Who Are You Fighting?

Among most evangelical believers in Jesus in the western world’s church of Jesus (as contrasted with the Eastern Orthodox churches) there is a common misunderstanding about a phenomenon labeled “spiritual warfare.”  I’m going to come right out and say something first…and then try to support my statement in the remainder of this teaching;  here’s my statement:  There ain’t no such thing as spiritual warfare as it’s commonly considered and taught by most evangelical believers in Jesus!

I know, I know: who do I think I am to make such a statement contrary to what most ardent western world evangelicals believe? Here’s why…I was born again in 1956 and have been a follower of Jesus for 65 years; for the first 10 years of my new life in Jesus I spent much time engaging in what I considered to be spiritual warfare.  I later learned I was doing nothing more than Don Quixote was doing in that famous Spanish novel written and published in 1605:  In his delusional state of mind, Quixote mistakenly jousted with windmills (thinking they were fierce giants) instead of with real opponents—mistakenly thinking the windmills were his enemies.   

Let’s think together for a few minutes about what most Bible-believing people think about so-called spiritual warfare.  Oh, a lot of people picture and envision a lot of different scenarios, but if we could lump together all those differing scenarios, the following three paragraphs are sort of a summary of what many people mistakenly believe…

Way back somewhere in the dim, distant past before humans were created on planet earth, Satan somehow outfoxed God and gained complete power and authority over the earth to carry out whatever evil schemes he chooses in an attempt to thwart God’s purposes for all creation, for the earth, and for all humanity.  Somehow God was powerless to do anything about it at the time. Satan sneakily tempted and deceived Adam and Eve, and ever since then he has essentially controlled all humanity—tempting them, accusing them, and causing them  to commit all sorts of evil and nefarious activities…such as the holocaust and great international wars.

Meanwhile—as many people mistakenly believe—there’s a great cosmic war going on somewhere in the “heavenlies” between God and Satan…and the winner has yet to be determined.  While most people won’t come right out and say it in so many words, it’s somewhat questionable to them whether or not God will win.  Why?  Well, if Satan ends up taking the vast majority of humanity to an ever-burning hell with him, the question is who really wins!  If God gets to take only a relatively few people to heaven with Him, but Satan gets the rest, who’s actually the winner of that great cosmic war between Satan and God?

A portion of that great cosmic war between God and Satan is taking place here on earth as some people engage in battle with Satan and his minions for “the souls of men.”  Again, to many people it seems that Satan is winning historically and worldwide.  They feel more and more people are being captured and enslaved by Satan as the world gets darker and darker…and relatively fewer and fewer people are being frantically snatched by God from the clutches of Satan.  Only a special few people chosen by God will make it to heaven while the bulk of humanity will burn in hell, tortured forever in its never-ending flames.

The three paragraphs immediately preceding this one are a summary of the mistaken views that far too many people believe about so-called spiritual warfare.

Okay, having looked at those mistaken views now let me begin to explain why I believe that believers in Jesus are not engaged in spiritual warfare…

In the mid-twentieth century there was a famous comic strip about the antics and adventures of “Pogo Possum” who lived somewhere in the southern North American swamplands.  One day when Pogo returned from an adventure all battered, bruised, and weary, he explained to his waiting friends:  “We have met the enemy, and they is us!”   

The primary battles we are engaged in are battles in and for our minds, not against powerful, unseen, spiritual enemies!  Yes, we are engaged in after-battle “mopping up operations” against dark, spiritual forces, but we are engaged in those battles in our own minds.  The all-out war with dark, unseen, spiritual forces are over.  We’re engaged in other, lesser battles now—mopping up operations after the main war was won, with Jesus triumphant over Satan, sin, and death.

I’m trying to make a point very clear right here at the beginning of this teaching.  Yes, we are engaged in (sometimes) fierce armed conflicts against powerful, unseen beings (Ephesians 6: 10 – 18), but—No—we are not engaged in all-out warfare—great military conflicts such as D-Day—against those unseen forces.  The great warfare, the great battles, are ended; we are engaged only in mopping up operations against those unseen beings and forces that were summarily defeated by Jesus!  Yes, such mopping up operations certainly include casting demons out of people when necessary; we who have the power-full Spirit of God living in us have authority to do that.

