PART 6 THE INVISIBLE FORCES OF EVIL

PART 6 THE INVISIBLE FORCES OF EVIL

CHAPTER 13

How Is the Christian Able to Fight against the Weapons of the Devil?

The Christian is in a constant battle for control of their mind. Many lose this battle to the forces of evil, because they don’t learn from temporary defeat. What I mean is these skirmishes just don’t go away. Either we learn how to fight against them or if not then you might as well go back to living as an unbeliever.

     How do we fight against the weapons of the devil?

     The first weapon of his is persecution.

 

PERSECUTION

The devil uses world leaders, unbelievers, and fellow believers to persecute Christians. In this regard, what spiritual weapon should the Christian use in their fight against this evil weapon?

     Please go to 2 Timothy.

 

All those who live godly:

Suggested Reading: 2 Timothy 3:1-9; 2 Timothy 3:10-14

This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be… (2 Timothy 3:1-2)

Paul in his instructions to Timothy is telling him to be on guard, because in the last days there will be people, who will be eminently selfish under the garb of religion, intent on their own interests, having an outward semblance of reverence toward God, but denying His power. Furthermore, they will hold to an outward form of religion ever increasing in their knowledge, but never able to come to a precise and correct experiential knowledge of the truth, which can only be gained by having personal communion with Christ.   

But thou hast fully known my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, charity, patience, (2 Timothy 3:10)

     But in regards to Timothy, Paul said to him, you have observed first hand my doctrine (teaching), my manner of life (daily behavior), my purposes (intentions; main concerns), my faith (relationship to Christ), my longsuffering (which focuses on a person's ability to persevere or endure in the midst of difficult situations50), my charity (love directed toward people), and my patience (a person's ability to remain calm when confronted with adverse and unpleasant circumstances51).

Persecutions, afflictions, which came unto me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra; what persecutions I endured: but out of them all the Lord delivered me. (2 Timothy 3:11)

     When I was at Antioch, at Iconium, and Lystra there were those who organized a systematic program of harassment and oppression52against me, which resulted in personal suffering. However, through all of this not only did I endure (to bear patiently), but God delivered me (to draw out from peril) out of them all.

     And then he goes on to make this profound statement.

Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. (2 Timothy 3:12)

     Another word, not only will those who live godly suffer persecution, but they will be able to bear it. The spiritual weapon in fighting against the devil’s weapon of persecution is to live godly.

     What does it mean to live godly?

     First, it means we must have the Holy Spirit residing within.

     Second, it means we must learn about the basic doctrines of the faith (e.g. redemption, forgiveness, eternal security, etc.).

     Third, it means we need to learn about what sin is, and then confess it to God the Father when we commit it.

     Fourth, it means we must learn about the new person who we have become at salvation.

     Fifth, it means we must learn about God’s perspective concerning those sinful tendencies that we have been engaging it.

     Sixth, it means that after we have learned about God’s perspective we need to memorize and meditate upon it throughout our day.

     Seventh, it means we must continue to attend to the assembling of the saints for worship, prayer, fellowship, etc.

     The next question to consider is, how does a Christian fight against the devil’s second weapon which is called projections?

 

PROJECTIONS

Just to recap, what are projections? A projection or as in the case of the devil, an evil projection (fiery dart) is something that could come into the mind in the form of:  an image of someone with whom we had some kind of engagement with in regards to sin; thoughts that try to stimulate us to think evil about someone else, which has no basis in fact; thoughts relating to a regretful action that we had committed against someone else; thoughts relating to a regretful action that we wish we could have prevented from happening.

      Another way to describe projections is that they are:

  1. Considerations darted into the mind… sometimes starting up suddenly, even in the middle of holy exercises53.        
  2. Lies, blasphemous thoughts, hateful thoughts about others, doubts, and burning desires for sin54.

     Remember, not all projections are from the devil. Sometimes they are from our interactions with people and circumstances.

     What is the spiritual weapon that will allow Christians to be able to counteract this weapon of evil? Please go to Ephesians 6.

 

Wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked:

Ephesians 6:16

We are told that there is a spiritual weapon available for the Christian, which will allow them to quench (extinguish) the fiery darts of the wicked (of the evil one; the devil). Do you know what it is? It is called the shield of faith.

Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.           

     What is the shield of faith? The word shield can be taken to be the large shield which, according to the ancient historian Polybius, gave protection to the whole body. It was made of two layers of wood, covered with canvas, and with a leather covering on the outside; this, when soaked with water before the battle, would effectively serve to extinguish the incendiary missiles of the enemy (Barth) 55The Christian is to carry this shield at all times, which is analogous to faith. As this shield was soaked with water so that the fiery arrows of the enemy weren’t able to burn it up and leave the combatant defenseless, so in this regard the Christian is protected when they take up faith.

