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How To Engage In Spiritual Warfare Praying Against Our Principal Foe - Satan And Wicked Spirits
By Dr. Allen Barber

Ephesians 6:12 NASB

12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.


This is the first in a series of articles dealing with spiritual warfare both from the position of "standing and praying".  While all saints have the Holy Spirit (if not no one belongs to the Lord - Romans 8:9) not all are "spiritual", that is, walk by the Spirits power, which is the same as being filled and anointed by Him. The majority of saints live in the realm of the flesh (carnality) and obey the desires of the natural (soulish) life. While they do many religious things that appear to be "good works" they are rejected by the Lord because they are not of the Holy Spirit. A spiritual Christian is one who has learned to discern between soul and spirit (his or her own reborn spirit - see Hebrews 4:12).

After a few years of being a Christian, one should recognize what is of the Holy Spirit and what is of the natural life (the soul life), but unfortunately most do not. It is the tactic of Satan to keep this truth hidden from believers so they will continue to live after the dictates of the flesh instead of the Spirit. Satan wants either of two things for believers in order to deceive and control them: (1) To blend the soul with the spirit (little "s" representing our reborn spirit) whereby soulish things are substituted for spiritual things - that which is done by the Holy Spirit in and through our spirits. (2) Make a believer live entirely in the soul area rendering him/her a "carnal" person - see I Corinthians 3: 1-3). Both conditions are carnal, but the latter is a more severe situation. In the first case, the Christian exhibits a moral character and does many so-called "good" religious works - reads the Bible, prays, attends Church, tithes, even witnesses, but all is done in the realm of the flesh (ability of the natural life) and not in the power of the Holy Spirit. In the second condition, the believer does not even attempt to live according to the Spirit and may resemble an unregenerate person. This latter position is where Satan wants every believer to end up so as to render the believer "useless" in the kingdom of Christ. Eventually both situations will bring about the chastening and discipline of the Lord for they are not pleasing to Him.

If either of these two conditions manifest in the life of the believer they are unable to wage spiritual warfare against the enemy. The key to spiritual life and spiritual warfare is that you must be "spiritual" before conducting spiritual warfare "praying or standing".  Standing involves what and who we are in Christ and doing spiritual warfare praying is the result of our heavenly position. Ephesians 1-2 is our heavenly position (our seating in the spiritual realm with Christ) and Ephesians 6 is our "standing" in faith to obey the Word of God so we can use it as the sword of the Spirit.

By the way Ephesians 6:12 has nothing to do with humanity, that is, our struggle is not against mankind, but against wicked spiritual forces behind the sinful acts of man. Unless we know this by revelation of the Spirit, our fight will be fleshly and toward those that harm us directly or indirectly. Mankind is not our enemy but the devil and his demon spirits operating through man's fallen sinful nature. This is perhaps the hardest lesson for Christians to learn and it was for me. While I learned this early on in my Christian life I did not always act accordingly - in the power of the Holy Spirit and by faith. I often fought back with my fleshly temper and anger at the person doing me harm instead of the devil who was behind the hurt and pain. Now this is not to say Satan is the direct cause of every evil and wicked action of man. Jeremiah 17:9 says, "The heart of man is more deceitful than all else and is desperately wicked; who can understand it". Since all sin including the sinful nature originated from Satan, he is indirectly the cause of all sinful acts of man. However, the sinful nature is capable of committing all kinds of wicked deeds without any direct help from Satan or his demons. Only a spiritual Christian can discern the difference.

The golden nugget of truth in spiritual warfare standing and praying is that we have to BE SOMETHING before we can DO SOMETHING in the realm of the Spirit against the enemy. If we attempt to wage spiritual warfare against the devil without first being spiritual, he will only laugh at us and attack us more relentlessly. Satan is a spiritual being and our fight against him must be spiritual in the heavenlies, that is, seated with Christ in the heavenly places:

Ephesians 1:3 NASB


Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ.

