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What Every Believer Needs to Know About Satan, Demons, and Spiritual Warfare
Beneath our tangible landscape lurks an invisible spiritual realm where unseen battles rage. It's real. And it's dangerous. If you're prepared to remove the blinders and gaze into the unseen world, Chip Ingram is ready to take you there. Hang on to your seat. It's going to be a journey inside the very folds of our Bibles, a journey that will teach us about our greatest foe, Satan, also known as Lucifer, the Dragon, Serpent, and Son of the Morning Star. Although this lying thief comes to "steal, kill, and destroy," God details, in Ephesians 6, the battle plan to uncover Satan's cunning deceptions and to resist his sinister schemes. The cosmic conflict exploding all around us will have eternal implications, for us and those we love. This series will prepare you to do spiritual battle with the enemy of your soul... and win! You'll learn to clothe yourself with God's spiritual armor so you can be confident of certain victory over the scheming enemy.More from this series
If you want to open your Bibles to Ephesians chapter 6, there is one key text, verses 10 through 20, where the apostle Paul is going to explain spiritual warfare.
Now, what you need to understand, if you will mentally go with me here, is chapters 1 through 3, he’s telling them, “This is who you are in Christ. You’re a brand-new creature. You’ve been redeemed. You’ve been sealed with the Spirit. You have an inheritance. God has made this brand-new thing called the Church of Jew and Gentile.” Then chapter 4 says, “In light of all that God has done for you, I want you to walk in the manner worthy of your calling.” The word worthy, we get our English word axis. It’s a picture of those balances. And it’s saying chapters 1, 2, and 3 is all that God has deposited in you. You are new in Christ, seated in the heavenly places, loved more than you can ever be loved. It’ll never, ever change. Now, live in a way where your belief and your behavior tell the same story.
And then in chapter 4, he’ll talk about how that has happened and the role of the Church, and then he’ll talk about life change and how that occurs. In chapter 5, he’ll talk about walking in purity. He’ll talk about walking in the light, being filled with the Holy Spirit, what that looks like in your marriage, what that looks like with your children, what that looks like in your employment, in that day with slaves. And then after giving all that, he’s going to say, “This new life and all those relationships, and the Spirit of God living His life out through you is going to occur in a hostile environment. You’re in a battle.”
And so, beginning at verse 10 through verse 20, he’s going to teach very clearly what the battle is, where the battle is, how to put on spiritual armor, and how to actually experience the victory that Christ has also given us.
So, with that, you’ll notice verses 10 to 12. It says, “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. Put on the full armor of God that you may be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.”
I’d like you to underline the phrase, “Be strong in the Lord,” and put a number one above that. And then I want you to move over and it says, “Put on the full armor of God.” I want you to underline that and put a number two. There are two commands in this passage. The first is a general command, and it’s grammatically in what’s called the present tense and the passive voice. And I’m going to give you – for some of you Bible students, you’ll appreciate that, and others will go, “I don’t know what that is,” and it really doesn’t matter.
Here’s what it means. It means this is something that you are commanded to do right now, but the passive voice, it’s something that you have to allow to happen to you. I’m commanded to do it, but I can’t make it happen. So, for example, right below the general command, I basically took the text and let me give you an expanded translation. “Allow yourself to be continually strengthened by the power already made available to you in your new position in Christ and your relationship with Him. The power that raised Christ from the dead now also dwells in you.”
First and foremost, there’s a general command to be strong in the power that God has already given us. Allow that power to work in and through your life.
And then there’s the specific command. This is: well, how do you do that? You put on the full armor of God. And we’re going to spend some time talking about what that is and what that looks like and very practically how to do that.
And then notice the purpose clause, “That you may be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil.” Circle the word schemes. We get our word strategies. And literally, it’s a picture of literally holding fast or standing firm. It’s the idea that if you would understand that you, when you trusted in Jesus Christ, were taken out of the kingdom of darkness and you were placed in the kingdom of light. Then you were sealed with the Spirit. His Spirit was deposited in you. Spiritual gifts were given to you. You were made a part of the body of Christ. You are now protected and a part of it.
Now he says, “This is all that you have. I want you to stand firm or hold on to what you already have.” And then he says the way you do that is by putting on the full armor of God, and then he gives the reason. He says, “For our struggle,” put a circle around that word, “Is not against flesh and blood.” In other words, the men, and people, and material world. “But against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.”
And so, the specific command, if you want sort of a little broader interpretation here, okay, I’m going to be strong in the Lord. How do I do that? By continually and repeatedly putting on this, at specific points of time, the spiritual protection God has provided for you, the spiritual armor.
This is in what is called an aorist imperative. And I’m not going to throw a lot of Greek words around, but here early on it’s really important, because an aorist imperative has a sense of urgency. In other words, what you need to do is be ready, and be urgent, and ready, and continually when the battle comes, you need to be strong in the Lord, and you do that by appropriating this armor at any time at any moment when the darts of the enemy come.
