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Faith Bible Church, NY
February 2, 1997
Spiritual Warfare, Part 2
The Nature of the Battle
Last week we began our series in Ephesians 6 on Spiritual Warfare. The major point was that we need to be extremely careful that our understanding of what is true comes from God’s Word, the Bible, and not from other sources. Tragically, what most people believe about spiritual warfare has come from other sources, including well meaning, but erroneous Christian writers. If we are following myth instead of truth in this area then we have already succumbed to the devil’s lies and he will defeat us.
We have already pointed out two of the ways Satan tries to deceive us about the truth. 1) To frighten us so much about spiritual beings and their activities that the fear controls us. 2) To get us to view these things as mythological and make believe, something to amuse us.
We must affirm from the outset that Satan and demons are real entities with real power, but at the same time we must also know that a true Christian does not need to fear them. When Satan is overt, supernatural activities may amaze us, but we need not fear. At the same time, when he uses one of his many subtle methods we must be careful that we are not complacent and fall into his more dangerous traps. I want to address the reality of both his overt and the subtle attacks this morning, but first, let’s make sure we understand who are adversary and his comrades in evil are.
WHO ARE WE FIGHTING – THE CONFLICT BEGINS:
Take a minute and read Ezekiel 28:11-19 This is an important passage for this topic. Most all conservative scholars agree that this passage is referring to the real power behind the throne of Tyre – Satan. Vs. 12 says that Satan was full of wisdom and perfect in beauty at creation. Vs. 13 – that he was in the garden of Eden adorned by precious stones. Vs. 14 – that he was the “anointed Cherub who covers” and was on the holy mountain of God. Vs. 15 – that Satan was blameless until unrighteousness was found in him. Vs.16 – that he was internally filled with violence, and so was cast from the mountain of God. Vs.17 -that the corruption of Satan’s wisdom was caused by pride over his beauty, and so he was cast down.
Isaiah 14:3-15 is another important passage. If this passage is referring to Satan, then we gain some additional insight into the conflict. Starting in verse 13, Satan boasts of five “I Wills.” 1. I will ascend to heaven; 2. I will raise my throne above the stars of God, and 3. I will sit on the mount of assembly in the recesses of the north. 4. I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; 5. I will make myself like the most High.
Satan is a real spiritual being with real powers. He does not look like a man in a red suit with horns on his head, a long pointed tail, holding a pitchfork. As the “anointed cherub who covers” (Eze 28:14), he was probably of the highest rank of the highest class of angels. His titles include: “prince of this World” (Jn 12:31), the “Prince of the Power of the Air” (Eph 2:2), and “the god of this age” (2 Cor 4:4). All of these tell us that his domain is this world.
Other names given to this wicked creature tell us more about him. Lucifer (Is 14:12) – meaning, “the shining one”. This is a reflection of his original state. “Satan” – (Zec 3:1) from the Hebrew meaning adversary or opposer. He opposes God and God’s people (Zech 3:1-2, Lk 22:31,32). The “Devil” (Rev 12:9) from the Greek diabolos meaning slanderer. The “Old Serpent” (Rev 12:9) referring to Genesis 3 and the role he played in the downfall of man. Rev. 12 refers to him as the “Great Dragon and Great Red Dragon” as he seeks to destroy Christ and devastate God’s people. “Appollyon” in Rev 9:11 signifies him as the destroyer – one who seeks to destroy both spiritual and physical life. Most fitting of his character is 1 Jn 5:18, which refers to him simply as the Evil One. Other names indicate his activity: Tempter (Mt 4:3; 1 Th 3:5), Accuser (Rev 12:10), Deceiver (Rev 20:3), and the Spirit that now works in the Sons of Disobedience (Eph 2:2). Satan is a Murderer (Jn 8:44), a Liar (Jn 8:44), a confirmed and practicing sinner (1 Jn 3:8), and the Opposer of the righteous (1 Pet 5:8).
Satan is also “Beelzebul” – the lord of the flies or the prince of Demons. Demons are also real. I pointed out last week from Rev. 12 that 1/3 of the angels fell and followed Satan. This army of fallen angels do his bidding, and as we noted from Eph 6:12 last week, they are organized into different classifications and ranks: Rulers, Powers, World forces of this darkness, and Spiritual forces of wickedness.
