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the spiritual war and your enemy

The past few weeks we have been discussing matters of the heart. Your heart is the control center of your being. Your heart defines who you are and what you do. We have already discussed two specific factors that can distract your heart from what God desires to define you heart. First, the world, an external factor that seeks to distract your heart. Second, worldliness [i.e. flesh], an internal factor that seeks to distract your heart. Today, we will look at final factor, supernatural forces of evil [Devil & demons] a spiritual factor that seeks to distract your heart from following after Christ wholeheartedly.

Spiritual warfare is the real deal [Ephesians 6:10-20]

From the beginning to the end of Jesus’ ministry he warned, overturned, taught, and fought against spiritual foes. Much of Jesus’ ministry portrayed power encounters, exorcisms, and exposes a real supernatural warfare in this world.[1] Since, spiritual warfare is real, how do we deal with it?

Paul wraps up his letter to Ephesians with a battle cry similar to that Joshua, “be strong in the Lord and the power of His might.” Right out of the box, preparation for this battle against spiritual warfare is exclaimed, “put on the whole armor of God.” There is an air of readiness for believers to put on the whole armor of God because spiritual warfare is eminent. Here are 5 truths about spiritual warfare from Ephesians 6:10-20:

#1 You are at war [6:10-11]. Believe it or not, and most do not realize it or try to ignore it, you are at war. From the moment you are born to the moment you die you are in the midst of a heated battle. It is the clash of the kingdom’s—the kingdom of light versus the kingdom of darkness. This world is not a playground; it’s a battlefield. This world and your heart is the battle zone. Are you ready for this spiritual warfare?

#2 You are at war with evil supernatural powers [6:11-12]. “For we are not contending against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” Paul would agree that your flesh and blood is evil, but we see in this text that the conflict is also fought against supernatural, demonic forces.

#3 You are charged to stand [6:11-14]. Three times in this passage Paul tells believers to stand so you do not fall [vs.11, 13-14]. These powerful forces cannot be faced in the power of your own might. If you stand alone, you will fail.

#4 You are able to stand by the provisions made by God [6:14-17]. “be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might.” It is nothing about what strength you have, but everything about the strength of your God [cf. victory in Christ, 1:20-23]. The provision of God is the armor. The armor must be “put on,” for the spiritual armor is an external counterpart to Paul’s emphasis on inward growth and the edification of the church [cf. 4:12, 16].

#5 You are charged to be prayerful and watchful [6:18-20]. Prayer is not a weapon of warfare, but a sounding horn to God for continual preparation in the battle and communion with Him through the battle.

This text is clear, spiritual warfare is real and ferocious. Paul gives a clarifying call to believers in the church to stand firm against the supernatural powers seeking to destroy their unity and reputation in Christ as ambassadors of the gospel of Christ. Spiritual warfare is the real deal, but what about the enemy?

Know your enemy

Throughout history, military strategists have noted the effectiveness in winning battles is to know your enemy. As Victor Hugo said, “A good general must penetrate the brain of his enemy.” As followers of Christ, you have an enemy that is well document. You have dirt on how you can win the war against him. He is not invisible and impenetrable.

First, Satan is limited. He cannot do anything he wants anytime he wants. God limits Satan because he created Satan [Genesis 3:1]. God has Satan on a short leash [Revelation 12:12]. He cannot do anything without God permitting him. Satan knows humans are limited too. God limited Satan’s ability to touch Job when tempting him [1:12]. His limitation is a tactic he uses to deceive your hearts too. He knows your limited, “You can’t win. You can’t fight. Give up!” That is a lie from the pit of hell.

Second, Satan is not like God. Satan cannot know your thoughts. He does not have the power to force you to do anything. He cannot even be everywhere at once. He gets far more credit that he deserves. He has lots of help from his fallen minions, the fallen world, and your wickedly deceived heart. He is not capable in power, wisdom and presence like God. He can’t do what God can do. Only God can do what God can do. No one is like God.

Third, Satan is the defeated enemy. Have you read the end of the Book—the Bible? God will deal with Satan [Revelation 20]. God will throw him into the lake of fire for all eternity. Satan does not win. He ultimately loses. The cross of Christ crushed Satan’s hope for victory [Colossians 2:15]. Jesus defeats the devil through His death and resurrection. Although he is defeated he is not going out quietly. He is on a rampage to inflict as much chaos and catastrophe in the world and your life as possible before his end.

Your enemy’s strategy is to destroy you

During America’s Civil war General Ulysses S. Grant’s men were impressed—even scared of—southern commander, General Robert E. Lee’s brilliant war strategies. One northern sergeant said, “You never quite know how he is going to move. Wish we had ‘im on our side.” Now Robert E. Lee is not the devil [you can still get shot is some places for making a statement like that], but my point is, the strategies of the enemy often inflict fear in those on the defense.

Don’t underestimate Satan’s power [1 Corinthians 10:12]. He is strong, sly, and stealthy. He has ruined many lives. In Jesus’ words, he tries “to steal, and to kill, and to destroy.” [John 10:10; cf. 1 Peter 5:8] Satan’s sole purpose is to bring you down, to take you out, and inflict you with so much fear that you have no other hope than to escape this life.

Have you ever known someone paralyzed by fear? They tell you how powerful and cleaver the devil is [Ephesians 2:2], and how scared to death they are of his strategies. They give up to his tactics in defeat. They give glory to his strength, rather than giving it to God who is infinitely mightier and more powerful.