It goes on to say, “For the express purpose of holding on to the position in Christ as you’re bombarded by satanic strategies designed to destroy you and/or render you ineffective in kingdom pursuits.” The reason is it’s because there is a real struggle. And that word struggle that you circled literally is a picture of a wrestling match. They would have the gladiators go in and wrestle to the death, and this is that word. This is serious stuff. This isn’t a little man in a red suit with horns and a plastic tail. This is against the physical material adversaries. That’s not the problem. People, circumstances, organizations. But he’s literally giving us a hierarchy.
If you’re in the military, you know there’s generals, and majors, and lieutenants, and sergeants. He’s giving us a hierarchy of demonic forces. Rulers, powers, world forces of darkness, spiritual forces of darkness in the heavenly places.
And so, what I want you to do is, okay, we’ve got a general command: be strong in the Lord. We have a specific command. You do that by putting on the armor of God. You do that so that you can stand firm against the schemes, strategies of a personal angelic being with a third of the angels who are seeking to destroy your life; render you useless; hurt you emotionally, spiritually, relationally; discredit Christ; and do anything possible to make your life miserable and get you to trust anything or anyone other than Christ.
Now, with that said, I want to give you five basic truths. Five things, this is 101. This is just directly what the Bible teaches about spiritual warfare. Are you ready? Good.
Basic truth number one is there is an invisible world that is just as real as the visible world. There’s an invisible world. There’s a world that you can’t see and that I can’t see that’s just as real as the visible world. There’s a system. There are angelic beings. There’s a world that is real as touching your skin, kissing your child good night, cutting a steak, watching a sunset that’s very, very real. Now, let me show you that from both of Old and New Testament.
If you have your Bibles, you can look at 2 Kings chapter 6. And as you turn there, I’m going to be looking at about verses 14 through 17. And it’s about the prophet Elisha. And Elisha has been used by God to frustrate a certain king’s plans multiple times, multiple times, multiple times. And they can never figure out where he is, and they want to get him. And so, they finally find out what city he’s in, and he sends cavalry, chariots, soldiers, and they surround the whole city. And so, now they’ve got him.
And the story, we’ll pick it up, is his servant goes out early in the morning and he looks out in the city and he goes, “Oh my! We’re done.” And so, notice, we pick it up, “Now when the attendant,” verse 15, “Of the man of God had risen and gone out, and behold an army with horses and chariots were circling the city. And his servant said to him, ‘Alas, my master, what shall we do?’ So he answered, ‘Do not fear, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.’”
Now, I don’t know exactly where the servant was coming from, but I imagine he had been with Elisha for a while. He’d seen him do miracles. He’s a great prophet of God. But I’m guessing right at this point, he’d think, “You know, my master is very godly, very wise, very close to God. He’s just really bad in math. Because best I can tell, it’s you and it’s me, and it’s all of them, and you’re telling me there’s more with us than them.”
Then it’s very, very interesting. Verse 17, “Then Elisha prayed and said, ‘Oh Lord, I pray, open his eyes that he may see.’ And the Lord opened the eyes of the servant, and he saw. And behold the mountains were full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha. And when they came down to him, Elisha prayed to the Lord and said, ‘Strike this people with blindness I pray,’ so He struck them with blindness according to the word of Elisha. Then Elisha led them back to that king.” All I want you to get is there’s two realities, and there’s one going on all the time that we don’t see.
In the New Testament, we’ll look at it in a minute in 2 Corinthians chapter 10, the apostle Paul will write to this church and he’ll talk about a warfare that’s going on. Now only is there an invisible world, but there’s a battle going on. In Ephesians he says, “Look, it’s not about flesh and blood.”
I don’t know if any of you remember Francis Schaeffer. He had a great impact in my early life. And he wrote a lot, but he had a tiny, little booklet, and his booklet was called Two Contents, Two Realities. And it really changed my life. I read it. He was a philosopher, and a brilliant guy, and did L’Abri and all those things, and traveled all around the world. But it was just he said there’s two contents, two realities. There’s a material world and an immaterial world. There’s a visible world and there’s an invisible world. And what happens in the invisible world has direct correlation and impact on the things that we see.
Premise, basic truth number one: there is an invisible world that is just as real as the visible world.
Basic number two: we are involved in an invisible war, a cosmic conflict that has eternal implications. He says in 2 Corinthians 10, “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we’re taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.”
So the apostle Paul is saying, “I’m in a battle, but I don’t battle flesh and blood in the same way spiritually.” He says, and notice the key words, he says, “We have divinely powerful, pulling down fortresses, speculations, knowledge, and thoughts.”
Here’s what you need to get. So often when people think about spiritual warfare, they think of some scary movie, and in the old, old days it was The Exorcist and now it’s like ... Have you just noticed on TV just how many dark, just dark stuff? And there’s all kind of spiritual beings doing all kind of spiritual things. And what you need to understand is the great, great majority of all spiritual warfare is not like that at all. There are some overt times, and we’re going to talk about that. Ninety percent of spiritual warfare and the battle is in your heart and in your mind.
