By Matnur Sijabat
Today I would like to preach about the battle of our life. Let’s read 1 Peter 5: 8-11.
8-9 Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.
10-11 And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen.
It is without a doubt that we are now living in the last days before the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. All we have to do is look around and we can’t help but see all the evil that is in the world today. A few weeks ago we heard about suicide attack in Manchester, 23 killed and many injured. Last week in Indonesia, there was also a suicide bombing that killed police and many others. A couple days ago in the Philippines, there was an attack in a casino, 36 killed. We heard news like these more and more. These are all evil attacks.
In Australia, Mardi Gras has become a normal celebration every year and the same sex marriage issue has become stronger and stronger. We are certainly living in the days that the Bible talks about as Noah and Lot’s days or Sodom and Gomorrah’s days.
Many people take no thought of how they live. They live as though that tomorrow always comes. Satan is going about, trying to get them to fall, to fall into sin. He is the serpent, the ruler of this world, the evil one, and the adversary. He is Satan. And—if you are a follower of Jesus Christ—you will be hated by Satan.
- He may tempt you to do evil.
- He may smite you with physical disease.
- He may tempt you to deceive others in order to create the impression of being more spiritual.
- He may blind the spiritual eyes of your unsaved family, friends, and neighbours so that they may not see the glory of Jesus in the gospel.
How can you stand firm and resist the devil so that he will flee?
The book of Job in the Bible tells the story of a devout, godly man, who lived thousands of years ago. Job is a wealthy man living in a land with his large family and extensive flocks. He is “blameless” and “upright,” always careful to avoid doing evil. One day, Satan appears before God in heaven. God boasts to Satan about Job’s goodness, but Satan argues that Job is only good because God has blessed him abundantly and put a protective wall around him. Satan challenges God that, if given permission to punish the man, Job will turn and curse God. God allows Satan to torment Job to test this bold claim, but He forbids Satan to take Job’s life in the process.
In the course of one day, Job receives four messages, each bringing bad news that his livestock, servants, and ten children have all died due to robber attacks and natural disasters. Job tears his clothes and shaves his head in mourning, but he still blesses God in his prayers. Satan appears in heaven again, and God grants him another chance to test Job. This time, Job is afflicted with horrible skin sores. To cut the long story short, Satan is proven wrong. Job remains faithful to God and God proves to Satan that Job is indeed a righteous human.
The Apostle Peter wrote our main scriptures this morning to warn us that the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Satan is our enemy and he is constantly looking for an opportunity to attack us. We have no chance of outrunning or hiding from the attacks of Satan; and therefore, we must stand and face his attacks by relying on the power of God. Peter tells us that we will suffer from the attacks of Satan, but Satan can’t destroy us because God will restore, support and strengthen us.
Some people deny the work of Satan and teach that bad things never happen to people with the right faith: they are preaching a lie. They are correct in claiming that God will put a protective wall around Christians; yet, the strength of that wall is totally dependent on our walk as a Christian.
God placed a wall around Job, but Job was blameless: a man of complete integrity. He feared God and stayed away from evil. Most of us aren’t in the same level as Job. When Peter wrote his letter he wasn’t addressing it to people like Job; Peter was writing to Christians just like you and me. Brothers and sisters, let’s face it; most of us don’t have much of a wall between us and Satan.
Peter isn’t the only Apostle who warned us about Satan and spiritual warfare. Paul also recognized that a Christian can’t rely on their own power to survive the attacks from Satan. Paul warns us that we aren’t 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.
That is why we must live in the power of the Lord. We must put on all of God’s armour so that we will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil.
Paul knew firsthand the strength of our enemy: Satan. Paul spent his entire Christian life in a brutal battle with Satan, but Paul stood firm in the armour of God and never stopped speaking boldly for Jesus (Eph. 6:10-20). Job, Peter, and Paul all spoke the truth, warning us boldly, because spiritual warfare is a life and death struggle.