What your enemy doesn’t want you to know [1 John 4:1-6]

Do not be intimidated by the devil. Do not give him any ground [Ephesians 4:27]. Keep short accounts with sin. You have resources in Christ to effectively counter his attacks. Believe it or not, Satan believes Jesus [Matthew 4:3]. He fears Jesus [James 2:19] because he knows Jesus will judge him. The devil does not want you to know he is out matched by the power of Christ. He does not want you to know he has been conquered and constrained through the death and resurrection of Christ [1 John 3:8]. In Christ, you have victory, authority, protection, power, and position.

Any voice, word, or idea that violates Scripture or is constantly demeaning to you [i.e. you’re fat, you’re stupid, you can’t change, God can’t help you, you should take you life, etc.], it is not of the Holy Spirit and must be ignored. Test the spirits with the Word of God [1 John 4:1]. Call on the power of God with offensive prayer. Let God fight for you. He will protect because He is the Savior and Sovereign King. He sends His heavenly angels to guard His people [Psalm 34:7; Hebrews 1:13-14]. He gives strength in Christ to stand against and resist the devil [Ephesians 6:10; James 4:7-10; 1 Peter 5:6-9]. You are safe with Christ. Stay close to Him, “The Lord is faithful. He will strengthen and protect you from the evil one.”

Recommended Resources on Spiritual Warfare:


[1] Matthew 4:1-12, 22-23; Luke 8:26-29; 10:17-20; 13:10-17; Acts 5:1-5; 19:13-20; Romans 8:31-39; 2 Corinthians 10:3-5, 11:1-4, 13-15; Ephesians 2:6; 6:10-17; James 4:7-10; 1 Peter 5:6-9; Jude 8-9; Revelation 12:10-11

believing a lie from the wrong voice

The Garden of Eden was a place of beauty; a place untainted by sin and its crippling, polluting, heartbreaking effects; a place where they could hear and communicate with the voice of God; a place of intimacy with man and of intimacy with almighty God. Everything God created He says is “good.” Adam and Eve’s world was a paradise.

One rule. All Adam and Eve had in the Garden was one rule, “You must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will certainly die.” [Genesis 2:17] Like a kid left alone with a cookie jar, our first parents started the first rebel-ution against their Heavenly Father.

If Genesis 1–2 was paradise, then Genesis 3 is paradise lost. Through one foolish and rebellious rule breaking act—eating the fruit God had forbidden—Adam and Eve lost their innocence, dignity, home, and relationship with God, “through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned.” [Romans 5:12] How did the Fall of Mankind happen?

The voice of God is the only voice Adam and Eve have know, however, a strange voice enters the Garden. The voice comes from a serpent. The serpent is defined later in Scripture as the “one of old who is called the devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world” [Revelation 12:9]. He is a voice filled with lies. Jesus calls him the “the father of lies” [John 8:44]. Satan is sneaky and his first recorded words are deceitful and crafty [3:1]. Satan is no less crafty and deceitful today. How does he deceive with craftiness?

Satan seeks to confuse. His question for Eve was, “Did God actually say?” [3:1]. In other words, “Are you sure that’s what God said?” Eve heard God’s command loud and clear, but the serpent planted doubts in her head. He tries to confuse you too, “Maybe that verse doesn’t really mean what it looks it means. Maybe God doesn’t mean for you to take that literally. Maybe…Maybe…Maybe…” Satan’s strategy is to make you doubt the clear teachings of the Bible.

Satan twists God’s words. Satan puts words in God’s mouth, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat from any tree of the garden’?” Nope. God did not say that! God told Adam and Eve they could eat from any tree of the garden—except the one [2:16–17]. Satan makes God look like a bully. Satan will says things like, “God won’t care if you take just one look. It won’t hurt anyone.” Or, “If it’s fun, why would it be bad?” Remember, God is good and Satan twists.

Satan comforts your conscience despite the consequences. He tries to ease the idea of actual consequences, “You will not surely die!” [3:4]. It is as if Satan is saying, “God’s not going to kill you over a small bite. Eating that apple is not a big deal. Go ahead. You know he will forgive and forget.” He is essentially saying God is a liar, but Jesus says that Satan is the liar [John 8:44]. This is where man needs to make a choice—believe God or not? God speaks the truth, “the wages of sin is death” [Rom. 6:23].

Satan speaks enough truth to make sin sound tasty. There is enough truth in Satan’s statement, “God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” [3:5]. Satan is making sin sound so freeing. Satan promised Adam and Eve freedom, instead they received guilt [3:7]. Sin’s promises are like a mirage that never appears. They were fooled into thinking they would be like God, instead they found themselves hiding from God [3:8–10]. Satan fell to pride and he knows mankind is just as foolish. Today, we view pride as a virtue and submission to authority as a weakness. The world says, “Do want you want. Do what makes you feel good. Go for it. Live you best life now. Be proud of yourself. Have more self-esteem.” All the while Satan has you heart bait-and-switched on yourself.

It is important to note that God created the smart-mouthed serpent, Satan. What you do not hear in Genesis, but is explained later in the Scripture is that Satan and 1/3 of all the angels of heaven who sided their allegiance with Satan’s ego-trip rebellion against God were cast out of heaven. Satan is not co-equal with God, over God, or in some cosmic battle of good and evil with God. God has no match; He has no equal, nor is there anyone like Him. God has Satan on a tight leash and Satan knows it. Satan, like mankind is a created being and is dependent upon God like all for God’s creation, however he has been around a while and knows the sinful ways of man, which makes him very smart and more experienced in the ways of sin than you. Be careful what voice you listen to. Make sure the voice matches the character of God.