This is a text reader for the article below:
Message Audio Player:
By Request: Spiritual Warfare
Spiritual warfare is not neat and clean. It is only out of ignorance or laziness that we blame all our hindrances on the devil. This is no more than a sidestepping of the real issue. We do not long for and pursue intimacy with our God and THAT is our greatest enemy.
Spiritual apathy Is defeat… It Is death.
A clear and simple definition for what IS spiritual warfare might be helpful here.
Spiritual warfare is anything which challenges the advancement of God’s rule in my HEART.
You need to hear this – NOTHING, AND I DO MEAN NOTHING, challenges the advancement of the rule of God in our hearts more than indifference!
This is why our Master made much of love!
So spiritual warfare is more an internal issue than an external one.
One of the reasons why many of God’s children are ill-equipped for spiritual warfare is because the two greatest parts of our spiritual armor require passion and devotion.
The apostle tells us, AND ABOVE ALL TAKE the sword of the Spirit and the shield of faith… but these are not found in the world but in intimate communion all exchange between us and our Lord… and to borrow a quote from a Tozer prayer, “the world is too much with us”.
The devil has been behind the advancement of two separate approaches to spiritual warfare and both of them are designed to steer people as far away from the truth and cause internal division in the body as possible.
The first is to walk largely unaware of the devil. While there are in fact Christians who believe that the time of demons and evil spirits ended with Jesus’ death and resurrection, most of those in this group simply do not recognize the devil and his activity in daily life or society nearly at all.
They might, from time to time, recognize an increase in temptation as being the enemy or persecution in various parts of the world as resulting from satan, but for the most part – the devil and demons are almost entirely irrelevant.
Then there are those who are so focused upon the devil and what they call spiritual warfare against him that they literally believe more in him and his attacks than they do in God’s sovereignty and power over him.
These people typically make much of being proactive. They believe in “storming the gates of hell” largely due to a misunderstanding of the words of our Savior Who said, “upon this rock I will build My church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it.”– Matt. 16:18
The word gates is almost certainly being used as a metaphor for judgments. We have an enemy and we know for certain that one of his long standing tactics is to accuse us before our God and Father. While there are those who believe satan stopped his accusations once Jesus rose from the dead, the book of Revelation puts this off to the future in Revelation 12:10. As such his judgments and accusations against the church will not prevail against their belief and confession of the Lordship of Jesus Christ which was the rock to which Jesus was referring. We are told elsewhere in scripture that what causes us to overcome is our belief and confession of Jesus as Lord. – 1Jn. 5:5
Those who believe in a proactive attack against the enemy in terms of “attacking the gates of hell” are looking for something more flashy that simple belief and confession of Jesus’ lordship.
Also within this camp are the ideas of casting down devils from their positions of influence and power in the earth. Binding demons and casting them out of regions. Pacing the floor while quoting (and often misquoting) scripture which is being wielded as a sword against perceived devils, yelling in tongues and attempting to make their voices sound threatening. The devil laughs at these self-indulgent expressions of spiritual attack.
Satan is NOT intimidated by our misquotes of scripture, our loud voices threatening his kingdom nor of our prayers we pray with the aim of destroying his kingdom by our words.
What threatens satan is a life of passionate devotion lived before God. That safeguards the child of God against his advancements and makes them salt and light in a world who needs to SEE Jesus, rather than hear Him shouted about.
Now we have covered the topic of binding and loosening in here before so I am NOT going back over that material. It is all on our website and can be used to refresh your memory on your own. [See Article on Binding & Loosening]
What we are looking at tonight is what the New Testament actually says about our enemy and when and how we are to deal with him.
It might surprise you to realize how little the New Testament speaks of the devil, demons or evil spirits. Furthermore, it might surprise you WHAT it says and what it does NOT say! You will find that our battle is not directed AT the enemy and that most of our interactions with him are in the form of resisting HIS attacks!
“Once you were Darkness now you are lighting the Lord” – Eph. 5:8
Col. 1:13-23, “13 He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, 14 in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins. 15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. 17 And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist. 18 And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence. 19 For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell, 20 and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross. 21 And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled 22 in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight- 23 if indeed you continue in the faith, grounded and steadfast, and are not moved away from the hope of the gospel which you heard, which was preached to every creature under heaven, of which I, Paul, became a minister”
Evil spirits in the NKJV appears three times:
- In Acts 5:3 – simeon
- In Acts 19:15,16 (sons of Sceva)
- In Acts 26:18 – Paul recounting his conversion and Jesus telling him about his ministry which would include turning people from the power of satan to God.
