III. NEW TESTAMENT
Jesus’ first coming was God’s invasion of enemy occupied territory. He landed behind enemy lines to begin the work of setting the captives free (Isaiah 42:7; 49:9; Luke 4:18-21). He provided freedom from bondage by His work on the cross (Luke 13:12; Romans 6:18, 22). He showed the way to have victory through the light that overcame the darkness (John 1:5; 3:19; 8:12). When His mission was completed He ascended to heaven.
However, the fact that He left didn’t mean the war ended. Although defeated and awaiting his ultimate doom, Satan is still free to attack God through His people. Because he knows his end is near he works all the harder to wreak havoc on God’s people and work. God allows Satan freedom to attack because that is part of allowing mankind a free will. Also, God uses Satan’s evil to show mankind their need of Him and for His people to grow in faith as we trust Him and learn to fight.
Now it is Christians who are the ones in enemy-occupied territory. Jesus has called us to be the light of the world. It is up to us to spread His message of deliverance. But the darkness tries to put out our light so none will be attracted to it (John 1:5; 3:19; 8:12). Satan and his demons try to get us back into bondage and misery. It is their entire focus, day and night, and all their skill and energy are focused on bringing this about. We know that God is greater (1 John 4:4) and His kingdom will prevail (Revelation 19-22), but still the battle rages.
So the Christian life is a life of warfare. As the book of Acts shows, that has always been the case. We are at war: war with our sin nature and war with Satan and his forces. That was true for the Christians who were left when Jesus returned to heaven as well. As the early church grew we see the battles continuing. We live in a Satan-controlled world (1 John 5:19). We must fight. God has given us the equipment we need (2 Corinthians 10:4; Ephesians 6:10-20). We can learn how to have victory in our battles by studying the victories, and failures, of those who have gone before. The book of Acts shows examples of those who have already fought their spiritual battles. The writings of Luke, Paul, Peter, John and others help us learn how to apply Jesus’ victory to our own life.
The book of Acts records the growth of the early church. This comes about through evangelism. The Christians are young believers with much to learn, including spiritual warfare. Satan continued to do all he could to stop and destroy the young church before it grew large and strong. There are about 150 references to the spirit world in the Gospels (many of these are from parallel accounts found in more than one gospel) but about 178 additional such references in the rest of the New Testament, so spiritual warfare by no means ended with the ascension. If there is any change in Satan’s tactics between the Gospels and Acts it would be that he attacked Jesus directly and overtly when He was on earth.
However, in Acts we see more deceptive, subtle ways of working to bring about their destruction. That doesn’t make him any less dangerous for us, but actually more dangerous. He works harder to cover his trail and make what he does appear like it is something else (emotional disorder, chemical imbalance, etc.). He attacks more from within instead of just from without. He still uses persecution, but has become adept at dividing families, churches and even nations from within. The battle continues, it just changes a bit. If anything, it is more difficult to fight a subtle, hidden foe than one who is obvious and easily seen.
Spiritual warfare has not decreased. Rather it has increased through the centuries. God tells us it will continue to get worse and worse until Jesus returns. The book of Revelation has the most references to Satan and evil spirits – about 86 references. We know that the nearer to the end times we come, the more active Satan and his forces will be. God has given us His Word to teach us how to live for Him in these days of increased warfare. There is much instruction for us in Acts and the Epistles.
|area||JERUSALEM||JUDEA – SAMARIA||ENDS OF THE EARTH|
|time||2 YRS (33-35)||13 YRS (35-48)||14 YRS (48-62)|
|Paul’s travels||Missionary Jour||1MJ||2MJ||3MJ||Rome1||Trip||Rome||…|
|Years||1 ½||2 ½||4||5||5||1||…|
- EVENTS (Acts)
- PENTECOST AND AFTER (Acts 1-4)
- ANANIAS & SAPPHIRA (Acts 5)
- PETER’S SHADOW DELIVERS (Acts 5)
- MANY HEALED & DELIVERED (Acts 8:1-8)
- SIMON MAGUS (Acts 8)
- BAR-JESUS (ELYMAS) (Acts 13)
- PHILIPPI MEDIUM (Acts 16:16-18)
- IDOLATRY ATHENS, CORINTH (Acts 17)
- PAUL AT EPHESUS (Acts 19)
Spiritual warfare training questions
- PAUL’S WRITINGS (Epistles)
- 1 THESSALONIANS
- 2 THESSALONIANS
- 1 CORINTHIANS
- 2 CORINTHIANS
Spiritual warfare training questions
OUR GOD-GIVEN ARMOR FOR SPIRITUAL WARFARE
- THE HELMET OF SALVATION (Ephesians 6:17)
- BREASTPLATE of RIGHTEOUSNESS (Ephesians 6:14)
- BELT of TRUTH (Ephesians 6:14)
- SANDALS of PEACE (Ephesians 6:15)
- SHIELD of FAITH (Ephesians 6:16)
- SWORD of the SPIRIT – WORD OF GOD (Ephesians 6:17)
USE THE WORD OF GOD
PROMISES RELATED TO SPIRITUAL WARFARE
PRAYER (Ephesians 6:18)
PRAYER OF THE ARMOR OF GOD
Spiritual warfare training questions
- 1 TIMOTHY
- 2 TIMOTHY
- PETER’S WRITINGS (Epistles)
- MISC WRITINGS (Epistles)
PENTECOST AND AFTER (Acts 1-4) ⇑
The book of Acts opens with Jesus returning to heaven after His victory over sin and Satan while on earth (Acts 1:1-11). Then after choosing Matthias to replace Judas (Acts 1:12-26) the believers waited for Jesus’ promised gift, the Holy Spirit. When He came they had God’s power and presence to help them in their life and ministry (Acts 2:1-13). The difference the Spirit makes is immediately seen in Peter’s change from a coward who denied Jesus (Mark 14:66-72) to courageous spokesman (Acts 2:14-40). Three thousand responded by putting their faith in Jesus (Acts 2:41).
LESSON FOR TODAY: God’s Spirit is essential for us to have victory in our battle against sin and Satan. Without His wisdom, guidance, power, peace and protection we wouldn’t be able to stand against all that comes against us. It is essential to learn to listen to Him, be sensitive to His guidance, follow His leading and know how to tap into His power.
Satan had failed to stop Jesus from sealing his doom by His crucifixion and resurrection. Satan was not able to stop Jesus from defeating him at the cross and the empty tomb. But if he could keep the gospel message from spreading, he could still rule the vast majority of humanity. His goal at this point became to limit the power of the brand new Christian church, intending to keep it weak, keep it from growing. So he put all his energy into defeating the early Christians, hoping to extinguish the spark before it grew and spread, and keep mankind in darkness and bondage. However, as we follow the growth of the early church, we will see how his attempts worked against him!
His first approach was to bring physical opposition. The early Christians experienced rejection, suffering, persecution, and imprisonment (Acts 4:1-4). However, this opposition actually worked against Satan! The disciples responded to their trials with increased faithfulness and commitment (Acts 4:5-22). God used even the efforts of the enemy to make them stronger as they trusted in Him and saw His provision (Romans 8:28).
LESSON FOR TODAY: While Satan still attacks the church today, God often uses persecution to make the church stronger and increases their witness. He uses Satan’s attacks for His purpose. All things may not be good in themselves, but God does use them for the good of those who love Him (Romans 8:28). It has been said that the church can stand anything but success. Where the church has not faced opposition but has been popularly accepted, there has often been a compromising that leads to weakness among God’s people. While we never like to experience pain of any kind, God still uses it for His glory and our growth. This is a key way that we can defeat Satan’s efforts in our lives. We must respond to trials with increased faithfulness and commitment, as the early disciples did. In that way, we can actually turn Satan’s efforts against himself and take ground for God’s kingdom.
ANANIAS & SAPPHIRA (Acts 5) ⇑
When external persecution didn’t stop the church’s growth (Acts 4:4) Satan tried attacking from within. He wanted to contaminate the spiritual life of the church members, as seen in the case of Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5:1-10). God revealed to Peter that Satan had filled their heart so that they lied to the Holy Spirit by not being honest about the amount of money for which they sold their land (Acts 5:3).
The sin was not in keeping some of the money for themselves that would have been fine. The sin was lying and saying they gave all the money to the church in order to impress their fellow believers. They did this despite the Holy Spirit convicting them that such a statement was wrong. To set an example of the importance of holiness, God took the lives of these two carnal believers (Acts 5:3-11). They still went to heaven, but lost opportunity to serve and grow in this life. Again, God took the work of Satan and used it instead for His own glory. The Christians were taught vividly of the importance of holiness, and as a consequence, unbelievers were attracted to Jesus (Acts 5:42 – 6:1).
LESSON FOR TODAY: Our pride often keeps us from sharing with others the areas in life where we are struggling. As a result they stay hidden in the dark and we don’t have encouragement and support. If Ananias or Sapphira would have shared their struggle with greed with someone it would have brought the work of the enemy against them into the light and weakened it. Prayer support and accountability would also have occurred. We play into the enemies’ hands when we allow our pride to keep us from sharing our struggles with others.
LESSON FOR TODAY: Satan still uses this strategy today. He causes more damage to the church from within than he does through attacks from without. Christians hurting other Christians, churches hurting Christians, Christians hurting churches – this is a very common and successful approach of Satan even today. It can be more dangerous because when we are attacked from without we recognize the hand of the enemy and pull together in unity. When it is from within, though, we often fail to recognize it for the attack that it is. Instead of joining together against it we allow divisions to come among God’s people. And again it is our pride that feeds this, wanting to be first and be right. It is our pride that keeps us from humbling ourselves and confessing our sins to God and others (when the sins have hurt others). Keeping our sin in the darkness allows it to grow; bringing it into the light exposes it and weakens it.
LESSON FOR TODAY: “Satan filled your heart” (Acts 5:3) is Peter’s appraisal of what happened to Ananias and Sapphira. “Fill” (Greek ‘pieroo’) means “to fill to the full” and is the same word used for the filling of the Holy Spirit in Ephesians 5:18. There is no way of knowing to what extent they were demonized or exactly what Satan did. Surely he helped them go in the direction they themselves chose and gave them opportunity to believe his lies so as to deceive themselves as to what they were really doing. He may have fed their greed or even encouraged fearful thoughts of not having enough money. He did this to counter the conviction of sin in them by the Holy Spirit. We do know they always had a free will to resist and are totally responsible for their thoughts and actions. We don’t know today, either, where human responsibility ends and demonic influence takes over, but we know both are often present. Whatever the balance, the cause, symptoms, results and cure are the same. Don’t waste time trying to figure out details about what demons do and how they do it. Focus on the solution, not the problem! And the solution starts with the person who is demonized admitting and confessing the sin in his life that has allowed the demons to work. They don’t cause a sin, they enhance a sin that is already there, and so it must be removed and stopped so the demons stop as well. As it has been said, if you want to keep the rats away, get rid of the garbage!
LESSON FOR TODAY: Peter states that Satan enticed them to lie to the Holy Spirit. Whether this was literally Satan or one of his demons we don’t know. Often we say that ‘Satan did ____’ when we know it wasn’t personally him, but done by his forces. Perhaps it was Satan himself since this was a direct, frontal attack on the young church. If the flame could be distinguished before it took root and spread, then the church could be severely crippled. If it was a demon assigned to destroy them, saying ’Satan’ did it is still applicable for they are all his forces working with him for the same effect. It would be most unlikely that Satan would personally attack any of us today. He has far greater places to exert his influence and has plenty of demons to work against us. It doesn’t take Satan to help us sin, the weakest demon, along without sin nature, can bring about plenty of sin in us because we freely go along with it.
LESSON FOR TODAY: The specific sins that Ananias and Sapphira were guilty of were greed, pride, lies and deception to cover the lies. They were also guilty of jealousy (of Barnabas Acts 4:32-37), and that is greed and pride combined. Their attitude to material things was idolatry, for they put something before God. Idolatry is really spiritual adultery (Jeremiah 3:8-10; Ezekiel 16:23-43; 23:24-30; Revelation 17:1-5). It is clearly forbidden by God (Exodus 20:3,4,23; 23:224). Pride is also seen in wanting to impress everyone with their generosity and have the affirmation which Barnabas had just received (Acts 4:32-37).
LESSON FOR TODAY: Fear of not having enough money for themselves in the future probably entered in as well. Seldom is there a sin that doesn’t have fear as part of it somewhere! As do all sins, it starts in the mind (Judges 2:10-13; Ezekiel 14:7) and then becomes an action. When anything is more important to us than God there are demons who receive that adoration and ‘worship’ that we bestow on the object (Zechariah 10:2; 1 Corinthians 10:19-21).
LESSONS FOR TODAY: When a demon has access to one person that demon can also claim anyone that person becomes attached to, emotionally or physically (1 Corinthians 6:16). Emotional soul ties or physical sexual activity open a person to the demonizing of another.
LESSON FOR TODAY: Peter was made aware of what was happening so he could deal with the sin. As the leader he was responsible for those under him. God gives insights into the workings of demons so their work can be defeated to those with a need to know. When dealing with something demonic always pray for supernatural insight, wisdom and protection so you will be able to defeat the plans of the enemy. Some have the gift of distinguishing between spirits as part of their spiritual gift mix (1 Corinthians 12:10; Acts 13:6-12). If so, it must be used wisely and with maturity, always in total dependence on God so the person isn’t misled or deceived.
LESSON FOR TODAY: God is a holy God and does not allow sin. He uses this first clear rebellion as an example to show how He feels about sin, but in His mercy He doesn’t deal with every sin among His believers in this way. God did the same when He first formed the Jewish nation (Exodus 32:1-35). In each case, starting the Jewish nation or the church, He showed His holiness by bringing strict judgment at the first sin. He doesn’t enforce the same penalty of death on subsequent sinners, not because He shouldn’t but because He chooses to show mercy. His failure to judge our every sin today is not weakness, but mercy, certainly not something we should take advantage of. Every sin of lying, greed, jealousy, fear, etc., like Ananias and Sapphira also deserves death like they received. If you don’t know of anything else you can thank God for, then you can certainly thank Him for not striking you dead for sin.
LESSON FOR TODAY: God promises to bring good out of all things (Romans 8:28). That happened here. A new respect for God and fear of sin gripped the church (Acts 5:5, 11) which led to renewed reverence for God and an increased motivation for holiness. This strengthened the church and allowed God to work through them all the more (Acts 5:12, 15-16). A great number of people were attracted to Jesus and joined (Acts 5:14) but others without pure motives stayed away (Acts 5:13). God’s power was manifested in many being healed and delivered from demonizing (Acts 5:15-16). To have God’s power in your life or your church there must be cleansing from sin and a deep desire for holiness. Revival starts with a deep awareness of the holiness of God and sinfulness of man.
PETER’S SHADOW DELIVERS (Acts 5) ⇑
To validate the authenticity of the message the disciples were bringing, God did the same kinds of miracles through them that He did through Jesus. “As a result, people brought the sick into the streets and laid them on beds and mats so that at least Peter’s shadow might fall on some of them as he passed by. Crowds gathered also from the towns around Jerusalem, bringing their sick and those tormented by evil spirits, and all of them were healed” (Acts 5:15-16).
LESSON FOR TODAY: These special manifestations of spiritual power through healing and deliverance have not been seen since the first days of the early church, nor should they have been (1 Corinthians 13:8). At the start of the church, with Satan’s attacks, God made sure the spark took hold and grew. He validated and authenticated His servants when it was needed, where the church had not been established before, but as it took root these manifestations faded. Do not think these should regularly occur everywhere today or something is wrong with the church. These are necessary to open a new area of darkness to God’s truth, but not what a growing Christian builds his faith on. God is always able, and will do these kinds of miracles again in the Tribulation (Revelation 11:1-6). These signs had, and still have their place. But that place is not as part of everyday life in areas where the church has been established. So, when we see signs like this, we should be careful how we interpret them. Satan can and does counterfeit these things as well (Matthew 7:22-23; 24:44; Mark 13:20-22; Revelation 16:24). We live by faith, not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7).
Satan continues to stir up problems within the church today as he did then. Tension, jealousy and competition took root not just in Ananias and Sapphira but in others as well. What was given by those who sold their land was intended to help the poor among them, yet some felt they weren’t getting their fair share of food and clothing (Acts 6:1). The church responded by ordaining deacons to make a fair distribution of the resources to those in need (Acts 6:1-7).
LESSON FOR TODAY: Satan’s strategy is still to bring division. Jesus says our distinguishing mark as Christians is to be love (John 18:35). Satan has many subtle but effective ways of dividing friends, couples, families and churches. Many times these things happen and he or his demons aren’t even involved for our sin nature brings these about without his influence. Even so, his demons are always there to provide whatever ‘help’ they can to bring division among believers. Pray regularly against that. Encourage others to do the same. Be alert to small things that can easily grow into big problems. Pray, give counsel, encourage and show love to all.
