Spiritual Warfare and the Armor of God

Stream Audio:

  • /
Update Required
To play the media you will need to either update your browser to a recent version or update your Flash plugin.

Download MP3

Right-click the link above and choose “Save Link As” or “Download Linked File” to save to your computer.

Notes:

In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak. Ephesians 6:16-20

After commanding believers to take up the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, Paul continues with the attitude that must be maintained: an attitude of prayer and keeping alert. Paul says, “praying at all times…keep alert.” These are not the means by which we pick up the helmet and sword but rather the manner in which we pick them up. If we were to dig a ditch, the means would be a shovel; the manner would be to dig quickly or with great joy.

We are in a war and we fight the enemy with our spiritual armor (the means). Prayer is the manner in which we take up the helmet and sword, demonstrating our dependence on Jesus for power, wisdom, and guidance. This is an exhortation to pray at all times and keep alert, but in this context, the exhortations refer specifically to taking up the helmet and the sword. The passage could be read another way:

“Keep praying and stay alert when taking up your helmet and your sword because an attack is imminent; the schemes are many and the enemy is cunning. God’s power and wisdom is needed. Keep praying, pray for all of us.”

What is the role of prayer in the battle?

In a recent movie, a woman sits in a hotel room, talking to her husband and son on FaceTime. She wants to be home with them, but ends the call to go to an appointment. She picks up her coat, grabs her purse, and walks out the door. As the door closes behind her, the camera focuses on the credenza next to the door. On the credenza were flowers, miscellaneous items, and her phone – she left her phone behind.

The phone represents communication and a connection with help and support. Today when we leave the house without our phones, we feel vulnerable. We have become dependent on our phones for everything from directions and information, to communication and distraction. Prayer should be like our phones: we should feel vulnerable without prayer and never think of going anywhere without it.

Prayer is our spiritual means of communication with the One we need to be in touch with for guidance, wisdom, and power. Prayer is necessary for survival in the battle we find ourselves. Many of us do not look at prayer for spiritual survival, but for temporal gain and comfort. We often use prayer as a heavenly eBay, designed to get things we want. We bid on things with our spiritual capital rather than engaging in the battle for souls. Prayer is really a battle for souls, our soul and the souls of others.

We’ve redefined God’s definition of a blessing to what we want as a blessing. Ephesians 1-3 is filled with many of God’s blessings, but there is no mention of the perfect wife or husband, a new car, or an A on an important test. Jesus is the blessing and He is what our hearts yearn for. Jesus is the truth we put on, He is our righteousness, He is our peace, He gives us faith and He is the object of our faith to extinguish the fiery darts. He is our salvation and the sword of the Spirit. He is our blessing and that is to be our mindset as we pray:

You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. James 4:3

Pastor and author John Piper describes prayer as a wartime walkie-talkie:

God has given us prayer not as an intercom for increased convenience in our secluded cottages, but as a walkie-talkie connecting the general’s headquarters with the transportation line and the field hospital and the front line artillery. Prayer is not a bell to call the servants to satisfy some desire we happen to feel, it is a battlefield transmitter for staying in touch with the general. • John Piper

Prayer is vital, like air to the lungs or water to a goldfish. Some of us are dried up spiritually and stuck on the floor, like a goldfish out of water. We have been living without prayer as an integral part of our life. Why don’t we pray? Here are three reasons:

1. Incorrect view of ourselves – we overestimate ourselves
2. Incorrect view of God – we underestimate God
3. Incorrect view of prayer – we don’t estimate (place value on) prayer at all

We have an incorrect view of ourselves.
We feel like it’s the first inning of a baseball game and we’ve got it covered, there’s no need for a relief pitcher or pinch hitter. It’s only when we’re in the bottom of the eighth inning and completely buried that we call out to God. We overestimate our own abilities, not realizing that we only have one shot at life and our opponent plays for keeps. It is appointed for every man to die before judgment (Hebrews 9:27), though we do not know the day or the hour.

In the early days of World War II, Winston Churchill said to Britain: “I must drop one word of caution; for, next to cowardice and treachery, overconfidence, leading to neglect or slothfulness, is the worst of martial crimes.” We are in a war and cannot afford to be overconfident in ourselves, which will only lead to our ruin.

We have an incorrect view of God.
We underestimate His power, His authority, His willingness to get involved, His call on our life, His role in the world, His abhorrence for evil and rebellion, His holiness, His grace, His mercy, and His great love for us. When we neglect prayer, we communicate that we have an incorrect view of God, ourselves, and prayer.

We have an incorrect view of prayer.
James 4 tells us we have not because we ask not, and we ask but do not receive because we ask with incorrect motives. 1 John 5 tells us that if we pray according to God’s will, He hears us and if He hears us, we will receive what we asked for. What are we asking for and why?

If we are in the midst of a battle, we are on mission. If we radio to command for additional supplies but instead ask for portable jacuzzis so we can relax and ear plugs so that the warning sirens don’t disturb our sleep, the answer will be no – none of those things will help us accomplish our mission or help us in battle. God is not going to send us comfort, which would be detrimental to the fight – He loves us too much to let us be comfortable. We are not in this world to be comfortable, we must remember that we are in a battle!

We go to God for His will to be done (Luke 11:1). What is God’s will? His will is for people to be saved, not wanting any to perish but all to come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9). His will is that we be conformed to His image (Romans 8:28-29), abstain from sexual immorality (1 Thess. 4:3), give thanks in all circumstances (1 Thess. 5:18), and do the will of God (1 Peter 2:15). God’s will keeps us steadfast in the battle and requires prayer.

With a correct view of God and man, we see that: God is all-sufficient and man is not; God does not exist for man but man exists for God, and prayer is the lifeline God gives us for the battle.

Why are we in this battle? Why did God give us the mission? Prayer is for mission but mission exists so we will pray! God has chosen to use us for our good and His glory. We, the church, are to demonstrate the manifold wisdom of God:

so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. This was according to the eternal purpose that he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through our faith in him. So I ask you not to lose heart over what I am suffering for you, which is your glory. For this reason I bow my knees before the Father… so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith— Ephesians 3:10-14, 17

God calls us to make His wisdom known by living out Christ in our lives. Victory in the battlefield is an overflow of Jesus in our lives. The battle drives us to prayer and prayer gives us the victory in battle. When we’re in a crisis, we pray. If we don’t pray, we’ve lost sight of the battle. There is a cost in every battle and sacrifice involved. The battle is not about convenience and it require us to put on spiritual armor.

