Spiritual Warfare



John Hoole – January 3, 2010





(Click on photos and charts for larger version)



In our last two lessons of the current series on Spiritual Warfare, we looked at Satan and his kingdom of darkness.  We investigated what the Bible says about the hierarchy, or chain of command, within the demonic world.


By reading our Bible, we can clearly see that in both Old and New Testament times, there was a common awareness of the existence of Satan and his demons.  28 books in the Bible make reference to the spirit world – 14 in each the New and Old Testaments.  All of the Gospels have numerous accounts of demonic activity.  Luke, in writing the book of Acts, along with Peter, Paul and John, in their writings, give us warnings and teaching about Satan and his fallen angels.


The Bible does not say that Spiritual Warfare will stop in any age, including ours.  We can then be sure that the devil and demons exist today just as they did when Jesus was here.  Not one of us have been exempt from being influenced by Satan and his demons.

Diagram of the pieces of the armor of God 

When the apostle Paul speaks about the demonic hierarchy in Ephesians 6, and the spiritual armor we are instructed to clothe ourselves in, it is clear that Paul’s view of the life of a believer can be put into one word – STRUGGLE.


Life, he says, is a conflict, a combat, a continual wrestling match.  I cannot speak for the rest of you, but this has been born out and confirmed in my own experiences.  Our days, though not always the same in pressure, nevertheless constitute a struggle.  One of our human problems is that we often think our enemies are other humans.  It could be our boss, our co-worker, our spouse, etc.  But Paul says our real enemies are not made up of “flesh and blood” (Ephesians 6:12).  No!  Our real enemy is invisible to us.


Christians today need to know that the Devil is real, and just as evil as when Jesus walked the Earth.  He is still committed to causing misery and unbelief as he has been since his fall.  And he will become even more desperate as we approach the Second Coming of Christ.


Far too many Christians have ignored the Enemy and some have allowed him free reign in their lives.  There are, however, a number of misconceptions about spiritual warfare.  Let me address a few of them and try to clear them up.


Misconception #1 – Demons that were active in the time of Christ are active today only in pagan cultures.


The devil would love to get us to believe either that he doesn’t really exist, or that he is nowhere near you and your loved ones.  But nothing in the Bible restricts demonic operation to a certain time or culture.  To the contrary, all Scripture speaks of the constant battle that is ours because of our enemy.


We are constantly warned to be alert, “lest Satan should take advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices.” (2 Corinthians 2:11)  One of his devices is to lead people to deny his existence or cause them to believe his demons are not near us.


Misconception #2 – Demons cannot bother believers


There is much debate over the use of the term “demon possession.”  I am trying to decide whether to have a lesson on demon possession or not.  However, let me say that in the New Testament, demonization is never used for a believer.  No Christian can be totally taken over by demons.  It is possible, however, for Christians to be oppressed, harassed, and buffeted by enemy activity. 


If demons were not able to bother believers, then why the instruction in 1 Peter 5:8-9, we reads:


8       Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:

9       Whom resist steadfast in the faith,…


The very first verse in this letter written by the apostle Peter tells us to whom he is writing.


         1 Peter 1:1-2 NKJV


1       Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to the pilgrims of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia,

2       elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace to you and peace be multiplied.


He is writing to believers in our Lord.  And Peter’s instructions, which we read a moment ago, tell us to resist the Devil.  This would not be necessary if Christian are never bothered by Satanic activity.  Satan does try to deceive us, as do all his demons.  While demons cannot cause you to sin – you retain that decision within your power - they can, however, tempt us, buffet us, and try to cause us to stumble.


The Lord’s Prayer in Matthew 6:13 tells us to pray daily, “Deliver us from the evil one.”  Yes, demons can bother believers.  That does not mean we should be fearful of them.


Misconception #3 – Demonic operation incites only extreme behavior, such as violence and gross sin.


It is true, as seen in Mark 5, that total demonization can lead at times to extreme behaviors.  In this case there was a man living among the tombs near Gadara.  There were times when they were able to bind him, but the chains couldn’t hold him.  Mark 5:4 says: “Neither could anyone tame him.”  So, it appears that in some cases the demon, or demons, in a person makes that person exhibit superhuman strength.


