4/2/10

Spiritual Warfare Pt 2: Our role in the battle

Can we really have any influence in a spiritual war?  To answer that question, we need to understand our enemy.  Every great general or warrior has one thing in common.  They know the enemy's weakness - the one thing that will disable them beyond recovery.  For Satan and his demons, that weakness is Jesus.  Mention Jesus in your prayers or in response to temptation and the demons attacking you will tremble.  It's almost funny to think about.  In our culture, demons invoke so much fear.  The scariest movies are about demon possession -  The Exorcist, The Exorcism of Emily Rose, Poltergeist, The Amityville Horror.  Yet when God comes into the their presence, they're paralyzed with fear.

Let's look at some scripture just to get a visual of this fear.  Mark tells us that as Jesus was teaching in the synagogue one day, a man "who was possessed by an evil spirit cried out, 'What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are - the Holy One of God!'"  (Mark 1:22-24).

Another instance of the demons' fear of Jesus was just after he calmed the storm.  When he arrived on shore, "two demon-possessed men coming from the tombs met him.  They were so violent that no one could pass that way. 'What do you want with us, Son of God?' they shouted.  'Have you come here to torture use before the appointed time?'  Some distance from them a large herd of pigs was feeding.  The demons begged Jesus, 'If you drive us out, send us into the herd of pigs.'"  (Matt. 8:28,29).

In discussing how to show your faith, James points out the fear of Jesus that demons have.  "You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that - and shudder." (James 2:19).

But the demons were scared of Jesus, not humans.  This is true to some extent.  Again, it's hard to imagine this world of spiritual warfare, but that's exactly what the devil wants.  He wants us to get caught up in understanding scripture instead of trusting God and fighting against Satan.  When Mary was confused about how she would birth a child while being a virgin, an angel answered her by saying, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you."  (Luke 1:35).  No, Mary wasn't fighting demons, but she was confused about how God was going to use her.  And that same Holy Spirit that empowered Mary empowers us in the fight against Satan.

After Jesus' crucifixion and resurrection, the disciples did not understand exactly what Jesus had come back to do.  Jesus told them that it was not for them to know the plans of God, but that they will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on them.  (Acts 1:8).

Jesus makes it clear that he will send the Holy Spirit to us.  The "Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you."  (John 14:26).  Jesus goes on to say that "when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth."

God promises us the Holy Spirit.  And with that Holy Spirit, the demons tremble in our presence, just as they did with Jesus.  This doesn't put us on the same level as Jesus.  It puts him in us.  So when the demons come to attack and tempt us to sin, they'll see Jesus and fear us.  If you want to read a great book about our role in the battle between angels and demons, I recommend This Present Darkness by Frank Peretti. It is a great story about a small town hosting an enormous unseen spiritual battle.  I definitely gained a clearer perspective on how my prayers strengthen the angels and weaken the demons.

So, what is our role?  We are to be warriors for Christ through prayer and obedience.  Nothing weakens Satan's power on earth more than prayer.  Scripture tells us to "pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayer and requests." (Eph. 6:18).  We are equipped with the Holy Spirit.

Whatever sin you have, it can be overcome.  It may take time, but with the Holy Spirit in us, the demons that tempt you to that sin will give up in fear.  The key to overcoming sin is realizing that it is not our master, but our enemy.  Instead of becoming a slave to it, we've got to become its opponent.

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