Spiritual Warfare—An Introduction
What is Spiritual Warfare?
Spiritual warfare is the struggle between spiritual principalities and our human weakness—evil vs. good!
For our spiritual well-being, there are many lessons in the Bible which Christ-followers should be mindful. Lessons abound such as how to manage money, how to pray, how to grow from babes in Christ into mature Christians, and more.
In this article, we will be looking at one vital lesson: Combating sin before it begins! And that usually involves believers engaging in some level of SPIRITUAL WARFARE. We will learn how spiritual warfare operates in the lives of Christ-followers and how to face the battles when they come upon us. In understanding how to contend with the struggle between good and evil, knowledge of the following terms or phrases are requisites: spiritual warfare; the adversary—Satan and his demons; testing, trials, and temptation; and Jesus Christ—our mediator. This exposé will address spiritual warfare and how to overcome the temptation to sin.
Books, articles, and sermons have been written on the topic of spiritual warfare, and in many of these works, authoritative figures discuss the difficulty of sharing this topic. It is difficult because Satan does not want believers to be aware of his schemes and tactics.
This article is no different. There have been multiple roadblocks in preparing this article—time constraints, issues with unworthiness, and fighting spiritual warfare myself. I prayed extensively, read God’s Word for hours, and fought the fear of misspeaking. My notes and drafts for this article have been on the shelf, off the shelf, back on the shelf. If I misspeak, I apologize. I know many different opinions abound on the topic of “spiritual warfare.” But, now I am ready to “bite the bullet” and push the “publish” button. Happy reading.
My Dangriga Story
Back in 1992, my husband and I, along with our children—ages 2, 4, and 6—were traveling in an old dilapidated school bus through the country of Belize. Our eight-hour bus trip originated in Belize City and the final destination was to be Punta Gorda—a poor seacoast city in Southern Belize. Midway through our journey, about 20 miles outside of the city of Dangriga, an extremely evil presence fell upon me. The closer we came to the city, the stronger this presence felt.
Around nine o’clock in the evening, the bus stopped for a short break in Dangriga. My daughter and I had to use the restroom but to get there the family had to split up since the men’s facilities were behind where the bus stopped. Unfortunately, my daughter Jennifer and I had to cross a wide, pitch-black deserted street. Being frightened by the eeriness and evilness of the town, I tightly held six-year-old Jennifer’s hand. The atmosphere exuded danger and wickedness. Being weighed down by oppression I had never felt before, I feared an attack on our lives. I was terrified we would never make it back to the bus after our jaunt to the toilet. While in the dark stand-alone structure, I began to whisper the name of Jesus over and over in my mind. Notice I did not call on the name of Jesus verbally; I was too petrified to draw any attention to ourselves.
After crossing the street and making our way back to the bus, Jennifer and I mounted the bus steps, and the family proceeded to Punta Gorda. It was only after we traveled about 20 miles outside of the city that I felt the heavy burden leave me.
Satan is Real
Later, I learned that traditional witchcraft was prevalent in Dangriga. The Garifuna—an ethnic group of people living in Dangriga—were known for contacting the spirits of the dead and for their faith in shamanism, a spiritual practice that interacts with the spiritual world.
I share this story to tell you that Satan is real. He and his demons roam the earth looking for those they can devour. His presence comes in many ways, even today. We can feel his demons operating; maybe not so dramatically or even in the same way.
The spiritual warfare I will be addressing here is the kind where temptation dominates in Christ-followers’ lives—the kind which impacts believers’ hearts to the point of deep agony, a piercing pain, or a tormenting temptation.
The Lord said to Satan, “Where have you come from?” Then Satan answered the Lord and said, “From roaming about on the earth and walking around on it” (Job 2:2)
Satan approaches believers with the goal of destroying those who love Christ. But before I get too far in this article, I am going to give you a “spoiler alert” about who ultimately wins the battle. This alert will be your notice that I am giving away the plot—the ending of the story!
The winner of the battle is JESUS CHRIST! You can win the battle against Satan because victory is in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
“But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord (1 Corinthians 15:57–58).
Live in the Spiritual Realm
Spiritual warfare is the battle between our spiritual principalities and human vulnerabilities—the fight to resist evil. When we live in our humanness, we lean towards evil by sinning and turning away from God’s plan and commandments. The moment we live in God’s spiritual realm, we lean towards godly thinking and living a life possessing the Christlike fruits of the spirit—love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22–23).
