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SPIRITUAL WARFARE, PART I: The War is Real—and it isn’t Just the Devil!


In some Christian circles believers these days act as though spiritual warfare either does not exist or is minimal. In others there is a lot of talk about spiritual warfare, but many Christians in these groups are fixated on the devil as the enemy. To those of you who are of the frozen chosen, the war is real. To those of you who see Satan behind every bush and around every corner, it isn’t just the devil that is an enemy of ours! Let’s develop a Biblical view of spiritual warfare, its reality, and who our enemies are.


I have said that there are some who act like spiritual warfare is either minimal or nonexistent. To be fair, virtually all the fellowsaints I know personally do acknowledge the reality of this fight, but there are a lot of others who do not, an amazing thing considering that spiritual warfare is discussed right there in the pages of Holy Writ. Then, of course, there are the devilmongerers. Almost every time they draw breath they expend it on rebuking Satan. Let’s deal with the reality of spiritual warfare first:


Ephesians 6:10-12:  Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.


Spiritual warfare is the battle between the kingdom of God (the kingdom of light) and the kingdom of Satan (the kingdom of darkness). When Satan fell he took a third of the angels with him who followed in his treasonous rebellion. Later the demons came into being, being the spirits of angel-human hybrids (giants) (Genesis 6:4; Numbers 13:1, 21-22, 26-33; 1 Samuel 17:4; 2 Samuel 21:15-22). Satan has been the sworn enemy of God ever since his fall. He plunged the human race into sin via his trickery of Eve and Adam’s subsequent failure to take a stand against it in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:1-7; 1 Timothy 2:14). He is also the sworn enemy of the human race, especially the saints of God. This is why he has had a special hatred of Israel, and also why he has an extreme hatred of Christians. Satan is not alone in his wicked machinations against mankind. He has formed an army out of every evil spirit being out there to control the earth, to sabotage God’s plans, and to destroy anyone he can.


The principalities are the highest-ranking fallen angels in Satan’s army. They control entire nations. An example can be found in the book of Daniel where the answer to this godly man’s prayer was hindered by such powerful evil beings (Daniel 10:1-14). The powers and the rulers of the darkness of this age are fallen angels which have smaller territories to control (states, provinces, cities, et cetera) or otherwise help set things up and keep things running for high-ranking individuals who are evil, such as dictators and various other corrupt persons such as those in government, business, organized crime, and so on. Spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places refer to armies. Some of these hosts may be fallen angels, but the vast majority are demons. The demons are Satan’s foot soldiers, the ones who directly attack people, and it is these beings that we as believers have authority over (Luke 10:17-19). God’s angels oppose Satan’s fallen angels (Daniel 10:13-14, 12:1), and there is no Biblical authorization for believers to rebuke the devil. Even God’s angels do not do this:


Jude 1:9:  Yet Michael the archangel, in contending with the devil, when he disputed about the body of Moses, dared not bring against him a reviling accusation, but said, “The Lord rebuke you!”


The heavenly places refer to the regions above the ground, specifically the second heaven. The first heaven begins just above the ground and extends to the uppermost limits of the atmosphere (Genesis 1:6-8, 14-19; 2 Samuel 18:9). The third heaven is where God Himself dwells (2 Corinthians 12:1-4; Revelation 4:1-3). The second heaven contains the sun, the moon, the planets, stars, and galaxies, and it is also the region which holds the base of operations for fallen angels and demons. God’s angels can be in any one of these three locations. Satan and his evil cadre have access to the third heaven for now, but one day they will be permanently barred from it (1 Kings 22:14-22; Job 1:6-7, 2:1-2; Revelation 12:7-12). You must next understand that spiritual warfare is not limited to battle against evil spirit beings. We actually have three enemies: the world (James 4:4), the flesh (Romans 8:5-8), and the devil (1 Peter 5:8) along with the rest of his evil kingdom. The devil et al we have already discussed. The world, here, means the world’s values, mindset, philosophies of life, and priorities, all of which run contrary to the will of God. The flesh is fallen human nature and includes both our physical and moral frailties. Those who are lost are in the flesh by nature, and naturally their courses of living will be in varying degrees away from God’s standards, all of them missing the mark. We as Christians are reborn spiritually but must battle the flesh daily (Galatians 5:16-17). Furthermore, there are three points of temptation to sin:


1 John 2:15-17:  Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.


The lust of the flesh is the flesh’s desire to do what is wrong morally in God’s eyes. The lust of the eyes involves what we look upon as desirable but in a wrong way, such as lusting after a woman or coveting someone else’s money, just to name two examples. It goes hand-in-hand with the lust of the flesh. The pride of life can be thought of as selfish ambition, and also basing one’s sense of worth on one’s wealth and social status.


What has been presented here is a balanced, Bible-based description of both the reality and the elements of spiritual warfare. Since we are in a battle, we are soldiers of Christ, as seen here:


2 Timothy 2:3-4:  You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier.


In the Ephesians 6 passage you read the phrase “the whole armor of God.” Since we are soldiers of Christ, engaged in an ongoing spiritual conflict, we must know how to defend against the enemy’s attacks and how to remain on the offensive against the kingdom of darkness. Some of you reading this blog already know how to do this, but there are a number of other Christians who do not, given the fact that they either have not been taught at all or else have been taught incorrectly. In my next blog, I will describe the armor of God and other things in the believer’s arsenal and how to use them effectively in this war. Meanwhile, saints of God, be encouraged. We are on the winning side, for God cannot lose.



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