Spiritual warfare is always a hot-topic among Christians. Even the sound of the phrase…spiritual warfare…it just seems to invite us to peek behind the curtain and see what’s going on there. When I first became a Christian in 1994, I never thought about Satan or his demons. Hell was something I experienced deliverance from – that was about all the thought I gave to it. Four months after my salvation, I received a summons from the Holy Spirit to preach God’s Word during a Wednesday evening service. The following Sunday, after getting some counsel from others during the previous couple of days, I went public with my calling as I stood before my new church family. Two Sundays after that, on January 1st1995, I preached my very first sermon. Looking back, that was the first official day when I suited up, took my place in the ranks of God’s soldiers and started doing my part to advance the Kingdom of God in my generation. Little did I know that, not only would I be fighting the devil for the rest of my days, he would be fighting me.
“And the mind of the king of Syria was greatly troubled because of this thing, and he called his servants and said to them, “Will you not show me who of us is for the king of Israel?” 12And one of his servants said, “None, my lord, O king; but Elisha, the prophet who is in Israel, tells the king of Israel the words that you speak in your bedroom.” – 2nd Kings 6:11-12
In the realm of spiritual warfare, most Jesus-followers know about putting on the whole armor of God from Ephesians 6:10-18. That foundational passage for fighting the good fight includes an emphasis on our need for truth, righteousness and faith. We are clearly taught in those verses that all believers are engaged in a literal fight with Satan and his demons. It is not allegory. Spiritual warfare is one of the non-negotiable realities of the Christian life. It does not matter if we do not believe it. It is of no consequence if we do not wish to be in this war. Satan started it with God’s children in the Garden of Eden and his forces are still committed to his never-ending agenda to steal, kill and destroy. He has a precise and uniquely tailored strategy for you. That is right, you heard me correctly: the devil knows your name and has an intentional strategy to keep you in a state of defeat and despair.
Do you know what his strategies are?
In the verses above from 2nd Kings, Elisha the prophet of God is frustrating the enemy. As the king of Syria continues to fight Israel, God’s chosen people, he keeps encountering maddening defeats. Angered, the king demands to know which person in his army is serving as a traitor by revealing his battle schemes to Israel ahead of time. He can fathom no other way that Israel continues to escape his carefully-crafted designs for warfare. One of the king’s servants decides to risk it and informs the king that there are no traitors in their ranks. The servant reveals that the king’s problem is that there is one man in Israel to whom God reveals the wicked king’s plans. Imagine that! Elisha the prophet is sitting a great distance away from the king of Syria, yet his prophetic acuity is so precise that he knows Syria’s strategies against Israel as if Elisha himself was sitting in the enemy’s bedroom listening in. In this ancient passage in the Bible about physical battle against a human enemy, God grants Elisha the supernatural ability to know what the enemy is up to.
You and I can know it too in the context of Satan’s designs against us.
Not having time nor space to list all of the verses that teach us about how possible and essential it is for us to hear the voice of God, let me simply submit that God is more than willing to expose the tactics of Satan against your life. Most Christians approach spiritual warfare in a reactive, defensive posture. That is not the Father’s intention for us. We are to be proactive and offensive when it comes to this undeniable reality of warfare. We press in to the Lord with the certainty that He does not desire us to live in spiritual defeat in our fight against Hell. Because the Church in the West is primarily fixated on an intellectual approach to the Kingdom, we waste a lot of time parsing the words of bible verses without actually appropriating the truth and power of those verses that we are hairsplitting down to the molecular level. Frankly, you cannot study your way into victory. While Bible knowledge is a large part of our own strategy, merely knowing verses will prove to be ineffective in spiritual warfare. We know the words of the Bible, but we don’t seem to operate in the power of the truth they are communicating. Can you imagine our arriving in the presence of the enthroned Lord and learning from Him that there was so much available to us during this lifetime if we had only pressed in to Him for deeper revelation? Why would God leave you in the dark about the strategy of Satan against you? What kind of father would do that? The reason why we do not often know what the enemy is planning is because we never ask the One who can reveal it to us to do so. Elisha just knew in his knower what the enemy of Israel was planning. Elisha then counseled his own king to plan accordingly. What a Kingdom advantage it is to know ahead of time how Satan and his demons strategize against you! Instead of being forced to react in a defensive manner, you are actually able to proactively guard those targeted areas before he ever fires a shot at you. You can hear the voice of the Holy Spirit telling you in advance where to marshal all your spiritual resources so that, when the enemy does attack you, he discovers your impenetrable resistance, and he ends up fleeing from you because you have submitted your ear to the voice of the Lord (James 4:7). Let me be one who will tell you that you do not have to wait on the devil to fire the first shot against you. He is already engaged. Yet, he is fully aware that any child of God who gets a hold on the truth of our constant advantage against him will, in the end, frustrate all of his warfare strategies. He dreads the thought of you and I seeking the Father to expose his wicked plans to us ahead of time.
If you press in to Him, the Father will tell you what the devil is doing in your life right now. I mean it, He will communicate to you and you will find yourself surprised that you saw the attack before it got to you. Now, let me be clear: you won’t hear God if you make this offer from Him something you can live with or without. If you are casual about this, you will continue to live a defensive, reactive response to what the enemy does. You will forfeit your advantage if you are flippant about warfare. Those who will hear the plans of the enemy ahead of time are those who will press in to the Lord in a manner that reveals that they understand how essential it is. So many of our battles, retreats and losses would NEVER manifest if we only believed that God will expose the tactics of Hell ahead of time. Let the devil live with the regrets of engaging in warfare with you. Let his demons know that you are no longer an easy mark. Let all of Hell understand that the Lord now has your ear like He had Elisha’s, and that He is constantly revealing the precise plans formed against you. We will begin to win far more than we ever have before if we will relentlessly seek the inside information from the Lord about Satan’s battle-plans.
It is time that the Church begins, by proactively doing this for the first time in a long time, to frustrate the devil.