Q – I only want to know how you reconcile ‘our battles are not against flesh and blood’ with ‘when Christ is in you, the evil one touches you not.’
Jim – The passage you are referencing is from Ephesians 6 –
“Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.
Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints; And for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel, For which I am an ambassador in bonds: that therein I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.” (Eph. 6:11-20)
I am a great fan of balance. If we remove the spiritual elements from Christianity we end up with a religion that serves the flesh. There is no question that Paul understood the spiritual nature of our battle. Think of Daniel praying while Gabriel and Michael did battle with “the prince of Persia.” (Dan. 10:13) Paul knew that the church was under attack from highly intelligent, organized forces. The message of God has always been resisted by demonic powers.
I do have a complaint, however, against those who see a demon in every instance of life or every circumstance that doesn’t go the way they would have preferred. That’s demonology run amuck. I know a preacher in California who insists that the devil is always trying to silence him and when the demons can’t get to him, they attack his staff. If they fail to sufficiently influence the staff, they go into the sound system, his vehicles, his cameras, any variety of inanimate objects. Of course, that’s just silly. Nowhere in Scripture do we find an example of demons inhabiting or messing with inanimate objects. And, the fact of the matter is that the devil does not have to plant bad ideas in our sinful heads. As fallen creatures, we have plenty of sinful ideas to keep us occupied for eons.
But, that does not preclude the realization that Satan goes about as a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour (1 Peter 5:8).
Both God’s sovereignty and individual responsibility are reflected in Scripture. So, just as Peter believed that the converted Jewish believers were chosen before the foundations of the world, he could equally adjure them to make their “calling and election sure” – or “firm and certain.” (2 Pet.1:10)
Likewise, Paul could teach that we are locked in a struggle with mighty, wicked forces, but he would also say that the weapons of our warfare are not carnal (2 Cor. 10:4). And, that’s the point that most churches miss. They have people going through all sorts of fleshly machinations as though they can be “delivered” through carnal actions. But, even Paul’s list of armor – truth, righteousness, faith, the gospel of peace, and salvation – all speak of being rooted and grounded in the word – proper doctrine – not gyrations and showmanship in order to please and entertain the flesh.
The only weapon Paul included was the “sword of the spirit” which he defined as “the word of God.” So, this wrestling that the church is involved in is won by sticking to the Word of truth. In so doing, we pull down strongholds. And, the evil one is restricted from touching such people.
And, that’s where your second concept comes into play –
“We know that whosoever is born of God sinneth not; but he that is begotten of God keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not.” (1 John 5:18)
The battle, or wrestling, may be individual. But, I think Paul’s words are written to the Church at large. The Church should be wrestling hard against the world and the “prince of the power of the air” in order to get the Word out to a dying world. That’s the only weapon we have against the wiles of the Devil. But instead, the Church is busy entertaining people to death.
So, we cannot extricate the spiritual nature of Christianity, but we should emphasize the power of the Spirit and the Word and decrease the practically non-stop credit we give Satan. I heard a preacher on the radio this morning teaching a series on the Strongholds of the Devil. He said that if your parents were alcoholics, you are an easy target for demonic possession. Or, if you were told you were stupid as a child, you can be possessed. Or, if you read the wrong books, play the wrong games, or watch the wrong TV shows, the devil can get you. He warned “christians” that the devil can get into their heads and tell them lies, encouraging them to sin. Then, if they give in to the sin, the devil will possess them. This guy gave Satan all the power and left God sitting in a corner, hoping that some mighty sinner would cast off the darkness and make Jesus his Lord again. Such dangerous teaching that scares people half to death and makes God a puppet. That’s the sort of thing I’m railing against.
So, no, the devil cannot touch, take, possess or inspire the person who is indwelt by the Spirit of the Living God. That’s clear from Jesus’ own words. But, as we advance the cause of Christ, preaching the Word and setting captives free, there will certainly be resistance. But, we don’t need carnal weapons. We need to preach the Word, the sword of the Spirit, and trust in God’s mighty hand of protection.
Those are my thoughts on the subject, early on this Thursday morning. I will now return to my previously scheduled state of catatonia.
Yours in Him,
Q – Brilliantly, wonderfully put, Mr. Catatonic. As always, this makes perfect sense. I literally heard a “click” as I read. Thank you so much for once again helping me to sort through things I never really understood.
God is great.
Jim – Indeed!