The Christian life has many facets. While it is a life of joy, peace, and comfort to your soul, you soon discover that you have an enemy also attacking your soul. You are in a fight. It is called war. It is a fight over your faith. This is not optional. When you became a Christian and were delivered from the dominion of Satan, the battle began. Denial or ignorance does not change the reality of the struggle.
Paul said that we are not fighting against people but against spiritual forces.
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms (Ephesians 6:12).
There are a couple of truths that you should keep in mind when speaking of spiritual warfare. Number one: God is not fighting the devil. He never has. He is God and the devil is a created being. The devil fights or opposes God, and God’s angels fight Satan’s wicked forces (Dan 10:10-12), but God’s throne or authority is settled in heaven. This spiritual fight is ours to win with the victory that Christ has already accomplished. It brings glory to God when we live out His victory over the world, sin, and the devil.
Number two: every thing that is hard is not bad. When hardships or disappointments come, some people blame the devil. Not everything unpleasant is demonic. You can’t solve every problem by casting out demons.
How Demons Operate
Demons work at all levels of influence. It always begins with the individual and his influence. Satan not only wants to bring destruction against one family member, but if he can influence the authorities in the home, he has a greater chance to bring forth destructive fruit in a family. His ultimate desire against a family is to bring about generational iniquities. It works the same way with organizations, governments, and churches. The more influence a person has, the more Satan will attempt to bring that person under his control. That is why you will see corruption in high levels of government.
Church leaders become a specific target for Satan and his demons. The more responsibility that a person receives in the kingdom of God, the greater the target he or she becomes. Satan hates a humble leader. God gives grace to the humble but resists the proud. (James 4:6). Pride is how Satan fell. That is why Paul gives Timothy the instruction about an elder,
He must not be a recent convert, or he may become conceited and fall under the same judgment as the devil (1 Timothy 3:6).
A church leader or responsible Christian should not be fearful but certainly alert. You have a true enemy just waiting for you to give in. Peter the apostle and also an elder warned church leaders,
Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour (1 Peter 5:8).
Ways Demons Influence Christians
1) Influence your thoughts – Though demons cannot read your mind, they can place thoughts in your mind. Just as the serpent questioned Eve about what God had said, demons will often try to get you to distrust God. If a demon speaks, it is to your mind or in the spiritual realm.
2) Influence your heart – Of course, if a demon speaks to you, the purpose is to influence your will.
There was a Christian couple in the church in Jerusalem who lied to the Holy Spirit and to Peter. They were trying to appear more generous in their giving than they really were. Peter confronted them and said,
How is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you have lied to the Holy Spirit . . . (Acts 5:3)
The Bible says that King David was persuaded by Satan to trust in his armies rather than God (1 Chron 21:1). Demons can be very seducing. Paul warns believers about those who will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits (1 Tim 4:1).
When Jesus explained to His disciples that He must suffer and die, Peter rejected such thoughts and pulled Jesus aside to tell him that would never happen. Jesus’ response was direct, “Get behind me, Satan!” (Matt 16:23). Jesus knew it was an attempt of Satan to get Him off the path of the Father’s will.
Words of self-pity and self-preservation must be guarded against in spiritual warfare. Demons often come and tell Christians what they want to hear. That is why we must test every spirit (1 John 4:1). The Word of God is our final authority. What you are hearing must be judged by the Scripture. That is how Jesus overcame the devil in His time of temptation.
3) Influence your circumstances – Some people identify every hardship as being caused by the devil. If they have a flat tire on their way to church, they assume the devil did it. Unless the Holy Spirit reveals it, you should guard against blaming too many circumstances upon the devil. You may end up giving him credit for more involvement than he has.
There are times when Satan does directly attempt to hinder. We see this through the persecution brought against Paul that hindered him from going to see the Thessalonians.
For we wanted to come to you– certainly I, Paul, did, again and again– but Satan stopped us (1 Thessalonians 2:18).
Jesus came upon a lady bent over and could not straighten up. A spirit had caused this. She had been bound for eighteen years with sickness. This was a daughter of the covenant of Abraham. Jesus said she ought to be released from her infirmity. He set her free from a “spirit of infirmity.” Not all sickness is directly caused by demons; however, this account proves that sometimes it is a direct assault upon those in covenant with God (Luke 13:11-16).
Once you identify the operations of Satan, you can exercise your authority in various means of spiritual warfare. Being able to identify Satan’s influences is a key to overcoming him.
About the Author:
Glenn Shaffer is the author of Apostolic Government in the 21st Century, Christianity 101 and Discipleship 201. He has a Masters of Ministry degree in leadership studies from Southwestern Christian University and is working toward a Doctorate in Ministry at ORU in Tulsa.
Glenn and his wife, Ami have been married for 40 years with two sons, Matt and Daniel. Together, they co-see the elder pastoral care of Destiny Life Church, one church in two locations (Owasso and Claremore, Oklahoma) where they have been serving for almost 4 decades. It is a non-denominational church, based on a New Testament Apostolic form of church government. Together, they also serve as the directors of ATI- Apostolic Teams International, an emerging network of churches and ministers.