There has been a lot of teaching on spiritual warfare in the last 30 years. Much of it has been helpful, but much has overemphasized the devil while underemphasizing the role of our beliefs. We certainly cannot discount the need, at times, to deal directly with the devil, but the greatest strongholds we’ll face are not regional demonic principalities – they’re belief systems in the minds of Christians.
This is illustrated in the story of Gideon (Judges 6-8). The future of the nation of Israel was locked up in the thinking in Gideon’s mind. Once Gideon thought differently (especially about himself), no demon or enemy of the nation could stand against that, and the nation was ultimately saved through his transformed mind.
The following chapter from my book Cracks in the Foundation speaks to this topic, addressing the wrong belief that spiritual warfare is mainly dealing with the devil. I pray this teaching empowers your spiritual warfare from primarily dealing with the enemy and into a life-changing mind-renewal journey.
SPIRITUAL WARFARE IS MAINLY DEALING WITH THE DEVIL
This phrase is not in Scripture, but a logical conclusion from passages including: “Behold, I give you the authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you” (Luke 10:19), “Resist the devil and he will flee from you” (James 4:7), and “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12).
It is foolish to ignore the devil’s existence. The Bible is clear that there are forces of darkness that are seeking to oppose the advancement of God’s kingdom. We can become aware of the tactics of the enemy and learn how to walk in victory over him. We can be courageous in this process – “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7).
Checking the Foundation
We will have a crack in our spiritual foundation if we think that spiritual warfare is primarily beating up the devil; Jesus already did this on the cross. Our main warfare is battling our own thoughts rather than fighting Satan. This truth is supported by the main spiritual warfare passage in the Bible, 2 Corinthians 10:4-5 – “For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.” The only instruction that is given for how to pull down strongholds is the “capturing” of every lying thought.
The anointing of God flowing through His people can break the yoke of Satan’s hold on lives. This freedom, however, will only be temporary if our beliefs remain in agreement with Satan’s lies (even after a powerful encounter with the Holy Spirit). The real battle is in our minds. As we renew our minds with God’s victory over Satan and replace lies with truth, we will walk in increasing victory and bring freedom to others.
- What truth stood out to you the most in this teaching?
- Jesus already beat the devil on the cross. How does this phrase personally affect you and your view of spiritual warfare?
- What thoughts might you need to begin taking captive today? What are practical steps for doing this?
Speak These Declarations Aloud
- I am not dumb about the devil, but I choose to focus on the Lord’s victory.
- As I renew my mind daily, the kingdom is advancing in and through me.
- I live in ever-increasing freedom, and I bring freedom to others.
ABOUT STEVE BACKLUND
Steve Backlund was a senior pastor for seventeen years before joining the team at Bethel Church in Redding, CA in 2008. Steve is a leader developer, joy activist, a revivalist teacher, and as Senior Associate Director, is a key part of the Global Legacy (a ministry of Bethel Church) leadership team. He travels extensively throughout the world encouraging churches and leaders and has authored a number of books.