Discipleship 101-13: Spiritual Warfare


We are in a fight, a battle everyday in the spirit world.  The bible makes it clear that there are demons and angels at war.  You may recall the story in lesson number two on the power of the Bible (click here for link to The Bible) where Satan and Jesus square off after Jesus had fasted for forty days in the wilderness.  (See Matthew 4:1-11—isn’t it just like Satan to come and attack you when you are at your physical weakest?  Notice it was AFTER forty days of fasting that Satan came).

As I said, we are in this fight too, even though it is an unseen realm.  In the book of Daniel a battle raged in the heavenly realms.  Daniel had set his mind to pray and seek God because of a word given by God that he sought to understand.  He fasted, ate no delicacies, no meat and drank no wine for twenty-one days.  At this time Daniel was living in Persia during the rule of King Cyrus and while Daniel was on the banks of the Tigris River a vision came to him.  It was a man that Daniels said was clothed in linen.  His eyes were like flames of fire, his face looked like lightning and the sound of his words were like a sound of a multitude.  No one else saw the vision but the men around him were afraid, trembling they ran and hid.

Daniel fell on his face, his strength sapped, but the man in the vision set him on his hands and knees and told him to stand.  The man explained the word to Daniel and then he told him that he was sent by God to Daniel on the very first day that Daniel began to pray.  That was twenty-one days ago!  What took him so long?

This man of the vision explained to Daniel that he had been in a fight, deterred from reaching Daniel.  He was in a spiritual battle and Michael the archangel was dispatched to help him so that this vision could bring the message, the answer to Daniel’s prayer.  When the man of the vision finished speaking with Daniel he said he had to return to the fight.  This is an incredible picture of the warfare in this spiritual realm.  (This is a summary of Daniel chapter 10).

How are we involved?  What would have happened if Daniel’s faith would have wavered?  What if he had stopped praying?

[For your enjoyment, there is a good fiction book that was written based on the Daniel 10 battle.  It is not a sermon, not a theological treatise, but it is fun to read and gives us something to think about.  It is called “This Present Darkness” written by Frank Perritti.]

We are in this spiritual warfare.

Spiritual warfare is not only found in the Old Testament.  Paul speaks of the battle and our weapons in 2 Corinthians 10:3-5:

For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does.  The weapons that we fight with are not the weapons of the world.  On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.  We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.

The warfare involves arguments that set themselves up against the knowledge of God, but there is more.

Paul said in Ephesians 6:10, 11:  “Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.  Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.”  Paul further describes this spiritual armor in detail and in verse 17 he describes our weapon as the “sword of the spirit, which is the word of God.”  We, just like Jesus, use the Word of God against the enemy.  The Word of God, said in faith, has power.

Who is our enemy?

Clearly it is the devil, Satan as Paul says in Ephesians 6:10, but the devil is not the only enemy we have.  After all, the devil is not omnipresent, he is a created being, a fallen angel and he is limited in space.  (Refer to lesson one, Sin, Salvation and Satan by clicking this link).  But up to one-third of heaven followed him.  (See Revelation 12:4, 9).  When Paul says to put on the whole armor of God he says “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.”  Let’s be clear, this verse is NOT referring to earthly authorities.  He says the struggle is NOT against flesh and blood.  These rulers, these hierarchies of power are spiritual forces that work against us.

Jesus often faced down these spiritual powers.  In one instance he came across a man who lived in the tombs.  He could not be bound by anyone though some had tried to lock him in chains. No one was strong enough to subdue this man but when he was confronted by Jesus he shouted at the top of his voice, “What do you want with me Jesus, Song of the Most High God?”  Jesus knew he was not actually talking to the man, but to a spirit within him and Jesus asked him his name.  The voice answered, “My name is Legion, for we are many.”

According to Mark chapter 5 and verse 12 and 13 these were demons and evil spirits.  Jesus cast those many spirits out of that man.  And the man returned to normal and Mark says he was “in his right mind.”  (Mk. 5:15).

Over and over again, the Bible tells of Jesus confronting demons, evil spirits and even Satan himself and Paul refers to them in this hierarchy of rulers, authorities and powers of this dark world.  Demons are real and they are active in today’s world and against us.

What do these spiritual forces do against us?

