Editor’s note: The purpose of this series is to help our readers understand what spiritual warfare is, strategies to engage biblically in spiritual warfare, and how to walk in the power of the Holy Spirit.

maxresdefaultMatthew 12:22-32 (ESV), “Then a demon-oppressed man who was blind and mute was brought to him, and he healed him, so that the man spoke and saw. And all the people were amazed, and said, “Can this be the Son of David?” But when the Pharisees heard it, they said, “It is only by Beelzebul, the prince of demons, that this man casts out demons.” Knowing their thoughts, he said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste, and no city or house divided against itself will stand. And if Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then will his kingdom stand? And if I cast out demons by Beelzebul, by whom do your sons cast them out? Therefore they will be your judges. But if it is by the Spirit of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you. Or how can someone enter a strong man’s house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man? Then indeed he may plunder his house. Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters. Therefore I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven people, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. And whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.”

Spiritual warfare is something that either Christians spend too much time thinking about, or not enough time thinking about. There tends to be extremes when it comes to this topic: Satan has way too much power, or we simply don’t believe he has any. Both extremes must be avoided in order to think soberly about evil. To do this, we must also understand Satan vis-a-vis Christ, our Savior.

Proper Context

Spiritual warfare must be put in its proper context. Lest we give too much authority to Satan and his minions, we have to keep in mind Matthew 12:22-32. Here our Lord confronts the Kingdom of darkness by clarifying what it means for Jesus to cast out demons. Simply put, Jesus cannot be on Satan’s team, and if He was, Satan’s tactics would be self-defeating. You don’t win wars by shooting your own platoon. Jesus, in giving the reductio ad absurdum, demonstrates the fallacy of assuming such a preposterous thing.

For Jesus, the opposite is true. He’s not here to help Satan, he’s here to destroy him. And how do we know Jesus is here to do battle with the ancient serpent? The gospel of the Kingdom of God! Jesus makes it plain that if it is by the Spirit of God that He casts out demons, then you know the Kingdom of God has come! If this Kingdom is going to come, that means the Satan’s little kingdom must be destroyed. Jesus came to tie Satan up and take His stuff, not the least, of course, is people.

Instead of repenting and trusting Christ, they blaspheme the Holy Spirit by attributing Jesus’ Spirit-empowered-works to the deceiver. This sin cannot be forgiven, not because God is unwilling, but because the sinner is unwilling. His heart is polluted with toxic darkness. He cannot come to God because he will not come to God.

The Kingdom of God

All this is to say, the in-breaking Kingdom of God in the gospel message lays waste to the kingdom of darkness. Jesus is the conquering warrior King who rides in history destroying His enemies and establishing His Kingdom. We ought to think soberly about spiritual warfare. It matters that we take seriously the evils of our society: abortion, rape, murder, crime, theft, government over-reach, false doctrine, idolatry, and so on. We have to work hard to get a grasp on not only the depths of man’s depravity, but the pure wickedness of Satan himself.

We mustn’t go too far, either, pretending that Satan is God’s equal opposite, and that God somehow is handicapped in history, struggling to keep Satan in check. Remember the words of Jesus: “I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). Earlier Jesus proclaimed, “Now is the judgment of this world; now will the ruler of this world be cast out” (12:31). The gospel of the Kingdom of God has effect, and it just so happens that Satan is on the losing side of this battle. Jesus brought the Kingdom to its head when He died in our place, for our sins, and walked out of the grave with true authority. Satan is on a leash and is a puppet in the hands of our Sovereign Lord.

So take heart, friend, when trials come your way. Turn your eyes to the Son who rides to conquer and to conquer some more. Place your faith in the One who does battle on your behalf. Fall to your knees and ask the King for favor—and it just so happens, that He will grant it. You need not worry much, the King has arrived, and His grace is not in short supply.