Broaching the subject of spiritual warfare produces a myriad of responses. Some will roll their eyes and excuse themselves. Others will don their armor and issue a battle cry. And there’s always the few who get a spooky look in their eyes and glance around as if it is taboo.
Christians either tend to think spiritual warfare is not relevant to us, or that it should always be on the forefront of our minds. Specifically, we either tend to put an unhealthy focus on Satan, or we shrug him off completely. I’ve seen how both views can negatively affect Christians and our relationship with God. As I have studied the Bible and spoken with other Christians, I’ve realized that regardless of which end of the spectrum we claim, there are certain truths we have to remember when considering spiritual warfare.
- Spiritual warfare is real.
Ephesians 6:12 “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”
What else needs to be said? Spiritual warfare is the ongoing battle between light and darkness, the pull of Satan and his lot as they attempt to defeat God and overcome the Church. Satan is darkness, and he does his best to infiltrate this world with his darkness. His aim is to tempt God’s children away from truth and whisper lies in our ears, in the hopes we will follow him and reject God.
Those family arguments? Those people who try to pull us down? Those friends who gossip behind our back? That’s the easy part of life. The real struggle, the great cosmic battle, is between life and death. Will we follow God, the giver of life? Or will we follow Satan, the lover of death? Satan is vying for your attention, and if we don’t arm ourselves with truth, he just might succeed. We can’t brush away spiritual warfare as something we can’t see, something that will only happen during the events described in Revelation. It’s happening now.
Ever since the serpent appeared to Eve in the Garden, the powers of darkness have been warring with God, trying to steal away His church. Sadly, some believers often become desensitized to lies and fall away to the deceiver. But those who brace themselves with God’s word are equipped to turn Satan away and trump his lies with truth.
- Satan can never be as powerful as Jesus.
I often come across this idea that Satan is basically the evil equivalent of God, with as much power and omniscience as Christ. People who hold this view tremble before Satan with statements like: He knows my thoughts and attacks my weaknesses. He’s everywhere I go, everywhere I turn. They also seem to focus on Satan substantially more than Jesus. To them, spiritual warfare is nothing but Satan, calling Satan down, resisting Satan’s tempations. Every single struggle, trial, or bad thought is a spiritual attack from Satan. Satan, Satan, Satan. But if Satan is who we focus on, doesn’t that mean he has us right where he wants us? Are we fearing him and forgetting how powerful our God is? Satan and his charming deceits could never compare to the power, majesty, and awesomeness of the Lord God Almighty.
Remember Job? Remember how Satan tried to ruin that poor guy’s life? Sometimes all we see is the hold Satan had over Job. What we forget is before Satan could even touch Job, he had to request God’s permission (Job 1). All power and authority lies with God. Satan is just like us in the way that he can’t do, speak, or think anything without God knowing it first. Satan is not omniscient nor is he omnipresent. He roams the earth (1 Peter 5:8, Job 1:7), instead of having the power to be a constant, haunting presence in our lives. James 4:7 says, “Resist the devil, and he will flee from you,” implying there will be times when Satan is not with us. He does not have the power to know the future or our innermost thoughts. Those are divine traits possessed only by the Creator.
Not only does putting too much emphasis on Satan distract us from the Lord, it also gives us an easy excuse for sin. We want to believe Satan and his attacks are ever present in our lives because it takes the responsibility for our sin off of our shoulders. We too easily excuse our sinful tendencies as “spiritual attacks” from the enemy. Certainly, our struggles can often be a result of Satan’s temptations, but since he is not omnipresent, that cannot always be the case. Let’s have the courage to admit our own sinful nature, acknowledge our mistakes, and put the blame with ourselves.
Satan is indeed our enemy, and he does tempt and attack us. But he’s not God. Don’t give him more credit than he deserves.
- Jesus has already won.
Satan is not to be ignored, but neither is he to be feared. We should not cower before Satan as though he could choose to crush us at any moment. Why? Because Satan has already been defeated. In Genesis 3:15, God declares the serpent’s head will be crushed by Jesus Christ. That promise was fulfilled when Jesus came to earth over two thousand years ago. In John 16:33, Jesus says, “I have overcome the world.” I have overcome the world. Jesus coming to earth, proclaiming His truth, sacrificing Himself, and conquering death was His victory over the enemy. And one day, as the final climax of His triumph, He will return to claim His people, establish His kingdom, and cast Satan into the lake of fire.
Without Christ, we should indeed tremble before the evil one who seeks to destroy us. But with Christ, we are girded with strength and truth to resist Satan and proclaim the gospel to the world until the Lord’s return, in spite of the powers of darkness that try to stop us. If our God is for us, then who could ever stop us?
There’s no doubt Satan is real. But guess what? So is Jesus! And over two thousand years ago, He overcame death and crushed Satan’s chances of ever succeeding. So whom shall we fear? Jesus already won. And with Him, we are indeed victorious.