Why are we subjected to spiritual warfare? Isn’t God all powerful? Hasn’t Jesus already defeated the devil on the cross? Why doesn’t He just put a hedge of protection around us? “They belong to Me. You have no business interfering in their lives and robbing them of My blessings. I’m not going to allow you to tempt this brother and deceive him.” Why aren’t we immune from temptations once we put our faith in Jesus Christ? Can we just say, “Greater is He who is in me than he that is in the world” (1 John 4:4, author’s paraphrase) or claim the blood of Jesus, and that will take care of it?
Something is to be said about what we confess and how it is connected to what we believe—what we have faith in. But there must be some substance behind our confession. The words of our mouth must truly reflect the devotion of our heart; otherwise our words are empty confessions and meaningless in terms of empowerment in the spiritual realm. Victory in spiritual warfare is not a simple formula. It is not a matter of instructions on how to do it or what to say in steps 1, 2, and 3. Victory is the fruit of our relationship with the Lord as we walk with Him and learn to appropriate by faith the victory He has already given us. Jesus is our victory. He is the one who has defeated Satan. But victory implies a battle. If we are to be victorious in that battle, we need to understand the nature of our enemy.
Victory in spiritual warfare is not a formula but learning to appropriate by faith the victory Jesus has already given us.
Satan is a created being, a fallen angel created by God. Being all-knowing and omniscient, God knew that Satan would rebel and fully understood the ramifications of what his fall would entail. Does this make God responsible for evil? After all we reason that He didn’t have to go ahead and create him. He obviously had the power in His providence to keep that from happening. Some rationalize that God created Satan deliberately and allowed evil to come into the world out of the necessity of giving us freedom of choice. To choose, there have to be options. If we cannot choose, we really don’t have a free will. We are just a kind of puppet or robot. However, we are created in the image of God with free will and the capacity to choose or reject God and His will. Was creating Satan, knowing he would fall and bring evil into the world, a moral necessity? Answering such questions in the affirmative should bring us to the conclusion that such an explanation is contrary to the nature of God. Yet some theologians and many everyday Christians rationalize and want to blame God for the evil in the world as well as for the dilemma we face in spiritual warfare.
Many Christians have accepted a common perception that is sometimes called “diabolical dualism.” They reason that God is not responsible for Satan and evil cannot be attributed to Him. God didn’t create evil, and it wasn’t an intentional part of God’s original plan. But it’s like a cancer that has grown out of His control. Evil and injustice are rampant in our world today; carnal values and immorality are pervasive in our own society and throughout the world. Surely God never intended it to be this way and is not pleased, but it has grown beyond His control to do anything about it. However, this is not biblical and clearly demeans who God is and His power. It also dismisses the victory Christ has won on the cross and God’s redemptive activity as irrelevant. We cannot simply deny His power, authority, and sovereignty in an effort to understand the current condition of our world, spiritual warfare, and the one behind it.
Jerry Rankin and Beth Moore, Spiritual Warfare: The Battle for God’s Glory (Nashville, TN: B&H Books, 2009).
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