When it comes to angels and demons, I have more questions than answers. Have you ever wondered why angels always had to say, “Do not be afraid,” even though they’re on our side? Why did cartoonists illustrate the devil with a pitchfork? Why is it that most of our modern day stories of intense interaction with the spiritual realm come from missionaries serving in countries where some kind of voodoo or black magic is practiced?
Every account of the spiritual realm given to us in the Bible is but a glimpse into the nature of angels and demons. We know there’s a dimension of spirit, but we don’t really know how to engage. We either underestimate the unseen powers or allow them power over us. So, how do we proceed into these spiritual battles with wisdom and boldness?
Satan’s Job Description
Maybe we should go over some of the things we know about the job description of Satan. We’re told he’s the accuser in Revelation 12. Sometimes he’s not trying to coax us into bad things. He wants us to think bad things about ourselves. This leads to guilt which leads to isolation. An isolated Christ-follower is an ineffective Christ-follower. The temptation isn’t always to rebel against God. Often the temptation is to rely on God less today than yesterday. The devil probably loves spiritual atrophy more than he loves actual devil worship.
I’m one of those people who turns the volume up high when I’m watching TV. It’s not only because I like it loud, but my attention span is fragile.When I hear noises coming from another room I’ll have a hard time focusing on the TV show. Turning up the volume not only helps me focus on the show, but helps me tune out distractions. I turn the volume down too much, it might as well be on mute.
This is a way spiritual attacks often happen in our western culture. We turn the volume down low enough on the promptings of the Holy Spirit that we can essentially put Him on mute. Our enemy is just as interested in delaying our obedience as he is instigating our disobedience. We in many ways have become spiritually numb.
Don’t Give Satan Trophies he Didn’t Earn
The other side of the spectrum in church world tends to give our enemies way too much credit. Some of us blame all bad things on the devil. As a former worship leader, I’ve had my fair share of technical difficulties during worship. When there is a malfunction in the soundsystem someone inevitably assigns blame by proclaiming, “The devil’s trying to stop us from having church today!” This kind of thinking gives our spiritual adversaries trophies they didn’t earn. The devil is not omnipotent, omniscient, or omnipresent. Let’s not ascribe powers to Satan that are reserved for God.
The Spiritual Realm
I’m reminded of a moment in 2nd Kings chapter 6 where the prophet, Elisha, and his servant were surrounded by an army of horses and chariots. When Elisha realized how terrified his servant was, he asked God to give him a sneak peek into the spiritual realm. What they saw was astonishing. The army of horses and chariots surrounding them were surrounded by an angel army from Heaven of horses and chariots . . . made of fire! In that moment, Elisha gave us one of the most comforting thoughts of God’s people on our side.
Elisha said, “Don’t be afraid,” the prophet answered. “Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.”
Confidence in the Battle
There’s only one way to have this kind of calm confidence in the midst of a spiritual battle. As Elisha daily walked with God, his awareness of God’s power increased. The same could possible for you and I. Maybe our best weapon in spiritual warfare is our spiritual discipline. While there may not be a demon behind every bad moment in life, if we are consistently increasing our dependence upon God, we can be ready for anything. That’s because we too can take comfort knowing those, “who are with us are more than those who are with them.”
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