Once we accept Jesus Christ as our Savior, we are in a struggle between the powers of good and evil; this is spiritual warfare. The temptation to sin comes in many ways. It can come upon you suddenly or it can gradually sneak up and catch you in an ambush. Satan knows where and how to personalize the struggle we may face now or in the future.
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places (Ephesians 6:12).
Who Experiences Spiritual Warfare?
Only believers, those who have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, experience spiritual warfare.
Satan and his demons hate Jesus. He hates it when a new Christian receives salvation. Likewise, he hates it when a believer is living a Christ-like life serving Jesus full-force. Solid, sold-out believers may consciously experience the gut-wrenching fight between good and evil; some call this fight fighting strongholds—strongholds being areas in our mind or in our personality that cause us distress through our mind, spirit, or soul. Satan knows our weaknesses and he will use whatever he can to destroy us. Examples of spiritual warfare can be continual thoughts (thoughts you can’t get out of your mind) ranging from dwelling on success at work, struggling not to take the next hit of cocaine, or a temptation towards a sin, which if heeded, could destroy a reputation or livelihood.
For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ (1 Corinthians 10:3–5 NIVUK).
What Does The Book of James Say?
So, what are Christ-followers to do when facing tests, trials, and temptations? The book of James gives us the answer:
Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind . . . Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised those who love Him. Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am being tempted by God’; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. Then lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death (James 1:3–5, 12–15).
If we have been a Christ-follower for very long and are honestly trying to live for the Lord, we will encounter spiritual warfare—that deep pull that calls us to turn our back on what we know is right. Lukewarm believers are not as likely to encounter the deep pangs associated with Satan’s drag.
It is when we are involved in truly trying to live for the Lord that these deep struggles occur.
Satan knows there isn’t much benefit in trying to draw a person who isn’t totally committed to God’s way in this type of battle because they are already ineffective in their witness for God. But, those who are committed and love Jesus with all their heart and want to obey Him in truth and honesty will encounter the fight between good and evil on a much deeper level at one or more times in their Christian walk. Why? Because Satan does not want God’s kingdom to enlarge through salvation or discipleship. When strong believers are tested, and they succumb, Satan can thwart these believers’ faith and it can cause havoc in their lives.
The Father of Lies
We know that Jesus Christ wins the battle over Satan. But Satan still tries to get into the minds of Christ-followers through temptations and trials. He attempts to confuse us and sway us away from all Godly behavior and thoughts. The Scripture tells us that Jesus does not tempt anyone—thus leaving Satan as the cunning and crafty tempter (See James 1:13).
We must look at Satan as our adversary and Jesus Christ as our mediator. Girding us with His strength, Jesus fights our battles as we face Satan’s persuasive temptations and relentless trials.
The Bible calls Satan the Father of Lies (John 8:44), but he disguises himself as an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:14).
Satan and his demons want us to fail as we go through testing and trials. Demons are fallen angels who follow Satan. Their plan is: to ruin God’s plan, obstruct people from working for the Lord, and deceive us into believing sin is acceptable.
Don’t be fooled by Satan—the master of lies and deception.
We may hear phrases, like those below, in our mind or from other people. Be alert and be aware that these types of statements are NOT to be believed.
“Dipping in the company fund one time won’t hurt you—God knows you need the money.”
“Pornography isn’t hurting anyone. You are in the room all by yourself.”
“So, what if she/he is married? She/he isn’t happily married.”
Satan wants us to sin. He wants us to be disobedient to the laws and mandates of God. He tempts us with the deeds of the flesh.
The Bible speaks of those encouraging sin as those disguising themselves as apostles of Christ.
For such men are false apostles, deceitful workers, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. No wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:13–14).
Sometimes we experience deep temptations from Satan. Other times we experience tests from God to prove our devotion to him. As in the case of Job, God allowed Satan to test Job. Job lost his family, his friends, his possessions, and his health. We must recognize that spiritual warfare attacks are from Satan—the deceiver—even though sometimes God has given permission for Satan to tempt us to test our faith and loyalty to Him.
Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God (Galatians 5:19–21).
