Over the course of more than four decades as a Christian, I have read many books on spiritual warfare, and most of these I ended up shelving because they were unbiblical in too many ways to count.
There were however a few books I examined that are indispensable and I will include this list at the conclusion of this first article.
Among these resources on spiritual warfare I must endorse Dr. Gregory Reid’s treatment on this subject as second to none in our contemporary age.
The complete title of this work is War of the Ages: A Complete Scriptural Guide to Confronting and Defeating Satan’s Kingdom. Here is a link where you can get your own copy.
This book is more than 385 pages and covers every aspect of spiritual warfare in detail; I would highly recommend this book to anyone, and particularly in our current situation, because the great enemy of the church, Satan, has been emboldened to such a degree as to rear his ugly head and blatantly revel in his wickedness as it’s been manifested in the societies of this fallen world.
I recall a scene from The Hobbit where an Elven Prince was reluctant to confront the enemy:
Legolas: It is not our fight.
Tauriel: It is our fight. It will not end here. With every victory this evil will grow. If your father has his way, we will do nothing. We will hide within our walls, live our lives away from the light and let darkness descend. Are we are not part of this world? Tell me, Mellon, when did we let evil become stronger than us?
The church has been asleep on the battlefield for far, far too long, and we must rise up in these last remaining hours and not neglect challenging the enemy who has defied of the armies of the living GOD!
I believe this ostentatious display of devilry we are witnessing today is preparation for the reign of anti-Christ, the Beast, the One World Leader who will be indwelt by the very spirit of Satan and demand worshipful allegiance from every living soul alive during this last and final page of humanity ruled by the god of this world (2 COR 4:4).
The purpose of this series is to present in abbreviated form, some of the essence of the chapters of this book, in the hopes that it will encourage the saints to get their own copy and study it alongside their Bibles for themselves. This is spiritual boot camp that will prepare the saints to become the true soldiers of Christ we were reborn to be; ready not just to enter ‘battlefield Earth’, but to aptly and ably confront the enemy, impede his advancements in our nations, and release many of the P.O.W.s from his prison camps.
Note: In order to condense this sizeable work into a more abbreviated treatment, I will rephrase, condense and amend statements made from this book, but without altering their significance or diminishing the truthfulness employed therein; I may interject comments, observations and Scripture references of my own throughout this series.
Therefore without further ado, let’s get into this needful and competent work and start examining these strategies to be implemented in our spiritual bootcamp and subsequent warfare!
Greg begins his work with this:
Introduction to War of the Ages: We are at war with an enemy both brilliant and insane; and the closer to the end we get, and to his ultimate defeat, the more desperate and destructive he gets.
Spiritual warfare was a biblical subject that was widely taught (sometimes inaccurately) in the ‘80’s, but no longer.
The purpose of this book: “There has never been a time when spiritual darkness has been more prevalent, nor the battle to hold it back so weak. Believers cannot fight if they don’t know there is even a war. Once they know there is a war, they must be equipped to fight.
The Bible states the inescapable truth that we are at war with the devil – it’s not optional, but a commission of the Gospel work. God wants us aware, prepared and equipped for this warfare that every saint will inevitably encounter in these last days which are getting spiritually darker.<
1 JOHN 3:9
Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.
We are his hands and his feet in this world. Let’s put our hands to the war and battle well for the sake of Jesus and the ones He died to set free.
WAR of the AGES: from Chapter One:
Satan, demons, angels, guardian angels are real; the Bible speaks of them all. They can be terrifying to behold; holy ones are encouraging and protective of the saints. We’re not to seek angels, or experiences with them or attempt to communicate with them. If one shows up, ask for its credentials!
For true Christians there is no reason to fear, concerning Satan and demons. If you know Jesus and know who you are in Jesus and the authority granted to you in His Name, then you have nothing to fear! However, they do fear us saints, not because of ourselves, but because of He Who dwells in us!
Those who don’t know Jesus, who don’t belong to Him have every reason to fear Satan and his kingdom of darkness. You have no protection.
