Spiritual Self-Defense: the Invisible War

November 16, 2015 | by: Pastor Richard Dickinson | 0 comments

For we are not contending against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Ephesians 6:12,13

Introduction

This study is the result of searching many Scriptures on the topic of good and evil, and the uniqueness of man. These teachings are designed to help us see into the spiritual world. As we know, the issue in all warfare is knowing your opponent and his weapons on the one hand, and knowing your own assets and resources on the other.

That good and evil exists in the world hardly needs proving; what is needed, however, is to understand the conflict between the two. Every day battles are fought all around the world with deadly weapons involving people of all ages and nationalities. Some are dying or being taken prisoner, others are wounded, but some are also winning. This war, however, goes mostly unreported. No one comments on it because - it is invisible. It is a war involving spiritual powers and principalities of great darkness who are fueled by extreme hatred for the human race. They attack each person individually; they have never ever overlooked one single person throughout all human history. They know us intimately. However, they also have been defeated. A very great and ancient King conquered and disarmed them. Those who follow this King share in his power and learn, in turn, to be warriors, wielding spiritual weapons of enormous power against them.

There is a book that thoroughly explains this conflict; you are going to have to decide if this book is true. You are also going to have to decide if you really evolved from apes and have randomness and chance as your parents; or if this exact and intricate universe points rather to a great and powerful intelligence. Not much is going to be said regarding the origin of the universe except this: evolution is impossible. This world was created by someone very, very great. Could the Space Shuttle have come into existence without the efforts of extremely talented and dedicated scientists? Yet the molecular and nuclear structure of a single blade of grass makes the Shuttle look like a nursing infant. There is not a team of scientists anywhere that can make a blade of grass from scratch.

The book mentioned above is the Bible. It contains the most ancient events ever recorded and lists more historical names and places than all other religious books combined. It is the most thoroughly documented ancient book in the entire world and has withstood all criticisms ever leveled at it . The Bible begins with the creation of the world and man, and ends with a very great king ruling an eternal kingdom, sharing this kingdom with those who have become his friends. Between these two events, however, lies the deadly and invisible conflict. Intuitively, we all know something is not quite right about the earth and life. “If God were a God of love, this would have never happened,” many say. The answer is that indeed something is wrong; but the fault does not lie with God.

The Starting Point

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth Genesis 1:1

Before there ever was the world or man upon the earth, God existed. Therefore our belief in God does not create him. Whatever we believe about God is thus either right or wrong, depending upon whether or not it truly represents him. The popular notion that different beliefs are all correct if they are only sincere cannot be true. God existed before our minds, he is not created by them. He is therefore defined by who he is. This is the starting point of Spiritual Self-Defense: Who is telling the truth about the nature of God.

Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness…So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he them…The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden…and commanded the man, saying,”You may freely eat of every tree of the garden; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall die. Genesis 1:26,27; 2:15-17

The world that we live in is not the world as God originally created it. There was no death in that world in any form. Man was the highest of all God’s creatures and lived in paradise. Wars, murders, rapes, famines, earthquakes etc. were not even imagined. Something awful happened that brought death and suffering into the world. How death came and how death can be removed is the second arm of Spiritual Self-Defense.

The Great Rebellion

Did God say, “You shall not eat of any tree of the garden?” And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden; but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’ But the serpent [Satan ] said to the woman, “You will not die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate; and she also gave some to her husband, and he ate. Genesis 3:1-6

The existence of Satan is well documented throughout the Bible as well as in many other religions. He possesses an intense hatred for God, and by association, those made in his image. We are his chief target. Yet God allowed him access to the Garden of Eden to tempt Adam and Eve in order to test their hearts. We have free will. Would not love be quite mechanical and robotic if it simply was programmed into us? But we choose it freely. Likewise, God also wants us to choose freely to obey and love him. Thus the seat of the rebellion took place in the heart, and the form of the rebellion was the battle over truth. God had said he would punish Adam and Eve with death if they ate the forbidden fruit. Satan said it would not happen. This is the heart of Spiritual Self-Defense: God tells us how to live, Satan tells us God’s way is not good or true; we can have a better life if we will disobey him. So who lied, God or Satan ?

