Things to Remember During Spiritual Battles
God’s Word repeatedly reminds us that there is a battle raging all around us. A fight between the armies of heaven and the angels of darkness. And we have a vital part to play. But how fair is the fight, really? When we examine Satan’s weapons, God’s attributes, and our involvement, how much of a chance do we really stand?
Satan’s 6 Sinister Weapons
According to the Bible, what are Satan’s weapons? What does he really have the power to do?
1. Suggestion / Questioning / Circumstance Manipulation (Genesis 3:1-5; Job 1:6-11, 2:1-7; Matthew 4:1-11) – Satan encourages us to look at our current circumstances and question God, ourselves, truth, and ultimate reality. But his is not an innocent or pure questioning. God actually promotes genuine, honest questions. No, it’s the sinister questioning that Satan suggests, meant to erode our confidence in God, in ourselves, in the truth, in what is real and right.
2. Temptation (2 Corinthians 11:14) – Satan masquerades as an angel of light. He looks good! Satan doesn’t come at us with horns, wearing red tights, and holding a pitchfork. Instead, as one Biblical scholar said, he appears as a “cosmopolitan angel of enlightenment”. He is alluring, enticing. And we don’t have to pretend that sin isn’t fun! It feels good! …for awhile. But no temptation is ever fully or finally satisfied. So we either have to give it up completely, or, we have to do more and more of it for it feel good. And so, in this way, Satan draws us into…
3. Dependence & Addiction – which ultimately leads to death (James 1:15). When there is death, who do people get mad at? God. But let’s be clear: what causes death? Sin. Death should makes us more angry than ever at sin. As Christians, we would say we are in love with Jesus. And that’s good! But is that enough? We also need to be in hate with sin! Sin killed Jesus! Sin has killed every human being who has ever lived (save Enoch and Elijah). Death saddens God (Ezekiel 18:32; John 11:35; 1 Timothy 2:4). See how tricky Satan is? He encourages human sin – which leads to human death – and then, when someone dies, he evokes anger in us toward God!
4. Division –> Separation –> Isolation (1 Peter 5:8) – Satan loves to inspire division. He knows that division leads to separation. And separation leads to isolation. And isolation leads to our defeat. Have you ever seen a nature film, where the predator is tracking its prey? A party of hunting lions is prowling in the savanna. They stalk the gazelle, watching for one they can separate from the herd. And that’s the one that gets devoured.
5. Deception / Lies / Manipulation / Twists-Distorts the Truth (Genesis 3:1-5; Matthew 4:1-11; John 8:44).
6. Accusation – God calls Satan “the accuser” in Revelation 12:10. Do you know that when you accuse someone of something – particularly at the level of their “being” – their identity, their worth – you are actually doing Satan’s job for him? And who is the main person we do this to? …ourselves. When you think harsh, negative thoughts about yourself, you become an accuser like Satan. When you attack your own worth and value: “I’m horrible. I’m worthless. I’m good for nothing. Why would anybody love me? How can God stand me?” You are actually doing Satan’s job for him. Don’t be an accuser.
Just look at this list: Suggestion / Questioning; Temptation; Dependence & Addiction; Division – Separation – Isolation; Deception / Manipulation / Twist-Distorts Truth / Lies; Accusation. We are in a spiritual battle. Satan is a crafty, deceptive, tempter. He is an accusing lion, on the prowl, just looking for someone to try to lure away from the herd that he can devour. We’re no match for him on our own. He’s bigger than us. He’s stronger than us. And that’s the first thing we’ve got to understand. It’s a spiritual battle. But it ain’t a fair fight!
God’s 7 Divine Attributes
Romans 1:20 tells us that God’s divine attributes have been known from the beginning of time. So let’s take a look at them together: What are God’s divine qualities? What are God’s unique attributes? What makes God God? And as we list these qualities, let’s also evaluate how Satan compares to God according to each:
1. God is infinite, eternal, unbound by time (Genesis 21:33; Deuteronomy 33:27; Psalm 90:1-4; Isaiah 40:28, 57:15; John 8:58; Revelation 1:8). Satan is finite, temporal, time-bound.