Jesus said that the thief (Satan or any spiritual enemy) “comes only to steal, kill and destroy.”  (John 10:10).  A sick woman once came to Jesus.  She had been crippled “by a spirit” and could not straighten up until Jesus healed her.  (Luke 13: 11).  Jesus said that Satan had kept her bound with this sickness.  (v. 16).

Satan works to keep us in his kingdom of darkness, (See Colossians 1:13), to keep us deceived, blinded to things of the spirit world, bound to sin, and away from the kingdom of light and freedom in Christ.

But Jesus defeated these forces.

While Jesus was on earth he not only defeated Satan by using the word of God against him during their meeting  in the desert, Jesus also continued to show his authority over Satan and his demons by casting our devils, by healing the sick, and by forgiving sins.  Each time he set someone free he won a battle over Satan.

In Mark 3:27 Jesus says, “No one can enter a strong man’s house and carry off his possessions unless he first ties up the strong man.  Then he can rob his house.”  What was Jesus talking about?  In the preceding verses he is talking about the kingdom of Satan and what Jesus is saying is that he came to tie up the strong man, Satan, the prince of this world, as John calls him, and Jesus came to rob his house.  We are in the house of Satan, slaves of sin, and Jesus came to bind Satan and steal us away unto himself.

“The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work.” (1 John 3:8).  Hebrews 2:14 says, “Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who hold the power of death—that is the devil.”

Jesus, who is God, became flesh and blood in order to pay the price for sin.  That sin was the weapon of the devil and sin brings death.  So Jesus became the sacrifice, paying our price, dying in our place.  But he didn’t stay dead, he rose from the dead and demonstrates his victory.

Jesus won the victory over sin and over Satan.  Paul writes that Jesus disarmed the powers and authorities, and “he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in the cross.”  (Colossians 2:15).

What is our role in this warfare?

Jesus won the battle over Satan but he didn’t take complete possession of the world at that moment; he didn’t bring his kingdom completely into this world.  Sin cannot enter into his kingdom and he wanted to give the world, the nations other than Israel the opportunity to receive him.  So, instead, he gave us his authority in this world and told us to go and make disciples.

He did not leave us powerless.  “His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, according to his eternal purpose which he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  (Ephesians 3:10, 11).  He gave us that great power, the same power that raised Christ from the dead dwells in those who believe.  (Eph. 1:17-23).  Remember from our lesson on the church that the word “church” means called out ones to war. (See our lesson the church).  And what did he say about the church?  He said the gates of hell would not prevail against it.

Those are words of power against Satan and his demons, against every ruler of darkness, every authority that exerts itself against God.

How do we fight?

Jesus left us with his authority, he left us with his name and it is with his name, in his stead that we exert the authority of Christ over the darkness.  “At the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.”  (Philippians 2:10, 11).  In the preceding verse Paul wrote that God gave him the name that is above every name.  So, the name of Jesus is above all other names, above every name and everything that tries to exalt itself above the name of Christ.

Therefore, we fight as Christ fought.  We use the word of God for that is the word of power.  We quote the word of God over circumstances that try and rise against us, over sickness, over temptation and we tell the enemy to flee, just as Jesus did, and we do it all in the name of Jesus.

It is our warfare.  It is our calling, it is our fight that we will win “because greater is he that is in you than the one who is the world.” (1 John 4:4).  “What, then, shall we say in response to this?  If God is for us, who can be against us?  He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?”  (Romans 8:31, 32).

“In all these things we are more than conquerors through him who love us.  For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 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.”  (Romans 8:37-39).

What are we fighting?

As Paul said we fight against everything that sets itself up against the knowledge of God. We fight against sickness, we fight against poverty.  We fight against temptation in our own lives and we fight against the darkness that tries to control others.  In other words, when we are tempted by sin or by our old lives, we fight through prayer for God’s help and then we quote the word of God to ourselves and to the temptation and we do it in the name of Jesus-the name that is above all other names.

When sickness invades our bodies and our families, we pray asking for God’s healing and then we quote the Bible that says that by the stripes of Jesus we were healed and we stand firm in faith and in the name that is above sickness.

When darkness and unbelief (such as in drug addiction or pride) surround those we love, we pray and ask for God to open their eyes, then we use the sword, the Bible, just as Jesus did and we tell the darkness to flee, reminding the darkness that the light has overcome it.  And we do this in the name of Jesus.

And then we speak the truth that God is greater in us than the darkness, unbelief, sickness, poverty and temptation that is in this world.  In Jesus name!

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