The Punishment

In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; you are dust, and to dust you shall return. Therefore the Lord God sent him forth from the garden of Eden… He drove out the man… Genesis 3:19,23,24

Therefore as sin came into the world through one man and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all men sinned. Romans 5: 12

Every culture, philosophy, and religion says something about death, but nowhere is it defined except in the Bible. Death is not a part of the natural order. It does not just happen. It is not beautiful or something to look forward to. It is a punishment placed upon man for sin, which is simply rebellion against God’s laws. Adam sinned, death came; we in turn sin, and death comes. We want to make the rules. “I have a right to do what I want with my life; I can choose for myself what is right or wrong”, we often hear people say. But this is playing God, and two objects cannot occupy the same space at the same time; God and I cannot both sit upon the throne. The tree of the knowledge of good and evil was off limits. Satan told Adam and Eve the effects of the fruit would be wonderful. But he lied. Thus Adam and Eve were driven out of paradise, and death, sorrow, suffering, sickness, and hatred enveloped the earth.

The Warrior to Come

I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; he will crush your head, and you will bruise his heal. Genesis 3:15

This is the first promise of hope. There will exist on earth a divinely appointed hostility between good and evil, climaxing in one great battle in which a great warrior, born of the woman, will crush Satan, though not without a tremendous personal cost. The whole of the entire Bible unfolds from this point, each prophet adding pieces to this mystery, telling us who, when, and where. It begins with the choosing of Abraham and the promise that his name would be great. Next, King David, of the tribe of Judah, is told that one of his descendants would rule the world. Then Isaiah tells us that this ruler will be God himself , he will be born of a virgin , and that he will die to pay the penalty for sin . The prophet Micah tells us that the coming king would be born in Bethlehem . There are literally hundreds of other prophecies that pertain to Jesus which were meticulously fulfilled. As Jesus himself said to his disciples, “ O foolish men, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?”

The Battle

My kingship is not of this world; if my kingship were of this world, my servants would fight…Pilate said to him, “ So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “…for this I was born and for this I came into the world, to bear witness of the truth... Then he [Pilate] handed him over to them to be crucified John 18:36,37; 19:16

The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil.1 John 3:8

God in his holiness punishes our sin with death. But the story continues because we also see that God in his love gave the life of his only Son to pay the penalty on our behalf. That is why Jesus was crucified. He was paying our debt, setting us free. You see, the penalty of sin – death – is a legal issue involving God’s law. Satan holds the power of death only in the sense that we are guilty for our sins. Christ’s death is legal payment for our sins, thus destroying Satan’s hold and breaking his power of death. The fact that Jesus arose from the grave on the third day after being crucified is the proof that the penalty for sin is paid and that death is defeated (there are hundreds of books on the validity of the resurrection; it is academically and scientifically undeniable ).

The Reconciliation

In Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them…For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God…And he died for all, that those who live might live no longer for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised., 2 Corinthians 5:19,21, 15

Adam and Eve were thrown out of paradise. Years of difficulty followed. But that is now past. A new day has come and we are invited to come back home to God. Jesus has defeated Satan and death by paying the penalty of our sin. Thus once again a great choice lies in front of us. Earlier the issue was, will we stay away from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil? Now it is, will we believe Christ and live? No other human being has performed such wondrous miracles as those done by Jesus – all sorts of healings, casting out demons, raising the dead, walking on water, turning water into wine, etc. No one else has lain in a tomb for three days and then physically come alive, never to die again. There is not another person found in all of human history who can stand in Christ’s place.

