal victory. God sent Jesus from Heaven to die as a sacrifice for your sins upon the cross. He then raised Him from the dead to live with Him in Heaven once again so that He might fill you with Christ's resurrection victory and eternal life. Here on earth you will know His presence, His guidance, and victory over the Devil's temptations and grip; and when you die, you will be with Him in Heaven.
What is required of you? No penance and no amount of righteous living can wash away your sin. Simply admit to God that you are a sinner, and believe:
All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.
16. God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. 17. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. 18. He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
~ John 3:16-18 ~
He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed.
~1 Peter 2:24~
9. If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; 10. for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation. 11. For the Scripture says, "WHOEVER BELIEVES IN HIM WILL NOT BE DISAPPOINTED."
~ Romans 10:9-11 ~
The word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.
~1 Corinthians 1:18~
I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes.
20. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 21. [God] made [Christ] who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
~ 2 Corinthians 5:20-21 ~
Ask God to show you if this is true. If your heart is quieted and you will listen to His Word within your spirit, you will hear. Then simply welcome Jesus into your life to be your Savior. God will forgive you for your sins and you will be filled with the Holy Spirit, Who will make your spirit eternally alive in Christ, and you will be His forever.
With all the love of One who went to the cross for you, Jesus said, Let your hearts be turned from sin, and have faith in the good news. (Mark 1:15, BBE)
Blessings to you! Please read my personal story.