Part I: Do you know what Spiritual Warfare is all about?
Some Christians spend all their energies on this subject while others do not even know that they are to be on guard against Satan and his demons. They do not know that they need to be ready for attacks and be able to protect themselves against the veracity of "Spiritual Warfare." Others blame the devil and his entourage for all their ills, accepting no responsibility for their own life and actions. Yes, when we are in Christ, we need to worry more about our Fruit and Character than any other thing that may come our way. At the same time, Satan will attack our Fruit and Character and thus, we have to constantly be on the defense.
What is Spiritual Warfare?
Spiritual Warfare is active war waged by Satan along with His followers, such as demons and evil principalities, as they attack, thwart, harass, and mislead the followers of Jesus Christ. It is a war because these evil forces use vigorous tactics and strategies to try to stop the work of God-His Redeeming actions, the Cross, His Church, and in the personal believer's life. The other side is Christ and His followers, such as angels and Believers. The good side is lopsided because the war has already been won and we are given unstoppable, impenetrable shields and massive weapons to combat any effort of the evil ones. Spiritual Warfare exists; it is real. This is not about Pentecostal or Charismatic or Reformed or whatever; it is biblical because it is told to us in His Word, the Bible!
Satan is at war with Christianity; this is what Spiritual Warfare is all about. He seeks for us to have rotten relationships and empty, purposeless lives of despair filled with anger, betrayal, and hopelessness. He wants our Fruit to be rotten and our Character to be absent. He lies to us, engaging us with appealing tactics that cause us to bite his hook so we miss the opportunities Christ has for us and ruin our lives. He tells us we can have fun and fulfillment; but if we just think it through, how much fun is losing it all? How much fun is it to be manipulated, to have what we did not earn taken away from us, leaving it to become meaningless and rotten? How much fun is going from one meaningless activity to the next looking for a "high" and a satisfaction that never comes? We can have satisfaction in Christ and His abundance infusing us; this is something that Satan once had but rejected, and he fervently hates all those who have it and excel in Him! So, beware of his ways-how he wants us to hate, disguising it with misplaced emotions, confusion, and hurt, so we are taken away from our families, our opportunities are neutered or pushed aside, and our fullness in Christ ridiculed, then replaced with what is fleeting, hurtful, and meaningless.
We are going to look at Satan's lies and tactics that are contained in his "playbook" and arsenal, which he uses for Spiritual Warfare. In Part Two, we will see what we can do about it. We can start off with some right thinking from the Bible on this to give us clarity and insight, as there is a lot of erroneous teaching on this subject. We know that Satan is a very powerful being. We alone cannot protect ourselves from Satan. And most importantly, without Christ we are no match. If we have accepted false teaching or bought into his lies and tactics, we are going to be easy prey for Satan.
Satan the Roaring Lion
Know 1 Peter 5:8 which reads: "Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour." Satan is not a wimp as some people teach, nor is he to be ignored; thus, we need to be prepared! Satan is not a cowardly lion like in the Wizard of Oz. A coward is someone who does not attract, and such a one invokes no fear; thus, no defense is needed. The term roaring lion comes from 1 Peter 5: 5-9, describing the most feared animal at that time. Such lions would strike absolute fear into the people who had no real defense against them (Psalm 7:2; 10:9-10; 22:13). This referred to Satan's power and destructiveness, as he is someone who is out to get you and an enemy of God. He is your enemy, the devil/Satan, as his name means "the slanderer" and "our adversary." This refers to the accuser or the prosecutor (Job 1:6-12; 2:12; Zech. 3:1-2; Rev. 12: 9-10). Peter says Satan is seeking to accuse us of wrong so he can blind us to God's love and grace. He twists our mindsets to be ashamed, seek apostasy (because we think God does not care), or into not taking our faith seriously.
Satan seeks us out as the lion who seeks the weak prey. His prey is Christians, specifically those who are not mature and not always faithful. Christian maturity requires us to submit and to be humble. The result is respect, cooperation, unity, community, and the power of His Fruit at work. This is our armor and defense against Spiritual Warfare. But, if we do not submit, have no regard for unity, or have no respect for authority, our sinful nature will win out. The result will be Satan's influence causing us to succumb to quarrels (because of pride), discord, and shame.
We have to see that God wants us to submit; this is best for us, both individually and collectively as a church. Keep in mind that when God talks about Spiritual Warfare in the Bible, it is in the context of who we are and how we are to be in Him! Humility, Fruit, and Character in the Word builds not only our precious relationship with Christ, but our defense in Him as well. He knows that his time is short. Satan knows that his authority and dominion are still under God's sovereignty; he can do only what God allows for His purpose. Satan has lost and fights like a cornered animal as well as using all the weapons at his disposal to oppose God's people and goodness. In the last days, he will become more intensely hostile toward the people of God (1 Peter 5:5-9).
