(This series of articles on spiritual warfare are chapters from a book that I started writing in 1999, but never published as a book).
In Ephesians 6:10-20, we were told by Paul that our primary battle would not be with flesh and blood, but rather, it would be against principalities, powers, the rulers of the darkness of this world, and spiritual wickedness in high (or heavenly) places. Three times in this passage, we were told to stand against the forces of the enemy. Let’s take a look.
“Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.  Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.  For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.  Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.  Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness;  And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace;  Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.  And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:  Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;  And for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel,  For which I am an ambassador in bonds: that therein I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak” (Ephesians 6:10-20).
Now for years, I have heard ministers try to downplay the role of demons in the lives of Christians by saying that our main struggle is with our flesh nature. They say that demons are of little consequence when believers fall or run back into sin or depression. This is not to say that there is not a serious conflict going on between our old, sinful nature and our new, born-again nature, but these verses in Ephesians let us know that the principal battle is “not against flesh and blood.”
The perfect example of this conflict is what happened in the Garden of Eden. Adam and Eve did not have a sin nature, thus it was the entrance of Satan and his crafty manipulation that convinced Eve disobey God. He toyed with her mind and she yielded to Satan’s evil reasoning. It was not lust or a sin nature that got Eve to sin—it was listening to the Devil. And Paul confirmed this in 2 Corinthians 11:1-3. I believe that the Garden experience would have been very different for Adam and Eve without the temptation of the devil.
Another example of this is the temptation of Jesus. He did not have a sin nature either, yet the temptation was real. Jesus overcame Satan’s mind-games by being prepared through prayer, fasting, and knowing the Scriptures. He also rebuked the devil, thus resisting him. This is why it is so imperative to control our thought life by analyzing (or taking captive) every thought to determine whether it is obedient to Christ.
2 Corinthians 10:3-6, spells these truths out again.
“For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh:  (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;)  Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;  And having in a readiness to revenge all disobedience, when your obedience is fulfilled.”
Though we will look at this subject of controlling our thoughts later in a future article, it is evident that it is the demon’s subtle attacks on our minds that entice us to disobedience. Faulty thought processes planted by demons is how Satan and his servants control and manipulate people in the world. Actually, there are very few who have escaped his mind control and are free in the truth. Only those who fight and resist him on a regular basis ever get to enjoy seasons of their minds being clear of his interference. This does not mean that Christians or non-Christians are always tormented in their minds, but just believing a false doctrine or a lie about someone else is satanic contamination.
The commands to stand against these satanic advances are clear in the Word of God: we are not to be passive or ignorant of the devils devices. This takes study, prayer, fasting, and fighting some battles that we would otherwise like to avoid. We have to take the offensive against Satan’s attacks! Tragically though, the body of Christ has been virtually AWOL from dealing with demonized individuals (saved or unsaved). In addition to that, the subjects of witchcraft and satanic infiltration of churches have been shunned and even ridiculed for years. Satan has done his work effectively.
Genuine love, spiritual discernment and, reverent obedience to our Commander-and-Chief should motivate us to enter the battle in order to help as many people as possible. We are commanded to love our enemies (human enemies), heal the sick and brokenhearted, raise the dead, cast out demons, and preach the gospel to everyone. As for leaders, we are to keep the church as pure as possible. We are to study our orders (the Word of God), receive our battle plans (directions from the Holy Spirit), and then fight with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength. If we do not do this, we will fall into sin and souls will be lost forever.
You may think, “I don’t have to get into all this spiritual warfare stuff too stay out of sin.” But if you recall, King David’s infamous fall into adultery and murder was preceded by his choice not to go to battle when it was time for kings to go to battle. In 2 Samuel 11:1-5, the Bible says,
“And it came to pass, after the year was expired, at the time when kings go forth to battle, that David sent Joab, and his servants with him, and all Israel; and they destroyed the children of Ammon, and besieged Rabbah. But David tarried still at Jerusalem. And it came to pass in an eveningtide, that David arose from off his bed, and walked upon the roof of the king's house: and from the roof he saw a woman washing herself; and the woman was very beautiful to look upon.  And David sent and enquired after the woman. And one said, Is not this Bath-sheba, the daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah the Hittite?  And David sent messengers, and took her; and she came in unto him, and he lay with her; for she was purified from her uncleanness: and she returned unto her house.  And the woman conceived, and sent and told David, and said, I am with child.”
Ecclesiastes chapter three tells us that there is time for every purpose under heaven. Among the long list of things mentioned, the Word of God says that there is “a time of war and a time of peace.” In David’s life and realm of authority, he was supposed to be actively engaged in war. Instead of being an example and inspiration to his men (who were risking their lives for him and their country), David stayed home and committed adultery with one of his mighty men’s wife. Instead of killing the enemy, he ended up killing one of his own warriors.
It is no different today. Many ministers and lay Christians alike, who refuse to enter this spiritual war properly, end up destroying or running off some of their most dedicated prayer warriors. They have to run them off to cover up their sins and their lack of discernment. I have seen this firsthand in numerous churches simply because the leadership would not repent, discern the season they were in, and educate themselves about the tactics of the enemy.
For many of these pastors, like David, it was their insecurity, pride, or fear of being exposed that eventually caused them to turn against their own soldiers. For some, it is the fact that they have lost the anointing and evil spirits are troubling them like King Saul. Saul’s persistent disobedience caused the Spirit of God to leave him and in the process he turned against one of his faithful warriors—David. And all of that happened to Saul because he did not passionately and fully obey the word of the Lord in destroying all the Amalekites in battle (see 1 Samuel 14-18).