Spiritual Warfare

For though we live in the world we are not carrying on a worldly war, for the weapons of our warfare are not worldly but have divine power to destroy strongholds 2 Corinthians 10:3

Who is the liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ” This is the antichrist, he who denies the Father and the Son. No one who denies the Son has the Father. He who confesses the Son has the Father also. 1John 2:22,23

Just as Satan approached Eve, denying that she would die if she ate the forbidden fruit, he now approaches us, saying, “Jesus is not the savior, there are many ways to live, God is love so nobody will die and go to hell.” Or, “this world is millions of years old, so who can say what is true anyway?” But Jesus said, “I told you that you would die in your sins, for you will die in your sins unless you believe that I am he [the Christ]”. Satan approaches all, denying Jesus, whispering in our ears to do our own thing and ignore Christ. Isn’t it rather odd that out of all the different religions in the world, only the name of Jesus is abused and cursed? Nobody ever swears at Allah, Buddha, or Krishna. Doesn’t that make you suspicious? Satan hates Jesus Christ. Satan hates us because we are made in God’s image, and Satan does not want us to escape the trap of death he crafted so long ago. If we reject Jesus, he wins our soul, forever. This spiritual war is raging all over the earth. It is deadly and everyday claims more victims. Just because it is invisible, let us not think that it is not true. Statistics would show that almost everyone reading this article already has an opinion about Jesus Christ and that most of the opinions would be negative! However, as stated at the beginning, some are also victorious in this battle, and here is how they are doing it.

The Armor of God

Be sober, be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking some one to devour. 1Peter 5:8

Therefore take the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day…Stand therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the equipment of the gospel of peace; besides all these, taking the shield of faith, with which you can quench all the flaming darts of the evil one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Pray at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance... Ephesians 6:13-18

As stated in the introduction, the issue in all warfare is knowing your opponent and his weapons on the one hand, and knowing your own assets and resources on the other. Spiritual Self-Defense is a battle over truth- the truth about the nature of God, man, life, death and evil. Satan is our adversary and his weapon is to deceive us with lies. Jesus has defeated him through his death and now rules and reigns over the universe. For our part, we are given armor to protect us, some of which is defensive and some offensive. The helmet, sword, shield etc. are all real, but they are spiritual. Each aspect of the armor represents spiritual truth about Jesus and his work. This makes sense for Satan is a liar and the father of lies, thus to do battle against him it is necessary to be clothed in truth.
The helmet protects the head, which governs the whole body. If the head is wounded, the body cannot function. Here the helmet is salvation, thus all of our mind is to be absorbed in the fact that a very great King, Jesus Christ, has called us into his eternal kingdom. If we do not honor him, all our decisions and actions will be askew. Our life will totter this way and that. Satan would deny that there is such a thing as salvation or the kingdom of God, or that life should be lived in obedience to Christ.
The breastplate protects the heart and vital organs. Here it is righteousness, which means not guilty with regards to God’s law. We hold within our heart the fact of Christ’s complete forgiveness of all our wrongdoing. Satan would deny that our sins could be forgiven, he condemns us and constantly would tell us we are worthless.
Our boots are the gospel of peace. Gospel means good news and refers to the fact that Jesus has paid the penalty of sin, and that the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand. With the proper boots, you can walk any terrain. Thus there is no place one could walk in life where the good news of the forgiveness of sin is not applicable. It brings peace to all who receive it. Satan tries to stir up war, hatred, jealousy, strife amongst mankind. Jesus said where we walk should bring peace.
Our shield is that of faith. We cannot see God, and most of the time his voice is not heard audibly. Life is often very hard or confusing; there are good times but there are also times of sorrow and distress. In all of this we are asked to trust Jesus. He will never leave us or forsake us. He will never fail us. Satan hates people who believe this way because it is impossible to defeat or discourage them. They end up being victorious in life, not in their own strength, but in the strength of their faith in Christ.
Our last weapons are the sword and prayer. These are for offensive purposes. The sword, which cuts and pierces its assailant, is the word of God, the Bible. All of Satan’s lies about evolution, about doing our own thing and ignoring God’s commands; all of his lies against Jesus and his teachings – that there is no hell, that all religions are the same, etc. are slashed to pieces by a careful study of the Bible. The Bible tells us everything needed to live, and unfolds the mysteries of life. Satan hates this book fiercely, for it is the only book that reveals who he is and what he is up to. Prayer is our talking to God, asking for help, seeking his wisdom. It is unstoppable, and is available to everyone. It moves mountains, brings rain, defeats armies, all making the impossible, possible. The person who reads the Bible and prays is feared more by Satan than anything else in all of the universe. These people become warriors, walking in the victory and power of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. They are the real conquerors among men and women; they are the ones who see into the mysteries of the Kingdom of God.