Satan also seeks to destroy those who are doing a good work, those who are faithful and being used in service to Him for His glory. He hates those who live their lives for Christ, thus may wage war upon you. So, it is very important to remain in Him and stick to His precepts. Being a Christian and a church is about relying on Christ, not ourselves; it is about His mighty power at work in us-not our feeble ways! It is not allowing our frustrations, disappointments, and failures take hold of us and cause us to concentrate on them and not on Christ. His favor and power will be poured out on us when we are faithful, obedient, and meek (strength under control). Nevertheless, be warned; pride is the complete opposite of these. Pride is what Satan is all about; it will destroy relationships and churches fast and furiously. That is why God hates it so much! Thus, to be confident in Jesus and be used by Him, we need Him to empower us. With this mindset and empowering, we do not need to worry or fret because our mind is not on our status, situation, possessions, or experiences, but on Christ! We can then know the devil's lies and ways. This comes about when we realize that Jesus does indeed care, and loves us ever so deeply!
The devil gets a hold on us when we fail to comply with the previous precepts of humility, Fruit, and Character! He will attack to discourage and sway us away from God and His ways. Our defense is simple; we are to stand firm in Christ, pray, and allow His work in us to be demonstrated; what we alone would bring to the table would just be fuel for the devil and his ways!
We also can be comforted that God is totally sovereign and Satan can do nothing to us other that what God allows. However, he still has power and has not been tamed yet. Consider that your will is the door through which he comes prowling and attacking; why give him an open door? Satan is still our adversary; he not only wants to take you away from God's love and precepts, he wants to utterly destroy you! Peter's point in 1 Peter 5? Be on your guard and resist him; do not let Satan have that open door-as Peter personally experienced (Luke 22:31-34; Eph. 6:10-20)!
Can we ignore Satan? After all, we have Christ!
When I was in college studying psychology, my studies included how silly it was that at one time people blamed demons for mental illness and how that now, we are much better educated and know better. I was much more liberal then and did not understand the spiritual realm very much. The fact is, demons are responsible for a lot, but not for everything. If you take the Bible seriously, you also must take into account the veracity and reality of demons! They are not figurines of a bygone belief system, which is what they want you to think. They are real, and are after you! The comfort we have is that He (Jesus) that is in us is greater than he (Satan) that is in the world; so, they cannot do anything to us that is not allowed by God. At the same time, we are called to stand firm against them. I once made the mistake of ridiculing and ignoring Satan and his ability to influence and hassle; do not make that same mistake (2 Corinthians 10:3-6; Ephesians 6:10-18; Colossians 2:15; 1 John 4:4).
We cannot ignore Satan and spiritual warfare, nor can we turn a blind eye to his characteristics and schemes. Yes, he cannot get those who are in Christ, but he surely can hassle us. He cannot possess those who are in Christ, but he can trick and mislead us and try to distract our eyes and faith from Christ. We cannot afford not to utilize the weapons and gifts Christ gives us to defend ourselves. We have to stand firm. We need to be on guard against our own immoral behavior and disobedience of God's precepts, as well as our anger, pride, arrogance, rebellion, critical attitude, and unforgiving nature. We need to guard ourselves from spiritual fatigue while giving attention to our physical and emotional health. We must not allow ourselves to fall into disunity and bicker with one another, unless we are following biblical principles with sound doctrine and moral behavior. If we are not grounded in God's Word and in prayer, we will fall to pride and arrogance and find ourselves outside the will of God and in the care of Satan!
What can Satan and his war on Christ and His followers do to me?
He can do to you only what God will allow for His glory. God will not allow anything to happen to you that you cannot handle and that you will not grow from to be better used to further Christ's Kingdom and Glory (Job 1:12; 2:6; Luke 22:31, 32). In other words, Satan cannot do squat, unless it is authorized for/by God, and guess what else? Unless it is for our benefit (Rom. 8:28-39)! However, we are to take Satan's malice and cunning seriously. We need to know that he can inflict both physical and mental harm (Mark 5:1-15; 9:17; 18; Luke 11:14). We are to know his names and strategies so we can combat his attacks (see our article on The Names of Satan). At the same time, we are not to fear him in terror like some Hollywood movie, because he has already been defeated (Matt 12:29)!
Satan has several ways in which he lies, tricks and deceives, and what is great about this for us is he does not change his game plan. He makes the same plays over and over. The hook is plainly visible and we should be able to recognize it easily. So, if you have his "playbook" (and we do), we can have a ready defense and foil all of his attempts.
Here are the Devil's Game Plan lies:
In addition to having lies in his "playbook" and hooks to snag us, Satan also has four primary attack postures with which to snare us:
1. First, Satan attacks God's character and credibility. This was his first strategy as recorded in Scripture, when he tempted and then deceived Adam and Eve (Gen. 3:1-8). He lies and deceives Christians to trade their truth in Christ and His precious precepts for a lie (John 8:44; Rev. 9:11; 12:4-17). Satan and his agents then seek to manipulate and destroy. He wants to be seduce God's people so we will put our trust in him, removing our eyes from God or His ways. (Question. How have you seen this happen?)
