Editor's Note: Pastor Roger Barrier's "Ask Roger" column regularly appears at Preach It, Teach It. Every week at Crosswalk, Dr. Barrier puts nearly 40 years of experience in the pastorate to work answering questions of doctrine or practice for laypeople, or giving advice on church leadership issues. Email him your questions at email@example.com.
I’d like to know more about spiritual warfare. I remember one Sunday night at Casas Church you taught on the subject. I wish that I had taken notes because I learned so much. Please share with me again those teachings on overcoming Satan.
Spiritual warfare fills the pages of scripture.
In Matthew 4 and Luke 4 while undergoing intense temptation, Jesus fought Satan in hand to hand combat in the desert and won.
In Luke 10 the disciples returned after their first mission rejoicing that “even the spirits submit to us!” Jesus said, “It’s better to rejoice that your names are written in the Book Of Life.”
In Luke 13 a crippled woman bound by Satan is healed.
In Acts 5 a man tormented by evil spirits is healed.
In Acts 8 Philip casts out demonic spirits.
It’s naive to believe that demonic spirits were manifest only in biblical times.
Demonic attacks are easy to spot if you know what to look for. Demonic manifestations are infrequent. Seldom is delivery work necessary. Most satanic work is hidden and undetected. Spiritual warfare is most always a prayer project.
It is not possible to go on to spiritual maturity without learning how to “overcome the evil one.”
Many Christians have no desire whatsoever to face the fact that they may be under attack by the devil. So they seldom take up the “weapons of our warfare” and thus find failure when they least expected it.
But if we want to grow up to spiritual maturity, we will be involved in spiritual warfare. In listing the characteristics of spiritual children, young men and women, and mothers and fathers in I John 2:12-14, John made it clear that spiritual young men and women have, “overcome the evil one.” They know how to take Satan into battle and win. Spiritual children tend to ignore the symptoms of the attack and are afraid to engage.
According to John, it is not possible to grow to be a spiritual father or mother without “overcoming the evil one.” Overcoming has to do with no longer being deceived by Satan and his tactics. Thankfully, I’ve learned that most demonic problems need no deliverance. Satan can be overcome by prayer and basic discipleship.
The battle of spiritual warfare is for the control of the mind.
God wants us to be in control of our minds. God will never take control. Spiritual warfare is all about being in control so that we are free to choose God’s will. Satan’s attack strategies and tactics are designed to take control of our thought life in order to do his dastardly work within us.
In Acts 5:3-9 Peter confronted the lies of Ananias and Sapphira by demanding, “Why did you let Satan put it into your minds to lie?”
In Mark 8:33 when Peter tried to convince Jesus not to go to the cross, Jesus looked at Peter and said to Satan, “Get behind me Satan.”
In 1 Peter, Peter counseled, “Prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled…”
In 2 Corinthians 10:3-7 Paul reminded us that we have spiritual weapons to demolish demonic strongholds; we must take every thought captive to make it obedient to Christ.
According to the Bible, men and women have three parts to their makeup. The human spirit is where God dwells. The human soul is where we dwell. The soul is our mind, our self, the center of our being. Finally, we have a body with which we interact with the physical world.
We meet with God and communion with him Holy Spirit to human spirit. Satan cannot touch our spirit. But he has access to our souls. It is there that the spiritual battle occurs. We all know what it’s like to be tempted by Satan in our minds. This is why the Bible is very careful to encourage us to control our thinking.
Satan’s primary tool is deceit.
If perfect, freshly made Eve was deceived, what chance do we have?
Fortunately, as Christians God has given us all the tools we need to overcome Satan. Unfortunately, most of Satan’s work is done quietly and behind the scenes. The word “occult” means “hidden.” According to John, spiritual children struggle to see Satan at work. As we mature into spiritual young men and women we have greater ability to uncover Satan’s deceptions.
In 2 Corinthians 2:10 Paul warned us “to be alert so that Satan might not “outwit” us. He went on to say, “We are not unaware of his schemes.” Sadly, in most instances, spiritual children have absolutely no idea of his schemes.
In Revelation 12:7-9 Jesus told John that in the last days Satan would “lead the whole world astray.”
In 2 Corinthians 11:3-4 Paul wrote that he was afraid that just as Eve was deceived, many would be deceived and follow a spirit different from the Holy Spirit.
In 1 Timothy 4:1-3 Paul told Timothy that many will be deceived and follow deceiving spirits.
In John 8:44 Jesus declared that Satan is the father of all lies.
Paul was not deceived. He understood that his “thorn in the flesh” was a “messenger from Satan” (2 Corinthians 12:7-9).
There are three classes of Christians.
Class One I call, “Unsurrendered-Deceived.” These people are not Christians and are easily deceived about what’s going on in the spirit realm.
Class Two I call, “Surrendered-Deceived.” These folks are Christians, but are still deceived into thinking that everything comes from God.
Class Three I call, “Surrendered-Undeceived.” These Christians have no misplaced illusions concerning what’s going on behind the scenes. Satan cannot hide from them.
