Standing Against The Enemy
by Jim Durkin — Edited by David Sczepanski
“For the weapons of our warfare are . . . mighty through God .. ” –2 Cor. 10:5 “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers of the darkness of this world”–Eph. 6:12
THE SPIRITUAL REALM
The Bible says that the last days will be peculiar, evil, and perilous times. Spiritual activity will increase and the forces of darkness will begin to show their strength as never before. Speaking of the spiritual conflict Paul said, “Now the Spirit speaks expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of devils.” 1 When Paul said that the Spirit speaks expressly, he meant that what the Spirit was saying was urgent, pointed, and direct. God’s Spirit was clearly warning of the nature of the latter times.
In another place Paul said, “This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.” 2 One translation calls them “demon-possessed times”. The forces of darkness are in conflict with God’s purpose and His glory, and in the latter times, the activity of these forces will become increasingly evident. Paul spoke of this warfare when he said, “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities and powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high (heavenly) places” 3 These fallen angels and demonic beings are seeking to bring the whole world under their control. In one place, the prophet Ezekiel talked about the prince of Tyrus, who was a man, and the king of Tyrus, a spiritual being (Satan) who had control over the prince and his kingdom. Satan rules the realm of darkness and is at work to bring his influence into political and other world situations. 4 This spiritual realm, and the concept of spiritual warfare, must come to be understood by the whole Church, lest we be caught without the weapons of our warfare and fall victim to Satan’s devices. 5 But too many church people do not understand this spiritual warfare, and instead are completely absorbed in their trials and troubles, and are constantly talking about their inner frustrations. As a result, they are never able to wage war, because they don’t even know that there is a war.
Today, there are many minor issues taking up the attention of the saints. There is much emphasis on inner -healing, family-life, how to build financial security, and how to get-it-all-together and be happy. All of this has its place in God’s order, but these teachings have become the major emphasis, when the real emphasis of Scripture is God’s work on the earth — that God should be glorified; that the body of Christ should be one and emerge on the earth as a glorious bride; that every man, woman, and child on earth should hear the good news of Jesus Christ; that the works of darkness should be defeated and the glory of the Lord established forever.
Think for a moment about our brethren in the early Church. They were being harassed, their goods were being taken away, and they were being killed for the sake of the gospel. Were they talking about getting-it-all-together and living a happy, peaceful life? No. They knew that the very nature of the gospel brought them into direct conflict with the enemy.
The Bible uses words and phrases like: “fight; soldier; enemy; weapons of warfare; endure hardship; armor; wrestle; withstand; open prison doors; set the captives free; lift the yoke; victory”. We must cease to talk about “my troubles, my problems, my needs, and my happiness.” We must begin to talk about putting on the armor of God and entering battle.
1) 1 Timothy 4:11 2) 2 Timothy 3:1 3) Ephesians 6:12 4) Ezekiel 285) 2 Corinthians 2:11
There are two kinds of warfare spoken of in the Bible: spiritual warfare, and internal warfare. Spiritual warfare is what Paul revealed in his letter to the Ephesians when he said, “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities and powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” 1 However, many Christians never enter this kind of warfare because they never go beyond the first level of internal warfare.
The apostle James said, “From where come wars and fightings among you? Come they not here, even of your lusts that war in your members?” 2 He also spoke about the bitter envying and strife that was in the human heart — not just in unbelievers, but in Christians. The Bible talks much about the wickedness and deceitfulness of the heart. 3 Often the trickiness of the human heart is carried into the Christian life.
James was saying that the origin of all envy, strife, and division is the lust and desires in the heart of man. “You lust and have not: you kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: you fight and war, yet you have not because you ask not. You ask and receive not, because you ask amiss, that you might consume it upon your lusts.” 4
The desire to have and obtain is the source of internal war in many saints. So powerful are these warring lusts that we are not able to develop a clear judgment about what is right and wrong. Often we’ll ask for things that God could in no way give us and remain a loving Father.
Internal warfare will dominate us whenever we demand and strive and fight for things. When we give in to these demanding desires, they become hard-driving lusts that control us and we become consumed with internal warfare. We are not able to battle the real enemy because we are constantly fighting within ourselves, struggling with our own lusts and desires.
But James also shows God’s way of deliverance from a warring, fighting heart. “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble. Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw nigh to God and he will draw nigh to you . . . humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he will lift you up.” 5 God’s Word is simple and His answers to our problems are simple. When you resist the devil, humble yourself, and draw near to God, then He frees you from internal warfare and you are able to enter the true spiritual war.