Satan and his forces are powerful. Recall Job 1. Satan caused the Sabeans to attack, take all of Job’s oxen and donkeys and kill the servants (vs 14,15). Satan caused fire to come from the sky and burn up the sheep and the servants (vs 16). Satan caused the Chaldeans to attack and steal the camels and kill the servants (vs 17). And Satan caused a great wind to come and destroy Job’s sons and daughters by collapsing the house they were in. In Job 2 Satan smote Job with “sore boils from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head” (vs 7). These are all personal attacks.
Satan is also powerful on a world scale. Rev. 20:3 indicates that he “deceived the nations.” As the god of this world, Satan influences the men and women and controls his host of demons. During the tribulation period, Satan will direct the governments of the world through the Antichrist. And even after the Millennial reign, Satan will lead a last rebellion against God.
THE REASON FOR THE CONFLICT
All this conflict occurs because Satan wants to usurp God and take for himself the praise, honor and glory that belong only to God. This Holy War that began in heaven broadens and includes man in Genesis 3. Man is the triumph of God’s creation. Man is to rule over all the other things created on the earth. Man is to worship God. Satan wants to usurp God.
Satan’s first attack against man comes in Gen. 3. Using the Serpent as his mouthpiece, he tempts Eve to not believe God. Satan succeeds and Eve believes his lies. She eats of the tree and then Adam does the same. Satan came, not as a frightening creature, but as a deceiver and he succeeded in usurping God in the hearts of Adam and Eve.
But God had a plan, and in Genesis 3:15 there is given the first promise of the savior to come. In that promise, we also see that the Holy War will continue. “And I will put enmity Between you and woman, And between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, And you shall bruise him on the heel.” This is of course referring to Christ’s triumph over Satan and Satan’s battle against him.
The battle is fought again in Genesis 4. Cain, who according to 1 John 3:12 was of the evil one, kills Abel. An attempt to end the hope of a redeemer by murder of the righteous. But God gives another son. From this point the battle only spreads. More murder takes place. By Genesis 6 we find that Satan had corrupted the hearts of men so much that “every intent of the thoughts of their hearts was only evil continually.” Yet God preserved a remnant in Noah and his family. All the rest of the world was destroyed. Yet upon the landing of the boat, sin takes over again. This battle is fought over and over again by every generation. Satan seeking to usurp the place of God in the hearts of men. The battle against the promised redeemer continues as well. At every opportunity, Satan seeks to thwart the plan of salvation. Revelation 12 tells us that Satan, the Dragon, sought to devour the child (Christ) at the time of His birth. (Is that not what Herod tried to do?). Yet he is unsuccessful. Satan even tries to tempt Jesus to sin directly, yet he fails. Satan renews the effort to eliminate the Redeemer. Throughout the gospel of John there is a reoccurring phrase – “His time had not yet come.” Over and over again, there were attempts to kill Jesus. One attempt was to throw him off the cliff at Nazareth, but His time had not yet come. They sought to stone Him, but His time had not yet come. The sought to seize Him, but His time had not yet come. Finally His time did come and Jesus willingly went to the cross and died. Had Satan finally won the victory? No! Jesus rose from the dead three days later and that sealed Satan’s doom.
But does this mean that Satan is through fighting? NO! Satan failed to prevent the plan of salvation from being carried out, but he is not through trying keep people from coming to Jesus Christ for salvation. He is still trying to claim them for himself. In addition, he is still trying to keep Christians from being useful for God.
If Satan was willing to argue with Michael the Archangel for the body of Moses (Jude 9), do you not think that Satan is still going to be battling against you and me? If Satan’s host tried to prevent the answer to Daniel’s prayer from coming to him (Daniel 10), and in fact did hinder the answer for 21 days, do you not think Satan is still going to try to do the same thing when we pray? Over and over again we see Satan trying to hinder the work of God by any means that he can.
The purpose of Satan’s activity is to keep the unsaved from salvation and the Christian from effectively serving God. That is his plan to usurp God and possibly gain for himself. His plan is a failure because God uses even the wicked for His own purposes and to glorify Himself (Rom. 9:21-23; Prov. 16:4; Ex. 9:16), but that does not mean he is going to give up trying. All that the devil and demons do will be to one of these two purposes and you need to see the conflict in that light. If you are without Jesus Christ as your Lord and savior, then Satan will do whatever he can to keep you in your present state – condemned for your sins and bound for eternal hell. If you are a true Christian, your sins are forgiven and you’re bound for heaven, but Satan will do whatever he can to keep you from being of any use to the kingdom of Christ. How does Satan attack people? Both overtly and subtly.