As the early church grew Satan continued to attack from within and without. He continued to stir up the political and religious leaders to bring more persecution by having James killed (Acts 12:1-2) and Peter arrested awaiting death (Acts 12:3-4).
How did the disciples counter this strategy? Or rather we should ask how God’s Spirit led them to counter Satan’s persecution without and division within. They did exactly as they saw Jesus do when attacked. They faithfully persevered in their mission. They weren’t discouraged or swayed into changing their focus. They went out by twos and spread His Word wherever they went. Large numbers turned to Jesus for salvation. That, of course, brought up much demonic opposition but it also brought many people freedom from demonizing (Acts 8:5-13). Everything they accomplished was done in Jesus’ name (Acts 4:7).
MANY HEALED & DELIVERED (Acts 8:1-8) ⇑
For the next two years the church continued to grow despite persecution. In fact, persecution caused much of the growth. As believers were forced to flee from Jerusalem they took the Good News of Jesus with them wherever they want (Acts 81). One of the reasons God allowed the persecution was to move the people out so they would fulfill the great commission (Matthew 28:18-20; Acts 1:8). Again God used Satan’s attacks for His purpose (Romans 8:28).
LESSON FOR TODAY: Again we see that God always uses what Satan planned for evil to bring about good (Genesis 50:20). He uses specific individual events intended for evil in the lives of certain individuals, including us, to bring about His plan. He also uses attacks against His Body as a whole and brings good from it as well. God is sovereign over Satan (I John 4:4) and limits what he is allowed to do (Job 1:6-12; 2:1-6). Satan and his demons eventually go too far and overplay their hand, causing the person or group they are attacking to become more alert and turn to God for help. When they overplay their hand people become aware that something unusual is happening and they are in a spiritual war (2 Corinthians 2:5-11). Never fear, God is in control, or panic when it seems demons are winning. God is ALWAYS in control and always has a plan and purpose.
As the church spread into new cultures they found themselves confronted by a different spiritual world view, a greater openness to contact with spiritual forces of any kind. The Jews believed evil spirits were everywhere and behind virtually anything negative. Various and strange means were used to drive demons out, but only had success when they used god’s name, and even then it was minimal.
In the Greco-Roman world ‘magic’ was common and well recognized. Contact with a supernatural power who could bring protection against disease, bring revenge by harming an enemy, cause another to fall in love or to attain power over others or to foretell the future was a part of everyday life. When King Herod heard about Jesus and the miracles He was performing his Greco-Roman world view led him to believe that Jesus really was John the baptizer, the one he had killed, come back to life (Matthew 6:14-16).
When the Jews came into these cultures they brought their deeper understanding of and power over these evil forces. As a result, some who sought to use these forces for their own gain were attracted to the Jews. When Christians started moving into these cultures they brought with them something unknown before – power over unseen forces in the name of Jesus. This, along with physical healings, validated their message as being from God.
LESSON FOR TODAY: Today, too, we must be aware of the spiritual world view of the culture to which we are ministering. The Western world is, for the most part, closed to recognizing spiritual powers behind what happens. Third World countries, especially those with animistic beliefs, see supernatural powers and forces at work all around them. Demons adapt to and work within the beliefs of the people in the culture where they are assigned. In the West they do all they can to hide their identity but in animistic cultures they do all they can to manifest their presence and therefore bring fear on those around them.
Thus when Philip went to Samaria with their Greco-Roman worldview he faced a different audience than he had in Jerusalem. “When the crowds heard Philip and saw the miraculous signs he did, they all paid close attention to what he said. With shrieks, evil spirits came out of many, and many paralytics and cripples were healed. So there was great joy in that city” (Acts 8:6-8).
LESSON FOR TODAY: In cultures today that don’t have a Christian heritage or much of a gospel witness God still uses physical healing and deliverance from demonic influence or even dreams to show His power and bring others to His truth. I personally have seen this many times in India, especially in dark northern India.
SIMON MAGUS (Acts 8) ⇑
As word of the Christians’ power in the name of Jesus spread, a man named Simon who practiced ‘sorcery’ heard of it (Acts 8:9). He had been using local traditions and pagan religions to remove demonic influence but with limited success. The powers he contacted to overcome the demons were demonic themselves, and therefore all of this was forbidden by God (Leviticus 19:26; Deuteronomy 18:10; 2 Kings 16:5; 17:17).The word translated ‘sorcerer’ in the Bible is the Greek word ‘magos.’ Our word ‘magic’ comes from this but the real meaning does not refer to sleight of hand tricks which we associate with magicians today. It refers to those with supernatural abilities. It can be translated magician, sorcerer, wizard, enchanter, astrologer or even wise men (‘Magi’ in Matthew 2). Actually, the word started with the ‘wise men’ of the east, especially Babylon. These were men with learning and education that far exceeded anyone in their culture. This superior knowledge caused others to look up to them as something ‘supernatural’. Daniel was one of these learned men who had great wisdom and insight (Daniel 2:12-48; 4:6, 18; 5:7-8, 15). As Greek culture spread into this area they picked up this word and applied it to anyone who did special acts or had special powers.
Simon used his demonic connections to impress the people around him (Acts 8:10) but when Philip came with his greater powers many came to Jesus and were baptized, including Simon himself who followed Philip everywhere because this new power was greater than anything he had seen (Acts 8:13). Simon, acting from his sin nature, tried to buy the power Philip had (Acts 8:18-19). Peter, who had come up from Jerusalem to help with the great working of God’s Spirit that had broken out in Samaria, sternly rebuked Simon who immediately repented (Acts 8:20-24). God was teaching His followers that He bestows His powers freely and not to the highest bidder.
LESSON FOR TODAY: Unfortunately there are still many like Simon in the church today, those who want to use God and His power for their own benefit. Many are overly impressed with works of power, sign gifts and the like. They want the most and the best for themselves. They focus on the supernatural instead of the God behind the supernatural. Pride lures them in dangerous directions like it did Simon. God’s message is the same as it was then – repent and stop trying to use God for your own glory!
Today it is easy to find those who are impressed with the power behind spiritual warfare and bringing deliverance to those who are demonized. They are in awe of demonic powers and spend way too much time and energy focusing on them. Instead our focus must go to God and His glory. Don’t let demons, or those who are gifted to fight them, impress you or distract you from giving your attention and glory to Jesus alone. Don’t make a god of spiritual warfare. It is a means to an end, not an end in itself!
BAR-JESUS (ELYMAS) (Acts 13) ⇑
The next clear incident of spiritual warfare recorded in Acts happened about a dozen years after the incident with Simon, about fifteen years after Jesus’ resurrection. Paul had come to salvation and started his training (Acts 9), and Peter had begun began taking the Gospel to the Gentiles (Acts 10-11). Persecution continued as James was killed, and Peter was imprisoned and awaiting death (Acts 12:1-4) until God supernaturally intervened and released Peter (Acts 12:5-19). Then Paul and Barnabas left on their first missionary journey (Acts 13:1-3). When they reached Cyprus they met strong Satanic opposition (Acts 13:4-12). Since Jesus Himself had found Himself in numerous power encounters with Satan and demons, it is no surprise that His followers would experience the same opposition as they continued His mission and ministry.
Bar-Jesus, a Jewish sorcerer and false prophet who had a lot of influence with the local official, opposed Paul and Barnabas when they tried to present the gospel to him (Acts 13:4-12). Bar-Jesus is also called Elymas, meaning “sorcerer”. The same word, ‘magos,’ is used of him as was used of Simon Magus (Acts 8). That man was a Gentile but Bar-Jesus was a Jew and was demonized (Acts 13:10). He was Satan’s pawn against God and His work in the continuing battle of Satan to defeat God’s Kingdom (Genesis 3:15). The results of who won this power encounter between Satan (through Bar-Jesus) and God (through Paul) would determine who would have the most influence on the leaders and people of Cyprus. The kingdom of darkness was again challenging the kingdom of light (John 1:5; 3:19; 8:12).
Paul was not intimidated but gave Bar-Jesus direct eye contact (Acts 13:9) and gave him the strongest recorded rebuke he ever gave anyone: “Then Saul, who was also called Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked straight at Elymas and said, ‘You are a child of the devil and an enemy of everything that is right! You are full of all kinds of deceit and trickery. Will you never stop perverting the right ways of the Lord? Now the hand of the Lord is against you. You are going to be blind, and for a time you will be unable to see the light of the sun.’ Immediately mist and darkness came over him, and he groped about, seeking someone to lead him by the hand” (Acts 13:9-11).
How did Paul know this man was a pawn of Satan and seeking to undermine God’s ministry there? God’s Spirit must have shown Him, as He did Peter about Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5; 1 Corinthians 12:10).
LESSON FOR TODAY: When encountering a demon in someone who is demonized do not let them intimidate you or cause any fear. God is greater (I John 4:4) and we have nothing to fear (2 Timothy 1:7). Looking them in the eye is important, for this contact establishes your authority in Jesus over them and puts them under Jesus’ authority. Our eyes show truth, along with who we are and the words we speak. This truth is greater than anything that lives in lies and deception. Be sensitive to God’s Spirit as He shows you what you need to know to have victory against these demonic forces.
God’s judgment on Bar-Jesus was very appropriate – physical blindness to illustrate the spiritual blindness he already had (Acts 13:11-12). Everyone present saw God’s power defeat Satan’s power and that opened the way for the gospel to spread in that area. Hopefully his time in darkness brought Bar-Jesus to a realization of the truth and he found the true light in Jesus.
PHILIPPI MEDIUM (Acts 16:16-18) ⇑
Paul and Barnabas continued their mission trip for about a year and a half (Acts 13:13 – 14:28). Wherever they went the gospel spread and people, Jews and Gentiles, came to Jesus for salvation. In fact, so many Gentiles were coming that the leaders of the Jewish Christian church met in Jerusalem to consider if Gentiles would have to become Jews also in order to be Christians (Acts 15). The clear answer was no. Paul then went back to the churches he had started on his first missionary journey, taking Silas and later Timothy with him (Acts 16:1-1-5). God led them through Asia Minor and across the sea to Philippi which was in Europe (Acts 16:6-12). They established a small church there in the home of Lydia (Acts 16:13-15). This sets the background for the next power encounter between Satan’s forces and God’s people, about two years after the previous encounter with Bar-Jesus.
When going to the place of prayer in Philippi, Paul and those with him were met by a young slave girl who “had a spirit by which she predicted the future” (Acts 16:16). The Greek word translated “spirit by which she predicted the future” is “python.” Thus she was a “pyhthoness,” a named used to refer to those indwelt by a spirit from the Greek god Apollo who gave oracles. This is the name of the dragon/snake, Apollo, killed at Delphi who guarded the priestess there and gave her oracles. Apollo was worshipped as the python god at the shrine of Delphia in central Greece. This Apollo spirit was the spirit by which the ‘god’ spoke to the person he indwelt, enabling them to pronounce oracles. The people thought Apollo was speaking through this young slave girl, especially since it was probably a male voice they heard coming out of her. While there are many explanations to what some today call ‘speaking in tongues’ (see with 1 Corinthians 11-13), there are those who feel that at least some of what was happening in Corinth, and even today, is done by these types of demons. Paul knew the true source of the slave girl’s oracles was a demon. The girl was just their medium.
A medium is someone through whom a demon speaks (Isaiah 8:19; Leviticus 19:31; 20:27; Deuteronomy 18:9-13; Acts 16:16-18). For many days she followed them shouting, “These men are servants of the Most High God, who are telling you the way to be saved” (Acts 16:17). This shows us that the demons immediately recognized Jesus as God and couldn’t deny who He was and is. Perhaps some of this has to do with the girl herself knowing who He is through the demons and wanting to be free from them.
Whatever the cause of her continual comments, Paul became very troubled. It wasn’t what she was saying, but knowing that she was demonized that bothered him. The Greek word for ‘troubled’, disponeou, has the idea of grief, pain and anger all together. It describes how the Jewish leaders felt when they heard John and Peter were still preaching (Acts 4:2). Paul was upset because the young girl was being victimized by the demons as well as her owner. Therefore he turned and said to the spirit, “In the name of Jesus Christ I command you to come out of her!” At that moment the spirit left her (Acts 16:18).
LESSON FOR TODAY: Paul didn’t go out of his way to track down demonic activity, but when it was there he dealt with it. When demons interfered with his ministry or the lives of those he was ministering to, he expelled them. We can and must do the same thing. We don’t have to go searching for demons to attack; we are to go about our daily lives and ministry. But when demons interfere with us or those we are ministering to, then we are to remove them.
LESSON FOR TODAY: Notice that Paul cast the demon(s) out in Jesus’ name (Acts 16:18). We have no power or authority of our own to do this, only in Jesus. Jesus has given us that same authority to use today (John 14:12; Matthew 28:18-20). Satan deceives us into thinking we are powerless victims but that is a lie. As God’s children we have access to the same resources Jesus did when He lived on earth. For more information about this see the following sections: II. LIFE OF JESUS, C. SPIRITUAL WARFARE IN JESUS’ MINISTRY, 6. POWER & AUTHORITY GIVEN (Luke 9:1; 10:1, 17-19).
We have this power available to us as well (Acts 1:8; John 14:12). It is His power that transforms us into a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17) as He gives us new life (Ephesians 4:24; Colossians 3:10). His power delivers us from temptations and trials when we rely on it (1 Corinthians 10:13; 2 Corinthians 2:14). He has power to put His divine nature in us (2 Peter 1:4) and give us live abundant now and eternal life in heaven (John 3:16; 10:10).
LESSON FOR TODAY: How did the apostles cast demons out? Paul brought deliverance by a word (verbally, just as Jesus did). He said, “In the name of Jesus I command you to come out” (Acts 16:16-18). Paul was not establishing a pattern for us to following by using cloths to cast out demons. When God was showing everyone that Paul was His spokesman there was a time when just touching a cloth that Paul had used brought deliverance (Acts 19:12). That was a special event, not a pattern to follow! When directed by God, Paul defeated the demons in Elymas (an unbeliever) by making him blind so he’d stop interfering with God’s word (Acts 13:6-12).
We have many examples of the disciples casting out demons, too. Jesus gave them power and commanded them to use it (Matthew 10:1; Luke 10:17; Mark 6:7; 16:17). They cast out demons as a regular part of their ministry (Mark 9:38; Luke 10:17). Paul cast out demons (Acts 16:16-18; 19:12) and so did Philip (Acts 8:7). When trying to do it in their own strength (without dependence on God) they failed (Mark 9:18, 28-29).
IDOLATRY ATHENS, CORINTH (Acts 17) ⇑
Paul and those who went him then went to Corinth to start a church there. The culture was very sinful with much demonic worship involved in the lives of the people. When they came to Jesus for salvation they still had their demonic openings and involvement. Paul dealt with much of this in his letters to the Corinthians (see with 1, 2 Corinthians). One of the issues was sacrifices made in pagan worship being accepted by demons (1 Corinthians 10:20-21).
LESSON FOR TODAY: Today, too, demons go behind modern ‘idols’ and take the praise and worship given them. It somehow empowers them to do more evil. False cults and religions lead the list, singing and acting ‘idols’ along with material things that are highly valued all fit in this category. God is a jealous God and doesn’t want us involved with any kinds of idols at all (Exodus 20:5; 34:14; Deuteronomy 4:24; 5:9; Joshua 24:19).
PAUL AT EPHESUS (Acts 19) ⇑
The pagan goddess Artemis was worshipped in Ephesus. The people there were Asiatic and thus animists who were really worshipping demons. She was a widely worshipped deity whose temple in Ephesus was one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. She was recognized by her followers as the greatest power in the universe. She was seen as savior, lord and queen and was worshipped by many long festivals. ‘Missionaries’ were sent out to spread her message. This cult was very influential and very rich.
Of course the power behind Artemis was demonic, and those who promoted her worship knew it. They used those powers to help her reputation, and therefore theirs as well, grow and expand. She was recognized as the goddess over the underworld and the one with authority over all demons. In fact, these demons who served her were given Jewish, Egyptian and Greek names. The ‘magic’ she had, the supernatural power over natural forces, was demonic.
Because of Artemis, Ephesus became the main center for pagan demonic worship in all Asia Minor. Because of its key place in Asia Minor, geographically as well as culturally, Paul visited Ephesus at least twice (Acts 18:19-21; 19:1 – 20:1). Eventually, the center of early Christianity moved from Jerusalem to Ephesus, then later to Rome itself. John and Mary lived in Ephesus. Because of its importance, Satan and his forces did all they could to oppose this. That is why spiritual warfare came to a head at Ephesus, as can be seen in the book of Acts as well as the epistle to the Ephesians, which was a circular letter read in all the churches in the area.