In this passage, Paul tells us that we are in a war. This war is not against other people, but against principalities and powers unseen – it is a spiritual battle. We cannot fight this battle with conventional means; we must use spiritual armor, the armor God provides that we find in Jesus. The armor is the means with which we fight and the manner in which we wear the armor is by prayer. This is not prayer some of the time for some of the saints, but prayer all the time, in all ways, for all of the saints.

We are to pray at all times because the battle rages at all times. Praying at all times means having an awareness of our need for God. When Nehemiah was before the King, he recognized his need for God and prayed:

I said to the king, “Let the king live forever! Why should not my face be sad, when the city, the place of my fathers’ graves, lies in ruins, and its gates have been destroyed by fire?” Then the king said to me, “What are you requesting?” So I prayed to the God of heaven. Nehemiah 2:3-4

Peter jumped out of the boat to walk on the water to Jesus. When he began to sink, he cried out:

But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.” Matthew 14:30

Devotion to prayer affects everything in our life:

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. Philippians 4:6

pray without ceasing, 1 Thessalonians 5:17

The battle is not against flesh and blood but is a spiritual battle that cannot be fought with conventional, carnal means. Ephesians 5 tells us to be filled with the Spirit continually. To be pray at all times, we need to be walk in the Spirit if we expect victory. Being filled with the Spirit is submission to the Spirit, letting Him rule and reign in our lives. We are to pray in the Spirit:

For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” Romans 8:15

Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. Romans 8:26-27

The Spirit gives us power to wield the weapon, the Word.

We are to pray in all ways. We pray prayers of praise and thanksgiving, prayers of petition, quiet prayers on our knees, corporate prayers, and quiet prayers. We pray long prayers of desperation and short prayers for help or praise; prayers for salvation of those unsaved, prayers for brothers and sisters suffering around the world, prayers for those we know and prayers for those we may never meet until we are in heaven. We pray prayers for our leaders, pastors, and families; prayers of confession and repentance, and prayers of the psalmist. Pray in all ways!

We are to pray with all perseverance, keeping alert:

The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers. 1 Peter 4:7

Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 1 Peter 5:8

Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving. Colossians 4:2

In the battle of intercessory prayer, the devil will try to attack us and pull us away from prayer. Persistence is key because prayer is not about the magic of repetition; prayer is relational. Prayer is about being faithful, determined, and dependent in going to God. We persevere because Jesus persevered when He endured the cross for us (Hebrews 12:1-3). We have a hope and our hope does not disappoint. We don’t blindly persevere but run with endurance, continually reminding ourselves of our need for HIm because our hearts are prone to wander.

We are to pray for all the saints. All believers are engaged in the battle. There has been a focus on unity in Ephesians and this continues with the exhortation to pray. Paul mentions “all the saints” (Ephesians 1:15-16; Ephesians 3:14, 18). Now we see that all the saints involved in the struggle against evil make up a larger army that collectively battles against the enemy (Ephesians 6:18). We need each other.

So we pray at all times, in all ways, with all perseverance, for all the saints.

Read More →

Stream Audio:

  • /
Update Required
To play the media you will need to either update your browser to a recent version or update your Flash plugin.

Download MP3

Right-click the link above and choose “Save Link As” or “Download Linked File” to save to your computer.

Notes:

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, Ephesians 6:10-17

We are in a battle. Although we have victory in Jesus, the battle is very real, our enemy is real, and will not stop the attack until he is finally laid to rest. The battle is for our souls and those around us and no one is excluded. There is a battle and the enemy is taking shots at us, so we must respond by putting on the armor of God. Paul prepares us for battle by describing the different pieces of spiritual armor. The spiritual armor was specifically designed to fight against the various schemes of the enemy. The belt of truth combats the lies and deception of the enemy, the breastplate of righteousness combats accusation and temptation, and the shoes of the Gospel of peace combat Satan’s destruction.

The idea of multiple schemes is reinforced in this passage with the reference to “flaming darts.” Darts can refer to any number of flying pointed objects. One commentator described it this way: “the term for dart or arrow is a broad term used for any pointed missile-like weapon, especially an arrow or a dart, but it can also refer to other weapons such as a sword, a spear or javelin.”1 There are many attacks of the enemy. Depending on circumstances and weaknesses, different methods were used in battle. When soldiers used large shields, long spears were used in attack. Long spears had the force to stick in the shield (made of wood and other materials) and weigh it down, making it difficult for soldiers to hold their shields. When the soldiers dropped the shields, they became vulnerable for a second wave of attack. Strategy is used in both warfare and spiritual warfare.

When Jesus was tempted in the wilderness (Matthew 4), He was attacked when He was hungry, tired, and isolated. At that point, Jesus had been fasting for forty days and was hungry. He was facing three years of rejection and hard work which would all end in crucifixion. The enemy said, “You don’t have to go through this, just jump and prove that you are the Son of God.” Satan tried to twist scripture and make it more palatable to Jesus. He finally offered Jesus the world as a kingdom, but Jesus knew His mission and the scriptures. Jesus did not come to rule over a broken world in need of a savior. He came to be the savior; to reconcile, to heal, to seek, and to save the lost. He responded to these temptations with scripture, the belt of truth. Jesus was hungry, tired, and isolated but the Word of God was His foundation. Jesus was at His weakest – when are we at our weakest? When we are craving some form of comfort. To be alert, we must know our weaknesses and the enemy’s schemes. Knowing scripture and putting on the belt of truth is the best defense.

Shield of Faith

In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; Ephesians 6:16

We are to take up the shield of faith in all circumstances. This is an everywhere, every time piece of armor. The shield is actually our faith; our faith in Jesus is the shield. Our shield is believing what God has said, but to believe, we have to know Him. We can’t trust a God we don’t know. What is faith?

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. Hebrews 11:1

Assurance is the state of being sure or certain about something; conviction is a firmly held belief. So faith is a belief in things that cannot be seen, things that we are expecting in and believing in that we cannot touch, smell, or see. We are to look at all of our circumstances this way, taking up the shield of faith. What kind of circumstances require faith? Hebrews tells us:

By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible. By faith Abel offered to God a more acceptable sacrifice than Cain, through which he was commended as righteous, God commending him by accepting his gifts. And through his faith, though he died, he still speaks. By faith Enoch was taken up so that he should not see death, and he was not found, because God had taken him. Now before he was taken he was commended as having pleased God. Hebrews 11:3-5

By faith Noah, being warned by God concerning events as yet unseen, in reverent fear constructed an ark for the saving of his household. By this he condemned the world and became an heir of the righteousness that comes by faith. By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. Hebrews 11:7-8

By faith Sarah herself received power to conceive, even when she was past the age, since she considered him faithful who had promised. Hebrews 11:11