Think about what happened to Adam. He wanted to be like God. Who wouldn’t? But in seeking to become like God he became like Satan. Praying to become a spiritual father at any price is a prayer God wants to answer. Just be certain that it’s God who is answering and not Satan.
It’s possible for Christians to be trapped behind enemy lines.
It’s naïve for Christians to think that because they are Christians they are immune from satanic attacks. These deceived ones often use the verse, “Greater is he that is in me than he who is in the world” to justify their position. However, just because the Holy Spirit resides within us doesn’t mean that we are free from delete spiritual battle. There are spiritual battles galore occurring all around us; that’s why there are so many verses in the Bible warning us about demonic struggles!
In John 17:15 Jesus told the disciples that he was praying for their protection from the Evil One.
In 2 Timothy 2:24-26 Paul warned Christians to beware of the “trap of the Devil”.
In 1 Peter 5:8 we are reminded that Satan prowls around like a roaring lion looking for Christians to devour.
In 1 Timothy 3:7 Paul warns church elders not to fall into the Devil’s trap.
In Ephesians 4:27 Paul encouraged us to remain in control of our minds and not allow Satan to gain a foothold in our lives by committing an ongoing sin.
Don’t stumble blindly through an open door to the occult world.
Just before entering into the Promised Land, God declared occultic activities off-limits upon penalty of death. God’s instructions are recorded in Deuteronomy 18:10-12:
“Let no one be found among you who sacrifices their son or daughter in the fire, who practices divination or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft, or casts spells, or who is a medium or spiritist or who consults the dead. Anyone who does these things is detestable to the Lord…”
Here are some ways to overcome Satan when the evil one attacks.
1. Live in the present.
In John 10:10 Jesus said, “I came that you might have abundant life. Satan comes to steal, kill and destroy.” What do we have that Satan wants to steal, kill and destroy? Abundant life! Abundant life is always experienced in the present. If Satan can fill our minds full of hurt, bitterness, anger and guilt about the past, then he has destroyed our present and along with it our abundant life. If Satan can fill our minds with worry, fear and anxiety about the future, than he has destroyed our abundant life in the present.
2. Use the James 4:7 Guideline: “Submit to God; resist the devil.”
We submit every area of our lives so that we are living under God’s influence and not Satan’s control. We curb our sinning and ask forgiveness for those sins we’ve committed. If we find victory here then we can stop worrying about it.
However, if we’re still struggling, it may be that we are under a demonic attack and need to actively engage in spiritual warfare.
It is at this point that we “Resist the devil.” On the basis of Jude 9 we follow the example of the Archangel Michael in overcoming Satan. When fighting over the body of Moses, Michael won when he turned to Satan and said, “The Lord rebuke you.” We announce that we have no intention of yielding to Satan in any area and we demand that he leave us alone.
In 2 Corinthians 10:3-7 Paul reminds us that our weapons are not worldly ones; they are in fact the power we need to demolish demonic strongholds.
In Romans 16:20 Paul encourages us by declaring that the God of Peace will soon crush Satan under their feet.
3. The armor of God enunciated in Ephesians 6:10-17 will quench any and all fiery arrows which Satan may send against us.
We would never think of leaving the house in the morning naked. In like manner, we have no business leaving the house until we have prayed and put on our spiritual armor.
With the Belt Of Truth we declare that we intend for no lies to be accepted into our minds and that everything that we say will be the truth.
With the Breastplate Of Righteousness we thank God for the righteousness of Jesus Christ which is imputed to us for our salvation and we declare that everything we do today will be righteous and good.
With the Shoes Of The Gospel Of Peace we thank God for our salvation. The war with God regarding our sin is over. We are at peace with God.
With the Shield Of Faith we promise to trust God and his Word no matter how awkward, unintelligible or confusing are the situations that we face. Whenever we struggle we will actively find a Bible verse for help.
By taking up the Sword Of The Spirit we make it plain that we will trust the teachings of the Bible wherever they may lead.
Finally, Paul reminds us that every demonic or spiritual attack calls for a prayer project by which we pray for Satan’s defeat and God’s victory.
Rusty, I hope you’ll find the notes helpful.
Dr. Roger Barrier retired as senior teaching pastor from Casas Church in Tucson, Arizona. In addition to being an author and sought-after conference speaker, Roger has mentored or taught thousands of pastors, missionaries, and Christian leaders worldwide. Casas Church, where Roger served throughout his thirty-five-year career, is a megachurch known for a well-integrated, multi-generational ministry. The value of including new generations is deeply ingrained throughout Casas to help the church move strongly right through the twenty-first century and beyond. Dr. Barrier holds degrees from Baylor University, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, and Golden Gate Seminary in Greek, religion, theology, and pastoral care. His popular book, Listening to the Voice of God, published by Bethany House, is in its second printing and is available in Thai and Portuguese. His latest work is, Got Guts? Get Godly! Pray the Prayer God Guarantees to Answer, from Xulon Press. Roger can be found blogging at Preach It, Teach It, the pastoral teaching site founded with his wife, Dr. Julie Barrier.
Publication date: October 29, 2015