by A,M, Kisly
Are you feeling battle weary? I have been. Have you ever experienced times in your life when there seems to be a battle on every side? We sometimes experience great conflict in our lives. Those conflicts can come from anywhere; in the home, in the workplace, with friends and neighbors…even within the body of Christ.
As believers, the most difficult battles we face are spiritual. The Bible teaches there is a conflict between God and Satan for the souls of men and believers are in the middle of that conflict.
Spiritual strength and courage are needed for our spiritual warfare and suffering. We are to be strong "in the Lord and in the power of His might." We are to, “Put on the whole armour of God, that we may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.” Ephesians 6:11
Looking back on history we know that as Hitler’s appetite for power and territory grew, his army began to march across Europe. In some cases, the fight could hardly be called a battle. The German army advanced, with its tanks and with technologically advanced weapons. In some of the underdeveloped nations, their armies made a futile effort to resist Hitler’s aggression, fighting back with spears and even rocks. It was no contest at all, because these nations were not equipped for the battle.
The same could be said of Satan, and those whom he opposes. Many of his victims do not even know there is a war going on. They make easy prey. Christians should know that we are in the midst of a great spiritual struggle, although many seem not to believe it. And even more distressing is the fact that many who consider themselves “in the war” do not understand the nature of Satan’s schemes, of the weapons which he employs, or of the weapons which God has provided for our defense.
Ephesians 6:10-20 is perhaps the clearest definition of the spiritual war which we find from the pen of the Apostle Paul. It not only assures us that there is a spiritual war, but it warns us that apart from utilizing the weapons which God has provided for us, we are hopelessly underpowered. This passage informs us as to what our divinely weapons are. Beyond this, these weapons imply the nature of the struggle which we are in. The weapons which God has provided for us are those weapons which best repel the attacks of Satan, and thus we can learn a great deal about the nature of Satan’s opposition from simply considering each of the weapons at our disposal.
The Spiritual War in the Church
Early in the Book of Acts, Satan is found opposing the people and the purposes of God. In Acts chapter 5 we read of Ananias and his wife Sapphira, who had given a certain amount of money to the work of the Lord, but who had lied about the amount. When Peter rebuked Ananias for his deception, he attributed the source of the lie to Satan: “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit, and to keep back some of the price of the land?” (Acts 5:3).
In Acts 13:10, Paul rebuked Elymas the magician for opposing the gospel, calling him a “son of the devil.” In 2 Corinthians chapter 2, Paul spoke of the church’s reticence to forgive a repentant brother as giving Satan the opportunity to take advantage, adding that we are not ignorant of his schemes (2:10-11). Later in this same epistle, Paul speaks of Satan as the “god of this world” who has “blinded the minds of the unbelieving, that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ” (4:4). And near the end of this epistle Paul warns that Satan and his subordinates disguise themselves as true believers, thereby seeking to lead some astray by their authoritarian leadership:
13 For such men are false apostles, deceitful workers, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. 14 And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. 15 Therefore it is not surprising if his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their deeds (2 Corinthians 11:13-15).
In 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12 Paul speaks of a future day of evil, when “the man of lawlessness” is revealed, whose working is in accordance with the activity of Satan, and is accompanied by power, signs and false wonders (2:9). In 1 Timothy 3:6 Paul warns about laying hands too quickly on leaders, lest they become conceited and fall into the same condemnation incurred by the devil. In chapter 4, he warns of those who will fall away from the faith and pay attention to “deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons” (4:1). In chapter 5 of 1 Timothy Paul urges younger widows to get married and not to become idle gossips and busybodies. This sounds very “human,” but Paul links it to satanic activity: “Therefore, I want younger widows to get married, bear children, keep house, and give the enemy no occasion for reproach; for some have already turned aside to follow Satan” (1 Timothy 5:14-15). Imagine this. Paul refers to gossiping as turning aside to follow Satan. Now who would have ever considered gossip to be satanic? Paul does.
In his epistle, James condemns the quarrels and strife which were taking place among the saints. He first links such sins to the pursuit of fleshly pleasures (4:1-3). He then indicates that such sin is rebellion against God which grieves His Holy Spirit (4:3-4). Next, James links quarrelling and strife with Satan:
6 But He gives a greater grace. Therefore it says, “God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” 7 Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you (James 4:6-7).
Peter had come to learn about Satan the hard way (see Matthew 16:21-23; Luke 22:31). And so we find him warning others of the threat which Satan poses as our adversary. Note that Peter’s warning comes in the context of leadership and of submission (5:1-7):
8 Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls about like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 9 But resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world (1 Peter 5:8-9).
In the letters to the seven churches, recorded in Revelation 2 and 3, the Lord Jesus frequently mentions Satan as the source of temptation and trials in the church (see 2:9, 13, 24; 3:9). The remainder of the Book of Revelation describes the coming final conflict with Satan, and his ultimate demise (see especially chapters 12 and 20).
From these texts and many others, I believe that it is safe to say that Satan is the arch-enemy of the church. He is ever seeking to cause the saints to stumble and attempting to thwart the plans and purposes of God for His church.
In the last year I have watched Satan devour those who have taken themselves out of the battle, and like David, stayed behind to satisfy their own flesh. I have seen and heard the horror stories of those who have succumbed to Satan's temptations and are now facing the devastating consequences of sin and ruin. I have seen others struggle with depression and doubt and rather than armor up and get in the battle, they shut themselves out, hiding in their own torment. In this past year alone, I have seen a couple of dear friends go so far as to end their own lives because they chose to quite the battle, believing the lie that God had forsaken them. We can exhaust ourselves in the flesh believing that we are fighting the war for God, or we can armor up, realizing that we are fighting the war with God and resting in the full assurance that the BATTLE HAS ALREADY BEEN WON!
