Whether we realize it or not, all around us rages an unseen battle. This battle is invisible to the naked eye, yet very real and something that influences our every day lives in a major way. This battle exists in the spiritual realm, a realm where angels and demons war for souls and where the devil actively fights to keep God's people in a state of confusion, depression, discouragement, and ineffectiveness.
In this day and age, a post-enlightenment world, we have made the grave mistake of underestimating the influence of spiritual darkness. We make this mistake not only in general, but in our personal lives as well. Satan has been trivialized to the point of laughter.. a cartoon character with pointy ears and a pitchfork..a costume to wear for fun.. an imaginary creature whom we joke about. How this must please him, because it is with this mindset that he goes undetected and unstoppable.
As we study the pages of Scripture; however, we see a much different picture : the devil and his demons are very real, very evil, and heavily involved in spreading darkness throughout this world. We must be aware of them and how they operate in order to combat their activity on a personal level, and in the grander scheme of evil around us.
The first step in fighting against the enemy of our souls is to be aware of the battle. Now, we don't want to imagine demons lurking around every corner constantly, but we must realize in many situations there is an underlying spiritual issue. Though we usually see this evil manifested in people, people are not our problem. There is a hidden force of evil that runs beneath, causing chaos and seeking to bring about destruction.
For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Ephesians 6:12
When we are aware of the real problem, we can fight evil at it's source. We can respond appropriately by not allowing people to anger and upset us and instead direct our anger where it belongs. Imagine a game of whack-a-mole. If you aren't familiar, this is a carnival game where players use a mallet to hit toy moles that pop up at random out of various holes. You have to be quick on the draw to whack them as soon as they pop up, because they promptly go back below the surface. Under the surface is where the real action is happening, the mechanisms that work together in just the right way to cause the moles to spring up.
Picture our surface problems as the moles. They keep popping up, and we keep whacking at them , yet if we don't address the source of the problems, we are fighting the wrong enemy. In the same way that the mechanisms underneath the game cause the moles to spring to the surface, the demonic activity behind the scenes needs to be addressed as the cause of the evil that materializes in our lives and the lives of our loved ones. It needs to be recognized and fought with the power of God available to every believer in Christ.
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. Ephesians 6:10-11
We put on God's armor first and foremost when we live lives in submission and surrender to Him. When we know what His Word says and we put it into practice, we fortify ourselves against the devil's attacks. On the flip side when we don't know God's Word or when we ignore God's authority by living in disobedience to Him, we allow the enemy access into our lives. Living in and entertaining sin basically rolls out the welcome mat for demonic interference. We must live in submission to God's will to fight against the enemy. We must stay focused and devoted, living pure lives empowered by His Spirit.
Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. James 4:7-8
The second way we stand strong against the enemy is by immersing ourselves in God's truth. We must have our minds so full of God's truth that there won't be any room at all for the enemy's lies. The devil is a liar and a deceiver. The Bible says he is the father of lies, and comes only to steal, kill, and destroy. Jesus comes to flood our souls with light, love, and truth. By memorizing, meditating on, and speaking God's promises found in Scripture over our lives, we can withstand the enemy's attacks on our minds. God's Word alone holds the power to tear apart strongholds (incorrect patterns of thinking introduced by the enemy) that hold us captive.
The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. 2 Corinthians 10:4-5
We must stay strong in God's power. The enemy knows us very well. He has been studying us our entire lives, noting our weaknesses, our downfalls, and our particular temptations to sin. He waits for the perfect time, and then he strikes. If our guard is not up, he will be very effective at taking us down. We keep our guard up by prioritizing our spiritual lives. Putting God first. Spending time daily in prayer and Bible reading. Staying connected to Jesus, our source of all strength. Standing firm in our faith and in the knowledge of who we are in Christ.
Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. 1 Peter 5:8-9
And finally, the absolute most effective weapon against the enemy : prayer. Pray over everything, constantly. Pray over your own life. Pray over the lives of your spouse and children. Your family members.. your lost loved ones.. your church..your leaders.. your president...your nation..this world. Never underestimate the prayer of a righteous person. God hears, He sees, and He fights on our behalf.
I'd like to leave you with this prayer by David Jeremiah, one of my favorite Bible teachers. This prayer is based on the armor of God that is available to all believers. It is a powerful defense against the schemes and lies of the enemy. Speak this prayer over your life daily, and victory will be yours!!
Your warrior prepares for battle
Today I claim victory over Satan
by putting on the whole armor of God.
I put on the Girdle of Truth!
May I stand firm in the truth of Your Word
so I will not be a victim of Satan's lies.
I put on the Breastplate of Righteousness!
May it guard my heart from evil
so I will remain pure and holy,
protected under the blood of Jesus Christ.
I put on the Shoes of Peace!
May I stand firm in the Good News of the Gospel
so Your peace will shine through me and be
a light to all I encounter.
I take the Shield of Faith!
May I be ready for Satan's fiery darts
of doubt, denial, and deceit so I
will not be vulnerable to spiritual defeat.
I put on the Helmet of Salvation!
May I keep my mind focused on You
so Satan will not have
a stronghold on my thoughts.
I take the Sword of the Spirit!
May the two-edged sword of Your Word
be ready in my hands so I can expose the
tempting words of Satan.
By faith Your warrior
has put on the whole armor of God!
I am prepared to live this day in