Luke records several of these power encounters between God and Satan during Paul’s first visit to Ephesus.
A power encounter is a crisis point occurring in the on-going spiritual warfare between God and Satan. Paul was bringing the kingdom of light into Satan’s kingdom of darkness. Satan was doing all he could to keep the area under his control. God gave Paul the ability to show God’s greater power by doing “signs, wonders and miracles” (2 Corinthians 12:12; Romans 15:19). Towards the end of Paul’s time there, God worked in a special way through Paul to show the people the power of Paul’s God and message.
LESSON FOR TODAY: Again we see that in cultures today which don’t have a Christian heritage or much of a gospel witness God still, many times, uses physical healing and, deliverance from demonic influence and even dreams to show His power and bring others to His truth.
POWER ENCOUNTER 1: HANDKERCHIEF HEALING
Those who merchandized Artemis made a good profit by selling amulets and charms that claimed to have power to heal. Many of the illnesses were demonic, as were the ‘cures.’
LESSON FOR TODAY: Satan can cause illness: crippled limbs (Luke 13:11), Paul’s thorn in the flesh (eye disease? – II Corinthians 12:7), muteness (sometimes dumbness, too – Matthew 9:32-33; 12:22; Mark 9:17-18,24-25), blindness (Matthew 12:22), seizures (Mark 1:26; 9:17-18,20,22,25; Matthew 17:15,18; Luke 9:39), deafness (Mark 9:17-18,20,25), sores (skin cancer?) (Job 2:7), boils and other painful afflictions (Psalm 78:49 – the plagues in Egypt were demon-caused), physical torments of all kinds (Revelation 9:5,10), painful illness (Job2:7-8), and even death (Job 1:19). Since he can cause these things he can seem to ‘heal’ them by stopping what he did/does to cause them in the first place. Only God can heal, but Satan can counterfeit that by making it seem like he heals.
If the God Paul preached was greater than Satan and the demons who worked through Artemis, then everyone assumed He would be able to do what they did and heal people. “God did extraordinary miracles through Paul, so that even handkerchiefs and aprons that had touched him were taken to the sick, and their illnesses were cured and the evil spirits left them” (Acts 19:11-12). These free articles of Paul’s worked much, much better than Satan’s counterfeits.
LESSONS FOR TODAY: This is not a standard way to evangelize or to do deliverance. In fact, Paul probably wasn’t aware of it when this began. Perhaps helpers or others took these cloths and gave them to needy friends. God honored their faith and used this to verify His power through His servant Paul. Of course it wasn’t Paul who healed, only God. But this validated Paul’s claims to have the best and right power with him. It was a necessary first step to gain a hearing so Paul could spread the good news of Jesus Christ. We must not get involved in objects that seem to have supernatural power for our full faith and attention must only be on God Himself. These things are counterfeit, even superstitions, good luck charms, etc., are to be totally avoided.
POWER ENCOUNTER 2: SONS OF SCEVA
As word of God’s power through Paul spread there were those who saw Jesus’ name as a magic charm they could use to their own advantage. “Some Jews who went around driving out evil spirits tried to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those who were demon-possessed. They would say, ‘In the name of Jesus, whom Paul preaches, I command you to come out.’ Seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, were doing this. One day the evil spirit answered them, ‘Jesus I know, and I know about Paul, but who are you?’ Then the man who had the evil spirit jumped on them and overpowered them all. He gave them such a beating that they ran out of the house naked and bleeding” (Acts 19:13).
Sceva, a Jew, was a self-proclaimed chief priest. He claimed to do Jewish exorcism but used occult ways to accomplish this. He thought he would try this new ‘charm’ so he could have better results in driving demons out, and therefore earning high fees for doing so. However using Jesus’ name just brought him and his sons misery because they weren’t believers. The people learned that Jesus isn’t a magic word to use. Only a personal relationship with Him will bring victory.
LESSON FOR TODAY: Often demons work together in cooperation to make it seem like the human they used had the power to cast out demons. Really they were just working together to make it seem that way. One demon would attack a person, then another would indwell a false deliverer so that when the demon was commanded to be gone it would leave. It was all set up to make it look like the person had power to deliver. This deceived the person himself and those watching. But this time the demons from the demonized man overpowered the demonized deliver and beat him up. Demons don’t always work together, though. They are filled with hate and jealousy and often take it out on each other, as happened this time.
LESSON FOR TODAY: When we feel confusion in our minds it may be from demonic interference, trying to confuse and mislead us. Other times, though, what we sense as confusion is conflict among the demons themselves as they struggle with each other for authority and influence, especially the leader is gone working elsewhere. The distraction and/or confusion the demonized person senses could be conflict among the demons themselves, for their self-centeredness, pride and ego isn’t just manifested against us but against each other also. They cooperate out of fear and being overpowered, not for any other reason.
LESSON FOR TODAY: Our power and authority are in Jesus and His name, but we are not to use His name as a magic charm. We must always make sure there is no sin in our life, that we are right with God, and, of course, that we are His child through faith in Jesus.
POWER ENCOUNTER 3: BURNING SORCERY BOOKS
As it became more and more obvious that God’s power shown through Paul was much greater than that the followers of Artemis claimed, many came to God for salvation. “When this became known to the Jews and Greeks living in Ephesus, they were all seized with fear, and the name of the Lord Jesus was held in high honor. Many of those who believed now came and openly confessed their evil deeds. A number who had practiced sorcery brought their scrolls together and burned them publicly. When they calculated the value of the scrolls, the total came to fifty thousand drachmas. In this way the word of the Lord spread widely and grew in power” (Acts 19:17-20).
LESSONS FOR TODAY: “Sorcery scrolls” refers to magic texts, adjurations, formulas, protection rituals, curses, incantations and similar things. Such things exist today as well and have an amount of power behind them – demonic power. Keep away from such things. If someone you minister to has them they must be destroyed – anything that can be used by demons to gain access to their lives or family must be destroyed.
When the Jews took possession of Canaan under Joshua they were told to not keep any of the objects they captured. Even animals and children were to be destroyed. They had been dedicated to Satan and were claimed by him. Those who used these things would be opening themselves up to the demonic powers to whom they had been dedicated. Today we must watch for things like literature and objects from other cults and religions, Ouija boards and other occult paraphernalia, pagan objects from primitive cultures, objects from Masonic or other secret societies, some Native American artifacts and the like. Pornography, drug or alcoholic supplies, music with a black or evil dimension, even certain movies or articles of clothing dedicated to darkness can allow access.
The solution is to remove and destroy such objects as being openings for demonic access. Ask for forgiveness for having them, cleanse the room from their presence, take back any access the enemy may claim and dedicate the space as well as yourself to Jesus. Ask Him to reveal to you anything else that may need to be dealt with.
When a room or object is under the control of an evil spirit for whatever reason they claim, dedicating it to God by painting crosses by dipping a finger in oil and making them on a wall is a good practice. Playing Christian music and leaving a small light on also is offensive to the forces of darkness. Of course, praying and quoting scripture while making the crosses is important, too. We as a Christian have great power in blessing people, especially our own families. ‘God bless you’ is more than a slang or shallow comment. There’s real power in it when one means it that way. It’s a privilege to use and repeat it often to people. Distance doesn’t seem to affect it at all. Of course, there is something even more special about touching a person when we pray or ask God to bless them, but when at a distance it carries just as well. The power is in God Who is everywhere (omnipresent). Satan and demons are limited to one place at a time so they are at a distinct disadvantage in this, too.
This extended time in Ephesus turned out to be Paul’s last freedom of movement for some time. From Ephesus he went to Jerusalem (Acts 21) where he was falsely charged and arrested (Acts 22). He spent the next several years in prison, finally being transferred to Rome (Acts 23-28) where the book of Acts ends. Paul was eventually released to travel some more, but his health had been broken and the brunt of the load of ministry which he had carried was now spread to many new evangelists and missionaries. Paul was again arrested and this time put to death in Rome. But during his travels and imprisonment, he wrote letters to churches to stay in touch. We can learn much about spiritual warfare from these letters.
LESSON FOR TODAY: It must have been very frustrating for Paul to have to write letters to people and places he wanted to see in person. No doubt he wondered what purpose God would ever have in that. However, that is what God used to form the majority of the New Testament and its teaching. Were Paul free to visit these places in person, millions of Christians for two thousand years would not have had these priceless letters and their teachings. God always has a purpose in what He does. When things don’t seem to make sense to you trust that God knows what He is doing (Romans 8:28).
SPIRITUAL WARFARE TRAINING. At the end of each major section in this paper you will find questions to help you remember and apply what you have learned. You can look back through what you have read for the answers if need be. You need a Bible, a notebook and a pen to do these questions.
If you want to send me your answers I would be glad to read them and offer comments or suggestions that might help you. You can write me at email@example.com. If you have any questions or prayer requests please feel free to write to me.
1. Why was it so important for the Holy Spirit to come to the believers on Pentecost?
2. What sins were Ananias and Sapphira guilty of?
3. What lessons can you learn from the account of Ananias and Sapphira?
4. List some lessons you can learn from the way Paul and the apostles brought deliverance to those who were demonized.
5. What were the 3 power encounters that took place in Ephesus in Acts 19? What was the outcome and why?
6. Have you ever been or are you now involved in a power encounter with Satan’s forces? What can you learn from Acts 19 to help you have victory?
7. Why were the sorcery books burnt? What kinds of objects today should be burnt so they don’t allow demonic influence to come?
When you have completed this you can move on to the next section.
QUESTIONS AND COMMENTS
Record your thoughts, questions, what you have learned, what you want to study in the future, prayer suggestions and whatever else you want to remember.
After Paul’s first missionary journey, when the church leaders met in Jerusalem and decided a Gentile did not have to become a Jew to have salvation (Acts 15), Paul wrote his first letter, at least the first part of our New Testament. He wanted to get this important message to the churches of Asia Minor (also called Galatia) so he wrote what we call the book of Galatians and sent it ahead. He traveled back to these places at the start of his second missionary journey (Acts 16-18). Several truths concerning spiritual warfare are included in this book.
Demons counterfeit God’s Truth. Paul tells the Galatians “But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned!” (Galatians 1:8) “Angel from heaven” could be one of God’s angels, or a demonic counterfeit. Paul’s point is that even an angel of God who speaks a different message is not doing what God wants, so certainly demons who have another gospel are possibilities. Works, pride, ritual, etc., do not bring man closer to God – He is found through truth, grace and humility.
Jesus took our curse and broke it. Paul quotes Deuteronomy 21:23, “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree” (Galatians 3:10-13). He has broken any and every curse against us, from sin or from demons or from someone who knowingly or unknowingly curses us.
LESSON FOR TODAY: For more information on curses and breaking them see under Life of Jesus, 5. Gadarenes Demoniac – Mark 5:1-20; Matthew 8:28-34; Luke 8:26-37.
1 THESSALONIANS ⇑
This second missionary journey of Paul’s took him further than his first. After revisiting the churches he started on his first missionary journey in Asia Minor (Galatia), God led him to Greece and the European continent. One of the places he visited there was Thessalonica. Not long after his visit he wrote them the letter we call 1 Thessalonians. Because he left suddenly after a short visit he wanted to write back to them and encourage them to stay faithful in their new life in Christ.
Satan hindered Paul’s plans. Paul recognized that, even though God is sovereign and has ultimate say over everything, Satan’s opposition kept Paul from visiting them again (1 Thessalonians 2:18).
LESSON FOR TODAY: We don’t know what obstacles Satan used or how he accomplished this, but we know God used it for His glory by establishing the church even with Paul not there and with God using Paul’s letters to them to benefit so many Christians over the years (Romans 8:28). God’s purpose is never hindered, but from our perspective, it can sometimes seem that the work of God is set back by Satan’s opposition. Don’t be surprised when you are opposed or when God seems to allow the opposition to seem to succeed. He will be the ultimate victor and He is in control of all that happens now as well.
Satan the tempter. Because he was concerned about their faith, thinking the tempter (Satan) might have tempted them, Paul sought to find out how they were doing spiritually (1 Thessalonians 3:5). He knew Satan would attack and do whatever he could to keep the people from growing spiritually.
LESSON FOR TODAY: SATAN’S PURPOSE His goal is to rule the whole world instead of God. He was given authority over this world system by Adam when he sinned (2 Corinthians 4:4; Ephesians 2:2) and controls our world system (1 John 5:19). He rules over it (Matthew 4:8-9; John 12:31; Luke 4:5-7; John 14:30; 16:11). He is behind its values and world view (James 3:15). Presently he works to deceive the nations (Daniel 10:13,20; Matthew 4:8; Ephesians 6:12; Revelation 20:3,7-8; 16:14; I Kings 22:6-7). He leads mankind into idolatry (Psalm 96:5; 106:36-38; Leviticus 17:7; Deuteronomy 32:17). He especially wants to destroy God’s special people: Israel (Revelation 12:13-17; 20:10; 2 Thessalonians 2:9) and the Church.
SATAN’S WORK AGAINST ALL PEOPLE He works against the gospel, hardening hearts to God’s truth (Matthew 13:19-22). He blinds their minds (2 Corinthians 4:3-4; 2 Thessalonians 2:7-10; Luke 8:12; Colossians 2:18). When they hear the truth Satan tries to snatch it from their minds (Mark 4:15; Matthew 13:19). He denies the truth (Genesis 3:1; 2 Timothy 4:3-4) and promotes false teaching (1 Timothy 4:1-2; 2 Thessalonians 2:9). As is true of any good counterfeiter, he tries to make his deceptions as close to the truth as possible so as to deceive more. The authority of the Scriptures, the person and work of Jesus and salvation by grace are areas he especially tries to obscure so make sure anything you believe has these at its heart and core. Satan brings oppression on all he can. His does this through sickness such as dumbness (Mark 9:17-29), blindness (Matthew 12:22), deformity (Luke 13:11-17), epilepsy (Luke 9:37-43) and other ways. He also uses the following to oppress: mental illness (Mark 5:1-20; 9:14-29; Luke 9:39), sin (Genesis 3:13-24; Ephesians 2:2), lawlessness (2 Corinthians 6:15) and death (Revelation 18:2; 9:13-18).
SATAN’S WORK AGAINST BELIEVERS A primary objective of Satan is to oppose God’s work and God’s people. He oppresses and leads the persecution against the Jews (Revelation 12:13-17; 20:10; 2 Thessalonians 2:9). He works especially hard against believers, for we are the light in his darkness, the only threat on this work against his kingdom. Since he can no longer attack Jesus directly he does so indirectly by attacking His children. He accuses us before God (Job 1:6-21; 2 Corinthians 2:11; Revelation 12:9-10; Zechariah 3:1-2) but Jesus is our defense attorney, our Advocate when accused (1 John 2:1). Satan does all he can to oppose and hinder our service to God (2 Corinthians 4:4; 1Thessalonians 2:18; 2 Corinthians 112:7; Zechariah 3:1; Matthew 13:19). He tries to infiltrate the church through false teaching (1 Timothy 4:1-2; 2 Thessalonians 2:9), false teachers (1 Timothy 4:1-3; 1 John 4:1; 2 Peter 2:1-2) and false ‘Christians’ (Matthew 13:38-40). While not all temptation comes from Satan and demons, he certainly does all he can to entice us into sin (2 Corinthians 2:11; 1 Timothy 3:7; 2 Timothy 2:26; 1 Corinthians 7:5) as he did when tempting Jesus. He will use our sin nature (James 1:14-15), the world system (1 John 2:15-16) or attack directly through demons (1 Corinthians 7:5). He can cause and use anger (Ephesians 4:27), pride (1 Timothy 3:6; 1 Chronicles 21:1; 1 Timothy 3:6), immorality (1 Corinthians 7:5), lies (Acts 5:1-3), doubting God’s Word and goodness (Genesis 3:1-5; Luke 4:9-12), ‘miracles’ to deceive (Mark 4:8-9; 2 Corinthians 11:13-15; 2 Thessalonians 2:3,9-11), hypocrisy (John 8:44; Acts 17:22), self-sufficiency (1 Chronicles 212:1-7), worry and fear (1 Peter 5:7-9; Hebrews 2:14; Psalm 23;4), lack of faith (Luke 22:31-32; 1 Peter 5:6-10), physical affliction (Job 1:6-22; 2:1-7; John 8:44; 1 Corinthians 5:5; 1 Timothy 1:20) and sin of any kind (1 Thessalonians 3:5; Matthew 4:3; 1 Corinthians 10:19-21, 2 Corinthians 11:3,13-15; 1 John 3:8).
