By Francis Frangipane
Christians debate whether the devil is on the earth or in hell; can he
dwell in Christians or only in the world? The fact is, the devil is in
darkness. Wherever there is spiritual darkness, there the devil will be.
Preparing for Spiritual Warfare
For most, the term spiritual warfare
introduces a new but not necessarily welcomed dimension in their
Christian experience. The thought of facing evil spirits in battle is an
unsettling concept, especially since we came to Jesus as lost sheep,
not warriors. Ultimately, some of us may never actually initiate
spiritual warfare, but all of us must face the fact that the devil has
initiated warfare against us. Therefore, it is essential to our basic
well-being that we discern the areas of our nature that are unguarded
and open to satanic assault.
tells us, "And angels who did not keep their own domain, but abandoned
their proper abode, He has kept in eternal bonds under darkness for the
judgment of the great day" (Jude 1:6).
rebelled against God, he was placed under eternal judgment in what the
Bible calls "pits" (2 Pet. 2:4) or "bonds" of darkness. The devil and
the fallen angels with him have been relegated to live in darkness. This
darkness does not simply refer to areas void of visible light. The
eternal darkness to which this Scripture refers is essentially a moral
darkness, which ultimately degrades into literal darkness. However, its
cause is not simply the absence of light; it is the absence of God, who
It is vital to recognize that this darkness
to which Satan has been banished is not limited to areas outside of
humanity. Unlike those who do not know Jesus, however, we have been
delivered out of the domain or "authority" of darkness (see Colossians
1:13). We are not trapped in darkness if we have been born of light. But
if we accommodate darkness through tolerance of sin, we leave
ourselves vulnerable to satanic assault. For wherever there is willful
disobedience to the Word of God, there is spiritual darkness and the
potential for demonic activity.
Thus Jesus warned,
"Take heed therefore that the light which is in thee be not darkness"
(Luke 11:35 KJV). There is a light in you. "The spirit of man is the
lamp of the Lord" (Prov. 20:27). Your spirit, illuminated by the Spirit
of Christ, becomes the "lamp of the Lord" through which He searches your
heart. There is indeed a holy radiance surrounding a true Spirit-filled
Christian. But when you harbor sin, the "light which is in thee" is
"darkness." Satan has a legal access, given to him by God, to dwell in
the domain of darkness. Thus, we must grasp this point: The devil can traffic in any area of darkness, even the darkness that still exists in a Christian's heart.
example of Satan having access to the carnal side of human nature is
seen in Peter's denial of Jesus. It is obvious that Peter failed. What
we do not readily see, however, is what was occurring in the invisible
world of the spirit.
Jesus predicted accurately that
Peter would deny Him three times. Anyone looking at Peter's actions that
night might have simply concluded his denial was a manifestation of
fear. Yet, Peter was not fearful by nature. This was the disciple who, a
few hours earlier, drew a sword against the multitudes who had come to
arrest Jesus. No, human fear did not cause Peter to deny the Lord.
Peter's denial was satanically induced.
warned the apostle, "Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has demanded permission
to sift you like wheat; but I have prayed for you, that your faith may
not fail; and you, when once you have turned again, strengthen your
brothers" (Luke 22:31–32). Behind the scenes, Satan had demanded and
received permission to sift Peter like wheat. Satan had access to an
area of darkness in Peter's heart.
How did Satan cause
Peter's fall? After eating the Passover, Jesus told His disciples that
one of them was going to betray Him. Scripture continues, "They began to
discuss among themselves which one of them . . . was going to do this
thing" (Luke 22:23).
This was a very somber time. Yet,
during this terrible moment, "there arose also a dispute among them as
to which one of them was . . . greatest" (Luke 22:24). They went from an
attitude of shock and dismay to an argument concerning who among them
was the greatest! Evidently Peter, the water-walker, who was also the
boldest and most outspoken of the apostles, prevailed. We can imagine
that Peter's high visibility among the disciples left him with an air of
superiority, which was fanned by Satan into an attitude of presumption
and boasting. Peter, being lifted up by pride, was being set up for a
Pride caused Satan's fall, and pride was the very
same darkness manipulated by Satan to cause Peter's fall. Lucifer, from
experience, knew well the judgment of God against religious pride and
envy. He knew personally that pride goes "before a fall" (Prov. 16:18
KJV). Satan did not have a right to indiscriminately assault and destroy
Peter. He had to secure permission from Peter's Lord before he could
come against the young apostle. But the fact is, the devil demanded
permission to sift Peter, and he received it.
