| Crosswalk.com Contributing Writer
| Thursday, July 28, 2022
When it comes to spiritual warfare, we want to avoid extremes. We don’t want to blame everything on the devil and his cohorts, because sometimes the battle is within our own hearts (Rom 6). But we don’t want to ignore or make light of the real battle against “spiritual powers” of darkness either (Eph 6:12).
The key is finding out exactly what the Scriptures teach, and then laying hold of the Scriptures that will help us win our battles.
Some people foolishly use the name of the Lord like a magic charm or incantation. It might surprise them to know we’re never taught in Scripture to rebuke or cast out Satan or demons. That is the Lord’s work (Matt 8:28-34). Even the archangel Michael refrained from rebuking the enemy. He said, “The Lord rebuke you” (Jude 9).
Remember, even speaking to Satan got Eve in trouble (Gen 3:1-5). We are simply exhorted to resist or stand firmly against the enemy and he will flee (Jas 4:7).
Spiritual warfare involves conflict with our sinful world (1 John 2:15-17), our sinful flesh (Gal 5:15-16), and our enemy, the devil (2 Thes 2:4). Here are some Scriptures that can help us be valiant and victorious.
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1. Know the Overcomer: John 16:33
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“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33 ESV)
Those who repeatedly fail to conquer a besetting sin or addiction know the weakness of the flesh. We must rely on the power of God, not our own power—not even strengths and strategies, because Jesus said, “Apart from me you can do nothing.”
But with Him, that’s a different story! “Take heart,” Jesus said, “I have overcome the world.” We don’t have to fear anything. In Christ, we have strength and peace. He is faithful and provides “the way of escape” when our battle rages. He is our sufficiency. And He is our Protector! We can run to Him and not be “greatly shaken.”
It is only by using the tools God provides for our spiritual success that we will be able to stand firm and win. We ultimately fail when we trust in other gods—the idols of our heart—to sustain us in the battle. Jesus is the Overcomer!
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2. Know the Enemy: 2 Corinthians 2:11
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“… so that we would not be outwitted by Satan; for we are not ignorant of his designs.” (2 Corinthians 2:11 ESV)
We must understand our enemy and the evil hoards who serve him or we will be caught in their snares. We’re fighting evil rulers, authorities, cosmic forces and spiritual forces of evil that dwell in the heavenly places and attack God’s people on earth. We only need to watch one day of news reports to see some of the effects of these wicked forces.
Satan is a thief who comes to steal, kill and destroy all that is good and holy. He is a clever schemer, always on the lookout for some way to outwit and take advantage of us. He and his clever minions desire to destroy all who fear the Lord.
He is our adversary, and as our adversary, he is like a roaring lion who is fierce, hungry and prowling around looking for someone to “devour.” Don’t take Satan lightly. Learn how to overcome our wicked opponent and his wicked designs.
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3. Get Dressed for Battle: Ephesians 6:11
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“Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.” (Ephesians 6:11 ESV)
We need to get dressed for battle. Take time to read and study why all the parts of the armor—the belt, breastplate, shoes, shield, helmet and sword—are necessary. We need both defensive and offensive weapons!
Putting on our armor is how we stand against the enemy. But never forget this: We are only strong in God’s armor because it fits us as His children. As believers, we are already fully clothed in righteousness. That is our positional standing before God that empowers us to do battle. But we’re also to “clothe” ourselves with Jesus—to focus on Him and not think about how to gratify our fleshly desires. This is our practical standing before God that enables us to win each day. Dress yourself up in Christ and then dress for battle!
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4. Keep Your Sword Sharp: Ephesians 6:17b
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“… and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God…” (Ephesians 6:17b ESV)
The Lord wants us to wage good warfare and fight with wisdom, faith, character and strength. It’s not simply a matter of adequate defense; we need a strong offense as well.
The Lord is our example in spiritual warfare. In the wilderness, faced with the temptations Satan designed for Him, Jesus went to battle against the evil one with the Scriptures. The sword of the Spirit, the Word of God, is our most potent defensive and offensive weapon. We keep it sharp by interacting with Scripture in a variety of ways. Memorize, meditate on, treasure, and apply the Word.
Besides Scripture, another offensive weapon is prayer–especially praise. When Israel faced a mighty attack, God’s people cried out to God and sang and praised Him, and the Lord defeated their enemy.
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5. Obey Your Commander: Luke 1:38
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“And Mary said, ‘Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.’ And the angel departed from her.” (Luke 1:38 ESV)
When a soldier goes to war, a prime directive is “Obey the commander.” Spiritually speaking, we must get our marching orders from the Lord. We may get written orders in the Word of God. Or, as we become more intimate with Him in prayer, surrender and obedience, we may also sense directly what God wants us to do.