DEMON’S WORK AGAINST ALL Demons carry out Satan’s commands and wishes. After enticing Adam and Eve to sin and getting authority over the world from them, Satan and his forces have continued trying to keep worship from God and getting it for themselves. They blind the minds of unbelievers (II Corinthians 4:4) and snatch the Word from their hearts (Luke 8:12). They do all they can to oppose God’s work (Revelation 2:13). Since they can’t attack God, they take their anger out on those who are God’s — His people (Jews and Christians today). Satan and his forces tempt Christians to lie (Acts 5:3), accuse and slander them before God (Revelation 12:10), hinder their work (I Thessalonians. 2:18), do anything possible to defeat them (Ephesians 6:11-12), tempt to immorality (I Corinthians 7:5) and incite persecution against them (Revelation 2:10). They promote human wisdom (1 Corinthians 2:12; 2 Corinthians 11:4; 1 John 4:5-6). They influence and control the nations (Daniel 10:13,20; Ephesians 6:12) and mislead them so they can destroy them (Isaiah 9:14). It must always be kept in mind, however, that God is in sovereign control. They can do nothing without God’s permission (Job 1:6-12).
Physically they can give superhuman strength (Mark 5:4); physically torment (Revelation 9:5,10), emotionally torment (1 Samuel 16:14-23); do miracles (Revelation 16:13-14; 13:12-15), inflict disease (Matthew 9:33; Luke 3:11,16), indwell people (Matthew 8:28-34) and indwell animals (Matthew 8:31-32).
Emotionally they torment (1 Samuel 16:14-23), cause fear (1 Samuel 18:12,15; 2 Corinthians 11:4; 2 Timothy 1:7; Romans 8:15; Job 4:14-15), cause anger (1 Samuel 18:10-11), cause jealousy (1 Samuel 18:10-15) and harden consciences (1 Timothy 4:2).
Sexually they cause immorality (Revelation 9:21-22; 2 Timothy 3:1-9; 1 Timothy 4:1-3) and cause all kinds of impurity (Zechariah 13:2).
Mentally they cause bondage (2 Corinthians 11:4), influence the mind (Genesis 3:15; Ephesians 6:10-20; 2 Corinthians 4:4; Colossians 1:13), control the mind (1 Corinthians 10:20; 2 Corinthians 4:4), and deceive, mislead and lie to people (1 Timothy 4:1,6; 1 Kings 22:22-23; 2 Chronicles 18:20-23).
Religiously they promote false doctrine (1 John 4:1-3; 1 Timothy 4:1; 1 Kings 22:22; Revelation 16:13), counterfeit the truth (2 Corinthians 10:20-21), promote hypocrisy (1 Timothy 4:2), promote legalism (1 Timothy 4:3), use false prophets and false teachers (1 John 4:1; 1 Kings 22:22-23; 2 Chronicles 18:20-23), use fortunetelling and occult practices (Acts 16:16-18) and promote idolatry while receiving the worship of idols (Leviticus 17:7; Deuteronomy 32:17; Psalm 106:37; Revelation 9:20; Hosea 4:10-12; 5:4; Acts 16:16; 1 Corinthians 10:20).
DEMON’S WORK AGAINST BELIEVERS They especially work against believers by frustrating and opposing God’s perfect will (Acts 16:16-18), putting obstacles in the path of those following God (1 Thessalonians 2:18; Romans 15:22), influencing believers to mislead other believers (Matthew 16:22-23.) and instigating things such as jealousy, pride and disunity (James 3:13-16). They seek to get believers to turn from God and living for Him (1 Timothy 4:1), they can cause physical torment (2 Corinthians 12:7), and they try to get us to operate by our own strength and ability (2 Timothy 3:5). All this work will intensify as the return of Jesus gets closer (1 Timothy 4:1).
2 THESSALONIANS ⇑
Soon after writing 1 Thessalonians, Paul wrote another letter to the believers in Thessalonica. He warned them about the coming antichrist who will be used by Satan to try to destroy God’s people and kingdom (2 Thessalonians 2:1-12). Paul knows that as the time of Jesus’ return gets closer Satan works harder to cause all the damage he can.
After finishing his second missionary journey Paul went back to Antioch for a brief stay. Very soon, though, he went on another, a third missionary journey. During this time he wrote to what was probably his most problematic church, the church in Corinth. Although believers, the people there were thinking and living as unbelievers. Pride, greed, immorality, selfishness and jealousy were rampant everywhere in the church. Paul wrote them at least 4 letters but God only inspired and included two in the New Testament.
DISCIPLINE OF SIN: In one case, a man was living with his father’s wife and the people were proud of this open-minded attitude (1 Corinthians 5:1-2). Paul says they are to exclude him from the benefits of church fellowship to show him the seriousness of his sin and to keep others from being negatively influenced by his example (1 Corinthians 5:3-5). “Hand this man over to Satan” is the way he puts it (1 Corinthians 5:5). The purpose is so that his “sinful nature” (Greek word refers to the physical flesh, home of the sin nature) may be destroyed. Figuratively Paul is saying that Satan’s world system will be so bad for him that he’ll miss what he had in the church and will repent of his sin and return. Eternal salvation is not at stake here, but daily fellowship and future reward is. Without God’s protection this is even more susceptible to demonic attack. God is allowing this so it will bring this man to repentance and back to fellowship with God and the body of believers in Corinth. We see this same thing happening in 1 Timothy 1:18-20.
SEXUAL UNION CAUSES ONENESS: God created sexual intimacy to show the great oneness of believers and Jesus (Ephesians 5:25-32). Satan tries hard to destroy this model by perverting and destroying the model of sex as a special union between a husband and a wife.
LESSON FOR TODAY: Satan understands the power of human sexuality and uses it to gain control over people through their sin (Ephesians 5:3-6). When a demon has access to one person and that person physically unites themself to another person, the sexual union allows that demon (or demons) to also have access to the other person. This does not have to be a marriage relationship, or even a love relationship. Paul says it happens even when one has sex with a prostitute (1 Corinthians 6:16). Therefore sexual activity with anyone before or outside marriage can be a direct opening to demonization. Any demons that have access to the person you are involved with will have immediate and instant access to you as well. It is like a spiritual AIDS infection, but there is no prevention, no ‘safe sex’ application.
When going through deliverance with someone, or for yourself, it is very important to confess any sexual sin and put it under the blood of Jesus. Then any demons who have claimed access through this sin must be commanded to be gone and not return. Ask to be filled with His Presence instead, and thank Him for His mercy!
ESSON FOR TODAY: Physical intimacy can lead to demonizing, and so can emotional intimacy. Soul ties in our past can be another opening for demons. Just like they can transfer from one person to another through a physical union like sex, so they can transfer through an emotional union as well. Souls can bond as well as bodies. When one gives their trust to another a bonding is formed. Bonds between mates, parents and children, godly friends, etc., are good and necessary. But when we bond with someone who is demonized then demons can use that as access to the other person. Souls become bonded, or tied together. If you have any of these in your past that you feel may not have been godly and healthy, confess them as sin and break the bond in Jesus’ name.
SPEAKING IN TONGUES: Before salvation the Corinthian believers spoke in ecstatic utterances, prophecies, revelations, spells and curses through the ‘power’ of Artemis (for more information about this see 9. PAUL AT EPHESUS (Acts 19). This was a regular part of their pagan worship, and was still happening in their church services. They were unable to distinguish demonic utterances from their pagan past to the ‘languages’ the Holy Spirit gave them as believers (1 Corinthians 12:1-3). Without knowing it, some were saying things that were blasphemous to God, so of course that didn’t come from the Holy Spirit. Paul writes 3 chapters (1 Corinthians 12-14) showing the place, purpose and limits of speaking in ’tongues.’
LESSON FOR TODAY: Does God want us to speak in tongues today? Are they from the Holy Spirit or from demons (or both)? A correct understanding of ‘tongues’ is important for those involved in spiritual warfare.
The Bible teaches that each believer is filled with the Holy Spirit at the moment of salvation (I Corinthians 10:1ff; 12:3; 6:19; Eph. 4:5; Rom. 5:5). One cannot be saved without the Holy Spirit indwelling them (John 7:37-39; 14:16-17; I Corinthians 6:19-20). From there on it is not a matter of getting more of the Holy Spirit but of the Holy Spirit getting more of us! As we totally submit and live a holy life He fills and works through us.
Then what about Acts 2, 8, 10 and 19, when the Holy Spirit came on those who were already believers? Acts 2 is a one-time, non-repeatable experience (not even repeated in Acts 8, 10 or 19). Just like the Second Person of the Trinity made a unique, one-time entrance into the world through a virgin in a stable, so the Third Person made His entrance in a unique, one-time way. When Jesus came back to earth after the resurrection to the apostles, Paul or John on Patmos, He never repeated the virgin-in-a-stable entrance. Acts 2, also, is non-repeatable.
Acts 2 is a transition, from Old Testament law when the Holy Spirit only indwelt some believers some times, to New Testament grace, when the Holy Spirit indwells all believers for their whole life. The apostles had already accepted Jesus’ claims and were saved in the old dispensation, then when the new dispensation started and the Spirit came they naturally would be the first to receive Him in that way. That is non-repeatable, too. In Acts 8 we see this same truth applied to half Jews and half Gentiles, in Acts 10 to Gentiles in Palestine, and in Acts 19 to Gentiles outside of Palestine. They were similar to Acts 2 to show that Jews and Gentiles were now equal in the same Body, that the same thing happened to each. Each one showed the changeover from Old Testament law to New Testament grace. There had to be a definite time of change, showing the transfer had been made and those believers accepted. Still, what happened was different enough to show that it wasn’t Acts 2 repeated again. Those were the only times anything even resembling Acts 2 happened in Acts, and it only happened once for each new group as the gospel spread from Jerusalem. All others received the Holy Spirit immediately at salvation.
Tongues is not proof of Spirit baptism. Many received the Holy Spirit but not tongues: 3,000 on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:38-41), early church believers (Acts 4:31), Samaritans (Acts 8:14-17), Paul (Acts 9:17-18), John the Baptist (Luke 1:15-16), Jesus (Luke 3:21-22; 4:1,14,18,21) and many others (Acts 4:8,31; 6:5; 7:55; 11:24; 13:9,52). Speaking in tongues is never mentioned in the leadership qualities in Titus or I Timothy. The Bible makes it clear that obedience is the proof of the Holy Spirit’s indwelling, not tongues (Ephesians 5:18f).
Tongues in Acts and Corinth were the same. The same Greek word (‘glossa’ meaning ‘tongue, to speak, language’) is always used of known foreign languages and is used in both Acts (2:6-11, etc.) and Corinth (I Corinthians 14:21; 12:10). In Acts is it obvious that the listeners heard known languages spoken by those who had no previous knowledge of the language. There is no indication that what Corinth experienced was different. It is only the church at Corinth that is mentioned as using tongues, and then many corrections were needed because it was a very carnal church (I Corinthians. 3:1-3).
The purpose of tongues was to show Jews that God’s judgment was on them. They were to spread God’s message to Gentiles but failed. God would show He was judging them for that by bringing His word to them by Gentiles in Gentile languages. This was prophesied in Isa. 28:9-12; 33:19f; Deuteronomy 28:49; and Jeremiah 5:15. Paul said tongues fulfilled those prophecies (I Corinthians 14:21-22). When the Jews didn’t heed this sign and repent, God’s judgment came upon them in 70 AD when Jerusalem was destroyed. After 70 AD there is no instance of tongues being used in the early church. Signs are placed before what they are to mark, not after! Paul said (I Corinthians. 13:8-12) that tongues “will be stilled.” The Greek word, ‘pauo,’ is in the middle voice; they will stop by themselves and not start again. History records only a very few, very isolated, very minor outbreak of tongues from Acts to the present. These groups were often heretical in some or all of their other beliefs. Obviously tongues did stop. There is nothing to indicate that they would ever begin again, for their purpose has been fulfilled. When Joel 2 talks about the Holy Spirit coming back after the Tribulation, there is no mention of tongues!
Then what about those with the gift of interpretation? First, the Greek word for this refers to someone who interprets known languages, like from Spanish to German. The use of foreign languages was to show God’s judgment to the Jews present. The content of the message was God’s good news, which the Jews should have been spreading. Since speaking in an unknown language would mean nothing to Gentiles present, Paul said there had to be an interpreter present when the gift was used (I Corinthians 14:26-28). This was necessary for the weak and immature Corinthian believers (14:20-22) who were ignorant of God’s truth (12:13). It was to be kept to a minimum (14:6-12) because it was an inferior gift (I Corinthians. 14:4). Paul himself only used his ability to speak in unknown languages in Jewish synagogues, not Jewish services (14:39).
Applying these criteria to tongues today (known foreign language, showing God’s judgment on the Jews, used only with Jews present, see as a lesser/minor gift whose use was to be kept to a minimum, etc.) shows that what is happening today is different from what happened back then.
Tongues are not a heavenly language. The Greek word makes it clear they are a KNOWN language (Acts 2:6-11; I Corinthians 14:21; 12:10). This is different than the ‘groanings’ of Romans 8:26 for those are clearly said to be unutterable (not able to be spoken). The “tongues of angels” (I Corinthians. 13:1) is a hyperbole (overemphasis to make a point) like “faith to move mountains.” Besides, when angels spoke in the Bible, it was always in the known language of those to whom they were speaking.
Tongues are not a private prayer language. All spiritual gifts are given for the sake of others, not the one having the gift (I Corinthians 12:7, 12f; 14:19,27), that’s why an interpreter had to always be present in Corinth (I Corinthians 14:26-28). Every time the gift of tongues was given in the Bible it was given to a group, not an individual. It was always used in a group, too, with no instance of private use recorded. The tongue is to be controlled by the speaker, not beyond his control (I Corinthians. 14:28-33). Plus, tongues were to be a sign to unbelievers, not believers (I Corinthians 14:22). Jesus Himself warned about praying words we don’t understand (Mt 6:7). Paul said he always understood what he said when he prayed, even in tongues (I Corinthians 14:15). When asked how to pray Jesus gave the Lord’s Prayer, not tongues.
Dangers of speaking in tongues today. Paul warns about Satan’s ability to counterfeit this (I Corinthians 12:2-3) as he has in other religions and cults today. Tongues is said to be an inferior gift because it is self-centered (I Corinthians 14:4) and leads to emphasis being put on emotions which can lead people astray (II Corinthians 6:11-12; Rom 16:17-18). We are told to pray with understanding (I Corinthians 14:13-17) and control our spiritual gift (I Corinthians 14:28-40). God arbitrarily chooses which gifts to give to whom (I Corinthians 12:7,11,18,28). We are told to not seek any particular gift (I Corinthians 12:31; 14:1-4). Tongues speaking can become a substitute for spirituality (I Corinthians 14:26-28). Worst of all, it can produce a false security by those who put faith in it as proof that God loves and accepts them. Most who practice tongues-speaking do not believe in eternal security of salvation, so their speaking in tongues becomes their proof of acceptance by God. Our faith must be in Jesus’ work on the cross, not in our ability to speak in ‘tongues.’ Those without the gift can feel pressured to fit in with the rest of the group.
Another danger of tongues, despite Paul saying it is the least of all gifts (1 Corinthians 14:1-25), is that it is often elevated to equal importance to what God says in the Bible. This happens with ‘interpretations of tongues’ and those with the ‘gift of prophecy’ as well. These people can be looked up to and their ‘word’ taken on the same par as, or even above Scripture. That is a deception from the enemy for NOTHING is to be seen as authoritative as Scripture (Revelation 22:18-19).
I have been told by those who are more experienced in dealing with tongues spirits than I am that these demons are often ‘gatekeepers’ and keep other demons in. They also call others in and keep them from exiting.
Paul soon wrote another letter to the Corinthians, called 2 Corinthians in the New Testament. In it he warned the believers to be aware of Satan’s schemes so they aren’t tricked and defeated (2 Corinthians 2:11). The brother who was living with his father’s wife and was disciplined by exclusion from church fellowship (1 Corinthians 5:1-5) evidently repented and was restored to fellowship (2 Corinthians 2:5-6). Now Paul encourages them to forgive the man and treat him with love and acceptance (2 Corinthians 2:7-10). If they don’t forgive him, Paul says Satan will use that to work against them (2 Corinthians 2:11).
LESSON FOR TODAY: Many believers today are ignorant of spiritual warfare, some even deny it exists, or that believers are immune from Satan’s attacks. Nothing could be further from the truth. We must be soldiers who know how to use the equipment our commander provides in order to defeat those who would destroy us. Ignorance of how Satan works plays into his hands and leads to sure misery. Learn spiritual warfare, teach it to others, and use it whenever necessary.