When (and where) was Satan and his minions defeated?  The Bible is not completely clear, but there are hints here and there about when and where.  For example, in Luke 10: 18 and 19, Jesus declared:  “While you were ministering, I watched Satan topple until he fell suddenly from heaven as swiftly and suddenly as lightning strikes the ground.  Now you must understand that I have imparted to you all my authority to trample over his kingdom.  You will trample over every demon that opposes you and overcome every power Satan possesses.” 

Colossians 2: 15 states much the same:  “Then Jesus made a public spectacle of all the powers and principalities of darkness, stripping away from them every weapon and all their spiritual authority and power to accuse us.  And by the power of the cross, Jesus led them around as prisoners of war  in a procession of triumph.  He was not their prisoner; they were his.”

There are other, similar references that teach that Satan and his minions are defeated foes; most biblical evidence suggests their defeat occurred when Jesus was on the cross, but we cannot be dogmatic about that.  It appears that Satan has been bound—and limited—since Jesus’ death, resurrection, and return to heaven.  His “final end” is found in Revelation 20: 9 and 10 when he will be cast into a lake of fire for ages-long cleansing and purification.  The lake of fire does not last “forever and ever” as most translations read; instead, the lake of fire lasts for eons and eons of time—not unending time; it does have an end; it does not burn on unendingly.  When those fires finally are quenched or die out for lack of “fuel,” well, beyond that, who knows what will happen..?  Only God knows!

Thus far, I have simply wanted to make clear that, yes, Satan and his minions were defeated in some manner by Jesus, but they still have limited power to fight against humans.  We fight against them with the “weapons” noted in the sixth chapter of Ephesians.  But that’s only a mopping up operation as previously noted.  We are not engaged in all-out spiritual warfare against him and his minions.  We already know who wins in the end:  God!

Here are some other biblical references that teach about Jesus’ victory over Satan and his supreme authority over all subordinate and lesser powers throughout all creation.

“So now we live with the absolute confidence that there is nothing in all creation with the power to separate us from God’s love.  I’m convinced that his love has triumphed over death, life’s troubles, fallen angels, and dark rulers in the heavens.”                                –Romans 8: 38

“God raised Jesus from the dead and exalted Him to the place of highest honor and supreme authority in the heavenly realms!  And Jesus is now exalted as first above every ruler, authority, government, and realm of power in existence in all creation. He is gloriously enthroned over everything, not only throughout all the rolling ages of time, but also in Eternal Realms.”
                  –Ephesians 1: 21

“Jesus created all that is seen and all that is unseen.  Every seat of power, realm of government, principality, and authority—it was all created by Him and exists for his purposes.” 
 –Colossians 1: 16

“Jesus is now in heaven at the place of supreme authority next to God.  The very powers of heaven, including every angel and authority, now yield in submission to Him.”           –1 Peter 1: 22

The war is over!  We are no longer principally engaged in spiritual warfare.  Since Jesus’ death, resurrection, and return to heaven, Jesus’ followers have been principally engaged in soul warfare:  the great battlefield in which we now fight great battles is in our souls:  in our minds, our thoughts, our wills, our emotions! 

As Bible teacher Joyce Meyer puts it in her well-known book, The Battlefield of the Mind, the principal battles we fight are in our minds; As Pogo Possum once declared to his friends in the comic strip:  “We have met the enemy, and they is us!”  If you haven’t read Joyce Meyer’s book, I strongly encourage you to obtain a copy and read it over and over:  memorize parts of it, meditate upon what you read…and put into practice in your daily living the eternal, life-changing, life-transforming principles she teaches in the book.

It’s important as we progress through the remainder of this teaching that you have fixed in your mind how very important is your mind…and how extremely important are your thoughts.  Proverbs 23: 7 states in a simple manner an extremely important concept:  “Whatever a person thinks in that person’s heart, that’s who they are; that’s what they do as a result of those thoughts.  One’s thoughts control and dictate one’s behavior. First the thought, then the behavior follows.”  I hope you understand that simple concept.  All that we say, all that we do, originates with our thinking.

