Many church bodies, across the Christian denominational board, speak about the devil’s power in spiritual warfare. The pastors leading these church bodies will yell from the pulpit on how Satan roams the land, stealing people from God’s grasp. And then there are those who disagree. These sceptical Christians speak more about the sinful nature found within the mortal flesh. I am here to show how Scripture and C.S. Lewis support both arguments.
Spiritual Warfare as Mentioned in the Bible’s Book of Ephesians
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. 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. Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. Stand firm therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of Peace; in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. And take the Helmet of Salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
~ Ephesians 6:10-17 (NASB)
Upon first reading the above paragraph, I receive the instinctual impression of a demon in my room, whispering in my ear. “Your hands are dry and cracking. You should stop and get some lotion.” Or, “You really need to clean the reading room. It will make you feel better.” And while all of this is true, these realities fail to bother me when I’m reading for fun or writing a movie critique. Therefore, could it possibly be a demon trying to distract me from learning and growing in the Christian faith?
What the ESV Study Bible Wrote on Spiritual Warfare
Rely on me by no means. Let’s turn toward biblical commentaries and study Bibles for some more, solid information. For example, the English Standard Version (ESV) Study Bible (2008) calls the devil and his demons superhuman spiritual forces. As mentioned in Scripture, the evil day represents the many times the devil has attacked and will attack God’s people. From time’s beginning until the Lord returns.
Satan’s allies abound throughout all the Earth. Such allies include national governments, leading authorities, false teachers, and cosmic powers. However, in whichever way demons work through these enemies, they will fail to pull believers away from their faith. But for Christians to properly fight against the devil’s spiritual attacks, they must arm themselves.
This “full-bodied armor” signifies God’s word and prayer. Meaning Christians have a defense when they are being led down the wrong spiritual path. All they need to do is to read and understand Scripture and to pray for strength and God’s grace.
Matthew Henry’s Commentary on Facing the Enemy in Spiritual Warfare
Matthew Henry’s Commentary (1961) says much the same as the ESV Study Bible. Yet, in addition to describing the devil’s allies and their power, the commentary mentioned practicing all the Christian graces. Such as love, forgiveness, peace, and all the love traits listed throughout the New Testament. Seeing as it’s Christmas, one can look at “The 12 Days of Christmas” song for some help to remember the love and grace characteristics.
The age-old Bible scholar also made an interesting observation: The full armor of God, as mentioned in Ephesians, lacks any back armor. Therefore, if Christians deny the devil’s existence and turn their back on him, they will suffer grievously. For the devil’s fiery darts are our temptations to flaunt lawlessness, hate our brothers, and deny God. And if we turn our backs on the onslaught, we will fall and fail.
C.S. Lewis’s Understanding Regarding Common Belief in Demons and Spiritual Warfare
There are two equal and opposite errors into which our race can fall about the devils. One is to disbelieve in their existence. The other is to believe, and to feel an excessive and unhealthy interest in them.
~ C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters
C.S. Lewis created a morbidly fascinating premise in his novel, called The Screwtape Letters. According to Hollywood, people living in the 1600’s and earlier very much believed in wicked spirits and demon possessions. After all, such spirits are recorded in Scripture. Yet, despite this fact, many modern day Christians disbelieve in the devil and the other fallen angels. In writing his novel about Wormwood and Screwtape, C.S. Lewis intended to remedy this problem.
Demons don’t normally go around scratching and throwing things at people. They do try to ensnare God’s children and ensure they turn their backs on God. Guaranteeing the lost and forgotten people fall into the Pit. How do demons do this? They simply whisper thoughts, traitorous and treacherous, into our ears.
For example, an atheist who begins to doubt his atheism may think, “Can God exist? No, I must be hungry to think so foolishly. I’ll go get some lunch.” The thought about hunger is true and certain. As of yet, the atheist fails to see the true and certain proof for God’s existence. Thus all people begin to believe the “real and rational” thoughts in their head. And not the ones that God inspired them to think.
What Christians Ought to Think Regarding Spiritual Warfare
As C.S. Lewis said, please avoid digging into any unhealthy interest in the superhuman spiritual forces! However, be aware of their existence. Provided with the faith shield, the truth belt, the righteousness breastplate, the salvation helmet, and the Scripture sword, Christians can and will stay strong.
But every nonbeliever remains in danger. To save them, we must be bold and courageous in spreading the gospel about Jesus Christ. Otherwise, the devil will easily claim them, dragging them down into his own damnation.
So, the next time you think about your dirty bathroom while you’re doing your daily devotions, stay strong. A demon may just be whispering in your ear.