By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac… Hebrews 11:17

By faith Moses, when he was born, was hidden for three months by his parents, because they saw that the child was beautiful, and they were not afraid of the king’s edict. Hebrews 11:23

By faith he left Egypt, not being afraid of the anger of the king, for he endured as seeing him who is invisible. By faith he kept the Passover and sprinkled the blood, so that the Destroyer of the firstborn might not touch them. By faith the people crossed the Red Sea as on dry land, but the Egyptians, when they attempted to do the same, were drowned. By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they had been encircled for seven days. By faith Rahab the prostitute did not perish with those who were disobedient, because she had given a friendly welcome to the spies. Hebrews 11:27-31

And what more shall I say? For time would fail me to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets—who through faith conquered kingdoms, enforced justice, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, were made strong out of weakness, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight. Women received back their dead by resurrection. Some were tortured, refusing to accept release, so that they might rise again to a better life. Others suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were killed with the sword. They went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted, mistreated—of whom the world was not worthy—wandering about in deserts and mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth. Hebrews 11:32-38

All circumstances require faith! We are not to be driven by feelings, comfort, or even logic, but by knowledgeable faith in God. Faith is not about being comfortable. Faith is about getting through tough circumstances, knowing that God has us. The men and women mentioned in Hebrews were not dissuaded by their circumstances. When we are in a difficult situation and need to bolster our faith, we remember:

  • God is sovereign – He has all authority (Job 12:23, Psalm 22:28, Daniel 4:34-38)
  • God is omniscient – He is all-knowing (1 John 3:20, Isaiah 46:9, Psalm 139)
  • God is all-powerful – He has all power and does not lack strength for anything (Psalm 24:8, Ephesians 3:20, Matthew 19:26)
  • God is good – All that God does is good (Psalm 34:8, 84:11, 100:5)
  • God loves us – His love is unconditional and personal (John 3:16, Ephesians 3:17-19, Romans 5:8)

Our circumstances may not feel good, we may not understand them, and the enemy may even intend to crush us with them. However, God knows our circumstances and has the power, authority, and knowledge to do whatever is necessary for our good and His glory. He knows whatever we’re going through and has authority over it. We may be tempted to ask, “Why isn’t God changing my circumstance?” We don’t understand but we rest in His goodness and love, knowing that we aren’t alone and others have gone before us (Hebrews 11). To rest in Him is faith; it’s putting on the shield of faith.

What is the opposite of faith? Fear, discouragement, and doubt. Faith extinguishes these feelings. When fear, discouragement, and doubt creep into our lives, we need to evaluate what we are placing our faith in. Faith alone does not save us; the object of our faith saves us. Our faith is immoveable because it’s in an unchanging God. When our eyes are fixed on Jesus Christ, circumstances don’t change our faith.

Helmet of Salvation

“and take the helmet of salvation,” Ephesians 6:17

What is the helmet of salvation? The helmet for the Roman solider was typically made of bronze and would cover the entire head. Because of the weight and heat, helmets may have been put on just as soldiers went into battle but were necessary to give the soldiers assurance and protection against the broad sword. The broad sword was a large, two-edged sword used by the calvary who went for the heads of their opponents as they rode through. This reference to the helmet of salvation was taken from Isaiah 59, where Christ Himself is said to put on the breastplate of righteousness and the helmet of salvation to save His people and judge their enemies. The idea is that Jesus gives us the helmet – He bought our salvation and gave it to us in an act of grace. Salvation is the helmet, or the helmet is salvation itself.

There are three parts to salvation:
1. Justification – The moment we believe on the Lord Jesus Christ; Jesus paid our penalty and justification is a legal declaration. All past sins are forgiven and there is no more condemnation (Romans 8:1).
2. Sanctification – We have been set free to live out who we are in Jesus Christ; we are no longer slaves to sin but slaves to righteousness (Romans 6:18-22); we change from one degree of glory to the next (2 Corinthians 3:18; Romans 8:29).
3. Glorification – When our salvation is complete and we stand in the presence of God, out of the presence of sin forever (1 John 3:2, 1 Thessalonians 5:8).

This is our past, present, and future. When the enemy attacks us with the broad sword of doubt, discouragement, accusations of unworthiness, condemnation, or hopelessness, we know that we have full assurance of salvation from our past, present, and things to come. The helmet of salvation is the assurance that our current struggles with the enemy will not last forever and we have victory in the end!

And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.” John 6:39-40

I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. John 10:28-29

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Romans 5:1

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Romans 8:1

Sword of the Spirit

and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God,

What is the sword of the Spirit? The sword referred to in this passage is the shorter two-edged sword used for offensive, close proximity fighting. The battle is up close and personal; the Spirit gives the sword its power and cutting edge.

For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. Hebrews 4:12

The sword is the Word of God. More specifically, the sword is the Gospel and even more specifically, the Gospel preached or proclaimed. The sword of the Spirit is the only offensive weapon. It is the proclamation of the scripture and the application of the doctrines we know. When we wield the sword, we proclaim the Gospel and truth. The armor started with the belt of truth and finishes with the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God. The belt of truth is the personal understanding of the Word (Romans 12:2, Ephesians 5:26, Philippians 4:8, 2 Timothy 2:15) to battle the deceptions that the enemy throws at us.

The Bible tells us that there is no one righteous; none seek God (Romans 3:11). We will never be good enough but while we were sinners Jesus died for us (Romans 5:8). Jesus not only paid our penalty and took the wrath we deserved, but He gave us His righteousness. Some claim that all paths lead to God, but with the sword of the Spirit, we respond, “Jesus said He is the way, the truth and the life and none comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).

If someone says Jesus is not God, we respond with John 1: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God… And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:1, 14). All things were created by Jesus and for Jesus (Colossians 1:16). In Genesis 1, we’re told that God created the heavens and the earth, and in John 17, Jesus says that He and the father are one. This is what it means to take up the Sword of the Spirit, the Word of God. When confronted with the lie of deception, do we know enough to wield the sword?

God has wiped clean our past sins and He is present and engaged in our lives, not allowing anything to separate us from Him. We have the future hope of glory that one day we will stand in His presence, our salvation complete. When we know the word of God, we have the ability to wield the sword. The armor is Jesus – we have to put on Jesus and walk in Him.
____
1 Ephesians: An Exegetical Commentary, Harold Hoehner, p. 847.

Read More →

Stream Audio:

  • /
Update Required
To play the media you will need to either update your browser to a recent version or update your Flash plugin.

Download MP3

Right-click the link above and choose “Save Link As” or “Download Linked File” to save to your computer.

