Where the Battle Really Is
The Bible says, “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)
It is that time of the year when we see an interest in the paranormal, ghost, extraterrestrial life, etc. Horror movies, books, games and Halloween parties capture the attention of many. Most of these activities are just for fun, and for the most part harmless.
However, the Apostle Paul, writer of our key text holds a truth that should frighten us more than any modern-day horror film ever produced. There is a real enemy of our soul and he has a co-host of demons who have one purpose, which is to keep people from having the relationship with the Lord, God wants His creation to enjoy. The Bible describes this warfare as real, powerful and consistent.
Good intelligence is the key for anyone who wants to win a war. This is why the Holy Spirit moved the writers of the Bible to inform us, so we may understand the enemy. God instructs us in many passages of Scripture, so there is no reason for anyone to be caught off guard. Ignorance of God’s Word about spiritual warfare is an unwise choice if a person wants to live a life which is pleasing to the Lord. The truth is, there is spiritual warfare going on around us all the time. (Jamieson, R., Fausset, A. R., & Brown, D. (1997). Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible (Vol. 2, p. 357). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.; Wuest, K. S. (1997). Wuest’s word studies from the Greek New Testament: for the English reader (Eph 6:11–12). Grand Rapids: Eerdmans.; Barclay, W. (Ed.). (1976). The letters to the Galatians and Ephesians (p. 182). Philadelphia, PA: The Westminster John Knox Press.; Henry, M. (1994). Matthew Henry’s commentary on the whole Bible: complete and unabridged in one volume (p. 2319). Peabody: Hendrickson.; Hoehner, H. W. (1985). Ephesians. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 2, p. 643). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.)
The spiritual forces Paul is writing about has a leader, the Devil. He is the accuser. (Revelation 12: 7-11) Satan is the super-natural enemy of God. (Hebrew-Aramaic Dictionary) The writer of the Book of Matthew calls Satan the tempter. (Matthew 4:3) Jesus said, he is a murder from the beginning and he is the father of all lies. (John 8:44) The Bible compares him to a lion, (1 Peter 5:8) a serpent, (Genesis 3:1; Revelation 12;9) an angel of light, (2 Corinthians 11:13-15) as well as the god of this age. (2 Corinthians 4:4)
Note: Our battle foundation is not just with humans who may insult, undermine or attack us in some way. Often those who are against us are unaware that it is Satan who is influencing them in some way. The illnesses, temptations and trials we face come from sources who know our weaknesses and is able to exploit us. (Radmacher, E. D., Allen, R. B., & House, H. W. (1997). The Nelson Study Bible: New King James Version (Eph 6:12). Nashville: T. Nelson Publishers; Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). The Bible exposition commentary (Vol. 2, p. 57). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.) Our battle is not just against Satan, but against fallen angels, evil spirits who wield tremendous power. Tough we cannot see them, they constantly surrounded us, they cannot indwell Christians, they can only oppress and harass the true children of God.
Our battle and the defeat against powerful constant foes are accomplished by putting on what the Bible calls the armor of God. Twice in the Book of Ephesians we are told, “be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power. Put on the full armor of God.” (Ephesians 6:10,11,13) The writer of this letter to us says, “so that when the day of evil comes, [we] may be able to stand [our] ground.” (Ephesians 6:13) The phrase “to stand your ground” is an active imperative of never yielding from the truth and not fleeing from our post of living out and proclaiming the truths of God in a sin-stricken world. (Swanson, J. (1997). (Dictionary of Biblical Languages with Semantic Domains: Greek (New Testament) (electronic ed.). Oak Harbor: Logos Research Systems, Inc.; Jamieson, R., Fausset, A. R., & Brown, D. (1997). Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible (Vol. 2, p. 357). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.; Robertson, A. T. (1933). Word Pictures in the New Testament (Eph 6:14). Nashville, TN: Broadman Press.)