Those Unaware of Spiritual Warfare
If you have seldom felt the blows of Satan on your shield, on your life, it is because you have seldom stood up for Jesus. Immature Christians who seldom read the Scripture, take little interest in fellowship, and never proclaim the Lordship of Jesus hardly interest Satan at all. But, those who study the Word of God and boldly live a Christian lifestyle fight the devil in every areas of their life; Satan hates every Christian who is building on the foundation of Christ. He seems to generally ignore those who are no threat to his kingdom. That is probably why lazy Christians don’t see Satan as an active threat.
It is believed that only a small percentage of the people who call themselves Christians are actually in active battle with Satan. Right now, Satan has his hands full trying to stop the spread of Christianity in places like Asia, Africa, and the Middle East.
When Jesus Christ arose from the dead, His kingdom was established and Satan knew the time he had left was short. He had to know because a loud voice shouted across the heavens. This is told in Revelation 12:10-12
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 Messiah. For the accuser of our brothers and sisters, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down. They triumphed over 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.”
Satan knows that it is over for him; but in the time that he has left, he will do everything he can to destroy as much of God’s creation as he can: especially humans who actively serve Jesus Christ.
Most people, even Christians, don’t believe in spiritual warfare. Perhaps it is because they fear Satan and think that he will ignore them if they ignore him, but this isn’t right. Scripture tells us that we are in a spiritual war and we must stand firm in resisting Satan. We can’t stand firm if we are ignoring Satan. Let’s wake up; let’s actively look for Satan’s handy work in our life and the life of those around us.
We must be alert to the fact that Satan constantly tries to:
- Blind human minds. “The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God” (2 Cor. 4:4).
- Deceive. “And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him” (Rev. 12:9).
- Influence. Satan has been able to influence some people so extensively that God cannot take them to heaven (Mt. 7:21-23).
- Bring illness. Paul had a physical infirmity, and he tells us where this infirmity came from. “[…] I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me” (2 Cor. 12:7).
- Send demons to possess humans. “And behold, there was a woman who had had a disabling spirit for eighteen years. She was bent over and could not fully straighten herself. […] And ought not this woman, a daughter of Abraham whom Satan bound for eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the Sabbath day? […]” (Lk. 13:10-17)
- Have his demons appear as angels of light. “So it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness” (2 Cor. 11:15).
- Have his demons teach false doctrine. “Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons” (1 Tim. 4:1).
The evil in this world originates with Satan; we can attribute most of our failures to Satan working in our life. Look at Judas Iscariot. Satan entered into Judas and caused him to betray Jesus. Jesus told the Jews that they didn’t understand what He said because they couldn’t bear to hear His words. He went on to tell them that they were like their father the devil and that their will was to do the devil’s work. Our enemy is Satan, and we are locked into a life and death struggle with him. We are in a spiritual war, and those who haven’t truly embraced the belief that Jesus is both their Lord and their Saviour have already lost the battle.
The truth is that spiritual warfare is real; it is a part of the Christian’s life today. We are at war. Although this battle is fought in the natural, the weapons of our warfare are supernatural and have divine power to tear down strongholds. Brother and sisters, these weapons are available to us.
What Are Our Weapons?
- The Blood of the Lamb and the Testimony of the Saints (Rev. 12:11).
- Prayer. “Come near to God and he will come near to you […]”(Jas. 4:8).
- The Name of Jesus (Mk. 16:17). “And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it” (Jn. 14:13-14).
- Faith. “For everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith” (1 Jn. 5:4).
- Praise and Worship. “May the praise of God be in their mouths and a double-edged sword in their hands […]” (Ps. 149:6).
- The Armor of God. That is, the Belt of Truth, the Breastplate of Righteousness, the Shield of Faith, the Helmet of Salvation, the Gospel of Peace, and the Sword of the Spirit (Eph. 6:14-18).
Fighting the Good Fight
We are born again and have received the Holy Spirit; He lives within us, so we don’t need anyone to teach us what is true. The Spirit teaches us everything we need to know, and what He teaches is the truth. All we have to do is to go to the Word of God in prayer with a heart that is diligently seeking the truth, and the Holy Spirit will guide the born again Christian into all truth.
If we don’t want to be spiritually killed in this battle, we need to seek out Jesus as both our Lord and our Saviour. Then, we must follow Paul’s instructions to put on the armour of God! The only way to do this is to study the Word of God for ourselves.