Yet even us saints must never be arrogant about our fearlessness. Such arrogance deprives us of protection because God resists the proud (JAMES 4:6) and it’s only the humble that God exalts and are able to resist the enemy. While a defeated foe by the cross of Christ, Satan is still a dangerous foe – he still has powers of deception and destruction and constantly probes for weaknesses in the saints and exploits them in his attacks against the church. Scripture warns us against Satan and his wiles and power (1 PETER 5:8).
However, Satan is limited in his powers – God is omnipotent (all powerful), omniscient (all knowing) and omnipresent (everywhere at all times). Satan is none of these things. God allows Satan specific leeway and is on the leash of His Sovereignty – they are not equal opposites (such as yin-yang, the Star Wars ‘good’ and ‘dark’ sides of the Force, etc.).
While God owns this world, Satan holds the lease, granted to him when the steward of the Earth, Adam, sinned against God. While Satan runs the world-system, we “evict” him everywhere we go and bring souls into Jesus’ kingdom.
Satan isn’t all knowing and can’t read our minds; however he and his demons are skilled at “reading us”, our feelings and fear (and observe our habits, actions, weaknesses, etc.).
He uses his network of demonic hosts to compile information globally and utilize this data as the supreme psychoanalyst, war strategist and attack coordinator.
But he doesn’t know a fragment of all that God knows.
In fact, we have the advantage in that we are in personal communication with the One Who does know everything, and we can count on Him to give us insights and strategy that we need to thwart the enemy’s plans and attacks.
Throughout this book you will learn the following:
~ Who our enemy is.
~ What he can and cannot do.
~ Where he came from.
~ Biblical facts and references concerning Satan, demons, angels, and spiritual warfare.
~ How to protect yourself from invasion in your life and family.
~ How to understand the strategies of the enemy and how to ruin them.
~ How to root out darkness from hiding places in our lives and the lives of others.
~ How to get free and stay free,
~ Understanding true deliverance – what it is and what it is not.
And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.
A note from James: Every aspect of the Christians’ life is in some way, either directly or indirectly related to spiritual warfare:
Our worship: Satan hates those who worships God and covets such worship for himself. When we worship God, we are attuned to the kingdom of God in a unique way and understand who Satan is in comparison with the Almighty: merely a rebel angel, fallen from heaven.
Because of this, he will often send his minions to disrupt our times of personal worship or church worship service by distraction, bouts of inexplicable depression or anxiety, among other tactics.
Sharing the Gospel is releasing POW’s from his prison camp located in the kingdom of darkness is spiritual warfare indeed. He won’t stand idly by and allow this without a fight!
Preaching the Word and declaring truth is entirely objectionable to Satan as he is intent on the proliferation of his own lies and the tearing down of truth.
Prayer is our most valiant weapon against Satan’s domain, and as with our worship, he will do everything he can to distract us from prayer by pointing out how we need to get busy about other things.
We saints of God are also soldiers of the Cross – war and peace is our mission: bringing the war to Satan’s kingdom of darkness and the Gospel of peace to lost souls!
WAR of the AGES: from Chapter Two:
In any war it’s vital to understand the necessity of the campaign, the enemy we are fighting and the call to arms.
Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. 11 Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For 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. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.
Two fatal mistakes in combat are: not to know how to use your weapons (Read A Generation That Knew Not War by Greg Reid. The other is to be arrogant and, or careless with your weapons.
The might is the LORD’s – not ours as are the weapons and the power.
“Put on the whole armor of GOD that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.”
“Wiles” in the Greek means, “method, trickery, lying in wait”. Once we belong to Jesus we are a target on Satan’s list of assassination – as he studies and probes for weaknesses: pride, porn, paranoia, fear, rage, addictions, greed, gossip, etc.
