The idea of the devil more often solicits smirks than fear or caution in the world today. In his classic work The Screwtape Letters, C. S. Lewis writes from the point of view of a senior demon, Screwtape, giving advice to his protégé, Wormwood, on how to influence his target. Screwtape tells Wormwood, “The fact that ‘devils’ are predominately comic figures in the modern imagination will help you. If any faint suspicion of your existence begins to arise in his mind, suggest to him a picture of something in red tights, and persuade him that since he cannot believe in that (it is an old textbook method of confusing them) he therefore cannot believe in you.”
The Bible is clear that the devil is real and his schemes can be traced back to Eden. Beyond our limited vision lies a spiritual realm where the war for souls is waged. Jesus Christ has already won the ultimate victory, but battles still rage as Satan tries to make Christians and Christianity ineffective and impotent. Those battles play out in various arenas. Paul described them as “rulers,” “authorities,” “powers of this dark world” and “spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” Spiritual warfare in unseen realms is as real as the battles waged here on earth.
There are also battles that occur within our thoughts, our relationships, our attitudes and our everyday choices. If the devil can wear us down so that we snap at our children or belittle our husband or pass on a tidbit of gossip, he has weakened our witness.
For every battle we face, God provides us with a full set of spiritual armor. God’s armor is based on truth and righteousness, faith and peace. He asks us to be armed with his attributes, not our own. Above all, we have prayer, which reaches into the spiritual realm and places the battle into the hands of the One who has already won the war.
The presence of evil need not make us suspicious or fearful. We don’t need to look for a demon behind every door. But we should be alert and prayerful so that we are aware of the devil’s schemes when they come and so we can fight the battle in the spiritual realm.
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.