Notes:

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. Ephesians 6:10-18, HCSB

There are two equal but opposite errors many people make about spiritual warfare. The first is to place too little of an emphasis on the devil and demons. The second is an excessive or unhealthy interest in them. The devil is insightful but he is not all-powerful; it’s important to take a middle ground. In verse 11, Paul writes “Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.” The devil has more than one way to attack believers. You can tell a lot about the tactics and schemes of the enemy that a solider is fighting by looking at his armor. For example:

1. If a solider is carrying a mine detector, what is the tactic of his enemy? Land mines!
2. If a solider is wearing a bullet proof vest, what is the tactic of the enemy? Bullets!

Each of these pieces of armor help us identify a way the enemy attacks us.

I. The Belt of Truth To Combat Satan’s Deception

One of Satan’s schemes is deception (to cause someone to believe something that is not true). The belt of truth shows us that Satan is a deceiver. Jesus called him a liar and the father of lies:

He was a murderer from the beginning and has not stood in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he tells a lie, he speaks from his own nature, because he is a liar and the father of liars. John 8:44, HCSB

In Greek, the word “devil” is “diabolos”, which is where we get our word “diabolical”, which literally means to lie and slander. The devil’s primary language is lying or deception.

Ways Satan Deceives (Distorts Truth)

1. Discrediting truth itself – Satan tries to remove the reality of truth. We live in a post-Christian society. In other words, our country is no longer a Christian nation, regardless of what the statistics show.

One of the ways we can see this is by our society’s definition of truth. Truth is no longer absolute. Today our culture believes that truth is felt, not taught. This is the mantra of our postmodern culture. Truth is whatever you want it to be. If its true in your heart, in your eyes, in your mind, then it is true for you.

In California, the transgender bathroom act means that if a boy feels like a girl, he can use the girls restroom. Boys and girls can disregard what is clearly the true reality of their gender. If a girl really believes she’s a boy, then who are we to tell her otherwise? Who are we to say that we are right and she is wrong?

If truth is relative – in other words, if truth is what we declare it to be – then all of a sudden God’s word is not necessarily truth, unless we want it to be. And that means what we say is truth – and that means we become our own God, which is exactly what the enemy wants us to believe. This way of thinking is all together satanic. Truth itself is incredibly powerful.

Our defense is to put on the belt of truth. The biblical perspective is that truth is absolute and can be defined. The Christian’s response to the lie that there is no absolute truth is to say, “No! Truth is defined, and it’s defined by God himself!”

2. Adding to the truth – Satan tries to add to the person and work of Christ.

a. Christianity AND… (cults)

In C.S. Lewis’ famous The Screwtape Letters a senior demon Screwtape writes to his trainee demon, Wormwood. As he is sharing his vast list of strategies against the saints he shares an attempt: “to keep them in a state of mind he calls ‘Christianity And’” (Screwtape Letters, Letter 25):

In other words, demons promote works-based salvation. One of the great works of the enemy is making people believe they have to earn their way to heaven. Cults are a work of Satan. Any religion that teaches that one is saved by the work of Jesus and something else, is a lie of the enemy.

Mormons claim the name of Christ and Christianity but many of their core doctrines would lead us to believe otherwise. The Mormon religion lists 8 requirements that must be met if a person is to merit forgiveness from personal sins and earn acceptance into heaven (Cowan, Mormon Claims, p. 104-131). These include:

  • Faith in Christ
  • Being baptized
  • Becoming a member of the LDS church
  • Keeping the commandments
  • Doing temple work
  • Accepting Joseph Smith (founder of Mormonism) and his successors as “God’s mouthpiece”

There are over 300,000 Mormon converts in the world every year, and it’s estimated that most of them were Protestant Christians before they made the switch.

Jehovah’s Witnesses believe their salvation is largely due to their works and perfect obedience. One of these works is “field work” or door-to-door preaching, all of their hours being recorded.

b. Christianity OR…

“All roads lead to God” is a popular phrase these days. Though our culture considers this view a mature and sophisticated stance on religion, it is not. “All roads lead to God” is not a sophisticated and mature worldview, it’s a Satanic one. Examples:

  • Islam
  • Buddhism
  • Hindism
  • Universalists.
  • Moralists (“I’m a good person”)

Muslims, Mormons, and Hindus are not our enemy. Satan is the enemy and he deceives!

Our defense is to put on the belt of truth. The belt of truth would tell us that truth is absolute and it’s found in Jesus. Jesus is the truth! (Jn. 14:6) The belt of truth would tell us that we are saved by grace alone through faith alone, not by works (Eph. 2:8-9). The belt of truth would tell us that all roads don’t lead to God – Jesus isn’t a way to God, He’s THE only way, and no one comes to the Father except through Him (Jn. 14:6). We preach Christ and Him crucified! The work of Jesus through His death and resurrection is enough to save. We are saved by Jesus’ works, not our own. We put on the belt of truth to stand against Satan’s deception in this world.

II. The Breastplate of Righteousness To Combat Satan’s Accusation and Temptation

The Bible relates righteousness to the Christian in two different ways. The first is a positional righteousness. One of the glories of the gospel is that we as Christians have been given the very righteous record of Jesus’ life.

For just as through one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so also through the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous. Romans 5:19, HCSB

In other words, “It is impossible for God when He looks at you to not see Jesus” (Mike Erre). Yet our enemy would have us to believe otherwise and he tries to get us to doubt our positional righteousness through accusation. The Bible calls him “…the accuser of the brothers…” (Rev. 12:10).

Thomas Brooks, the 17th century puritan, wrote a book in 1652 called “Precious Remedies Against Satan’s Devices”. It is a helpful resource here:

Ways The Enemy Accuses Us

1. By causing us to look more at our sin than at our Savior.
-Your sin looks huge, your Savior looks small.
-You feel as if your sin is too big for God to deal with.

2. By causing us to obsess over past sins that have done damage that can’t be undone.
-Is there a past sin that you committed that just haunts you? A sin that you cannot seem to shake no matter how hard you try?
-This is the enemy, constantly badgering you, ruthlessly bringing your past sins to remembrance, hoping to keep you in shame and guilt.

3. By making Christians think that the troubles they are going through must be punishments.
-“This wouldn’t be happening to me unless God is mad at me.”
-“I’ve sinned and now he’s punishing me for them.”

4. By making Christians doubt their salvation due to the inner struggles and feelings they have.
-You think, “If I were a Christian, I wouldn’t be having the thoughts and feelings that I have.”
-“Christians aren’t supposed to think and feel the way I do.”

