Know Your Enemy: The Devil, the Flesh, and the World

Winning the War Against the Devil

 

As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Ephesians 2:1-3 (NIV)

 

Our Three Enemies

  1. The Devil’s Lies
  2. The Flesh’s Desires
  3. The World’s Values

 

There are unseen spiritual forces at work in the world

 

“Since the first day you began to pray for understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your request has been heard in heaven. I have come in answer to your prayer. But for twenty-one days the spirit prince of the kingdom of Persia blocked my way. Then Michael, one of the archangels, came to help me, and I left him there with the spirit prince of the kingdom of Persia. Now I am here to explain what will happen to your people in the future, for this vision concerns a time yet to come.” Daniel 10:10-14 (NLT)

 

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Ephesians 6:12 (NIV)

 

The great dragon was hurled down—that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him. Revelation 12:9 (NIV)

 

We have been rescued and Satan has been defeated

 

The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work. 1 John 3:8 (NIV)

 

For he has rescued us from the kingdom of darkness and transferred us into the Kingdom of his dear Son, who purchased our freedom and forgave our sins. Colossians 1:13-14 (NLT)

 

Because God’s children are human beings—made of flesh and blood—the Son also became flesh and blood. For only as a human being could he die, and only by dying could he break the power of the devil, who had the power of death. Only in this way could he set free all who have lived their lives as slaves to the fear of dying. Hebrews 2:14-15 (NLT)

 

You were dead because of your sins and because your sinful nature was not yet cut away. Then God made you alive with Christ, for he forgave all our sins. He canceled the record of the charges against us and took it away by nailing it to the cross. In this way, he disarmed the spiritual rulers and authorities. He shamed them publicly by his victory over them on the cross. Colossians 2:13-15 (NLT)

 

Satan is defeated but still dangerous because he’s still fighting

 

We have been drafted into the war

 

The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. Romans 16:20 (NLT)

 

Satan’s Mission: DEATH

 

Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. Stand firm against him, and be strong in your faith. 1 Peter 5:8-9 (NLT)

 

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. John 10:10 (NIV)

 

God’s Mission: LIFE

 

Satan’s Strategy

  1. He lies – he questions truth, distorts reality, suggests falsehoods, and asserts untruths (John 8:44)
  2. He deceives – he is a master at getting us to believe things that aren’t true (Genesis 3:1-6, Matthew 4:3, 2 Corinthians 11:13-14)
  3. He accuses (and condemns) – Devil in Greek (Diabolos) literally means “false accuser” (Revelation 12:10)
  4. He targets our beliefs about God, others, and ourselves – Satan attacks what Jesus says we are to most love (Matthew 22:37-39)

 

God’s Strategy: Truth

 

For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. 2 Corinthians 10:3-5 (NIV)

 

Step 1: Take every thought captive

Step 2: Ask whether Jesus agrees with each thought (is it true from God’s perspective)

Step 3: If Jesus does not agree with it, tear it down (refuse to agree with it)

Step 4: Replace the lie with God’s truth (literally listen for God to speak to your heart)

Step 5: Invite other followers of Jesus help you identify the Devil’s lies and God’s truths

 

“In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold. Ephesians 4:26-27 (NIV)

 

Our Weapons

  1. The Word – to prepare for battle, we need to read and memorize God’s Word (Matthew 4:4, Ephesians 6:17)
  2. The Spirit – the Spirit of Truth guides us and The Advocate defends us (John 14:16-17, 26; John 15:26; Romans 8:26-27)
  3. The Church – we need each other to win the battles we face (2 Timothy 2:25-26, James 5:16, Galatians 6:2, Hebrews 3:12-13)

 

Reflection/Discussion/Action:

  1. What are the different ways the Devil, the flesh and the world wage war against followers of Jesus?
  2. How does Satan attack us? Why does Satan target our beliefs about God, others and ourselves? Can you think of examples of how Satan has attacked you through your thoughts and beliefs?
  3. Practice walking through the five steps described above. Start by thinking of a time when you felt upset at God, others, or yourself.
  4. How can you use the Word, the Spirit, and the Church as weapons to fight the Devil’s lies?