PRINCIPLES OF SPIRITUAL WARFARE
by KEN ALEXANDER
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From the beginning Satan has been around attempting to thwart what God is doing on the earth. Spiritual warfare takes many shapes and is of many kinds. Since Christ died Satan’s only battle is to delay the fulfillment of God’s promises since He is a defeated foe fighting a losing battle. That does not mean that we take him lightly because our warfare with him is often an issue of life and death. He is eventually going to the pit but he would like to take as many of us as he can with him.
Satan is the god of this world. Paul said;”And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, in whose case the god of this world [age] has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God” (2 Corinthians. 4:3-4; John 12:31). So one aspect of Satan’s warfare is to blind the minds of the people to the glory of Christ.
There can be no question that Satan is the god of this world and everything in it is his to give as long as he’s around. Jesus knew this firsthand: “Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil…” the devil took Him to a very high mountain and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory; and he said to Him, “All these things I will give You, if You fall down and worship me.” Then Jesus said to him, “Go, Satan! For it is written, ‘YOU SHALL WORSHIP THE LORD YOUR GOD, AND SERVE HIM ONLY” (Matthew 4:1, 8-10). Satan had the power to give all the Kingdoms of this world, and all their glory, if Christ only bowed to him and worshipped him. Christ knew all these were already His so wasn’t bluffed by the devil.
The source of all spiritual warfare is Satan and the horde of angels that fell from heaven with him (called devils or demons). Satan’s angelic name is Lucifer which means variously “light bearer”, “lightness (from the Hebrew “Helel”), Star of the Morning or bright star” In the scriptures he is called the serpent of old, the devil and Satan (Revelation 20:2), who first deceived man, resulting in man’s expulsion from the Garden of Eden. It was he who first questioned the Word of God (see generally Genesis 2-3). Satan tempted Jesus on the mountain saying rightfully that “All the power in this world” was handed over to him and that “it was his to give to whom he wished”. This “devil” is even described as the “father of the unbelieving” (John 8:44). Apostle Peter instructs Christians that Satan is “our adversary” and that “we are not to be unaware of his schemes“(1 Peter 5:8).
If we are to become more aware of this “adversary”, what do we actually know about his origins, purposes and methods? We do know that at one time he held a very high place before God. Isaiah 14:12-14 begins with: “How you have fallen from heaven, O star of the morning, son of the dawn. You have been cut down to the earth, You who have weakened the nations!” Many say the 14th chapter of Isaiah is simply describing the King of Babylon at the time but the references to Satan are unmistakable. It was Satan who was behind the power of Babylon as it advanced through the ages and was judged (Revelation 17-18). Isaiah goes on (verse 13-14): “But you said in your heart, I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God, And I will sit on the mount of assembly In the recesses of the north.”I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.”Satan’s purpose is to get man to worship him instead of God. As we see above what he wanted Christ to do in exchange for all the kingdoms of the world was to worship (bow down to) him.
Satan cannot create anything. He can only manipulate what God has already created. God created Satan and even after his evil intentions were known he has to get permission from God to carry them out. In The Book of Job this reality is readily apparent. “There was a man in the land of Uz whose name was Job; and that man was blameless, upright, fearing God and turning away from evil. Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan [known as the Adversary] also came among them. The LORD said to Satan, “From where do you come?” Then Satan answered the LORD and said, “From roaming about on the earth and walking around on it.” The LORD said to Satan, “Have you considered My servant Job? For there is no one like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, fearing God and turning away from evil.” Then Satan answered the LORD, “Does Job fear God for nothing? “Have You not made a hedge about him and his house and all that he has, on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. “But put forth Your hand now and touch all that he has; he will surely curse You to Your face.” Then the LORD said to Satan, “Behold, all that he has is in your power, only do not put forth your hand on him.” So Satan departed from the presence of the LORD (JOB: 1:1, 6-12.).
Satan went on, with God’s permission, to kill all Job’s livestock, steal his possessions and eventually kill his entire family. Job remained faithful to Gods through this adversity. Finally Satan said: “Skin for skin! Yes, all that a man has he will give for his life. “However, put forth Your hand now, and touch his bone and his flesh; he will curse You to Your face.” So the LORD said to Satan, “Behold, he is in your power, only spare his life.” Then Satan went out from the presence of the LORD and smote Job with sore boils from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head. And he took a potsherd to scrape himself while he was sitting among the ashes” (Job 2:4-8). “Then his wife said to him, “Do you still hold fast your integrity? Curse God and die!” But he said to her, “You speak as one of the foolish women speaks. Shall we indeed accept good from God and not accept adversity?” In all this Job did not sin with his lips” (Job 2:9-10).
