How to Experience Victory in Spiritual Warfare
A believer not only battles his or her own flesh and the pressure that comes from the world, but there is also a host of demonic forces that want to see your destruction. Understanding spiritual warfare and overcoming the devices of your spiritual enemy is vital if you do not want to return to your addictive behavior.
I. Do you believe that Satan truly exists?
A. The charge.
Sometimes you hear people charge Christians with conveniently blaming Satan for their own weaknesses and failures. This charge is true sometimes because as sinners we are good blame-shifters and we don’t want to take responsibility for our failures (Gen. 3:13). However, this does not negate the fact that Satan and a multitude of demonic forces do exist and are seeking to thwart the purposes and plans of God which includes attempting to destroy the children of God.
B. Jesus believed Satan existed.
Jesus clearly believed that Satan existed because He taught His disciples and warned them of his power and influence in the world (John 8:44) (Luke 22:31). Since Jesus believed that the Devil existed you should too. Therefore, you must learn to discern his attacks upon you.
II. Discerning spiritual warfare.
A. Know Satan’s devices.
Paul warned believers to be fully aware of the Devil’s devices lest he “should take advantage of us” (2 Cor. 2:11). The words should take advantage of us are one word in the original and mean that Satan’s desire is to defraud you of something that is yours. This is the goal of the enemy of your soul. Jesus said that Satan had come to “steal, and to kill, and to destroy” (John 10:10). If you will let the Devil he will steal and rob you of the blessings that God desires to give.
B. What are Satan’s devices?
1. He consistently will attempt to undermine, question, and cause doubt in God’s Word (Gen. 3:1).
2. He will seek to focus you upon every reason why you should exercise self-gratification and self-exaltation (Gen. 3:6) (Is. 14:13-14).
3. He will seek to get you to question the fairness of God’s commands (Gen. 3:5).
4. He misquotes and misapplies God’s Word in his temptations (Matt. 4:6-7).
5. He looks for an area where he believes you are vulnerable and weak (Job 1:9-11).
6. He constantly suggests why you should rebel and curse God (Job 1:11).
7. He even uses people to encourage you to rebel against and curse God (Job 2:9).
8. He encourages you to extreme actions that would tempt God (Matt. 4:5-7).
9. He tempts you to compromise your calling and mission in life as he also tried to do with Jesus (Matt. 4:10).
10. He wants to draw you from keeping God as your number one priority in life and cause you to worship and serve something else (Matt 4:10).
11. He is a master at lying, guilt, and temptation (Rev. 12:9).
12. If you hold resentment and bitterness against any person you give the Devil an opportunity to use guilt and condemnation against you which allows a barrier to form between you and God (Eph. 4:26-27).
C. How can you be certain that you are involved in spiritual warfare?
If you are struggling with any of the above issues in your mind, you can be sure that you are involved in spiritual warfare. Remember that sometimes it is hard to discern the difference between your own sinful desires and the temptation of the enemy of your soul. Scripture acknowledges that both your own desires and the enticement of Satan are at work in temptation. “But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed” (James 1:14). Therefore, when you are struggling with any area of the flesh, you should assume that demonic forces would also be involved.
III. Be committed to wrestle.
A. What does it mean to wrestle?
Paul declared, “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Eph. 6:12). The word to wrestle refers to a struggle until one throws the other down. Spiritually you are involved in a wrestling match with demonic forces. You will either be thrown down or you will learn how to stand. It is important to note that Paul teaches that we wrestle with the rulers of darkness who are the principalities and powers (rankings of demonic forces). It is unlikely that you would ever wrestle with the Devil himself simply because he would probably be interested in very influential people in this world (Heads of states etc.).
B. Where does this wrestling match take place?
1. In your mind (2 Cor. 11:3) (2 Cor. 10:5).
2. With your faith (1 Tim. 6:12) (Luke 22:31-32).
3. In the temptation of the flesh (Eph. 2:2-3).
4. With the pressure and temptation to entangle yourself in the affairs of this world (2 Tim .2:4).
5. There is a wrestling match as you try to reach the souls of lost men (Acts 26:18) (Matt. 12:22-29).
IV. Putting on the whole armor of God.
A. Why is armor important?
In a battle your armor is what enables you to stand strong in the fight and repel the blows of your enemy. Paul said, “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil” (Eph. 6:10-11). Therefore, if you fail to put on your armor you will not be able to stand against the wiles (deceit or trickery) of the Devil. This armor would also include your weapons to win the battle. If you want to be strong, then heed the instruction of Scripture: “The night is far spent, the day is at hand. Therefore let us cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light” (Rom. 13:12).
B. How do you put on this armor?
The words put on simply mean to clothe or to cover yourself completely. Paul exhorted believers to put on the Lord Jesus Christ (Rom. 13:14). In other words, to completely surrender to Him by faith you must allow Christ to reign over you as Lord. If you put on Christ by surrender and faith you must also put on this armor by the same means.
V. What is the armor of God?
Just because you know about the armor of God and the victory of Christ is no guarantee of victory. You must put on the armor of God by faith if you want to stand. What is the armor of God? It’s very simple. This armor describes an aggressive, godly, and committed Christian walk. With this kind of walk with Christ you cannot be defeated.
A. Girded with truth. Only with integrity and a clear conscience can you fight Satan’s lies. Truth strengthens and preserves you in the battle (John 3:21) (Ps. 51:6).
B. The breastplate of righteousness. The Roman breastplate protected the vital organs of the soldier, both front and back. You need this piece of armor because no Christian is perfect. Therefore, you need the assurance of the righteousness of Christ when you fail (Rom. 3:22-24).
C. Feet shod with the preparation of the Gospel. The feet of a Roman soldier were very important. These men were given boots fitted with spikes to given them greater stability during battle. To be fully prepared for the battle every soldier must be instructed in warfare. Therefore, grow in the grace and knowledge of the Gospel that you might be prepared for every good work and every attack of Satan (2 Peter 3:17-18) (2 Tim. 3:15-17).
D. The shield of faith. The shield kept a soldiers opponent from ever touching him with his sword or spear. You must continually deepen your faith with the study of the Scriptures and fight with prayer (Rom. 10:17) (Jude 20).
E. The helmet of Salvation. The soldiers helmet was, of course, to protect his head. If the primary battleground is within your mind, then you must be prepared and assured of your salvation. You can’t have victory in spiritual warfare if you are still doubting your own salvation (1 John 5:13). Satan loves to plant thoughts of doubt in your mind (John 13:2).
F. The sword of the Spirit. This is the first of your offensive weapons (Heb. 4:12). Jesus used the Word of God against Satan (Matt. 4:1-11). When you battle guilt, unbelief, or unforgiveness you need to go to God’s Word as your source of fact, instead of trusting you feelings.
G. Praying always. This second offensive weapon is the one most people neglect. You must be in contact with the Commander and Chief to obtain strength and direction in your personal fight. Even Jesus in the midst of His greatest battle in the garden went to the Father in prayer (Luke 22:44). Prayer will strengthen your inner man (Eph. 3:16).
VI. The balance.
Many times Christians become overly concerned with Satan and His power. Be careful. Fix your attention upon Jesus and His power. Jesus is the One who destroyed the powers of darkness and delivered you from the Devil’s right and influence over you (Heb. 2:14) (Col. 1:13). You have been given all authority over Satan’s super-natural powers (Luke 10:19). Use your authority in Jesus name (Luke 10:17).