LESSON FOR TODAY: Paul is warning them that Satan will use their unforgiveness as an opening to attack them. One of the leading causes of demonizing is unconfessed anger. Anger includes any form of unforgiveness, bitterness, hate, jealousy, gossip, criticism, etc. Paul says these can “give the devil a foothold” (Ephesians 4:26-27). He tells the Corinthians that if they don’t forgive each other Satan will use that to “outwit” them (II Corinthians 2:10-11). Jesus Himself said that those who don’t forgive others will be turned over to tormenting demons to bring them to repentance (Matthew 6:14-15; 18:34). This anger includes anger toward others, parents, self, or God. There can be no removing demons who claim this access until all anger is truly confessed and put under the blood of Jesus. This is one of the first things that usually comes up when we counsel people and pray for their deliverance. Do NOT take this lightly! Don’t rush through this step. Spending time praying for God to show anger and unforgiveness is time well spent. (For more information see 7. The Book of Ephesians.)
Satan blinds unbelievers so they don’t see the truth of the Gospel. “And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God” (2 Corinthians 4:3-4). Satan does all he can to keep men from leaving his kingdom/army and joining God’s kingdom/army.
LESSON FOR TODAY: Satan is really fighting a battle on three levels. There is the cosmic battle, Satan and demons battle against God and angels in the heavenlies (Daniel 10:1-14), the battle against believers on this earth (Ephesians 6:10-12) and an entirely different war against unbelievers to keep them in his kingdom and use them for its advancement (Acts 26:18). Our battle against him in this life is really just a faint reflection of the real battle which takes place in the heavenlies. Although fiction, Frank Peretti’s books “This Present Darkness” and “Overcoming the Darkness” help show us what these conflicts may look like. As you battle, remember the angels are battling with you and for you, you are not alone, you are just part of the greater cosmic conflict for control of the universe, and you are on the winning side! Never give in!
LESSON FOR TODAY: All unbelievers are children of Satan (Matthew 13:37-39; John 8:44; 1 John 3:3-10) and are in Satan’s kingdom (Colossians 1:12-14). All are bound by Satan (Acts 26:18) and blinded by him (2 Corinthians 4:3-4; 3:14-15) and are under Satan’s power (1 John 5:19). They belong to him (Matthew 12:22-29) and are enslaved in a world system controlled by Satan (John 12:31; 14:30; 16:11; 1 John 5:19). Believers are a small minority, living in enemy-occupied territory, seeking to free some of those bound in darkness so they can find freedom in Christ. Meanwhile those who oppose us do all they can to dim our light and render us ineffective in our battle against them. That is where we find ourselves. That is our battle. We do not live in a neutral world nor are people nonaligned until they decide who they will follow. Everyone who has not committed their lives to Jesus is under the power of darkness and under judgment (John 3:16-21). Every one of them needs rescuing by us!
LESSON FOR TODAY: Since all unbelievers are in Satan’s possession, does that mean that all of them are demonized? Not all have had their lives invaded to the greatest extent, but without Jesus’ protection and God’s power they are potentially open to demonizing to one degree or another. They still have the image of God in them which we all have, and they have a free will to use to make wise choices, and that can limit the amount of influence demons can have over them. But we must always be aware of the demonic when we witness to or counsel someone who is not a believer. That is why Paul’s strong works about being ‘unequally yoked’ carry so much weight today (2 Corinthians 6:14-16). “Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God.” This isn’t just about marriage, but about business partnerships, close friendships, and the like. As believers we cannot be closely bound to those who are closely bound to demons.
LESSON FOR TODAY: If you are a believer then you have left Satan’s kingdom of darkness (Ephesians 2:1-10) and deserted his army, choosing instead to join the forces of his arch rival. If you think he will take that lightly and leave you alone, that he will do nothing to retaliate and render you ineffective for God, then you are greatly mistaken (Daniel 10:10-21; Acts 13:6-12; 16:16-24; 19:11-18). He is totally committed to your destruction (Ephesians 6:10-18). That is why it is imperative to learn to fight. In addition, we still fight our old sin nature (Romans 7:14-25), so in reality we are fighting a battle on two fronts. Often they combine and make things that much harder on us!
LESSON FOR TODAY: When a blind person does not see the sun shining, that is no reflection on the brightness of the sun but rather on the inability of the person to see it. The same is true of spiritual things. Satan is the ruler of the kingdom of this world (2 Corinthians 4:4) and in authority over it (Luke 4:6). Naturally he wants to keep his subjects in darkness, which he does. In addition, our sin nature keeps us from coming to God for salvation. It is only as His Spirit works in us to draw us to Him that we come (John 6:37-46; 15:16, 19; Ephesians 1:3-6, 11; Romans 9:23; Acts 16:13-15). Still, man has a free will to choose or reject salvation (1 Timothy 2:4; 2 Peter 3:9; Acts 2:21; John 3:14-16; Exodus 8:15, 32). Somehow, even though our brains are not great enough to understand how it can be, both are true (John 6:37, 44, 47; Romans 9:1-23). It should not bother us that there are some things about God and His working that we are unable to understand for He is God (Daniel 4:35; Isaiah 55:8; Romans 11:34; 9:14-16; Isaiah 40:13, 2 Corinthians 2:16). Both are true, and when we get to heaven we will see how that can be (1 Corinthians 13:12). Our purpose is not to reconcile the two, for they are mutually exclusive, two truths which cannot be put together, but each must be believed by faith. What concerns us in this study is that at least part of the reason why it is necessary for God to work in someone for salvation is that Satan does all he can to blind them to the truth.
Therefore it is imperative that we pray for those who are blinded. How should we pray? Pray that God would roll back the blindness for a time so they can clearly see the claims of the Gospel and make a free will choice to accept or reject Jesus. We can’t pray for God to make them believe, for God will not violate a person’s free will choice, but we can pray they can unmistakably see the issues so they can make their own choice. Now having said that, we must acknowledge that sovereign God will make sure every person who ever lived understands the issues and makes his or her own choice. No one will stand before Him in judgment and say they didn’t know or didn’t have a chance. Everyone will acknowledge God is just in condemning them for they had a chance to turn to Him but, of their own free will choice, turned it down. This whole issue takes great wisdom and none of us can really understand all of it. What we do understand is that God is fair and just, He doesn’t want anyone to go to hell, and the proof of that is that He paid for our sins voluntarily when He wouldn’t have had to. His love and justice have been proven and we cannot question that. Just because we cannot understand all He understands is no reason to doubt His goodness (see note on Genesis 3:1-7, SIN ENTERS THE HUMAN RACE).
Taking thoughts captive. Paul clearly states that Christians battle an unseen enemy, Satan and his demons “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. And we will be ready to punish every act of disobedience, once your obedience is complete” (2 Corinthians 10:3-6). There are powers that set themselves up against God. They use thoughts which lead to sinful actions. Actions start with thoughts, so the key is to have victory over the thoughts before they develop into actions.
LESSON FOR TODAY: Satan can and will use thoughts inserted into our minds to control us. He will use worldly philosophies and views to get access to and control of us. The majority of demonizing consists of demons putting thoughts into a person’s mind or snatching thoughts out of a person’s mind. While they don’t have access to our minds and thoughts to the same extent that God does, the Bible makes it clear there is some access. Jesus said this in the sower and the seed: “Satan comes and takes away the word that was sown.” (Mark 4:15). David’s thought to take a census was demonic (I Chronicles 21:1ff; II Samuel 24:1ff). So was Ananias & Saphira’s greed (Acts 5:3) and Saul’s jealousy/anger (I Samuel 16:14-23). That’s why, when talking about spiritual warfare, Paul says we are to “bring every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.” (II Corinthians 10:4-5). Not only can Satan’s forces put wrong thoughts into our minds, they can snatch right thoughts out of our minds (Mark 4:15) so we forget them.
LESSON FOR TODAY: Feelings and emotions are fine, important and necessary. They are icing on the cake of life. They add color and enjoyment to life. God created them for this purpose. But He didn’t create them to be the source of our decision-making. Our feelings should be dependent on our rational thought. When our feelings get ahead of it or away from it then trouble comes. You know in your mind that you are an OK person, yet in your emotions you fear you will be rejected. When feelings aren’t founded on the truth they can easily mislead. The truth is that you are a fine person, but your emotions reject that truth and try to do the ‘thinking’ themselves. We need to let our mind explain reality to our emotions. We must be very, very careful not to follow our emotions when they differ from our rational thoughts. One of the greatest needs of our emotions/feelings is security. This is closely related to love so we could say the core of our heart is love/security. Love must bring security but doesn’t always do so. Other factors can tribute to our security as well.
Paul’s demonizing. Paul shares part of his own testimony about God’s grace when he writes this letter to the Corinthians. He tells about his own personal battle with demons. “To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:7-10).
Clearly believers can be attacked by demons, for Paul says his battle was with a “Messenger” (literally ‘angel’) of Satan. But God was in control and, like with Job, allowed this only for His glory and Paul’s growth. God is more concerned in making us what we need to be than giving us what we want to have – a nice, easy life.
LESSON FOR TODAY: Sometimes God has a greater purpose than casting out every demon as soon as we pray. Sometimes complete deliverance never comes, like with Paul in this passage. Paul testifies God then provides the grace needed to withstand. God wants us to learn to depend on Him (Psalm 119:59,92). Of course if the demonic opening is allowed to continue then the demonizing will continue, too (Psalm 94:12-16; 81:11-14).
LESSON FOR TODAY: God does not want us to know what Paul’s ‘thorn in the flesh’ was, just that it was exceedingly painful and that he really wanted freedom from it. God allows different ‘thorns’ in each of our lives for He knows what we need to keep coming back to Him. If you haven’t been healed (spiritually, emotionally or physically) that isn’t because of lack of faith on your part, but because it is God’s perfect will for you, your growth and your testimony.
Not long after writing to the Corinthians Paul wrote to the Romans. He had been wanting to minister in this great center of civilization for many years but God always has kept him from doing so. Eventually he arrived as a prisoner after a shipwreck, but for now he wants to let them know he won’t be coming and why. Instead of speaking to them in person, again he is limited to sending a letter. But what a letter it has been for mankind! The book of Romans is a very key part of God’s Word to us through the centuries. Paul’s loss is our gain. As would be expected, Paul refers to demons and spiritual warfare in this great epistle several times.
Fear. Paul reminds his readers that God does not give us fear (Romans 8:15). Any fear we entertain comes from the flesh, our sin nature, the part of us that tends to sin. We had this before salvation and still have it after salvation.
LESSON FOR TODAY: Fear is one of Satan’s biggest weapons. Demons are often behind it and use fear (Romans 8:15). If it takes the form of insecurity, anxiety, worry, preoccupation with problems, or whatever, it is still fear. Demons put fear of David into Saul (I Samuel 18:10-15) and put fear and terror into Eliaphaz by gliding by his face (Job 4:15). Anything not of faith is sin (Romans 14:23). God does not give us fear (II Timothy 1:7; Romans 8:15), so if you experience fear realize it is not from God but from Satan. This doesn’t mean it is always through demonizing, for you can be attacked with fear without being demonized.
Fear takes root when we choose to focus on circumstances instead of God. Peter walking on water is a good example. When his eyes were on Jesus his faith was strong, but when he looked at the waves they grew (in his mind) to be greater than Jesus’ power. Thus he started sinking. He then did the right thing, though, and put his eyes back on Jesus.
Dream with me for a minute. Suppose as a young child you had a father who loved you more than anything and constantly showed it. He was always there for you, always showing his love, enjoying you and laughing with you. Whatever you needed he was there to help and supply. How would that make you feel? How can such a relationship benefit a child as they grow up? There is something down deep inside all of us that would love to have someone we could trust, someone to take care of us, someone to always be there no matter what. Then we wouldn’t need to try to be in control of things we fear. Control is a poor substitute for love and trust. It may have seemed necessary in your past but isn’t necessary anymore!
Trust is the antidote to fear. How can we understand trust, what it means and how it works? I think understanding how a family should work is the best answer. God established a family relationship to answer all those questions. He is the Father, we are the children. Do your children trust you? What do they have to do to earn your love? What do you expect of them? It’s exactly the same with us and God. Jesus says we are to be like little children in order to learn faith and trust. Let your children teach you. Put yourself in their position – with a Perfect Father.
Satan defeated by God’s people. Paul reminds the struggling believers that, although it may seem like Satan is winning at the moment, it won’t always be that way. “The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet” (Romans 16:20).
LESSON FOR TODAY: Satan has already been defeated at the cross (Hebrews 2:14-15; Colossians 2:15; Ephesians 4:8). In the future he will be crushed and removed forever (Revelation 20:1-3, 10). Now, in the present, we have authority and power over him in Jesus’ name (John 14:12; Matthew 28:18-20; Luke 9:1; 10:1, 17-19; Acts 1:8). God uses us to gain victory over Satan even today. His future fall and removal is sure. It’s just a matter of time.
After writing to the Corinthians and Romans, Paul headed back to Jerusalem where he was falsely arrested and kept in prison for several years. Finally, he was transferred to Rome for trial. In prison at Rome Paul wrote four very important letters, his prison epistles. They are Ephesians, Colossians, Philippians and Philemon. Ephesians was written about four years after Romans.Much spiritual warfare had taken place when Paul was in Ephesus (see Acts 19 above). It’s been about seven years since those power encounters, but the warfare is still going strong. So Paul writes to encourage and help them in their spiritual warfare.Satan’s world system. Unbelievers are not only misled by demons, but actually energized and used by them to promote Satan’s ungodly world system (Ephesians 2:20). Satan is called “the ruler of the kingdom of the air” and “the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient” (Ephesians 2:2), two of numerous names for Satan.
LESSON FOR TODAY: Looking at the various names of Satan help us understand his character and work better.Abaddon, Apollyon (Rev 9:11) Abaddon is the Greek form and Apollyon is the Hebrew equivalent. These words mean ‘destroyer,’ ‘destruction.’ This title stresses his work of destruction; he works to destroy the glory of God and God’s purpose with man. He further works to destroy societies and mankind.Accuser of the Brethren (Revelation 12:10) The Greek word for “accuser” is kathgor, which refers to one who brings condemning accusations against others. In view of Job 1 and 2, this is also an attempt to malign the character of God and His plan. 2).Beelzebul (Matthew 12:24; Mark 3:22) Three possible spellings of this word each have a different meaning: (1) Beelzebul means “lord of the dung,” a name of reproach. (2) Beelzebub means “lord of the flies.” Either one of these are names of reproach and of uncleanness applied to Satan, the prince of the demons and uncleanness. (3) Beelzeboul, means, “the lord of the dwelling.” This would identify Satan as the god of demon possession. This spelling has the best manuscript evidence behind it. Belial (2 Corinthians 6:15) This name means “worthless” or “hopeless ruin.” The personification of worthlessness, hopeless ruin and the source of all idolatry and religion which is also hopeless or futile.Devil (Matthew 4:1, 5, 9; Ephesians 4:27; Revelation 12:9; 20:2)”Devil” is the Greek word diabollos which means “slanderer, defamer.” This accentuates his goal and work to impugn the character of God. Dragon (Revelation 12:7) The Greek word is drakon (as in draconian) and refers to a “hideous monster, a dragon, or large serpent.” This word stresses the cruel, vicious, and blood thirsty character and power of Satan. Evil One (John 17:15; 1 John 5:9) The Greek poneros means “wicked, evil, bad, base, worthless, vicious, degenerate.” It points to Satan’s character as active and malignant. False Angel of Light (2 Corinthians 11:14) One of his purposes is to make men as much like God as he can, but always without God. So, he will copy as much of God and His plan as he can, but he will always either distort, pervert, substitute or leave out those key ingredients of truth that are vital to the plan of salvation and sanctification through Christ.Father of Lies (John 8:44) Using his network of deception through demonic forces and duped people, he promotes false doctrines in the name of God.God of This World or Age (2 Corinthians 4:4) The fact Satan is called the god of this world (Greek, aionos, “age, course”) may emphasize Satan’s rulership over this final period or economy which is so marked by a growing increase in apostasy, deception, and moral decay. Lucifer (Isa. 14:12) The Hebrew word for Lucifer (KJV translation) is literally “the shining one.” This name draws our attention to his pre-fall condition and to the nature of the cause of his fall – pride.Prince or Ruler (John 12:31) The Greek literally means, “the ruler of this world system.” This points to Satan as the head and energy behind the arrangements of things as they are in the world today.Prince of the Power of the Air (Ephesians 2:2a) This points to Satan as the head of the demonic hosts which includes all the fallen angelic beings who operate night and day in our immediate spiritual atmosphere-an atmosphere of demonic influence controlled by Satan.Satan (Job 1:6-9; Matthew 4:10) The title “Satan” occurs 53 times in 47 verses in the Bible. The primary idea is ‘adversary, one who withstands.’ Serpent (Revelation 12:9) This name for Satan looks back to Genesis 3 and the temptation in the Garden. Tempter (Matthew 4:3; 1 Thessalonians 3:5) This title reveals him in another of his primary activities as seen from the very beginning with Eve in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3).