1) Ephesians 6:12 2) James 4:1 3) Jeremiah 17:9 4) James 4:3 5) James 4:6, 8, 10
CHARACTER BUILT INTO US
Many Christians do not realize that they are responsible to put an end to their internal struggling. Often you’ll hear, “This is the way I’ve always been. I just can’t help myself. I can’t change.” But that is not what God says. Certainly we can’t change without God’s help. But He has given us all the help we need by our relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. The Bible says, “. . . he gives more grace . . . submit yourselves therefore to God . . . cleanse your hands . . . purify your heart”. 1 We are told to put an end to our internal lusting and warring.
Paul told the Colossians to “put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication . . . seeing that you have put off the old man and his deeds.” 2 He told them to put off the old man —to put an end to internal striving. He wasn’t talking to unconverted sinners who were still controlled by sinful lusts; he was talking to redeemed men and women who were free from the power of sin.
Once we put off the negative, we are told to put on the new man. Peter says that “by the great and precious promises of God we can become partakers of God’s nature — we can be like Him”. 3 We are not to just put off something, but we are to begin to add to our life certain traits of character. Before we can wage spiritual war, godly character must be built into us.
“Giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; and to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; and to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity.” 4 If we add these traits to our character there comes a promise: we will neither be barren nor unfruitful in our knowledge of Jesus Christ.
If we were told to simply get rid of certain things we’d be left on the negative side — empty and passive, always worrying about what we should not be. But God’s aim is to build godly character into us, and prepare us for battle, so that we will lead fruitful lives.
1) James 4:8 2) Colossians 3: 8,9 3) 2 Peter 1:4 4) 2 Peter 1: 5-7
PUTTING ON GOD’S ARMOR
The aim of God’s Spirit, as He works in our lives, is to bring us to a point of maturity where we can begin to understand that a spiritual war is taking place. We must see that Satan is warring against God and His angels; that he is warring against the Church and against the minds of individual believers.
Paul said, “Once you realize that there is a kingdom of darkness, governed by fallen angels and wicked spirits, then put on yourself the whole armour of God.” Put on the armour of God, Paul said. But why should we put on this armour? For what reason? … “that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.” 1 “Stand, therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith you shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God: praying with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for the saints, and for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel” 2 In this one powerful statement we are clearly told to enter direct, spiritual combat with the adversary of God and man. We are to stand against Satan and all his demonic forces and we are to overcome them by the blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimony.
3 We must not only put on the armour of God, but we must do battle. For example, as a soldier is put through basic training he begins to develop some of the basic disciplines. He knows how to do left-face, right-face, forward march, to-the-rear, and halt. But at some point, that soldier has to learn what war is like if he is to ever be an effective soldier. He must enter warfare. So one day he is sent to the battlefield, where real bullets are used and where his life is at stake. Then he knows what war is all about and he is able to fight and be depended upon. We, too, must go to the battlefield.
1) Ephesians 6:12, 13 paraphrased 3) Ephesians 6:14-193) Revelation 12:11
STANDING AGAINST THE ENEMY
In Revelation, we see a great conflict in heaven. “And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, and prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven. And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent called the Devil, and Satan, which deceives
the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.” 1 What we see taking place in heaven is no peaceful setting of angels quietly strumming their harps — this is warfare. Then as soon as Satan and his angels are cast down something happens: “…a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of God, and the power of his Christ.” Why was this great praise being given? Because this was that final, victorious deliverance.
Then they go on to say, “…for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before God day and night.” Once again we see warfare — Satan had accused them, and in return they “…overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and the word of their testimony.” And we see how committed they were to this warfare when it says, “…and they loved not their lives unto death.” That’s how intent they were about standing against the accuser.
These, however, are NOT the kind of Christians being raised up today. Instead, much of the teaching and training of believers centers around the finding of personal happiness, prosperity and enjoyment in life. Yet the Bible clearly speaks of the earth coming to a time of great tumult and upheaval — a time when all Christians will see the terrible war being waged against the Church by the powers of darkness.
We are being called into this warfare, not just to defend ourselves from the enemy’s attacks, but to attack and overcome his efforts. Paul said, “Put on the whole armour of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.” 2 He is not talking about self-defence. He is not saying that we should merely learn how to overcome our inner temptations and problems. He is saying, “Stand against the enemy!”