Spiritual Warfare is Intense
Sometimes the spiritual warfare we face may be intense! It is often so deep that one might feel the only way to rid themselves of this battle is to succumb to it. But we must persevere through these times. We must stand firm and fight the temptation with every fiber of our being. The trial or struggle may seem strange. It may come out of nowhere. By the same token, it may be a terrifying internal struggle that no one knows you are going through or it can be out in the open and even be physically manifested in fatigue, depression, or an oppressed appearance. But the lure is real. Satan wants us to fall prey to his schemes because he wants to make us ineffective for Jesus Christ. But God will use these times to test our character to see if we can be shaken.
In Spiritual Warfare: How to Stand Firm in the Faith, Ray Stedman says,
Among Christians, the devil will often attack in the realm of the intellect to lead us to be overly obsessed with certain points of theology. There are many Christians who pride themselves on being intense students of the Bible and systematic theology . . . I believe that one of the greatest triumphs of Satan has been his strategy of pulling people away from a simple childlike faith and leading them into endless pointless disputes over doctrinal minutiae. ¹
I like Stedman’s word obsessed. While he is talking about being obsessed with theology, we can be obsessed with other things—our marriage, our reputation, our jobs. Satan will use what he needs to in our thought life to lead us away from fulfilling God’s will for our lives. We cannot fight the enemy’s strongholds in our own strength. Satan wants to make us a worthless witness for Christ. While Christ will forgive our sins, those trespasses can create havoc in individuals’ lives and cause all one has worked for in their lives to collapse and/or be destroyed.
Jesus Christ—Our Mediator
A few years ago, my husband and I were in downtown Belize City. When we left a fabric store, I noticed a group of young boys around 8 or 9 years old following my husband with their eyes fixed on the wallet in his back pocket. I knew what they were planning, so I fell back behind my husband and walked between my husband and the boys, preventing a pickpocketing incident from occurring. Acting as a mediator between my husband and the boys, I kept the crime from ever occurring.
That is exactly what Jesus—our mediator—wants us to do. He wants to step in and prevent sin from transpiring. He wants us to turn to Him and be our mediator. Just as I was being a mediator that one summer day, Jesus wants to be our mediator to prevent us from falling into sin. Leaning on Him for our strength is our source of power.
For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself as a ransom for all, the testimony given at the proper time (1 Timothy 2:5–6).
Christ is Stronger Than the Devil
Christ is stronger than the devil. He defeated Satan on the cross. While Satan can afflict people, he cannot defeat God. Satan is intelligent and deceitful; he knows our weak points and he tempts us in those areas. We must remember that the demon’s goals are to impair and wreck lives. The Bible says we must know the schemes of the devil. By being aware of the devil’s schemes, God’s children can face current or future battles with understanding, discernment, and strength.
Through persistent prayer, immersion in God’s Word and possible fasting, this struggle can be won. This battle belongs to the Lord and Jesus is our mediator to help us through it. There is a form of darkness that comes to us when we experience this agonizing form of spiritual warfare, but the battle is still His. Satan presses in hard, but we should not be fearful. We should give the Lord glory and honor by relinquishing our lack of strength and power to Him, so He can fight the devil on our behalf.
When a Christ-follower has finally made it safely through this excruciating period, they must still be diligent and on guard, in case the same temptation comes upon us later—maybe next month or maybe in the next decade. We must put on the armor of God and fight this severe temptation with complete surrender, trusting that God through our mediator Jesus Christ is the only one able to take our weaknesses and make us strong.
Finally, be strong in the LORD and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore, put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. (Ephesians 6:10–16).
Testing, Trials, and Temptations
Spiritual Warfare—All struggles on the battlefields of life come with various degrees of force and intensity. They are fought for different reasons. Our spiritual battles come with unique purposes, although all are under the umbrella of capturing the souls of God’s children rendering us useless for Him. The devil does not show up in a bright red suit with pointy ears waving his pitchfork. He comes as an angel of light. The sooner we realize this deception, the better off we will be.
Most intense testing, trials, and temptations come:
- Before a big spiritual assignment
- After a big spiritual victory
- To those already working for the Kingdom of God
- When we are weak, discouraged, and tired
- As soon as ministry opportunities are not pursued or available
- When we are frustrated, and more
Encountering and Persevering Under Trials
The Bible addresses the testing, trials, and temptations we face in the following verses. As you read through these verses, bear in mind that we grow spiritually through our suffering and adversity.
Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind. For that man ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord, being a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways (James 1:2–8).
Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him. Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death. Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren. Every good thing given, and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow. In the exercise of His will, He brought us forth by the word of truth, so that we would be a kind of first fruits among His creatures (James 1:12–18).