God shows demons His greatness through us. “His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 3:10). “Rulers and authorities” refer to the breakdown of Satan’s organization of demonic forces (see below under Ephesians 6:10).
LESSON FOR TODAY: ALL powers are under God’s authority (Ephesians 1:22), but not yet brought under His final control (Ephesians 6:12). God allows them freedom as He respects mankind’s free will. He allows man the choice to follow Satan or not. We are living and building God’s Kingdom of light in the middle of Satan’s kingdom of darkness. Therefore they can clearly see what we are doing – they carefully watch so they can destroy our work. But by our lives, our faithfulness and Christlikeness, we proclaim God’s power and greatness. Our victory over their work reminds them of their ultimate final defeat and demise. Many, however, are ignorant of this fact, so by our small victories over them now we show them of God’s sovereign control and final defeat of them. Satan, the great deceiver, has deceived many of his own demons about their final defeat. Thus by our lives, and our words, we proclaim God’s victory over them.
Anger as a foothold. Many verses warn about the danger of unconfessed unrighteous anger and how demons can use it to gain access to the angry person (2 Corinthians 2:10-11). “In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold” (Ephesians 4:26-27).
LESSON FOR TODAY: Anger comes from mishandling hurt and pain. Instead of feeling the hurt we turn it into anger for revenge or control. This allows demons to use it as an opening. There is a lack of control that opens the door. Also, it is almost like a prayer for power to hate someone, and demons seek to answer that prayer. They made Saul angry at David, so much so that he tried to kill David (I Samuel 18:10-11; 19:9-10). Paul says there is a very close connection between anger and demonizing (Ephesians 4:27).Pain must be handled as pain, not turned into anger. You can’t bury something alive and think you are getting rid of it. The hurt must be dead – faced, admitted, healed, removed, forgiven. When a person buries hurt alive it keeps poisoning everything until it is dug out and destroyed.While there is a legitimate use for anger (‘righteous indignation’) most of what we face is not right. Anger is a secondary emotion, unlike fear which is a basic emotion. Wrong anger is always the result of mishandling another, deeper emotion like fear or pain. Let’s take pain, first of all. When a person hits their finger with a hammer what do they do? Usually they get angry. What they feel is pain, but it comes out as anger because anger is a much easier emotion to handle than pain. When someone says something critical or threatening it hurts, but the natural response in many is to get angry. That way they don’t have to face the pain – but it stays and causes more and more anger. That’s where fear comes in. It’s not just pain that causes anger, but fear of pain. Fear is at the root of anger in other ways as well. To seek to manage our fears we try to control our lives and circumstances (thus the control emphasis part grows). We feel that is necessary to prevent pain and other things we fear. We use anger as a control tool. The adrenalin rush makes us feel in charge instead of a victim. We learn that people can be manipulated and controlled by our anger (or the threat of it) and we use that to control as well. This is another reason why it’s important to deal with and get victory over the fears down inside. When they go the anger and control issues will become much more manageable. A person can’t stop their anger as long as what causes it is still inside pushing it out. They must get the root cause out, and that is where dealing with the fear comes in. (For more information see 5. 2 Corinthians.)
SPIRITUAL WARFARE TRAINING. Answer the following questions. Send the answers to me if you want and I’ll offer comments and suggestions.
- List some of the ways Satan and demons work against believers.
- What exactly was the ‘gift of tongues’ in the book of Acts?
- What was its purpose?
- What were some of the restrictions that Paul placed on its use?
- Why is fear one of Satan’s most powerful weapons?
- When or where do you most struggle with fear?
- What can a Christian do to have victory over fear?
- What is the root cause of anger?
- How can we have victory over anger?
When you have completed this you can move on to the next section
QUESTIONS AND COMMENTS
Record your thoughts, questions, what you have learned, what you want to study in the future, prayer suggestions and whatever else you want to remember.
OUR GOD-GIVEN ARMOR FOR SPIRITUAL WARFARE ⇑
BACKGROUND TO THE ARMOR OF GODPaul included his most complete account of how to win spiritual battles in his letter to the Ephesians (Ephesians 6:10-18). In light of all the warfare going on in Ephesus this is very appropriate. Writing from prison in Rome, chained to a Roman soldier who was guarding him, Paul must have looked for a way to convey what he wanted to say about spiritual warfare in terms the people would understand. While looking at his guard, he applied the pieces of equipment that Roman soldiers used to those that Christian soldiers use.Paul knew that Roman soldiers didn’t supply their own equipment, it was provided by their commander. Thus he starts by telling his audience that it is God’s power and strength that gives us victory (Ephesians 6:10; Philippians 4:13; 1 John 4:4). We have the same power that raised Jesus from the grave (Ephesians 1:18-23; Hebrews 2:14-15). Our victory comes from God – He provides the equipment necessary to achieve it.However just because equipment is provided doesn’t mean Christian soldiers use theirs appropriately, or even use it at all. It is Satan’s schemes (Ephesians 6:11; 2 Corinthians 2:11) that deceive and trap us, like a hunter seeking to trap an animal. Therefore it is up to us to use the power and equipment God provides – all of it (“full armor”).LESSON FOR TODAY: What makes this an even more difficult battle is that our enemy is not a physical soldier whom we can see and fight in our power, rather it is a spiritual enemy, a demonic power (Ephesians 6:12). “Rulers … authorities … powers … spiritual forces” refer to various groups of demons in Satan’s organization. Demons are organized according to their power like an army: generals, majors, captains, lieutenants, sergeants and privates. The generals and majors oversee large geographical areas or philosophical ideologies. Down it goes to the privates, demons with names like Lust, Greed, Pride, Fear or Self-Destruction. These are the ones we usually deal with in a personal way when we are involved in our spiritual warfare.LESSON FOR TODAY: When a person is demonized there is a ruler (lieutenant or sergeant) who has a group of other demons (privates) under him. They set up their stronghold and each demon present is chosen for the particular focus of the work he does. Under the guidance of the ruler, they work together to accomplish the mission of the group which is always the destruction of the person they are attacking. The ultimate goal is the death of the person, but since they can’t take a life they seek to make life so miserable that only death seems to hold hope of escape. Their goal is to cause the person to take their own life. Until they can get a person to that point they seek to make his witness for Jesus ineffective and his life as painful and empty as possible.LESSON FOR TODAY: Paul says we are in a ‘struggle’ (Ephesians 6:12). This word refers to a fight to the death. Satan assigns demons to destroy each believer, their family and their church. We are in a life and death struggle, but often we don’t realize how serious our enemy is about our destruction. LESSON FOR TODAY: Not all problems and struggles are from Satan. While we want to know what he does so we can defeat him, we don’t want to give him and his demons more credit than is due them. When he is bound man’s sin nature will still lead him into sin without Satan’s help (Revelation 20:1-3). That can assist u in knowing what is from demons and what is from our sin nature. If the source is our sin nature without demonic influence, than confession, submission to God, prayer, Bible reading and memory and good Christian fellowship will bring immediate or progressive victory. If that does not happen then it is good to consider there might be something demonic involved as well.Before listing the pieces of equipment available to us Paul wants to emphasize the importance of Christian soldiers standing firm against any attack the enemy launches at them. Three times he commands them to “stand” (Ephesians 13-14a).LESSON FOR TODAY: We are to be alert and ready, not sitting or lying down sleeping. We shouldn’t be caught off guard but must be alert. Nor should we retreat in fear or defeat. Yet the truth is that the stronger we stand the hotter the battle will get for the harder the demons will attack. The battle will never end until our Commander comes and takes us home. Our fight here will be over when we are promoted to heaven at death, or when Jesus returns, but not before. Paul then specifically states each piece of equipment God provides for His soldiers. “Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. 18 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 saints” (Ephesians 6:14-18).
- THE HELMET OF SALVATION (Ephesians 6:17) ⇑
The helmet Roman soldiers wore was made of metal. An enemy would lift his heavy four-foot long sword over his head with two hands and bring it straight down on the Roman soldier’s head. The helmet was to protect his head from these attacks. Without proper protecting the damage done could be devastating! LESSON FOR TODAY: Satan attacks our mind and thoughts whenever possible, for the damage done there can be tremendous. Demons seek to put thoughts of doubt, fear, confusion, lust, greed, pride or any other sin in our mind. We must know God’s truth to have protection and victory. Our spiritual battles are won or lost in our minds first of all. LESSON FOR TODAY: Often the thoughts that defeat us have been with us for many years, even since early childhood. Quite often they are thoughts others in our family struggle with as well – generational sins passed down through our ancestors (Exodus 20:4-5; 34:6-7; Deuteronomy 5:8-9). (For more information see under Old Testament, Moses (Exodus – Deuteronomy.) LESSON FOR TODAY: The solution to victory over demonic thoughts placed into our minds is to 1) close the door that let them in by confessing as sin any thoughts you entertained that were not godly (1 John 1:9). Know in your mind that they can’t defeat you. Don’t let them put fear or confusion into your mind. God has given us the power and authority to command them to be gone in His name (Luke 9:1; 10:1, 17-19). Then 2) pray and take back any claim they make against you through your family line (2 Corinthians 5:17; John 1:12-13). Finally 3) whenever they knock on the door and try to return, quote Scripture to keep the truth of God’s Word in your mind (Psalm 119:9-11) and to defeat them. Knowing and using God’s Word, the sword of the Spirit, is key for victory (Joshua 1:8; Psalm 77:12; I Chronicles 28:9; Matthew 22:37-38; I Corinthians 2:16; Philippians 4:8). That’s how Jesus defeated Satan (Matthew 4:1-11). Satan tries to plant doubts about God’s word in man’s mind. This is how he got Eve to sin. She misquoted God’s Word to Satan and when he added to what God said (making God seem like He was keeping something good from her) she didn’t recognize the error. Satan was undermining God’s Word, and he won! We must be skillful in the use of our sword to win. When Jesus was tempted He quoted Scripture to have victory over Satan’s temptations. Paul says our only offensive weapon is the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God. Psalm 119:9,11 tell us that it’s through God’s Word that we have victory. When you have these thoughts and attacks use Scripture to have victory. Ask God to give you some verses that will help against these things, write them down and memorize them. Say them over and over when these thoughts attack you. That is the only way to victory, and God guarantees it will work!
- BREASTPLATE of RIGHTEOUSNESS (Ephesians 6:14) ⇑
The breastplate was made of small pieces of metal or leather fastened together so they would move and bend but so no arrow, spear or sword could go through them. It was important for it covered the heart and other vital organs. If an enemy soldier could inflict a serious wound to the upper body he would be victorious. In hand to hand combat the enemy would grab the Roman soldier’s arm to pull him close and with his sword in try to stab him in the chest or stomach.LESSON FOR TODAY: Suppose a soldier didn’t bother putting on his breastplate some morning? Maybe it was too hot or too heavy, or maybe he was in a hurry or just lazy. What would happen? That’s what happens to us when we don’t put on our breastplate. Paul calls it the “breastplate of righteousness” because it refers to our holiness. We are holy because Jesus paid for our sins on the cross, but then we must strive to live a life free from personal sin as well. If we allow sin in our life our breastplate will have openings through which our enemy can attack and destroy us. Demonizing happens because there is a sin that opens the door for demons to enter. The most common avenue to demonic entrance is through a family line. One person opens themselves to demonic influence and the demons claim them and all they have, including children. Then the same traits and influences pass on to the children and their children (for more information see Old Testament, 3. Moses (Exodus – Deuteronomy). Occult and Satanic involvement in demonic activities, drugs, acid rock music, Ouija boards, etc. is another opening. Cult involvement will also open the door for them. Involvement of a family member in a ‘secret society’ such as the Masons is an open invitation to demonizing. The Bible says that when two people have sex the two become one flesh and that allows demons to claim the other person. Abuse of any kind or any form of trauma, especially when young, open one to the demonic. Strong soul ties with someone who is demonized can cause an opening. Being unwanted when in the womb or young is a definite opening. These are some of the main avenues demons use to gain entrance and attack people. LESSON FOR TODAY: If you have any of these openings in your life pray to have them removed. It’s like opening a door and allowing someone to enter a room, then realize you shouldn’t have done that. You need to close the door so no one else enters, but you also need to command those who already have entered to leave. Confessing the sin and taking back the access closes the door. Rebuking and commanding them to be gone cleans the room. The solution for sin openings is to 1) ask God to show you any sin in your life (Psalm 139:23-24), then 2) confess the sin and close the door that let the demon(s) in (1 John 1:9). You must also 3) command any demons working against you or your family to be gone, using the authority we have in Jesus’ name and power ((John 14:12; Matthew 28:18-20; Luke 9:1; 10:1, 17-19; Acts 1:8). Then when you notice any kind of spiritual attack you defeat it by quoting scripture. When Jesus was tempted He quoted Scripture to have victory over Satan’s temptations. Paul says our only offensive weapon is the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God. Psalm 119:9,11 tell us that it’s through God’s Word that we have victory. When you have these thoughts and attacks, use Scripture to have victory. Ask God to give you some verses that will help against these thing. Write them down and memorize them. Say them over and over when these thoughts attack you. That is the only way to victory, and God guarantees it will work!
- BELT of TRUTH (Ephesians 6:14) ⇑
The belt a Roman soldier wore was an important piece of equipment for it held the weapons and equipment which he carried with him. It also held his clothing out of the way so he wouldn’t stumble and fall when moving or fighting. In cool weather a heavy cloak was worn and it was easy to get tangled up in it if there wasn’t a belt to hold it out of the way.LESSON FOR TODAY: Paul equates this with knowing God’s truth which keeps us from stumbling and falling spiritually. Satan would do anything he can to trip us up with his lies and deceptions (John 8:44). His demons put thoughts in our mind that we’ll never have victory but will always be defeated, that God doesn’t care about us because our sin is so great, that what we are going through is our own fault and we deserve to suffer, that Jesus isn’t God, that we are inferior to others and a failure, or any lie that can trip us up. Whenever we get a thought that doesn’t line up with God’s truth as revealed in His Word, a thought that Jesus wouldn’t have entertained, make sure you reject it as well.LESSON FOR TODAY: The way to have victory over Satan’s lies and deceptions is by knowing God’s truth. 1) Ask God to show you any lies you believe, then 2) confess them as sin and replace them with the truth of God’s Word. Find Scripture passages and write them down to carry with you and use them when attacked. Make sure 3) you take back any access any demons have claimed through these lies. Also 4) spend time each day reading and learning God’s Word, including marking and memorizing passages which speak to you. LESSON FOR TODAY: God’s truth is the basis for all we are and have. We are God’s people under His care and protection. Nothing can harm us. Not even curses that are knowingly or unknowingly placed against us. (For more information see the Life of Jesus, 5. GADARENES DEMONIAC).
