Spiritual Warfare is part and parcel of the normal Christian life, so it is important we understand how it works, if we are to grow into mature, victorious Christians.
Many times we are commanded in Ephesians 6 to take our stand.
"take your stand against the devil's schemes."
“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.”
But what does it mean to “stand against the devil’s schemes’, or ‘stand our ground’ or “to stand’?
Proverbs sheds some light on this issue, in chapter 25.
“Like a muddied spring or a polluted well are the righteous who give way to the wicked.”
The dictionary says to ‘stand one’s ground’ means to resolutely maintain one’s position, typically in the face of opposition and intimidation.
As Christians we stake our claim of ground on the Word of God. If the Word of God says something is good, then we say it is good. If it says it is evil, then we say it’s evil.
Who is the Christian's enemy?
Let's not be confused here. The enemy is not flesh and blood, It’s not actual people, it's demons or evil/ injurous spirits.
"For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places." (Eph 6:12)
What are the Devil's schemes?
Demons have strongholds. Strongholds are arguments and presumptions that oppose the Word of God and knowledge of God. Christian's have the power and authority to destroy them. This was given to us by Jesus Christ.
"For though we live in this world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons 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 presumption that sets itself up against the knowledge of God and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ." 2 Cor 10:3-5
For example, evolution is a stronghold or argument that is not supported by the Word of God. There are many, many more.
Let me give you a few in detail that I have personally come up against. The Bible often depicts Satan and demons metaphorically as animals and His people as sheep. I can only assume that this is to increase our understanding when we come up against them.
The Spirit of Leviathan:- Also known as the ‘Beast of the Sea’, 'Sea Monster' or 'Dragon’, this spirit is roused when we curse the day we were born (Job 3:8) It’s the ‘I wish I’d never been born, my life is so awful... how dare God have created me... my life is no longer worth living because I have lost (fill in the blank)....” mindset. Found in the deepest of the deep, this is the deepest of wounds and the highest of pride. In Job 41, we read
“Nothing on earth is his equal - a creature without fear. He looks down on all that are haughty; he is king of all that are proud.”
Job 41 says that even the mightiest of men are terrified by this spirit and any hope of subduing him is false hope...though many have tried various weapons.
BUT the LORD is greater than the spirit of Leviathan.
In Psalm 74 we are told that God crushes the head of Leviathan and feeds it to his tribes in the wilderness.
In Psalm 104:26 we are told the LORD created Leviathan. He is simply a creature not the Creator.
In Isaiah 27 we are told,
“In that day the LORD will punish with his sword, his fierce, great and powerful sword, Leviathan the gliding serpent, Leviathan the twisting serpent he will slay the monster of the sea.”
Our life is worth living because the true purpose of our life is to worship God and serve him forever. God chose to create us. God chose a purpose for each and every one of us. As Habbakuk 3 says, though absolutely everything goes wrong in my life ....
“Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will be joyful in God my savior. The Sovereign LORD is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to go on the heights.”
The Spirit of the Bear/Lion:- In the Bible, wicked rulers who oppress the poor and helpless and defy the armies of the living God, are likened to roaring lions and charging bears. They ferociously attempt to attack the sheep, God’s people.
“Like a roaring lion and a charging bear, Is a wicked ruler over a poor people.” Prov 28:15
A perfect example of this is seen in the well known account of David the young shepherd boy defeating the giant Goliath. David says,
“But David said to Saul, “Your servant has been keeping his father’s sheep. When a lion or a bear came and carried off a sheep from the flock, I went after it, struck it and rescued the sheep from its mouth. When it turned on me, I seized it by its hair, struck it and killed it. Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear; this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, because he has defied the armies of the living God. The Lord who rescued me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will rescue me from the hand of this Philistine.” 1 Sam 17:34-37
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David repeatedly took his stand in the name of Yahweh, and declared his victory. He refused to give way to this wicked man.
‘Then David said to the Philistine, “You come to me with a sword, a spear, and a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have taunted. This day the LORD will deliver you up into my hands, and I will strike you down and remove your head from you. And I will give the dead bodies of the army of the Philistines this day to the birds of the sky and the wild beasts of the earth, that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel, and that all this assembly may know that the LORD does not deliver by sword or by spear; for the battle is the LORD’S and He will give you into our hands.”
David makes 5 declarations to this spirit.
- I attack you in the name of the LORD of Hosts.
- The LORD will deliver you into my hands.
- All the earth will know that there is a God in Israel.
- The LORD does not deliver by sword or spear.
- The LORD delivers you into our hands.