While we wait for the Son of man to appear and catch us up in the clouds, Satan will stop at nothing to distract, disarm, disappoint, cast doubt, disable and destroy you. Do you get that? We are living in the end of times, there will be no ceasefire where the enemy of your soul is concerned, his war against you will only become more fierce. There is an old saying that remains true, "It is not time to rest on one's laurels" meaning to be satisfied with one's past success and to consider further effort unnecessary. It is time to "Put on the whole armour of God that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 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. 13 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." Ephesians 6:11-13
James Fire, co-laborer and writer for TTUF has written an in depth study on Spiritual Warfare in an eight part series. I would encourage you to read through this study, as well as conduct your own study on this subject.
Also, if you haven't read William Gurnall's series, The Christian in Complete Armour, I highly recommend it to you. In his own life, William Gurnall faced many trials...especially within the Church. One of those battles was as follows:"It was during this time of civil and religious strife and controversy that Gurnall preached to his parishioners his messages on spiritual warfare. With the help of a benefactor, Gurnall published his material in three volumes between 1655 and 1662. He dedicated the first volume to the inhabitants of Lavenham. The following is an excerpt from his foreward:
“The subject of the treatise is solemn: A War between the Saint and Satan. And it is such a bloody one that the cruelest ware ever fought by men will be seen as but sport and child’s play compared to this. It is a spiritual war that you shall read of; not a history of what was fought many ages past and is now over, but of a war now going on – the tragedy is present with us. And it is not taking place at the farthest end of the world; it concerns you and everyone who reads of it. The stage on which this war is fought is every man’s own soul. There are no neutrals in this war. The whole world is engaged in the quarrel, either for God against Satan, or for Satan against God.”
J. C. Ryle had something to say about Gurnall's work on The Christian in Complete Armor as well,
“At a time in England when loyalty to Scripture placed Christians in the center of the nation’s wars, Gurnall was more concerned with the souls of his people than the issues of conflicting political parties. Compiled from his many sermons on “the saints’ war against the devil,” his exhaustive exposition of Ephesians 6:10–20 treats the spiritual battles of believers and their God-given protection.In Conclusion: There is a war going on. It is not a war that is like the wars which are currently going on between nations today (although such wars may be a part of the bigger war). It is a spiritual war. It is a war between Satan and his fallen celestial allies and Christ and His church. It is an invisible war in that we fight against unseen forces. It is therefore a war which must be waged by faith, and not by sight. It is a war that we cannot fight in our own strength, but only in the strength which God Himself supplies.
The war is not being waged to see which side will win. God has already won the war by the death of His Son on the cross of Calvary (see John 12:31; 16:11). The war is for our good, and for God’s glory. The war is a part of God’s instruction to the angelic hosts (see Ephesians 3:8-11). The war is a part of God’s eternal plan and purpose for his creation. The great question is not, “Who will win?,” but “Who will stand?” The question is not whether God is on our side as much as whether or not we are on His side.
“These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” ~ John 16:33 (KJV)
Be of good cheer you say? Yes! I’ll repeat it again, Jesus has overcome the world! We can breath a sigh of relief! What greater hope can a believer possess than knowing that our Savior has overcome this world? Because He overcame, we too can overcome for He will equip us with His strength that we are able to stand strong in the day of Battle.
In Ephesians 6:10-18, we are commanded to do as follows:
- “Be strong in the Lord, and in the strength of His might.” (vs. 10)
- “Put on the full armor of God, that you may be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil.” (vs. 11)
- “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].” ~ Ephesians 6:12 (KJV)
- “Take up the full armor of God, that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm.” (vs. 13)
- “Stand firm therefore.” (vs. 14)
Now it's time to put on our armor. What is it?
“Having girded your loins with truth” (vs. 14) ‘Sanctify them in the truth; Thy word is truth.’” ~ John 17:17. Wrap yourself in the truth of God’s word. Buckle on that belt!
“Having put on the breastplate of righteousness” (vs. 14) Walking in the righteousness of Christ. “For he hath made him [to be] sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.”
2 Corinthians 5:21 (KJV). Choose to walk with Him, denying yourself and crucifying your flesh!
“Having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace” (vs. 15) What is the gospel of peace….it’s the good news that Jesus has come to save us from our sins…we are to be sharing this good news with others!
“Taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming missiles of the evil one” (vs. 16) What is the shield of faith? Believing His every word!!! God’s word is true and He is faithful to keep every single promise! “(For the weapons of our warfare [are] not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;” ~ 2 Corinthians 10:4-5 (KJV)
“Take the helmet of salvation” (vs. 17) The assurance of our salvation! Hallelujah. “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?” Romans 8:35
“The sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (vs. 17) Are you reading the word of God? Are you studying it? Do you know it? Are you using the sword of the Spirit correctly and wisely?
And last but certainly not least, we have a direct line to the King Himself….we can come boldly before His throne of grace to find HELP in our time of need! It is vital to keep the line of communication open not only to receive instruction, but it is vital that we obey His command. For He is leading this battle, and we are soldiers in His army.
“With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit” (vs. 18) The bible explains that the armour is not a material possession, but a spiritual one. In fact, Romans 13: 12-14 tells us that the armor is the Lord Jesus Christ, so Put on Jesus!
"The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light. Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying. But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to [fulfil] the lusts [thereof].” ~ Romans 13:12-14 (KJV)
Now it's high time to wake out of sleep....go get your armor on...and stand in the day of battle!