2. Second, Satan attacks God's power and people. This has the most Scriptural instances! He wants his arrogance and pride to be contagious and be fuel for us, and for future Christians (Matt. 4:1-11). (Question. How have you seen this happen?)
3. Third, Satan attacks God's people through manipulating values and causing doubt! He causes us to love material things over eternal values (Eph. 2:2-3; 5:3-20; 1 Tim. 4:1-5; 2 Tim 3:1-9). When we seek what we want and forget God, or think we have a chance to do it better or on our own, he wins. (Question: How have you seen this happen?)
4. Fourth, Satan attacks the Christian's self control by offering seemingly good and tempting gifts that are hard to refuse (1 Cor. 7:1-7)! He desires to lure us away from God's will, in a game to see who can win the most souls. Satan does not take into account God's sovereignty and election! There is nothing Satan desires more than for us Christians to run our lives our way, which are really his ways. He wants our churches to be run by the will of people, governed by the trends of the day, and swayed by public opinion, where God's Word is kept out of reach or in the dark by overt or neglected ways (Rev. 12:7-12). (Question. How have you seen this happen?)
What is your response? We are to have a life filled with purpose and distinction. If we have an empty life, we are no good to ourselves, we cannot grow, and we are of no value to our neighbors or to God. We can try to clean ourselves up and apply purpose to our lives by our own will, but if it is not from God, it is useless. It will just invite chaos and strife into our lives. When we have no purpose in life, we are hollow and empty. Our welcome mat says, Hey, Satan, come on in; the place is all ready for you! Let us be God's family by our obedience, trust, and faith in His work, and seek His will for our lives!
We don't want to become preoccupied with Satan, or live in fear of what Scripture reveals, what we see in media, or of false teachers. We can benefit from knowing about him so we will be better prepared and equipped to stand against him by what Christ has done. If you have been dipping into anything having to do with the occult; séances, tarot cards, crystals, astrology, ouija boards, or palm reading-stop now! This is strictly forbidden in the Bible, and for good reason-to protect you (Deuteronomy 18:10-13)! However, Satan does not limit himself to just the occult. Some of his other favorite domains for dealing his deadly deceptions are politics, education, and the media. He uses good things to bring us down too, such as church growth trends. I have seen them destroy rather than help because people focus on a fluff and not on Christ. Anything that gets in the way of Christ and your growth in Him can be from Satan, including sports, education, friends, TV, movies, or cars, etc. Too much of a good thing can be very bad! We have to beware of his lies and strategies; thus, we have to pay careful attention to what we hear in public schools and from the news and the entertainment industry. All we have to do to combat spiritual warfare is to be in Christ, in the Word, and refuse all beliefs and practices that give the devil a foothold in our lives.
We are already Triumphant in Christ!
When we are in Christ, we already have the greatest assets and powers at hand. We have the Ultimate LOVE! We have the Ultimate assurance! We have incredible assurance that nothing can separate us from God's love. Thus, if God is for us, then we need not fear anything that Satan or the world brings our way such as trials, troubles, problems, setbacks, highs, lows, the devil, or even death! Just take a look at Romans 8:31-39. This is the verse that we can look to as the theme for our victory over Spiritual Warfare and our walk with Christ, especially when we go through the hard-hitting set backs that life throws at us! There should be no reason in our lives to keep us from growing in His love and living the triumphant, full, Christian life with passion and conviction, serving for the glory of our Lord no matter what we have been through or will go through.
When we are in Christ, God is speaking in our behalf. Thus, we can have trust, confidence, encouragement, and assurance-even from the human perspective. Just look at Paul, who knew suffering and the magnitude of a God who loves and cares. We too can know what it means to live a righteous life and grow, both through and past Satan's war on us. Why? Because God is for us (Psalm 56:9; 118:6; Isa. 33:21; 50:4-9; Ezek 34:30; 36:9)!
Christ wants you to be triumphant in your Christian life; He seeks to save you and give you what you need so you can grow and have meaning and abundance of life. In contrast, Satan wants you to be miserable and dysfunctional; he seeks to take away anything that can help you to have what he has given up. Why would anyone fall for Satan's methods? But, we can take heart and assurance in Christ that Satan has been defeated; he has lost, and he cannot have you or your church unless you give it to him by seeking him and not HIM. The bottom line is this: Satan can easily manipulate and destroy us. We have no chance or hope against his ancient wisdom and power. However, when we are in Christ, he does not have a chance against us! Satan can easily handle us, but he can't handle HIM!
No power on earth or in the universe can conquer God in us!
Richard Joseph Krejcir is the Founder and Director of Into Thy Word Ministries, a missions and discipling ministry. He is the author of several books including Into Thy Word, A Field Guide to Healthy Relationships and Net-Work. He is also a pastor, teacher, and speaker. He is a graduate of Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California (M.Div.) and holds a Doctor of Philosophy in Practical Theology from London (Ph.D). He has garnered over 20 years of pastoral ministry experience, mostly in youth ministry, including serving as a Church Growth Consultant.
© 1999, 2007 R. J. Krejcir Ph.D. Into Thy Word Ministries http://www.intothyword.org/