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Spiritual Warfare - What Every Christian Should Know

By Charles Smoot | Submitted On September 02, 2010

"For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand." (Eph. 6:12-13)

Every Christian should become acquainted with the principles of spiritual warfare. The bible reveals we are in the midst of a great spiritual war. It is an invisible supernatural war that rages in the dimension of the spirit world, between the kingdom of darkness and the kingdom of light.

This is not a new war; this war has existed for unknown eons of time. It is a war where fallen angels and demon spirits (the enemies of God) have become the rulers of the darkness of this world (age).

Satan, the god and prince of this world is the antagonist and instigator of this primeval conflict. Together, with his army of fallen angels and demon spirits, his purpose is to thwart the eternal plan and purposes of God in heaven and Earth.

At the center of this conflict is God's prize creation, Man.

The Invisible Enemy:

Whether we realize it or not an unseen but evil enemy is all around us. Whether we wake or sleep this spiritual warfare continually rages on.

Though most of us are unaware, unwitting, and unwilling participants, this war touches the everyday lives of every human being on Earth. There are no neutral parties in this war; there are no exceptions; no one is exempt.

Satan hates mankind. However, none are more hated by Satan than those who are the servants of God, and of His Son, Jesus Christ. However, for those servants who do not understand this spiritual warfare, neither how to fight it, it is a war with real life changing consequences.

Though we cannot see this warfare with our natural eyes, nor perceive it with our senses, the effects of this war are more real and more devastating than any natural warfare on earth. One thing is certain:

This invisible war cannot be fought with guns, missiles, tanks, and bombs; it cannot be fought with threats, intimidation, diplomacy, or good intentions; it can only be fought with weapons wielded in the Spirit. It is a deadly fight to the finish and there can be no treaty of peace.

What is Spiritual Warfare?

The sad truth is many believers do not understand spiritual warfare and how to fight it. Being ignorant of Satan's devices many believers are often brutally victimized and taken captive by him at his will.

You see, spiritual warfare is more than just acknowledging the spiritual conflict between the armies of God and the armies of Satan.

Spiritual warfare must become the believer's personal struggle against Satan and his campaign to deceive, hinder, frustrate, and bring to naught the purposes of God in the believer's life.

However, understanding this reality alone is not enough. The believer must first understand that there is a strategic basis from which all spiritual warfare must be prosecuted. That is:

Spiritual warfare must begin with the believer's personal submission and obedience to Christ, and to His will and purposes in the believer's life.

Sadly, many believers do not take this invisible war seriously and are therefore ill equipped to do battle with the power of darkness. It is for this reason that many believers are ineffective in their warfare against Satan. This is true because many believers have not first submitted themselves to God and to His will and purposes for their own life; thereby giving Satan an advantage over them.

Again, it is not enough to simply acknowledge that this warfare exits; we must also enjoin ourselves to the battle daily, and seek to undermine the very enemy who desires to steal, kill, and destroy our very life from the Earth.

Be Not Ignorant of His devices:

Although the devil is a supernatural being of great power and intelligence, we must remember, the devil's greatest power lies in his ability to deceive. His ruthlessness, cunning, and craftiness are unequaled.

It is alarming that there are Christians who do not believe there is a personal malevolent spirit-being called "the devil" and that he is personally involved in the affairs of Man.

These Christians often falsely attribute his devious works to human nature, ignorance, or other natural causes. The fact that some do not believe in a personal devil is undoubtedly the greatest deception of Satan, and thereby many Christians fall prey to his deception.

Do not underestimate this ancient and sworn enemy, for he hates the children of God with an unequaled hatred and is relentless in his efforts to attack all that is holy.

Perhaps nowhere is this warfare more devastating than in the home. Regrettably, even among Christian households it is evident that Satan is systematically unraveling the very fabric of moral society one household at a time. It is time to wake up!

Satan's Power is Limited:

There are many ways the believer can be attacked by the powers of darkness. The book of Job reveals that Satan has the power to attack and afflict God's people. A spiritual attack can be in the person of Satan himself, or from the fallen angels and demons who serve him.

Satan will stop at nothing until he has neutralized your effectiveness in the Kingdom of God.

St. Peter writes that Satan is as a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour; he can cause physical, mental, and emotional pain and sickness, natural disasters, wars, and in some instances death; he has the power to attack your loved ones, destroy your finances, bring division, persecution, and otherwise wreak havoc in other areas of your life where others are under his deception and influence.

In spite of this, we must remember that Satan is not omnipotent (all powerful). His power, though great is limited, and his attack on the believer is only by divine permission and according to divine purpose. This means:

God does not give Satan absolute power to do anything he pleases, whenever he pleases, to whomever he pleases.

Let us take courage in knowing that God's sovereignty in a believer's life cannot be undermined by Satan. God is still ultimately in control of the affairs of your life. Nevertheless, you will be tested by Satan (with God's permission), but only up to a point.

Notwithstanding, the believer must learn to arm him/herself with the weapons of spiritual warfare and to fight the good fight of faith.