- SANDALS of PEACE (Ephesians 6:15) ⇑
The Romans needed sturdy sandals on their feet for marching and fighting. They would walk in sand, on sharp rocks, and through streams of slippery stones. They could be attacked at any moment so they needed something that would help them stand firm no matter where they found themselves. Their enemy would pick a location to fight that was advantageous for them but not for the Romans. They would do anything to gain an unfair advantage!LESSON FOR TODAY: Our enemy still does the same thing to us today. He does anything he can to gain even the slightest advantage over the Christian. He tries to choose the footing that will give him victory and take away our peace. When he gets us on his ground he presses the attack. We can be on his ground when something that happened at that place in the past opened the door to demonic control.Some event may have happened on the land or in the home or room where you live. It could be a violent act, an occult activity, a curse, a dedicating of the property to the powers of darkness or similar acts. Sometimes when we go into a certain neighborhood or home there is a ‘sense’ of evil, a discomfort in our spirit. In a store that sells New Age materials you may ‘feel’ different in your spirit, a discomfort. This is the explanation for supernatural apparitions that happen in ‘haunted’ homes – demonic activity may be present. Some countries and even continents are in extra darkness and bondage and it can be sensed by believers. The message we get is from God’s Holy Spirit Who is warning us against the evil around us.LESSON FOR TODAY: Our solution is 1) to pray, taking back any access the enemy may claim to the property and asserting our right as children of God to claim and use it. Put any other claims under the blood of Jesus and dedicate it to Him for His honor and glory. Then 2) claim the place for Jesus and dedicate it to Him alone. A sign, picture or cross on the wall can be a good visual reminder to all of the ownership of the property by the Lord Jesus Christ.Pray, even anoint your house and property, inside and out. Walk around your boundaries praying out loud, claiming your property for God and forbidding any demons to have any access to it. Dedicate it to God and invite His presence through all of it. Take back any access any demons may claim to the property and put that access under the blood of Jesus. Break it in Jesus’ name. Ask God to put an angelic hedge of protection around it. Do the same in all the rooms of the house, especially the basement (if you have one). Anoint each room with oil by dipping your finger in the oil and putting a cross on the door, walls, etc. Pray as you did when you walked around the property. If there is one particular part of the house that seems to have demonic presence in a specially strong way, put a night light there so there is always light in to room. You could do that to all the rooms. Demons hate light, and they hate hearing Jesus praised, so you can play praise music in various places 24 hours a day. It can be real soft – they will hear it!LESSON FOR TODAY: Another way we can find ourselves having poor footing and a harder time standing against Satan, is when we have something in our possession that gives demons access to the place where we are. When the Jews took possession of Canaan under Joshua they were told to not keep any of the objects they captured. Even animals and children were to be destroyed. They had been dedicated to Satan and were claimed by him. Those who used these things would be opening themselves up to the demonic powers to whom they had been dedicated. That’s why Paul had the people in Ephesus burn all their occult books (Acts 19:17-20). Today we must watch for things like literature from other cults and religions, Ouija boards and other occult paraphernalia, pagan objects from primitive cultures, objects from Masonic or other secret societies, some Native American artifacts or the like. Pornography, drug or alcoholic supplies, music with a black or evil dimension and similar items can also be used as points of entry by demons.LESSON FOR TODAY: The solution is 1) to remove and destroy such objects as God convicts you as being openings for demonic access. Ask for forgiveness for having them, cleanse the room from their presence, 2) take back any access the enemy may claim and dedicate the space as well as yourself to Jesus. Ask Him to reveal to you anything else that may need to be dealt with.When a room or object is under the control of an evil spirit for whatever reason they claim, painting crosses by dipping a finger in oil and making them on a wall claims the place for Jesus. Playing Christian music and leaving a small light on also are offensive to the forces of darkness. Of course praying and quoting scripture while making the crosses is important, too. I know I, as a Christian, have great power in blessing people, especially my own family and other Christians. ‘God bless you’ is more than a slang or shallow comment. There’s real power in it when one means it that way. It’s a privilege I use and repeat often to people. Distance doesn’t seem to affect it at all. Of course there is something even more special about touching a person when I pray or ask God to bless them, but when far away from them God still answers the prayer. The power is in God who is everywhere (omnipresent). Satan and demons are limited to one place at a time so they are at a distinct disadvantage in this, too.
- SHIELD of FAITH (Ephesians 6:16) ⇑
The equipment mentioned so far (helmet, breastplate, belt, sandals) form an inner wall of defense. There is an outer wall of defense as well – a large shield every Roman soldier carried. He would hold this in front of him for outer protection. Other soldiers would stand or walk alongside him as they all held up their shields forming a wall in front of them, sometimes above them as well. When enemies would throw balls of burning tar at the Romans this outer wall of defense would provide much-needed protection for they would be severely wounded or killed if the hot tar hit them. At least they would be out of the battle for quite some time.LESSON FOR TODAY: Paul says this is like our faith – our outer wall of protection. Having faith in God’s sovereign control no matter what is happening is key to our spiritual health. The greater your faith the larger your shield, the smaller your faith the smaller your shield People with little faith get hit by whatever Satan throws at them: fear, guilt, greed, pride, anger, lust.LESSON FOR TODAY: Satan attacks us through his demons even if don’t open the door through sin. He attacks everyone in God’s army, especially leaders like pastors and missionaries. They don’t have to have done anything to open a door – just standing with Jesus will draw attacks because Satan is committed to opposing God’s kingdom in any and every way he can. Satan can’t attack Jesus directly so he takes his hate and anger out on God’s children. That’s why the Jews have experienced such persecution through the years. While we were in Satan’s army, or even when we were neutral and ineffective for God, demons didn’t need to waste time and effort on us. But when we become committed to serving Jesus and building His Kingdom we find we have spiritual enemies sworn to do anything they can to destroy us. Sometimes these attacks are direct, other times they take a more indirect approach. Our marriage, finances, children or health may be attacked to discourage us and cause us to cease to actively participate in the cause of Christ. This is what happened to Job. These attacks can also take the form of opposition from other people. There may be a person who does what he can to make life difficult for you. Satan attacked Job because he was effective in his faith and Satan wanted to stop that. That seems to be the cause of Paul’s demonic ‘thorn in the flesh’ attack as well (2 Corinthians 12). LESSON FOR TODAY: How can we tell what is a normal problem of the flesh or life in a fallen world from what is an attack of the enemy? If it brings a long, ongoing battle, and especially if you are having trouble having victory over it, you should seek for deeper causes. Or if it is a very new, very sudden attack that threatens to overwhelm and defeat you that can be a sign of demonic attack. If it is something large that comes from nowhere, like a gigantic wave that threatens to wash you away, then suspect spiritual causes as well.LESSON FOR TODAY: Pray for a hedge of protection around yourself, your property and your family, as Job did (Job 1:45, 10-11). Turn to God’s Word for guidance: “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble. Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and He will come near to you” James 4:6-8. “All things work together for the good of those who love God” Romans 8:28. “There is no testing taken you but such as is common to man. God will not allow you to be tested beyond what you can bear, but with the testing will make a way of escape so you can bear it” I Corinthians 10:13).LESSON FOR TODAY: Our defense against these attacks of Satan when sin isn’t involved is for us to 1) keep our faith strong, keep our eyes on Jesus only (Matthew 14:28-31). Also, 2) pray for His protection for you, your family and your church (Job 1:4-5).
- SWORD of the SPIRIT – WORD OF GOD (Ephesians 6:17) ⇑
So far all the equipment Paul has mentioned has been defensive. Its purpose is to protect the soldier from enemy attack. However none of it will bring victory, none will defeat an enemy. There is no defensive equipment to protect their backs so retreat was not possible. They could only move forward. They needed an offensive weapon to do that. For the Romans that was their short sword. It is with skillful use of it that the Romans conquered their world.
LESSON FOR TODAY: Paul saw this piece of equipment as so important that he makes sure we know what it stands for – he clearly identifies it as the Word of God (Ephesians 6:17). God’s Word is our only way to defeat Satan. Jesus quoted the Bible when attacked (Matthew 4:1-11). The Word is God’s sword for us: “For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12-13) Make sure you know the Bible and memorize verses so you can quote them when you need them. Quoting Scripture resets our mind to the truth, lets our mind explain reality to our emotions and is God’s authority to Satan and demons for it is much more powerful than our words! It is the truth that brings freedom (John 8:32).
USE THE WORD OF GOD ⇑
Knowing and using God’s Word, the sword of the Spirit, is key for victory in our daily struggles (Joshua 1:8; Psalm 77:12; I Chronicles 28:9; Matthew 22:37-38; I Corinthians 2:16; Philippians 4:8). That’s how Jesus defeated Satan (Matthew 4:1-11). Satan tries to plant doubts about God’s word in man’s mind. That is how he got to Eve. She misquoted God’s Word to Satan and when he added to God’s Word (making God seem like He was keeping something good from her) she didn’t pick it up. Satan was undermining God’s Word, and he won! We must be skillful in the use of our sword for Satan can deceitfully twist and misquote God’s truth so as to use it for his benefit.
Here are some good verses to memorize to help you through life.
THE BIBLE, GOD’S WORD The Word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Hebrews 4:12
GOD’S TRUTH FREES “If you hold to my teaching, you are really My disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:32
SUBMIT TO GOD, RESIST SATAN God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble. Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and He will come near to you. James 4:6-8
GOD IS GREATER THAN SATAN The One who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. I John 4:4
GOD WILL MEET ALL OUR NEEDS My God will meet all your needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:19
RENEW YOUR MIND WITH CHRIST Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is — His good, pleasing and perfect will. Romans 12:2
POWER OF PRAYER The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective. James 5:16
AUTHORITY OVER DEMONS Jesus replied: “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you.” Luke 10:18-19
RESISTING SATAN Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.” Matthew 16:23
SIN AS OPENINGS TO DEMONIZING Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me and lead me in the way everlasting. Psalm 139:23-24
CURSES Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree.” Galatians 3:13
ANCESTRAL & CHILDHOOD OPENINGS Therefore if anyone is in Christ, He is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! II Corinthians 5:17
OCCULT OPENINGS Do not turn to mediums or seek out spiritists, for you will be defiled by them. I am the Lord your God. Leviticus 19:31
NEW AGE OPENINGS Such men (who preach a Jesus other than the Jesus I preached) are false prophets, deceitful workmen, masquerading as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. II Corinthians 11:13-15
DELIVERANCE FROM DEMONIZING Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God … This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God. I John 4:1-2
PROMISES RELATED TO SPIRITUAL WARFARE ⇑
Our Adversaries Will Be Defeated: Deuteronomy 32:43; Philippians 1:28; Deuteronomy 33:27
Victory is Promised: I Corinthians l5:57; I Chronicles 29:11; Proverbs 21:31; I John 5:4, 18; Rev. 12:11; 15:2; Romans 8:37; II Corinthians 2:14; John 16:33
God Promises To Fight For Us: I Samuel 14:47; Jeremiah 1:8
No Weapon Formed Against The Believer Can Prosper: Isaiah 54:17
Jesus Is Constantly Praying & Interceding On Our Behalf: I John 2:1; Hebrews 7:25
God Is Always With Us: Matthew 28:20; Hebrews 13:5; Matthew 18:20; John 14:16, 21; Revelation 3:20
Confession Means Cleansing & Forgiveness: I John 1:8-9; Thessalonians 5:23-24; I Timothy 4:5; Luke 11:13; II Timothy 2:21; Jude 1; Romans 8:33-39; Titus 3:4-5
God Hears & Answers Prayer: Matthew 7:7; Luke 11:9; Jeremiah 33:3
We will never Be Separated From God: Romans 8:35-39; John 10:27-29; 3:36; 5:24
God Will Meet All Your Needs: Philippians 4:19: Psalm 84:11; Romans 8:32; I Samuel 12:24
There Is No Need To Worry: Matthew 6:25,34; I Peter 5:7; Isaiah 40:11; Matthew 5:38-39; Psalm 37:1-9; Jude 24
God Promises His Care & Protection: Deuteronomy 33:27; Genesis 17:1; Jeremiah 23:24; 32:7
Everything Will Work Out Right In the End: Romans 8:28
You Won’t Ever Face Anything You Can’t Handle With God’s Help: I Corinthians 10:13
Peace Is Available No Matter What: John 14:27; Romans 5:1; Colossians 1:20; Isaiah 26:3; Philippians 4:6-7; Matthew 11:28-30; II Timothy 1:7
Trials Are Allowed To Bring Spiritual Growth: Psalm 119:67,71,75; 94:12; Isa. 48:10; Rom. 5:3
The Believer Has Nothing To Fear: Proverbs 3:25; Isaiah 14:3; Psalm 34:4; Joshua 1:9; 10:8; 23:9-11; Leviticus 26:8; Exodus 14:13; I Samuel 17:45-47; II Samuel 22:33-35,40-41
We Are Assured Of Eventual Triumph Over Our Adversaries: Acts 2:39
Victory Is Guaranteed Us: I Corinthians 15:57; Romans 8:37; I Chronicles 29:11; I John 5:4, 18; II Chronicles 32:8; Revelation 3:5; 2l:7
God Will Help Us Carry Our Burdens: Nehemiah 4:10; Matthew 11:30; Psalm 55:22
God Promises Comfort: Psalm 23:4; Lamentations 3:22-23; Matthew 5:4; 11:28-30; John 14:16, 18; John 14:16, 18; Romans 15:4; II Corinthians 1:3-4; II Thessalonians 2:16-17
God Will Give Us Courage: Proverbs 38:1; I Corinthians 16:13; II Timothy 1:7
Guidance Is Promised: Psalm 32:8; Isaiah 30:21; 58:11; Luke 1:79; John 15:13
God Will Help In Your Sorrow: Proverbs 10:22; Isaiah 53:4; John 16:22; II Corinthians 6:10; I Thessalonians 4:13; Revelation 21:4
Wisdom Is Promised Those Who Ask: James 1:5; 3:15-17; Luke 16:8; 21:15; I Cor. 2:5; 3:19
Rejecting Wrong Thoughts: II Corinthians 10:5; Psalm 139:23-24; 141:3-4; Isaiah 26:3-4; Romans 12:2; Ephesians 4:22-24; Philippians 3:18-21
Power of the Word of God: Ephesians 6:17; Hebrews 4:12; Isaiah 55:11; 59:21; Psalm 119:81, 105, 11-112; Proverbs 30:5; Lamentations 2:17; 3:37; Matthew 24:35; John 5:24; 8:51;15:7; Rom. 10:17
God’s Promise of Angelic Intervention: II Kings 6:17; Psalm 34:6-7; 91:11; Daniel 6:22; 10:5-14; Acts 12:15
PRAYER (Ephesians 6:18) ⇑
After having described the equipment God provides for His people, Paul talks about prayer. Any soldier must be in direct communication with those he serves in order to be of use to them. Paul connects the section about our armor with the section on prayer by the use of “and” showing they go together (Ephesians 6:18).
LESSON FOR TODAY: The importance of a good, solid prayer life cannot be overemphasized (Matthew 7:7; Luke 11:9; Jeremiah 33:3). Fasting can be an important part of prayer as well when God directs it.
LESSON FOR TODAY: God does promise ultimate victory for His people, not always immediately in this life but enough for now and the rest in the future (1 Corinthians 15:57; 2 Corinthians 2:14; 1 John 5:5).
PRAYER OF THE ARMOR OF GOD ⇑
PRAYER OF THE ARMOR OF GOD Heavenly Father, I desire to be obedient by being strong in the Lord and the power of Your might. I see that this is Your will and purpose for me. I recognize that it is essential to put on the armor that You have provided, and I do so now with gratitude and praise that You have provided all I need to stand in victory against Satan and his kingdom. Grant me wisdom to discern the tactics and sneakiness of Satan’s strategy against me. I delight to take the armor You have provided and by faith to put it on as effective spiritual protection against the spiritual forces of darkness present in the world today.
I confidently take the belt of truth that You offer me. I take Him who is the truth as my strength and protection. I reject Satan’s lies and deceiving ways which seek to gain advantage against me. Grant me discernment and wisdom to recognize the subtle and sneaky methods in which Satan seeks to cause me to accept his lies as truth. I desire to believe only the truth, to live the truth, to speak the truth, and to know the truth. I worship and praise You that You lead me only in the ways of truth. Thank You that Satan cannot stand against the truth.
Thank You for the breastplate of righteousness which you offer me. I eagerly accept it and put it on as my protection. Thank you for reminding me again that all of my righteousness comes from You. I embrace that righteousness which is mine by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. It is His righteousness that is mine through justification. I reject and repudiate all trust in my own righteousness which is as filthy rags. I ask You to cleanse me of all the times I have counted my own goodness as being acceptable before You. I bring the righteousness of my Lord directly against all of Satan’s workings against me. I express my desire to walk in righteousness before God today. By faith I appropriate the righteousness of Christ and invite Him to walk in His holiness in my life today that I might experience His righteousness in total context of ordinary living. I count upon the righteousness of my Lord to be my protection. I know that Satan must retreat from before God’s righteousness.
Thank You, Lord, for the sandals of peace You have provided. I desire that my feet should stand on the solid rock of the peace that You have provided. I claim the peace with God which is mine through justification. I desire the peace of God which touches my emotions and feelings through prayer and sanctification (Philippians 4:6). Thank You that as I walk in obedience to You the God of peace promises to walk with me (Philippians 4:9), I thank you that as the God of peace You are putting Satan under my feet (Romans 16:20). I will share this good news of peace with all others that Your Spirit will bring into my life today. Thank you that You have not given me a spirit of fear but of love and power and a sound mind (II Timothy 1:7). Thank you that Satan cannot stand against Your peace.
Eagerly, Lord, I lift up the shield of faith against all the blazing darts that Satan and his hosts fire at me. I recognize that You are my shield and that in Your incarnation and crucifixion You took the arrows of Satan which I deserved. By faith I count upon You to shield me from above and beneath; on my right and my left; in front of me and behind me, that I might be protected, walled in, and encapsulated by You that Satan may gain no way to hurt me or keep me from fulfilling Your will today.
I am willing that any fiery darts of Satan You wish to touch me should do so, but I shall look upon them as refining fires permitted in Your providence and by Your love for my refining and Your glory. Thank You, Lord, that You are a complete and perfect shield and that Satan cannot touch me apart from Your sovereign purpose.