Satan and his minions know that.  They lie to us, deceive us, and tempt us…in an attempt to control what we think, say, and do.  Our thought processes continually need detoxified; that is done when we read, study, heed, and apply the Bible to our thoughts.  Yes, in addition to the other weapons God gives us with which to do battle, applying the Bible daily to our thoughts, washes, cleanses, and displaces what some authors call our “stinkin’ thinkin.’”  Modern neuroscience is even beginning to show that meditating on the Bible actually rewires healthy new circuits in our brains.  Yes, the Bible is a power-full weapon God wants us to employ in our soul-warfare.

Of course, for you to meditate upon your Bible, you must dust it off…and actually read, study, and obey it.  How long has it been since you…?  Are you interested to know that some recent studies disclose that the average Jesus Believer who claims to believe in the Bible’s importance…directly reads their Bible in snatches for only approximately ½ hour each week! 

Hebrews 4: 12 puts it this way:   “For we have the living Word of God, which is actually full of God’s power.”  God speaks his Word to us, we agree with it and apply it to our thinking and behavior, and it becomes a two-edged sword—actually, a two-mouthed soldier’s sword sharper than a surgeon’s scalpel—with which we engage in battle against Satan and his minions.  Nothing can stand against God’s sword when we deftly wield it in soul-warfare.  

If you happen to be discouraged because you “lose” many battles with Satan and his minions, do you see the disconnect with not daily reading, studying, and applying the Bible to your life? 

Now, so that we cover this entire matter of soul-warfare completely, let’s look at some of the dark, spiritual forces with which we are doing battle.  Let’s study the entire concept of “soul warfare,” the battlefield of the mind.  Keep in mind, that Satan and his minions have already been summarily defeated—in the heavenlies, in the earth’s atmosphere, on the earth, and in the spirits of humans.  We’ll also take a quick look at Satan’s weapons, and the weapons God gives us to do battle with Satan and his minions.

Here’s a little side note to consider as we begin this portion of this teaching.  Yes, Satan is called the “prince of the power of the air,” “prince of this world,” and “prince of darkness.”  (See Matthew 9: 34 and 12: 24, Mark 3: 22, John 12: 31, 14: 30, and 16: 11).  Keep in mind, however, that we who are followers of Jesus are called “kings and priests” of God. (Revelation 1: 6 and elsewhere).   Here’s a basic fact:  kings have authority over princes!  You, as a lesser king serving under the supreme authority of the King of kings and Lord of lords have derivative  authority and power over Satan, a mere prince.

In various places in the Bible, Satan is called the “accuser” of people, the tempter, the deceiver, a masquerader, a liar and the father of lies, a roaring lion, Beelzebub (“lord of the flies”), and other similar names and titles.  He and his minions are also known variously as “principalities and powers,” “rulers of the darkness of this age,” and “spiritual hosts of wickedness.”  (See Ephesians 6, for example)

These various names and titles tell us what Satan and his minions do, what behaviors they  exhibit.  For example, as a liar and father of lies, Satan cannot not lie.  Another example:  although he goes about as a roaring lion, he is a toothless and declawed lion; he simply imitates the true Lion, Jesus, the victorious Lion of the Tribe of Judah.  As a masquerader, he and his minions pose, for example, as angels of light.

Do not be fooled:  Satan and his minions—defeated foes—have no power and authority in your life except that which God permits and that you yield to them by default!  In and through Jesus, Lord of lords and King of kings, you have victory over Satan and his minions!  Don’t yield an inch of ground to them!  Don’t believe their lies!  See through their masquerade costumes!  Don’t believe their accusations!  Don’t give in to their temptations!  God has given you the inner power of Holy Spirit to overcome and defeat anything Satan and his minions can bombard you with!

For example, if Satan is indeed a liar and the father of lies and cannot not lie, then why believe anything he whispers to you…about yourself or about others…or about God’s all-loving character and nature.  Or even about the world and the cosmos in general.  Accept it:  Satan is a liar.  He cannot tell the truth.  Don’t believe a word or thought he whispers to you!