How do we resound to Satan’s accusations? We put on the breastplate of righteousness that says “though are sin abounds, His grace abounds all the more.” Though we were wicked, He was righteous. “For every one look at your sin, take 10 looks at your Savior!” (Richard Baxter)

Martin Luther responded this way to the enemy’s accusations:

Satan, you will not prevail against me when you try to terrify me by setting forth the greatness of my sins…On the contrary, when you say I am a sinner, you give me armor and weapons against yourself…for Christ died for sinners…As often as you object that I am a sinner, so often you remind me of the benefit of Christ my Redeemer, on whose shoulders, and not on mine, lie all my sins. So when you say I am a sinner, you do not terrify me but comfort me immeasurably.

As we sing in “Before the Throne”:
“When Satan tempts me to despair, And tells me of the guilt within,
Upward I look and see Him there Who made an end to all my sin.
Because the sinless Savior died, My sinful soul is counted free;
For God, the Just, is satisfied To look on him and pardon me.”

Satan’s accusations against us are a reminder that all of our sins (past, present, and future) were placed upon Christ. This is what it means to put on the breastplate of righteousness.

The enemy not only attacks our positional righteousness but also our practical righteousness by trying to get us to live unholy, unrighteous lives filled with sin. He does this through temptation. The enemy knows that if he can get the believer to live a sinful lifestyle, he will have a foothold, a place of influence.

Ways The Enemy Tempts Us

1. Presents the Bait and Hides the Hook

Just like a good fishermen hides the hook with his bait, so Satan hides the pain and consequences of sin and He presents only the pleasure of sin. In the garden, Satan gave Adam and Eve an apple in exchange for a paradise (Genesis 3:4-5). Sin is like a chocolate-covered hand grenade: it looks sweet and tastes sweet, but it will eventually destroy you.

2. By showing you the sins of Christian leaders
-“Look, they did it too, it must be okay! Nobody is really that pure.”

3. By over-stressing the mercy of God
-So you say, “Do it! God will forgive you, that’s his job.”

4. By making them bitter over suffering
-So we think, “I’ve suffered so much, I deserve this.” This is why many prominent, powerful men are caught having affairs. They think, “Nobody knows how hard I work and how many sacrifices I make. I deserve this.”

5. By showing Christians how many bad people seem to have great lives
-So we think, “Things seem to be going well for them. They are happy. Playing by the rules obviously doesn’t pay off.”

Our defense is the breastplate of righteousness which says we have access to the very presence and person of Christ, what more do we need? When we put on the breastplate of righteousness, it says not only are we righteous in God’s sight but we’ve also been called to live righteously! We do not give the enemy a foothold and place of influence in our lives by giving into sin but rather we choose Jesus who is sweeter than all the pleasures that sin offers.

We put on the breastplate of righteousness and boldly declare that a righteous life is far more satisfying that a sinful life:

…those who seek the Lord will lack any good thing. Psalm 34:8, 10

But as for me, God’s presence is my good. Psalm 76:28, HCSB

To combat the lie that we lack good in our lives and sin will meet our need, we need to taste and see that the Lord is good. His presence is the sweetest pleasure: “In His presence is fullness of joy” (Psalm 16:11).

III. Put the Shoes of the Gospel of Peace on Your Feet To Combat Satan’s Destruction

We are not only to put on the belt of truth and the breastplate of righteousness, but also to put on shoes with readiness for the gospel of peace. In one translation, verse 15 reads: “Sandal your feet ready to go tell others about the gospel.”

Satan seeks to deceive the nations (the unsaved world) What does this tell us about our enemy’s schemes? He desires to destroy and devour unbelievers and he is a deceiver of the nations (Rev. 20:3, 7).

But if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. In their case, the god of this age has blinded the minds of the unbelievers so they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ. 2 Corinthians 4:3-4, HCSB

This is a heavy verse that should put a weight on us. Our family members and friends who don’t know Jesus have been blinded by the enemy, unable to see the beauty of Christ.

Our response is to Satan’s tactic to destroy and blind the world is to put on shoes that are eager, willing, and ready to take this gospel of peace to the world. Paul may have been alluding to Isaiah 52:7:

How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of the herald, who proclaims peace, who brings news of good things, who proclaims salvation…

Isaiah says that most beautiful part of a body is not the face, not the body, not the curves, not the biceps, but the feet. Specifically the feet of one who is proclaiming the gospel.

In the kingdom of God, the feet of an evangelist who has traveled near and far to spread the good news are far more beautiful than America’s next top model. As John Piper said, “I’d rather look at the bloody feet of a trekking evangelist than any pose of Jennifer Aniston.”

Do we realize this morning that there are billions perishing in this world? Thousands are perishing in this city. Do we believe that? Do we care? Do we weep? Or are we like Charlie Peace?…

Charlie Peace was a criminal. Laws of God or man did not concern him. Finally the law caught up with him, and he was condemned to death. On the fatal morning in Armley Jail, Leeds, England, he was taken on the death-walk. Before him went the prison chaplain, routinely and sleepily reading some Bible verses. The criminal touched the preacher and asked what he was reading. “The Consolations of Religion,” was the reply. Charlie Peace was shocked at the way he professionally read about hell. Could a man be so unmoved…read of a pit that has no bottom into which this fellow must fall? Could this preacher believe the words that there is an eternal fire that never consumes its victims, and yet slide over the phrase without a tremor? Is a man human at all who can say with no tears, “You will be eternally dying and yet never know the relief that death brings”? All this was too much for Charlie Peace, so he preached an on-the-eve-of-hell sermon:

“Sir,” addressing the preacher, “if I believed what you and the church of God say that you believe, even if England were covered with broken glass from coast to coast, I would walk over it, if need be, on hands and knees and think it worthwhile living, just to save one soul from an eternal hell like that!” (Taken from Leonard Ravenhill’s “Why Revival Tarries”)

But how can they call on him to save them unless they believe in him? And how can they believe in him if they have never heard about him? And how can they hear about him unless someone tells them? And how will anyone go and tell them without being sent? That is why the Scriptures say, “How beautiful are the feet of messengers who bring good news!” Romans 10:14-15, HCSB

Then Jesus said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to the whole creation.” Mark 16:15, HCSB

Church, have you sandaled your feet ready to go tell others about the gospel? When is the last time you shared Jesus with someone? Have you ever shared Jesus with someone?

Spiritual Armor

In Ephesians 6, we are told to stand by putting on the spiritual armor. There are a few other places in the Scripture that we are told to stand:

Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, IN WHICH YOU STAND. 1 Corinthians 15:1, HCSB

In 1 Corinthians 15, we are told to stand not with the spiritual armor but on the gospel. So which is it? Stand with the spiritual armor, or stand with the gospel? YES. Putting on the spiritual armor of God is nothing more and nothing less than an intentional application of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

How do we fight the enemy? We proclaim to him and ourselves and the world the power of the gospel found in the person and work of Jesus! There are only two things in the Bible that are referred to as the power of God. One is Jesus himself (1 Cor. 1:24), the other is the gospel (Rom. 1:16).

