April 18, 2004
Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth
not to be ashamed rightly dividing the word of truth. II Timothy 2:15
The Spiritual Contest Ė Part I
by Jack Northart
The Gospel of John contains a verse of scripture that merits our attention and understanding.
The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.
The thief is our adversary the Devil. His total mission is to steal, to kill and to destroy. However, Jesus Christ said that he came that we might have life, and that we might have it more abundantly. Christians would like to manifest the results of the more abundant life in the senses world but often fail. One reason is because they do not ask God to believe to receive the things that are promised in His Word. Furthermore, they do not know or care that they have an enemy that must be dealt with. A Christian cannot be victorious without confronting his opponent.
Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
There are two great directives contained in this verse: submission and resistance. First, the believer submits himself unto God. This means that we are subject to Godís will which is His Word. The second directive is to resist the Devil. To resist the Devil is to stand against him. To stand against someone is just the opposite of making oneself subject to him. Standing against the Devil is the second phase of this two-step operation. The believer makes himself subject to God and stands against the Devil, then the Devil will flee from him.
Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.
Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
To put on the whole armor of God is not actual physical battle garb, but rather something that is done in the mind of the believer. Christ overcame the power of the enemy when he died upon the cross and God raised him from the dead. The spiritual victory was won. This section in Ephesians chapter 6 is about Christians bringing Christís victory into thieir day-to-day lives. The illustration in verse 11 is that of a fully armored soldier, but in verse 12, an athletic illustration rather than a military illustration describes the fight. While we must be prepared, fully equipped, disciplined and determined to stand our ground as soldiers, we compete also as athletes. Each illustration communicates an aspect of the truth.
Furthermore, verse 12 declares that we do not wrestle against flesh and blood. That means that our battle is not with people, as such, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against wicked spirits in high places. One of the most effective tricks that the Devil uses is to deceive the believer into thinking his fight is with people. He will do everything he can to get us in the Church to fight one another. If he can keep us busy fighting each other in the Body of Christ, then he will keep us distracted from standing against his wiles, or scheming methods.
In order to more fully understand what these principalities, powers and the rulers of the darkness of this world are, we go back to the Old Testament.
And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.
So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.
Adam originally had dominion and rulership over all the earth and every living thing on the earth. He was the prince of the world. When Adam sinned, he transferred this dominion and rulership of the earth to Satan.
Since that time, all men from Adam until now are under the rulership of Satan. However, when a person confesses Jesus as lord and believes that God raised him from the dead (Romans 10:9), he gets saved, born again, and changes lords in his life. This is possible because Jesus Christ was the only human since before Adamís fall, that did not come under Satanís dominion, for he was born without sin. The blood in his body was perfectly sinless, for he was conceived by the Holy Spirit. Thus Satan had no legal rights over him.
Hereafter I will not talk much with you: for the prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in me.
The word ďprinceĒ means ruler, the one who has dominion. The words, ďhath nothing in me,Ē are translated in the New English Bible as ďhas no rights over me.Ē Thus, it is equally true of every believer who has been identified with Christ in the resurrection. The Devil has no legal rights over us, but we must claim what is rightfully ours in Christ, or he will try and usurp what does not belong to him.
I John 4:4
Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.
By believing on the Lord Jesus Christ, we have become united with Christ. We have been delivered from the powers of darkness and from the dominion and rulership of the Devil. In Adam, we were the subjects of sin and death, in Christ we have overcome both sin and death. If Satan can deceive us into continuing to walk according to the flesh, the old man nature, then he will keep us enslaved in our day by day living. Walking by the new nature, which is Christ in us, enables us to walk in the victory that is already spiritually ours in Christ.
II Corinthians 2:11
Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devises.
God warns the believer not to be ignorant of Satanís devices. The natural man remains ignorant because he cannot perceive the workings of the spiritual realm (I Corinthians 2:14). Satanís success stems from the stealth and secretiveness of his operations. He has successfully convinced most people in the world that he doesnít exist.
Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience.
The Devil is in no way original, but rather a parasite. He attempts to counterfeit everything that the true God has done. Many times Satanís counterfeit is so close to the genuine that it is very difficult to see the difference. For instance, Satan may inspire man to work for a good cause, rather than Godís best cause. He uses terminology with an emotional religious appeal, to seduce the believer. He uses counterfeits to tempt in areas of natural needs. Everyone needs food, shelter and clothing. Everyone needs love, knowledge and recognition. The Devil was defeated in tempting Jesus in these areas, but is often quite successful with the rest of mankind. Man needs to be accepted, but Satan offers social groups of all kinds to satiate manís desire to belong. World wisdom is available in all kinds of institutions, while the true wisdom of Godís Word is shunned by most. Godís Word is truth and God always does the best for man. The Devil uses part-truth and may, from time to time, do good, never best.
II Corinthians 4:3-4
But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.
Ken Petty in his book entitled The Blessed Life, makes the following statement about these verses of Scripture: ďSatan is called the ďgod of this world.Ē Notice that he is the one who blinds the minds of the unbelievers. They think that they are servicing other things beside the devil, but when one does not worship the one true God but instead worships something else in the world, he is worshipping the god of this world. If I contributed money to a charity that was a front for a terrorist organization, I would be supporting terrorism, even if I was ignorantly doing so. Likewise many people ignorantly worship the god of this world.Ē
The skill in our spiritual contest is gained through discipline and systematic practice of Godís Word. No one, not even the Devil himself, can deter the believer who knows and exercises his sonship rights. It is time for us to be aware of Satan and stand for who we are in Christ Jesus.
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