     What is faith? It’s that which protects the believer from the onslaught of the fiery darts. It’s that which acts like water. Water in the scriptures can be considered as a type of the word of God. An example of this is found in Ephesians 5.

 

The washing of water by the word:

Ephesians 5:25-26

Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,

Husbands should love their wives, even as Christ loved the church by his example of self-sacrificial love, when he laid down his own life for it, so that he might cleanse and sanctify it by the washing of water by the word. This word “cleanse” describes how sanctification or holiness becomes a reality in the believer’s life. Inward purification takes place when the believer appropriates the word of God. As outward cleansing can be made effectual by a bath of water, so inward cleansing can be made effectual by the application of the word.

     Let me leave you with a practical example of combating evil projections.

     Recently, an unbeliever friend of mine, who I have interacted with over the past many months, has seemed to have become distant. The phone calls have become less frequent to almost being non-existent. When I would go and visit this person something just didn’t seem right. Usually there would be a suggestion made by this person to me in regards to helping to complete a construction project, whether this was a paid venture or not.

     The devil, if he so chose, could use this situation to project thoughts into my mind such as, why is this person treating me this way? What did I do wrong? Did I say something to offend? In my recent interactions with this person, I couldn’t find anything that would substantiate any of these thoughts that I was contemplating. I realized that it is one thing to try to figure out if my thinking concerning this matter could be substantiated. However, it’s another thing to let these thoughts become a continual occupation in my mind. If or when they do, then I must confess this over preoccupation of these ideas as sin to God the Father and replace them with God’s perspective.

     What do I mean when I say that I must replace these thoughts with God’s perspective?

     One of the things that 1 Corinthians 13:7 says is that we as believers should “believeth all things”. These words mean to credit no evil on any, but on the most positive evidence. They also mean to believe the best of every person.

Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.

     So, in order for this projection in this particular area to not affect me I must appropriate, memorize, and meditate upon the specific words of this verse and their meaning. When I do this, I will be occupied in my mind with God’s perspective, the consequence of which will be to avail myself of the peace of the Spirit and not the unrest of human perception. Just to put a balance to this I didn’t say the devil’s projection. Sometimes it is difficult to determine where this projection has come from. Whether it is from the forces of evil or ourselves we should take the appropriate action towards it as was just mentioned.

     We have one more weapon of the devil to address, this being his weapon of false teaching.

     How does the Christian fight against the evil weapon of false teaching?

     Let’s go to 2 Corinthians 11.

 

FALSE TEACHING

As I mentioned earlier, I think that this is the most difficult of the devil’s weapons for Christians to combat. When an unbeliever gets saved, having received the indwelling Holy Spirit, their memories, thoughts, and propensities of their flesh have not been eradicated. While they have a new nature, they are at a loss as to how to access God’s presence on a consistent basis. If they have been going to a particular faith in which the preaching of the gospel has been non-existent then in some cases they will carry out the tendency to continue to attend the various activities of said church. Even though they are a new creature, they never are able to learn about the new man they have become along with being able to address the weaknesses of their flesh (sin nature) according to the confession of their sin to God the Father and the replacement of these sinful thoughts with divine viewpoint, because these teachings are not presented in said church.

     I can remember in my early years in the ministry of being accused by the leader of another faith of proselyting their members. The issue according to them was not whether the unbeliever needed to get saved, but whether I was trying to dissuade them from attending said church. Let me make this perfectly clear, if an unbeliever were to hear the pure gospel and respond thus becoming born-again and I became aware that the church they were attending was religious (void of the Spirit) you bet I would recommend that they no longer attend said church.

     I understand there is probably in many cases the reality that no two born-again Christian churches have identical doctrinal platforms. However, what they should have in common is the preaching of the pure gospel and reliance on the ministry of the Holy Spirit. Churches that are religious have neither of these qualities. A Christian will not grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ in a religious setting. In this regard, I can’t even say that I’m sorry if I have offended a religious leader or institution. If a believer is going to spend eternity with Christ, and they will, then it is in their best interest to be involved with a Spirit-filled church now, isn’t it?

     As we learned earlier, the devil tries to deceive the believer by means of false teaching in three ways.

     Let’s go back to 2 Corinthians 11.

 

That you might well bear with him:

2 Corinthians 11:3-20

For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him. (2 Corinthians 11:4)

The devil tries to deceive the believer:

1. By preaching another Jesus.

This refers to his identity. The devil has no issue with any religion or teaching that proclaims that Jesus is a prophet, teacher, angel, Michael the archangel, and even as being the Son of God as long as he is not referred to as being God come in the flesh, who is one of the members of the trinity, God the Father and the Holy Spirit being the other two members of this Godhead. 