The Christian armor consist of six weapons found it Ephesians 6:10-18:
- The Belt of Truth. The Bible says Satan is the father of all lies. (John 8:44) The child of God whose life is controlled by truth will defeat Satan and overcome the attacks of Satan’s demons. The belt of truth is symbolic to the teachings of God’s Word along with the integrity of a Christian’s life which is birthed forth as the Holy Spirit brings illumination of God’s Word into a child of God’s life. (Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). The Bible exposition commentary (Vol. 2, p. 58). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.; Turner, M. (1994). Ephesians. In D. A. Carson, R. T. France, J. A. Motyer, & G. J. Wenham (Eds.), New Bible commentary: 21st century edition (4th ed., p. 1243). Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: Inter-Varsity Press.) Instructions for Christian living says, “You, however, did not come to know Christ that way. Surely you heard of Him and were taught in Him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.” (Ephesians 4:20-24)
- The Breastplate of Righteousness: This piece of armor was made of metal, chains or leather which covered the body from the neck to the waist both front and back. It symbolizes the Christian’s righteousness in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:21) as well as the child of God’s life being lived in Christ (Ephesians 4:24). The life we live either fortifies us against Satan or it opens us up to Satan’s attacks. (Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). The Bible exposition commentary (Vol. 2, p. 58). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.) The breastplate protected the soldier’s chest from an enemy’s attack, the breastplate of God’s righteousness guards the believer’s heart. James tells us, “Submit yourself to God. Resist the Devil and he will flee from you. Come near to God and He will come near to you.” (James 4:7-8)
- Feet Fitted with Gospel of Peace: Christians are to be prepared and ready to take the Gospel of the Lord out at all times. Romans 10:14-15 says, “How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written, ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news.’” Isaiah wrote, “How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation…” (Isaiah 52:7) Satan has declared war on the souls of mankind and Christians are ambassadors for the Word of God which brings peace to all who trust in God and Jesus Christ.
- Shield of Faith: Paul says, in addition to all that has been mentioned, take up the “shield (thureon -θυρεον) of faith with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one [Satan].” (Ephesians 6:16) The word faith (πίστις pístis) means the conviction that God exists and is the creator and ruler of all things at all times, the provider of our needs and bestower of eternal salvation through Jesus Christ. (Strong, J. (1995). Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon. Woodside Bible Fellowship.) Satan seems fine with his up and coming destruction and he is working hard to take with him as many souls as possible. (Wuest, K. S. (1997). Wuest’s word studies from the Greek New Testament: for the English reader (Vol. 4, p. 144). Grand Rapids: Eerdmans.) The child of God who holds the shield of faith lives a life which proclaims, “For surely, O Lord, you bless the righteous; you surround them with your favor as with a shield.” (Psalm 5:12) Christians who stand firm on Biblical faith trust in God’s character regarding His love for them, not on their present circumstances.
- The Helmet of Salvation: Our eternal salvation is God’s gift to us as we trust in and maintain our relationship with Jesus Christ. Our salvation from the sinful flesh and our salvation from Satan’s daily attacks is enjoyed through a lengthy process of sanctification. Our sanctification involves the process of sanctifying our minds, taking every thought captive and make it obedient to Christ. (2 Corinthians 10:5) The sanctifying of our mind will protect us from intellectual surrender to the world view and enable us to overcome rationalistic doubt of God’s love for us, His provision for us, His protective hand over us and His enabling us to complete the work He has assigned to us. Keeping our minds on the written Word God erases all doubt and calms all fears we may have. We are to remember the Lord’s promises to us and His past faithfulness to us so we may walk faithfully before Him now as well as in the future. Romans 12:2 says, “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – His good and pleasing and perfect will.”
- Sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God: Greg Laurie wrote, “The one piece of armor that is both offensive and defensive is the sword. When a [soldier] goes into battle, [he does not] beat the enemy with his shield or try to defeat him with his belt, or chase him down with [shoes for readiness], or throws his helmet at him. [He pulls out his] sword and uses it.” When tempted by the flesh, drawn by the world view or overwhelmed by Satan’s lies, Christian’s are kept spiritually healthy and strong by feeding on God’s written Word. In Matthew 4:4 Jesus said, “Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.” The writer of the book of Hebrews writes, “For the Word of God is living and active. Shaper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to the dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” The Word of God works, therefore, learn it, use it, and meditate upon it so you may overcome Satan and his demons, just as Jesus Christ did when He was tempted. (Matthew 4:1-13; Mark 1:12-13)
Our spiritual battle with Satan and his demons is real and constant. Satan knows our weaknesses and his demons are relentless. God’s armor is the weapons we can use to overcome him and enable us to live a victorious life. This Halloween don’t spend your time judging others on how they observe it, but take the opportunity to introduce people to what is really happening around them all the time. The Book of Ephesians 6:18 hold a closing exhortation, “…pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and request. With this in mind, be alert and always keep praying for the Lord’s people.”
