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Monday, December 5, 2022

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What Is the Biblical Perspective of Spiritual Warfare?

Be alert and of sober mind. 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 the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings (1 Peter 5:8-9).

Spiritual warfare and knowledge of the demonic are popular topics in our day and time. If you were to peruse online books searching for this particular topic, you would find hundreds if not thousands of titles addressing this very topic.

Why do so many people like hearing or reading about spiritual warfare? It could be the intrigue of the supernatural and in what we cannot see.

Others may be drawn to this topic as it incites excitement and a sense of power when thinking of potentially engaging in spiritual combat with the enemy.

It is very tempting to focus on the enemy and on the encroaching darkness in the world and to become intimidated. But we are not without hope as those who are not in Christ Jesus.

Is Our Focus on the Enemy?

In 1 Peter 5, we find the Apostle Peter writing to the elect exiles of the dispersion and providing them instructions. In the midst of his letter, he makes a third appeal to them to stay sober-minded, paying attention to what is going on around them.

According to this author, “Peter writes that there is danger beyond the physical persecution some of his readers were facing. There is a deep agenda far beyond that of the powerful men who might inflict that persecution. The devil, not the men or women who might harm us, is the real enemy of a Christian believer.”

Though the devil was acknowledged, the believers then were encouraged to not fear and to stand firm in their faith amid persecution and possible death for the sake of Christ.

We are encouraged by this inspired Scripture to do the same. Imagine being edified in your faith in Christ by hearing that other fellow brothers and sisters in Christ are experiencing similar sufferings brought on by the enemy, working to strike fear into those who would proclaim Christ (1 Peter 5:9).

Imagine being comforted in knowing that God would restore and strengthen you after such a time (1 Peter 5:10).

1 Peter 5:8 is one of a handful of passages mentioned in some teachings addressing spiritual warfare. One could make the case that much is made of Satan more often than not at times, and a focus on him is where the concept of spiritual warfare comes into play.

However, as believers, we are encouraged by the Word of God to most assuredly be aware of our adversary and his schemes, but we are more so instructed to keep what is most important.

In other words, we are to keep Christ at the forefront and central to our faith and in our lives on this earth. We read in 1 Peter 5:7 to cast our cares upon the Lord because of His steadfast love and care for His own.

So, how do we resist Satan? Do we rebuke him or bind him? Scripture does not instruct us to do such things. The instruction to resist is followed by standing firm in the faith. What is this faith?

It is faith in Jesus Christ. It is trusting God and leaning on Him ever more in those trying times. Our faith and hope are in Him, no matter what may come. James 4:7 says to fellow believers to submit to God and then to resist the devil.

He flees not because of who we are but because of the One to which we are submitted. Ephesians 6:10-13 echoes similar instructions regarding the enemy,

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.

It is interesting to have the imagery of being adorned in armor and standing firm in our faith.

For those who are in Christ, the focus is placed upon Him in every situation and circumstance. This is no different in the spiritual skirmishes against the powers of darkness. We are to trust in the Lord while standing firm in our faith, remembering who has defeated the devil.

Though we do not deny the existence of the devil, he is not to be our focus, even in the throes of spiritual warfare. Another area of help to us is the Word of God. When Jesus was tempted in the wilderness by Satan, we read of His use of the written Word of God.

With each instance, He responded, “It is written,” followed by the Scripture in an application for each situation. We can be encouraged in this account to be comforted by the truth found in His Word and to not rest in our own understanding and strength but to rest and trust in the Lord.

We Need Not Fear the Devil

There are some teachings and beliefs centered on delivering Christians from indwelling demons. What does Scripture have to say on this matter? There are no passages explicitly stating born-again believers can be indwelled simultaneously by the Holy Spirit and by a demonic spirit.

This should encourage us as believers as Scripture edifies us in understanding that the Third Person of the Trinity indwells us at the moment of salvation.

1 John 4:4 reminded believers then and us now, “Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.”

Colossians 1:13-14 solidifies our deliverance from the domain of darkness into the kingdom of Jesus Christ. Our sins have been forgiven, and our redemption is secure.

The Holy Spirit is not a weakling. He has sealed us for the day of redemption, and He is the guarantee of our inheritance in Christ (Ephesians 1:13; 4:30). He helps us and strengthens us to stand firm in our faith when facing times of spiritual warfare.

Standing firm may not seem exciting or exhilarating in accordance with the world’s standards, but it is the instruction we are to follow. God is our Defender and our refuge. We rest in His power and authority over our adversary.

We also acknowledge and understand the three adversaries we encounter in this life: the world, the flesh, and the devil. We have not been left ill-equipped in this world to overcome these enemies.

By the leading and the power of the Holy Spirit and by abiding in His Word, we can persevere in life. We need not fear the devil and his tactics or his attacks and schemes.

Spiritual warfare is real. The key to understanding it is found in light of properly understanding Scripture while keeping our focus not on the enemy but on Jesus Christ.

For further reading:

What Is Spiritual Warfare?

How Does the Full Armor of God Apply to Us Today?

How Do We Use the Sword of the Spirit in the Armor of God?

Photo Credit: ©iStock/Getty Images Plus/Stanislav Hubkin authorDawn Hill is a Christian blogger known as The Lovesick Scribe and the host of The Lovesick Scribe Podcast. She is passionate about sharing the truth and pointing others back to Jesus Christ through the written Word as the standard of authority for Christian living and instruction while being led by the Holy Spirit into maturity. She is the author of NonProphet Woke: The Reformation of a Modern-Day Disciple. She is a wife to Nicholas and a mother to Anabel and Ephraim. You can follow her on Facebook and Instagram

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