Understanding the Spiritual Battle
Deep spiritual warfare is an agonizing time! Our minds continually dwell on the sin Satan is working full-time to pull us into. We feel helpless at the time to avoid that tug in our hearts to stray, but we must. Understand that this struggle we experience is not just a natural battle, but a battle intended to disrupt our ministry, deceive us, and eliminate the promises God has given us throughout the entire Bible.
Just because Satan comes banging on our door, we are not defeated. Even when he messes with our mind—and he does—Jesus Christ is our refuge. At times, the spirit of evil can confuse our thoughts so powerfully creating: an inability to think clearly; hopelessness when ungodly thoughts become obsessions; and/or helplessness in overcoming our discontentment, gloominess, or sadness.
David was facing imminent danger when he wrote Psalm 57. He had been taken in by the Philistines when he fled from Saul. This psalm was written during this time of great uncertainty and trial, but he holds fast to God—exactly what we should do when Satan gets hold of our mind, soul, and/or spirit. David’s prayer pleads for relief from these kinds of tormentors BEFORE it leads to sin.
Be gracious to me, O God, for man has trampled upon me;
Fighting all day long he oppresses me.
My foes have trampled upon me all day long,
For they are many who fight proudly against me.
When I am afraid,
I will put my trust in You.
In God, whose word I praise,
In God I have put my trust;
I shall not be afraid.
What can man do to me?
All day long they distort my words;
All their thoughts are against me for evil.
They attack, they lurk,
They watch my steps,
As they have waited to take my life.
Because of wickedness, cast them forth,
In anger put down the peoples, O God! (Psalm 56:1–7)
On November 28, 1958, Charles Haddon Spurgeon—an English Particular Baptist preacher—preached a sermon titled “Satan’s Banquet.” In this sermon, he used the analogy of the four courses of a banquet to compare one’s temptation to sin to the miracle of Cana (John 2:1-12).
At the miracle of Cana, there was a wedding and Jesus’ mother was there along with Jesus. When the wine gave out, Jesus’ mother told the servants to do whatever Jesus said. Jesus told them to fill the water pots with water and they filled them to the brim. The headwaiter tasted the water that had become wine and he told the bridegroom that, “Every man serves the good wine first, and when men have drunk freely, then that which is poorer.”
Spurgeon’s analogy of wine to sin is:
1st Course of Sin—Good wine – Satan makes sin look good. Spurgeon describes the cup of Satan as, “But O how sweet it is! How it makes his blood tingle within him.” At this point, one may have no intention [of] being enticed to sin, but he finally does.
2nd Course of Sin—Wine is not so sparkling – Satan has lured a person to sin and now the person has had enough of pleasure. A person succumbed to sin, but it isn’t that enticing to him anymore. The fun he once had has gone flat and dull.
3rd Course of Sin—Wine now comes in a black goblet – When he drinks the wine, he shrieks and says, “O God! That ever I must come to this!” The suffering is to come because of iniquity.
4th Course of Sin—Horrors from the last cup – A persons’ hope and dreams have vanished. His sin haunts him. ²
It is critical to fight all spiritual attacks as soon as they appear. A spiritual attack unaddressed can oppress ones’ faith and future. Casual everyday prayers are not enough; we need to plead, cry, wail, knee, fast, or even lay prostrate before our Lord and beg Jesus Christ to sever all thoughts and desires from the devil to sin from our mind. As believers, demons cannot enter us, but they can disrupt our thinking, sway our beliefs, and make us doubt our sincerity to God.
We must fight against ungodly thoughts and behaviors with every fiber of our being. We must humble ourselves and pray and keep doing that until the urge or desires have left us. It may take months or years, but it is worth every ounce of fighting we must do to protect ourselves. We may have to desperately call out to the Lord to take our thoughts captive.
We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5).
Spiritual warfare may show up differently in different people. Since God knitted us together in our mothers’ wombs, we are all different—different personalities, different weakness, different tugs. Some common ways Christians experience spiritual warfare are when we possess revenge we can’t shake off, jealousy we can’t quench, all types of sexual temptations, or any desire which fills our minds with a longing and yearning to sin.
Is it Spiritual Warfare or Sin?
It is important to remember that the temptation is not sinning. It is better to be struggling in warfare than to step over the line into sin—disobedience to our heavenly Father and Lord.
