What does the Bible say about spiritual warfare?
Question: "What does the Bible say about spiritual warfare?"
There are two primary errors when it comes to spiritual warfare:
over-emphasis and under-emphasis. Some blame every sin, every conflict,
and every problem on demons that need to be cast out. Others completely
ignore the spiritual realm and the fact that the Bible instructs us that
our battle is against spiritual powers. The key to successful spiritual
warfare is finding the Biblical balance. Jesus sometimes cast demons
out of people, and sometimes healed people with no mention of the
demonic. The Apostle Paul instructs Christians to wage war against the
sin in themselves (Romans 6), and to wage war against the evil one
Ephesians 6:10-12 declares, ďA final word: Be strong with the Lordís
mighty power. Put on all of Godís armor so that you will be able to
stand firm against all strategies and tricks of the Devil. For we are
not fighting against people made of flesh and blood, but against the
evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against those mighty
powers of darkness who rule this world, and against wicked spirits in
the heavenly realms." This text teaches us some crucial truths: (1) We
can only be strong in the Lordís power, (2) It is Godís armor that
protects us, (3) Our battle is against spiritual forces of evil in the
(1) A powerful example of this is Michael the archangel in Jude verse 9.
Michael, likely the most powerful of all of Godís angels, did not
rebuke Satan in his own power, but said, ďThe Lord rebuke you!Ē
Revelation 12:7-8 records that in the end times, Michael will defeat
Satan. Still, when it came to his conflict with Satan, Michael rebuked
Satan in Godís name and authority, not his own. It is only through our
relationship with Jesus Christ that we, as Christians, have any
authority over Satan and his demons. It is only in His Name that our
rebuke has any power.
(2) Ephesians 6:13-18 gives us a description of the spiritual armor God
gives us. We are to stand firm with (a) the belt of truth, (b) the
breastplate of righteousness, (c) the gospel of peace, (d) the shield of
faith, (e) the helmet of salvation, (f) the sword of the Spirit, and
(g) by praying in the Spirit. What do these pieces of spiritual armor
represent for us in our spiritual warfare? We are to speak the truth
against Satanís lies. We are to rest in the fact that we are declared
righteous because of Christís sacrifice for us. We are to proclaim the
Gospel no matter how much resistance we receive. We are not to waver in
our faith, no matter how strongly we are attacked. Our ultimate defense
is the assurance we have of our salvation, and the fact that spiritual
forces cannot take that away. Our offensive weapon is to be the Word of
God, not our own opinions and feelings. We are to follow Jesusí example
in recognizing that some spiritual victories are only possible through
(3) Jesus is our ultimate example for spiritual warfare. Observe how
Jesus handled direct attacks from Satan: "Then Jesus was led out into
the wilderness by the Holy Spirit to be tempted there by the Devil. For
forty days and forty nights he ate nothing and became very hungry. Then
the Devil came and said to him, 'If you are the Son of God, change these
stones into loaves of bread.' But Jesus told him, 'No! The Scriptures
say, "People need more than bread for their life; they must feed on
every word of God."' Then the Devil took him to Jerusalem, to the
highest point of the Temple, and said, 'If you are the Son of God, jump
off! For the Scriptures say, "He orders his angels to protect you. And
they will hold you with their hands to keep you from striking your foot
on a stone."' Jesus responded, 'The Scriptures also say, "Do not test
the Lord your God."' Next the Devil took him to the peak of a very high
mountain and showed him the nations of the world and all their glory. 'I
will give it all to you,' he said, 'if you will only kneel down and
worship me.' 'Get out of here, Satan,' Jesus told him. 'For the
Scriptures say, "You must worship the Lord your God; serve only him."'
Then the Devil went away, and angels came and cared for Jesus" (Matthew
4:1-11). The best way to combat Satan is the way Jesus showed us, and
that was to quote Scripture because the devil cannot handle the sword of
the Spirit, the Word of the Living God.
The ultimate example of how not to engage in spiritual warfare is the
seven sons of Sceva: "A team of Jews who were traveling from town to
town casting out evil spirits tried to use the name of the Lord Jesus.
The incantation they used was this: 'I command you by Jesus, whom Paul
preaches, to come out!' Seven sons of Sceva, a leading priest, were
doing this. But when they tried it on a man possessed by an evil spirit,
the spirit replied, 'I know Jesus, and I know Paul. But who are you?'
And he leaped on them and attacked them with such violence that they
fled from the house, naked and badly injured." (Acts 19:13-16). What was
the problem? The seven sons of Sceva were using Jesusí Name. That is
not enough. The seven sons of Sceva did not have a relationship with
Jesus; therefore, their words were void of any power or authority. The
seven sons of Sceva were relying on a methodology. They were not relying
on Jesus, and were not employing the Word of God in their spiritual
warfare. As a result, they received a humiliating beating. May we learn
from their bad example and conduct spiritual warfare as the Bible
In summary, what are the keys to success in spiritual warfare? First, we
rely on Godís power, not our own. Second, we rebuke in Jesusí Name, not
our own. Third, we protect ourselves with the full armor of God.
Fourth, we wage warfare with the sword of the Spirit Ė the Word of God.
Last, we remember that while we wage spiritual warfare against Satan and
his demons, not every sin or problem is a demon that needs to be
rebuked. ďIn all these things we are more than conquerors through Him
who loved usĒ (Romans 8:37).
What is the full armor of God?
Do Christians have the authority to rebuke the devil?
Can a Christian be demon possessed?
Is there activity of demonic spirits in the world today?
Spiritual strongholds - what is the Biblical view?
Questions about the Christian Life
What does the Bible say about spiritual warfare?