Jesus promised the Spirit of God will guide us into truth. When we walk “by the Spirit,” we will not give in to sinful cravings. We must trust the Lord and seek His wisdom, never discounting the enabling power of prayer. Pray for victory in the power of the Holy Spirit and in the will of God.
One simple thing I do to win more battles over sin is something I learned from radio Bible teacher Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth. When we surrender to the Lord—when we’re willing to set aside our own agendas, follow Him and be obedient—we will be less likely to surrender to our flesh or evil influences. I’m learning to quickly say, “Yes, Lord!” Mary, the Mother of Jesus, is a good example of this heart attitude.
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6. Be Alert to Danger: Matthew 26:41
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“Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” (Matthew 26:41 ESV)
Resisting the devil is part of a larger focus on being alert to the dangers of temptation and sin. James exhorts us to allow God to work, resist the devil, draw near to God, surrender to His control, stop dabbling in sin, purify our inner life, cut out all compromises with sin, and cry out in humility for help!
We may sincerely want victory, but the flesh is desperately weak. That’s why the Lord told us, “Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation.” We will only stay on our feet when we’ve spent some time on our knees in watchful prayer.
Resistance must be joined with submission to God. The unsurrendered and disobedient will not enjoy the victories God has planned. So watch out. Wake up and walk as a child of light. Don’t get careless. You’ll get ambushed!
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7. Guard Your Heart: Proverbs 4:23
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Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” (Proverbs 4:23 ESV)
The heart is our inner core that includes our thoughts, feelings, desires and willful. What we allow to fill our heart will eventually shape our perspective and conduct. Our “heart” reflects who we are.
One of the huge changes in my perspective in dealing with sin was to realize who God says I am in contrast to who Satan (or others) tells me I am. Yes, I am tempted by my evil desires—that will always be a battle until I rise to heaven. But according to the Word of God, I am a set-apart, holy-unto-the-Lord child of God, and designed for the “praise of His glorious grace.” In other words, my true identity is wrapped up in Christ.
To guard our hearts, we must allow the Word of God to counsel us in that truth and make us holy. We must also counsel our hearts to trust and obey.
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8. Refuse to Compromise: Ephesians 4:27
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“… and give no opportunity to the devil.” (Ephesians 4:27 ESV)
It’s little compromises that allow the enemy a foothold or opportunity in our lives. God never condones redefining, justifying or compromising His standards or commands.
The Psalmist says people are “blessed” when their way is blameless, when they seek the Lord with their whole heart and “do no wrong but walk in His ways” and keep His precepts diligently. The Lord prescribed a way to live and He expects us to follow His Word, will and ways.
It’s not always easy, because there are voices in the culture calling us to compromise our standards and give in to godlessness. We have a daily choice between serving the Lord wholeheartedly or serving self. We will not be taken captive and controlled by deceptive cultural philosophies and fixations if we’ll “fix” our eyes on Jesus. We’re to learn God’s truth and defend it, not cozy up to the devil’s lies.
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9. Do Battle Together: Galatians 6:2
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“Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” (Galatians 6:2)
We are not meant to live the Christian life alone. God gave us brothers and sisters in the body of Christ to come alongside to “encourage” and “build one another up.”
He wants us to fight the enemy in unity, shoulder to shoulder, and to “bear one another’s burdens” as it relates to our temptations. The Bible encourages accountability. We’re to consider how we can “stir up one another to love and good works.”
This will take humility, transparency and wisdom, but doing battle together will help us not be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. Instead, we will be built up and equipped, not only for the holy life God calls us to live, but also for the work of ministry.
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10. Celebrate Your Victories: 1 Corinthians 15:57
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“But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Corinthians 15:57 ESV)
There is a time to mourn and a time to dance, Solomon said. We mourn over our sin. We grieve because our sins are an affront to God. We repent. But we can’t forget to rejoice and celebrate our victories in Christ!
It’s so much easier to keep pointing out our sins and faults than to recognize and celebrate the times God has brought sweet victory. Forgiven and under grace in Christ, we are not to wallow in our sin. We have hope in Christ that motivates growth and victory. We are “more than conquerors.”
Dawn Wilson and her husband Bob live in Southern California. They have two married sons and three granddaughters. Dawn assists author and radio host Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth with research and works with various departments at Revive Our Hearts. She is the founder and director of Heart Choices Today, and also publishes LOL with God and Upgrade with Dawn and writes for Crosswalk.com. Dawn also travels with her husband in ministry with Pacesetter Global Outreach.
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