We’ve been looking at the spiritual battles we face every day. This battle is not a physical one that involves heavy armor and artillery. Instead it’s a spiritual battle in which we are both participants and battle fields. It’s a continual conflict we must be prepared for and committed to. We defend ourselves with God’s armaments as described in Ephesians 6:10-18, and Paul emphasizes in verse 12 that our adversary is not of this world. Rather, our enemy is the ruler of darkness.
Know Thy Enemy
Our adversary goes by many names in popular culture, but the Bible writers most commonly refer to him as Satan, the Devil. It’s important we get to know our enemy if we’re going to defend against his assaults on our souls. Once we understand his tactics and motivations, then we can truly use God’s guidance to protect our souls from his snares.
John 8:44 uses some strong language to describe Satan. Jesus calls Him a father of lies and a murderer. We see those accusations bear out in places like Genesis 3, where he him deceives Eve and brings death to the Garden. In the recorded temptations of Jesus, Satan tries to twist the truth to appeal to Jesus. He even quotes scripture at the Son of God.
I Peter 5:8 describes the devil like a prowling lion. Satan is on the lookout for any opportunity to destroy our defenses and devour us. Jesus, in the parable of the sower in Mark 4:15, says that the devil can snatch the word from our hearts, and II Corinthians 14 says he disguises himself and his messengers in a form of truth. That is one of our greatest dangers — that we may let him convince us we are doing right when, in fact, we have let him imprison us.
Stay on Target
We often hear Satan referred to as the leader of evil in this world. I would rather contend that he is the evil. He is the entire opposition. He is the target, and we have to stay on target. He has no troops. He has no soldiers. He only has prisoners. Yes, some of the prisoners do not understand their own captivity; some may even feel passionate they are doing the right thing. But that changes nothing. Captives are still captives, and we should never want to attack and destroy captives. We should want to free them.
Romans chapters 5 and 6 speak about our spiritual victory in great detail. In chapter 5:6-10, Paul describes our state as being helpless and at enmity with God, but He still sent His Son to die for us. Chapter 6 then describes that helpless and hostile state as one of imprisonment to sin. Why does God not give up on us? Because He realizes we are not His adversary. Rather, we become prisoners to His adversary when we sin; our attitude toward those who reject Christ should be just as merciful and loving.
God does not create bad people. In the beginning, God created humans and said we were good. We are, as the psalmist writes in Psalm 136:13-16, “fearfully and wonderfully made.” God put no more or less care into my creation than He did a terrorist, an abortion doctor, or a junkie. He loves me no more or less than any of those. I am no more or less deserving of God’s grace than any of these. People we define as bad guys were created good. They have simply made bad choices. They are prisoners to sin, as we all have been. They and we need the freedom only Christ can give.
Don’t let secular fights distract you from the target. In Hebrews 12:1-2, the author of that book tells us we need endurance, and that endurance comes from laying aside the weights of this world. Part of that is laying aside the squabbles that distract us from our spiritual battle. When we get caught up in whatever the current hot-button topics are, we give up energy that should otherwise be dedicated to fighting temptation and reaching souls. In fact, Satan could be using some of those very things in your life to distract you from the real battle. We have to stay on target.
Overcoming Through God Alone
To overcome, we have to own our faith. We have to be able to put a complete trust in God because His word is close to our hearts. That’s what Ephesians 6 about when Paul writes that we should be wearing His truth, readiness, righteousness, and salvation. That’s why we carry His truth and faith to defend ourselves. It’s so we keep God ever close to our hearts and our minds. It’s so we are ever doing His work and focusing on His word. It is that closeness with God that will let us overcome.
In II Corinthians 10, Paul returns to this idea of spiritual warfare, and verse 3 reminds us that, though we are in combat, our conduct should be always spiritual. Our weapons are only powerful through God, and we must hold every thought in captivity lest they be taken captive by the devil. But the good news is this: Satan flees in the face of resistance. James 4:7 simply says to resist the devil, and he will flee from you. It’s that simple.
God has already won. We have but to endure until our trials are over and we can share His victory. We have to know God’s word, and wear our faith, hope, and love like an armor. God can protect us, but He has to be in our hearts and minds, in our hands and on our lips. We have to be busy with His work, and then we will have no time or opportunity for Satan to deceive and imprison us. Then we should be about the business of freeing other captives and bringing more souls to Christ. The war is already won, but there are many victories to be had. There are many captives to free. We can do it because our God is with us.