Too many believers are so earth bound they are of no use in spiritual matters. On the other hand, some believers are so spiritually pious they are no good in human relationships either with fellow believers or the lost world. There is a balance that must be lived out in the Christian life. However, in the subject before us, we must abide by faith in the spiritual realm always if we are going to defeat the devil and discern his schemes. All believers positionally are seated with Christ in the heavenlies, but this truth is only known by revelation of the Spirit. It is not a "mind" thing or an intellectual pursuit. (Note: what do you notice about Ephesians 1:3 with Ephesians 6:12?  The spiritual forces that we wage war with are in the heavenlies - the same place we are, which is proof our fight against wickedness and evil takes place in that realm. Therefore, we must be spiritual before we can effectively fight against these wicked forces that are at work in the world system Satan controls. This is only possible by spiritual warfare praying).

In Watchman Nee's article on Spiritual Warfare (The Finest Of The Wheat, page 315), he says the following:

The most important thing before us is to identify the enemy. We should know for sure who is our adversary, who it is that causes us so much suffering. How frequently we account our sufferings to be from men. But the Bible tells us that our wrestling is not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against the powers, against world rulers of this darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places (Eph. 6:12). Hence every time we suffer from the hand of man, we need to remember that behind flesh and blood Satan and his powers of darkness can very well be there directing everything. We should have the necessary spiritual insight to discern the work of God from the maneuver of Satan at the back of everything. We should distinguish what is natural and what is supernatural. We should be so inwardly exercised (spiritual - emphasis mine) as to gain knowledge of the spiritual realm so that none of Satan's hidden work can escape our observation.

The Greek root word for wrestling is eimi (first person singular present indicative) denoting hand-to-hand combat. The only way we can do hand-to-hand combat with the devil is to be spiritual people. If we attempt to engage him in the flesh, he will wound us greatly.  Remember what happened to the unregenerate Jewish exorcists in Acts 19:14-16:


14 
Seven sons of one Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, were doing this.
15 And the evil spirit answered and said to them, “I recognize Jesus, and I know about Paul, but who are you?” 16 And the man, in whom was the evil spirit, leaped on them and subdued all of them and overpowered them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded.

Do not even attempt spiritual warfare standing and praying unless you know that you are spiritual and are operating in the power of the Holy Spirit lest you find yourself attacked by the very evil spirits you are attempting to engage. Spiritual warfare is more than reading a book about the subject or receiving a teaching. You must first be filled with the Holy Spirit and submissive to His leading in praying and speaking against the enemy of our souls. If you are not certain about where you stand spiritually before God, go to Him in prayer and ask Him to reveal your true condition. If by the Spirit you know you lack spiritual standing, simply confess it before the Lord, receive His forgiveness and ask the Holy Spirit to fill you (by the way, we are all commanded to be filled with the Holy Spirit - it is not optionable - Ephesians 5:18).

Romans 8:14 says those who are being led by the Spirit of God are the sons of God. Are you being led by the Holy Spirit or the spirit of this world? If you are being led by the spirit of this world via a carnal condition that is abnormal Christianity and in some cases may be indicative of a lost condition. The Apostle Peter warns us to make sure of our salvation or that we are in the faith (2 Peter 1:10).

Please understand that I am in no way discouraging any believer in Christ Jesus not to engage in spiritual warfare praying, but this kind of praying and standing can only be done by spiritual Christians to be effective against the devil and his demons. In fact, to attempt it while in a carnal condition may give the devil a foothold in your life. What does that mean?  It means when a carnal Christian attempts spiritual warfare praying (actually a rare thing for most carnal believers are not even aware they are carnal), the devil sends his demons to confuse such prayers.

Ask the Lord to shed the light of His Word upon your spirit (He does that by the Holy Spirit acting upon the Word of God) so as to know your true spiritual condition before Him and if the heart is totally honest, the Lord will reward you with answered prayer.

I must confess when I was preparing to write this article, I had to bow my head and say, "woe is me" for I cannot say that I have been spiritual in all matters pertaining to my walk before the Lord.  In fact, the Lord showed me my own carnality, so I am not writing as a hypocrite as being someone more spiritual than anyone else. I am not!  However, at 71 years of age and being a Christian for 44 years, I have some spiritual knowledge and certainly my own short comings.  I only want to help my reader audience walk before the Lord in genuine spirituality so you can deal with the devil and his demons in warfare praying. 

In the next article, I will discuss how we are to pray for our leaders that are wicked and evil and as well as how we are to speak about and to them. However, we must first take care of our own sins before we can judge others.