Demons are mentioned about 9 times and those are ALL in the gospels regarding Jesus’ ministry. and a spirit of divination is encountered once in Paul’s ministry in Acts 16:16-18
Satan or the devil are mentioned the MOST a total of 32xs. Now this does not include references like “the wicked one” or “father of lies” so this number does not represent ALL occurances, but enough to get a real clear idea of how frequently he is mentioned.
These references include…
- Approximately 9 times in Jesus’ ministry though
- 1x in a parable
- 1x referring to hell prepared for the devil and his angels
- 1x in reference to the devil taking up the seed of the word sown in the wayside heart.
- 2x in Acts – Once in reference to Jesus’ ministry “Who went about doing good and healing all…” and once when Paul had to deal with one.
- In Romans 16:20 – “God will crush satan under your feet”
- 1 Cor. 5:5 – deliver over to satan for destruction of flesh
- 1Cor. 7:5 – intercourse in marriage so not tempted by the devil
- 2Cor. 2:11 – Forgive so satan does not take advantage – we are not ignorant of his tactics
- 2Cor. 11:14 – satan presents himself as an angel of light sometimes
- 2Cor. 12:7 – messenger from to hinder Paul
- In Eph. 4:26 we are encouraged to give no place to the devil
- Eph. 6:11 we are to stand against the methods and schemes of the devil with our armor on.
- 1Thess. 2:18 – Satan hindered Paul from coming to them
- 2Thess. 2:9 – describing the coming of antiChrist like the working of satan
- 1Tim. 1:20 – Paul delivered Hymenaeus and Alexander over to to satan that they might learn not to blaspheme
- 1Tim. 3:6&7 – young men in the faith should not be pastors or they might fall like the devil in pride
- 1Tim. 5:15 – Some have already turned aside to satan
- 2Tim. 2:21-26 – “(21) But avoid foolish and ignorant disputes, knowing that they generate strife. (24) And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, (25) in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth, (26) and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will.”
- Hebrews 2:14 – Jesus became like us to destroy the devil who had the power of death
- James 4:7 tells us to submit to God and resist the devil
- 1 Peter 5:8 tells us to be sober and vigilant because the devil is looking to devour whomever he can
- 1 Jn. 3:8&10 talk about children of the devil
- Jude 1:9 Michael did not rebuke satan
- Rev. 2:10 – the devil is going to through some of you into prison
- Rev. 12:9 – the initial fall of satan
- Rev. 12:12 – satan is mentioned as having great wrath because he knows his time is running out
- Rev. 20:2 – Angel puts satan in the abyss
- Rev. 20:10 – satan is cast into hell
So, now let me ask you… do you know how many times Jesus, Paul or any of those who worked with him ever “bound” the devil? ZERO – it never happened EVEN ONCE!
Do you know how many times we are told to pray against the devil, seize the devil or his kingdom, cast demons out of regions, take authority over the devil or bind the devil? Absolutely never!
Do you know how many timesscripture mentions the Apostle Paul casting a demon out of a person? ONCE and that was our spirit of divination we mentioned earlier. Let’s read it!
Acts 16:16-18, “(16) Now it happened, as we went to prayer, that a certain slave girl possessed with a spirit of divination met us, who brought her masters much profit by fortune-telling. (17) This girl followed Paul and us, and cried out, saying, “These men are the servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to us the way of salvation.” (18) And this she did for many days. But Paul, greatly annoyed, turned and said to the spirit, “I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.” And he came out that very hour.”
Now, we know that there isa difference between casting a demon out of a non-believer and the way we deal with him as children of God.
Of course you can get no better example than the person and life of Jesus our Messiah Who Himself had become FULLY human in the incarnation and was therefore subject to the same weaknesses and frailties as all humanity.
“(1) Then Jesus, being filled with the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, (2) being tempted for forty days by the devil. And in those days He ate nothing, and afterward, when they had ended, He was hungry.