But, while it is true that demons can cause extreme and violent behavior in one they inhabit, that is not true in every case – and, in fact, is the exception.  It is when they are subtle that they can be most effective and destructive.


Consider Mark 1:23, 24. In this passage, a man was sitting in a synagogue and at one point, after Jesus had spoken, he cried out in his oppression.  There was no violence there at all.  Normally, demons are shrewd in the way they act in or on a person.  They probably would prefer hiding their presence.


In Luke 13:10-16, a woman called “a daughter of Abraham,” was bound by a “spirit of infirmity.”  “Infirmity” here is the Greek word, ASTHENEIA.  It means “feebleness,” “without strength,” or “morally weak.”  Jesus said to her, “you are loosed.”  The word “loosed” is APOLUO in the Greek, and reflects “to be fully free and set at liberty.”  This woman had been sick and helpless because of demonic oppression for 18 years.  In today’s world, she would be called by some a churchgoing believer.  Jesus set her free on that day of worship.


Misconception #4 – Christians are in personal danger when dealing with demons.


I have heard people say in fear, “I do not want to stir up anything by getting involved in spiritual warfare.”  In the previous story of the woman, Jesus laid hands on her and she was delivered.  How was Jesus able to deliver this woman?


Acts 10:38 (NIV) tells us:


38     …God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him.


Jesus delivered the woman by the power of the Holy Spirit.  That is the same Holy Spirit that now lives inside us (1 Corinthians 6;19).


In John 14:13-14  (NKJV), we read a promise given us by Jesus;

13     And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.

14     If you ask anything in My name, I will do it. 


Believers have the full power of attorney to speak in the name of Jesus Christ.  When we do, demons are under the authority of believers, by the power of the Holy Spirit.  They can only affects us with their evil if we give them a place.  And Ephesians 4:27 instructs us to “not give place to the devil.”


What can Satan and his demons do to me?  They can only do to you and me what God will allow for His glory.  We are not to fear them, though we are to resist them.  He is a defeated foe, and he knows it.


No, Christians are not in personal danger when dealing with demons.  We are instructed to pray for those afflicted by the devil and to cast them out.


Misconception #5 – It is dangerous to touch or be around others who are demonically afflicted.


What kind of surgeon would refuse to operate because of the fear of inflicting pain on his patient?  Conversely what doctor would refuse to treat a disease for fear that he or she might expose themselves.  Rather, the doctor takes proper precautions to protect himself while doing his job.  Likewise, we can suit up – be clothed – with God’s armor, and help others to freedom.


Fear actually invites the attack of the enemy.


2 Timothy 1:7 NKJV


7       For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.


A person who is right with God, and walking in the Holy Spirit, has nothing to fear from the enemy.


As we said in the previous misconception, Jesus gave authority to His disciples to cast out demons in His name.  We have that same authority and the enemy will flee when we command in the Name of Jesus.


Luke 10:19 NKJV


19     Behold, I give you the authority… over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you.


                   When we, as the army of God, march forward, we have the promise of His protection.


2 Thessalonians 3:3 (NIV) adds:


3       But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen and protect you from the evil one.


This says that God’s faithfulness is the basis of our confidence that the Lord will protect us against Satan.  The Greek word translated “protect” in this verse means: “to keep safe,” or “keep watch,” or “preserve.”  If God be for us, who can stand against us? (Romans 8:31)


Misconception #6 – For deliverance, we can just plead the blood of Jesus without understanding and faith.


We will have a lesson in a few weeks about the power of the blood of Christ.  But the precious blood of Jesus is not some good-luck charm.  We honor the blood of Jesus and trust its cleansing protection and delivering power.  The blood pleads itself when applied to the life of a believer.


Revelation 12:11 (NKJV) tells of the blood’s overcoming power against Satan.


11     And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death.


In this case, in addition to the blood of Christ, they overcame by the word of their testimony.  Our testimony is something the devil cannot take away from us.  The blood of Christ speaks of forgiveness, and it cancels the Enemy’s right to attack.  The blood that Jesus shed does not “plead to Satan” for anything.  The blood’s plea is to the Father.  The blood rebukes Satan!  We will talk more on this subject in a future lesson.


