The topic of spiritual warfare has often divided the Church and there are far too many distractions and blind alleys for us to be drawn down. Its is my hope to establish
- That as Christians we have a Risen Victorious Lord who has conquered the powers of darkness.
- What can be clearly seen in the Word of God rather than speculation.
- That the believer has a role to stand the ground that Christ has won for us.
1 John 3 verse 8
The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work.
The reason the Son of God was made manifest (visible) was to undo (destroy, loosen, and dissolve) the works the devil [has done].
For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil.
So here is a question What did Christ achieve?
Eph 1:18 I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe.
That power is like the working of his mighty strength, which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.
Eph 2:1 As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient.
All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
Look again at verse 21
Far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come.
This is a very important verse for our understanding of what Christ achieved for us.
We need to appreciate that there are two worlds The world of the seen and the world of the unseen.
C.S. Lewis explored these themes in a lot of his writing and I recommend these as a thoughtful and provocative read.
Now I do not ever intend to become spooky about this because that is not ever what comes across in God’s word. Every writer speaks with all the clarity possible given the subject of the unseen.
My approach is never to speculate- no guessing (let me warn you that there are a lot who do.)- always to work in faith from a position of the knowledge we do have. So what do we know?
Rulers authorities powers and dominions.
Eph 6:12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.
Ro 8:37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.
Ro 8:38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers,
Ro 8:39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Col2:9 For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form,
Col2:10 and you have been given fullness in Christ, who is the head over every power and authority.
Col 2:15 And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.
There are things out there!
So there are powers and dominions and principalities. Now we need just to be even more clear here. What we know is that Paul is NOT referring here to The Roman Rulers or the government or other Princes. These are clearly Spiritual forces at work unseen.
I refuse to speculate or engage in exactly what these forces are because they have been conquered by Christ on the Cross.
Some will try to give such forces
- A hierarchy
- A location- territory
- People to oppress
All of which is NOT clear enough in the word of God to establish.
1Jn 4:3 but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world.
1Jn 4:4 You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.
Yes all these forces are defeated by the cross.
There are two main dangers we face in discussing the issue of spiritual forces, the unseen world.
1. The Heresy of an incomplete work.
The first is that we claim the need to continue the battle as if there is conquering to still be achieved. That is completely contrary to God’s word Satan and all His works are defeated. The battle is won
To suggest otherwise would be to suggest that somehow the death of Christ wasn’t quite enough. I have heard it put in a variety of ways e.g. -
We are engaged in mopping up operations.
Satan is defeated
Long my imprisoned sprit lay fast bound in sin and natures night.
Mine eye diffused a quickening ray I rsoe the dungeon flamed with light
My chains fell off my heart was free
The veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom.
There is no more to be done.
There is certainly no more that we could ever do?
Are we to suggest that Christ missed a bit of His redemption that there is some far off corner of Tibet that was untouched by the redemption of Christ.
Hang on though Tim You quoted Eph 6 where it says ‘Your struggle….’
If Satan is conquered and there is no battle to be fought what’s with the struggle?!
2. The danger of complacency
BUT there is a but Let’s go back to the beginning of Ephesians.
I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe.
Now we need a bit of History- sorry but we have to do a bit of digging.
Who exactly is Satan Where is he and What can he now do?
He was one of the Angels of God a spiritual being (We will look at Angels another time!) In the service of God. Neither all knowing nor all present
There was rebellion
Jn 8:44 You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desire. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.
And He fell from God’s presence taking with Him an army of others.
Because The world has not embraced the saving work of Christ, Satan has dominion in the earth
John says of Jesus-
Jn 1:10 He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him.
Jn 1:11 He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him.
Jn 1:12 Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God—
Jn 1:13 children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.
Jn 1:14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
Jesus calls Satan The Prince of this world. For the reason that he continues to operate in the world.
- Deception- Positive deception Negative deception
- Physical attack
For the power to conquer Satan is given to those who believe. Those that do not are subject all of this
IF WE ALLOW HIM TO, we can also be subject to much of this
Let me stress however that I find no biblical evidence to support that Satan can ‘Possess’ a believer. As these are covered by the saving power of Christ.
Similarly- Whilst I accept that Satan can seek to condemn us, and I put my hand up to suffering that one on occasions, he cannot accuse us before the throne of God any more because we are a saved people bought with the death of our lord.
He is called the father of lies and will seek to attack the Church.
But as a defeated enemy. All we need do is as Paul asks us to
Stand our ground. We don’t need to go around seeking out the battles The Word says that Satan will do that ‘like a roaring lion’
But Paul gives us the correct advice. STAND defend what is yours by faith.
Eph 6:13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.
Eph 6:14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place,
Eph 6:15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.
Eph 6:16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.
Eph 6:17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
The devil wants us to get involved in other stuff to distract us from this truth of His defeat.
3. So what is authentic spiritual warfare if there is no more war.
Paul again helps with the answer –
Eph 6:18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.
Eph 6:19 Pray also for me, that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel,
Eph 6:20 for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.
The enemy wants us to get involved in all sorts of blind alleys
Anything to keep us off track from taking the Good News of Jesus to those around us.
4. Two examples.
a.Curses/generational curses. Based on Exodus 20:5
You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me,
refuted by the Galations 3 13
Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us,
b. The Occult and its power
Astrology, Spiritualism, New Age Paganism, Magic/witchcraft (Wicca)
Lets not be under any illusions. There is enough stuff on our doorstep, to keep us well aware of the work of the enemy.
We do not need to explore our future- it is secure.
We should not seek to speak to those who are dead. They have no possible interest in speaking to us.
Please do remember to apply good common sense to dealing with the apparently occult or demonic activity.
First of all Don’t do it
Second remember that when you see what may be the evidence of spiritual activity
That this can be caused by a number of factors.
We can deal with all of these using spiritual warfare.
‘A conscious participation in the continued outworking of Christ’s victory over Satan on the cross.’
Walking the walk as well as talking the talk!