It is when we cross the line that consciences are seared, reputations are ruined, souls are damaged, that our relationship with God is negatively affected, and our walk with Him might be permanently marred. Crossing over from spiritual warfare into sin has consequences. These consequences might not rear their ugly heads right away, but somewhere, somehow sin will interfere or sidetrack us and lead us away from God’s imminent plan.
How to Overcome Spiritual Warfare
When we are in the pangs of spiritual warfare, it means we have not yet succumbed to the treachery of sin. There is still hope for sin to be averted.
We must actively be on the alert for Satan’s attempt to lead us to sin. Some tips for prevention are:
- Ask God to take the object of our warfare away because it is not profitable for our soul
- Ask God to replace our thoughts with godly thoughts and ministries
- Keep busy and don’t allow boredom or idleness to abound during this period
- Ask for prayers from mature Christians. (We do not need to tell them our specific vice if we don’t want to, but just ask for prayers.) God knows what we are dealing with and He wants to help us through it, so when it is over, we can say, “Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.” (James 1:12)
- Watch the areas where you are the weakest and plead with God to keep us within the confines of our place and our calling
If We Succumb to Sin, Does God Forgive Us?
Of course, He does. God is a forgiving God and when we repent of our sins and turn from our “wicked” ways, He is there for us—with open arms—ready to forgive us and lead us back into a full relationship with Him. But there still may be consequences and scars. As soon as we recognize our sins and turn back to God, He accepts us back into His fold to love, cherish, and forgive us.
In the February 2018 issue of Decision magazine, Billy Graham said,
“Forgiveness is one of the most beautiful words in the human vocabulary.” ³
God goes on to say,
. . .and if My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land (2 Chronicles 7:14).
But, what if you are the tempter—a Christian that Satan is using—to tempt another person? With your allurement, you may lead someone else to follow in your footsteps. After a while, you may move on and repent, but what you have led the other person to do cannot be undone! When you are the perpetrator leading others to sin, you have sent them directly into Satan’s grasp and you don’t know how long they might remain there.
While you might confess your “mistakes” and move on in your relationship with the Lord, you can’t make the other person turn to God or back to God. At this point, their spiritual life is completely out of your hands. They may go the rest of their life being led astray by Satan or become so obsessed with your mutual sin that they are numb to the things of God—all because of your sin and its enticement upon them. Only God can rescue them at this point, but they may not choose Him because of the hurt, deceit, fraud, or distress you inflicted upon them.
Anglican clergyman William Gurnall says,
“Even after you’re dead and gone, your sins may be perpetuated in those who are alive, generation after generation.” ⁴
Now, that is serious business!
William Gurnall states, “Do not try to stave off the onslaughts of Satan in your own strength. Tell God you are afraid of what may happen if He does not intercept these wicked imaginations . . . Seal the windows of [your] heart in prayer to control your thoughts, ask Christ to control your heart.” ⁴
It used to scare me at first whenever a SECURITY ALERT came through on my email when we lived in Lagos, Nigeria. These alerts were sent out from either my husband’s company or the U.S. Consulate warning us of possible danger. But, the more alerts I received, the less scared I became. I got used to them as just part of life and didn’t put much weight into them.
Some of these security alerts consisted of the following warnings.
- An increasing trend is hijackers trailing unsuspecting victims. Some are robbed and some are unfortunately held for ransom;
- Criminals side brush unsuspecting vehicles or hit them from behind to force drivers to stop, after which they are robbed or kidnapped;
- Be extremely vigilant and develop a situational awareness that may enable you to avoid victimization;
- Avoid night time traveling;
- Keep a low profile and dress unassumingly;
- Be alert at all times – don’t ignore any suspicious circumstances.
The last alert is the most general alert and probably the most important alert as it involves how we were to live every day of our lives in the country we were living in at the time.
As I pondered these alerts, I thought about how similar these alerts are to a Biblical alert we read about in the Scriptures.
Paul, the author of Ephesians, urges us to put on the full spiritual armor of God. Paul wants us to understand that we can fight the fiery darts of Satan who is very active in trying to trip us up and lead us away from our trust and dependence on God.
We may not live in a country with evils such as ISIS, suicide bombers, extremists, and beheadings. However, we are all surrounded by the wiles of the devil. Satan might be attacking us in the form our idols, our fleshly desires, a false gospel, physical afflictions, selfishness, friendships with the world, addictions, media, or worldly wisdom – just to name a few. We need to recognize the methods Satan uses to attack us and stand firm against his schemes. No one has given us a more wise strategy for living than God.