Let’s not overcomplicate the armor!

Put on the belt of truth: Jesus is the truth!
Put on the breastplate of righteousness: Jesus provides our righteousness.
Put on the shoes of the gospel of peace: Jesus is our peace and his love compels us to take this gospel to the world!
Put on the shield of faith: Jesus is the author and finisher of our faith!
Put on the helmet of salvation: The gospel is the power of God for salvation!
Take the sword of the Spirit: Jesus is the substance and essence of God’s word!

Read More →

Stream Audio:

  • /
Update Required
To play the media you will need to either update your browser to a recent version or update your Flash plugin.

Download MP3

Right-click the link above and choose “Save Link As” or “Download Linked File” to save to your computer.

Notes:

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Ephesians 6:10-13

Today we will look at the what, the how, the where, and the why of spiritual battle.

The What – Called to Be Strong

In his letter to the Ephesians Paul writes, “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might” (Ephesians 6:10). After pouring out what it means to be in Christ and to live for Him, Paul begins his final remarks. He’s preparing us for the opposition we will face as we “walk in a manner worthy of our calling.” The battle will rage around us individually and corporately as “the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 3:10) through His church, us.

The enemy wants to tarnish God’s plan. Although the victory has come in Christ, the battle is not over. When Paul says “be strong,” he uses passive tense. We are to be made strong; our strength is not our own strength but comes from an outside source. Our strength comes from Jesus, which we see in Paul’s prayer:

that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, Ephesians 3:16

All that we have is because of who He is. We are strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might (Ephesians 2:21; 4:1, 17; 5:8; 6:1, 17). Jesus tells us to abide in Him:

Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. John 15:4-5

Our strength or our fruit comes out of abiding in Christ. We are in Christ both positionally and practically – we are in Jesus positionally but we are to walk according to our calling, a lifestyle of living out who we are in Jesus. We experience the love and strength of Jesus through obedience. Our strength is not inherent in us; rather we get strength from Jesus who is the source of our strength.

The strength from Jesus is a relational strength, not ritual strength. Relational strength comes from being in relationship with Jesus. Our strength doesn’t come from rituals, which bring us nothing at all. We gather on Sundays because we want to know Jesus – He is the prize!

The How – Be Supplied

We are to “put on the whole armor of God” (Ephesians 6:11). The idea of putting on armor carries with it a sense of urgency and action. The battle is not secondary; the battle is here now and we are in it. The phrase “put on” would be used to describe putting on clothes, but these clothes are spiritual in nature, supplied by God Himself, and necessary for survival. Without the armor of God, we are vulnerable.

In Acts 19, the seven sons of Sceva tried to cast out demons. The demon knew Jesus and he recognized Paul because Paul knew Jesus, but he didn’t recognize the men who simply tried to invoke the name of Jesus. They tried a ritual but had no relationship with Jesus. We can’t taste God’s goodness and walk away from it. Rituals are like going to a restaurant, reading the menu, sitting at a table, and smelling the food but leaving empty and hungry, without eating. We have to taste: “Taste and see that the Lord is good” (Psalm 34:8).

God’s authority in our lives gives us authority over the enemy. We can’t defeat the chains that bind us without the power of Christ in us.

The Where – The Spiritual Realm

The battle takes place in the spiritual realm where we fight against the schemes of the devil, the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Paul wants the Ephesians and us to know that there is a scheme to destroy. God gives us wisdom, discernment, and strength for battle because we cannot do it in our own power or strength or wisdom. God’s love for us conquered sin, death, and Satan. What can conquer love?

The Why – To Stand

We can’t stand against the schemes of the enemy on our own; we stand only because we are in Jesus and we have His strength and are clothed in His armor. The idea is to resist, to hold ground and not to retreat into any form of wickedness or temptation. To resist is not to fall into temptation, which can mean that we run from it. We are to flee youthful lust (2 Timothy 2:22) and God gives us a way out with every temptation (1 Corinthians 10:13).

The devil wants to make us ineffective so we need to know when to get out or what to avoid. The armor gives us wisdom to ask: “Will I offend Jesus? Will I sin?” Through Christ’s work on the cross, we are strengthened to resist temptation and to stand. The devil has already been defeated so this is not about victory or defeat. Paul tells us not to give ground to the devil through falsehood (Ephesians 4:25), uncontrolled anger (Ephesians 4:26), or stealing (Ephesians 4:28); the old ways of life. Unrepentant, persistent and consistent living in sin gives the enemy opportunity because it squelches the Spirit’s work in our lives.

Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. James 4:7

Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. 1 Peter 5:8-9

When we stand firm, suited up in the armor of God, the enemy flees. He does not flee because of who we are or what we have done, but because of Jesus, who He is, and what He has done. In 1 Samuel 17, we read the story of David and Goliath. God prepared David to meet Goliath. Do you remember when you’ve been at the end of yourself but God delivered? We need to remember the faithfulness of God in the battle; remembering what God has done bursts thankfulness in our hearts.

David had victory in the strength and might of God. David is a foreshadow of Jesus who wins the victory. We are the army hiding in the back, who was strengthened by the strength of the one with the victory. We receive the victory of Jesus because we are in Him; the gates of hell cannot prevail against His gospel. Jesus is our Savior and warrior who has gone before us and demonstrated His authority over sin and death, so we stand:

  • We stand in grace (Romans 5:2)
  • We stand in the gospel (1 Corinthians 15:1)
  • We stand in courage and strength (1 Corinthians 16:13)
  • We stand in faith (2 Corinthians 1:24)
  • We stand in Christian liberty (Galatians 5:1)
  • We stand in unity (Philippians 1:27)
  • We stand in the Lord (Philippians 4:1)
  • We stand perfect and complete in the will of God (Colossians 4:12)

Christ has done it all – Jesus said “It is finished.” Finally be strong in the Lord and the strength of His might – stand firm.

Read More →

Stream Audio:

  • /
Update Required
To play the media you will need to either update your browser to a recent version or update your Flash plugin.

Download MP3

Right-click the link above and choose “Save Link As” or “Download Linked File” to save to your computer.