The Bible describes countless battles from Genesis to Revelation, both physical and spiritual wars. Physical wars have dominated history’s attention from the time Cain killed his brother Abel, right down to the present day. However, the primary focus of Scripture is the ongoing conflict between Christ and Satan, between the forces of good and the powers of evil.
Like it or not, every single one of us is involved. The battleground for this intense spiritual struggle isn’t some piece of earthly real estate; it is the human heart. Both Jesus and the devil are interested in winning possession of our minds and hearts. For this reason, Christians are called to stand up to resist the devil. God has recorded all the battles in the Bible—from Gideon’s conflict to David’s defeat of Goliath—to teach us how we might experience victory in spiritual fighting.
Because our battles are of a spiritual nature, the weapons we employ must also be spiritual. This is why Paul reminds us: “We wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places” (Eph. 6:12).
Although our armour and weapons are spiritual, this doesn’t mean they are unreal or ineffective. God’s armour is made of the Belt of Truth, the Breastplate of Righteousness, the Shield of Faith, the Helmet of Salvation, the Gospel of Peace, and the Sword of the Spirit.
I am not going to develop on all of our armour, but I would like to talk about the Sword of the Spirit. This piece of armour stands out from all of the others. It’s unique because it’s the only offensive weapon in the arsenal. Everything else is designed to hold us steady from what the enemy is seeking to bring against us in the ‘evil day’. But after God outfits you for battle in order to stand firm, He gives you an additional weapon with which you can attack and advance.
The sword was the most common weapon in battle. In fact, the sword of God’s Word is what Jesus used against the devil and what gave the beast of Revelation 13 a deadly wound. When Jesus said: “I did not come to bring peace but a sword,” He wasn’t saying that He, the Prince of Peace, had come to start wars. He was pointing out that the sword of God’s Word has a dividing effect.
Several times, this sword is described as having two edges: “For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart” (Heb. 4:12). Then again in Revelation 1:16, the Bible says: “[…] and out of his mouth went a sharp two-edged sword.”
Ancient soldiers also used their swords for cooking, splitting kindling, and cutting the ropes that bound their captives to set them free. Likewise, the Word of God is a practical tool for every area of life, as well as for fighting the devil.
In Biblical times, there was no stainless steel. A sword unused became rusty, dull, and pitted. Swords were kept clean by frequent use or by honing them against a stone, or another soldier’s sword. “Iron sharpens iron”, the Bible says. Likewise, when we study the Bible with others, our skill in the Word is sharpened. A soldier traveling in enemy territory never left his sword out of reach.
The spiritual war, the war for our minds and hearts, is something very real. The battles of spiritual warfare are intense when a person decides to accept Jesus as their Saviour. The enemy will attack from all angles, hoping to prevent the person from fully giving their heart to Jesus. He will use circumstances, events, people, things, and even doubt in their minds to steal their heart back to his ways.
The Word of God is never changing, and the final victory is drawing near, and of this there is no doubt. It is clearly stated in Revelations 20:10: “And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever.” But while we wait for this final victory, we must be winning the battles.
When you learn how to use the Sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God, as you go on the offensive against the enemy seeking to destroy you, it doesn’t matter how old are you or how weak you seem. All you need to know is that the sword in your hand is capable of doing more than you will ever need.
As Jesus demonstrated in the wilderness, using the Sword of the Spirit means communicating to the enemy specific Scriptures that relate to your unique situation.
Brothers and sisters, use the Sword of the Spirit, the Word of God! The power to win the battles is yours!
Our Father in Heaven, we are thankful for the armour You have provided us. We take in our hand the Sword of the Spirit—the Word of God—and use it against all the forces of evil in our life. We put on this armour and live and pray in complete dependence upon You, blessed Holy Spirit. We affirm that the Word of God is true, and we choose to live today in the light of God’s Word. We choose, heavenly Father, to live in obedience to You and in fellowship with You. Open our eyes and show us the areas of our life that don’t please You. Work in our life that there is no ground to give Satan a foothold against us. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.