Supernatural warfare and it’s reality is the most critical spiritual topic at this moment. Why? Because Supernatural Warfare is something, the body of Christ is dangerously ignorant of and destructively weak in implement.
Proof of this hit me hard not long ago as I ministered at a pastor’s conference. I asked the room of pastors if they were under spiritual attack, suffering from depression, battling anxiety, and struggling to move forward in their ministries and personal walks with Jesus. Two-thirds of the pastors in attendance raised their hands. Two-thirds. Full-time ministers were battling to keep the faith, let alone to continue ministering to the body of Christ. If pastors are going through this, then I think it is safe to say that everyone is going through battles and struggling to maintain their walk.
We have a lot of teaching on how to read the Bible, how to pray, how to win the lost, but there is an enormous gap in teaching how to fight spiritual wars.
The Devil is Real
So where do we start? First, let’s look at the bigger picture, the reality that we face a genuine enemy in the supernatural realm. Every New Testament writer discusses the nature and existence of spiritual warfare and our enemy, the devil, or Satan. The Apostle Peter paints a clear picture of our enemy and provides a launching off point for this study.
Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. (1 Peter 5:8)
The devil is real, whether we want to believe or not. This is why we need to be sober, awake, alert, aware. Peter knew all too well the need to fight the devil in spiritual warfare, and wanted us to be wise, awake, or “sober and vigilant.” We are to be clear-minded and on guard for the enemy. This means we need to know who he is, which shows us how he works. The Bible gives us three distinct names for Satan. We will look at two here and the last name later on in the study. First, we need to see that he is the Tempter: he tempts people into sin
Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And when He had fasted forty days and forty nights, afterward He was hungry. Now when the tempter came to Him, he said, “If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.”
But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’ ”
Then the devil took Him up into the holy city, set Him on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down. For it is written:
‘He shall give His angels charge over you,’
‘In their hands they shall bear you up,
Lest you dash your foot against a stone.’”
Jesus said to him, “It is written again, ‘You shall not tempt the Lord your God.’ ”
Again, the devil took Him up on an exceedingly high mountain, and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to Him, “All these things I will give You if You will fall down and worship me.”
Then Jesus said to him, “Away with you, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve.’ ”
Then the devil left Him, and behold, angels came and ministered to Him. (Matthew 4:1-9)
The devil is the master as using the lust, our flesh, and the pride of life to tempt us to walk away from God into sin. He does that as the Tempter. But he also leads people away from God using lies, earning him the name Deceiver.
Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman, “Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden’?”
And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden; but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die.’ ”
Then the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that in the day 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, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings. (Genesis 3:1-7)
We see the devil using lies like this over and over again. Maybe you see it in your own life as well.
The modern-day, Protestant American church for years and years have ignored the devil, and on the most part has never taught about the devil’s names and tactics, and most certainly has never taught how we fight him and win. It is as if we believe the devil has disappeared. He’s not gone. He’s hiding in plain sight.
We won’t defeat our enemy by ignoring him. We overcome him by recognizing, naming, and going after him. Here is a fact which is hard to accept but one that must be faced nonetheless: the devil is real, and he hates us. He hates God. This is not a fairy tale. He is out to stop God’s plans on this earth. He wants to hurt you and God in the process. In this passage, Peter pulls the covers off, showing him like a hungry lion, on the hunt, looking for an animal with no defense mechanism.
This means we need to be “vigilant.” The Greek word “gregoreo.” It means “to be on your guard, to be watchful, to be attentive.” It is a picture of a person with a watchful attitude, on the lookout for an invader. The Holy Spirit wants us to make sure no enemy or aggressor can successfully gain entry into our life or place of residence. We are to watch out for our “adversary,” or in the Greek “antidikes,” which means “a lawyer who argued in a court of law, a prosecutor who brought offenders to court, argued vehemently against them, and then send them off to prison.” The devil is always trying to condemn and deceive us with whatever weapons he has. Often people are engaged in spiritual warfare but don’t know it yet.
Rick Renner translates 1 Peter 5:8 like this:
“You must be constantly alert and on your guard! The devil, like an accusing lawyer will try to charge you with all kinds of arguments and accusations. You need to know that he is like a lion on the prowl — constantly walking around, roaring with a deafening sound, earnestly seeking the kind of person he can completely consume and slurp up!”
The devil is looking for people that don’t know how to fight back. I want to reiterate this point, to ensure we don’t lose sight of the deception that has spread throughout the church: we can’t defeat am enemy we don’t recognize or ignore. The Bible never tells us to pretend Satan is not real. The Bible tells us to resist him, and he will flee. It tells us we need to know how and where he works. Paul calls us to be sober and vigilant, “lest Satan should take advantage of us; for we are not ignorant of his devices” (2 Corinthians 2:11).
Hosea 4:6 says that “we are destroyed for a lack of knowledge.” We are killed when we don’t understand who we are up against. This is part of the devil’s plans. His primary weapon is deception. He wants to take “advantage” of us, or “to outwit, to trick, to take advantage of someone through some sinister or sneaky means.” The devil is the deceiver, the tempter, and the accuser. His primary weapon is deception, the battlefield is our mind, his weapons are thoughts. We have to get better at overcoming the enemies attack. Ignorance gives the devil the advantage, revelation of his plans provides us with the edge.