Misconception #7 – It is enough just to resist the devil over a period of time.


1 Peter 5:8-9 NKJV


8       Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.

9       Resist him, steadfast in the faith,…


These verses indicate that we are to resist the enemy.  And when we are told to “resist him, steadfast in the faith,…” it seem to indicate that this resistance takes place over a period of time.  The fact of the matter is, we need to do that every day we live.


Resisting the devil is necessary and important, and we are commanded to do just that.  But resisting Satan is a defensive stance.  There is also an offensive side to spiritual warfare.  In 2 Corinthians 10:4, the apostle Paul says the weapons of our warfare are for pulling down the enemy’s strongholds.


The offensive side is where we don’t just keep the enemy from taking our territory, but, in the strength of God, we invade and take territory away from the enemy.  In Matthew 12:43, demons are shown seeking “places” to go.  By the way, the Greek word used there is the same as found in Ephesians 4:27, which says, “nor give place to the devil.”


Jack Hayford has written a book with the title, Prayer is Invading the Impossible.  That indicates our part in taking the offensive to the devil.  It is wrestling the grip of Satan from our loved ones and children who are not following Christ.


Jesus said of the church, in Matthew 16:18, that “the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.”  The church is to attack the very gates of hell’s stronghold.  In John 12:31, Jesus spoke of the Cross as the place where the enemy would be “cast out.”


As it is in physical combat between nations today, it is true also of our spiritual battle: --- The army that wins is the one that advances forward.  That is probably an oversimplification, but at least it is true that we will never win a war by retreating or even just holding our ground.


How many Christians have the attitude of, “I wonder where the Devil is going to strike next?”  I suggest to you that the boot should be on the other foot – on yours and mine.  The Devil should be wondering where the church is going to strike his kingdom next.


The apostle Paul took the offensive to the enemy when he stood before King Agrippa.  He stated his mission: “to open their [gentiles] eyes, in order to turn them from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance. (Acts 26:18)


Yes, we are to resist the enemy – and that throughout our life.  But we should also be on the offensive throughout our life.


Misconception #8 – Freedom from multiple attacks of the enemy is instantaneous.


Sometimes it takes intensive warfare to get rid of all the invaders in your life.  Years after his entry into the ministry, Timothy battled a stronghold of fear (See 2 Timothy 1:7).  God will do a complete work if we let Him.


Spiritual warfare is no quick fix.  It is a WAR, not a minor skirmish.  The ministry of spiritual warfare must be married to the commitment not to ever give in.  It requires a daily crucifying of our fleshly inclinations.  It involves the recognition that God is conforming us daily into the image of Christ (Romans 8:29).  Our spiritual warfare much remain focused on Christ.


While it is possible to provide instantaneous freedom from the enemy that wars against us, there are times when it is a battle over a period of time.  For instance, in Matthew 17, the apostles tried unsuccessfully to cast out a demon, and they asked Jesus why this was so.  What did Jesus say?  “This kind goes out only by prayer and fasting.”


Misconception #9 – Freedom in Christ is the end of spiritual warfare.


No – actually it is only the beginning of a life of discipleship.  Ground retaken from the enemy must now be defended.  Satan will still try to steal the seed of the gospel from you.  He still opposes the truth and will do his best to get you to believe a lie and think it is the truth.  The devil continuously whispers in your spiritual ear motivating you to sin.  He will still try to devour your life.  Our enemy never stops twisting the Scriptures.  He will find your area of weakness and fire away at you unmercifully.


2 Corinthians 2:11 NKJV


11     lest Satan should take advantage of us; for we are not ignorant of his devices.


The enemy does not give up subjects or territory easily.  Sin must be purged and a life of contentment continued.  We must wear our armor until that day we exchange it for a robe of white.




The Christian who lives in faith and obedience does not have anything to fear concerning enemy activity.  Demons may harass and attack, but all this can be overcome if one’s focus remains upon God.  The enemy will do his best to distract you from what is really important and get you to major in the minors.


Revelation 12:11 NKJV


11     And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death.