Last week we looked at God’s first covenant with man, and while we’re ultimately headed back to Genesis and beyond to look at each of the covenants individually we need to briefly shift gears and look at spiritual warfare. But wait…how and why do we need to make this jump from covenants to spiritual warfare? Ephesians 6.10-13 says,
10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm.
The Greek word used here for struggle means hand to hand combat. It’s a sparring match–a fight to the death. There is an unseen, but heavily felt battle going on in our midst every day. You have an active enemy that is trying to keep you from being holy, to keep you from being useful, to make you unfit for any kind of ministry, and to get you to give up on God.
Now, I don’t need the devil to cause a misstep because I already have the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the boastful pride of my heart. Left to my own devices, I’ll go down all by myself. But then add the active warfare on to that.
If you don’t take your walk very seriously, you’re going down. If you don’t take your walk very prayerfully you’re going down. As individuals we are simply not as strong as the enemy. Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 4.3-4,
3 And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, 4 in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.
If you’re a believer, at one time, before Christ, you were blinded by the evil one so that you would not see the Gospel. If you are not a Christian, you have an enemy who is actively working to keep you that way. It is incredible that anyone is ever saved. Do you think you’re strong enough in your own flesh to undo the blinders Satan has strategically put in place? I’m not, Adam was not, Eve was not, and nobody else is except for the Lord Jesus Christ.
This warfare penetrates every aspect of our faith. Satan works tirelessly to make sure the Word of God is choked out in you before it can take firm root. As we work our way towards connecting this with the covenants of God we must look at the warfare map. Where are the key battle fronts?
The Warfare Map…Key Scriptures
But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons, 2 by means of the hypocrisy of liars seared in their own conscience as with a branding iron… (1 Timothy 4.1-2)
Demons actively disseminate false doctrine. And guess what? It is never pronounced ahead of time as being demonic, nor is it pronounced as being deceitful. Otherwise, there would be no trickiness to it, right? The closer we get to the Lord’s return, the more common this will become.
But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. 2 For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents,ungrateful, unholy, 3 unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, 4 treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5 holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; Avoid such men as these. (2 Timothy 3.1-5)
In the last days difficult times will come. Look closely at this description. What does it mean that these men were holding to a form of godliness? These people will name the name of Christ but will covertly undermine His Word. Paul considers them dangerous enough to avoid at all costs.
I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom: 2 preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction. 3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires… (2 Timothy 4.1-3)
These people also name the name of Christ. Instead of taking their desires and submitting them to the Word of God, they keep their desires and accumulate teachers for themselves who justify what they do in the name of God.
I get asked from time to time by young pastors and future ministry leaders, “What’s the best way to acquire a big following?” The easy answer to this question is found right here in this passage. If you justify the lust of the flesh in the name of God you’ll have people camped out in your yard. Give people permission to be unholy and call it God’s will, regardless of what that is, and you will be a superstar. Give a man relief from his conscience by any means other than repentance and faith in the Lord Jesus, and he’ll love you.
Of course, I am by no means encouraging nor condoning such a sinful ministry format. In keeping with James 3:1, they will certainly have to give an account to God for what they teach others, but if your goal is only to have high numbers, it is the easiest route to go.
Scripture tells us clearly that spiritual battles will be fought, but where does the enemy concentrate his attacks?
4 Key Battles on the Spiritual Warfare Map
1. The Trustworthiness and Authority of God’s Word
Trustworthiness and authority go hand in hand. If it’s not trustworthy, it’s not authoritative, and if it’s not authoritative, it’s not trustworthy. With the first question found in Scripture Satan asks, “Indeed, has God said…?” (Genesis 3.1). Satan knows that if he can take away the trustworthiness of God’s Word, he can take away it’s influence.
2. The Sufficiency of God’s Word
Never before has the sufficiency of God’s Word been under such scrutiny. Many churches are abandoning Scriptural principles for business models and gimmicks to get people in the doors. There are loads of seminars available on this.
This battle has already been lost by many churches and denominations. When the sufficiency of Scripture is taken away on the battlefield, the whole program starts to fall apart. And we’ll see why in just a bit…
3. The Person and Work of Jesus Christ
Who is Jesus and why did He come? If Satan can redefine who Jesus is, He can redefine why He came. If Satan succeeds in this, he ends up making Jesus look a whole lot like we do–not one to be feared or worshiped. And if you redefine who Jesus is, then you have to redefine salvation, and if you redefine salvation, you have to redefine sin, and if you redefine sin, you end up with this mesh of nothing.
And then you take this mesh of nothing, you live your life on your terms, you attach Jesus to it, and then you’re off to the races.
By the way, the church isn’t immune to this. This very thing is happening inside the doors, not outside.
4. Genesis 1-11 is a Make-Believe Story
A big push has developed over the last few decades within the church to make Genesis 1-11 nothing more than myth or legend. These false teachers tell us that it can’t be trusted as fact. Everything from creation to the fall to the flood is being challenged, and there are a whole lot of people who call themselves Christians that are buying into this philosophy.
So there must be a good reason Satan doesn’t want people to believe these chapters ever took place. But why? Why would Satan concentrate so much of his efforts on this small fraction of the whole of Scripture? Stay tuned…we’ll answer this question next week… 🙂
Dr. Greg Harris
Church: Teaching Pastor at Lake Hills Community Church
Education: B.A. Campbell University
M.A. NC Central University
M.Div Talbot Theological Seminary
Th.M Talbot Theological Seminary
Th.D Dallas Theological Seminary
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Author: The Cup and the Glory, The Darkness and the Glory, and The Stone and the Glory