To stand successfully against the enemy, the LORD has provided the battle gear and strategies needed. We must be vigilant, never letting our guard down against a relentless enemy seeking to strike us like a venomous serpent. Becoming weary in our vigilance may set in, especially in wearing us down mentally: DANIEL Ch. 7 provides such an example regarding how the Beast will “wear out the saints” in the time of tribulation:
And he shall speak great words against the most High, and shall wear out the saints of the most High, and think to change times and laws: and they shall be given into his hand until a time and times and the dividing of time.
Note: The battle for the mind will be addressed in Chapter Four.
Lying in wait (“methodeia”), the enemy will seek out weaknesses and assault us in spiritual sabotage; the constant vigilance through constant prayer and in the Word are required. There are three areas to watch over: (1) arrogance (2) pride and (3) an unexamined heart.
1) Arrogance – presuming that Satan can’t touch us because we are a believer saved by grace, gives him an open door whereby we may be blindsided by his attack.
2) Pride – doesn’t allow us to recognize our vulnerabilities thus we remain unprotected.
3) An unexamined heart allows pockets of sin, pride, evil thoughts, lusts, greed, resentment, unforgiveness, self-pity, etc. to remain in our hearts and minds.
But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death. Do not err, my beloved brethren.
A true warrior lives in brokenness and humility:
Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts:
And see if there be any wicked way in me and lead me in the way everlasting.
Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.
Don’t ever make the mistake of assuming that because God’s anointing is on your ministry that you are walking rightly before Him. Right standing with Jesus is far greater in importance than if you had the greatest anointed ministry on the planet!
A double life, that is, a hypocritical lifestyle will bring a reproach upon Christ.
Be thankful for God’s exposure of personal sin even if it brings temporary removal of ministry in order to get right with God. He will restore the humble and repentant! Those recovered and restored by grace are a special target by the enemy who wants to take out such examples of mercy and grace by God’s hand.
2 CORINTHIANS 10:4
(For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;)
This is a spiritual wrestling match between us saints and the principalities and powers, etc. that is, a contest between two in which each endeavors to throw the other, and which is decided when the victor is able to hold his opponent down with his hand upon his neck.
This is a ground war – hand to hand combat with us as infantry troops – not from the stance of politicians or generals in a war room with maps and monitor screens. Rather, this is ‘boots on the ground’ battle with an enemy that wants us dead!
Our assignment: prayer, fasting, the Word and aggressive taking of spiritual territory and pinning down the enemy’s neck, keeping him in subjection to the authority of the LORD Jesus Christ.
While we address issues that deal with “flesh and blood” and confront people in these sins, our focus is on the Puppet Master – the one who pulls their strings (ACTS 8:8-24; 13:6-12). We don’t seek to attack sinners, but desire atonement for them.
Who do we fight? A closer look reveals this to be the rank and file of this army of Satan:
For 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.
Principalities: (In the Greek:) arche – chiefs, originators, starters, rulers, leaders. Highest in rank, organized over regions, nations and cities.
In sharing the Gospel in these places it’s to be understood that this is the order of things. Ask God for specific understanding and revelation of what is being challenged in heavenly places in preparation for war and the Gospel.
Powers: exousia – authorities, rulers, a thing subject to [a higher] authority. We wrestle against these powers who are subject to the higher authority (in this case, the arche) with authority that we receive from the LORD Jesus Christ. Consider the centurion who recognized the authority of the LORD:
And when Jesus was entered into Capernaum, there came unto him a centurion, beseeching him, And saying, Lord, my servant lieth at home sick of the palsy, grievously tormented. And Jesus saith unto him, I will come and heal him. The centurion answered and said, Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldest come under my roof: but speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed. For I am a man under authority, having soldiers under me: and I say to this man, Go, and he goeth; and to another, Come, and he cometh; and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it. When Jesus heard it, he marvelled, and said to them that followed, Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel.
How much authority does the LORD have, and where?
And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.
ALL authority – not just in heaven, but also on Earth (this place that was under the jurisdiction of Satan for thousands of years!). And so as the LORD Jesus Christ’s representatives we have ‘power of attorney’ as it were.