God was testing Job and was using Satan to do it. This is how we react many times when God brings impossible circumstances our way. Our friends, like Job’s, accuse us as they accused Job of being a sinner. Our reaction is many times “that can’t be God” doing this to me. But often it’s the enemy the devil who is causing the havoc. No matter how hard Satan hits us or what he takes away we must, like Job, remain faithful. This is one example of spiritual warfare.
In the Old Testament the war against the enemy was physical with armies and swords. After Christ the warfare was elevated to a spiritual level. Paul said “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ,” (2 Corinthians 10:3-5).
Warfare was great against Paul himself as well as against all believers. Because after Christ, man was set to become perfected spirit, soul and flesh. Satan by virtue of his power over men inflicted persecution and pain against the saints whenever he could. Paul said of himself that he had encountered: “… in far more labors, in far more imprisonments, beaten times without number, often in danger of death. Five times I received from the Jews thirty-nine lashes. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, a night and a day I have spent in the deep. I have been on frequent journeys, in dangers from rivers, dangers from robbers, dangers from my countrymen, dangers from the Gentiles, dangers in the city, dangers in the wilderness, dangers on the sea, dangers among false brethren; I have been in labor and hardship, through many sleepless nights, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure” (2 Corinthians 11:23-27). In early Christianity thousands of believers were tortured, burned, eaten by animals and killed in other ghastly ways.
An example of how a spiritual enemy can war in the spirit realm for the purpose of delay see Daniel 10:10-14. At that time Daniel was praying and fasting before the Lord to find out what would occur in the future to Israel. The angel eventually brought him the answer but not without having to battle the Satanic forces ruling Persia at the time. Daniel said “Then behold, a hand touched me and set me trembling on my hands and knees. He said to me, “O Daniel, man of high esteem, understand the words that I am about to tell you and stand upright, for I have now been sent to you.” And when he had spoken this word to me, I stood up trembling. Then he said to me, “Do not be afraid, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart on understanding this and on humbling yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to your words. “But the prince of the kingdom of Persia was withstanding [standing against] me for twenty-one days; then behold, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, for I had been left there with the kings of Persia. “Now I have come to give you an understanding of what will happen to your people”. We too, as Paul said, are battling the spiritual forces of wickedness and perhaps the reason our prayers are not answered as quickly as we would want is that they are being delayed by demonic powers and principalities.
The entire earth is under siege by Satan and his hordes of fallen angels. All of creation has been subjected to futility. As Paul said: “For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God” (Romans 8:20-21). Because creation was subjected to futility by God because of man’s original sin Satan takes opportunity to oppress and deceive every person and thing on the earth. This futility affects not only mankind but animal, plant life and all of creation. In a very real sense all humans living under this futility are facing spiritual warfare.
Everything in our lives is affected by this deception and the works of Satan. It began with Adam and Eve. “Then the LORD God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?” And the woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.” (Genesis 3:13). “And he deceives those who dwell on the earth” (Revelation 13:13-14). Satan was thrown down from heaven to earth on the death of Christ.
“And the great dragon was thrown down, the serpent of old who is called the devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him” (Revelation 12:9).
Satan is first and foremost a deceiver. He can deceive without you even knowing it. He can sell you on anything he wants. He is so clever and deceitful that you accept his bill of goods with without question. Satan was with God throughout eternity. To the extent God allowed he has knowledge of secrets unknown to man. He can create nothing. He can only spin a web of lies to get you to bite on his empty hook. His specialty is blatant hypocrisy, presenting an appealing front that looks good on the outside but has nothing on the inside.
Jesus said of the Pharisees, the religious leaders of the day: “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which on the outside appear beautiful, but inside they are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness” (Matthew 23:27). These are the same men he accused of having Satan as their Father. “You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies” (John 8:44).
Paul prayed for the churches under his control. “But I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds will be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ” (2 Corinthians 11:3). Who will be the one to rise up and break his chains and control over the earth?
Jesus, the son of God, was sent to destroy the devil and his deception of the whole world. “For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil. (I John 3:8). The militant Christ is coming forth so that He might destroy the works of Satan. “And he laid hold of the dragon, the serpent of old, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years; and he threw him into the abyss, and shut it and sealed it over him, so that he would not deceive the nations any longer” (Revelation 20:2-3).
