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In Remarque’s WWI classic All Quiet on the Western Front a twenty-year-old German soldier withdrew from battle to eat a potato. When finished, he heard a bombardment was imminent and thought, “Perhaps it is our inner and most secret life that shivers and falls on guard.” 1 Shells whistled. The earth exploded. He charged the enemy like a wild beast.
Warfare is a formidable metaphor for the Christian life. In spiritual and conventional wars, our innermost life shivers and falls on guard. Conventional soldiers garner strength and courage to charge the enemy. Christians soldiers stand with Christ, who defeated the Enemy at the cross.
Christ Delivers Us from the Evil One
Demons dominated my inner life for two and half years after a seven-year practice of spiritualism. I saw firsthand that demons had not a smidgeon of goodness in them. I survived their control by ignoring them and focusing on daily tasks.
Demons continued to pummel me after my conversion. I had known Christ for mere days the morning I turned into the church parking lot. A foreboding crept over me. I shivered and fell on guard. Demons flooded me with terror. My heart pounded. A demon audibly whispered, “We will never leave. No one will talk to you. We control what happens in you.”
I parked my car and reached for one of two Bible verses that a pastor had given me. I spoke aloud to drown out demonic taunts. “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind” (2 Tim 1:7 KJV). I continued, “I am a Christian. This terror is not of God or me. It means absolutely nothing! Ignore it.” I resolutely repeated the verse as I opened the car door and walked across the parking lot. Terror and demonic voices increased and then subsided as I opened the church door. One of God’s people smiled and extended a hand. “Welcome to Christ Church.” God had led me home. 2
For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins (Col 1:13 –14).
Jesus himself equipped me for spiritual battles. When assaulted by demons, I looked hard at Jesus and kept demons and their evil antics in my peripheral vision. I called out to Jesus and prayed his Word back to him until they stopped hurting me. I matured in faith. The voices ceased. Today I am attacked no more or less than the average Christian. I know my enemy and the Savior. One day the chief demon and his underlings will get their comeuppance.
The Armor of God
Paul warned the Ephesians that a fierce spiritual enemy opposed Christian unity by capitalizing on sins such as unrestrained anger. Christians must deal with their anger, lest the devil gain an opportunity (stronghold) to inflame passions. (Ephes 4:27) Christians must be strong in the Lord. Prepare for battle. Put on the belt of truth, shoes of peace, and breastplate of righteousness. Take up the shield of faith and sword of the Spirit. Put on the helmet of salvation. Stand with Christ against the devil’s schemes. (6:10–18) Essentially, Christians defeat the Enemy by embodying the gospel of Jesus Christ. They make disciples and baptize them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. They pray fervently and unceasingly. They worship God in Word and Spirit. They serve his church.
Popular Warfare Teachings
Spiritual warfare experts have convinced many Christians that standing with Christ is inadequate in fierce spiritual battles. More is needed. The Enemy must be routed out. They explain it this way. Demons establish strongholds when Christians open the door through habitual sins, occult involvements, and traumatic events such as sexual and physical abuse. When such things occur, demons have the legal right to dominate believers. Strong spiritual attacks indicate that a demonic stronghold exist which must be identified, confronted, and removed. Christians must renounce the lies they have believed and repent of sins associated with the stronghold. Once the door is closed, believers are free in Christ.
Variations on this teaching exist. In a worship service, I heard a pastor say, “In the Garden, Adam and Eve handed Satan dominion over earthly affairs, and Christians must fight him to take it back.”
No. Satan gained control in God’s creation as a consequence of Adam and Eve’s disobedience. Their broke fellowship with God and their sin made them vulnerable to Satan’s control and influence. Adam and Eve were no match for Satan and the sin that infected them. When separated from God, no one is. But clothed in Christ and equipped with his Word and Spirit, believers can withstand enemy assaults of all kinds. Satan has no legal right over God’s people. Whatever power he has is based on lies about God, humanity, and the spirit realm; and his ability to dazzle with counterfeit miracles and displays of power.
Popular warfare teachings have effectively weakened faith in the sufficiency of the gospel of Jesus Christ to overcome the Evil One. It has fostered fear of demons. Some believers scramble to find a deliverance ministry with the gift of discernment to identify, confront, and cast out demons. In Truth, God cast the demons out at the cross of Jesus Christ. God provides the better way. The words of the prophet Micah come to mind.
And what does the LORD require of you
But to do justice, to love kindness (hesed),
And to walk humbly with your God?
(Micah 6:8) Who Does Satan Attack?
Satan tempted sinless Adam and Eve. Satan attacked righteous Job. Satan tempted sinless Jesus. Satan hates God. Satan hates God’s children. In fact, Paul exhorted Christians to put on the armor of God in anticipation of Enemy attacks that come in many forms.
A pastor on a mission trip awoke in the middle of the night as an invisible presence pinned him to his bed. He could barely breathe and could not move or speak. Mentally, he called out, “Jesus. Jesus. Jesus.” A couple minutes later the dark presence left. The pastor was strong in the Lord, clothed in the armor of God who is Jesus. He served Christ.
A young child saw a spirit man in her closet, screamed, and ran to her mother. The mother and I taught the three-year old child to call for Jesus if he appeared again. The spirit came. The child called for Jesus. The spirit disappeared and never returned.
Submit therefore to God. But resist the devil, and he will flee from you (James 4:7).
The Holy Spirit enables believers to resist the devil, even as he inflames passions of all kinds. But the truth is that sinners cannot not sin. Jesus knows this which is why he provided the way for us to be right with God. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). What Savior! What a God! Indeed, Satan has lost the battle for our souls.
When attacked, Christians stand with Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit, armed with the Word of God. Christians need not fight toe to toe with the enemy. Christians employ divine weapons as they do the following: Make and baptize disciples in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Worship, serve the church, look after those who cannot fend for themselves, study God’s Word, resist the devil, repent of sins, have daily devotions, love God and others, and pray fervently as God builds his church. Satan and the demons cannot overcome these things.
1 Remarque, Erich Maria; All Quiet on the Western Front. NY: Ballantine Publishing Group, 1958; p.55, 113.
2 Read my testimony in Rescued and Redeemed: How to Distinguish Demons from the Divine.
Angels, Demons, and the Dead: Casting the Light of Scripture on Spirit Beings is available on Amazon and bookstores. You can also order a signed copy on my website www.SharonBeekmann.org
Sharon T. Beekmann – Christian Discernment Resources
In Angels, Demons and the Dead, Beekmann answers questions like: Can we still speak to the dead? Does God still send angels to minister to his people? How can we know the difference between angels and demons? What is discernment and why is it important? Building a solid foundation on Scripture, she offers a method to test the source of these mysterious beings.
Rescued and Redeemed: How to Discern Demons from the Divine
In Rescued and Redeemed, Beekmann shares that Christians should be:
• Educated about the demonic realm
• Inspired by the power of Christ
• Equipped to help others
Click to Read More >
Silencing Satan: A Handbook of Biblical Demonology
When face to face with supernatural evil in its various guises—apparitions, voices, sensations, false doctrine, and temptations to immorality—believers resist the devil and reflexively turn to Jesus and Scripture. Click to Read More >
Sharon Beekmann is an ordained minister in the Evangelical Presbyterian Church (EPC). For many years, she conducted a private practice in individual, marriage, and family therapy.
Sharon is a retired Associated Faculty at Denver Seminary where she taught Biblical Demonology. She writes and teaches on spiritual discernment.
Sharon Beekmann Ministries produces this newsletter every other month. Copyright © 2021 Sharon Beekmann Ministries, All rights reserved.
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