A War Not Against Flesh and Blood
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. Stand firm therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints, and pray on my behalf, that utterance may be given to me in the opening of my mouth, to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in proclaiming it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.
– Ephesians 6
The Enemy’s Tactics
- Taking a truth and twisting it, so there’s still an element of truth to his message (creating the appearance of credibility)
- Telling us we are god(s) or like God (Genesis 3)
- Persuading us to focus on the external and the flesh, rather than the spiritual. Two ways this plays out:
- Convincing us that our works (rather than the finished work of Christ) can earn or maintain salvation, or that we have to be “good people” in order to be saved. This road has the potential to lead to legalism, self-righteousness, and discouragement when we inevitably find ourselves not “measuring up”. And in the worst case, it keeps us from ever receiving salvation, because we feel that we must earn it first, and we focus on our own unworthiness rather than God’s power to overcome and wipe out that unworthiness. Only through the blood of Christ are we saved, and only by the power of the Holy Spirit do we begin to change internally and externally.
- Convincing us that spiritual health and salvation doesn’t matter, and that any desire of the flesh should be gratified, even if it is at the expense of the spirit/soul (which he convinces us doesn’t exist or isn’t important/valuable).
- Encouraging us to defile the temple of God
- Convincing us that sin and hell don’t exist
Now the serpent was more crafty than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman, “Indeed, has God said, ‘You shall not eat from any tree of the garden’?” The woman said to the serpent, “From the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat; but from the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat from it or touch it, or you will die.’” The serpent said to the woman, “You surely will not die! For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
– Genesis 3:1-5
Satan Can Present Himself as an Angel of Light
For such men are false apostles, deceitful workers, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. No wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. Therefore it is not surprising if his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness, whose end will be according to their deeds.
Be On the Lookout
Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. But resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world. After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you.
– 1 Peter 5:8-10
But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons,
– 1 Timothy 4:1
See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ.
– Colossians 2:8
And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For we do not preach ourselves but Christ Jesus as Lord, and ourselves as your bond-servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, “Light shall shine out of darkness,” is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.
– 2 Corinthians 4:3-6
Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall. No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.
– 1 Corinthians 10:12-13
What are our weapons in this battle? With what are we equipped?
The belt of truth.
The breastplate of righteousness.
The boots of the gospel of peace.
The shield of faith.
The helmet of salvation.
The sword of the Spirit.
To wield the sword of the Spirit (which is the word of God) effectively requires practice and familiarity with the word. We cannot powerfully wield a weapon we rarely touch.
To hone our skill with the sword, we seek the word of God.
For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.
– Hebrews 4:12
When we engage in battle, we must tap into the power of the Spirit, which means that God’s Spirit must first be living inside us. Otherwise, our weapons will be lifeless and ineffective.
We cannot fight apart from the strength of God – to whom we are joined.
If you are joined to God through Christ, then you are an agent of light, and you will be called to ride into battle. We wage war against the enemy whenever we pray (talk to God, seek Him), resist temptation, and share God’s love, truth, and hope.
For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do.
Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
– Hebrews 4:12-16
Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him. Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death. Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren. Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.
– James 1:12-17
Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. – James 4:7
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