There is so much that I want to say regarding our discussion on Spiritual Warfare, and so many trails we can go down as we walk this path. Thank you for being patient as we set the foundation in our knowledge of this war. I believe it is vital that we take a look at why Christians must come to a knowledge of the truth that our enemy is real, and he is waging war against us.
That being said, we've been talking about the need to recognize that we are involved in an invisible spiritual war, with spiritual entities that interact with our physical world from an invisible spiritual realm. It is hard enough for Christians to wrap their minds around that truth, even though the Bible is full of examples of this fact. Once we are aware of the battle, then we need to recognize and identify our foe.
Most of us would acknowledge that our opponent is satan, or the devil. But would you be surprised to know that the Senior Pastor of the largest Protestant Church in the United States allegedly views the devil as largely symbolic? That he "likes to make [the concept of] the Enemy broader." He actually preaches, "Sometimes the Enemy can be our own thoughts. We’ve trained ourselves the wrong way. Or the Enemy can be our own lack of discipline." Of course, I'm talking about Joel Osteen, and this philosophy, in my opinion, is alarmingly similar to that of Anton Levey, the founder of the Church of Satan. Lavey preached that satan is not an entity but is only a symbol of certain human traits.
How many of us are familiar with the following Scripture: "Your adversary, the devil, prowls about like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour." And then how many of us take that warning seriously?
Actually, Peter painted a pretty good picture for us. What do lions do when they're prowling? They are constantly looking for something that is vulnerable and will be easy to consume and demolish. Is that the person who stumbles across pornography on the internet, and just can't pull themselves away? Is that the man or woman who decides that they are unhappy or unfulfilled in their marriage, and deserve more? Is that the pastor or church leader who decides to ignore the "hard" passages of Scripture because it doesn't win him accolades from his congregation, or fill up the collection plate? Is that the person who has a hidden secret that torments them night and day, or the person who can't quite forgive God for a tragedy in their life?
And these are maybe what we might term "the non-murderous" plans to steal and destroy, but let's not forget the devil's schemes and plans that end up with the vile and evil physical harm that actually kills another human being. They are all examples of just how formidable and deadly our foe is. But here is what is so sad to me: pastors like Joel Osteen (and believe me, he is not the only one) lull Christians into a false sense of entitlement with passages like this from his book Your Best Life Is Now ... “If you develop an image of success, health, abundance, joy, peace, happiness, nothing on earth will be able to hold those things from you”. Where in the Bible is that "prosperity gospel" preached?
And do you see what an effective tool that is for satan to use against us? If we believe that all God wants is for us to be happy; that all you have to do to reach your goal to be happy is to love Jesus, read your Bible, pray, and go to Church --- then how are you going to handle it when satan launches his attack against you and you lose your job, your marriage, get cancer, or your child tragically dies?
I do not dispute that God loves and wants to bless us. But He doesn't want us to buy into this lie that life is a picnic in a beautiful park. He want us to be aware that we are living our life in the middle of a battlefield. Now, don't get me wrong ... He doesn't want us to be obsessed with the devil or look for him in every event of our life that doesn't go our way. We are not to cower in a corner, afraid to venture out. He needs us active in this world, and bold on His behalf. But we need to be conscious that our enemy is always planning and looking for ways to launch a strike. That's why our spiritual armor is so important. Never neglect putting it on! That's one of the things that gives me peace of mind. I don't sit and worry, or look over my shoulder every minute of the day. If I am suited up in God's Truth, His peace, my efforts to live life in the Righteous manner of Jesus, growing in my salvation process, strengthening my faith, and relying on the Word, I can approach each day with confidence and trust. That may seem like a tall order, but believe me, when you make a conscious effort and you make it part of your day each morning, you know when you are fully dressed in your spiritual armor.
If accepting the fact that satan and his force of demonic spirits are real is just something that you find hard to digest, let me suggest this to you ... didn't Jesus think they were real? Didn't Jesus, Himself, have a personal encounter with the devil in the wilderness; and didn't He spend an awful lot of time dealing with demons and casting them out of people? We need to realize and accept that when Scripture tells us about satan, he is not as a metaphor of speech, or a symbol of transgressing against our Creator. He is a powerful fallen angel, who led a rebellion of a third of the angels of Heaven, and he now seeks to destroy all that is good, and all those who have been consecrated by God.
Then, if, as a Christian, you fall for the seduction, he will condemn you and make you feel guilty, dirty, unredeemable. And if he can lure individuals, think of the destruction he can cause when he attacks God's people by directing entire governments, deceiving men in leadership roles, destroying life through the sacrificial rite of abortion, persecuting the saints, and preventing our service to the Kingdom through intimidation and fear. His power is real -- we can see it all around us -- but remember this: it is limited! He's not omniscient -- he doesn't know all things. And he is not infinite, holy, or sovereign. He is just a created being; although a powerful one.
In order to be ready for battle, and to stay engaged in this invisible war, we need to develop our wisdom (knowing who he is and how he acts) and our balance (be aware of him, but not obsessed with him). We need to recognize that we fight a formidable foe, but never forget that we fight our battle from victory, not for victory. The victory is already secured through Christ! We need to know that we've already won the final victory, and we are invincible because we fight in Christ's power, not our own! We have Christ's authority and power to resist the devil and withstand his attacks.
So don't fall for the lies and false theology that tells you that Christians are not subject to the wiles and schemes of the devil, or that God just wants to make you healthy, wealthy and wise. Those are the lies of false security that the devil offers you, and they will render you defenseless when he comes prowling. Rather, recognize when you are being attacked and stand firm in your spiritual armor; and demand that satan and his demons leave the battlefield in the Name of Jesus. Recall that the Bible tells us they quake at the mention of His Name! The devil is a created being, and so are we -- but we are made in the image of God. He is not! We have nothing to fear and our victory is secure!
2 Corinthians 10:3 "For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh."