Spiritual warfare is an important topic for Christians to consider because we are at war. We are engaged in actual warfare and with an actual adversary (Ephesians 6:12; 2 Corinthians 10:4). The name of the believer’s opponent is Satan, and I want to issue a call to arms against our foe. Over 300 years ago Puritan pastor Thomas Brooks wrote to his congregation about the enemy. Here is a portion of what he wrote:
Christ, the Scripture, your own hearts, and Satan’s devices are the four prime things that should be first and most studied and searched. If any cast off the study of these, they cannot be safe here, nor happy hereafter. It is my work as a Christian, but much more as I am a Watchman, to do my best to discover the fullness of Christ, the emptiness of the creature, and the snares of the great deceiver.
Like Thomas Brooks I am also a “Watchman,” and my prayer is that we will see from sacred Scripture the “fullness of Christ, the emptiness of the creature, and the snares of the deceiver.”
Obviously, we cannot discuss spiritual warfare without speaking about the enemy, his minions, and their destructive goals and power. We do have real enemies who lust for our destruction. At the same time, however, we must be careful to not give place to the devil (Ephesians 4:27). I have no desire to promote an unhealthy fascination with demonic activity. People are always drawn to the strange and the supernatural; to the power and mystery that lies beyond their own comprehension.
We must be careful not to seek answers, clues, or information about the supernatural apart from God’s Word. We must also be sure and not mix Biblical truth about him with legends and superstitions. Scripture alone must inform our minds about that which is spiritual for it is the only trustworthy source. All that the Lord desires for us to know and understand about the supernatural is revealed in scripture; any other source of information should be avoided. We do not learn about the devil from Dante’s Inferno or Milton’s Paradise Lost. Neither the occult nor popular culture is adequate to inform us about the origins, designs, and ultimate destination of our enemy. The Bible is the only true and accurate guide of truth, including truth in regards to Satan.
“If we take the Bible seriously, we must take the demonic world seriously. There can be no Biblical theology without a corresponding demonology.”
So says RC Sproul, and I wholeheartedly agree. If the Bible is to be taken seriously we must take seriously what it teaches concerning the satanic realm. Scripture clearly demonstrates that Satan is real, as are demons. They are powerful. They are bent on the destruction and perversion of God’s glory. But praise God that’s not the whole story. Satan and his demons are real, powerful, and destructive, but they are also defeated! They contend with the Lord of Glory, but they are fighting the long defeat.
This is the first in a brief Sunday series of posts that will explore several Biblical texts that deal with the topic, but let us close this post by reading Paul’s words to the Corinthian church, found in 2 Corinthians 2:11: “Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices.” In the Bible we have all of the knowledge needed in order to overcome Satan’s schemes. The Bible is God’s intelligence report on the enemy, and this data is 100% accurate! Ignorance of the enemy will never be a valid excuse for the believe because God has provided us with perfect intel on the adversary.
In his book Unmasking Satan Richard Mayhue writes of WWII General George Patton who conducted a successful counterattack against the German forces under the command of General Erwin Rommel. Patton is reported to have shouted in the thick of the battle, “I read your book, Rommel! I read your book!” And that he had. In Rommel’s book Infantry Attacks, he had carefully detailed his military strategy. Patton, having read it and knowing what to expect, planned his moves accordingly. We who read Satan’s plans in God’s Book can be prepared for spiritual warfare like Patton.