Doing battle against Satan requires more than a New Year’s resolution and a dose of will power. Spiritual warfare requires spiritual weaponry. The strength you need to successfully do such battle is supplied by God. That may seem obvious. But, judging from the way we treat this truth, it bears repeating.
Many of us tend to swing toward one of two extremes when it comes to the devil. Some overestimate him. They become fearful and timid, lest Satan leap upon them. Remember: “The one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world” (1 John 4:4).
Others underestimate the devil. Yes, Satan is a defeated foe. But even though he is nothing more than a condemned death row inmate awaiting execution, it is not wise to sleep in his cell. When the apostle Paul spoke about spiritual warfare, he made a very critical point. Paul reminded us that our strength is not in ourselves, but in God. He said, “Be strengthened by the Lord and by his vast strength” (Eph 6:10).
In our humanity, we do not have the power to overcome the evil spirits at work in this world. You cannot beat the devil on your own. Only God is capable of putting the devil in his place, and that is exactly what he will do someday (see Rev 20). In the meantime, however, God limits Satan’s reach and empowers us to achieve victory in our day-to-day encounters with darkness when we put on “the full armor of God” (Eph 6:13).
I can envision Paul in his prison cell, dictating this letter to the Ephesian church. Perhaps he paused, searching for a perfect illustration to help him communicate this vital truth. Suddenly, his gaze fell on the Roman centurion to whom he was chained. Noticing the various components of the guard’s uniform, Paul set about to describe six vital pieces of armor necessary for victory in spiritual warfare: the belt of truth, breastplate of righteousness, shoes of peace, shield of faith, helmet of salvation, and the sword of the spirit. It is only when you put on and use the full armor of God that you will experience the victory that is yours for the taking.
A young boy once went to the zoo with his dad. As they passed the lions’ den, one of the lions let out a ferocious roar. Startled, the boy grabbed onto his father, covered his face, and began to cry. His father asked, “What’s wrong?” The little boy replied, “Don’t you see the lion?” “Yes,” his father answered, “but I also see the cage.”
Satan is a defeated foe, a caged lion. But your victory in spiritual warfare must rest on the reality that God has given you everything you need to live in light of this truth in order to experience and become all that he has created you to be. God will not dress you. You are going to have to put on the armor of God every day in order to experience the victory that is yours.
Until you recognize that your struggle is not with man but with spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places, you will never live in victory.
The first key in winning the battles of spiritual warfare comes in identifying the true enemy you and I face. The enemy is not that which we can see. Satan lies beneath the surface, seeking to create havoc in God’s people.
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Reprinted from The Tony Evans Study Bible (2019) with permission of Holman Bibles. Tony Evans—author of numerous books—has faithfully proclaimed the gospel for more than 50 years. He serves as senior pastor of Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship in Dallas, Texas, and is founder of The Urban Alternative.
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