The number one thing Satan is is a deceiver. And he has a world system. He has a world system that he takes what God says is good and he twists it. He wants to give a good thing at a wrong time, in the wrong way, or with the wrong person. He takes beauty and he twists it. He takes what is right and twists it to make what is wrong. He takes truth and makes it relative, and then he makes it different. And then he has all kind of things where what he’s doing – deception, deception, deception, deception.
And if he can get you to believe lies about God, His goodness, His kindness, how could a good God let this happen? Lies about you: you’re worthless, you’re a nobody, you’ll never amount to anything. Or if that doesn’t work: you are wonderful, you’re entitled to everything, you’re the most important person in the world. Lies about what makes you secure, what makes you successful: if you just had enough money, if you just had bigger muscles, if you just had those little purses that had the insignia on them so everyone would know how important you are, if you just had a car that had a little different emblem than the car that you have, if you go public and have so many patents, then you’re a somebody. If your kids make the traveling team, you’ll finally really be worthwhile. If you get all A’s, right? And the lies are someway, somehow your performance, you can either possess something or be something or impress people, and somehow, someway the lie is that will bring joy, and meaning, and purpose, and happiness.
Which is why we have people that are I would say in the less than top one percent of the gene pool, that are beautiful and talented go through relationships like other people go through underwear. Because no amount of money and no amount of beauty ... Or they put white powder up their nose, or we have athletes making twenty, or twenty-five, or thirty million dollars a year that struggle in relationships. Well, I won’t mention any names of current pros that seem to have their life completely ... Remember when the sports page was about sports? I watch ESPN and I find out more about who’s getting beat up by what player.
My point is, if that brings you what ... it’s the when/then theology of the enemy. When you have, when you become, when you look, then you’ll... But even if the “then” arrives...
I remember I did the chapel for the Seahawks. The guy who normally does it was hurt or out of town or something. I got a call from Seattle, and the guy said, “Hey, the normal chaplain can’t do it. Would you do it?” And they won the Super Bowl the year before. I said, “Sure, I’ll do that.” And so, I was doing the chapel, and kind of all the names and people you would know, and they had a lot of believers. And the guy who’s sort of the right hand assistant to the coach there was a really good guy. We built a good relationship.
And so, I was doing the chapel, and I said, “Well, kind of what are the issues? Tell me a little bit about what’s life with you guys.” And one by one by one, they said, “You know something? I mean, we’re believers on the team, so we thought this wouldn’t happen to us.”
But he said, “One of the most depressing things that happens in the world is winning the Super Bowl, because it’s like this is the thing. This is the thing. Man, we’re world champions!” He goes, “Sort of the depression that happens, like it’s, this is it? I mean, I got a ring, and I went to Disneyland, and I got a bonus, but we thought it would be here.”
And the believers said, “You know what? We thought we’d be immune to that.” But we all buy the lie to some degree.
And so, that’s what he wants us to know. He says you’re in a spiritual battle. Look: speculations, knowledge of God. And here’s the deal. What you’re going to find is much of spiritual, much of spiritual warfare is about you putting good things in your mind and renewing your mind so you look at life the way God looks at life, so you are focused on the truth. Because when you know the truth and practice the truth, it makes you free.
Notice the apostle Paul goes on. There was a situation with a brother who had sinned, and the church was not handling the reconciliation very well. And Paul’s writing to them to correct that, and he says in 2 Corinthians 4:4, “In whose case the God of this world, Satan, has blinded,” what? “Their minds of the unbelieving, that they may not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.”
Here’s a little application that I would just like you to ponder. Because when you see that, there’s eternal implications. People not believing in Christ is not primarily an intellectual issue. It’s a moral issue. It’s not that people don’t understand, but there is an enemy blinding people from understanding, making the connection.
I mean, if you just look at it logically, the proposition of the gospel is like a win-win-win, how do you turn it down unless your brain’s not working. We all know we mess up. The Bible calls it sin. We all know we fall short. We’ve all said things, thought things, done things, hurt other people. We all know that we long to be forgiven. We want life and purpose. God in His great mercy sent God the Son, who lived a perfect life to reveal what the Father is like, and then living a perfect life dies on the cross in our place to pay for our sin. Literally the word is atone. He covers it. He rises from the dead and proves it’s true. Five hundred eyewitnesses. This isn’t some fairy tale. This isn’t another religion. This isn’t like, “Oh, can I ponder this?”
And then it starts out with this mustard seed of a ragtag group of semi-uneducated people, save one. They transform the world. It’s the largest movement in the world. And we have some people in the name of Christ that have done a lot of negative things, but I will say, boy, when you see what’s happened in the last ... go around the world with me. Hospitals, orphanages, language. Man, it has been Christians, God’s people: salt, light, loving.