Submit to God
The trip wire that Satan used to cause Peter's fall was the disciple's own sin of pride. Let us recognize before we do warfare that the areas we hide in darkness are the very areas of our future defeat.
Often the battles we face will not cease until we discover and repent
for the darkness that is within us. If we will be effective in spiritual
warfare, we must be discerning of our own hearts; we must walk humbly
with our God. Our first course of action must be, "Submit . . . to God."
Then, as we "resist the devil . . . he will flee" (James 4:7).
will never be given permission to destroy the saints. Rather, he is
limited to sifting us "like wheat." The good news is that God knows
there is wheat inside each of us. The outcome of this type of satanic
assault, which is allowed through the permissive will of God, is to
cleanse the soul of pride and produce greater meekness and transparency
in our lives. It may feel terrible, but God causes it to work for good.
Our husk-like outer nature must die to facilitate the breaking forth of
the wheat-like nature of the new creation man. Both the chaff and the
husk were necessary; they provided protection for us from the harsh
elements of this life. But before God can truly use us, in one way or
another we will pass through a time of threshing.
husk nature was presumptuous and proud. His initial successes had made
him ambitious and self-oriented. God can never entrust His kingdom to
anyone who has not been broken of pride, for pride is the armor of
darkness itself. So, when Satan demanded permission to assault Peter,
Jesus said in effect, You can sift him, but you cannot destroy him. The warfare against Peter was devastating but measured. It served the purpose of God.
was ignorant of the areas of darkness within him, and his ignorance
left him open to attack. But the Lord would ask each of us, "Do you
know the areas where you are vulnerable to satanic assault?" Jesus
would have us not be ignorant of our need. In fact, when He reveals the
sin in our hearts, it is so He might destroy the works of the devil.
Thus, we should realize that the greatest defense we can have against the devil is to maintain an honest heart before God.
the Holy Spirit shows us an area that needs repentance, we must
overcome the instinct to defend ourselves. We must silence the little
lawyer who steps out from a dark closet in our minds, pleading, "My
client is not so bad." Your "defense attorney" will defend you until the
day you die---and if you listen to him you will never see what is wrong
in you nor face what needs to change. For you to succeed in warfare,
your self-preservation instincts must be submitted to the Lord Jesus,
for Christ alone is your true advocate.
engage in spiritual battle without embracing this knowledge. Indeed,
James 4:6 says, "God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the
humble." God is opposed to the proud. That is a very important verse. If
God is opposed to the proud, and we are too proud to humble ourselves
and admit when we are wrong, then God is opposed to us.
continues in verse 7, "Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he
will flee from you." When we see this verse, it is usually all by
itself as a monument to spiritual warfare. However, it is in the context
of repentance, humility, and possessing a clean heart that we find
Satan fleeing from us.
We must go beyond a vague
submission to God; we must submit the exact area of our personal battle
to Him. When we come against the power of the devil, it must be from a
heart in submission to Jesus.
There is a recurring
precept throughout this book. It is vital that you know, understand, and
apply this principle for your future success in spiritual warfare. That
principle is this: Victory begins with the name of Jesus on your lips, but it will not be consummated until the nature of Jesus is in your heart.
This rule applies to every facet of spiritual warfare. Indeed, Satan
will be allowed to come against the area of your weakness until you
realize God's only answer is to become Christlike. As you begin to
appropriate not just the name of Jesus but His nature as well, the
adversary will withdraw. Satan will not continue to assault you if the
circumstances he designed to destroy you are now working to perfect you.
outcome of Peter's experience was that after Pentecost, when God used
him to heal a lame man, a more humble Peter spoke to the gathering
crowd. He asked, "Why do you gaze at us, as if by our own power or piety
we had made him walk?" (Acts 3:12). Peter's victory over pride and the
devil began with the name of Jesus on his lips, and it was consummated
by the nature of Jesus in his heart. The darkness in Peter was displaced
with light; the pride in Peter was replaced with Christ.
Adapted from Francis Frangipane's book, "The Three Battlegrounds" available at www.arrowbookstore.com.