Notes:

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Ephesians 6:10-12

Today’s passage is in context of a greater letter. The theme for Ephesians is “In Him For Him” – chapters 1-3 covers all that we are in Christ. The summary verse is “he has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realm” (Ephesians 1:3). Chapters 4-6 explain what that looks like in relationship to Him and to others as we live out our new selves in Christ. We are called to walk worthy of our calling (Ephesians 4:1). One verse bridges these two sections together:

..so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. Ephesians 3:10

The church is both us gathered and us as individuals. The building is not the church; we are the church and we are called to demonstrate the manifold wisdom of God. We make known God’s wisdom to the heavenly rulers and authorities by living out God’s plan. God gives us the responsibility to demonstrate His wisdom by living it out – we demonstrate His wisdom for their benefit and God’s glory. We demonstrate God’s wisdom and greatness through which is Christ crucified for all, Jew and Gentile. God redeems us and restores us to glorify Him, and in that, we find our greatest joy. In our joy, God is glorified. As we fulfill our purpose and mission, God equips us. He gives us our mission to demonstrate His wisdom, and as we live out our mission, we give God glory and find joy.

Satan is opposed to this plan. He does not want us to make known the manifold wisdom of God. He does not want us to put God’s glory on display, and he does all that he can do to rob God of His glory and to tarnish God’s glory. He is bent on the destruction of man in any way possible. In the destruction of man and in the division of the church and in the sin-laden spiritual impotent believer, God’s glory does not shine. Satan wants to destroy us because he hates our Creator and we were made in His image. By destroying us, Satan robs God of His glory. He wants us to fall and to sin because he does not want God to be glorified or put on display.

The thief comes to steal, kill, and destroy (John 10:10). Although he does not have free rein in this world because he is restrained (2 Thessalonians 2), those apart from God walk in the darkness and are highly influenced, and in some cases oppressed or oven possessed by his angels, called demons.

And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. Ephesians 2:1-3

Apart from Christ, we all walk in darkness, influenced by Satan. We either walk in darkness, ruled by the devil, or we walk in light and experience the goodness, grace, kindness, love, and forgiveness of God. There is nothing in between; no middle ground. For now, the devil has a limited rule and reign in this world and he plays on the passion of man for pleasure, comfort, and pride. We are to be in the world but not of the world (1 John 2:15-17). One analogy is a boat – a boat is in the water, but water is not in the boat. Water in the boat is destructive. We’re not to have the world in us because the world is ruled by our enemy and is deceptive and destructive.

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. Romans 12:2

We who are in Christ are adopted children of God. The devil can taunt us and tempt us, and with God’s permission he can touch us, but only with God’s permission (Job 1). Satan has no authority over us as believers. We have been bought with a price (1 Peter 1:19). The believer can give access to demonic influences, which is why Paul writes: “Give no opportunity to the devil” (Ephesians 4:27). An opportunity is a foothold, a placeholder, or a position of influence. Depending on the believer’s disobedience, that position of influence can be great. There is an enemy who rules this world under the authority of God, and those who don’t know Christ are powerless against him and he can do what he wants and wills with them for the destruction of God’s people to tarnish and steal God’s glory. Those of us that know Jesus and have surrendered to Him have been bought with a price and His blood covers us. We are children of God, adopted in and Satan has no authority over us. The play that he gets in our lives only comes when we give him a foothold.

In Ephesians 4, Paul writes about holding on to anger and bitterness, and being immersed in the world. When we begin to think like the world thinks, it gives the enemy a foothold in our lives. When Paul says that “we do not wrestle against flesh and blood,” the idea of wrestling is hand-to-hand combat; personal and in your face. We are to put on armor for a battle; the battle is not against flesh and blood but against the rulers and authorities, the cosmic powers over present darkness, the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. In a situation where we are angry at someone, we have to remember that the battle is much bigger. We don’t wrestle against individuals; we are engaged in a much larger battle for eternity, souls, and the grace of God. We handle distractions in a way that honor our King and move us forward in the battle.

Movies primarily show Satan and demons as over-the-top, blatant, profanity-spewing, in your face characters. Very rarely is Satan shown as subtle, crafty, scheming, and sometimes beautiful, who appeals to our intellect, our comfort, our pride, and our selfishness. Movies have numbed us to the reality of evil and even worse, to the absolute power of God over evil and over Satan. The battle has been won and our God is greater. Satan is a created being; he submits and always will submit to the Creator. He has no authority over those who are in Christ Jesus and even the authority he has now is limited by our Creator, God. Our God is greater, there is no question how the battle ends. The Ephesians knew this.

And God was doing extraordinary miracles by the hands of Paul, so that even handkerchiefs or aprons that had touched his skin were carried away to the sick, and their diseases left them and the evil spirits came out of them. Then some of the itinerant Jewish exorcists undertook to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those who had evil spirits, saying, “I adjure you by the Jesus whom Paul proclaims.” Seven sons of a Jewish high priest named Sceva were doing this. But the evil spirit answered them, “Jesus I know, and Paul I recognize, but who are you?” And the man in whom was the evil spirit leaped on them, mastered all of them and overpowered them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded. And this became known to all the residents of Ephesus, both Jews and Greeks. And fear fell upon them all, and the name of the Lord Jesus was extolled. Also many of those who were now believers came, confessing and divulging their practices. And a number of those who had practiced magic arts brought their books together and burned them in the sight of all. And they counted the value of them and found it came to fifty thousand pieces of silver. So the word of the Lord continued to increase and prevail mightily. Acts 19:11-20

Jesus is the only authority. The seven sons of Sceva decided to use Jesus’ name, but they didn’t know Jesus. The name of Jesus isn’t magical and the cross is not a magical object (that would be witchcraft). The name of Jesus isn’t magical; it’s acknowledging the relationship with Jesus and that Jesus bore our sins in His body on the cross. Jesus bought us with His blood and we are in Christ. The authority we have is the authority we have because Christ is in us – we have His authority and He gives us His strength and mighty power. We can’t claim the name of Jesus in our own power. The demon knew Jesus and he recognized Paul because Paul knew Jesus, but he didn’t recognize men who simply tried to invoke the name of Jesus.

Demons are Created Beings
Who are the rulers and authorities and cosmic powers and spiritual forces? Those are all references to demons, created beings. When God created the world, He saw that everything He made was very good (Genesis 1). Angels existed, but not evil ones. In Genesis 3, we see the serpent, Satan, tempting Eve. Between Genesis 1 and 3 was a rebellion. Demons are evil angels who sinned against God and now continually work evil in this world.