And He makes this offer. I want you to know that no matter what you do, you could never make yourself right with Me on your own, so My son died in your place and He paid for your sin. He rose from the dead and proved that it’s true. And the offer is whosoever by faith would believe and receive that gift has eternal life.
I mean, if someone said, “Excuse me, sir. You could never have a billion dollars because no matter how long you work…and so, I have a friend, he would like to give that to you, but you need to receive that by faith and put your trust in him in order for him to give you the billion dollars.” Would we go, “Eh, that’s too easy. Nah. It’s probably a robo-call.” Yet, that’s the gospel. I mean, and it’s clear. It’s simple. It’s the substitutionary work of Jesus.
But the issue is people’s minds, they’re blinded. This is why intercessory prayer is so important. There is a correlation between praying and beseeching God, asking the Father to cause His Spirit to work in the heart of someone to open their eyes and open their mind where they could lay down their pride, or feeling unworthy in order to believe and to trust in what Christ has provided.
The question I have, and you’ll see this in your notes, when is the last time you honestly considered some struggle or relational conflict that was rooted in satanic opposition? And what I mean by this is that C.S. Lewis has wisely said, “The greatest error when it comes to spiritual warfare is it to think far too much about Satan or to think far too little.”
And I’m amazed that we have a modern mindset and somehow, we just think everything’s cause and effect. I did this and this happens. I did this this happens. Look at the pervasive evil in the world. All human beings are made in the image of God and have amazing dignity and value, but there’s some unspeakable evil historically and currently.
I mean, I remember reading the story of a little ten-year-old boy who took a hammer and smashed the head of a little six-year-old girl and killed her. That’s evil. We’ve seen ISIS beheading people. That’s evil. We know about what’s happened. I mean, whether it’s Idi Amin, or whether it was the Holocaust, or things that we’re seeing. I mean, there’s amazing, amazing ... There is evil in the world, and it’s pervasive. And what I’m going to say is that everything that happens isn’t just cause and effect or human problems.
Now, again, extremes over here. I’ve been with some groups that, “Yep, that’s right, brother. I agree with you. I had a flat tire. You know those flat tire demons. They’ll get you every time. You know, my wife burned the eggs, but we’ve got the burn the egg demon. They really do that. I lost my job. That’s the bad boss demon. I didn’t come in on time, didn’t do a very good job, but you know the devil.”
Listen very carefully. We take absolute personal responsibility for our behavior and our choices, and there is a cause and effect to those things. And some things happen very difficult in our world because it is a fallen world. Bad things happen to good people. There are tornadoes and hurricanes. God never designed the world to be this way. But there’s also an enemy that tempts you in ways.
Have you ever had a really close friend and you just can’t explain it, that there’s a wedge that comes between you, and no matter how many conversations, like you just can’t get it? Have you ever been going about your life, and maybe you’re taking some spiritual steps, and you have what feels like an almost irresistible urge to sin? Or have you ever – this is a confession. Have you ever had a really deep time, you feel like I’m really talking with God, and have a cuss word start to flow through your mind? And then you go, “Oh, gosh. I’m the worst person. I’m in the presence of God and cuss words were going through my mind.” Well, you didn’t bring them there.
Just my point is, have you ever seen good people in a marriage, or good people in a church, or good people in a small group and you know they’re godly, and they’re godly, and they’re both great people, and it’s just like no matter what happens, there’s this and there’s division? Or at least in my case, this used to happen about nine out of ten Saturday afternoons and I was a very slow learner. We had a Saturday night service, and I would review everything, work on my message, review it two or three hours in the morning, and then I would go in and when I had kids, we would do all the sports and things you do on Saturday, and then about two, two-thirty I would drive to the church, pray, get my heart right for an hour, hour and a half.
But about one thirty and often when I was driving, I’d be driving into church and literally it would be like I’m in the light and then just whoosh, I’d get depressed. But I don’t mean like, Oh, I’m starting to feel a little blue. I mean, it’d be like, Life’s not worth living. I don’t want to preach this message. I’m the worst person in the whole world. I mean, it was dark, dark, dark, and it was like, “Boy, what happened?” Then I would struggle, and, “You didn’t study long enough,” condemnation. “Boy, you’re a loser.” And it was just like I’d pray and pray and get the guys to pray with me.
And I’m a pastor, and I don’t know how many weeks it took me to realize, “Wait a second. What are you doing? I’m going to preach God’s Word. What is it? This is demonic activity to really get me off my game.” And I remember, then it happened multiple times. I’ll tell you other things later, but I remember that would happen, and finally I got, “Okay. I refuse to allow this to happen,” and I’ll share with you how to do this. I would quote two or three verses about who I am in Christ, command the demonic spirits to leave. Bam, they’re gone.
But if you would have asked me growing up, that’s weird stuff. I mean, only weird people have those kind of experiences. Do you realize that addictions, some deep seated issues of hurts that maybe happened years ago, maybe some shame that you feel like you can never get over – there is an adversary.