The rank and file in the armies of the living God begins with God the Father to the LORD Jesus Christ, then there are the cherubim, arch-angels, and angels.
Likewise there is the direct chain of command from the LORD Jesus Christ to the church.
The rank and file in the armies of the kingdom of darkness begins with Satan, then the arche, then powers, the demonic and those human beings indwelt by demons.
God’s manifest power via the Holy Spirit in the church is “the ultimate weapon of mass destruction” against the powers of the enemy.
1 JOHN 3:8
He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil.
Jesus came to destroy the works of the devil; this is being fulfilled in part by the church now; entirely when Christ returns!
Satan’s resources are finite with which he equips his armies. Our resources are infinite because of the One Who equips us is the Holy Spirit – He Who is omniscient, omnipresent and omnipotent. He will tell us what we need to know exactly when we need to know it.
Understanding authority and its parameters is important: Satan and his forces are bound by rules and must obey God’s authority in Christ.
If there is manifestation of the demonic in a place or person it was given legal right because of rebellion of some kind by the person; dealing with this entry via legal right is key to deliverance.
Rulers of Darkness: Kosmokratos – princes of this age, of darkness, powers behind the thrones of men, controllers of the Hitlers, Stalins, Assads, bin Ladins, abortionists, pornographers, gay lobbyists, drug cartels – pawns organized into mass spiritual destructiveness. Princes of ‘ignorance’ that is, blindness that insulates their prey (the demonized) from the truth, who are blinded to their presence and power.
Spiritual Wickedness [in High Places]: Fallen angels, demons, wholly unholy and wicked.
In the human heart sin begins as ugly and repulsive but after indulgence, it goes from being uncomfortable to comfortable, then numbing, needful and finally ingrained. It obliterates personality and identity – we can become our sin!
Alcohol, drugs, sexual perversion, when indulged in, to the point of excess, it does this horrific work of destruction with varying degrees of consequences – but if unchecked and undealt with, sin results in enslavement to the powers of darkness. Industries of sin are such as pornography, abortion, drug cartels, slavery must all be addressed socially, but spiritually speaking it’s the forces behind these industries that have enslaved people and must be confronted “behind the scenes” as it were.
In High Places:
These dark forces in the heavenlies (“in high places”) is that spiritual domain where our wrestling takes place in intercessory prayer (consider Daniel’s own intercession and revelation of what happened behind the scenes (DAN 10:10-13,20-21). “High places” – “the power of the air”.
WE “STAND” – the whole armor of God – panoplia-antihestmi – “to know your place, be intent, stand unharmed, immoveable, ready and prepared. One who does not hesitate or waiver.
Watchman Nee observed from the following verses in Ephesians:
Here is such an example of being unmoved, immoveable, or “to stand[fast]”:
2 SAMUEL 23:11-12
And after him was Shammah the son of Agee the Hararite. And the Philistines were gathered together into a troop, where was a piece of ground full of lentils: and the people fled from the Philistines. But he stood in the midst of the ground, and defended it, and slew the Philistines: and the LORD wrought a great victory.
Not a very important ministry is it, guarding a ground where lentils grows? A rather small ministry indeed. Yet whatever ministry, big or small we’re involved with is besides the point of Satan’s onslaught. Some might ask in the midst of such an onslaught, “Why me?!” It is the fact that as a Christian, you belong to Jesus – you represent an infringement and a trespass on his turf.
His intent is that you fall, move from your place with God, to give up, to walk away. Though battered and bruised – STAND! God is able to make you stand (ROM 14:4)!
STAND in the EVIL DAY
Foxes Book of Martyrs reveals the intentions in heart of the enemy and yet while we here in the West have had it easy, virtually ‘persecution free’ we have a different kind of battle. The enemy employs different tactics and different weapons in different arenas in his opposition to the church. These attacks are just as real, if only different than what the first century church dealt with: moral uncertainties, temptations in readily accessible sin, and ‘sex and sorcery’ society.