2. God is Creator, the uncreated One, He has no source (Genesis 1:1; Psalm 8, Psalm 90:2; Isaiah 40:28; John 1:1-3; Romans 11:36; 1 Timothy 6:16). Satan cannot create; he is created. Like all angels, Satan is a created being: he had a beginning when God made him, and in the Book of Revelation, we see that he clearly has an end. Satan is not eternal.
3. God is all-powerful, sovereign, the ultimate authority (Deuteronomy 10:17; Job 26:7-14, Job 38-41; Psalm 147:5; Revelation 19:6). Satan is limited in power, needs permission to act, he is “on a leash”, subject to authority, and accountable.
4. God is all-present, unbound by space (1 Kings 8:27; Psalm 139:7-10; Jeremiah 23:24). Satan is limited in location, spatially-bound.
5. God is all-knowing, all-understanding, all-aware, all-attentive (Psalm 147:5; Isaiah 40:28, 55:8-9; Luke 12:7; Romans 11:33-34; Ephesians 3:8-11; 1 John 3:20). Satan is limited in knowledge and understanding, only partially aware, only partially attentive.
Along with this, we can add that God knows our thoughts and hearts (1 Kings 8:39; Psalm 94:11, 139:1-6; Proverbs 15:11; Isaiah 66:18; Jeremiah 17:10; Ezekiel 11:5; Matthew 12:25; Luke 5:22, 6:8; Hebrews 4:12; 1 John 3:19-20). Satan does not. He cannot read our minds; he can only work with whatever we provide him. If we give him an opening, he will take it. He is cunning, crafty, an opportunist. And he is roaming the earth, looking for someone to devour. But he can’t read our minds, and he doesn’t know our hearts. Only God knows our hearts, and that should comfort us. According to 1 John 3:19-20, we can be reassured when we question our own hearts, because God truly knows us – and loves us still!
6. God is holy, perfect, indivisible, and completely good (Leviticus 19:2; Psalm 33:4, 145:3; 1 Peter 1:13-16). Satan is unholy, flawed, splintered, and evil.
7. God loves all of humankind with an everlasting love, even though we were His enemies (Psalm 139:17-18; Jeremiah 31:3; Matthew 5:43-48; John 3:16; Romans 5:6-11; 1 John 3:1). Satan wants to steal from, kill, and destroy humanity (John 10:10; Revelation 12:1-4).
When we compare God’s attributes with Satan, we find that there is no comparison! There is no sense of equivalency between these two! They are not opposite equals. And that is the second thing we’ve got to understand. It’s a spiritual battle… but it ain’t a fair fight!
When the demons met Jesus in the Gospels, what kinds of things did they say to Him? “We know who You are: the Holy One of God!” (Mark 1:24, 5:7; Luke 4:34). They ask His permission to do things (Job 1:9-12, 38:11; Luke 22:31-32). They beg Him not to destroy them! (Matthew 8:31; Mark 5:12-13; Luke 8:31).
What emotions and feelings do the demons demonstrate in the Presence of Jesus, according to James 2:19? Fear! Powerlessness! Demons tremble at the sound of Jesus’ Name. Why? What does God’s Word say that Jesus will do to their leader, Satan, and all his offspring?
In Genesis 3:15, after Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit and broke fellowship with God, God delivered a verdict on the man, the woman, and the serpent who tempted them. To the serpent, God said, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; He will crush your head, and you will bruise His heel”.
There is a powerful scene in the 2004 film, The Passion of the Christ, where Jesus is praying in the Garden of Gethsemane on the night before His crucifixion. In the movie, Jesus is pouring out His heart to God in anguish, and Satan is there, whispering vitriol at Him: “Who do you think you are? You aren’t strong enough for this. You can’t save these people. You’re a waste. And your death will be pointless.” Satan then kneels down and releases a viper, which slithers its way toward the agonized Jesus. Seeing the snake, Jesus struggles to His feet, lifts His sandaled foot, and crushes the head of the serpent!
In 1 Corinthians 15:54-57 and Revelation 12-18, we see that God’s words about Satan in Genesis 3:15 are fulfilled. Satan and his demons have an end. Their power and dominion are limited. And we, the redeemed of God, have a bright and eternal future to look forward to beyond the battle’s end.
It is a spiritual battle… but It ain’t a fair fight!
