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First Thoughts

Angels, Demons, and Spiritual Warfare 

The camera zooms in for a barrage of close-up shots. You hear swords clanging, guns cocking, and body armor strapping. The snare drums rattle, and the music swells.  Finally, the camera pulls back, and there he is– the hero fully locked and loaded. He’s ready for battle, weapon in hand, tools and ammo strapped to his chest, as he gloriously stares into the distance. 

Every good action movie has one of these montages. They’re cliché for a reason. They excite you as a viewer and let you know that fights, explosions, and bravery are just around the corner. 

And just like the action movie hero, Paul paints a picture in Ephesians 6:10-20 of a Christian suiting up for battle “against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12). Sounds like we have our work cut out for us. 

The problem is there are so many different ideas, experiences, and teachings out there concerning encounters with the spiritual realm. But as Christians, we must subject all of these to the teachings of Scripture. Paul warns us in Colossians 2:8, “See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ.” Satan and his demons want to use false teachings about themselves to trick, tempt, and trip up Christians in their walk with Jesus. Instead, we should “have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths. Rather train [ourselves] for godliness” (2 Timothy 4:7). 

Paul calls us in Ephesians 6:13 to “take up the whole armor of God.” And while the concept of putting on armor and suiting up for battle might seem simple enough, there’s a ton of confusion out there about what spiritual warfare really is, how we should fight it, and who we’re even fighting against. At the same time, spiritual warfare is happening around us constantly, so we must be equipped as soldiers of Christ to strike back at the darkness. But before we go swinging a sword around, we need to know who to strike at and how not to cut ourselves! 

Despite the difficulty in fighting spiritual warfare biblically, we know that victory is assured. How do we know this? Because the Bible tells us that Jesus Christ put on the armor of God himself first (Isaiah 11:5; 52:7; 59:17; Psalm 144:1-2)! And when we are clothed with Christ (Romans 13:14, Galatians 3:27), then we are clothed in Christ’s righteousness that he gives to us by repentance and faith. 

Girding ourselves with the belt of truth, taking up the shield of faith, or wielding the sword of the Spirit– all of these things we can only do now because Jesus did them first when he came from heaven to earth to save us! That means that if we want to put on the armor of God to stand against evil, then we have to put on Jesus! Putting on the armor of God, when we sum it up, is to trust in Jesus Christ for your salvation and to live your life as his disciple, seeking to follow him in the power the Holy Spirit gives to you. 

There are no secret techniques. No special spiritual martial arts. It is simply to believe the gospel, to grow in it daily as you fight against sin, and to go on the offense against the devil by preaching the gospel to those still held captive. 

We defeat Satan not with silver bullets or calling down firebombs like Elijah but through the regular, everyday means of grace found in the Scriptures. And since we know that Jesus will have the ultimate victory over sin, death, and hell when he returns in glory, we have hope and strength, and endurance now as we fight against those dark forces now. 

If you’re interested in learning more about how to take up the whole armor of God, we recently explored all of this topic and more in one of our Midweek courses at First Baptist. Some of the questions this course tackles are: 

  • How does the armor of God help me fight spiritual warfare? 
  • Who is Satan, and what powers do he and the demons have? 
  • How should Christians today seek to interact with the spiritual realm? 
  • Does God curse generations of sinners? 
  • Can a Christian be possessed by a demon? 
  • What do angels do for humans? 
  • What is the armor of God, and how do I equip it? 
  • What does the Bible say about witchcraft, tarot cards, and the occult? 
  • Does the Bible talk about territorial spirits? 
  • How should I interpret dreams and visions? 
  • What are some principles for navigating media, TV, movies, and music filled with occult ideas and influences? 

 These classes have been recorded and made available for free in the First Baptist App. You can download this app on your smart device, click on the “Media” tab, then click on the “Midweek” section to see the course offerings. 

Our aim is to equip you with a full biblical understanding of these topics so “that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil” (Ephesians 6:11). Spiritual warfare is challenging– Paul described it as a war, a fight, a lining up for battle. But Jesus Christ, in his Word and his work, has given us everything we need to resist temptation, overcome the power of the devil, and to glorify God in our obedience to him! 

Serve Pastor

Austin Collins (M.Div., The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary) is the Serve Pastor at First Baptist Church.

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