The Armor of God
Put On the Whole Armor of God: Ephesians 6:10-17
In Ephesians 6:10-17, the apostle Paul says to put on the whole armor of God:
“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. 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 6:10-17 ESV).
Understanding the Armor of God
Let’s take a look at the individual pieces of the armor of God. Below you will find a fact, an action, a verse from God’s Word, and a quote from The Christian in Complete Armour by William Gurnall—a 1600 English Puritan and Anglican clergyman that believed in standing firm in Christ by using the graces listed in Ephesians 6. ⁵
Fact: God’s truth will keep us secure in Christ.
Action: Confess all known sins and get rid of all deceptions and commit yourself daily to the Lord Jesus Christ.
Bible: “Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth.”
Quote: Love for God makes the soul inquisitive to find out what is dear to God so it can express tenderness to truth and thereby give love to Him.
2. Breastplate of Righteousness
Fact: Satan is trying to attack us with lies or reminders of our past sins.
Action: We must guard our hearts against Satan and live for the righteousness of Christ by being obedient to God’s ways and will.
Bible: “and having put on the breastplate of righteousness,”
Quote: Righteousness and holiness are God’s protection to defend the believer’s conscience from all wounds inflicted by sin.
Fact: Satan will put obstacles in our paths. He wants us to stumble.
Action: Prepare yourself through Bible study, prayer, meditation, confession and more, so you can confidently walk in Jesus’ ways wherever you go and wherever He may lead you.
Bible: “and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace.”
Quote: God does not want the saint to stand still and fret or to have to be coaxed to move but to follow Christ voluntarily, as a soldier follows his captain. Yet Christ is not like a general who drives his men into battle whether they want to go or not . . . A heart full of grace will follow Jesus into the wilderness of affliction as willingly as a lover goes with her beloved into a quiet garden to enjoy his presence. By His Word and by His Spirit Christ satisfied the Christian, making him want to be with Him anywhere.
4. Shield of Faith
Fact: Satan will try to put doubts in our mind. Hold on to your faith.
Action: Trust that your faith will defend all the unholy darts that may be projected upon you.
Bible: “In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one;”
Quote: Faith is the only messenger which can bring good news from heaven to the heart. It is faith that proclaims the promise, opens Christ’s riches, and pours out His name to increase love in believers. Whenever faith wins the character of Christ out of the Word and presents Him to us in all His loveliness, we are sweetly drawn to Him.
5. Helmet of Salvation
Fact: Our thinking needs to be protected because Satan loves to make us doubt our salvation and God.
Action: We must be sure that Jesus is our security through salvation in Christ. [If you are unsure about your relationship with Christ, understand that we are all born with a sinful nature, but when we repent of our sins and ask Jesus to be part of our life, we can have the assurance of salvation and eternal life.]
Bible: “and take the helmet of salvation,”
Quote: As a Christian soldier you must always stand in a defensive posture with your armor on, ready to defend the treasure God has given you to keep and to repel Satan’s assaults.
6. Sword of the Spirit
Fact: The Word of God is our weapon against the attacks of Satan.
Action: Read and study the Bible. It is God’s tool to prevent Satan’s strongholds and thoughts from infiltrating into our lives.
Bible: “and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God,”
Quote: As the sword defends the soldier it offends his enemy. Thus God’s Word is a killing sword as well as a keeping sword. Not only does it keep the believer from surrendering to external temptation but it kills his inward lusts and completes the victory.
If we are not in prayer, our reliance on God is diminished allowing spiritual warfare much easier access to our lives. We must pray for the mind of Christ. Set aside time every day to pray and listen to God’s Word. Pray at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication.
And as Paul concludes, he says, “And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.” Ephesians 6:18-20 ESV
In Nigeria, it didn’t take me long to learn how to conduct myself in Lagos—a city of 22 million people. For survival, I learned to be bold. I learned to walk with confidence. I learned how to talk to those who tried to intimidate me. I learned not to walk in the streets alone (if ever).
When I maneuvered through Lagos’ Murtala Muhammed International Airport all by myself one day, I found I was able to hold my head high, shuffle through the crowd, ward off swindlers, tow my baggage, and reach my destination. That day I knew I had accomplished a feat many foreigners fail to achieve—to feel confident in their walk!