A Biblical Truth About Ghost and Haunting
1 Timothy 4:1 – “The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons.”
There are a lot of people who have an interest in the paranormal, but most feel like they cannot seek answers in the church. Halloween is the perfect season to address the spiritual world and give a Biblical response to what people are seeing and experiencing in a world that have forces that can deceive them. If Christians are not going to give an answer to what is going on in the unseen world, then someone else will. That answer may come from someone who has no real foundation of Biblical truths about spiritual forces of demons and angles who are around us at all times. (Ephesians 6:12) Biblically as a whole, what we do know is, that sightings of ghost and other paranormal incidents should not be ignored. Coming to the wrong conclusion about what people are seeing or experiencing can have eternal consequences which affect young and old alike. The question about ghost, the paranormal and the after life is drawing real interest, of which the Bible has answers.
What Is A Ghost: There are as many theories about what a ghost is as there are people who are active investigators of ghost sightings. The most popular American view on ghost, “they are spirits of humans who have died, but not yet crossed over to heaven or hell.” (Emily McFarlan Miller; What Does the Bible Say About Ghost; Answers In Genesis; Do You Believe In Ghost) The Greek word for “ghost” (φάντασμα phántasma) means to make appear, spirit. (Zodhiates, S. (2000). The complete word study dictionary: New Testament (electronic ed.). Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers.) Ron Rhodes writes, “When people encounter a genuine spirit, it is not a dead human’s spirit, but rather a demonic spirit with the intent on deceiving living human beings.” (The Truth Behind Ghost, Mediums, and Psychic Phenomena) The whole of Scripture teaches, yes there are ghost, fallen created spiritual beings, they will be around on this earth until Jesus Christ throws them into hell forever. However, as we look to the whole of Scripture, there are no ghost, the spirit of dead people lingering upon this earth.
Dead People’s Souls: The writer of the Book of Hebrews declares a person dies once and then is placed, waiting for judgment. (Hebrews 9:27) People who are not living for and loving the Lord are placed in hell, not leaving. (Matthew 25; Luke 16:19-33) Christians go home to be with the Lord. (Luke 23:43; 2 Corinthians 5:6-8, Philippians 1:23) Scripture has no indication of anyone’s soul lingering on this earth after death. After God departed from King Saul, we read of Samuels Ghost being allowed to be brought up. Samuel’s message for Saul was not a good one. (1 Samuel 28:7-20) In the New Testament we read of Peter, James and John seeing Moses and Elijah talking with Jesus. These were specific situations that fulfilled God’s plan, there is no indication of them lingering. Samuel, Moses and Elijah had a clear mission, they did not stay. No confusion of their purpose.
Biblical Haunting: In Daniel Chapter 10 we read that demons can be around specific geographical locations. It is very likely, those who are seeing and hearing from paranormal activity, are being exposed to demon entities. (Ephesians 6:12) Emanuel Swedenborg, famous eighteen century writer of the spirit world, warns us not to believe any spiritual entity, their leader is the father of all lies. (John 8:44) They have a purpose which is to deceive and seduce. The truth the Apostle Paul taught Timothy is for us to day. “Deceiving” (πλάνος plános) referring to spirits who are seducing and imposters. There is another Greek word for “deceiving” (phrenapátēs) associated with spirit’s who deceive the mind. Zodhiates, S. (2000). The complete word study dictionary: New Testament (electronic ed.). Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers
It is like this, there is a Christian magician, Kirby, who was able to captivate the entire audience to see what he wanted them to see. After his performance, he would explain to us how there was no such thing as real magic, there was a explanation for everything that had taken place during his show. If a mere human can captivate an entire audience, then deceiving (πλάνος plános or phrenapátēs ) spirits can deceive people’s minds, especially people who are undisciplined at taking every thought captive and making it obedient to Christ.
The Bible warns in the last days there will be doctrines taught by false teachers who are in fact being influenced by deceiving spirits and they are effective at captivating and deceiving many. In the last days, Christians will take their teaching about the unseen world from the whole council of God’s Word.
