At 4:30 this morning, I awoke from a nightmare. I don’t have them often. In it, my stunningly beautiful daughter had disfigured her lovely face with a knife, because that was the fad among teens in my nightmare. Now, my daughter is neither so rebellious nor so stupid, thank God! But I awoke with a prayer for her on my lips and I realized that it had been some time since I had fervently prayed for her soul like that; I had got complacent about it. But the enemy of our souls never gets complacent. He is always prowling, “like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8, NKJV).
As I lay there, God reminded me of strong truths I have learned. A lot has been written about spiritual warfare, and it can be a minefield of misconceptions. But these are simple truths from Scripture.
1. We have an enemy. “Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8). For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.(Ephesians 6:12, NIV)
2. We can resist him. “Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings.” (1 Peter 5:9 NKJV) Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. (James 4:7)
3. We have weapons for resistance. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. (2 Corinthians 10:4, NIV) Take… the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. (Ephesians 6:10-17) The word of God, Scripture, has power on the lips and in the hearts of believers.
4. We have protection from our enemy. Eph 6:10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. (Ephesians 6:10-17)
5. We can win over our enemy—because Christ won for us. Romans 8:37 tells us, Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. Hallelujah! Thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Corinthians 15:57 NKJV) Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ. (2 Corinthians 2:14) Luke 4:36 says Then they were all amazed and spoke among themselves, saying, "What a word this is! For with authority and power He commands the unclean spirits, and they come out."
A word of caution: Jude 1:9, 10 says But even the archangel Michael, when he was disputing with the devil about the body of Moses, did not dare to bring a slanderous accusation against him, but said, "The Lord rebuke you!” Yet these men speak abusively against whatever they do not understand; and what things they do understand by instinct, like unreasoning animals-- these are the very things that destroy them.
If even an archangel declines to personally rebuke Satan, we certainly ought to be careful. The only reference to “rebuking Satan” I can find in the Bible is in Zechariah 3:2: And the LORD said to Satan, "The LORD rebuke you, Satan! The LORD who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you! We are never told to rebuke Satan. It is Christ’s authority alone that gives us power to resist our spiritual enemies. They must submit absolutely to His word. Remember the story of the demon-possessed man (who was also a cutter, like my daughter in my bad dream)?
Then they came to the other side of the sea, to the country of the Gadarenes. And when He had come out of the boat, immediately there met Him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit, who had his dwelling among the tombs; and no one could bind him, not even with chains, because he had often been bound with shackles and chains. And the chains had been pulled apart by him, and the shackles broken in pieces; neither could anyone tame him. And always, night and day, he was in the mountains and in the tombs, crying out and cutting himself with stones.
When he saw Jesus from afar, he ran and worshiped Him. And he cried out with a loud voice and said, "What have I to do with You, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I implore You by God that You do not torment me."
For He said to him, "Come out of the man, unclean spirit!" Then He asked him, "What is your name?"
And he answered, saying, "My name is Legion; for we are many." Also he begged Him earnestly that He would not send them out of the country. Now a large herd of swine was feeding there near the mountains. So all the demons begged Him, saying, "Send us to the swine, that we may enter them." And at once Jesus gave them permission. Then the unclean spirits went out and entered the swine (there were about two thousand); and the herd ran violently down the steep place into the sea, and drowned in the sea. So those who fed the swine fled, and they told it in the city and in the country. And they went out to see what it was that had happened. Then they came to Jesus, and saw the one who had been demon-possessed and had the legion, sitting and clothed and in his right mind. And they were afraid. (Mark 5:1-15)
Jesus has absolute authority over fallen spirits, and they know this. Like the archangel Michael, we can leave the casting out and rebuking to Jesus. There is no need of memorizing formulaic prayers or rituals or litanizing exhaustive rebukes, although there may be a time and place for this. Deliverance can be accomplished by many or by few, but without Christ we can end up like the men Jude describes who go outside their spiritual authority and end up destroyed by what they do not understand (see also the story of the seven sons of Sceva in Acts19:13-17).
We have an enemy. We can resist him. We have divine weapons for resistance. We have divine protection from our enemy. We can win over our enemy—because Christ won for us. Thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Corinthians 15:57 NKJV) AMEN!!!