Again he says, “Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.” 3 These are battle terms. These are words from a veteran warrior, one who knew what it meant to be locked into deadly combat.
God has set before the Church a vision: to let our lives be conformed to the nature of Jesus Christ; to bring the Church into unity; to proclaim the gospel to every man, woman, and child on the face of the earth; to open the prison doors and set the captives free. Satan and all of his forces dread the coming of the day when this work will be finished. The aim of his warfare is to stop this from taking place. For when it does, “…then shall the end come.” 4
1) Revelation 12:9 2) Ephesians 6:11 3) Ephesians 6:13 4) Matthew 24:14
The Greatest Weapon
For a long time, I have been aware of a warfare. 1 I’m aware of it not only because of the Word of God speaks about it, but because at times I have felt the attacks of the enemy, who is constantly trying to drive me off balance. But I have been kept safe from falling and being defeated by those attacks — not because of my own cleverness, or by my knowledge of the Bible, or by my determination to stand true to Jesus. The only thing that has preserved me has been the grace of God, which has come to me through the Lord Jesus Christ.
If it were not for the constant, careful vigilance of God’s Spirit watching over us, or for the continual intercession that Jesus makes for us to the Father, or for the fact that we are sealed with the Holy Spirit, then there would be no hope for us in this warfare. Because of what Jesus did 2000 years ago, all the forces of hell could unleash their powers against the saints of God, and when it was all over, there would be one thing to see — the saints of God would be moving through the earth proclaiming the name of Jesus Christ, that He alone is Lord; and all the forces of earth and of hell would be overthrown, and the mountain of the Lord established forever.
Today the Church must begin to hear words like war; struggle; deliverance; victory; prison; opening prison doors; taking captives free. 2 We need to begin seeing the Church as an army — a victorious army — marching through the earth. This gospel of the kingdom is not to be a gospel that will be proclaimed by a group of people who are weak and defeated.
Before the end of the world comes this good news will go into every nation on the earth. There will not be one person who has not heard of the glories of the King of Kings, and it will not be a weak gospel, but a gospel of power, confirmed by signs and wonders. 3 The world will not see a splintered and divided Church, but a united Church; a glorious bride, with the same heart and the same mind, preaching the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. 4 But this will not come easy, because there is a war going on in the heavenlies to keep this very work from taking place. We must enter this warfare and take part in the defeat of the enemy so that the gospel can finally fill the earth.
Paul told Timothy and other young men he was training to enter warfare. He said, “I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; for kings, and for all that are in authority.” 5 What Paul was speaking to Timothy was not something of small importance. If you can grasp the full impact of what the Holy Spirit was saying through Paul, you will see that you are not just a little Christian sitting off in a corner of God’s kingdom. You will see that God has placed a mighty weapon of war in your hands. You will understand that you are called by God to alter the very course of history. You belong to a kingdom that is far more powerful than all the kingdoms that have ever existed on the face of the earth. 6 You belong to a nation that has a king. You have been sent to proclaim the power and majesty of your king. You have been commissioned to bring as many people as you possibly can to know this King of Kings and Lord of Lords. But Satan is constantly at work on our minds, trying to get us to believe that we have no possibility of finishing God’s work on the earth. Yet we learn from the Word of God that we not only have this possibility, but we will see the gospel preached to all nations — to every man, woman, and child on the face of the earth — and then shall the end come. Then will our king return in power and glory !! 7 Before the end of the world comes this good news will go into every nation on earth.
Paul told Timothy and other young men he was training to enter spiritual warfare.
God has commissioned us to enter into spiritual warfare. He has equipped us to do battle. He has told us to make prayers and intercessions for all men. Immediately, however, Satan works to fill our minds with doubt about God’s command. “Why should I pray for all men when they are not all going to be saved? Why should I pray for people I don’t even know? What good can my prayers really do?” Satan does not want us to wield this power. But God says, “I want you to pray for all men, and for kings, and for all who are in authority. Pray for Russian rulers; pray for Chinese rulers; pray for South American rulers; pray for Asian rulers; pray for American rulers. Pray for governors, for councilmen, and for senators; pray for all who are in authority.”
What Paul told Timothy is just another way of saying what Solomon wrote centuries before, “The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord, as the rivers of water: he turns it wheresoever he will” 8 There are certain kinds of interferences that hinder the spread of the gospel. These hindrances would be eliminated if we practiced what God commands by using the power of intercession — praying for all men and for all who are in authority.
