Satan and Spiritual Warfare
Satan and Spiritual Warfare
1 John 3:8

We believe that Satan and his demons are about the business of attempting to destroy the power and work of Christ, as well as the authority of the Word of God.

Addressing the issue of Satan and spiritual warfare can be fascinating and at the same time unnerving. Part of us wants to know more about Satan, and part of us is spooked by Satan. There seems to be very little middle ground when it comes to Satan and spiritual warfare. Our hope is for this study to serve as an honest and biblical approach to better understand who Satan is and the abundance of power, because of the Gospel, that believers possess when combating Satan and his schemes.

Who Is Satan?

When you think of who Satan is, how would you describe him? Our culture often depicts him as a little guy running around in red spandex with horns on his forehead, a nicely trimmed musketeer goatee, and a pitchfork, occasionally popping up on your shoulder in an attempt to talk you into doing something you know is wrong. I think we’ve sold Satan short of his true nature. In the Scriptures, we find that Satan is the personal name of the head of demons. He is a real, spiritual power and force that has a presence in both the Old Testament and the New Testament.

In the Old Testament, we read that Satan stood against Israel and David (1 Chronicles 21:1). In the New Testament, we find Satan tempting Jesus in the wilderness (Matthew 4:10). The Scriptures also give alternative names for Satan such as, “the devil” (Matthew 4:1), “the serpent” (Genesis 3:1), “Beelzebul” (Matthew 10:25), “the evil one” (Matthew 13:19), “ruler of this world” (John 12:31), and “the prince of the power of the air” (Ephesians 2:2).     

God’s Word leaves little doubt that Satan is a real, spiritual being who is living and active until Christ returns and brings His complete restoration of all things (Revelation 21:1-8). There are two common errors when thinking about Satan. One error is to completely disregard his existence, and the other is to feel an unhealthy fear about him. Ironically, these two views of Satan serve as evidence of his activity because both are false and unbiblical views of Satan, which is what he wants.

What is a healthy, biblical view of Satan for a believer in Christ? A healthy, biblical view of Satan is two-fold. First, it is one that sees Satan for who he is – the father of lies, the prince of darkness which includes sin and death. He is roaming the earth looking for someone to devour (1 Peter 5:8) through temptation, deceit, and disillusionment. Second, a healthy view sees Satan through the lens of the Gospel. In the Gospel, Satan was dethroned as the father of lies in your life. You are now set free from Satan’s dominion! You now belong to Jesus, and nothing can ever separate you from Christ.

How We Combat Satan’s Temptations

Although a believer in Christ stands fully secure in Christ, this doesn’t mean that Satan forfeits his activity. We know this to be true because Satan didn’t cease tempting Jesus even though he knew that Jesus could never be defeated (Matthew 4:1-17). In my life, I’ve never witnessed some sensational, made-for-television activity of Satan.  I’m not saying these activities don’t happen, but this doesn’t seem to be the most common approach Satan uses. Instead, Satan’s temptations often appear to be intent on knocking us a degree or two off course from following Jesus. Satan creates a distraction from Jesus here and a distraction from Jesus there, tempting us to question God, especially in areas that God has already firmly declared His truth in our lives.

Remember the way that Satan used this method with Jesus in the wilderness when he questioned Him, “If you are the Son of God…” (Matthew 4:3). By using the term “if,” Satan attempted to knock Jesus just a degree or two off his Gospel mission. A few verses before this, we see that God the Father had already confirmed Jesus’ identity, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” (Matthew 3:17) Do you see how Satan sought to place a question mark where God had already declared truth? It doesn’t appear that Satan has abandoned this method. Do you find yourself buying into the lies of Satan? Has he knocked you off just a degree or two from focusing on Jesus?

Recently, I found myself in this very situation. My family and I had traveled back to my hometown, and during our visit I decided to go for a run in the neighborhood where I grew up. During my run I stopped by the home where my best friend lived, and as I stood in front of his old house, I began to experience an overwhelming sense of guilt and shame for the things I had done there when I was a teenager. In my guilt and shame I thought, “What if the church, the church that I now pastor, knew the horrible things I did in that house?” Thankfully, as I stood in the middle of this residential street, I heard another voice proclaim, “This is not who you are now!” Because of the Gospel, I am now a redeemed son of the living God! Because of the Gospel, I am a new creation! And because of the Gospel, I stand in the righteousness of Christ, not my past unrighteousness!

The key here is this: We don’t combat Satan by anything we do, but rather by what Jesus has already done. We must place our trust and confidence in the sufficient work of Christ on the cross, believe that we are securely God’s, that God’s plans are the best, and that His Spirit is alive and active within us at this very moment and forever. May our confidence be found in Christ just as Martin Luther proclaimed, “The prince of darkness grim, we tremble not for him! One little word (the Gospel) shall fell him.”


Additional Resources

Victory In Spiritual Warfare by Dr. Tony Evans 

Satan’s 10 Strategies Against You by John Piper

(desiringgod.org)