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About this series
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
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.
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.”