Fighting the Good Fight—Spiritual Warfare
May 16, 2022
This past week I shared at our all staff about spiritual warfare. Spiritual warfare is never really mentioned in Scripture by that term, but we are informed that the devil is our adversary. He wants to seek, kill, and destroy.
I don’t believe that most of us, even Christians, think much about the spiritual realm—whether it is concerning their marriage, workplace, family, relationships, or kids. We seem confused, even ignorant, as though we can’t believe what is happening or that we are having to deal with this or that. Why would our son/daughter/spouse/friend do this or that? Why would they NOT do this or that?
We think far more physically than we do spiritually. But we are more spiritual than physical. Peter reminds us to "Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings." 1 Peter 5:8-9 NIV
The verb “prowls” here is in the Greek present tense, which means a continuous action. The enemy is always prowling, always seeking to defeat us in battle. He seeks to bring dishonor to God’s name; he also wants us to turn and dishonor God. So much truth here. The battle is unavoidable. The enemy is invisible. There are temporal consequences and eternal consequences. Our weapons are not physical, but spiritual. Self-help instructions can’t do the job in a spiritual war.
We’re in a battle in this world—a spiritual warfare battle. We may not see it, we might forget it’s there. But the enemy would love nothing more than to fill our minds with discouragement and defeat. Though we can’t stop his cruel attacks, we don’t have to let him win. God reminds us in His Word to stay aware of Satan’s schemes, to live alert in this world, and to stay close to Him.
The forces of darkness don’t wait for us to be ready for their attack. They’re ruthless, determined, and cunning. The devil could care less if we “feel” prepared or prayed up for our day. In fact, he prefers we’re not. But in a broken, dark world, how can we really know if we’re facing the expected difficulties of life as compared to true spiritual warfare attacks of the enemy? Jesus said in this life we would experience troubles (John 16:33), and we don’t always know what or who is behind them. But God wants us to live alert and ready. We must remember that we are more spiritual than physical, and that is the way our greatest defeats or victories come. We must get the diagnosis right or the prescription won’t work. NO amount of self-help will win these victories.
Satan’s strategies against us include …
Fatigue. Losing heart causes us to feel that God has forgotten us. He will NEVER forget you.
Anxiety. Proverbs 12:25 NKJV says, “Anxiety in the heart of man causes depression, but a good word makes it glad.” If we are feeling overburdened, there is an excellent chance we are hanging on to responsibilities that aren’t ours to bear. They belong to God.
Stress. The Bible does not mention stress, but it has plenty to say about stressful situations.
In Psalm 55:22 NKJV, David wrote, “Cast your burden on the Lord, and He shall sustain you; He shall never permit the righteous to be moved.” Our part is to trust God’s promises and rely on His loving kindness.
Temptation. Success often presents a greater danger than trouble. When things are going well, Satan encourages us to trust our abilities rather than relying on God. Paul warns, “Let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall. No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it” (1 Corinthians 10:12-14 NKJV).
Fear. “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?” (Hebrews 13:6 NKJV). If you feel overwhelmed, shift your focus from the problem to the solution. In your struggle, Jesus is standing beside you. He will never abandon you, and nothing is impossible for Him (Mark 10:27).
Despair. “We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed.” 2 Corinthians 4:8-9 NKJV
Becoming a Christian does not mean our trouble ends. It often intensifies. Even so, faith assures us of ultimate victory. We may not see the purpose behind our pain, but we can trust the Lord to shine through our brokenness. “His grace is sufficient,” and His “strength is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9).
Lies. “We use God’s mighty weapons, not worldly weapons, to knock down the strongholds of human reasoning and to destroy false arguments” (2 Corinthians 10:4 NLT). Ephesians 6:14 commands us, “Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth.” Earlier, Paul wrote that “The truth is in Jesus” (Ephesians 4:21 NKJV). The truth we stand on—the truth of who God is, what Jesus did for us, and who we are in Christ Jesus—is meant to infuse everything we do. In the battle for our minds, we can refute Satan’s lies.
Revenge is when we have been hurt or wronged, and we either want to get even or withhold forgiveness. Satan will use the disappointments and hurts to create an opportunity to work in our lives. “Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, ‘Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,’ says the Lord” (Romans 12:19 NKJV).
These start out small and then grow and can take over our lives and we don’t know what happened. They develop a beach head with Satan’s goal of conquering everything. You wonder why divorces are up, abuse is up, alcoholism is up, drug addiction is up, suicide is up. It is because you have an enemy, and his mission is to destroy you and everything you love.
Here are some ways to overcome Satan when the evil one attacks:
1. Live in the present.
In John 10:10 Jesus said, “I came that you might have abundant life. Satan comes to steal, kill and destroy.” Abundant life is always experienced in the present. If Satan can fill our minds full of hurt, bitterness, anger, and guilt about the past, then he has destroyed our present and along with it our abundant life. If Satan can fill our minds with worry, fear, and anxiety about the future, he has destroyed our abundant life in the present.
2. Use the James 4:7 Guideline: “Submit to God; resist the devil.”
We must submit every area of our lives so that we are living under God’s influence If we’re still struggling, it may be that we are under demonic attack and need to actively engage in spiritual warfare.
It is at this point that we “Resist the devil.” On the basis of Jude 9 we follow the example of the Archangel Michael in overcoming Satan. Michael won when he turned to Satan and said, “The Lord rebuke you.” Announce that you have no intention of yielding to Satan in any area and demand that he leave you alone.
3. Put on the armor of God. Ephesians 6:10-17 will quench any and all fiery arrows which Satan may send against us.
We would never think of leaving the house in the morning naked. In like manner, we have no business leaving the house until we have prayed and put on our spiritual armor.
- Belt of Truth - We declare that we intend for no lies to be accepted into our minds and that everything we say will be the truth.
- Breastplate of Righteousness - We thank God for the righteousness of Jesus Christ. We declare that everything we do today will be righteous and good.
- Shoes of the Gospel of Peace - We thank God for our salvation. The war with God regarding our sin is over. We are at peace with God.
- Shield of Faith - We promise to trust God and His Word no matter how awkward, unintelligible, or confusing the situations we face.
- Sword of the Spirit - We make it plain that we will trust God’s Word and voice wherever He leads. Prayer in the Spirit - Paul reminds us that every demonic or spiritual attack calls for prayer for Satan’s defeat and God’s victory.
4. Remember that Peter describes Satan as a prowling lion, and we must humble ourselves. He said, “Humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you” (1 Peter 5:6-7 NKJV). What is the key to living in God’s presence? Humility. When we understand that we are powerless to face Satan in our own strength, we begin to grasp the depth of our need for God. And if we are feeling overburdened, there is an excellent chance we are hanging on to responsibilities that aren’t ours to bear. They belong to God.