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The enemy, the battle, and the winners (PDF) PDF version

The enemy, the battle, and the winners

Moreover, it by no means suggests ignorance of him and his techniques. Really, as II Corinthians 2:10-11 says:

II Corinthians 2:10-11
"lest Satan should take advantage of us; for we are not ignorant of his devices."

If someone suggests ignorance of the Devil and his devices this is certainly not the one true God, for for Him we are to be "NO ignorant". Taking this as a point of departure, we will try in the next to explore some of the things that the Word says about the enemy, the fight and how we can stand in it.

1. The two powers

The fact of the existence of two opposite powers that are in action today, is evident from Colossians 1:12-14 where, speaking of Christians, it says:

Colossians 1:13-14
"He [the Father] has delivered us FROM THE POWER OF DARKNESS AND CONVEYED US INTO THE KINGDOM OF THE SON OF HIS LOVE"

Also in Acts 26:17-18 Jesus Christ, speaking to Paul about his mission, said:

Acts 26:17-18
"I will deliver you from the people, as well as from the Gentiles, to whom I now send you, TO OPEN THEIR EYES, IN ORDER TO TURNTHEM FROM DARKNESS TO LIGHT, AND FROM THE POWER OF SATAN TO GOD, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in me"

And Ephesians 5:8 speaking again of us tells us:

Ephesians 5:8
"For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord"

As it can be seen by all these passages, we were once "darkness" (Ephesians 5:8) and under "the power of Satan" (Acts 26:17). However, when we heard the Word of God regarding Jesus Christ and believed it, we were conveyed "from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God" (Acts 26:17). A summary of both our old and new state is given in Ephesians 2:1-9, where starting from our past state, we read:

Ephesians 2:1-3
"And you.......were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now is working in the sons of disobedience, among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others."

That's really a very bad state, yet it is not our present state, as for the latter we read:

Ephesians 2:4-9
"BUT GOD, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourself; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast."

All we were once under the dominion and influence of the spirit "who now works in the sons of disobedience" i.e. the Devil . All we were once darkness. Yet, we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ and in his resurrection and this faith saved us (Romans 10:9). God, from dead that we were before, MADE US ALIVE and RAISED US UP TOGETHER with Christ. However, where are all the other people who have not yet believed? There, where we used to be: i.e. in darkness and under the power of Satan. As II Corinthians 4:3-4 says:

II Corinthians 4:3-4
"But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them"

Who is the god of this age who blinds people so that they may not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ? Obviously the one that had blinded us also i.e. the Devil .

Moreover, II Timothy 2:25-26 says:
"in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth, and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the Devil , having been taken captive by him to do his will"

We used to be in that state also, but we are no more. We were delivered by God and were transferred from "darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God". Nevertheless, this does not mean that we no longer have dealings with the Devil , as God and the Devil are enemies to each other and there is a war between them and a battle we have to fight.

2. The battle

The battle we are speaking about, is described in Ephesians 6:10-18 where, starting from verses 10-12, we read:

Ephesians 6:10-12
"Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the Devil . For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the world-rulers of this darkness, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places."

As it can be seen, there is a wrestling, a fight that is going on between us and the Devil and his camp. It is not a fight against flesh and blood, i.e. against human beings, but against principalities and powers, against the world-rulers of this darkness and the wicked spirits in the heavenly places. Fortunately, in this spiritual fight we are not unprotected, as God has provided us with a panoply that if we put on we will be able to fight successfully. Verses 13-18 give us a detailed description of it:

Ephesians 6:13-18
"Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the spirit, which is the word of God; praying always with all prayer and supplication in the spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints"

See that the armor is not ours. It is the "armor OF GOD". It is something that He has provided to enable us to fight the spiritual battle successfully. Therefore, what is required from us is not to make the armor but to simply take it up. If we do this, it is promised that we will "be able to withstand in the evil day and having done all to stand".

More information about the spiritual battle and especially about the weapons that God has given us to fight it, is found in II Corinthians 10:3-5. There it says:

II Corinthians 10:3-5
"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 IN GOD FOR PULLING DOWN STRONGHOLDS, CASTING DOWN THOUGHTS AND EVERY HIGH THING THAT EXALTS ITSELF AGAINST THE KNOWLEDGE OF GOD, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ."

