“For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God” – 2 Corinthians 10:4a
“Resist the devil and he will flee from you” – James 4:7b
“The Lord rebuke you!” – Jude 9
We are in a spiritual war. Our adversary is none other than the devil himself. He is a murderer and master deceiver (John 8:44). He is the Destroyer (Revelation 9:11). He is a dangerous enemy and not to be taken lightly. God has given His people the perfect equipment to fight against this enemy (Ephesians 6:10-18). Our weapons are not of this world but are spiritual and mighty in God. The weapons God provides enables us to pull down strongholds (2 Corinthians 10:3-5).
But weapons are useless without the proper strategy. You can have the best equipment, the most technologically advanced and even limitless resources, but if you use the wrong strategy all can still be lost. God provides us with the most powerful and effective weaponry and the most effective strategic way that leads us to victory. God’s strategy involves relying on God as your Source of power, resisting and rebuking the enemy.
Rely on God’s power. The weapons God provides find their power in Him. “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God” (2 Corinthians 10:3-4). We cannot use our God-provided weapons carnally, or in our own strength (i.e. the “flesh” or “carnal” means) and our own understanding. For God’s weapons to be effective we need to understand they get their might from Him. Scripture exhorts us, “Be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might” (Ephesians 6:10). We are to be “strong in the Lord,” not ourselves. God’s power is provided by the Holy Spirit.
This is what it means to “Submit to God” (James 4:7a). This is what it means to “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you” (James 4:7c). We submit ourselves to our Commander and His marching orders. We draw near to and tap into God our Source of power. We surrender to God and entrust ourselves to His command. He will direct our path and empower us for the mission. He will organize, equip and empower us for the campaign. Apart from Him we can do nothing (John 15:5).
When God’s people returned from captivity to rebuild the Temple and the city of Jerusalem they were opposed by enemies on the outside as well as weak-willed naysayers on the inside. There was great temptation to be discouraged. To these circumstances the Lord spoke to His people through the prophet Zechariah. The Lord began by saying, “For who has despised the day of small things?” (Zechariah 4:10). In other words, “Get your eyes off of the rubble problems and onto Me your LORD. And in the same context the LORD encouraged His people in their task by stating it’s, “Not by might nor by power, but by My spirit, says the LORD of hosts” (Zechariah (4:6). When you’re faced with a discouraging situation and tempted to give up to defeat remember it’s not about “me” it’s about “Thee.” Our empowerment comes from the LORD. The Holy Spirit empowers us to do what God calls us to do. That is the primary victory strategy of the prevailing Church (cf. Matthew 16:18 and Acts 1:8). The LORD, in the name of Jesus by the Holy Spirit is our Source of power. It is “the God of peace,” Who will, “crush Satan under your feet shortly” (Romans 16:20).
Resist the devil. To resist the devil is to take a defensive posture. God’s first command strategy is to “Resist the devil and he will flee from you” (James 4:7b). How can little me resist the HUGE enemy devil? We have to keep the proper perspective. We are powerless on our own, but are mighty through God. That’s why our first step is to recognize our Source of power. We have authority and power by the indwelling presence of Almighty God! “You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world” (1 John 4:4).
To resist means to discern the enemies’ means of attack. The battlefield is our mind. The enemy attacks us with wrong thoughts. When the Christian is besieged by thoughts of condemnation, guilt, worry, anxiety, hatred, resentment, bitterness, we need to understand that those thoughts are not from the Spirit but from the devil. Thoughts from God will always drive or draw us closer to God. Thoughts from the evil one will always aim at driving or drawing us away from God. The thought that tempts us to neglect God’s word, fellowship, worship and prayer is the thought that comes from the pit of hell. This is when we must resist the devil. This is when we take every thought captive to obey Jesus.
How is this done? Empowered by our God in the Spirit we use God’s sword of the Spirit which is the word of God and cast down the devil’s false “arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, being every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5). By faith we are to discipline ourselves to think on those things acceptable to God based on his word (cf. Philippians 4:8-9). The importance of God’s word cannot be overemphasized in this regard.
Psalm 119 is the longest psalm in the Bible and it’s no accident it’s about the importance of God’s word. Over and over again we are exhorted to meditate on God’s word. To meditate is not emptying your mind and focusing on your belly-button. Biblical God-ordained meditation is mulling over, walking around in your mind and digesting the substance of scripture. To meditate is to go over and over a passage until it becomes a part of you. When we meditate on God’s word it enables us to see Biblical principles that are conveyed in scripture and that can be applied to life (Psalm 119:15). We gain understanding by meditating on God’s word (Psalm 119:27, 99). The more we meditate on God’s word the more we will love it (Psalm 119:48, 97).
When we meditate on God’s word it prepares us to deal with attacks from those in positions of power (Psalm 119:23). Meditating on God’s word prepares us to deal with the attacks of the proud and will humble the proud in shame (Psalm 119:78). If we have a sleepless night because of life’s circumstances, it is the perfect opportunity to meditate on God’s word (Psalm 119:148). God’s word is integral to effectively resisting demonic attacks.
Rebuke demonic forces in Jesus' name. To rebuke the devil is an offensive posture. Fighting the devil does not only involve defense. We are exhorted and directed by God to be involved with “pulling down strongholds” of the enemy (2 Corinthians 10:4). We are more than conquerors who are called by God to go on the offensive against the strongholds of the enemy (Romans 8:37-39). Satan’s strongholds are those places where Christ has yet to be lifted up and He is not worshipped as Savior and Lord. Our mission is to storm the gates of those strongholds where Satan is encamped. One way we go on the offensive against the devil is to rebuke him and his legions in the name of Jesus.