Spiritual Warfare or Spiritual discipline?

Part of Satan's strategy is to provoke God's people and incite them to rebellion, sin, and disobedience against God and His will for their lives. However, there is a twist to the subject of spiritual warfare that many believers are unaware of. That is:

Whenever we live or operate outside of God's Word or principles, we permit Satan legal access and right of way to bind, afflict, and oppress us.
Sin, rebellion, and disobedience can be the direct cause of our spiritual oppression from Satan.
God Himself will actually employ (make use of) Satan for the purposes of bringing corrective spiritual discipline to an erring believer.

When such is the case, Satan's role reverts from an antagonist and accuser to that of an agent of divine discipline and correction. In some instances this discipline can be terminal and result in premature physical death. It would seem that although the intent of Satan's attacks is to harm God's people, there also exists the potential that (through God's sovereignty) such attacks may actually serve a beneficial purpose. That is, the purpose of such attacks is to administer corrective discipline designed to bring us to repentance.

However, not understanding this, a believer may actually confuse spiritual warfare with spiritual discipline and wonder why they are under such attack to begin with. Although the symptoms of the attack and oppression are the same, they are for different reasons and purposes. And so, what appears to be spiritual warfare may actually be spiritual discipline sent by God to help refine the character of the believer and make him/her more Christ-like. Having this in mind:

When ever we are under attack by Satan, we should first seek to understand the reason or root cause of the attack. Prayerfully ask, why am I under spiritual attack?

Is it because I am in God's will (in which case I am experiencing spiritual warfare)? or
Is it because I am out of God's will(in which case I am experiencing spiritual discipline)?

The answer to this question will reveal the reason for the attack and provide some insight as to what purpose it may serve (See 2 Cor. 12: 1-10).

Spiritual Oppression:

Although a genuine Spirit-filled believer cannot be possessed by Satan or a demon spirit, a believer may indeed be oppressed by demon spirits. This oppression can come in many forms.

Whenever we are experiencing an attack from Satan it is deliberate and with an intended purpose. Except for purposes of spiritual discipline such attacks are intended to:

entrap us
test our character
challenge our faith,
weaken our resolve to live for Christ, and
destroy our testimony

Satan's purpose is to undermine some area of our life so that we may be rendered ineffective for the purpose of God. He will seek to:

exploit any area of weakness in our character
undermine our credibility, and
destroy trust in our relationships with others

Knowing this:

We must not open a doorway permitting Satan access to areas of our lives which expose us to the influence and oppression of demon spirits.

You can be certain that Satan will challenge your spiritual authority; and through doubt, fear, and intimidation seek to nullify the power of God's Word in your life.

Fighting Back:

We will all be tested at different seasons of life. Just when you think you have fought one battle, along comes another. Satan does not respond to threats; he is not moved by our tears, or the pleas we make in the flesh; he only responds to the authority of God.

One of the names given to Satan is "tempter." During his wilderness temptation, Jesus overcame the devil with only the written Word of God; and when the devil ended the temptation he departed from Him for a season.

This underscores the importance of placing God's Word in the mouth of the believer in order to combat Satan. We are told in scripture that the sword of the Spirit is the Word of God. Having God's Word in your mouth will arm your heart and mind with truth, knowledge, and understanding.

Although we should never underestimate the devil, as a child of God we have the power and authority to resist him. But, how do we resist him? We resist the devil by being submitted to God and being steadfast in the faith.

We have the assurance of God's Word, if we resist the devil he will flee from us. Nevertheless, when the enemy presses the battle toward us we must fight back with weapons that are not of this world.

In my experience intercessory prayer is a great weapon against Satan. Give yourself to much prayer, and during times of severe testing, sometimes it will be necessary to pray and fast.

As you do warfare in prayer, ask the Holy Spirit to search your heart and reveal any un-confessed or un-repented sin in your life which may have opened a doorway for Satan. Then, take action on what He reveals to you and bring your life into agreement with God's Word and His plan and purposes for your life.

Even the apostle Paul experienced intense spiritual warfare throughout his ministry. Although, it appears that Paul was in God's will, Satan was permitted to war against him. It was only after much prayer that the purpose of Satan's attacks was finally revealed to Paul. Satan sought to overcome Paul in the area of spiritual pride.

Although Paul's thorn in the flesh was not removed, this warfare produced humility in Paul's life and ensured his total dependence upon God. In spite of the warfare he experienced, God promised Paul His grace was with him, and in times of weakness His power would rest upon him.

Copyright © 2010, All rights reserved

In 2006 Charles Smoot founded The Grace Network, a "Church Planting Movement" (CPM) based in Maui, Hawaii. In 2009 Charles and his wife Helen founded Simple Church Ministries of Lancaster, a local House Church community dedicated to the message of Sovereign Grace, House church evangelism, and discipleship.

A published author of the book "Fallen From Grace," Charles and his wife Helen enjoy planting House and "Simple" churches and encouraging those who are called to House church ministry. You may email the author at cesmoot@aol.com

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