Again we are told of a warfare, which is not a carnal one and of weapons that are not carnal weapons. If the warfare is not carnal this means that it is spiritual, thus the warfare of Ephesians 6. There we read about the panoply that God has given us to put on and stand against the wiles of the Devil . Here we learn that the weapons that God has given us for this spiritual warfare are not carnal "but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down thoughts and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.".

Therefore, one way or another the conclusion from the above passages is that there is a fight that is not carnal but spiritual. This is a fact that cannot be altered. It is the truth that God has declared in His Word for our benefit. Either we like it or not, it is the truth. Either we fight the fight or not, it is the truth. The only that is dependant on us is the result of the fight as we can either ignore it and not put on the armor of God, in which case we will be devoured by the enemy (I Peter 5:8-9), or we will put it on and resist him in which case we will be able to stand successfully.

3. Persecution, tribulation and deliverance

Having seen the spiritual battle we have to fight, let’s now move ahead and see some of the things that this fight may imply for us in practice. For it is evident that since we are in a fight with the Devil this may imply some actions taken from his part. Starting therefore from John 15:18-21, we read:

John 15:18-21
"[Jesus is speaking to the disciples] If the world hates you, you know that it hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, "A servant is not greater than his master." IF THEY PERSECUTED ME, THEY WILL ALSO PERSECUTE YOU. If they kept my word, they will keep yours also. But all these things they will do to you for my name’s sake, because they do not know Him who sent me"

As it can be seen it is one thing to be "in the world" and another thing to be "of the world". This is evident from the fact that though in John 17:11 the disciples, and we by extension, are described as "in the world", here we are told that we are not "of the world". The difference is really great, as those "of the world" have an entirely different ruler than those who are not "of the world" i.e. us. Who is the one that rules those "of the world"? We can see it in John 14:30 where Jesus, speaking to his disciples, said2:

John 14:30
"I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming and he has nothing in me"

Also I John 5:19 says:
"We know that we are of God, and the whole world lies IN THE WICKED ONE"

We, Christians, are of GOD. He is our RULER, our LORD. However, he is not "the ruler of this world". In contrast, as the text says, the whole world lies in THE WICKED ONE i.e. the Devil , the "god of this age" of II Corinthians 4:3 and "the ruler of this world" of John 14:30. This is the reason that Jesus Christ warns us about persecution from the world. Some of the world kept his word and followed him. Others denied it and persecuted him. It’s the same today as well. Some, like us, will hear the Word of God, will believe it and will be conveyed "from the power of Satan to God", while others will deny it and may persecute us3. However, the fact that we may be persecuted does not mean that we should lose our courage. As Jesus said in John 16:33:

John 16:33
"These things I have spoken to you, that in me you may have peace. IN THE WORLD YOU WILL HAVE TRIBULATION; BUT BE OF GOOD CHEER, I HAVE OVERCOME THE WORLD"

Jesus Christ very straightly tells us that in the world we will have tribulation. However, he does not stop there but encourages us to "be of good cheer" for he has overcome the world. And not only that, but he, the one that overcame the world, Jesus Christ the Lord, is in us now. Really Colossians 1:27 tells us:

Colossians 1:27
"To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is CHRIST IN YOU, the hope of glory."

Also II Corinthians 13:5 says in the form of a question:
"Do you not know yourselves, that JESUS CHRIST IS IN YOU?"

Christ, the one that overcame the world, is in you NOW. As I John 4:4 says:

I John 4:4
"You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, BECAUSE HE WHO IS IN YOU IS GREATER THAN HE WHO IS IN THE WORLD"

Greater is the one that is in you than the one that is in the world: the Devil . Of course there will be persecution and tribulation. The Word is very clear on this. Yet, it will not stop there, but there will also be deliverance from the Lord. As Paul said in II Timothy 3:10-12, giving his personal witness:

II Timothy 3:10-12
"But you have carefully followed my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, love, perseverance, PERSECUTIONS, AFFLICTIONS, which happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra - what persecutions I endured. AND OUT OF THEM ALL THE LORD DELIVERED ME. YES, AND ALL WHO DESIRE TO LIVE GODLY IN CHRIST JESUS WILL SUFFER PERSECUTION."

