The subject of spiritual warfare is too multifaceted to cover fully in this series. But one must begin somewhere as there little teaching on the subject in most churches, be they denominational or independent. Hopefully what we present may serve as an introduction to a subject unfamiliar to a vast majority of believers. Scripture makes it clear a fierce battle has been ongoing between good and evil since before creation of man in the garden of Eden. The battle began when an archangel now known as Satan chose to exalt himself above the Most High and rebelled against God along with other angels (Isaiah 14:12-16 and Ezekiel 28:12-15) and they were expelled from heaven (Revelation 12: 7-9). Jesus told the early disciples, “I beheld Satan as lightening fall from heaven” (Luke 10:18). A kingdom of evil ruled by Satan as described by Paul in Ephesians 6 was already waiting to tempt Adam and Even into disobedience against God. And through the first man Adam, sin entered into the world to be inherited thereafter in all generations to come as a disposition for man to be independent and rebellious against the ways of God.
“Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed to all men for that all have sinned” (Romans 5:12).
Two errors are prone to occur in spiritual warfare, namely to either under- or over-emphasize demonic influence. The greatest error, however, is to simply ignore the threat posed by Satan and fail to obey biblical instructions designed to thwart his attacks. Yet that is exactly what is taking place in most churches across the land. Even most in the ordained ministry do not recognize the presence of evil spirits when manifestations of the demonic are encountered. Failing to have maturity to discern good and evil (Hebrews 5:14) or knowledge as to how to liberate those under demonic influence is the situation in most churches. As a consequence, polls consistently show exactly the same dysfunction among churchgoers as among non-churchgoers in regard to many issues including physical disease, sexual immorality, divorce, addiction, fear, greed and unforgiving attitudes to mention but a few.
Several points must made at the onset. The first is that approximately one-fourth of Jesus’ earthly ministry was directed to dealing with the demonic. Such isn’t a minor matter, nor have Satan and his demonic hosts entered hibernation. A second point is that Jesus did not send out His disciples simply to preach any gospel. They were to preach the coming of the kingdom of heaven and do as Jesus Himself was doing, namely destroy the works of the devil by healing the sick and expelling devils when necessary. John later wrote under inspiration of the Holy Spirit that the purpose for the Son of God being revealed in human flesh was to destroy the works of the devil (1 John 3:8). It is terribly unbiblical to confine teaching about Jesus to His having come simply to pay the sin debt of mankind so that forgiveness of sins might be available to all who would come to Him by repentant faith.
“He that commits sin is of the devil: for the devil sinned from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil.” 1 John 3:8
The works of the devil which negatively impact humanity are manifold in their form and types, but are neither recognized nor preached about in most churches. It is prayerfully hoped that these lessons, incomplete as they are, will stir awareness as to the importance of spiritual warfare. The cry of our flesh to act independently of God is a product of Satan’s work and is far louder than whispers of Holy Spirit to the heart, even in those who have come to believe. And ways of the world pose a great threat to sanctification lest we be deceived to the contrary. “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him” (1 John 2:15).
Finally, please do not view these lessons as a ‘formula’ as to how to deal with your personal struggles or those of others. If I’ve learned anything in my latter years, it’s that the “battle belongs to the Lord” and that sins of presumption must be carefully avoided, i.e. presuming that disobedience to the will of God as revealed in the Word of God is without consequences. One of the great threats to any believer is the false security of teaching known as ‘eternal security.’ Paul has warned that we are not to be deceived about what we sow. Thoughts, speech, and actions will either bear fruit pleasing to God or fruit pleasing to Satan. Jesus teaches that a tree is defined by the kind of fruit that it bears, and a good tree will only bear good fruit while any tree which bears bad fruit is a bad tree, irrespective of its appearance (Matthew 7:17,18).
“Be not deceived. God is not mocked, for whatsoever a man sows, that shall he also reap. For he that sows to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption, but he that sows to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.” Galatians 6:7,8