When it’s just us versus Satan, we lose; he devours us! (See Acts 19:15 – the seven sons of Sceva; 1 Peter 5:8). But when it’s Satan versus God, Satan loses. Jesus crushes Satan’s head with such force that he bruises His own heel in the process! There is absolutely no comparison between Jesus and Satan.
8 Divine Weapons for the Fight Against Evil
There is a third critical lesson to learn from all of this. And that is our role in the spiritual battle. 2 Corinthians 10:3-5 tells us that God has equipped us with divine weapons that have spiritual power and are able to demolish strongholds brought on by the dark workings of evil in our lives and in the world. So what are our “divine weapons”? With what has God armed us to fight against Satan, temptation, sin, and evil?
1. Acknowledge the Spiritual Battle (Ephesians 6:12) – “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” Open your eyes! Be honest with yourself about what’s really happening. Stop pretending the battle is not real! Don’t act like there’s no spiritual battle taking place.
2. Prayer (Matthew 6:13; 1 Thessalonians 5:17) – Both individual prayer (Matthew 6:5-8; Ephesians 6:18) and corporate prayer (Matthew 6:9-13, 18:19-20).
3. God’s Word and Scripture Memory (Psalm 119:9-11; Matthew 4:1-11) – Satan can’t do much with a person who is in constant conversation with God through prayer and Scripture meditation!
4. Put on the Full Armor of God (Ephesians 6:10-18)
5. Cling to the Truth (Psalm 139:17-18; Isaiah 49:15-16; 2 Corinthians 6:18; 1 John 3:1) – Know and hold to your real identity in God. The truest things about you are the things God has said about you. Build the foundation for your life on those things, and you will not be easily shaken by the devil.
6. Resistance! & Perseverance (James 4:7; 1 Corinthians 15:58; Galatians 6:7-9; Ephesians 6:10-14) – It sounds so simple, but don’t give in! Take the way out of temptation that God provides (1 Corinthians 10:13). Resist the devil and he will flee from you (James 4:7, Matthew 4:1-11). Don’t give the devil a foothold (Ephesians 4:27), slam the door on his foot! He has the power of suggestion and temptation – that’s true enough. But we have the power to ignore his suggestions and reject his temptations!
7. The Community of Faith (Philippians 2:1-5; Hebrews 10:22-25) – the fellowship of believers; corporate prayer, Bible study, accountability, and encouragement from the Body of Christ.
8. LOVE (Matthew 5:43-48; Mark 12:30-31) – Satan cannot withstand human love for God and neighbor. And he really can’t handle love for enemies! Satan’s schemes cannot function properly in the presence of selflessness, generosity, and love.
We often use very defensive language when discussing things like sin and evil and fighting against the enemy. But what did Jesus do? Look in Matthew 16:18, “I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock, I will build My church, and the gates of hell will not overcome it”. Now there is a lot going on in this verse, far more than we have time to delve into in this article. But look at what Jesus says at the end: the gates of hell will not be able to stand against His Church. Jesus is on the offense. He’s not playing defense – He’s on the attack! He’s not just holding ground, He’s taking ground! He’s plundering hell!
Look at who Jesus hangs out with (Matthew 9:10-11; Mark 2:13-16): sinners, prostitutes, and tax collectors. Look at who He chooses to be His disciples: thieves and liars; traitors and betrayers; brawlers and fanatics; lepers, the unclean, outcasts. Jesus goes into enemy territory, and He plunders the enemy’s holdings. C.S. Lewis gives us a beautiful portrayal of this in The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe when Aslan (the Christ figure) enters the castle of the White Witch (the Satan figure) and rescues all the creatures that have been turned into stone.
We are in a battle. Denying it does no good. And we’re finished if we try to stand up against Satan’s schemes on our own. But next to God, Satan is a puny snake, whose head is about to be crushed by a powerful, divine foot! There’s no comparison between these two. And God has equipped us with an arsenal of weapons with which to defend ourselves against Satan’s attacks, and to advance God’s agenda for the redemption and reconciliation of humankind – nothing short of the plundering of hell itself! It is a spiritual battle… but it ain’t a fair fight!
Brothers and sisters, take heart, for you are of God and have overcome… for greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world.
1 John 4:4
Nick Cash is a regular contributor to Soul Care Collective.