In Old Testament times a trumpet was used to summons God's people to battle. Today, a spiritual summons is sounding throughout the nations of the world. It is a summons to the invisible war. It is a call to arms.
Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. (Ephesians 6:11-12 NLT)
I stress this again because it is something a lot of Christians today seem to be missing. We are fighting against the “evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world”. It is not a conflict between nations, tribes, or government leaders. It is not a rebellion or a coup. It is not a battle between religions or denominations. It is an invisible battle taking place in the spirit world. And much like in physical warfare, if you want to understand this invisible war, you first have to understand the natural and the spiritual worlds. Because if you do not understand the landscape you will not know how to engage the enemy.
The Natural World
The natural world can be seen, felt, touched, heard, or tasted. It is tangible and visible. The country, nation, or city you live is part of the natural world. You are a resident in a natural kingdom located on one of the visible continents of the world. You can see the people who are part of your environment. You can communicate with them. You can experience the sights, sounds, and smells around you.
The Bible speaks of these natural kingdoms as "kingdoms of the world.” And the kingdoms of the world have come under the power and influence of Satan:
8 Next the devil took him (Jesus) to the peak of a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. 9 “I will give it all to you,” he said, “if you will kneel down and worship me.” (Matthew 4:8-9 NLT)
Satan could not have offered the kingdoms of the world to Jesus if he did not already control them.
The Spiritual Kingdoms
In addition to the natural kingdoms of this world there are two spiritual kingdoms: The Kingdom of Satan and the Kingdom Of God. Every person alive is a resident of one of these two kingdoms. There is no middle ground, no demilitarized zone, and there is no such thing as duel-citizenship in the spiritual Kingdoms of God and Satan. You cannot dine at the Lord’s Table and drink with the Devil. It just does not work like that.
The Kingdom of Satan consists of Satan, spiritual beings called demons, and all men and women who live in sin and rebellion to God's Word. These, plus the world and the flesh, are the spiritual forces of evil at work in the world today. Satan and demons are not some metaphorical representation of what evil is. They are real. Pure and simple. To deny or ignore the existence of the Devil, or of Hell for that matter is a dangerous game that could well cost you everything. You cannot ‘imagine’ away your adversary just because his existence is unpleasant.
The Kingdom of God on the other hand consists of the Trinity: God the Father, Jesus who is Christ, and the Holy Spirit, spiritual beings called angels, and all men and women who live in righteous obedience to God's Word. These are the spiritual forces of good. As I said before. There is no middle ground. You are a resident of one of these two kingdoms.
The Kingdom of God is not a denominational church. Denominations are man-made organizations of groups of churches. They have been established for practical purposes of organization and administration. Denominations are major church organizations like Baptist, Assembly of God, Methodist, Lutheran, etc. When the word ‘Church’ is used in the Bible they are speaking of the one true Church which is not a denomination or religious organization. The true Church is composed of all those who have become residents of the Kingdom of God.
Right now in the natural world, the Kingdom of God exists individually within every man, woman, or child who has made Jesus King of their lives. It exists communally in the true church and wherever people make this world the kind of world God wants it to be. In the future, there will be an actual visible manifestation of God's Kingdom.
12 For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. (Ephesians 6:12 NLT)
Spiritual warfare is not a natural battle between flesh and blood. It is not a battle of man against man. It is an invisible struggle in spiritual kingdoms. It is a battle within and around man. Spiritual warfare is "multidimensional", which means it is fought in different dimensions. It is...
1. A social battle between the believer and the world: John 15:18-27
2. A personal battle between the flesh and the spirit: Galatians 5:16-26
3. A supernatural battle between the believer and evil supernatural powers: Ephesians 6:10-27
Every person alive is engaged in this battle, whether he realizes it or not. There is no neutral ground. Unbelievers are in bondage to evil and have been taken captive by the enemy forces. They are victims of the war.
Believers have been freed from the enemy through Jesus Christ and are victors, but they are still engaged in the war. Ephesians 6:11-12 indicates that all believers wrestle against evil spiritual forces and you are in the midst of this conflict whether you choose to acknowledge it or not. Spiritual warfare never ceases.