The early church saw the enemy point blank. Our modern church looks for an enemy that is camouflaged. This evil day is unprecedented in history because its building for the final age of complete lawlessness [From TTUF check out “Last Days of Lawlessness”].
This coming final age is what the LORD outlined in MATTHEW 24, where the Greek word ‘ponerous’ is employed, meaning “hurtful, harassed, laborious, perilous, painful, diseased. And yet as it says in ROMANS 5:20, where sin abounds, grace much more abounds.
Persecution is certainly coming for any who will stand for truth. Without clear goals and objectives we cannot hope to win the battles against the enemy. It’s why we won the war in WW II against Nazi Germany and why we lost against the Viet Kong in Viet Nam.
FROM The FRONT LINES – A Lesson In Wolves
Bryce came to our youth outreach invited by another youth that impressed him with his loving nature and knowledge of the Bible. He came to Bible study at Greg’s house and offered to open in prayer and covered nearly every single point Greg had in the message he hadn’t even taught yet!
Greg was very impressed, invited him to come to their studies and activities (always looking for godly volunteers). He requested to work with the youth at the sister church of the one that Greg attended, and recommended Bryce to the pastors there. Shortly afterwards Greg left town for a few days. Waiting on his answering machine on his return home was a message where he learned that this trusted young man had molested a 17 year old boy from their youth group. No apology would ever make this right – Greg had inadvertently sent a wolf in sheep’s clothing to them. This horrible error cost a youth his innocence and damaged good and godly relationships nearly beyond repair – it hurts Greg still to this day. . .
Bryce had also hit on several of the youth in Greg’s own fellowship, but thankfully no molestation occurred. Greg called Bryce and sat him down at his table and gave him one and only one chance to repent, but his response was stonewalling with a smirk. He was ordered to leave and never return but that Friday Greg saw him at the youth center, in the middle of worship, arms swaying in worship as if nothing was wrong at all, and he was good with God.
Greg whispered a prayer under his breath: “You foul spirit, I rebuke you in the name of Jesus!”
The physical reaction was instant: Bryce’s hands curled into twisted claws and it was confirmed to Greg: a demonized youth, preying upon unsuspecting teens at Christian youth groups and churches.
A failed deliverance of the demon from Bryce, who refused to repent and left, never to be seen again. Months later Greg learned that he had gained another pastor’s trust, and he was scheduled to babysit their young teen boys alone for an entire weekend! A call to the pastor did no good as the pastor insisted on entrusting his children to Bryce!
Lessons from the battle:
1) Paul said “Know those who labor among you.” (1 THESS 5:12). Don’t be fooled by gifts, prophecies, niceness, Bible knowledge or “words from God”. Satan comes as an angel of light and his servants as ministers of righteousness.
2) “Lay hands suddenly on no man.” (1 TIM 5:22). Take time to vet, get background checks, do whatever you have to do to know the people around you before you put them into leadership of any kind.
3) Don’t get so busy that the flock you are called to tend is ever unguarded. Satan and his demons are always seeking sheep to devour.
“The best way to keep the devil off our territory is to keep him busy on his own, defending his kingdom from our bold attacks” – A.B. Simpson. In other words, the best defense is a good offense.
Recommended book list on Spiritual Warfare and related issues:
William Gurnall’s The Christian in Complete Armour
The Invisible War – Donald Grey Barnhouse
Spiritual Warfare in a Believer's Life by Charles Spurgeon
The collective works of Kurt Koch and his knowledge of the occult and the Christian’s response to all things associated with it are also very useful.
Frank Peretti’s novels This Present Darkness and Piercing the Darkness were never intended, according to Frank, as doctrinal treatments on spiritual warfare, but only to bring awareness of its reality, the need for Christians to engage in such and how we are indeed affective in this campaign through the power of Christ!
As a great deal of spiritual warfare depends on prayer, I will also include this excellent resource:
The Complete Works of E. M. Bounds on Prayer : Experience the Wonders of God Through Prayer
We'll pick up with WAR of the AGES, Chapter Three and moving forward next time!