Satan will use whatever means of attack that he thinks will achieve his purposes. Remember from last week that Eph. 6:11 describes him as a schemer – methodical in his approach. Overt demonic activity in the United States has been relatively rare, but it is becoming increasingly common as many of you are aware from what occurred here this past Wednesday as five men gathered in my office that afternoon to try and help a woman who was suffering from obvious demonic activity. This was unusual for us, but it was common in the ministry of Christ and the Apostles.
How many times did Jesus confront somebody who was demonized? (As a side not let me point out that Scripture does not say demon possession or oppression. It simply says demonized with there being various degrees of demonic influence in the life of an individual). The activity of demons can be displayed in a host of was different ways. In Matt. 12:22 a demon made a man both dumb and blind. In Matt 17:15-18, a demon caused the boy to act like a suicidal lunatic – causing him to fall into fire and water. In Luke 13:11,12, a woman is physically deformed by a “spirit” – she is bent over and could not straighten up. The Gerasene demoniac in Mark 5 was dominated by a host of demons. They enabled him to have super-human strength demonstrated by his ability to break shackles, chains and overcome anyone who tried to subdue him. They caused him to be self destructive and he would cry out and slash himself with stones. His behavior became bizarre and he lived among the tombs. The used him for a mouthpiece and spoke through Him. When those demons were cast out, they caused a herd of swine to go mad and drown themselves in the sea.
The apostles had similar experiences. They are recorded throughout history, they are still going on today even here in Dutchess County, NY. Some of examples I cited are the more extreme cases where people have been so influenced by the demons that they are basically controlled by them, but be aware things do not have to be to that extreme to be overt demonstrations of demonic activity.
What about a lot of the physical and psychological phenomena that is reported? Levitation in which things rise by themselves; Apports in which a solid object moves through another solid object; Telekineses in which an object moves by itself and other things happen which are contrary to physical laws. There are the visions of spiritist, automatic writing, materializations, apparitions and channeling of spirits. All these really do happen because demons are real and they are meant to lead people astray. 2 Thess 2:8-10 even warns the antichrist will come with “all power and signs and false wonders with all the deception of wickedness.”
People often get involved with the occult because they want to tap into the power of these things. Some, like those in the New Age Movement, think they are tapping into some sort of natural power source. They are playing a dangerous game because they are blinded to the true source and the ultimate destiny of those involved in such ouch practices. Others know full well the power source of their practices. In a university class my wife took, an African shaman was brought into to speak. He claimed to be able to do miracles, including physical hearings (though he could not cure the cold of his translator). My wife asked him the source of his power and he said it was demons. This man knew the source of his power. Whether they call the source of the power Satan or not they recognize it as coming from an evil source. Their desire is to tap into that power for their own purposes as this shaman did. Many see Satan as just the opposite of God and equal in power. Others know he is not equal in power but still believe that the Devil will one day usurp God. Still others believe that Satan will rule his own kingdom in Hell for eternity. In every case they have been deceived for the Devil is a created being that has rebelled against God and will spend eternity in hell where he will be a prisoner – not its ruler.
How do people get pulled into the occult and things that open themselves up demonization? Here are some of the many avenues: Heavy Metal Music, Dungeons & Dragon and similar fantasy games, Ouija & other ouch games. Use (even if ignorant) of ouch materials/practices like Tarot cards, seances, fortune telling and astrology. Ouch books. Drugs. Hypnosis and other techniques for going into trances. *Anything in the New Age Movement. Media programs dealing with New Age, Occult, Demons, etc.
Stay away from those things as well as those who claim to do miracles but whose lives are not marked by the righteousness of Christ. Jesus Himself warned that there would be those who would come doing all sorts of things in His name – prophesying, miracles and casting out demons – yet their lives were marked by lawlessness. They had received their power from Satan and were bound for hell.
The Christian is not to fear Satan’s overt activities. Most of the time our encounter with such will be confrontation against them, but even when they are specifically attacking you, these things are strictly within the limits that God sets. We may not want to go through something like Job did – but Satan was not able to do anything to Job beyond the restrictions God had set (1:12 – “Do not put forth your hand on him” 2:6 – “he is in your power, only spare his life”). God is still in control. God can use overt demonic activity to bring a sinner to repentance as in 1 Cor. 5:5 (cf. 2 Cor. 7) or a righteous saint into even greater holiness as in Job.
