Last week, I wrote an article on the biblical reality of Spiritual Warfare. Near the end of that article, I noted that Satan is a created being who fell from heaven because he rebelled against God. Though he is powerful, God is still completely sovereign over him. He is nothing more than a mean dog, and his power and influence extends only to the end of his leash. I then concluded that article with the following paragraph:
Though we are surrounded by much evil, and though Satan is fighting against God and striving to diminish His glory, we know that our God is working all things according to the counsel of His own will. Though preachers of the gospel may be imprisoned (Acts 4:3), many will come to believe through their witness (Acts 4:4). Though godly men are murdered, it may be the cause of the gospel going forth to new regions (Acts 8:1). Every occurrence of spiritual warfare is thus a God-given opportunity to draw near to Christ, depend upon Him more fully, and exalt His name and proclaim His grace out of the midst of our adversities.
Given this biblical perspective, I wanted to return to the subject with this week’s article to further delineate how believers should respond when we encounter spiritual warfare. As you might expect, the first response to spiritual warfare is to be more fervent in prayer. Prayer and Scripture intake are our two greatest means of grace: our two greatest means of expressing our dependence upon Christ, drawing near to Christ, and being conformed to Christ. Thus, we should pray the words of Scripture, and pray for Christ to exalt Himself and crush the serpent when he is active in our circumstances. We should pray for wisdom and discernment (James 1:5), so that we might respond to adversity with settled faith instead of panicked fear. Finally, we should pray for one another, to stand firm in Christ and not be given over to the temptations of the evil one (Eph 6:16, 2 Thess 3:3).
Second, the onslaught of satanic forces should cause us to examine ourselves to make sure we have not given Satan a foothold (1 Cor 11:28, 2 Cor 13:5, Eph 4:27). A “foothold” is an opportunity to deceive and tempt unto further sin. Such opportunities arise when we are in unrepentant sin, when we are hiding sin, and when we fail to take biblical steps to deal properly and firmly with besetting sins. In such circumstances, we must die to ourselves, lay down our pride, and be completely open and transparent about our struggles. We must humble ourselves and confess our sins openly before Christ, before our accountability partners, before our spouse, and before anyone else we might have sinned against. Hiding sin, denying the severity of sin, and failing to walk in biblical accountability will effectively lay out the “Welcome” mat to the forces of darkness.
Third, even as we acknowledge the reality of Satan’s schemes and the warfare he initiates, we must be careful not to set our focus on him, but rather on the God who rules over him. This is where many contemporary “experts” on spiritual warfare have committed a grievous error. They put so much emphasis on who Satan is, how Satan works, how we prepare to fight Satan, how we bind Satan, etc. that they end up setting men’s attention on the forces of darkness rather than on the sovereign Lord of the universe who rules over Satan and his minions. Scripture certainly teaches us to be aware of the schemes of the devil and war he is attempting to wage (Eph 6:10-12), but it is ultimately the King of Glory who binds and looses the dragon according to His sovereign purpose (Rev 20:2,7,10). Our hearts should rest in Him!
Fourth, by the grace of Christ, cultivate spiritual perspectives and spiritual maturity that will serve as biblical defenses to spiritual attacks. We must put on the armor of God (Eph 6:13-17), and set our gaze upon Him. As it says in Hebrews 12:1-2, “let us also lay aside every encumbrance, and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (NAS) As those who belong to Christ, we must follow in the footsteps of Christ. We must commit to honor and glorify the Lord regardless of what adversity comes and what personal sacrifices must be made. Though Satan may win some skirmishes, the battle belongs to the Lord. So trust in His good sovereignty. Recognize that even though Satan is powerful and active, he is already a defeated foe.