In my last post I mentioned the fact that there is a spiritual war raging between God and the Devil. This comment was met with some derision which in some ways is understandable. It is rare to hear other Christians talk about this reality. Rather like Basil Fawlty it is easy for Christians to operate under a ‘don’t mention the war’ mentality. In part this stems from the fact that Christians feel as though mentioning this spiritual war will make us look weird, sorry, even weirder.
The world today is totally obsessed with the observable natural world and therefore treats any comments about the unseen spiritual world with scepticism. But that is foolishness in the extreme as I will hopefully show you.
Now if there is a war raging on around us that leads us to some very important questions…
Who is fighting who?
In this spiritual war there are only two sides. First we have the World. Biblical speaking this is just a term used for everyone who hasn’t been born again. Regardless of whatever false belief they have a person who isn’t a Christian falls into this category. And these people are slaves to the devil.
And on the other side we have God’s people. These are Christians, saved by the blood of Jesus Christ and have been given the Holy Spirit within them. These people are slaves to Christ.
This means that we all have a choice between two different options:
“Don't you know that when you offer yourselves to someone to obey him as slaves, you are slaves to the one whom you obey—whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness?”
Romans 6 v 6
Are you a slave to the Devil or a slave to Jesus?
Still not with you
As Paul writes to Christians:
“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”
Ephesians 6 v 12
And Revelation talks about a great battle between the Devil and God.
“And there was war in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back. But he was not strong enough, and they lost their place in heaven. The great dragon was hurled down—that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him.”
Revelation 12 v 7 – 9
The Bible clearly speaks of the unseen realities of this world.
But surely this battle isn’t still going on
“Then the dragon was enraged at the woman and went off to make war against the rest of her offspring—those who obey God's commandments and hold to the testimony of Jesus.”
Revelation 6 v 17
The Devil is still fighting against Christians. He is actively seeking to destroy the church and bring down God’s people. He rages against Christians.
How is the war fought?
This war is not fought with physical weapons (although physical weapons have sometimes been used). As Paul writes:
“For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”
2 Corinthians 10 v 3 – 4
Christians do not fight using physical weapons. No! Instead we fight in the power of God. Everytime we obey his commands, everytime we read the Bible, everytime we pray, everytime we worship God we are fighting in this spiritual battle.
“Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”
1 Peter 5 v 8
And in the same way the weapons the world and the Devil uses are not always physical. Temptations, unbelief, peer pressure, mocking words, vain thinking, doubt, fear, uncertainty all these things can trap Christians and make them less effective in the spiritual war.
Who is on what side?
We all start off on one side.
“As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath.”
Ephesians 2 v 1 – 3
We all start off on the side of the Devil, naturally sinful, naturally hating God, naturally hating good. We all start off gratifying the desires of our sinful nature. We all start off as slaves to sin.
How then can people be on the other side?
“For everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world? Only he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.”
1 John 5 v 4
To be on the side of God then you must believe that Jesus is the Son of God and all entails (his death on the cross for our sin, his resurrection, etc)
Why should the Christian attitude be to the world?
“We know that we are children of God, and that the whole world is under the control of the evil one.”
1 John 5 v 19
As Christians we need to recognise this truth. The Devil is actively at work in this sinful world of ours. He seeks to bring us down, to discourage us, to bring doubt and unbelief into our minds.
How can a Christian stand up to the Devil?
“Therefore put on the full armour of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.”
Ephesians 6 v 13 – 18
God gives Christians the power to resist the Devil by putting on our spiritual armour. Not physical body suits but through spiritual activities – prayer, faith, reading the Bible.
And as John says:
“We know that anyone born of God does not continue to sin; the one who was born of God keeps him safe, and the evil one cannot harm him.”
1 John 5 v 18
God is working against the Devil; he is on our side keeping us from sin, keeping us safe. The Devil and his slaves of the world cannot hurt us.
Who is going to win?
This may seem like a strange question. It’s a war! You say. The outcome can’t be certain. But it is. There is going to be a victor.
“Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say:
"Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God,
and the authority of his Christ.
For the accuser of our brothers,
who accuses them before our God day and night,
has been hurled down.
They overcame him
by the blood of the Lamb
and by the word of their testimony;
they did not love their lives so much
as to shrink from death.
Therefore rejoice, you heavens
and you who dwell in them!
But woe to the earth and the sea,
because the devil has gone down to you!
He is filled with fury,
because he knows that his time is short.”
Revelation 12 v 10 - 12
When Jesus died on the cross he defeated Satan once and for all. The Devil has lost. He is in his last days and his time is short. As Paul writes:
“Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil— and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.”
Hebrews 2 v 14 – 15
And when Jesus comes again in full power and authority then Satan will meet his doom.
“And the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulphur, where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown. They will be tormented day and night for ever and ever.”
Revelation 20 v 10
What we have looked at so far is extremely encouraging. No matter if it appears that Christians are losing battles we know for a certainty that God will prevail and that victory is assured.
“The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet.
The grace of our Lord Jesus be with you.”
Romans 16 v20
But there is a flip side to this. All who are on the side of the Devil will be punished with him. All that do not believe that Jesus is the Son of God will be punished with the Devil. This is a terrible truth.
“Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. Earth and sky fled from his presence, and there was no place for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what he had done. Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. If anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.”
Revelation 20 v 11 – 15
All of humanity will be judged. And if your name isn’t in the book of life then you will be thrown into the lake of fire. If you are not a Christian then you be thrown into Hell.
Jude writes about the fate of Godless men (that is all that do not believe that Jesus is the Son of God)
“These men are blemishes at your love feasts, eating with you without the slightest qualm—shepherds who feed only themselves. They are clouds without rain, blown along by the wind; autumn trees, without fruit and uprooted—twice dead. They are wild waves of the sea, foaming up their shame; wandering stars, for whom blackest darkness has been reserved forever.”
Jude 1 v 12 – 13
For Christians this is an immensely encouraging topic. We’re fighting in a war that we have already won. The Devil has been defeated and is currently in his death throws. God has assured us of victory. We should take heart then and rest secure in the hope we have in what is to come.
But if you’re not a Christian then this topic is a very stark warning. If you do not repent and turn to Jesus as your Lord and Saviour then you will share in the punishment of the Devil. His doom will be yours. So I urge you to think long and hard about who’s side you are on? Are you for God or against him? There is no middle ground and your eternal fate hinges upon the truth answer to this question.