I am not saying in any way everything is caused by the enemy, but just for our purposes, would you consider if there are struggles that you’ve worked very hard, you’re trying all that you can, or a relationship or a situation, would you just possibly consider that there is an enemy that’s seeking to destroy you? And you can go the physical, the psychological – right? The spirit. You can do all these things, but if you don’t address this, maybe nothing changes.
Not only is there an invisible world, not only are we in an invisible battle and cosmic conflict, but our foe is formidable, and his goal is to destroy us and discredit the cause of Christ. Ephesians 6:12. Here’s the deal. Satan is powerful. We’re going to learn in just a minute that he was the highest of all the angels, the classification of a cherub. We’ll learn that he was the most brilliant, the most beautiful, the most powerful, and that he was actually given to govern the Earth. He’s the prince and the power of the air – this heaven over…and so, you don’t want to take it lightly.
Notice what Peter says. In the midst of persecution, he writes to the Church, 1 Peter 5:8, “Be of sober spirit. Be on the alert. Your adversary the devil prowls about like a roaring lion seeking someone to devour.” He plays for keeps. He wants to destroy you.
All I want you to know is that we really need to understand that this enemy is formidable, and powerful, and deceitful, and can trick us and fool us and create a roaring lion. We had a chance many years ago to be in Africa, and I didn’t know that much about lions. But the way they hunt is the one, you can hear a roar like two or three miles, and it’s scary. Roar! And then he walks. Well, guess what, all the game goes the other direction. And while big daddy’s roaring over here, there’s four or five lionesses that are all waiting over here, just, “Bring them on, daddy.”
Fear is one of the greatest weapons of the enemy. In many ways, I think of him of, I don’t know, I have a friend who did this to me, which I deeply didn’t appreciate and almost lost my hearing. But he had a gun, a very big gun, and he said, “Oh, have you seen this?” And he put it up like this and then boom, boom, boom, boom, boom. And my heart came out of my chest and my ear almost came out, but it had blanks in it. But it scared me like it was real. My body responded like it was real. And the enemy will do things in your life to give fear at the depth of your soul that will paralyze you and keep you from trusting God and doing His will.
With that then, here’s what I’d like to do. I rarely give ... Now you’re looking at your notes and going, “If we’re going to cover all of this, I hope the guy falls out of the window soon, because I mean this guy’s got more verses and more outlines here than we’ll cover.” Here’s what I want you to know. We’re going to cover it, but a little bit differently. I believe that you really learn best when you look up things and you dig them out for yourself.
And the reason I put all those verses in there is for those who may be a little bit more like me who are thinking, “You know, I think you’re a little over the top on talking about Satan and demons. I don’t think it’s that big a deal.” I wanted you to see for yourself how big a deal it is, okay?
So, let me give you an overview. So, is Satan for real? The authority of the Bible, we find him in the very beginning, Genesis; and Chronicles and the middle; and Revelation. All the way through. The testimony of Christ, we have twenty-five references of Christ interacting with demons. In Matthew chapter 4, if you believe the text, he had a personal encounter with Lucifer himself, being tempted with the lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes, and the pride of life. Memo, He didn’t pull out His: “I’m God” card to defeat him. He showed us how to do spiritual battle. “It is written. It is written. It is written.” We’ll talk about it later.
Who is Satan? He’s a created spirit according to Colossians 1 and Job 1:3. He’s an angel of the highest classification, a cherub. And when I say cherub, do not think Hallmark, cute little cheeks. Think of a blazing angel that is so powerful, you would fall flat on your face. He’s the highest of all the created beings, Ezekiel 28.
Where did he come from? He was created perfect. He had a heavenly estate. His job description was to be the guardian of God’s glory. Talk about, boy, what a job. The occasion of his sin is power and beauty. The nature of his sin was pride, and the cause of his sin was his own free personal choice.
And let me just give you what I call, they’re the five “I will” statements. I can’t develop it, but the two places, Ezekiel 28 and Isaiah 14, again often the prophets will be talking about a geographical real situation, and then they’ll sort of go off and talk about Satan and then come back to that. And in Isaiah 14:13, this is the cause of Satan’s fall. This is Satan speaking, “I will ascend to heaven.” Well, he already had access to God. What he’s saying is, “I will ascend and I’m going to occupy the abode of God. I want equal recognition with Him.”
In the same chapter, he says, “I will raise my throne above the stars of God.” The morning stars are all the angels that God has already created. So, he wants to be independent and sort of run his own show.
Third, “I will sit on the mount of the assembly.” This is where God rules. So, “I want equality with God. Now, I want to run the show. I want to be in control. And then where God rules, I want to rule instead of Him.” Four, “I will ascend above the heights of the clouds.” The clouds, a picture here is of God’s glory. “I want to be now above God.” And number five, “I will make myself like the Most High.” And that’s the occasion of his sin. And he knows his destiny, and a third of the angels fell at this coup and this rebellion, and his goal is to destroy everything that’s meaningful to God.