2. By receiving another spirit.

He desires that the spirit of human perception be that which characterizes the teachings of those, who are in the leadership positions of the church so that this same spirit also characterizes the perception of its members.

3. By accepting another gospel.

The devil’s gospel is to support the idea that all roads lead to the same place. Teachings are encouraged which center around the ideas that: Jesus payment for sin has no value; Jesus was not raised from the dead; no one goes to hell; Jesus is not God; there is no need for the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, human merit will secure eternal life; sin is to be condoned, etc.

     What Paul was essentially saying to the Corinthians was, you seem so eager to accept a new person when he comes and tells you about a different Jesus, who is not the Jesus we told you about. And you happily pay attention when you receive a spirit and a message that are not like the Spirit and the message that we brought to you56.

     What spiritual weapon should the believer take up in order to combat this evil weapon of false teaching?

     While the apostle Paul was aware that the believers at Corinth might submit readily to false teachers, his admonition would be the opposite of that which he mentioned in that they “might well bear with him”. Therefore, this would be that they not bear (submit; tolerate; accept) with them. These believers had received enough teaching so that they not only should have been able to recognize false teaching, but they also should have chosen to remove themselves from being a participant in it. For new converts this would probably be a decision that they wouldn’t make because they probably would have no reference as to what would characterize Spirit-filled teaching and what would characterize religious teaching. The early church was continually dealing not only with false teaching, but the inability of the believers to remove themselves from it.

     I think this is the way it is for many believers today. In some cases, they have been severely hurt financially or sexually by those in leadership and have decided to no longer attend any church at all. For others, they have been involved in teaching that is an admixture of Law and grace. And still for others, their cost in time, talent, and treasure for being committed to being involved in a Spirit-filled church is too demanding.

     Ultimately, each believer has to make up their own mind in each of these instances. Each of us has our own relationship with God. If the pure gospel is being preached; if you are learning how to put on the new person, who you have been made to be at salvation; if you are addressing your weaknesses; if you are becoming aware of the gift or gifts of the Spirit you have been given and are utilizing them according to the prompting of the Spirit for the edification of the body of Christ, then it sounds like you are equipped to respond to any of these scenarios according to the word of God and guidance in prayer.

     I hope this study has enlightened you as to: Who the devil is? Who are his spiritual forces of evil? What are his evil weapons that he uses to prevent unbelievers from being saved and believers from advancing in their walk with God?

     I would like to leave you with some parting words.

 

The Devil Made Me Do It

I do think that at times it is embarrassing when you hear a Christian attribute all of their problems to the devil. For those who are listening to them, especially unbelievers, it sounds as if they are making an excuse for their bad thoughts, words, and behavior. It’s true that the spirit of the devil, the spirit of self-perception, the spirit of self-reliance, the spirit of self-gratification is the same spirit that characterizes the sin nature of every person, who is born into this world.

     When an unbeliever becomes a believer, they receive the indwelling Holy Spirit, who provides for them His nature, and access to it.  The apostles of Christ, who were used to disseminate much information to the church, some of which was in regards to the devil and his demonic forces, had walked with Christ on a day to day basis for three years. What I’m trying to say is that their ability to discern spiritually the workings of the devil and his evil forces probably took a while to develop. This can only happen as we learn how to rely on the Spirit on a day to day basis.

     How many Christians have learned how to rely on the ministry of the Holy Spirit on a day to day basis?

     I can only speak for those who I have come into contact with over the years and my guess would be very few. Many get impacted by the Spirit on Sunday and live like hell the rest of the week. So, as Christians let’s no longer attribute all of the problems in our life to the devil.

     If you are attending a church that is Spirit-filled, then use your time, talent, and treasure to edify it. If you are being taught to address your weaknesses and put on the new person, who God has made you to be, you are in a good place. If there is an admixture of Law with grace teaching, which declares that sin can be condoned as long as it is believed to promote the kingdom of God, then I would attempt to address this unscriptural admonition. If you are told to mind your own business in these affairs and if you don’t you will be asked to leave the church, then go ahead and leave.  

     Hopefully, at this point in your walk with God you will have learned how to rely on the leading and guiding of the Holy Spirit. And remember never compromise truth. For we, God’s church, are used by Him to reveal to those rulers and powers, who follow Him, the beauty and variety of His wisdom in His great plan of salvation57.                                                                                         

                                                                                                                                                       

Endnotes

50UBS.

51UBS.

52UBS.

53The Pulpit.

54The Bible Exposition.

55UBS.

56UBS.

57The Bible Exposition.

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Synopsis
How is the Christian able to fight against the weapons of the devil?
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