The lord has been impressing on me the need to equip our Church for Spiritual Warfare. So, over the last few months I have begun teaching classes on this exact topic to a few different groups within our Church. These times of Biblical learning have been both intense and vitally helpful. It’s been good to wrestle with the Scriptures and consider the reality of how Spiritual Warfare impacts so many areas of our lives. The Bible paints a very clear picture that much of what happens in the real world of our lives and the lives of those around us is impacted by Spiritual forces unseen to the human eye. We are told in Ephesians 6 the following:
“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.”Ephesians 6:10-13
For the informed Christian, this truth is not meant by Paul to make us fearful or confused, but rather to serve as a foundation to help us live out our faith in all of its power. We note from that passage that the Christian is called to “be strong in the Lord” and to “stand against the schemes of the devil.” These are commands of militancy and courage, not passivity and cowardice. The Christian recognizes that everything we need to have full victory over sin, Satan, and death has been won for us by Jesus on the cross and through his resurrection. Therefore Christian, let us eagerly learn how to wage this warfare in accord with Scripture!
One of the first principles we might learn from the Scriptures on the tactics of the enemy is that the Devil does not play fair. He is not out to give you a fighting chance. His scheme is to wait until your weakest moment, and then to hit while you are down. There are two passages that help us understand this concept well. The first is in Genesis 3. We read:
“Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’ ” But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.””Genesis 3:1–5, ESV
What we see from those verses is that Satan is a deceiver and one of his primary tactics against humanity is deception. Satan lied to Eve by rejecting God’s clear command and suggesting a better alternative. But we also notice from Genesis 3 that Satan attacked Eve directly, rather than attacking Adam. As Eve’s husband Adam had the responsibility to protect Eve. Yet Yet Satan didn’t play by the rules by attacking Adam directly. Rather he undercut the system of defense by going directly to Eve.
The enemy tried to use the exact same tactic on Jesus when Jesus was tempted in the wilderness. We may recall that Jesus had been fasting for forty days when Satan tempted him. Satan waited until Jesus was physically weak before trying to kick him while he was down. He waited until Jesus’ physical body was breaking down from starvation and malnutrition before he tempted him. But look at how Jesus our victor fought Satan’s deception.
“And the devil took him up and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time, and said to him, “To you I will give all this authority and their glory, for it has been delivered to me, and I give it to whom I will. If you, then, will worship me, it will all be yours.” And Jesus answered him, “It is written, “ ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and him only shall you serve.’ ””Luke 4:5–8, ESV
What a wicked, undermining, unfair approach to try to take someone down. But that is who Satan is. He is wicked, undermining, and unfair. And that is what he will try to do in your life and in the lives of those around you. He’ll try to get you to doubt God and His Word at your weakest moments. He’ll wait until you are exhausted, until you are burned out, until you are sad, hurt, frightened, or angry. He’ll wait until a friendship has been broken and bitterness and lack of forgiveness (works of the flesh) are sprouting in your heart, and then he’ll pounce.
It is in those moments that we must look to Jesus and see how He overcame the evil one. Jesus fought back with God’s Word. Jesus would not budge one iota from the words of God. He knew that if He shifted from God’s word at all, He would have already been defeated. The life of Christ was anchored into the Word of God and no subtle deception of Satan would convince Him otherwise. Even when his body was malnourished and hurting, His commitment to the Word of God was unwavering.
As followers of Christ we must build ourselves on God’s Word in such a way that it works its way into our deepest recesses of our hearts. Scripture reminds us that the Word of God is “powerful and effective.” God’s Word is both our defense and offense (along with prayer – our great offensive weapon) for defeating our enemy. When you are tempted, as Eve was, and as Jesus was, turn to the promises of the Bible. Speak them out loud. Speak them out loud over your life and your families. Pray them over your Church’s life. Stand against the enemy – Be strong in the Lord!