The Book of 1 Samuel shares a ghost story that needs to be considered during this time of the year. The prophet Samuel is dead. King Saul was inquiring of the Lord and God was not answering Saul through dreams, nor Urim, nor prophets. So Saul surrenders to self-will and sins by seeking a medium. (1 Samuel 28:3-25) The Bible is clear, “Do not turn to mediums or seek out spirits, for you will be defiled by them. I am the Lord your God.” (1 Samuel 19:31) A warning to us all, mankind will justify anything, when they are not in fellowship with the Lord and hungry for spiritual fulfillment. Not only does Saul sin by seeking a medium, he promises protection for the woman so she will continue to sin by participating in an séance (1 Samuel 28:10) that is clearly against God’s will for mankind. (1 Chronicles 10:13; Leviticus 19:31)
King Saul asked the medium to call up the spirit of Samuel, a true prophet of God of whom the Bible says, “God let none of Samuel’s words [fall] to the ground.” “All of Israel attested Samuel as a prophet of the Lord… [God] revealed Himself to Samuel through His Word.” (1 Samuel 3:19-21) As the séance continues, the medium says, “I see a ghostly figure coming up out of the earth…” (1 Samuel 28:13) As we read the Biblical account, the Hebrew text says. 1.) The medium in fact “…saw Samuel.” (1 Samuel 28:12) 2.) “Samuel said to Saul, ‘Why have you disturbed me by brining me up?” (1 Samuel 28:15) 3.) We read that Samuel’s role and message is that of a true prophet of God, which was his calling.
“Samuel said, ‘Why do you consult me, now that the Lord has turned away from you and become your enemy? The Lord has done what He predicted through me. The Lord has torn the kingdom out of your hands and given it to one of your neighbors—to David. Because you did not obey the Lord or carry out His fierce wrath against the Amalekites, the Lord has done this to you today. The Lord will hand over both Israel and you to the Philistines, and tomorrow you and your sons will be with me [dead]. The Lord will also hand over the army of Israel to the Philistines.’ Immediately Saul fell full length on the ground, filled with fear because of Samuel’s words.” (1 Samuel 28: 16-20)
It is imperative that we understand that no medium has the power or skill to disturb a saint outside the of the will of God. We should also take note, the message Saul received was not a pleasant one. There is a scary truth found in the whole of Scripture, be careful what we ask for, God might give us just what we ask, it may not be the message we want to hear.
King Saul represents the many who find themselves in deep distress because of their unwillingness to obey God’s Word, so they seek other means to find spiritual direction and satisfaction. In this Biblical account, Saul ask Samuel what he should do. (1 Samuel 28:15) It should be noted, the prophet Samuel ignores Saul’s question and moves to the consequences of continued walking in sin and the seeking of spiritual knowledge outside of God’s prescribed method, which is through obedience to Him.
Truths to this ghost story: 1.) Walk in obedience to the whole counsel of God’s Word. 2.) Living according to self-will as Saul did, invokes the chastisements of God 3.) Seek God’s direction in His prescribed way. 4.) The consequences of sin affects not just you, but those around you as well. Walk in a healthy fear of the Lord!
God’s Sovereignty In Horror Productions
It is that time of the year when writers create horror stories and performers act out scenes that may unsettle people enough to want to check their doors, windows, closets and even take a look under the bed, perhaps even more than once. On the flip side, people may gather at home to watch or read such stories for the thrill. There is a natural fear of the unseen spiritual world, especially when it is presented with an aroma of fear.
Christians should embrace all opportunities to point people to Jesus Christ, His Father holds Sovereign control over all things. Christians struggle with balancing “…whatever is honorable… whatever is pure, whatever is lovely…” (Philippians 4:8) with being involved with the typical celebrations of Halloween.
Mature Christians have a Biblical understanding of God’s Sovereignty. They have a clear vision on how the Lord wants to use them during a season that intrigues people to find pleasure in reading fearful stories, watch horror movies or visit an elaborated haunted house.
God is Sovereign (שָׁלְטָן šoltān) meaning “He has dominion over everything that exist.” (Dan. 4:3[3:33]; 4:34; (Baker, W., & Carpenter, E. E. (2003). (The complete word study dictionary: Old Testament. Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers.) The Sovereignty of God is “a theological term that refers to the unlimited power of God, who has Sovereign control over the affairs of nature and history. The Bible declares that God is working out His Sovereign plan of redemption for the world and that the conclusion is certain.” (Is. 45:9–19; Rom. 8:18–39; (Youngblood, R. F., Bruce, F. F., & Harrison, R. K., Thomas Nelson Publishers (Eds.). (1995). In Nelson’s new illustrated Bible dictionary. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, Inc.)