In addition, perfect love casts out all fear (1 John 4:18) and God loves us perfectly (Rom 5:8, Rom 8:38,39 etc.). And finally, our Lord tells us in Matt 10:28 not to “fear those who kill the body, but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both body and soul in hell.” Satan cannot do that – only God can, because Satan himself will be cast into hell (Rev. 20:10). The true Christian who is walking with the Lord need not fear the demonic. “Greater is He who is in you (Christ) than he who is in the world (Satan)” 1 John 4:4. Jesus is faithful and He will strengthen and protect you (2 Thess 3:3).
That is a brief description of some of Satan’s overt activities. But the more dangerous aspect of Satan’s war against us is his subtle schemes.
The greatest scheme by which Satan blinds people to the truth is to exchange the true God for a false god or gods. Very few people are involved in open worship of Satan, but add up how many are in false religions such as Hinduism, Islam, and the various forms of animism and paganism. They end up worshiping the Devil and demons, but they think them to be gods. Add in the cults – Mormons, Jehovah Witnesses, Christian Science, Scientology, etc., which exchange the true God for something somewhat resembling Him, but still false. They have “exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image,” and “exchanged the truth of God for a lie” (Rom. 23, 25).
Another of Satan’s schemes is to either deny the existence of God (atheism) or claim that you cannot know if He exists (agnosticism). Other religions such as Buddhism, Confucianism and modern Secular Humanism are based on atheism or agnosticism. This strategy is increasingly effective in the western world largely due to the increase of religious science, those who see “science” as the savior of mankind. Evolution is a major tenant and the purpose of evolution is to explain the existence of everything apart from God. Evolution is a religious dogma, not science. That’s why evolutionists get so uptight and emotional when their hypothesis is challenged (By proper science definition evolution is not and cannot be a theory, but only a model or hypothesis). Romans 1:18 & 2 Peter 3:4 talk about these foolish people who deny the creations declaration of God.
More destructive in our land than the outright denial of God is Satan’s scheme to separate intellectual assent from any consequences. This allows people to say God exists and they believe in Jesus without any consequence to their lives. Most people in America claiming to be Christians live as if there is no God. They are, in fact, practical atheists. They have been tragically fooled and will be shocked when Jesus tells them to depart from Him, because He never knew them.
These schemes are used to keep people from salvation from sin through Jesus Christ. The next ones are used for both that purpose and to keep Christians from serving God.
Satan’s tactic of procrastination. The idea that there is always time. For the non-Christian it means they keep putting off dealing with Jesus Christ, but today is the day of salvation (2 Cor 6:2) for they may not live another day (Lk. 12:20). For the Christian, they keep putting off dealing with sin that hinders them from living the Christian life as they should. The precious time God has allotted us to serve Him here on the Earth is squandered away.
A broad category of Satan’s strategies are all the means and methods designed to cause people to doubt the truthfulness of the Gospel message and the Word of God. This includes philosophy; supposed “science” – both biological and social; skepticism and “higher criticism” by supposed Biblical scholars. Non-Christians are left still searching on their own relying on their darkened mind. When presented with the truth, they turn away in doubt. Christians can be seriously hindered becoming weak in faith, timid in evangelism, faltering in service, lacking in holiness, easy subjects for exploitation by false teachers.
Another broad category of Satan’s schemes are all those things that hinder the Christian from understanding and applying the Scriptures in daily life. This includes temptations that come against us that entice our flesh, our pride or our pleasure; comparing ourselves to other people instead of Christ; viewing God as something other than what He declares Himself to be; not taking sin seriously; etc.
There is a Holy War going on with supernatural creatures. The Christian need not fear any of Satan’s schemes whether they are overt of subtle, but safety comes only in Christ. You must be “strong in the Lord and the Power of His might” (Eph 6:10) and put on the full armor of God if your are to be victorious in spiritual warfare. As you submit to God and resist the Devil, he will flee from you (James 4:7). Over the next several messages I will be explaining each piece of armor God has given to us and how they protect us in our spiritual warfare. My intent is to be as practical and specific as possible. This has only been a general introduction.
I am sure that there are those here today who has fallen victim to one or more of these strategies of the Devil. For those apart from Jesus Christ, today is the day of salvation. You need to repent of your sins and come to Jesus Christ. Others of you know Christ, but you are not living the way you know you should.
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