The book of Judges also relates this same message. As long as Israel was obeying the Lord to continually fight and drive out the wicked inhabitants of the Promised Land, God blessed them. It also seems apparent that they remained faithful to the Lord while they were actively involved in this warfare. It was only when they disobeyed God by making peace and covenants with the evil people of the land that God rebuked them and turned them over to their enemies.
Judges 2:1-5 says,
“And an angel of the Lord came up from Gilgal to Bochim, and said, I made you to go up out of Egypt, and have brought you unto the land which I sware unto your fathers; and I said, I will never break my covenant with you.  And ye shall make no league with the inhabitants of this land; ye shall throw down their altars: but ye have not obeyed my voice: why have ye done this?  Wherefore I also said, I will not drive them out from before you; but they shall be as thorns in your sides, and their gods shall be a snare unto you.  And it came to pass, when the angel of the Lord spake these words unto all the children of Israel, that the people lifted up their voice, and wept.  And they called the name of that place Bochim: and they sacrificed there unto the Lord."
Notice that the angel of the Lord told them, “…and their gods shall be a snare unto you.” Now, the “gods” of the Canaanites were demons. So, what God was saying to them was this, “If you do not obey Me fully and fight until you have driven every bit of uncleanness (which includes unclean, demon spirits) out of your land, then those demon gods will become a snare unto you.” And the Hebrew word for “snare” in these verses is “moqesh” and it means a noose for catching animals. In other words, they would be back in bondage even though they were God’s covenant children.
Israel’s passivity and compromise led to them becoming like trapped animals and these same problems exist in the church today. The New Testament is full of direct, clear commands about how we should deal with the powers of darkness. The Apostle Paul said by the Spirit,
“Neither give place to the devil” (Ephesians 4:27)The Apostle Peter said,
“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:  Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world” (1 Peter 5:8-9)James said it this way,
“Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (James 4:7).
Now to some of us these commands have been understood and put into practice for years. But many Christians have yet to discover these truths and what they mean. What really baffles me are the Christian leaders, seminary professors, and even entire denominations who know about these Scriptures and still they do not act on the Word of God or teach those who so desperately need them. Some of our most prominent seminaries and Bible colleges sit around and debate whether demons are active in North America (like we are somehow immune to these spirits because we are Americans). How ridiculous? The Word of God is clear! We have been called to actively resist the devil and his forces. We are not to sit in some theological quandary while millions are being deceived, oppressed, possessed, and even killed by these dark powers.
As a matter of fact, demons have a lot more influence in our world than most Christians like to admit. The Bible says that the devil and his demons will have deceived the whole world by the second coming of Christ.
“And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him” (Revelation 12:9)The Bible also says that everyone who is lost in their sins has been blinded by the “..god of this world (the devil)." See 2 Corinthians 4:3-4. Also, the Scriptures tell us that many will fall away from the faith “…giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of devils” (1 Timothy 4:1). That means Christians can be and many already have been deceived and influenced away from Jesus by demon spirits.
In Ezekiel chapters 27-28 and in Daniel chapter 10, we see that demonic princes have a tremendous impact on the world and the people of God as they work through different leaders and kings. An example of this is when Satan manipulated King Herod to kill all the baby boys in Bethlehem that were two years old and younger. He did that in an attempt to kill the Messiah before His time. Just think how this one demon-influenced act affected the lives of those precious parents in Bethlehem who had their babies taken away and killed. This why we were exhorted by the Apostle Paul to pray for kings and all who are in authority (see 1 Timothy 2).
If you go on to read the New Testament, you will see that the devil and his demon spirits were working on and through the Pharisees, the High Priests, Pilate, and even Jesus’ own disciples. Some would say, “Beware of people who talk like there’s a demon behind every tree or bush” but I would say, “Beware of those who take the devil lightly and constantly ignore Biblical teachings on the subject.” I say this because the demons are not hiding behind trees and bushes unless you have put them to flight by exercising your authority in Jesus’ name! Otherwise, they are on your shoulder, in your house, in your church, and definitely in some of your relatives.
Many of you reading this article right now have objects in your home that give demon spirits the legal right to be there and afflict you even if you are a Christian. Just in the New Testament alone, I counted over 270 times that the devil or demon spirits were referred to in one way or another. That is an average of over 10 times a book. Also, Jesus had one close encounter after another with demons through His ministry and yet, there are Christian ministers who have never cast a demon out of anyone. What a shame!
I am just trying to convey the spiritual truth that we have to educate ourselves in all aspects of spiritual warfare and actively engage in resisting Satan and his forces. The great Chinese Apostle, Watchman Nee, put it this way;
“Resistance is one of the indispensable elements in spiritual combat. The best defense is a continuous offense. Oppose with the will as well as the strength of the spirit. Giving opposition means struggling free from the power of suppression. The opponent will be routed if one fights his way out by the spirit. But should one allow the enemy to attack and not resist in return, then that one’s spirit will surely be depressed, sink very low, and may require many days before it regains ascendancy. The spirit that does not withstand the enemy is often a suppressed one.”1He also said,
“Except the Christian shut up his spirit to resist, he may find the evil one usurping his spirit through deceit and counterfeit.”
Oh God, let us learn how to use the authority You have given to us and help us set many captives free in Jesus’ name.