Here’s a thought. I’m reading a book right now, and it’s always ... be careful of recommending books you haven’t read the whole thing, but I’ve read a lot of his other stuff. This is Life Without Lack by Dallas Willard. It’s on Psalm 23. But he talks about spiritual warfare here. And if you know anything about Dallas Willard, he was in the department of the University of Southern California. He was the head of the philosophy department for a season. He taught there for forty-seven years. And multiple degrees, translated multiple key texts from German to English. He was a brilliant man living in an academic world. And this is his perspective for all you intellectuals.
“Part of the problem with our faith today is that we do not truly believe in the reality of the spiritual, either the good side or the evil side. In our world, people maintain their sense of respectability by rejecting everything except what they can see in the natural world. To accept that there is more than that threatens their self-identity as proper intelligent citizens of the modern world.”
And he talks about obviously he’s interacting with brilliant people at USC, and he says, “I get the smiles of the naivete that I have that I believe in a supernatural being in the person of Jesus and spiritual warfare.” And it’s just some of the best writing I’ve read in a long time about the reality, the reality of a world that we can’t see. And whether it’s on Instagram, or whether it’s a movie, or whether it’s Netflix, or whether it’s time on a screen, there is an orchestrated, global goal to get people distracted and believing that they are the center of the world.
Please, please don’t make applications I’m not making. I say things and they have unintended consequences. Understand that there’s a great role for things like Facebook, and understand there’s, what, is it two, three billion people on it now?
But could we just pause and say, so what exactly is Facebook? Facebook is where I’m the star of my show, and the reward is how many likes I get. And I’m so the star of my show that I have to pull out my phone and take a picture of me, and then I post about me, and you were probably wondering when I had a latte yesterday, weren’t you? Yeah, you are. Or, would you like to see my picture-perfect family and my perfect vacation with me in Hawaii? And what we’re seeing is a nosedive of young people, a nosedive that’s suicidal, that’s depression, that’s anxiety, because now they compare their worse self with these artificial selves.
And by the way, if you haven’t done some of the research about the rewiring of the brain with screen time, start reading. There’s a great TED Talk by a guy who is an unbeliever, and someone says ... He goes through all the things that happen with immersed screen time of young people. And so, they say, “Well ...” Again, this is not a recommendation. It’s an illustration. Some of you real literal people are going to get me in trouble.
So, they ask him in this TED Talk, “So, when’s the best time to give someone a phone, a mobile phone that can get everything and download everything?” “Oh!” he says, “As soon as you’re ready for them to get suicidal, anxious, totally self-focused, talk with friends, allow the whole world to have access that they can’t comprehend, get pornography in their mind, and have them completely inundated where they can’t relate to other people, that’s when I would get them one.”
Is it wrong to have a phone? Of course, not. But here’s what we do, people. We act so stupid and naïve. We get so secluded in my little silo, in my own little world that we don’t realize it’s just not messages, but it’s methodology as well. I mean, ask yourself. Start watching commercials. Just watch commercials. Forgive me. I do this all the time and my poor kids had to get it all the years growing up. I watch commercials and I always ask, what are they trying to sell? How are they trying to sell it? Where are the cameras? What are they promising? I mean, in the old days, it was easy. If you brush yourself ... brush yourself with this toothpaste or drink this beer, beautiful blondes will jump into your sports car. It is. It’s much more sophisticated now.
Watch the movies. Ask yourself. Just record something. Do a seven o’clock and watch three prime times, and eight o’clock and three prime times, and ask yourself: what are the values? Then ask yourself: what are people laughing at? Because when you want to really trick people and change their values, the values have changed a hundred and eighty degrees in the last thirty or forty years, but we had to laugh about things that were wrong and evil, and then it got to be, well, okay with a little conflict. Then it got to be normalized, and then it got to be you’re a narrow bigot if you just disagree. That did not happen overnight.
And that’s not human ingenuity. The goal of the enemy is to blind the minds to say instead of: this is male and female, this is beauty and family, this is a community, this is what we do with our children, this is a community of people that sacrifice for one another, and it’s twisted. By the way, this passage teaches don’t get so mad at the people that are getting deceived. The whole passage said the battle’s not against flesh and blood. It’s not like, “Well, the government. It’s the media. It’s that group. It’s this group. It’s that group.” They are being manipulated. What they need is loved by us in ways with a lifestyle where they go, “Oh.” But you live it first in our day, and then we get to tell them.
So, I just want to tell you, Satan’s real. And so, I want my way. Can anyone vaguely remember what the temptation was in the garden? What was the promise to Eve? Oh, yeah. That’s right. You can be God. Do you understand? Okay, what’s God? I’m in control. My desires, my personal fulfillment, my self-esteem. Does any of this sound familiar? I mean, welcome to the NFL, people.
But it’s not just the culture. It’s not Hollywood. It’s not this. It’s not that. There is an orchestrated plan. Paul would say stop fighting spiritual battles with fleshly means and start warring with supernatural weapons.
