Summary: In order to overcome the evil one, believe that Jesus has already won the war and boldly declare your allegiance to Him.
Jack Handey, in his book Fuzzy Memories, tells the story of a bully who demanded his lunch money every day when he was a child in school. Handey was smaller than the bully, so he simply gave the bully his money.
“Then I decided to fight back,” Handey says. “I started taking karate lessons, but the instructor wanted $5 a lesson. That was a lot of money,” he says. “I found that it was cheaper to pay the bully, so I gave up karate.”
Unfortunately, many Christians have the same attitude about Satan and the spiritual battles they face. It's easier to pay the bully than to learn how to fight him. (Greg Laurie, Lies We Tell Ourselves, Regal, 2006, pp. 99–100; www.PreachingToday.com)
What they don’t realize is that they are part of a much larger conflict – a cosmic conflict – which involves angels and demons on a grand scale. Behind the scenes, there is a war in heaven that’s going on, of which we are only a small part. However, because of that cosmic conflict, we have supernatural resources at our disposal to overcome the enemy in our daily lives.
So how do we do it? How do we win that war in our daily lives? How do we conquer the spiritual forces of wickedness? How do we overcome the “bully” who only wants to terrorize us so he can discourage us from even trying? Well, if you have your Bibles, I invite you to turn with me to Revelation 12, Revelation 12, where we get a behind the scenes look at the cosmic conflict and how God’s people conquer in that conflict.
Revelation 12:1-2 And a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. She was pregnant and was crying out in birth pains and the agony of giving birth. (ESV)
This is the first of four scenes in this cosmic conflict, and the first scene is a woman in labor.
Now, this woman is none other than the nation of Israel. In several places, the Old Testament describes Israel as a woman in labor (Isaiah 66:7; Micah 4:10; 5:2-3). And the sun, moon and stars here are clearly an allusion to Joseph’s dream in Genesis 37. There, Joseph, one of Israel’s sons, has a dream where he sees the sun, moon and 11 stars bow down to him, a 12th star. It’s a description of Israel’s family – the father, the mother, and 12 sons, who later become the founders of the 12 tribes of Israel.
You can’t miss the allusion here in Revelation 12. It’s clearly a reference to the nation of Israel, who throughout the Old Testament, like a woman in labor, anxiously awaits the coming of her Messiah and Deliverer. The first scene is a woman in labor.
The second scene is a dragon waiting.
Revelation 12:3-4 And another sign appeared in heaven: behold, a great red dragon, with seven heads and ten horns, and on his heads seven diadems. His tail swept down a third of the stars of heaven and cast them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman who was about to give birth, so that when she bore her child he might devour it. (ESV)
This red dragon is none other than Satan himself. He waits to devour the long-awaited child of the woman. He waits to destroy the long-awaited Messiah of Israel.
At one time, this red dragon was God’s highest archangel, but he rebelled against God and recruited a third of the angels to join him. That’s what it means when it says in verse 4 that “his tail swept down a third of the stars of heaven…” A third of the angels joined Satan in his rebellion.
After that, God pronounced his doom through the “seed of the woman” in Genesis 3:15. So Satan is out to get this “seed.” He is out to get Israel’s Child, the Messiah, who would fatally wound that old serpent.
We saw it when Jesus was born. Herod, in a satanically inspired plot, killed all the children in Bethlehem two years old and under in an effort to get at this new-born King of the Jews. However, God had warned Joseph in a dream, so he and Mary fled with Jesus to Egypt before Herod’s henchmen could get to Him.
Then Satan hounded Jesus throughout His entire life. The Pharisees were always trying to trap Him. The crowds tried to push Him over a cliff, and Satan seemed to succeed when they nailed our Lord to a cross, but did he succeed?
Revelation 12:5 She gave birth to a male child, one who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron, but her child was caught up to God and to his throne… (ESV)