In fact, Revelation 12: 11, tells us that we overcome Satan by the blood of Jesus and our testimony to the Word (the Bible).  Some Bible translators have mistranslated that reference to read that we overcome Satan…by the word of our testimony.  No!  It is by our testimony to the Word.  We cannot give testimony to the Word if we do not read it, meditate upon it, and memorize it, so we can utilize it as one of our weapons when we are assaulted by Satan and his minions.

I ask again:  if you are not reading, studying, and applying God’s LIFE-giving Bible to your life daily—and are daily feeling defeated by Satan—do you not see the disconnect?

Ephesians 6 tells us plainly that we do not wrestle against flesh and blood; our enemies are not other humans; our enemies are non-corporeal, immaterial spirit-beings.  Elsewhere, the Bible says “the weapons of our warfare are not flesh and blood.”  (2 Corinthians 10: 4.)  I hope it goes without saying that no attempts for us to “bulk up” physically by strength training does any good in soul-warfare.  We cannot combat Satan and his minions by learning and practicing martial arts, nor do we physically box or wrestle against them.  No!  Our weapons are in our minds, our thoughts, our imaginations, our wills, and our emotions.

Let’s look at our principal weapons/armor enumerated in Ephesians 6.  “Take your stand as already being victorious and triumphant with the inner power of Holy Spirit who dwells in your spirits—his power flowing in and through you as you engage in battle.  Put on God’s complete set of armor as you engage in warfare with the evil strategies of Satan and his minions.  Your combat is not with other humans, but with principalities and powers in heavenly realms…Put on truth [Jesus is THE Truth!] as a belt to empower you to stand in triumph. 

\Put on holiness [wholeness of body, soul, and spirit in harmony with one another] to protect your heart. Stand alert to exhibit peace at all times.  Faith is your wrap-around bodily shield that extinguishes the blazing arrows Satan and his minions shoot at you.  Your salvation [provided by Jesus] is a helmet to protect your thoughts, attitudes, and imagination from the lies of the enemy.  Your razor-sharp Spirit-sword is the Bible.  Finally, prayer is the mightiest weapon you can wield against Satan and his minions.” 
  (Paraphrased and adapted from The Passion Translation of the Bible)

A careful reading—sort of between the lines, so to speak—of Ephesians 6 and other, similar and related passages in the New Testament about warfare in the “heavenlies” could almost be considered to be teaching that the heavenlies are our minds.  I am not necessarily teaching that or making that a point of dogma, but there is some indication by a number of reputable Bible scholars and teachers that the heavenlies (in specific references—not all) are our minds, our thoughts, our attitudes, our imaginations, our wills, and our emotions.  That concept is questionable based on our understanding of the original Greek and Hebrew words for “heavenlies,” but, nevertheless, some scholars and teachers seem to be able to make somewhat of a case for that viewpoint.

At the very least, it’s a concept worth considering.  Why might we humans who are presently earthbound engage in mopping up operations somewhere up in the earth’s atmosphere or in the faraway cosmos/heavens beyond our atmosphere?  What if the true battlefield is our minds?  It’s worth considering at some level of understanding and some state of awareness…

There’s another reference we’ve already noted:  portions of the tenth chapter of Second Corinthians bring to mind some other thoughts about the battlefield of the mind.  Here’s what it says:  “For although we live in the natural realm, we don’t wage a military campaign employing human weapons [and tactics], using logic, reason, craftiness, or strategies of religion, to achieve our victories.  Instead, our Spirit-empowered weapons are energized with divine power to [disarm] and dismantle our enemy’s defenses—mental strongholds, mindsets, and perceptions that hold people captive. 

“We use our powerful God-tools to smash warped philosophies and worldviews. We are able to demolish every deceptive argument and fantasy that opposes God and break through every arrogant attitude that is raised up in defense of the true knowledge of God.  We capture like prisoners of war, every loose thought, emotion, imagination, and impulse and insist that they bow in obedience to Jesus.”

For additional teaching about Satan and his minions we invite you to read some companion teachings on this website:  Satan From Beginning to End, Soldiers Training Manual, Whole In One, and Speak The Word.

Bill Boylan
Life Enrichment Services, Inc
Leservices38@yahoo.com
First posted March 2021

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