Number one, we’re living in this world. There’s visible, invisible. Number two, there’s a cosmic conflict. Number three, our foe is formidable. He’s real. There’s a lot of verses that talk about him.
Number four, we must respect our foe, but not fear him. Become acutely aware of his methods, but not be preoccupied by them. Get that. You respect him. You don’t fear him.
Paul is agreeing to forgive this brother, and then he goes, “In order that no advantage may be taken of us by Satan, for we are not ignorant of his schemes.” Circle the word schemes again. Strategies. Here’s the question I have for you. Are you ignorant of his strategies? If so, you’re getting duped. You can work as hard as you want, try as hard as you want, want to be a good person. If you’re ignorant of his strategies, you are being taken in all the time.
If you’re on the staff of an NFL team, in fact, in our day, college, high school, you know what you do all week? You watch film. Why? You have to understand the schemes of the other team. You will watch the last three games. What did they do third and short? Well, 67% of the time, they went off tackle right. What do they do in the red zone?
I’m telling you, they watch the film. They know the percentages, what formations, what the possibility in this formation, who’s going to do what to win a game. To win a game. Literally, I’ve got a buddy that’s a pretty high-profile football coach. Man, during football season, I think they’re up twenty hours. And then they break down every person. Here’s all the film. This is your areas. When you see this, this is your key. When he takes a first step to the right, it’s going to be a counter play. I mean here’s...
We need to study the film. If you want to know Satan’s strategies, here’s the film. Study his names. His name reveals his strategies. Here’s some of his names. He’s anointed cherub. He’s the prince of this world. Like I said, he’s orchestrating things. His name is Satan. That means adversary. The prince and the power of the air. He has authority over ... Remember Jesus talked about the god of this world or the god of this age. He’s the prince and the power of demons, so he has a host of angels working for him. He’s Lucifer. That means son of the morning or literally of the light.
We get the idea that evil is always going to be packaged in weird stuff and ugly stuff. Some of the most amazing evil in the world is beautiful, attractive, luring. It’s amazing if you look at places where there’s great satanic activity. Go to Boulder, Colorado. Go to Sedona. Go to Santa Cruz. New Age places. It’s the most beautiful places in the world and they take that beauty and they talk about, “Here’s where the energy cells at.” Where we lived in Santa Cruz, more satanic bookstores than any place but Boulder, Colorado.
The offers are not ugly and bad. He promises beautiful things. Think of what he promised Jesus. “Jesus, come. Here’s all the kingdoms of all the world. I’ll give them all to you.” Now think of this. He had the authority to do it. Is that how you see Satan? Do you think of an angel that has the authority to give all the kingdoms? Have you ever thought that nations are being influenced, that governments, that economies, that laws? I mean, this is amazing.
He’s the evil one. It’s a very interesting word, ho poneros. It means: intrinsically wicked and corrupt. It’s the Hitlers of the world that were inspired. The level of ruthlessness, the wiping out of children, companies that would purposely, knowingly pour toxins into the water streams because we can make millions of dollars rather than clean it up. It’s evil. The abuse of little children, the taking of women and children in Thailand, in the Philippines and selling them and abusing them. This is wickedness, and this is what he does. These are his names.
It goes on to say he’s a tempter. He’s the one who promises things. “Oh, you can take a shortcut. You don’t have to do it the other way. No one will ever find out.” He’s the accuser; condemnation.
I did a presentation for some of the Living on Edge family, and I got really, really excited. I really had a good time. And then I looked up at the clock, and I went like way too long. No, no, no. I mean, like way too long. And all afternoon, all I could think of was, I was preparing for this and it was like, “You blew it. That was terrible. Those people drove here. They came early. You talked, and talked, and talked, and talked.” Condemnation, condemnation. Now, no one got up and said, “You talk too much.” I mean, they acted like they were interested. I could be deluding myself, because I really thought they were, because, “Man, look what’s happening. Come on.” We were having a ball, or so I thought.
And I think God really worked, but he wants to take me out. He doesn’t want you to hear what I’m teaching you. And I had about an hour and a half, went back up to the room, reviewed all my notes, and I just had to say, “Lord ... Get behind me, Satan.” The condemnation.
There’s some of you that have lived with: you don’t measure up. And Satan used a teacher, or a mom, or a dad, or a coach to tell you, “You’re a loser, you don’t measure up,” and you’ve believed it. What may have come through a human person, that’s from the enemy. That’s a lie. You are worth the very blood and the life of the Son of God. That’s how precious you are to Him.
Ultimately, he’s a deceiver. This is his middle name. When his lips are moving, he’s lying. Jesus called him the father of lies. He’s the accuser of the brethren. Notice, he represents himself as a servant, so he’s crafty; a dragon, fearful, powerful, terrifying; as an angel of light; as the father of lies. Notice his programs. When you look at this, all I want you to do is: look at all these verses.