REASONS BEHIND THE CONFLICT
Man was originally created in the image of God and for the glory of God (Genesis chapter 2). The first salvo in the war against man started with the first temptation in the Garden of Eden (Genesis chapter 3). Satan invited Adam and Eve to sin. And their sin resulted in all men inheriting the basic sin nature and committing individual acts of sin due to this nature:
12 When Adam sinned, sin entered the world. Adam’s sin brought death, so death spread to everyone, for everyone sinned. (Romans 5:12 NLT)
This also resulted in the invisible war beginning between man and Satan:
15 And I will cause hostility between you (Satan) and the woman (mankind), and between your offspring (Satan’s Kingdom) and her offspring (Gods Kingdom). He will strike your head (Christ’s ultimate victory), and you will strike his heel (The crucifixion). (Genesis 3:15 NLT)
Because of sin, man was separated from God and condemned to death. But God loved man and had a plan in place to redeem man, to save him from sin:
16 “For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.17 God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him. (John 3:16-17 NLT)
Through belief in Jesus, confession of and repentance from sin, men and women can be released from the power of the enemy. The death and resurrection of Jesus not only resulted in salvation from sin. It also defeated our enemy, Satan:
8 But when people keep on sinning, it shows that they belong to the devil, who has been sinning since the beginning. But the Son of God came to destroy the works of the devil. (I John 3:8 NLT)
But if Satan is defeated, why does the war still rage? I think there are two reasons.
First of all, following any war there are always pockets of enemy resistance, rebellious troops that will not give up until forced to do so. Although Jesus defeated Satan, we are living in territory which is still occupied by the enemy
The second reason spiritual warfare continues is this: Satan is trying to keep men and women captive in sin. Through deceptive methods he tries to entice us into lusting after sinful living. He aims for the affections of the soul and spirit which rightfully belong to God:
10 The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life. (John 10:10 NLT)
In truth Satan does not care whether you are happy or sad. He does not care if you worship him or Buddha or Allah or the Great Spaghetti Monster. Satan hates God. His one and only goal is to try his best to hurt God, and the only way Satan can do that is by luring God’s chosen children away through sin.
THE MEANING OF SPIRITUAL WARFARE
Spiritual warfare is active participation in the invisible spiritual war. It includes study of the strategies of Satan, and spiritual strategies for overcoming him. Spiritual warfare is more than a mere analysis of spiritual principles. It includes active participation in warfare by applying these strategies in life and ministry.
One of the most effective strategies of Satan is to keep believers ignorant of his tactics. Paul said it is important to know Satan's strategies...
10 When you forgive this man, I forgive him, too. And when I forgive whatever needs to be forgiven, I do so with Christ’s authority for your benefit, 11 so that Satan will not outsmart us. For we are familiar with his evil schemes. (2 Corinthians 2:10-11 NLT)
We should learn all we can about Satan's strategies of attack and how Scriptural can lead us to victory over Satan. We are called to intelligent combat. Basic to the understanding of spiritual warfare is this key principle:
You must recognize that all battles of life, whether physical, spiritual, emotional, mental, and financial or with human personalities are only outward manifestations of a spiritual cause.
Although in the natural world problems may seem to occur through the circumstances of life, the basis of these natural battles is in the spirit world. The story of Job confirms this.
TO WHICH KINGDOM DO YOU BELONG?
In the natural world a king is the sovereign ruler of a kingdom. All the territory and people in the kingdom belong to him. He has the power of life and death over his subjects. The same is true in the spiritual world. You are either part of the Kingdom of God or the Kingdom of Satan. Either God or Satan has power over your life.
One of the parables told by Jesus illustrates that all men are either part of the Kingdom of Satan or the Kingdom of God. Jesus compared the world to a field. The good seed in the field were children of the Kingdom of God. The bad seed, which resulted in the growth of weeds, were children of the evil one:
38 The field is the world, and the good seed represents the people of the Kingdom. The weeds are the people who belong to the evil one. (Matthew 13:38 NLT)
People enter the Kingdom of Satan through natural birth. The Bible teaches that all men are born in sin. This means that they have a basic sin nature or the "seed" of sin within. Their natural inclination is to do evil:
5 For I was born a sinner-- yes, from the moment my mother conceived me. (Psalms 51:5 NLT)
The whole message of God's written Word, is the appeal to man to move from this evil Kingdom of Satan to the Kingdom of God. Men are born into the Kingdom of Satan through natural birth. They must be reborn into the Kingdom of God through spiritual birth.
There are only two divisions in the invisible war. Jesus said, “Anyone who isn’t with me opposes me, and anyone who isn’t working with me is actually working against me.” (Luke 11:23 NLT). You cannot be neutral in this war. You are on one side or the other. Even some believers, because of their fear of confrontation with the enemy, try to ignore the war and form a truce with the enemy. They think if they ignore Satan, he will not bother them. This is one of Satan's main strategies. He tries to render members of God's army immobile by his terror tactics.
But there is no neutrality in this war. You are either a victim or victor. The spiritual "call to arms" is going out...Are you on the side of good or of evil? Are you part of Satan's Kingdom or the Kingdom of God? To which kingdom do you belong? Are you a victim or a victor in the invisible war?