The Spirit of the Wolf:- The Bible depicts false prophets as a wolf spirit. (Matt 12:33-37, Luke 6:43-45). Jesus tells us to recognize wolves in sheep’s clothing by the fruit that they produce - disobedience. They advertise themselves as ‘christians’ who are able to prophesy, drive out demons and perform miracles yet the reality is that they are workers of lawlessness. They reject God’s law and so He rejects them (Hosea 4:6) The wolf spirit arrogantly denies as holy what Jesus has appointed as holy. At it’s root, this spirit rejects the authority of Scripture and obedience to God’s expressed will, as written in the Holy Bible.
In John 10, we read that the wolf attacks the flock (God’s people) and scatters them.
I should add, that the Scriptures say there is nothing wrong with Christians prophesying, casting out demons and performing miracles in the name of Jesus. Jesus did them all and so did his disciples and others in the early church. That is well documented in the New Testament. The real issue here is that these wolves deny God’s law - His ultimate authority and lordship over what is right and wrong. Hence they promote what is wrong and deny what is right. Ultimately they are fighting for the wrong side and so they have a disobedient spirit and ultimately promote sin itself. (Jude 1-25).
BUT Jesus is greater than the wolf spirit.
His word says...
“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for instruction, for conviction, for correction, and for training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be complete, fully equipped for every good work.” (2 Tim 3:16,17).
“For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it pierces even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow. It is able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight; everything is uncovered and exposed before the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.” (Hebrews 4:12,13).
“Everyone who practices sin practices lawlessness as well. Indeed, sin is lawlessness. But you know that Christ appeared to take away sins, and in Him there is no sin. No one who remains in Him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has seen Him or known Him.” (1 John 3:4-6).
But Jesus is the Good Shepherd, who cares for his sheep.
In John 10 we read,
- God’s people (the sheep), know Jesus’ voice and follow Him.
- Jesus lays down his life for the sheep.
- Jesus owns the sheep.
- Jesus protects the sheep from the wolves, bears, lions and thieves.
- Jesus provides salvation for His sheep.
- Jesus gives His sheep safe pasture and life to the full.
What are the Christian’s weapons?
Truth or the Spirit of Truth: - Jesus said, he is truth. Without truth, we have only lies and the Bible calls Satan, the father of lies. The role of the Holy Spirit is to equip us to discern truth from lies. Without Him, we might find ourselves inadvertently fighting on the opposite side of truth. The Spirit of Truth brings glory to God.
"But when he, the Spirit of Truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you." John 16:13,14
"Stand firm then with the belt of truth bucked around your waist." Eph 6:14
Righteousness:- the Bible speaks of a righteousness that comes from God. This is far higher than moral righteousness or any good deeds we might do in and of ourselves. It's Jesus Christ, God in the flesh’s perfect righteousness imparted to us. We receive God's righteousness by confessing with our mouths that Jesus is Lord and believing in our heart that God raised him from the dead. (Romans 10). God's kingdom and throne is founded on righteousness and justice. (Ps 89:14)
The Gospel :- The gospel brings peace. Peace with God and peace with each other as we all unite with God’s ways and deny ourselves of our own ways and plans.
"Everyone who calls on the name of the LORD will be saved."
"That Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that He was buried, that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures...And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins." 1 Cor 15
Faith:- Faith is believing God exists, that His Word is truth and living out that belief.
"Now faith is being sure of what we hope for, being convinced of what we do not see." Hebrews 11:6
"And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him." Heb 11:6
Salvation:- We are saved by the grace and mercy of God, not by our own goodness. As soon as we start trusting in our own good deeds, we have walked away from God’s truth about his plan for salvation.
"He saved us, not by the righteous deeds we had done, but according to His mercy, through the washing of new birth and renewal by the Holy Spirit. This is the Spirit He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by His grace, we would become heirs with the hope of eternal life." (Titus 3:5-7)
Word of God:- When faced with arguments or presumptions that oppose the Word of God, we stand firm on His word as truth and refute the strongholds by declaring.."The Word of God says this...". Jesus set a wonderful example of this for us, when he was tempted for 40 days in the wilderness. (Matthew 4)
"The sword of the Holy Spirit is the Word of God." Eph 6:17
Prayer:- Prayer is where we communicate to God, give Him honor and praise and make our needs known.
"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 Lord's people." Eph 6:18
"The prayer of a righteous man has great power to prevail." (James 5:16)
All these 7 weapons must be operating habitually, each day, for us to live the victorious Christian life.