Conclusion

Life does make sense. There are explanations for death, hatred, and suffering. There are also solutions. We have outlined the basic ingredients that open the eye to the spiritual battles between Satan’s kingdom and God’s. We would encourage you to travel deeper into this territory. Remember, true insight is gained through reflection and humility. If you take the time to understand Jesus Christ, you will understand yourself and life as well.

Footnotes:

1 There exists several hundred manuscripts of the Old Testament, some coming within two hundred years of original authorship; and almost five thousand manuscripts of the New Testament, some coming within fifty years of authorship. Other ancient works do not compare nearly as favorably. For instance, we have only eight manuscripts of the History of Thucydides which date to within thirteen- hundred years of authorship; and ten manuscripts of Caesar’s Gallic Wars which date to within nine-hundred years. Yet, we do not find the Classics departments at universities challenging the credibility of these works as they do the Scripture! Even if all the Bibles in the world were destroyed, many of the events it records would still be known because they are also recorded in secular history. Pliny (AD 61-114), governor of Bithynia, and Tacitus (AD 55-118), governor of Asia Minor both mention Jesus Christ and some of the events surrounding his death. Historians of the period like Josephus (AD93), Thallus (AD52) and Suetonius (AD49) also bear witness to many events and details in Scripture. Archeology has also confirmed much of the Bible. For Example, over many years critics considered the place called ‘The Pavement’ (as recorded in John 19:13) to be a fabrication of the author, but in the 1930s a man by the name of Pere Vincent discovered it.

2  Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but by     me.” John14:6

In many and various ways God spoke of old to our fathers by the prophets; but in these last days he has spoken to us by a Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. He[Jesus] reflects the glory of God and bears the very stamp of his nature, upholding the universe by his word of power. When he had made purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high. Hebrews 1:1-3

He [Jesus] is the image of the invisible God, the first-born of all creation; for in him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or authorities- all things were created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. Colossians 1:15-17

3  “And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the Devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world.” Revelations 12:9

4  “When he [Satan] lies, he speaks according to his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies”. John 8:44

5  “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government will be upon his shoulder, and his name will be called ‘Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace’. Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end”. Isaiah 9:6,7

6  “Behold a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel (God with us).” Isaiah 7:14

7  “But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities…All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.” Isaiah 53: 5,6

8  “But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose origin is from of old, from ancient days” Micah 5:2

9  Luke 24:25

10  Here are some examples: Evidence that Demands a Verdict, by Josh McDowell; The Case for Christ, by Lee Strobel; Know why you believe, by Paul Little; Therefore Stand, by Wilber M. Smith

11  So Jesus said again to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who came before me are thieves and robbers; but the sheep did not heed them. I am the door; if any one enters by me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture… I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. John 10:7-8,11

12  John 8:24

13  And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and earth has been given to me.     Go therefore and make disciples of all nations… Matthew 28:18
…Jesus Christ the faithful witness, the first-born of the dead, and the ruler of the kings on earth…To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood and made us a kingdom …Behold, he is coming [again] with the clouds, and every eye will see him, everyone who pierced him; and all tribes of the earth will wail on account of him… Revelation 1:5-7

14  For further reading : The Gospel of John in the Bible, and Lee Strobel’s book, The Case for Christ

 

 

Comments for this post have been disabled