Before we look at what going on a rebuking offensive involves we need to understand that an offensive strategy of rebuking the devil and his minions is not something to be entered into lightly. Satan is a formidable foe and so are his demons. This is a holy war and while Satan and his army are anything but reverent toward the Lord, we who fight alongside Jesus must do so with reverence and holiness.
In Jude it states, “Likewise also these dreamers defile the flesh, reject authority, and speak evil of dignitaries. Yet Michael the archangel, in contending with the devil, when he disputed about the body of Moses, dared not bring against him a reviling accusation, but said, “The Lord rebuke you!” 10 But these speak evil of whatever they do not know; and whatever they know naturally, like brute beasts, in these things they corrupt themselves.” (Jude 8-10). The context of these verses is a discussion of false teachers. Notice Jude references “Michael the archangel” as the one contending with the devil. Michael the archangel is an angel in a very prominent place in God’s plans. He is particularly mentioned as a defender of Israel (cf. Daniel 10:21; 12:1). In Revelation he is the angel who does battle with the dragon in heaven (Revelation 12:7). Jude refers to Michael because he is the one God ordained to war directly against Satan. The point Jude makes is that this holy angelic being who as representative of God and God’s forces, “dared not bring against him [Satan] a reviling accusation.” “Reviling” (Greek blasphemia) means slander, impious, railing, evil speaking. In going after the devil Michael the archangelic representative of God did not irreverently shout down or verbally attack Satan. Therefore, neither should we.
Satan, Lucifer, rebelled against Almighty God in pride. Lucifer rebelled against God with words such as, “I will ascend. . . I will exalt my throne. . . I will sit on the mount of the congregation. . . I will ascend above. . . I will be like the Most High” (Isaiah 14:12-14). Lucifer rebelled in arrogant self-centered pride. Those who represent God are not to respond in kind. “For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal” (2 Corinthians 10:4). Carnality is self-centeredness and self-reliance. Michael set the example of rebuking Satan. He did not rebuke Satan in his own name. Michael maintained his holy reverence as a representative of “the Most High” God and went on the offensive in the name of the Lord. He said, “The Lord rebuke you!” To do anything more or less than fighting the devil in the name of the Lord is to “speak evil of whatever they do not know; and whatever they know naturally, like brute beasts, in these things they corrupt themselves.”
The word “rebuke” (Greek epitimao) means to censure, admonish, forbid, charge, directly charge, charge with an offense, or rebuke. Again the place of scripture in this aspect of God’s strategy cannot be overemphasized. Our only basis for rebuking the devil is the word of God. “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17). Any censuring, admonishing, charging, accusing of offense and rebuking is only as effective as it is based on God’s word. We don’t rebuke the devil or anyone based on human opinion or preference. We rebuke the enemy based on their deviating from and disavowing God’s Holy Word.
When Peter declared Jesus to be “the Christ, the Son of the living God” Jesus responded, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. 18 And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. 19 And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” (Matthew 16:16-19). These words spell out our offensive battle strategy.
First we receive revelation from the Lord. The spiritual gift of discernment is provided to the people of the church in order to recognize and expose devilish lies and schemes. God’s word is the lens we look through to identify devilish deceptions and designs. It’s so important to regularly spend quiet time with the LORD to receive His peace and direction in the spiritual war (cf. Psalm 27). We get our marching orders from God and His word.
Second, we stand on the rock of the declaration of Jesus as Christ. Peter is “a stone,” he is not the rock. The “rock” is Peter’s God-revealed declaration that Jesus is the Christ and the Son of God. Ultimately all spiritual battles and wars center on Jesus. The devil attempts at every turn to misrepresent, diminish, speak derogatorily of, and destroy Jesus and His holy name. If we are to survive and even victoriously prevail in the spiritual war, we must stay close to Jesus and declare Him to those around us; especially those who are the unwitting victims in this unholy war.
Third, with the church in the name of Jesus we storm the gates of hell. When the seventy disciples were sent out by Jesus they returned exclaiming, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in Your name” (Luke 10:17). The name of Jesus is not a magic wand. The name of Jesus refers to doing things the way Jesus would do them. We are to follow the steps of Jesus and walk as he walked in this war (1 Peter 2:21; 1 John 2:6).
But there is authoritative power in the name of Jesus. When we act in the name of Jesus it results in a number of things. When two or three gather in the name of Jesus, Jesus comes into the midst of them (Matthew 18:20). When we pray to God and make our petitions we have a blank check endorsed with the name of Jesus (John 14:13). That doesn’t mean we have license to ask God for frivolous things. It means we ask in the nature of the One Whose name we are asking in. Jesus said God would do anything we ask in His name (John 14:14; 15:16; 16:23-26). The Holy Spirit comes in the name of Jesus (John 14:26). The Holy Spirit comes in the name of Jesus to make those claiming Jesus’ name like the One whose name they claim. In the power of the Spirit we fight effectively in the spiritual war. Just like the early disciples demons will have to leave their human possessions in the name of Jesus (Mark 16:17). There is power in the name of Jesus because Jesus fulfilled the redemptive gospel purpose on the cross and defeated death in the resurrection.
But let me give a warning here. The name of Jesus is not to be trifled with. The name of Jesus can only be used by those who know Jesus. There is an account in scripture of some traveling Jewish exorcists who thought using the name of Jesus was like using a store bought brand of exorcism powder. They said to a demon possessed person, “We exorcise you by Jesus whom Paul preaches.” The result was not what they expected. The demon viciously retorted, “Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are you.” Then the demon possessed man jumped on them, beat the presumption out of them and scared their clothes off them and watched them run away in defeat and shame (Acts 19:11-20). Spiritual warfare is not a game. It is not to be taken lightly. You have to know Jesus as your personal Savior and recognize Jesus and Jesus alone is your Source of power. Then and only then are you ready to take up arms and resist and rebuke the devil in Jesus’ name.