Wednesday, April 27, 2022
As we begin to understand the power of God that we have, and the ability it provides us to take a stand for Christ, we must further understand what it means to stand against the devil’s scheme’s. There is a lot of confusion out there in religious circles about the subject of spiritual warfare. Very briefly, I want to challenge the increasingly popular viewpoint that it is our responsibility as Christians to do battle with the devil and his demons.
Ephesians 6:11 “Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.“
First, we cannot use today’s scripture verse as a call to arms against the devil. We can, however, properly interpret it as a call to take a stand for Christ against the tactics of the devil. There is a huge difference. As followers of Jesus, we are called to stand for Him in the face of any trial or hardship. The armor of God that has been provided does not equip us to enter the enemy’s territory for the sake of destroying the enemy – Jesus has already accomplished that. The armor of God equips us to march into the enemy’s territory for the sole purpose of standing for Jesus and presenting His love and grace to those still in the bondage of the devil’s schemes. The idea that flows generously from the Christian church today that we have the authority to directly confront the devil and rebuke him is not supported by accurate biblical interpretation.
I think the desire to satisfy the pride of life motivates people to address the devil and his demons directly. People may add the phrase, “In the Name of Jesus” to whatever attack they are involved in at the time, but the fact that they begin their statement with the word “I”, such as “I rebuke you in the Name of Jesus,” indicates a bondage to self that exists in them. The slanderous words against the devil and the demons that I hear coming from the mouths of preachers and people concerns me. We do not have any authority or right to address the devil and the demons in any manner. The only exception is in the direct confrontation of a demon when it has possessed the body of a person. Then, by the authority of Jesus our Lord, we can be used by Him to expel that demon. But even then, we are acting as the representative of Christ and not out of any degree of spiritual pride or the pursuit of spiritual value.
Direct confrontation of the devil and the demons was forbidden even for the angels. Look carefully at this passage from the book of Jude. It describes a spiritual battle that took place between Michael the archangel and the devil over the body of Moses and where it would rest after he died. Imagine that scene. The devil and Michael, in a spiritual war, over the body of the great prophet and leader of Israel. God had sent Michael to bring the body to Him. Michael was given full authority to accomplish God’s purpose, and as an archangel he certainly had the power to fight that war. He was equipped to stand. But the devil was an archangel also, with similar power. The only difference was that Michael was acting under the authority of the all-powerful and Sovereign God. So how did he use his authority? We read this – “But even the archangel Michael, when he was disputing with the devil about the body of Moses, did not dare to bring a slanderous accusation against him, but said, “The Lord rebuke you!” We don’t see Michael saying, “I rebuke you in the Name of the Lord” do we? He gives all authority to the One and Only who has the power to rebuke Satan.
You may be wondering why I think this is such a big deal. Here’s why. Attempting to satisfy human worth and stroke human pride, many Christians have chosen to view spiritual warfare as their badge of honor. In doing so, they have allowed pride to destroy the effects of grace. They may claim that Jesus is getting the glory, but the attention is being drawn to themselves. They spend so much time trying to figure out the enemy and attack him, that they spend little or no time simply taking a stand for the Gospel. The power of salvation is not found in our attacks of the enemy. The power of salvation is found in the Word of God.
Here’s a simple way to understand what I am trying to say. Most of us are probably already sick of political campaigns that spew attack after attack on the opponent. I refuse to watch them. I do the typical male thing and hold the remote in my hand and flip the channel every time one comes on. I do not want to hear about what the other guy is doing wrong. I want to hear what the candidates believe and stand for. Spiritual warfare is not…I repeat NOT… slinging attacks at the enemy. Spiritual warfare is the battle Christians fight to take a stand for what they know to be true and to speak it no matter what the enemy is doing. No matter what schemes the devil devises to hinder us, we are strong in the Lord, and in the power of His might to take a stand and remain standing to the end.
So next time you’re tempted to rebuke Satan, try this. Take the Sword of the Spirit, the Word of God, and follow the instructions of Ephesians 6:18 and pray. Take a stand for God, not against the devil. Focus your energy on the power of God to equip you to stand no matter what the enemy does. And when you stand, trust Jesus to take care of the enemy. Yes, our struggle is against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms, but the accurate interpretation of that verse is that our struggle is against, not with. Jesus is the only one authorized by God to struggle with the enemy. We simply struggle with the fallout of that battle. And the way we win is not to attack, but to stand in the truth of God’s Word and be strong advocates for Jesus.