Many who oppose spiritual-warfare practices say we don’t have to fight because the devil is already defeated. Let’s take a moment to remember the Good News.
We win! If you are born again, you have been delivered from the power of darkness (Col. 1:13). Yes, we win—but that doesn’t mean we don’t have to fight. Indeed, when we accepted Jesus as our Lord and Savior, we effectively enlisted in the army of God. We’re in a spiritual war whether we engage our enemy or not. If you don’t understand who you are in Christ—if you don’t understand your authority in Him—then you cannot successfully wage war against the enemy who is waging war against you.
Jesus “disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them” (Col. 2:15, NKJV). Yes, the devil is already defeated, but after the death and resurrection of Jesus, Paul nevertheless told Timothy to “fight the good fight of faith” (1 Tim. 6:12) and told the Ephesians we “fight … against … principalities, against powers, against the rulers of darkness of this world, and against spiritual forces of evil in heavenly places” (Eph. 6:12).
If Satan and his demons are already defeated, why do we have to fight? Because we live in a world with Satan’s fallen angels—and God’s fallen men. The war is on for the souls of mankind. Competing with Jesus, who sacrificed His life to set fallen man free, Satan and his demons strategize to keep God’s creation in bondage through deception. The kingdom of darkness is working overtime to keep the blinders on lost souls. Part of the reason we’re here is to work toward fulfilling the Great Commission (Matt. 28:18-20).
We are Christ’s ambassadors to be salt and light, to be a witness that Jesus is alive, and to preach the gospel and make disciples. Satan hates us because we are created in God’s image. And so the spiritual warfare ensues. We cannot remain passive in this war. We must be good and faithful servants, fighting the good fight of faith. Jesus expects us to wrestle against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. He expects us to co-labor with Him to set the captives free. And so the war ensues.
Paul wrote: “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds, casting down imaginations and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, and being ready to punish all disobedience when your obedience is complete” (2 Cor. 10:3-6).
Of course, it’s not just about the lost souls. It’s also about our personal relationship with God, our maturity in Christ and fulfilling our destiny in Him. Either way, when it comes to spiritual warfare, the battle often starts in our minds. In contrast, the weapons of Satan are carnal, mighty in our flesh for the erecting of strongholds in our minds—and we’re the ones arming him. Before we can walk in fullness of power to set the captives free, we need to win the battles in our own minds. We can win those battles by casting down imaginations—which requires a revelation of the helmet of salvation—and otherwise taking up the whole armor of God. With that understanding, look again at Ephesians 6:10-12.
Thankfully, Paul didn’t tell us that we’re in a wrestling match with enemies who seek to put us in a stranglehold without being equipped with practical solutions for battle. He followed that thought with a specific instruction (Eph. 6:14-18).
When discussing the whole armor of God, the first line of defense is the truth. When you know the truth, you won’t fall for the enemy’s lies. The problem is, many sit in churches and hear the truth for years and years (and years) but are still quick to give ear to the enemy’s lies. They are, as Paul wrote, “always learning, but never able to come to the knowledge of the truth” (2 Tim. 3:7). When you aren’t a student of the Word—when you aren’t a doer of the Word—the devil doesn’t have to work too hard. As James said, “Be doers of the word and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves” (James 1:22). By the same token, if you don’t understand the reality of the warfare against you, you won’t rightly battle.
Paul instructs us to take the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God (Eph. 6:17). When we speak the Word of God out of our mouths, it serves as a weapon that cuts through every evil plot of the enemy. No devil in hell can come against the Word of God because it’s not carnal but mighty—supernatural—in God.
When we find ourselves in the midst of the battle, though, we too often make one of these three common mistakes: (1) We fail to wield the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God; (2) we speak the enemy’s fearful lies out of our mouths; or (3) we are double-minded, speaking the Word of God one moment and the enemy’s fear-laced lies the next. The only sure way to enforce Jesus’ victory in our lives is to consistently wield the sword of the Spirit.