(3) And the devil said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread.” (4) But Jesus answered him, saying, “It is written, ‘MAN SHALL NOT LIVE BY BREAD ALONE, BUT BY EVERY WORD OF GOD.‘ “
(5) Then the devil, taking Him up on a high mountain, showed Him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. (6) And the devil said to Him, “All this authority I will give You, and their glory; for this has been delivered to me, and I give it to whomever I wish. (7) Therefore, if You will worship before me, all will be Yours.” (8) And Jesus answered and said to him, “Get behind Me, Satan! For it is written, ‘YOU SHALL WORSHIP THE LORD YOUR GOD, AND HIM ONLY YOU SHALL SERVE.’ ”
(9) Then he brought Him to Jerusalem, set Him on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down from here. (10) For it is written: ‘HE SHALL GIVE HIS ANGELS CHARGE OVER YOU, TO KEEP YOU,’ (11) and, ‘IN THEIR HANDS THEY SHALL BEAR YOU UP, LEST YOU DASH YOUR FOOT AGAINST A STONE.’ ” (12) And Jesus answered and said to him, “It has been said, ‘YOU SHALL NOT TEMPT THE LORD YOUR GOD.’ ”
(13) Now when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from Him until an opportune time.”
This is very instructional. If we have the power to bind the devil and cast him away from us, this would have been a really good place and time for it – but out Lord does not attack him at all.
Also, it wasn’t until the 3rd attempt that the devil caught on – as to how to come at Jesus. Once he saw that Jesus always thought and responded with God’s word he tailored his last temptation as a distortion of scripture.
This tells us that the devil knows less about you than you might think, but that he pays attention and learns based upon what comes out of our mouth.
Then we have Paul who dealt with a demon in a man, but did NOT cast him out.
“(6) Now when they had gone through the island to Paphos, they found a certain sorcerer, a false prophet, a Jew whose name was Bar–Jesus, (7) who was with the proconsul, Sergius Paulus, an intelligent man. This man called for Barnabas and Saul and sought to hear the word of God. (8) But Elymas the sorcerer (for so his name is translated) withstood them, seeking to turn the proconsul away from the faith. (9) Then Saul, who also is called Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked intently at him (10) and said, “O full of all deceit and all fraud, you son of the devil, you enemy of all righteousness, will you not cease perverting the straight ways of the Lord? (11) And now, indeed, the hand of the Lord is upon you, and you shall be blind, not seeing the sun for a time.”
And immediately a dark mist fell on him, and he went around seeking someone to lead him by the hand. (12) Then the proconsul believed, when he saw what had been done, being astonished at the teaching of the Lord.”
Now the only difference I can see between this man and the young lady with the spirit of divination is that while they both clearly did not want the demon to leave, the girl was following Paul for MANY DAYS and disrupting their work in the Lord. It was at this point that apparently Paul had the authority to cast the demon out. No doubt it returned in much the fashion Jesus warned – 7x’s worse, but Paul could not just unilaterally cast a demon out of a person who wanted it UNLESS that spirit was overreaching their jurisdiction by interferring with the work of the Lord.
As children of God, our interactions with the devil in our own lives are largely in the form of submitting to God and resisting the devil. This takes on many forms, one of which is simply not making it easy on the devil. GIVE him no place. That means, he cannot take it from you, but you CAN open the door to him and his activity in your life.
Eph. 4:25-28, “(25) Therefore, putting away lying, “LET EACH ONE OF YOU SPEAK TRUTH WITH HIS NEIGHBOR,” for we are members of one another. (26) “BE ANGRY, AND DO NOT SIN”: do not let the sun go down on your wrath, (27) nor give place to the devil. (28) Let him who stole steal no longer, but rather let him labor, working with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give him who has need.”
What are some of satan’s tactics?
(I comment on each of these in the message recording)
Luke 8:12, “Those by the wayside are the ones who hear; then the devil comes and takes away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved”
Luke 22:31-34,“(31) Simon, Simon, pay attention! Satan has demanded to have you all, to sift you like wheat, (32) but I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. When you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.” (33) But Peter said to him, “Lord, I am ready to go with you both to prison and to death!” (34) Jesus replied, “I tell you, Peter, the rooster will not crow today until you have denied three times that you know me.”
John 13:1-2, “(1) Just before the Passover Feast, Jesus knew that His time had come to depart from this world to the Father. Having loved His Own who were in the world, He now loved them to the very end. (2) The evening meal was in progress, and the devil had already put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, that he should betray Jesus.”