It’s the same when Christ-followers trust in the God of the Armor. We soon feel confident in our walk with Christ. We can hold our head above inconsequential disagreements, controversial church strategies, and/or misinterpreted theology. We can move through the crowd with discernment. We can experience godly tranquility when Satan’s fiery darts come at us. We will have the knowledge needed to handle our past, present, and future experiences and attacks. But, most of all, we will have faith that our destination with Jesus Christ is secure and one day we will be living in glory with Him in Heaven.
Just as our Nigerian security alerts warned us how to proceed even before any unknown danger might occur, so does the Bible warn us how to be pre-prepared against the schemes of the devil, because we never know when he might attack. It is so easy to become ensnared in the devil’s traps, and the best way to be on guard is to put on THE WHOLE ARMOR OF GOD—even before the temptations and evils come upon us. This can be accomplished by following Ephesians 6:18-20 with a sincere and longing heart to please our Lord and Savior.
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Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. (1 Peter 5:8)
Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin. (James 4:17)
Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. (James 4:8)
Again there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came among them to present himself before the Lord. The Lord said to Satan, “Where have you come from?” Then Satan answered the Lord and said, “From roaming about on the earth and walking around on it.” The Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered My servant Job? For there is no one like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man fearing God and turning away from evil. And he still holds fast his integrity, although you incited Me against him to ruin him without cause.” Satan answered the Lord and said, “Skin for skin! Yes, all that a man has he will give for his life. However, put forth Your hand now, and touch his bone and his flesh; he will curse You to Your face.” So the Lord said to Satan, “Behold, he is in your power, only spare his life.” Then Satan went out from the presence of the Lord and smote Job with sore boils from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head. (Job 1:2–7)
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I [Jesus] came that they may have life and have it abundantly. (John 10:10)
No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it. (1 Corinthians 10:13)
Depart from evil and do good; Seek peace and pursue it. (Psalm 34:14)
Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; Who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness; Who substitute bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter! (Isaiah 5:20)
When you go out to battle against your enemies and see horses and chariots and people more numerous than you, do not be afraid of them; for the Lord your God, who brought you up from the land of Egypt, is with you. (Deuteronomy 20:1)
Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. James 4:7 ESV
Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever. 1 John 2:15-17 ESV
Four Prayers To Choose From if Teaching From This Blog
- Dear heavenly Father, most days I experience some low-level discomfort fighting between good and evil—right and wrong. However, at some point in my life, I may experience fierce intense spiritual warfare from Satan and his demons. Please prepare me ahead of time, so when the time comes I have the strength to overcome my human weaknesses. Let me be wholly sold out to You and to Your Word. Give me the strength to overcome the fiery darts of Satan. Let me never give up fighting against sin. Allow Your light to be a lamp unto my feet. Let me recognize these battles are not of flesh and blood, but they are spiritual battles “against powers and principalities beyond my physical being.” Hopefully, I won’t fail You, but if I do, please convict me to return to You by repenting and turning away from my sin as quickly as possible, so I can walk in Your ways again. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.
- Dear Lord Jesus, I believe You are the source of protection. Protect me from my weaknesses and temptations. I want to draw closer and closer to You. I need Your power to overcome the fiery darts flung on me. I am choosing You today and every day, so You can use me for Your glory. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.
- Dear Lord, I love You, but lately, I have been tempted beyond control. I need You to help me face the severe trials I am going through. Let my faith be so strong that, in my weaknesses and temptations, I can avert any turning away from Your plan for my life. Use me Lord for Your service. I need Your power and love to pour down on me. I seek Your face daily and depend on Your Holy Scriptures to keep me strong and honorable. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
- Dear heavenly Father, Thank You for all You have given me. You have given me the means to escape the evilness of this world. Thank You for being so generous to me. Thank You for forgiving me for my failures. You always take my hand and bring me back to You even when I fall into Satan’s schemes. You are stronger than him and I am grateful for all the tools and love You have given me. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.
¹ Stedman, Ray. Spiritual Warfare: How to Stand Firm in the Faith. Grand Rapids: Discovery House, 1999.
² Spurgeon, Charles Haddon. Spurgeon Sermons, vol. 5. Peabody: Hendrickson, 2013.
³ Graham, Billy. Decision Magazine. Feb 2018. Print.
⁴ Gurnall, William. The Christian in Complete Armour, Vol. 1. Carlisle: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1996.
Bible verses are taken from the NASB if not noted otherwise.
Edited by E. Johnson
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