Some commentators believe this passage is a description of Satan’s great fall:

“How you are fallen from heaven, O Day Star, son of Dawn! How you are cut down to the ground, you who laid the nations low! You said in your heart, ‘I will ascend to heaven; above the stars of God I will set my throne on high; I will sit on the mount of assembly in the far reaches of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.’ But you are brought down to Sheol, to the far reaches of the pit. Isaiah 14:12-15

The angels rebelled against God and God cast them out of heaven:

For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to chains of gloomy darkness to be kept until the judgment; 2 Peter 2:4

And the angels who did not stay within their own position of authority, but left their proper dwelling, he has kept in eternal chains under gloomy darkness until the judgment of the great day— Jude 1:6

The angels rebelled and were cast out of heaven. The chief demon is Satan, mentioned in Job 1 where he wants to cause Job to deny God. He also came at the end of David’s life in 2 Chronicles 21 and incited David to number the people against God’s will, leading to much death. In Zechariah 3:1, he accuses Joshua, the high priest. Satan is the Hebrew word for adversary, the accuser. Satan is also known as:

  • the devil (Matt 4:1; 13:39; Revelation 12:9)
  • Beelzebub (Matt. 10:25; 12:24, 27; Luke 11:15)
  • the Adversary
  • the Dragon (Revelation 12)
  • the Enemy (Matthew 13:39)
  • the Serpent (Genesis 3:1, 14; 2 Corinthians 11:3; Revelation 12:9, 20:2)
  • the father of lies (Mark 4:15)
  • the ruler of a host of angels (Matt. 25:41)
  • prince of the ruler of the air (Ephesians 2:2)
  • the ruler of the world (Luke 4:6, John 12:31, 14:30; Acts 26:18; 2 Corinthians 4:4)

Satan’s Scope & Schemes
What is Satan’s scope? As a ruler of this world, he influences individuals, governments and belief systems. He especially governs those who are not Christians. He is opposed to God and seeks to alienate men from God. What are his schemes? Satan tempts people (John 13:2; Acts 5:3), hinders God’s workers (1 Thessalonians 2:18), accuses Christians before God (Revelation 12:10), and controls evil persons who resist the Gospel (Revelation 2:9, 13) especially the anti-Christ (2 Thessalonians 2:9; Revelation 13:2). Demons and Satan are real and intent on the destruction of man in an attempt to steal and tarnish the glory of God.

In the Old Testament, we read that the people of Israel were sacrificing to demons:

They stirred him to jealousy with strange gods; with abominations they provoked him to anger. They sacrificed to demons that were no gods, to gods they had never known, to new gods that had come recently, whom your fathers had never dreaded. Deuteronomy 32:16-17

Demons also existed in the New Testament:

And when he came to the other side, to the country of the Gadarenes, two demon-possessed men met him, coming out of the tombs, so fierce that no one could pass that way. And behold, they cried out, “What have you to do with us, O Son of God? Have you come here to torment us before the time?” Now a herd of many pigs was feeding at some distance from them. And the demons begged him, saying, “If you cast us out, send us away into the herd of pigs.” And he said to them, “Go.” So they came out and went into the pigs, and behold, the whole herd rushed down the steep bank into the sea and drowned in the waters. The herdsmen fled, and going into the city they told everything, especially what had happened to the demon-possessed men. And behold, all the city came out to meet Jesus, and when they saw him, they begged him to leave their region. Matthew 8:28-34

As they were going away, behold, a demon-oppressed man who was mute was brought to him. And when the demon had been cast out, the mute man spoke. And the crowds marveled, saying, “Never was anything like this seen in Israel.” Matthew 9:32-33

Then a demon-oppressed man who was blind and mute was brought to him, and he healed him, so that the man spoke and saw. Matthew 12:22

And behold, a Canaanite woman from that region came out and was crying, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David; my daughter is severely oppressed by a demon.” Matthew 15:22

Demons exist today and are alive and active. A woman who attended church regularly came in to the office for counseling. She had a horrible attitude so the pastors prayed over her as she began to spew profanity. She repented, confessed Christ, and renounced the demon. She did not remember much of her behavior, but she was aware of a swelling up of great hatred and the desire to destroy. In another case, a 16-year-old guy who was attending church had an uncanny knowledge about people – he knew their fears and weaknesses. After months of prayer, he was eventually barred from the church, first from the building and then from the property.

The works of the devil are seen in many types of evil including abortion (Leviticus 20:3-4), self-destruction/cutting (1 Kings 18:28; Deuteronomy 14:21) and pornography and prostitution (Deuteronomy 23:17; 1 Kings 14:24; Job 36:14). We wrestle against principalities and powers who want to rob God of glory. God created life, gave life, and died that we might have life. Satan takes beautiful things and makes them disgusting; our God takes broken things and makes them beautiful.

Daniel’s Perseverance
The war is real. God has given us the victory and all that we need to walk in that victory. Daniel was a man who was engaged in the war:

In those days I, Daniel, was mourning for three weeks. I ate no delicacies, no meat or wine entered my mouth, nor did I anoint myself at all, for the full three weeks. On the twenty-fourth day of the first month, as I was standing on the bank of the great river (that is, the Tigris) I lifted up my eyes and looked, and behold, a man clothed in linen, with a belt of fine gold from Uphaz around his waist. Daniel 10:2-5

Daniel fasted and prayed for three weeks. An angel, a messenger of God, appeared to deliver the answer to his prayer. Daniel describes his encounter and shares the angel’s message:

And he said to me, “O Daniel, man greatly loved, understand the words that I speak to you, and stand upright, for now I have been sent to you.” And when he had spoken this word to me, I stood up trembling. Then he said to me, “Fear not, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart to understand and humbled yourself before your God, your words have been heard, and I have come because of your words. The prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me twenty-one days, but Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, for I was left there with the kings of Persia, and came to make you understand what is to happen to your people in the latter days. For the vision is for days yet to come.” Daniel 10:11-14

God heard Daniel’s prayers and dispatched the angel the first day Daniel prayed, but the angel encountered the prince of Persia and was delayed for 21 days until a reinforcement came. What can this encounter teach us about spiritual warfare?

Daniel wasn’t praying about angels or demons. Instead, he was focused on God and did not give up but persevered in prayer, even when no answer came for three weeks. Daniel fasted and prayed, confessing sin – he was intentional to go to battle for his people. Are we on our knees to fight the fight? Daniel sacrificed in order to fight. We have the victory; we need to persevere and walk in that victory (1 John 4:4)

Daniel was driven by his relationship with God and his love for others. If we’re dabbling in sin and all about our own comfort, we’ll never see the victory. Daniel was busy with God’s work and he loved his people. Jesus is the greater Daniel, the perfect Daniel who died for our sins. Now He is our advocate, praying for us at the right hand of the Father. Jesus is our Great High Priest, Savior King who calls us to run with Him in battle, for His glory and our great pleasure.

Read More →