God wants us to take such an attitude of intercession that we are able, through prayer, to turn the hearts of leaders around so that doors for the gospel would be open. We are to believe God’s Word — that the heart of every leader is in the hand of God, subject to His control. We are to obey God’s Word and intercede for these leaders, so that the gospel will begin to sweep, unhindered, across the face of the earth.
Some leaders today are saying, “We are not going to let Christians into this country and we are going to stamp out the Christians who are here.” But by practicing what God tells us to do we can turn their hearts around until they are even acting against their own will.
“I don’t know why I’m doing this,” they will say, “but you can come in here and preach the gospel.” In many countries today the gospel is not yet hindered, but Satan is feverishly at work in the political realm, subtly changing laws and conditions and people so that at some future point the gospel can be effectively stopped. We must wage war against his efforts — now, before the gospel can be further hindered.
All through the ages, God has raised up intercessors — nation-changers. These men and women understood that by prayers and intercessions and groanings (prayers which were sometimes so deep that they could be uttered only in groans) they could change the course of nations. 9 They knew something that the Church needs to see about itself today. We are not merely a body of helpless people just waiting for the Lord to return — or kind of milling around from convention to convention and from church to church waiting for something to happen. NO, we are rather a nation of men and women who have been placed in this world by God, to change the very movement of history; to bring glory and honour to the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords.
Prayer is the single, most effective action that you can take in bringing the gospel of Jesus Christ to this world. Paul realized this; Peter realized this; the early Christians realized this. It has been said of James that he was nicknamed “Camel Knees” because he prayed so long and so often that his knees grew thick callouses. Moses, Daniel, Elijah — these men understood the power that intercession had upon kings and rulers and all men. When Elijah prayed, the heavens held their rain for three-and-a-half years. 10 He prayed again and God gave rain. The result of his praying brought many people back to God. The Bible is filled with testimonies about the effect that prayer has had on the nations of the earth.
Reading in Ezekiel, we see that Israel had sinned and God was displeased with her, ready to bring judgment. “The people of this land have used robbery, and have vexed the poor and needy: yea, they have oppressed the stranger wrongfully. . .” 11 As we read of their sins and the reasons God was angry with them we say, “That sounds a lot like the United States. Those same things are happening in our country.” Just as God judged Israel and poured out His wrath and fury upon them, so He will do to any nation who turns their back on Him. But we should not rejoice in judgment. We should not be glad that God is going to destroy the land. God does not delight in wrath and judgment. Judgment is His strange work. But because He is just and righteous He will execute His wrath upon any who persist in wickedness and abominations.
All through the ages, God has raised up intercessors — nation-changers.
The real message of this passage in Ezekiel is not the judgment of God, but this verse: “And I sought for a man among them, that should make up the hedge, and stand in the gap before me in the land, that I should not destroy it: but I found none. Therefore have I poured out my indignation upon them.” 12 God looked for one person to stand before Him for the people, but He found none. Today God has raised up a nation of intercessors — the Church — to stand before Him and intercede for the world and it’s leaders even as Jesus intercedes to the Father for all the saints. 13 It may be that many of our Christian brothers and sisters in other countries are being pressured, harassed, and even killed because we have not learned to properly lay ourselves before God in intercession. We are so enraptured in our wonderful meetings, we are so caught up in our blessed fellowship, we are so enjoying our prosperity that we have lost sight of the great power we have and the great influence we have upon the rulers and leaders of this world.
God does not delight in wrath and judgment.
My hope is that people throughout the entire Church will understand the message that God gave when He said,
“. . . supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; for kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior; who will have all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” 14
It is not God’s desire to bring judgment upon men, but if He must — He will !! It is rather God’s desire that all men would be saved. Through the power of intercession and prayer we have a great part in opening the way for this final, worldwide spread of the glorious gospel of Jesus Christ.
1) Eph. 6:123) Matt. 24:14; Mark 16:15-20 5) 1 Tim. 2:17) Matt. 24:14; Mark 13:109) Rom. 8:2511) Ezek. 22:2913) Rom. 8:34; Heb 7:25
2) Eph. 6:10,13; Luke 4:184) John 17; Rom. 15:5; 2 Cor. 10:4; 6) 1 Peter 2:98) Prov. 21:110) James 5:1712) Ezek. 22:3014) 1 Tim. 2:1