I recognize that my mind is a particular target of Satan’s deceiving ways. I take from You the helmet of salvation. I cover my mind and my thoughts with Your salvation. I recognize that the Lord Jesus Christ is my salvation. I fill my head with Him. I invite His mind to be in me. Let me think His thoughts, feel His love and compassion, and discern His will and leading in all things. Let my mind be occupied with the continuing, daily, saving work of my Lord in and through my life. May You meet and defeat all Satanic thoughts in my mind.
With joy I take hold upon the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. I affirm that Your Word is the trustworthy, infallible Word of God. I choose to believe it and to live in its truth and power. Grant me the love for Your Word which comes from the Holy Spirit. Forgive and cleanse me from the sin of neglecting Your Word. Create in me a hunger and thirst to study and know Your Word. Enable me to memorize it and to meditate upon its truth. Grant me proficient recall and skill in using Your Word against all of Satan’s subtle attacks against me, even as my Lord Jesus Christ used the Word against Satan. Enable me to use Your Word not only to defend me from Satan, but also to claim its promises and to wield the sword strong against Satan to defeat him, to take away from him ground he claims, and to win great victories God through Your Word. Thank You that Satan must retreat from Your Word applied against him.
Thank You, dear Lord, for prayer. Help me to keep this armor well-oiled with prayer. I desire to pray at all times with depth and intensity as the Holy Spirit leads me. I trust the Holy Spirit to enable me and to intercede for me and through me. Grant me great supplication and burden for others in God’s family of blood-washed saints. Enable me to see their needs and to assist them through prayer as the enemy attacks them. All of these petitions, intercessions, and words of praise I offer up before the true and living God in the name and worthy merit of my Lord Jesus Christ. Amen. (Adapted from “Prayers for Spiritual Warfare” by Phillip Kayser and Mark Bubek)
Colossians is very similar to Ephesians. Both letters were written at the same time, to the same geographical area and contain the same truths. Colossians does not have the section on armor that Ephesians has (Ephesians 6:10-18) because it is written to teach truth and counter the heresy of Gnosticism. Paul does strongly affirm Jesus’ sovereign control over everything in heaven and earth, for He created and is in authority over angels and demons as well as everything else (Colossians 1:15-20). Those influenced by Gnosticism felt Jesus was inferior to angels and demons, so Paul makes sure he corrects this misconception. Satan uses deception to promote these kinds of false philosophies (Colossians 2:8). When the believers in Colossae start believing these untruths they start finding themselves in bondage again (Colossians 2:8).
LESSON FOR TODAY: Satan is still more successful through deception and lies than direct attack (John 8:44). Direct attack makes the church stronger, like in China and third world countries today. Deceptions and partial truths weaken the church, like is often true in the USA and Europe today. We must be convinced that Jesus is totally God (Colossians 2:9) and has all wisdom and knowledge (Colossians 2:3).
The other two letters written from Paul’s first Roman imprisonment, Philemon and Philippians, don’t deal with the issue of spiritual warfare in a direct, obvious way.
1 TIMOTHY ⇑
Two years after writing his letters from prison, after he was released and started traveling again, Paul wrote a letter to Timothy called 1 Timothy in our Bibles. Timothy was in Ephesus, that important center of the early church, and was struggling with difficulties in pastoring and leading the people. His youth and shyness, combined with the pushiness of some people, made leading the church difficult for him.
Church discipline. He refers to two people living in unrepentant sin who have been disciplined by being denied church fellowship (1 Timothy 1:18-20). This is similar to the event in Corinthians (1 Corinthians 5:1-5). The purpose in denying them Christian fellowship and allowing them to be open to the attacks of the world is to remind them of what they had when following Jesus so they will repent and turn from their sin. Eternal salvation isn’t in view here, but fellowship with God and other Christians in this life is the issue.
Satan tempts with pride. When Paul gives Timothy guidance about whom to choose for church leadership one of the important traits is that the person not be a new believer, “or he may become conceited and fall under the same judgment as the devil” (1 Timothy 3:6). “Conceited” is the Greek word tuphoo, literally “to raise a smoke.” It refers to someone who is self-centered and focused on themselves. Satan fell because of pride (Isaiah 14, Ezekiel 28) and it is one of his most successful tools today. Those who are given positions of authority or leadership in church are more susceptible to pride, so Paul warns that anyone who isn’t spiritually mature must not be put in positions where they may be tempted to be proud.
Paul continues on to say “He must also have a good reputation with outsiders, so that he will not fall into disgrace and into the devil’s trap” (1 Timothy 3:7). Satan has traps. His plan is to deceive us so destruction comes. Lust for Bathsheba by David was used by Satan to bring destruction to David (1 Samuel 11 – 24).
Satan and demons use deception. Paul also warns Timothy that demons have deceptive ‘spiritual’ teachings that seem right to those who aren’t spiritually attuned. The purpose is to lead them to abandon the faith (1 Timothy 4:1). Both 1 and 2 Timothy have much to say about false teachers and false teaching. Clearly Satan is behind it all, as he is today..
If one isn’t following God, then they are following Satan. If believers have any sin in their lives, demons will somehow make sure others become aware of it and use it to slander the person and the name of Jesus (1 Timothy 5:14). When we don’t follow God we are following Satan and his forces, whether we realize it or not (1 Timothy 5:15). There is no neutral ground, no middle territory. It is either one or the other.
2 TIMOTHY ⇑
A couple of years later, about 64 AD, Paul wrote his second and last letter to Timothy. It was the last inspired correspondence he ever wrote. It was Paul’s final words to the one who was closer to him than any other human being, his son in the faith Timothy. In it he warns Timothy of the traps Satan and demons use to capture people and trick them into doing his will (2 Timothy 2:26). Most would not willingly do so, but anyone not doing God’s will is actually following and serving Satan (1 Timothy 5:15).
1 PETER ⇑
Although he wrote most of the letters in the New Testament, Paul isn’t the only one whose correspondence was inspired and kept for our benefit in God’s Word. Peter wrote two epistles which contain good advice about spiritual warfare. The first was written in 63 AD, about the same time Paul was writing his letters to Timothy.Satan used Peter to tempt Jesus to avoid the cross (Matthew 16:23; Mark 8:33). Satan asked God for permission to “sift Peter as wheat” (Luke 22:31) by leading him to deny he knew Jesus so he would feel tremendous guilt and remorse. But Jesus said He prayed for Peter, that his faith wouldn’t fail and that he could strengthen his fellow Christians (Luke 22:32).
Peter certainly knew from firsthand experience that the battle with Satan and his demons was real! Therefore he knew what he was talking about when he wrote: “Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings. And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen” (1 Peter 5:8-11).
LESSON FOR TODAY: Peter challenges his readers to be “self-controlled” (sober, paying attention) and “alert” (awake, watchful), both strong commands to prepare themselves for the sure-to-come battle with Satan. Satan is like a “roaring lion” looking for anyone he can “devour” (assault, destroy, make ineffective by severing the vital union between us and God). As with Peter (Luke 22:31-32), Satan tries to destroy our faith so we will be open to fear, sin and discouragement. Therefore we are commanded to “resist him” and remain “firm and steadfast” in faith. God uses these very attacks to strengthen our faith and help us grow (1 Peter 5:10). He does not stop the attacks or make us immune to them, but He provides strength so we can stand up against them (1 Corinthians 0:13).
2 PETER ⇑
A year later Peter wrote what seems to be a strange statement. He says God did not spare the angels when they sinned but sent them to hell, putting them in gloomy dungeons to be held for judgment (2 Peter 2:4). Jude said they are kept in darkness, bound with everlasting chains for judgment on the great Day (Jude 6). It seems many demons are bound by God in some lower and most terrible ‘hell’ because they are too evil to be released so God spares the world their influence. They will be judged and condemned to hell for all eternity (Revelation 20:1-3, 10).
Another writer, besides Peter and Paul, was James, the half-brother of Jesus (same mother, different father). Chronologically, his was the first inspired book written in the New Testament and was addressed to Jewish Christians. James taught them about living for God, and spiritual warfare was/is an important part of that life.
James’ words are quite interesting because they are the first written words about spiritual warfare in the New Testament. He starts talking about sin which comes from within man (James 4:1-3) then the influence of the world from without (James 4:4). He affirms God’s great grace to those who are humble (James 4:5-6). Following this he gives three strong commands and two great promises. Command one is to submit to God (James 4:7), total and complete surrender to the Lordship of Jesus Christ (Romans 12:1-2). There can be no victory in the Christian life without this first requirement. This means that all sin must be confessed (1 John 1:9; James 5:13-16).
Following this comes the second command: resist the devil (James 4:7). “Resist” means to not give in, compromise or yield but to stand fast. It has the idea of a difficult struggle but remaining firm. How do we resist him? The same way Jesus did – we quote Scripture (Matthew 4:1-11; Luke 4:1-13) and we use God’s armor (Ephesians 6:10-18).
LESSON FOR TODAY: When we resist the enemy, God promises he will flee (James 4:7). That is God’s first promise to us in this passage. “Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (James 4:7). James says he “will” flee – he has to because God makes him. Sometimes God drives him away instantaneously, other times it is more gradual as the person learns and grows in their faith. That is why continued counseling after spiritual warfare deliverance is so important. Demons may fight, stall and do what they can to resist, but ultimately they must obey when God sends them away. The only exception is if God allows them to stay because He wants to use them for our growth and His glory, like with Paul’s “thorn in the flesh” (2 Corinthians 12:7-10). When God doesn’t remove the source of the demonizing He promises to give special grace so we can hold up under it. It becomes His chosen tool to make us more like Jesus.
Peter concludes this passage with another command and promise. “Draw near to God” (James 4:8) means to keep Him and His greatness in the center of our focus. When we do this His promise is “He will draw near to you” (James 4:8). Don’t sit back and expect Him to come wait on you, move in His direction and He will move in yours!
LESSON FOR TODAY: Don’t focus on Satan or demons, nor let them keep your main emphasis from being on God and Jesus (Philippians 4:8-9). Too many live in fear of what demons are doing or may do. That gives them the power, attention and worship on which they thrive. We can’t ignore them to the extent we let them do anything they want, but we must make sure God is always foremost in our thoughts and motives. When we move towards God He moves more than half way to move towards us.
Writing 20 years after James, soon after Paul and Peter wrote their last epistles, the writer of Hebrews states that Satan holds the power of death, but that Jesus became a man so that he could destroy Satan and the consequences of death which sin brings (Hebrews 2:14-15). God has conquered death and Jesus is forever victorious over it (1 Corinthians 15).
Writing about 5 or 6 years after Hebrews and 2 Peter, Jude (Jude 6) writes something similar to what Peter had written (see 2 Peter 2:4 above) about some demons even now being chained awaiting judgment.
A few verses later, when talking about the danger of slandering others, Jude uses the archangel Michael as an example for he did not bring a slanderous accusation against Satan when he was disputing him for Moses’ body. Instead, he said, “the Lord rebuke you” (Jude 8-9).
LESSON FOR TODAY: While we aren’t to fear demons, we must have a healthy respect for their power which is greater than ours. Especially the higher ranking demons who have power to cause much destruction. Our warfare against them must be done carefully, preferably with others praying for us, and always in an attitude of total dependence on God.
I JOHN ⇑
John, the brother of James and close friend of Jesus, wrote the final 4 books in the Bible. 1 John was written about 90 AD, 25 years after Peter and Paul wrote their last works and were martyred. He complements his readers for “overcoming the evil one” (1 John 2:13-14). They didn’t dethrone or destroy Satan, but kept their faith in Christ despite the opposition of the enemy.
John also gives some very helpful advice for us in our warfare today when he tells his readers to “test the spirits” (1 John 4:1). When a demon is behind a teaching or philosophy, it will not recognize that Jesus is God who came in the flesh to be the payment for our sins (1 John 4:2-3). We do not have to fear them because God is greater than they are and He lives in us, making us greater than any demon (1 John 4:4-6).
LESSON FOR TODAY: This verse, 1 John 4:4, is one every believer should memorize and use often. Quoting Scripture is our “sword of the Spirit” (Ephesians 6:10-18) and that is how Jesus had victory over Satan’s temptation (Matthew 4:1-11). This is a great verse to counter fear and remind us of where the real power lies!
Along the same line of thought, John reassured those he is writing to that believers are free from the condemnation that sin brings (1 John 5:18; Romans 8:1). That doesn’t mean believers don’t sin, they do – but the sin has been paid for so Satan cannot use it to destroy them as long as they confesses the sin and cleans themselves from it. Even if someone doesn’t do so, Satan still doesn’t have free reign to harm them. When someone is a child of God, Satan and his demons can only do what God allows them to do (Job 1, 2). “Harm” is the Greek word meaning “to assault, in order to sever the vital union between Christ and the believer.” Satan cannot separate us from Christ – nothing can do that for the believer (Romans 8:31-39).
The final book in the Bible, Revelation, written by John 6 years after 1 John, has much to say about spiritual warfare as might be expected. In it the battle between God and Satan, which started before the world was created and which included the human race when Adam sinned (Genesis 3:15), comes to a fitting conclusion.
John uses many terms for Satan. He calls him the “devil” (6 times), “evil one” (6 times), “liar and the father of lies” (3 times), “murderer” (1 time), “thief” (1 time), “wolf” (1 time), “deceiver” (1 time), “ruler of this world” (3 times), and “he who is in the world” (1 time).
In addition, John talks about territorial spirits, high ranking demons who oversee control of certain countries or geographical areas. In Revelation, they are referred to as a “synagogue of Satan” (Revelation 2:9; 3:9) and “dwelling place of unclean spirits” (Revelation 18:2). They will be the power behind the rise of the nation called Babylon (Revelation 17-18).
LESSONS FOR TODAY: Demons influence and control the nations (Daniel 10:13,20; Ephesians 6:12) and mislead them so they can be destroyed (Isaiah 9:14). It must always be kept in mind, however, that God is in sovereign control. They can do nothing without God’s permission (Job 1:6-12).
Because they cannot get at God or Jesus directly, Satan and demons attack those closest to God today – His children. He focuses his power and leads those he influences to hate and harm believers (Revelation 2:10; 13:7, 14-15; Daniel 12:7).
LESSON FOR TODAY: Satan does all he can to attack God’s people. Sometimes the enemy is permitted to exercise authority over the physical possessions of the child of God (as in Job’s first trial), sometimes over his physical body (as in Job’s second trial and in Paul’s case), and sometimes this authority extends as far as the physical life of the individual is concerned. But usually, it is the hand of God which is at work behind the scenes, working to accomplish His own ends, using whatever means He chooses.
Because Revelation records the final, ultimate defeat of Satan and his forces in their battle against God, it is only natural that the first skirmish in that long-standing battle be remembered and everyone reminded of the results. “Now war arose in heaven, Michael and his angels fighting against the dragon; and the dragon and his angels fought, but they were defeated and there was no longer any place for them in heaven. And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the Devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world – he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him” (Revelation 12:7-9; see also Daniel 12:1).
This passage clearly details Satan’s defeat in heaven, sometime in the very beginning, probably before man was created. He was defeated in heaven and this earth became his domain (Ephesians 6:12; John 14:30; 16:11; 12:31). Now in Revelation, his defeat on earth is chronicled. It is accomplished by Satan being defeated under the feet of the church (Romans 16:20) and by God’s holy angels (Revelation 20:1-3, 10).
This final defeat will be total and complete. Satan and his forces will be thrown into the lake of fire and brimstone and will be tormented day and night forever and ever (Revelation 20:10). Their defeat will be swift and final. They won’t even be granted the dignity of standing before the throne of God to undergo a personal judgment. His judgment was made complete on the cross. He only awaits the carrying out of that sentence.
With that God’s great promise at the start of this battle in Genesis 3:15 to “crush Satan’s head” will be complete. He will be the victor, and us with Him!
LESSON FOR TODAY: Always remember who the ultimate victor in this battle will be. Our faith is based on that, so is our courage and confidence today. We have nothing to fear. There will be total victory someday. Then we will live in that victory forever. Forever!
SPIRITUAL WARFARE TRAINING.: Answer the following questions. Send the answers to me if you want and I’ll offer comments and suggestions.
- What does James mean when he says we are to “resist” Satan?
- How are we to do this?
- Why is 1 John 4:4 such a useful verse in spiritual warfare?
- What does Revelation say about the future of Satan and demons?
- How should knowing this affect our daily lives?
- What are some new truths you have learned from this section about spiritual warfare in Acts and the Epistles?
- How can these things help you in your own daily life?
QUESTIONS AND COMMENTS
Record your thoughts, questions, what you have learned, what you want to study in the future, prayer suggestions and whatever else you want to remember.