Satan is called “the god of this world” and not for no reason (2 Corinthians 4:4). This world is his stronghold. Why? Because his kingdom rule is supported by human sinfulness. “As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient” (Ephesians 2:1-2). God reveals to us that Satan is actively working in those who are disobedient, and he is thus “the ruler of the kingdom of the air.”
But also, evil spiritual beings influence, encourage and even empower people to fight against the Kingdom of Heaven by affecting their minds, hearts and actions. 2 Corinthians 11:13-15 points out that those who knowingly seek to deceive are active servants of Satan, following his example. Yes, evil spiritual beings influence people to fight against God’s people. So, the “Real battle” takes place in heavenly places but is played out in the minds, hearts and actions of mankind. If the spiritual battle were only in the angelic realm he would be annihilated, but since Satan is at work in a world where people can always choose rebellion against God, the battle continues as he is ever able to find strongholds among people who live in sin.
Ephesians 6 says that THIS is our battlefield. This is the place where hearts, minds and souls are won to eternal life or lost to eternal death. The battle of Satan is waged against the trust of people in their creator. The point is that Satan is most concerned with destroying people eternally! He attacks those who love God and seek for Him in truth because he is trying to “steal, kill and destroy” by keeping people blinded and separated from their creator.
And as we have already noted, he does much of this work through human agency of those who either knowingly or unwittingly serve his destructive agenda. “The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God” (2 Cor 4:4).
“How exactly,” we might well ask, “does satan “blind” the minds of unbelievers?” He will use any deception conceivable to prevent people from loving God. Paul talks about this battle of truth vs lies and deceptive arguments in 2 Cor 10:4-5. “The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”
As I read Paul talk of demolishing these demonic power structures that appear as “arguments and pretensions” I see in my mind the prevailing zeitgeist which has been set up against the knowledge of God. Satan is not just throwing a bunch of disconnected, random attacks at Christians, but an entire demonic power structure he has established with help of those who are serving him.
In times of prosperity we have seen in the U.S. Satan using deceptions that present false idols as worthy of pursuit and devotion rather than God, whether they be: pride, pleasure, wealth, security, power, knowledge or any other thing. The prevailing attitude of our times is YOLO, and that has become so engrained in our culture that those who oppose it are laughed at and mocked.
Christians can only fight this battle by maintaining confidence in God’s word in Christ which is able to tear down these lies to speak to the heart of mankind’s true need. God’s truth is able to cut through satan’s smoke screen to unmask sin for the soul poison it is, and to reveal the way, the truth and the life that are found in Christ Jesus.
However, we must be prepared for other attacks Satan is likely to throw at us if we resist his front line of deception. When Christians resist mental attacks, he will resort to physical attacks. When Satan realized he could not throw Jesus off his mission, what was his last option? Kill him. Try to stop his mission by murdering him. In Acts 2, Peter reminds the crowd that it was “wicked men” who committed the injustice of killing Christ, and 1 Cor 2:8 Paul notes that had the spiritual forces of evil understood the wisdom of God, (that killing Christ was not a victory for satan, but a defeat) “None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. ” If Satan cannot get to us with his deception, he will resort to physical attacks. The book of Revelation too shows how Satan wages war by empowering worldly leaders to attack God’s people. He has done it over and over again throughout the course of history. “God allows His people some minor tactical defeats as part of His larger plan which is unbeatable” to paraphrase something John Piper has said.
Christians fight this battle by prayer, trust in God and obedience to His will.
Is the government out to get Christians? Whenever those with ruling authority live in sin, they are unwittingly servants of Satan whenever they engage in sinful acts, and we know Satan’s agenda is the eternal destruction of as many human souls as possible. So then, yes, any time a government commits sinful acts, it serves the purposes of “the god of this world.” However, the story doesn’t end there, and none of these things happen beyond the knowledge of God. The God of the universe has the final say, and He can work anything out for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purposes.
Will Christianity lose it’s ‘favored status’ and begin to be taxed or even persecuted one day in the U.S.? If Satan believes doing so would help him, he certainly will try to use physical force to intimidate people away from trust in God. If these things are true, how would we prepare now to respond to them? Should we stock up on guns and ammo to start up a revolution to restore system of government that respects God? No. We should look for how God Almighty is at work in spite of Satan’s schemes, follow God’s lead, and participate in His work. I will elaborate more on how God would have us respond to these things in my next post.