In His Sovereignty, God allowed novel writer, Jim Stovall, to write three delightful parables. The Ultimate Gift presented the appreciation of the value of life. The Ultimate Life presented the value of love. Finally, The Ultimate Journey presented life’s journey as not about the destination, but traveling it well. Not everything in Mr. Stovall’s trilogy are true events, but his writings, which have been and continue to be made into movies, hold truths that enable us to live productive lives. God’s Sovereignty allows horror writers and movie makers to present an aroma of fear. The Exorcist, a novel written by William Peter Blatty, was inspired by the 1949 exorcism case of Roland Doe and later made into a movie directed by William Friedkin in 1973. (Cinema of the occult: new age, satanism, Wicca, and spiritualism in film) There is the continual debate about the 1977 book, The Amityville Horror, which was also later made into a movie and several sequels, and inspired several spinoffs, such as The Conjuring. Despite the lack of evidence to corroborate much of the original story, it remains one of the most popular haunting accounts in American folklore. Even though both horrific accounts cannot be presented as actual truth, they continue to emit an aroma of fear.
The Bible has at least thirty-five Scriptures which warn of Satan’s hold over the unrepentant soul. Jesus talks about a place where those who do not have a relationship with Him will spend eternity, “a place of weeping and gnashing of teeth.” (Luke 13:28) This is a factual aroma of fear; escape it by having Christ as personal Savior and Lord!
What Should Really Frighten You
Halloween is the time of the year when many parents participate in a fun time of dressing their children up in costumes, going house to house gathering goodies or attending a wonderful social event of fun, games and healthy socializing. In short, it’s just fun and games. Also, Halloween is a great time for movie makers and horror-genre writers to release and promote their productions with the purpose of money-making or for a select few because they enjoy doing so. On the darker side, Halloween has been used as a time to worship the Devil, promote acts which harm others, disrespect others property, or even destroy the lives of the innocent people and animals. Mature Christians see Halloween as an opportunity to point people to Godly truths with sayings such as, “If the Devil offers you a treat, it’s a trick!”
I would propose to you that there is a truth far scarier than any Halloween production which needs addressed more aggressively than more arbitrary religious arguments about how and if Christians should observe Halloween. There is a spiritual truth that should cause you to want lock your doors, check your windows and look under the bed as you lay down for the night. There is an enemy of your soul who is powerfully effective in causing destruction, destroying life and takes full control of the self-will of mankind. He does not have horns and a spiked tail, nor does he dress in a red uniform, carrying a flaming pitchfork; he is a living nightmare of unimaginable proportions.
The Apostle Peter gives a warning, “Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” (1 Peter 5:8) In 2 Timothy we read of a frightening truth, “…escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.” (2 Timothy 2:26) Again, Scripture tells us there are frightening “…spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” (Ephesians 6:12)
The Apostle Paul writes to the young pastor Timothy, using the word “captive” (ζωγρέω zōgréō) meaning “to ensnare, seduce, to bring under control, to hold in check, to not allow a person to do what he wants, but able to make him obey his [Satan’s] will.” (Zodhiates, S. (2000). The complete word study dictionary: New Testament. Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers; Friberg, T., Friberg, B., & Miller, N. F.) In the Bible we read about Judas Iscariot, one of the men who kept close company with Jesus. He was a witness to many of our Lord’s miracles and good deeds as well as hearing His teachings. Luke writes, “Satan entered Judas, called Iscariot, one of the Twelve.” (Luke 22:1-6) From that moment on Judas watched for an opportune time to hand Jesus over to His enemies.
If Satan can take Judas captive to do his will, even though Judas witnessed such events Jesus had performed, he can bewitch or intoxicate any unrepentant soul to accomplish his purposes. Dr. David Jeremiah writes, “…My friend, the very thought that it ‘could never happen to us’ is the step toward our seduction. We need to keep our eyes wide open to the events happening around us…” (Jeremiah, D. (1999). Until Christ Returns: Living faithfully today while we wait for our glorious tomorrow (pp. 31–32). Nashville, TN: Word Pub.)
Twelve times in the New Testament, Satan is called “the evil one.” The horror of horrors, for who has been, who is or who will be taken captive by the devil to obey his will?