Who says that because we are Christians we will have no persecution? Certainly not the Word, for here it is before our eyes: "all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution". Therefore, let’s not be miserable if it happens to face persecution, for persecution is risen against those who walk with God and "desire to live godly in Christ Jesus". This of course does not mean that all that we will have in life will be persecutions. Paul suffered much tribulation and many persecutions, but as he says: "AND OUT OF THEM ALL THE LORD DELIVERED ME". Persecution is only the one side of the coin. The other is deliverance from the Lord. As Paul again witnesses few verses later:

II Timothy 4:16-18
"At my first defense NO ONE STOOD WITH ME, BUT ALL FORSOOK ME. May it not be charged against them. BUT THE LORD STOOD WITH ME AND STRENGTHEN ME, so that the message might be preached fully through me, and that all the Gentiles might hear. Also I WAS DELIVERED out of the mouth of the lion. AND THE LORD WILL DELIVER ME FROM EVERY EVIL WORK AND PRESERVE ME FOR HIS HEAVENLY KINGDOM. To Him be the glory for ever and ever"

The normal is that all the family, all the church of God4 stands with you and you stand with all. Unfortunately, as the Word shows here, this may not happen, as it depends on whether each member of the family walks with the spirit (the new nature) or with the flesh (the old nature). In our case, all flew away from Paul. A man that had worked so hard, so committed, for God serving His people, strengthening them and making known to them the Word of God, was forsook by all save one: the LORD who was the only one that stood with him. And really He is the only one that we should assuredly expect to stand faithfully with us, as He promises it in Hebrews 13:5-6:

Hebrews 13:5-6
"I will NEVER leave you nor forsake you. So we may boldly say: "The Lord is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?"

All the others may forsake you. All may leave you. Yet the Lord will NEVER leave you but He will always deliver you as you stand for Him. As Paul boldly said: "AND THE LORD WILL DELIVER ME FROM EVERY EVIL WORK AND PRESERVE ME FOR HIS HEAVENLY KINGDOM". Also, as we read in Romans 8:35-36:

Romans 8:35-36
"Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril or sword? As it is written: "for your sake we are killed all day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter." Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us."

Does the last phrase of the above passage says that there will be no tribulation? NO, what it says is that IN TRIBULATION we will be more than conquerors. The same with the others as well: Famine, nakedness, persecution, sword etc. Who says that all these will not happen because we are Christians? Certainly not the Word. For what the Word says is that "IN ALL THESE THINGS [which means that they may come our way] we will be more than conquerors through Him that loved us.

Closing therefore: there is a spiritual battle we have to fight. In this battle we are not unprotected but we have the armor of God, the spiritual weapons of God the only appropriate for this battle. Also we have a God that is greater than anyone else and is specialized to deliver and take us out from the traps and the temptations of the enemy. If the ruler of this world rises persecution against you, do not marvel. It is absolutely natural and means that his kingdom has problems with you. Stay faithful in the difficulty to God for as II Peter 2:9 says: "THE LORD KNOWS HOW TO DELIVER THE GODLY OUT OF TEMPTATIONS5".

 

Anastasios Kioulachoglou

 

 



Footnotes

2.See also John 12:31, 16:11.

3.Here it should be noted that persecution may come not only from the world but also from people who though God’s now, continue to walk with the flesh (the old nature), the works of which are described in detail in Galatians 5:19-21.

4.Paul speaks for people of the church here. The world was never with him to abandon him.

5.Putting II Timothy 3:2 side by side with II Peter 2:9, we have a complete picture regarding the persecution against the godly. Thus: II Timothy 3:12 tells us "and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution". That’s the Devil ’s job: persecution. On the other hand II Peter 2:9 says: "THE LORD KNOWS HOW TO DELIVER THE GODLY OUT OF TEMPTATIONS". That’s God’s job: DELIVERANCE.