How does He accomplish this? Through man, his servants, the prophets and the believers. “Surely the Lord GOD does nothing Unless He reveals His secret counsel To His servants the prophets” (Amos 3:7). Jesus is going to destroy Satan through us. Christ is waiting for us to subdue His enemies and make the earth His footstool. He will not return until this is accomplished. “but He, having offered one sacrifice for sins for all time, SAT DOWN AT THE RIGHT HAND OF GOD, waiting from that time onward until His enemies be mad a footstool for His feet” (Hebrews 10:13; Psalm 110:1).
Paul set out perfect guidelines on how we fight and defeat the devil in Ephesians 6:10-19) which we will discuss in detail below. First he reminds us: “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, [men] but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places [in the spirit realm where Satan lives].
Paul goes on to describe the armor that is necessary to defeat the enemy. “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might”. Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil”. As the army of the Lord, we put on armor. We must understand that it is His righteousness, and that it is our prerogative to put it on. This is not a righteousness that we manufacture; it is not something that we attain by our efforts or discipline. It is something we acquire by faith. We put it on. His words are blunt: “But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh (Romans 13:14). He becomes our protection. He becomes the aura of immunity round about us.
Then: “Stand firm therefore, HAVING GIRDED YOUR LOINS WITH TRUTH, and HAVING PUT ON THE BREASTPLATE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS” (VERSE 14). The idea is that Satan will come against the very seat of your emotions, the very thing that you recognize the loins represent. New Testament references which use the word “bowels” instead of loins, and find they involve the same thing.
Our breastplate is His righteousness. We do not stand in our own righteousness but in the righteousness He won for us on the cross. Every effort that we put in to creating our own righteousness is playing right into Satan’s hands. Satan, Lucifer the “light bearer” stands in his own idea of righteousness but he is standing in the lie.
After we have put on the armor of righteousness we shod our feet. “Having shod YOUR FEET WITH THE PREPARATION OF THE GOSPEL OF PEACE (Verse 15). Once is man was crippled, he is out of the fight. No matter how strong he was elsewhere, if he was disabled in his feet, he was in a dangerous position. There must be that which protects our feet so we don’t wander into dead ends, that we are not directed as we should be. We fall into the traps and snares that are laid for our feet. One device used in ancient ways of battle was to attach large sickles to the hubs of chariots, so that as the chariots came through, they actually cut the legs off the men on the field of battle.
That is why the Word says to “make straight paths for your feet, lest that which is lame should be put out of joint” (Hebrews 12:13). The legs of a fighter will give out before his power to hit with his fists. That is why a prizefighter spends so much time skipping rope and jogging; his legs must be so strong that when he is almost beaten senseless there is still a reserve of strength within his feet. This is exactly what Ephesians 6:13 is saying: … Having done everything, to stand … When everything else is done, you are still on your feet.
Now we come to the shield of faith. “in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one” (verse 16). If we are true sons of God and Abraham everything we have of righteousness comes from our faith. Satan attacks our faith by lying to us about how things really are. Faith must be our shield: Above all, or chiefly, taking the shield of faith, v. 16. This is more necessary than any of them. Faith is all to us in an hour of temptation. The breast-plate secures the vitals; but with the shield we turn every way. “This is the victory over the world, even our faith” (John 5:4). We are to be fully persuaded of the truth of all God’s promises and threatenings, such a faith being of great use against temptations. Consider faith as it “is the evidence of things not seen and the substance of things hoped for” (Hebrews 11:1), and it will appear to be of use for this purpose. Faith, as receiving Christ and the benefits of redemption, so deriving grace from him, is like a shield, a sort of universal defense.
Our enemy the devil is called “the wicked one” (1 John 2:13; Matthew 13:19, KJV). He is wicked himself, and he endeavors to make us wicked. His temptations are called darts, because of their swift and undiscerned flight, and the deep wounds that they give to the soul; fiery darts, by way of allusion to the poisonous darts which were wont to inflame the parts which were wounded with them, and therefore were so called, as the serpents with poisonous stings are called fiery serpents. Violent temptations, by which the soul is set on fire of hell, are the darts which Satan shoots at us. Faith is the shield with which we must quench these fiery darts, wherein we should receive them, and so render them ineffectual, that they may not hit us, or at least that they may not hurt us.
Now we have the helmet of salvation. “And take THE HELMET OF SALVATION’ (VERSE 17A). The helmet of salvation protects the head but most importantly the mind. The human mind is fertile ground for Satan to deceive with a continual barrage of unwanted thoughts. Paul describes the human mind: “For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace, because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so, “ (Romans 8:5-7). The helmet protects the mind and the constant distractions that come and keep us from focusing on the Lord. It is called the helmet of salvation because in salvation we receive the mind of Christ, which is constantly focused on Him.