Acts 5:1-3, “(1) Now a man named Ananias, together with Sapphira his wife, sold a piece of property. (2) He kept back for himself part of the proceeds with his wife’s knowledge; he brought only part of it and placed it at the apostles’ feet. (3) But Peter said, “Ananias, why has satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and keep back for yourself part of the proceeds from the sale of the land?”
How are we told to respond?
Eph. 6:10-20, “(10) Finally, be strengthened in the Lord and in the strength of His power. (11) Clothe yourselves with the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.”
(12) For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world rulers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavens.”
Here we learn a lot! We are to turn our attention to the source of our strength, Who is God. We are NOT to turn our attention to the devil!
Notice that Paul does NOT say, “our warfare” – “our battle” or even “our attack” is against the devil but rather our struggle is against him.
Also this does not say we are taking the fight to him, but rather we are standing against his attack, which verse 13 also reinforces.
“(13) 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.”
This is the same language that is used in Paul’s letter to the Corinthians about temptations and trials…
1Cor. 10:13, “(13) No trial has overtaken you that is not faced by others. And God is faithful: He will not let you be tried beyond what you are able to bear, but with the trial will also provide a way out so that you may be able to endure it.”
Eph. 6 Cont…
“(14) Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, (15) and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; (16) above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. (17) And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God; (18) PRAYING always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints—
FOR THE SAINTS – NOT against the devil.
“(19) and for me, that utterance may be given to me, that I may open my mouth boldly to make known the mystery of the gospel, (20) for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.”
James 4:4-8, “(4) Adulterers, do you not know that friendship with the world means hostility toward God? So whoever decides to be the world’s friend makes himself God’s enemy. (5) Or do you think the scripture means nothing when it says, “The Spirit that God caused to live within us has an envious yearning”? (6) But He gives greater grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but He gives grace to the humble.” (7) So submit to God. But resist the devil and he will flee from you. (8) Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and make your hearts pure, you double-minded.”
1Peter 5:5-11, “(5) In the same way, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. And all of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble. (6) And God will exalt you in due time, if you humble yourselves under His mighty hand (7) by casting all your cares on Him because He cares for you.
(8) Be sober and alert. Your enemy the devil, like a roaring lion, is on the prowl looking for someone to devour. (9) Resist him, strong in your faith, because you know that your brothers and sisters throughout the world are enduring the same kinds of suffering. (10) And, after you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace who called you to his eternal glory in Christ will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.
(11) To Him belongs the power forever. Amen.”
One mention last mention and then we will open up for questions.
Matthew 12:43-45, “(43) When an unclean spirit goes out of a man, he goes through dry places, seeking rest, and finds none. (44) Then he says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ And when he comes, he finds it empty, swept, and put in order. (45) Then he goes and takes with him seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter and dwell there; and the last state of that man is worse than the first. So shall it also be with this wicked generation.”
Here Jesus tells them that when demons leave a host they “go through dry places, seeking rest, and finds none“. Let me tell you that I have NO idea what this means. There are commentators which believe they know – connecting the statement with a passage in Isaiah, but I believe that lack too much empirical proofs. Regardless of what this means, it is NOT the point of His teaching here. Jesus is telling us that deliverance means nothing if you do not fill your heart with the Holy Spirit of God. If all you are is EMPTY, you are also a very much in danger TARGET!
It is VERY important to realize that NO WHERE in the Bible, especially the New Covenant does it tell us to attack the enemy. It does not tell us to threaten the enemy. It does not tell us to tear down principalities and powers nor bind them.
ALL of our dealings with the enemy as Christians regard giving him no place, submitting to God, relying upon the truth of God’s word, our faith in Him, our righteousness we have in Jesus, our readiness to share the Gospel of restoration and peace, our confidence in our salvation and Savior and our use of God’s word in prayer – especially for our brothers and sisters and those who minister the Word.
The ONLY way in which we can be said to be encouraged to “take on” the enemy is by casting demons out of the lost when they are seeking deliverance AND in being living witnesses to the work and Lordship of Jesus in our lives.
For more information about this topic see these messages:
- A Captive Mind
- Armor of Trust
- Armor of Trust II
- Binding & Loosening
- Spiritual Warfare & King David’s Journal
- Angelic warfare, earthly Rulers & God’s Dominion