What IS spiritual warfare?


Spiritual warfare is a reality that exists for every believer who is truly in Christ. The moment we put our faith in Jesus Christ, we enter into the spiritual battle that Satan has waged against God. There is no Christian that exists outside of this war. They may be unaware of this reality, but it nevertheless affects them in some way or fashion.


While all of us are placed within the battle, we must understand that Satan is not merely fighting us. Satan with his demons, schemes and tactics launches attacks on Christians in order to wage war with God. In this sense, it is better to recognize ourselves as the “middle-man” rather than the main object of Satan’s attacks. Our heavenly father loves us and has sent His son to save us that we might be sanctified by His Spirit for the day He returns. While we await that day, God is actively trying to refine us into the likeness of Christ and the enemy is trying to minimize that as much as possible (2 Corinthians 3:18). Spiritual warfare then, speaks of all the efforts made by Satan to discourage and disrupt the believer’s pursuit of Christ (1 Peter 5:8). We must be seriously concerned about this battle and take every scriptural measure to be ready. However, we must never be afraid because the Lord has already marked out Satan’s defeat (Romans 16:20).


There are many ways in which the enemy may try to attack our faith and disrupt our walk with the Lord. We will list them below and provide some insights.

1. Temptation into Sin (1 John 3:8)

The enemy will always attempt to lure Christians into sin. He will use every mode possible to tempt us into sinning. He may deceive us into thinking certain mindsets and behaviors are not sin or he may simply lead us astray by our own desires. This tends to create many lukewarm Christians. It is critical to note that not every temptation is from the enemy. Most often we are led by our own sinful desires into sinning (James 1:13-15). While the enemy can tempt us, we are always the one that choose to sin. The enemy takes pleasure in our moments of weakness. However, every Christian has a way out of temptation every day because of God’s grace (1 Corinthians 10:13).

2. Deception & Lies (John 8:44)

The enemy has been deceiving human beings since the very beginning. Although he knows the truth, he exists only to twist it and turn it into a lie. We can be deceived by Satan by allowing false doctrine to take root in our minds and by believing lies about ourselves and the world. The deception of Satan goes even further because the Bible states that he masquerades as an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:14). Therefore, if we are not discerning enough, we may unknowingly fall prey to his deceptive ways because we believe them to be good. This tends to happen very often in the way he twists the Word of God and uses it in every false way to lead Christians away from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ (2 Corinthians 11:3).

Further, since Satan has already deceived and blinded the minds of unbelievers (2 Corinthians 4:4), we also can be led away by his use of these people in our lives. Allowing ourselves to be yoked together with non-believers gives the enemy a foothold to oppress us even more (2 Corinthians 6:14).

Satan also has the ability to perform false signs and wonders (Matthew 24:24). Non-discerning believers may become obsessed with these manifestations and be led astray. In the end times, we are assured to see many false signs and wonders that will come to deceive the world and even the church (2 Thessalonians 2:9).

3. Disrupt the Work of God (1 Thessalonians 3:5)

Through various tactics, the enemy can also cause the Word of God to not bear fruit in our lives. This is not something he does forcefully but rather cooperatively with our weak flesh. According to Mark 4:15, after hearing the Word of God, the enemy may snatch the seed that has been sown into a person. He may use various distractions and our own weaknesses to accomplish this. This tends to weaken believers and greatly diminish their faith since they are not fully receiving the Word of God. This may also discourage those of us in ministry as we see our labor might be in vain in some cases.

The enemy can disrupt the work of God in many ways. In the church it is more likely that Satan will use discouragements, disappointments and doubt to drag Christians down. While God wants to use trials and difficulties to strengthen us (James 1:2-4), the devil wants to use them to steal our joy and faith in Christ. Anytime we find ourselves in prolonged seasons of doubt, fear and despair, we have fallen away from the precious blessings of belonging to Christ. Satan will always try to use our life circumstances to tempt us into walking by sight and not faith.

4. Accusations (Revelation 12:10)

The book of Revelation reminds us that Satan exists to accuse us before God day and night. In our personal walk with the Lord, we may begin to internalize these accusations causing us to drift far away from Christ. The enemy will most definitely use this tactic on weak or new believers, but he can also attack those who have been in the faith for years.