Paul said: “But the” natural [unspiritual] man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised. But he who is spiritual appraises all things, yet he himself is appraised by no one. For WHO HAS KNOWN THE MIND OF THE LORD, THAT HE WILL INSTRUCT HIM? But we have the mind of Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:14-16). Just as the helmet protects the head and brain during battle, the helmet of salvation ensures we evaluate whatever comes against us we respond with the mind of Christ. The helmet also ensures our spiritual covering to protect us from danger in time of spiritual battle.
Finally we always have the sword of the spirit to use in spiritual battle, which is the Word of God. “and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (verse 17b). Hebrews 4:12-13 says: “For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do”. The Word of God pierces deeply and discerns to the separation of the tightly connected bones and marrow. It can’t be deceived as it searches the heart and mind.
The word of God is creative in nature, not just predicting future events, but actually creating them. This has been true since the beginning of creation. In Genesis we see creation being formed by the speaking of God, creating something out of nothing. Genesis 1:3 says: “Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. “Then God said, “Let there be an expanse in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters.” Then God said is repeated in Genesis verses 1:9, 11, 14, 20, 26 and 29.
Many see the prophecies of men of God in the Old Testament as being predictive rather than creative. Actually these prophets were creating, by speaking the Word of the Lord, the events that were to occur. When Isaiah spoke in 9:6-7 he was actually creating the reality of Christ on the earth: “For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace” Hebrews 11:3 says: “By faith we understand that the worlds [ages] were prepared [framed] by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things which are visible”. The writer is just repeating what we saw in Genesis that the ages were created by a word from God.
By taking the sword of God, which is the Word of God, we tap into the same creative power of God to create. By using that two edged sword against Satan we are creating his demise and creating (or framing) the Kingdom of God. By speaking the word of God we are using the same authority of God that He used to create the heavens, man and the earth.
Satan has created an illusion that he is the prince of this world. But in reality Christ reigns. We look at that which is the way of evil, the multitudes which go on the broad way to destruction, and we’re moved by the illusion of the majority; we’re moved by the illusion of the greatness of mountains; and yet He that has the mustard seed faith has more than all that he sees round about him. He has within him the miracle of change, the Word of God. He has within him that which is the key that unlocks the door to God’s treasure house.
As Paul said: “You [speaking of the Corinthian church] are our letter, written in our hearts, known and read by all men; being manifested that you are a letter of Christ, cared for by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone, but on tablets of human hearts” (II Corinthians 3:2, 3). The church had been created by Paul into the Word of God written on the tablets of their hearts not tablets of stone as had been the case with Moses on Mt. Sinai.
Then Paul said: “With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints, and pray on my behalf, that utterance may be given to me” (verse 18-19). Paul also said: “Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; (1 Thessalonians 5:17). Joy is the perfect antidote for the presence of Satan for joy is a quality of God not possessed by Satan. By praying without ceasing one is always in the presence of the Lord the place Satan can no longer go.
There is also a certain amount of perception that goes along with spiritual warfare. We need to know when it is Satan speaking to us and when it is God. The gift of discernment of spirits is one of the gifts of the spirit we can have (1 Corinthians 12:10). One prophet put it nicely when he said: “if you take forth the precious from the vile, you shall be as my mouth:” (Jeremiah 15:19). The precious (the word of God) seems to come along with the vile (Satan’s lies). If we can separate the two our words will be God’s and the enemy defeated. Also we rely on God’s strength completely when confronting Satan. He is stronger than us but not stronger than God. “When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the LORD shall lift up a standard against him” (Isaiah 59:19).
It is never an issue over our power against Satan’s power. Again Satan has far more power than us. It is an issue of God’s authority. “Behold, I have given you authority to tread upon serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall injure you.” (Luke 10:19). Here is authority over power. This is the immunity that we really need. We need to walk immune from the assaults of the enemy. An old saying says “When Satan knocks on the door let Jesus answer it”. Jesus has the authority. Jesus said: “I saw Satan fall from heaven like lighting.” He saw him fall (Luke 10:17, 18).
Spiritual warfare is a daily occurrence for those who are pressing in to see the entire word of God fulfilled, which includes the absolute defeat of Satan. For those Christians who are not so pressing in Satan leaves them alone. But we have been given the authority over Satan and all his guiles and deceptions. However he remains a dangerous foe not to be taken for granted. At stake is life and death. Jesus said of the time of trouble: “Unless those days had been cut short, no life would have been saved; but for the sake of the elect [chosen ones] those days will be cut short” (Matthew 24:22). Let us count ourselves among the chosen ones and thwart Satan’s plan to kill all flesh.
©Kenneth B. Alexander
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