If you want a Bible study like tomorrow morning, just take these notes out and just look up all these verses. Every one of them will have satanic, demonic influence, false philosophies, false religions, false ministers, false doctrine, false disciples, false morals. He attacks governments, deceiving men, destroying life, persecuting the saints, preventing service, promoting schisms, planting doubt. And then, hey, we have to own our choices, but we’re getting a lot of help. We have our flesh. He provokes sin and anger, pride, worry, self-reliance, discouragement, worldliness, lying, immorality. And then he produces sex and cults, according to 1 Timothy 4:1. For those of you that were worried about how long this was going to be, how’d I do? We zoomed, right?
So, I just want you to stare. Just stare at the page for a minute. And if you were over in the, “Wow, I’m glad we’re talking about Satan and demons, because man, I’m really aware of all that stuff,” or you may be a little bit more like, “I mean, I know the Bible teaches it, but let’s be careful that we don’t go off,” here’s what I want you to know. This is what the Bible says. Those are verses. This is what the Bible says. This is what Jesus says. This is a big deal.
Look at the sheer amount of material. Can we afford to be ignorant of his schemes? Could it be, I mean currently, church is in decline among Christians, morals are declining among Christians, the giving, financial giving across the board in churches today is less per capita than during the Great Depression. Oh. It’s us, right? By the way, at a time, despite our corporate national debt, the most affluence in the history of the world resides in the United States. Marriages are fractured like never before. Could anyone think, maybe there’s something going on? The sexual confusion, the attack on people’s identity.
Here’s the good news. Satan’s power is limited. He’s created and therefore not omniscient or infinite. Second, he can be resisted by the Christian. For some of you, it’s like, you know I’m just teasing, but, “Hey honey, you think we could keep the light on tonight?” He’s formidable, but we don’t have to be afraid.
James 4:7, “Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” He goes on. He says God places limitations on him. When he wanted to attack Job, He has access before God. Is this crazy? He only can ever do anything in some arena that God would allow in your life, and there are certain times where God actually allows Satan to do things to believers to fulfill his purposes. He did it to the apostle Paul. Paul had such revelation that he allowed some messenger of Satan to do something physical, we don’t know what it is, to give him a sense of dependency. He’s a sovereign God.
The application here is balance and wisdom are crucial in our assessment of spiritual opposition. To assign too much or too little credit to the reality of demonic activity is to err greatly.
Here’s the last one and maybe the most important. As believers in Christ, we do not fight for victory. We fight from victory. In Christ’s power, we are invincible. Let me say that again, and I’m not trying to be cute. As believers in Christ, we do not fight for victory. You’re not going against him to try and win. You fight from victory. You’ve already won.
Here’s the promises from God over Satan that if you find yourself struggling or thinking you’re aware of some things, and we’ll talk very specifically about how to do this in our times together, but here’s some passages that if you’ve never memorized any passages, these would be good ones. 1 John 4:4, “You are from God, little children, and overcome them, because greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world.” 1 John 5:4 and 5, “For whatever is born of God overcomes the world, and this is the victory that did overcome the world, our faith. And who is the one who has overcome the world but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.” Romans 12:11, it’s talking about Satan. “And they overcome him,” Satan, how? “By the blood of the Lamb, by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their life even unto death.” And then finally, James 4:7 and 8, “Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.”
I’m going to talk a little bit later and I’m going to give you all kind of hope. I’m going to tell you a story of a ten-year-old boy that, because he lived in my house and when we lived in Santa Cruz, we went from the mind, and the heart, and the general deception to overt, wacky, weird, satanic stuff that I thought only happened overseas, or with missionaries, or someone else.
And I will tell you that a ten-year-old boy armed with those verses got out of his bed on his knees, quoted them out loud, told the demons where to go, and bam. And I talked to him at breakfast the next morning, because I heard what was going on, and this happened much in our house. And we’ll talk a little bit more about it. It was just like it was terrifying the first two years we lived there.
And I remember Ryan going, “Dad, I’m just sick and tired of this stuff happening in the middle of the night.” He’s ten years old, so what’s he know? He just believes. “Greater in me than him, my belief.” “Dad, usually I wake you up and we pray and all that, but I just got tired of this, so I got down on my knees and I quoted those verses and I told them to leave, because I wanted to go back to bed, and they did.”
Because here’s the thing. Here’s what you need to understand. The power is not in your great faith. The power is you’re God’s child. You’re His sons. You’re His daughters. And when Jesus says, “It is written,” or you say, “It is written,” the authority of Scripture is over demonic forces. There’s nothing to be afraid of.
Here’s a summary that I want you to get because I wanted to plant these truths. Satan is a defeated foe, John 12:31. Jesus destroyed the works of the devil, Colossian 2:14 and 15. We are victors in Christ, 1 Corinthians 15:55 to 58. And we have the power and resources to resist Satan and demonic attacks, 1 John 4:4. “We must learn how to put on the full armor of God to experience in daily living the victory,” underline this last phrase, “that we already possess.”