5. Sickness & Disease

Satan also has a very limited ability to oppress people with sickness and disease. While sickness is part of the sin curse on humanity, Satan can still afflict someone with illness. This is a very rare occurrence in the Bible, but it still is a reality. Luke 13:16 describes a woman who was crippled by Satan that Jesus inevitably healed. We can be assured that Satan’s power in this domain is limited because God has supreme authority over all. God may only temporarily allow Satan to exact these measures on believers but always for a greater plan and glory. We see this in the life of Job in the Old testament.

Not all sickness is from Satan. We must be discerning in these matters. Sickness is a normal reality of life and may just exist for reasons only God knows. In all situations we turn to God for healing, strength and encouragement. He will never test us beyond what we can handle (1 Corinthians 10:13b).


There is much falseness spread about Satan’s abilities. We must not believe in these misconceptions because it will diminish our faith in Christ and in the promises of scripture. Below are some things Satan cannot do to us.

  • Satan cannot take the life of any believer. He can tempt people into murder and is the reason for much of the evil and death we witness, but he has no capacity to instantly take a life of any believer. If a believer dies in persecution, that is different than Satan himself taking a life.
  • Satan cannot demon-possess a believer. We are indwelled by the Holy Spirit of God and therefore Satan cannot directly possess or control our bodies. All demon-possessed people are non-believers. The most Satan can do is oppress us from the outside, never from within.
  • Satan cannot know your thoughts. Satan is a created creature and does not possess the omniscience of almighty God. He can predict behavior and have knowledge of things not known to us, but he can never read your mind.
  • Satan is not everywhere. Satan is limited because he cannot be everywhere at once. Although he has many demonic forces at work, he himself cannot be affecting your life at every moment.
  • Satan cannot force you to do anything. While Satan can certainly influence our behavior, he cannot force you into anything. We hold a high level of responsibility and accountability before God.
  • Satan does not know the future. While much demonic activity entices people to learn their futures, Satan does not have this ability. He may make accurate predictions because of his knowledge of the world, but he has no direct ability to know the future of our lives.
  • Satan is not God. Satan is the enemy of God, but they are in no way equals. He is merely a created being therefore only possesses the limited powers afforded to him as a fallen angel.


We have just finished exposing all of the tactics of the enemy as well as the common lies told about him. Therefore, the major thrust of destroying the work of the enemy will always be in knowing the truth. When believers lack biblical discernment of truth, they are always susceptible to the devil’s schemes. Thankfully, there is an enormous amount of instructions given to the believer in guarding against the attacks of Satan. Since truth is our sole weapon against the enemy, we will list many of the ways the Lord instructs us to stand firm. This is not an exhaustive list, but a sample of our biblical hope.

  • Put on the full armor of God (Ephesians 6:10-16) - Read each part of the armor. Study their meaning. Pray and apply to your daily walk with Christ.
  • Be alert and sober minded (1 Peter 5:8) - Guard your heart and mind against worldly and ungodly influences. Replace it with thoughts and scripture that fortify your faith in Christ.
  • Resist the Devil (James 4:7) - Oppose his influence with strong resistance. Submit yourself only to the Lord and His will.
  • Do not give the Devil a foothold (Ephesians 4:27) - Be aware of your weaknesses and emotional state. Satan has a foothold when we allow ourselves to operate in our weak flesh.
  • Walk in the Spirit (Galatians 5:16-26) - We cannot trust our sinful flesh, but we can trust the Spirit of God. We are no longer slaves to sin and by God’s spirit we can choose righteousness.
  • Recognize your spiritual authority (Luke 10:19) - Christ has not given us a spirit of intimidation but of power, love and self-control.
  • Be serious about your character and reputation (1 Timothy 3:7) - The devil can undermine our witness to others if we are not upright in our behavior to outsiders and non-believers.
  • Remind yourself of the Gospel promises (Colossians 1:13; 1 Cor. 15:57) - Remember the great victory won over sin at the cross. Remember the victory we have over death and hell. The gospel provides all hope, encouragement and strength to move forward.
  • Surround yourself with church community (2 Cor. 6:14) - Spiritual warfare should never take place in isolation. Allow the community of Christ to bear your burdens and pray with you.
  • Pray in the Spirit (Ephesians 6:18-20; 2 Cor. 10:3-5) - The battle always belongs to the Lord so we should never wage war in the flesh. We must always put our full faith in God by praying in the Spirit.
  • Worship the Lord (Ephesians 5:18-20; Colossians 3:16) - Worship is a gift from God in times of battle and distress. When we take our focus off our enemy and place it on the goodness of God, we experience the peace that surpasses all understanding.

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