Summary: How to overcome the enemy.
In 2 Corinthians 2:11 we are warned by the Apostle Paul about Satan’s desire to “take advantage of us”. He writes: “for we are not ignorant of his devices.” And, church, we’d better be sure that WE, likewise, are not ignorant of Satan’s devices! 1 Peter 5:8 says that “he goes about like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour.” He’s active – he’s playing for keeps – you’d better be on your guard.
In the world today there is an increasing appetite for the supernatural. You’ve just got to look at the success of the now multi-billion dollar HORROR film industry; the burgeoning popularity of occult practices (including fortune-tellers, séances, ouija boards, horoscopes, etc., etc.); the so-called “new age movement”, which is simply the occult re-marketed for modern society. All of these things are feeding this appetite for the supernatural that is rising in our society.
Let me take this opportunity to issue a warning today: Christians need to be aware of the dangers of ANY involvement with the world’s fascination for these things. THIS MAY SOUND NARROW TO SOME PEOPLE - but I don’t mind being labeled “narrow” on this. I’ve said it before - I have a very strong conviction about it - I don’t believe Christians have any business watching horror movies! (Just the ads for those things disturb my spirit.) And don’t read horoscopes or play around with fortune-telling. The Bible calls all of that junk the sin of divination; it is strictly forbidden by God, and ACTS 16:16 confirms that there are evil spirits behind it.
There is an appetite in the world today for things supernatural.
We surely believe in the supernatural - GOD IS A SUPERNATURAL GOD! And the Bible reveals that there is a spiritual realm in which God has created beings of a supernatural order. WE BELIEVE IN THE SPIRITUAL REALM. We must be careful, however, that we don’t get into an extreme in our understanding - that we maintain balance and sound judgement. The two extremes we Christians are prone to is either to have our head “in the clouds” or to have our head “in the sand”. We either get so obsessed with this realm that we see demons everywhere and everything’s the devil’s fault (which is very convenient for us sometimes), or else we go to the opposite extreme and don’t even acknowledge there IS a spiritual battle raging. Some Christians even deny the existence of a personal devil and a real enemy. BOTH of these positions are extremes and will not do. C.S. LEWIS wrote (in his introduction to “The Screwtape Letters”), the devil “receives a skeptic and a mystic with equal delight”.
Evil spirits DO exist, and they are the sworn enemy of God and His people. Our lives are being lived out on a battleground, and it is vitally important that YOU and I know how to overcome the enemy. And that’s what I want to address this morning in very practical terms … HOW TO OVERCOME THE ENEMY. The Bible says: “Resist the devil and he will FLEE from you.” The question, this morning, is HOW do I resist him? Let’s look at that together.
Would you come with me in your Bibles to …
READ: Revelation 12:7-12
This passage is all about the continual “casting down” of Satan. I don’t believe that it describes just one event, but in fact Satan has been continually humiliated by the hand of God in judgment, and this passage describes three key moments in the “casting down” of Satan. The past, the present and the future are all in view here.
- The first “casting down” is described in verses 7 to 9. “And war broke out in heaven”. There’s only been one time that God has ever tolerated war to break out in heaven. “Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon and his angels fought, but they did not prevail, nor was a place found for them in heaven any longer. So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old (there’s another clue that places this “casting out” in history for us), called the devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.” This event took place thousands of years ago, before Adam and Eve fell from grace in the Garden of Eden. The occasion is described in Isaiah 14 and Ezekiel 28. Have a look at those two passages … they tell us that Satan was once a magnificent angel called “Lucifer”, who served in the immediate presence of God. The Bible says he was “the seal of perfection, Full of wisdom and perfect in beauty.” But, you probably know the story, his heart was lifted up in pride against God. He said: “I will be like the Most High.” He led a rebellion against the throne … WAR IN HEAVEN! Incredible! But God disposed of him. He was ejected from the Heaven of heavens down to the earth realm … God says: “I cast you as a profane thing out of the mountain of God.” And the Bible says that he took up residence in the “lower heavenlies” surrounding earth. Ephesians 6:12 tells us: “We do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against … spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” (OR in the “heavenlies”). This is not talking about Heaven, the city of God – it’s the lower heavenlies. Ephesians 2:2 describes Satan as “the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience.” He was cast to that place in judgment by God. That was the first “casting down”. God is absolutely sovereign, and he expelled Satan from Heaven in a moment of time. That is described in verses 7-9 of our reading.