Spiritual Warfare in the End Times - Harvest House Publishers

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Spiritual Warfare in the End Times.indd 1 Spiritual Warfare in the End Times.indd 1 8/6/20 8:22 AM 8/6/20 8:22 AM Copyrighted material Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved. For other Scripture versions used in this book, see page 222. Cover design by Bryce Williamson Cover photo © insjoy, Studio-Pro, Mimadeo, oleshkonti/gettyimage For bulk, special sales, or ministry purchases, please call 1-800-547-8979. Email: Customerservice@ hhpbooks.com Spiritual Warfare in the End Times Copyright © 2020 by Ron Rhodes Published by Harvest House Publishers Eugene, Oregon 97408 www.harvesthousepublishers.com ISBN 978-0-7369-8035-7 (pbk) ISBN 978-0-7369-8036-4 (eBook) Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Names: Rhodes, Ron, author. Title: Spiritual warfare in the end times / Ron Rhodes. Description: Eugene, OR : Harvest House Publishers, 2020. | Includes bibliographical references. | Summary: “Bible prophecy expert Ron Rhodes explores the tactics Satan uses to attack God’s people, and what Scripture tells us about how to respond effectively-with the help of the Holy Spirit, angels, prayer, and more”-- Provided by publisher. Identifiers: LCCN 2020006447 (print) | LCCN 2020006448 (ebook) | ISBN 9780736980357 (trade paperback) | ISBN 9780736980364 (ebook) Subjects: LCSH: Spiritual warfare. | End of the world. Classification: LCC BV4509.5 .R478 2020 (print) | LCC BV4509.5 (ebook) | DDC 235/.4--dc23 LC record available at https://lccn.loc.gov/2020006447 LC ebook record available at https://lccn.loc.gov/2020006448 All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means—electronic, mechanical, digital, photocopy, recording, or any other—except for brief quotations in printed reviews, without the prior permission of the publisher. Printed in the United States of America 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 / VP-CD / 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 Spiritual Warfare in the End Times.indd 2 Spiritual Warfare in the End Times.indd 2 8/6/20 8:22 AM 8/6/20 8:22 AM Copyrighted material In loving memory of Mark David Stout Spiritual Warfare in the End Times.indd 3 Spiritual Warfare in the End Times.indd 3 7/30/20 2:25 PM 7/30/20 2:25 PM Copyrighted material Acknowledgments Through the years I’ve received countless letters and e-mails from people around the world asking various questions about spiritual warfare. Thank you for taking the time to write. You are one reason I wrote this book. During the writing of this book, my long-time friend Norman Geisler exited earthly life and entered heavenly glory. He was one of my primary mentors at Dallas Theo- logical Seminary in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Little did I know as a seminary student that I would one day be doing conferences with him and even writing some books with him. I continue to be appreciative for all I’ve learned from him through the decades—including such doctrines as angelology and demonology. His legacy lives on in his many students. I continue to be thankful to our gracious God for the wondrous gift of my family—Kerri, David, and Kylie. Without their endless love and support, my work of min- istry would truly be an impossible task and wouldn’t be near as fun. Most of all, I want to express profound thanks and appre- ciation to our Lord Jesus Christ. It is such an honor and privilege to serve Him through the written word. Thank You, Lord, for providing us all we need to know about spiritual warfare in Your Word. Spiritual Warfare in the End Times.indd 4 Spiritual Warfare in the End Times.indd 4 7/30/20 2:25 PM 7/30/20 2:25 PM Copyrighted material Contents Introduction: Spiritual Warfare. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7 Part 1: Understanding Your Enemy 1. The Reality of Satan in the World Today. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21 2. The Character and Goal of Satan and His Fallen Angels . . . . . 37 3. Understanding Spiritual Warfare . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 53 Part 2: Understanding Enemy Tactics 4. Satan’s Schemes: Flaming Darts, Mind Games, Guilt, and Discouragement . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 69 5. Satan’s Schemes: Depression, Doubts, Worry, Anger, Personal Offense, and Robbing Joy. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 83 6. Satan’s Schemes: Pride, Hindering Prayer, Sin, and Causing Division. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 95 7. Satan’s Schemes: Hindering Through Other People, Bodily Illness, Attacking Churches, and Apostasy. . . . . . . . . . 107 8. Satan’s Schemes: False Religions, Persecution, and Reducing Religious Freedom. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 121 Part 3: Resisting and Defeating the Enemy 9. Our Position in Christ . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 135 10. The Role of the Holy Spirit . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 145 11. The Armor of God . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 159 12. The Role of Prayer. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 171 13. The Role of Angels . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 183 Postscript . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 197 Appendix: Key Bible Verses on Our Position in Christ . . . . . . 205 Bibliography . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 207 Endnotes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 213 Spiritual Warfare in the End Times.indd 5 Spiritual Warfare in the End Times.indd 5 7/30/20 2:25 PM 7/30/20 2:25 PM Copyrighted material PART 1 UNDERSTANDING YOUR ENEMY We do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. (EPHESIANS 6:12) Spiritual Warfare in the End Times.indd 19 Spiritual Warfare in the End Times.indd 19 7/30/20 2:25 PM 7/30/20 2:25 PM Copyrighted material 21 1 The Reality of Satan in the World Today A big problem for many of us is that we base everything on what our five senses tell us. Since the spiritual world is not subject to any of these, we often act as if it does not exist. The eye of faith can perceive this unseen reality (Hebrews 11:1). The spiritual world lies all about us, enclosing us, embracing us, alto- gether within our reach. This spiritual world will come alive to us the moment we reckon upon its reality. Unfortunately, this spiritual world is brimming with not only benevolent spirit entities (God and His holy angels) but also malevolent spirit entities (Satan and his fallen angels, or demons). We find many examples of the spirit world in the pages of Scrip- ture. In 2 Kings 6:8-23, for example, we read of how Elisha found himself surrounded by enemy troops, yet he remained calm and relaxed. His servant, however, panicked at the sight of this hos- tile army with vicious-looking warriors and innumerable battle chariots on every side. Spiritual Warfare in the End Times.indd 21 Spiritual Warfare in the End Times.indd 21 7/30/20 2:25 PM 7/30/20 2:25 PM Copyrighted material SPIRITUAL WARFARE IN THE END TIMES 22 Undaunted, Elisha said to him, “Do not be afraid, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them” (2 Kings 6:16). Elisha then prayed, “‘O Lord, please open his eyes that he may see.’ So the Lord opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw, and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha” (verse 17). God was protecting Elisha and his servant with a whole army of magnificent angelic beings! I’ve often wondered if Elisha and other great prophets of God could also perceive Satan and demons as easily as Elisha could per- ceive God’s angels. Regardless, one thing is certain. Satan’s modus operandi today is to operate incognito. He does not want his pres- ence known or detected. He prefers to engage in his devious deeds by stealth. Denying or Redefining Satan There are many denials of Satan’s existence today. Modern psy- chology rests upon the foundation of secularism and humanism, worldviews that deny the supernatural. This means most psycholo- gists deny the existence of a literal Satan and demons. It is ironic that psychologists often refer to a person’s “demons.” By this they do not mean to express belief in wicked spirits. They use the term to describe specific psychological issues that a patient needs to resolve. Liberal Christian scholars, who say the Bible is a manmade book, also deny the existence of Satan. Like humanistic psychologists, they have an antisupernatural bias. They often say belief in Satan and demons is part of the mythology from which the biblical writers borrowed when they wrote Scripture. They conclude that Satan and demons are nothing but legend and lore. Spiritual Warfare in the End Times.indd 22 Spiritual Warfare in the End Times.indd 22 7/30/20 2:25 PM 7/30/20 2:25 PM Copyrighted material The Reality of Satan in the World Today 23 Such liberal scholars assert that there is no place for mythology in the modern world. A national poll of five thousand American clergymen—almost all of them liberal—found that 73 percent rid- iculed the concept of a personal devil of any sort. The famous liberal scholar Elaine Pagels, in her book The Ori- gin of Satan, claims belief in Satan emerged around 150 BC among dissident Jews such as the Essenes at Qumran.1 She claimed that some followers of Jesus also accepted the belief. These, too, she says, were “dissident Jews.” She concludes that the idea of Satan became a means of interpreting human conflict or characterizing human enemies. Some modern New Age leaders, such as David Spangler, sug- gest there is no literal evil being known as Satan, for everything in the universe is God (Spangler is a pantheist). If everything in the universe is God, he reasons, then how could there be a distinct evil angelic entity? Spangler, like some other New Agers, believes in a single God- force that has both a positive pole (a force known as the Christ) and a negative pole (a force known as Lucifer). “Christ” and “Lucifer” are two sides of the same coin. The Christ energies and Lucifer energies work together in keeping the universe in a cosmic balance.2 (Such an idea is not unlike “the force” in the Star Wars movies, which has both a light side and a dark side.) The Christadelphians, categorized as a cult of Christianity,3 claim Satan is not a real supernatural angelic person but refers to the human tendency to engage in sin. They believe “Satan” is an evil principle deep in human nature, inclining people to evil acts.4 Satanists have different views about Satan.5 Some believe what the Bible says about Satan (and God), but they have given allegiance Spiritual Warfare in the End Times.indd 23 Spiritual Warfare in the End Times.indd 23 7/30/20 2:25 PM 7/30/20 2:25 PM Copyrighted material SPIRITUAL WARFARE IN THE END TIMES 24 to Satan even though they understand they may have to suffer eter- nal punishment in hell after death. Others hold to a more dualistic concept, believing that both God and Satan are equal and opposite spiritual forces—either of which human beings can use to achieve their goals in life. Still others interpret Satan to be a force that gov- erns the world of nature, and that they can harness this force to bring about their personal desires. Still others—unquestionably the majority—use the term Satan as a metaphorical way to symbol- ize their rejection of the Christian faith, which they interpret to be a powerless religion that involves nothing more than self-sacrifice, self-denial, and oppression. Modern Wicca—prevalent today among teenagers and women who seek personal empowerment—has become popular because of such books as Wicca: A Guide for the Solitary Practitioner by Scott Cunningham; The Craft: A Witch’s Book of Shadows by Dorothy Morrison; and The Element Encyclopedia of 5000 Spells: The Ulti- mate Reference Book for the Magical Arts by Judika Illes. These books express a disbelief in Satan. This may come as a surprise to some Christians, for many incorrectly believe that Wicca and Satanism are essentially the same. They are not.6 Many people in modern Western culture claim that Satan refers to a personification of evil. A personification involves the represen- tation of an idea in the form of a person. An example is how sin in the Old Testament crouches at the door, ready to pounce on a per- son (Genesis 4:6-7). In similar fashion, many today believe Satan personifies all that is evil in the world. It is regrettable that we often find caricatures of the devil in pop- ular media today that make fun of the very idea of a personal devil. Some, for example, portray the devil as a reddish, two-horned, pointy-tailed, impish-looking creature who carries a pitchfork. The Spiritual Warfare in the End Times.indd 24 Spiritual Warfare in the End Times.indd 24 7/30/20 2:25 PM 7/30/20 2:25 PM Copyrighted material The Reality of Satan in the World Today 25 late stand-up comic Flip Wilson made a fortune causing millions of people to laugh with his famous “the devil made me do it” line. The idea communicated in all this is that belief in Satan is childish. There is a lack of recognition of Satan and his influence even in some conservative churches. Bible-believing pastors and laypeople sometimes seem reluctant to “give the devil his due.” Bible scholar Harold Willmington enlightens us on this: Suppose there is a Bible-believing church which is going through a spiritual crisis. For some months no soul has walked its aisles. The attendance and offerings are down and the members are becoming restless. All Bible pas- tors have had these experiences. Finally, in desperation, a special committee is appointed by the congregation to discover the source of this coldness and lifelessness. After considerable prayer and probing, the committee submits its report. What are its findings? I believe it may be safely assumed that the average committee would lay the blame on one or more of the following: (1) the pas- tor; (2) certain officials; (3) a cold congregation; or (4) a difficult neighborhood. But what fact-finding group would return the fol- lowing indictment? We believe the main source of our heartaches for the past few months is satanic! We believe the reason no souls have been saved recently is due to an all-out attack on our church by the devil! We close this report with a strong recommendation that the congrega- tion call a special meeting, rebuke Satan, plead the blood of Christ and claim the victory!7 Willmington concludes: “If I were the devil I would deny my existence in the world and downplay it in the local church, thus freeing me to go about my business unheeded, unhindered, and Spiritual Warfare in the End Times.indd 25 Spiritual Warfare in the End Times.indd 25 7/30/20 2:25 PM 7/30/20 2:25 PM Copyrighted material SPIRITUAL WARFARE IN THE END TIMES 26 unchecked.”8 This reminds me of one of my favorite Christian writ- ers, C.S. Lewis, who wrote, “There are two equal and opposite errors into which our race can fall about the devils. One is to disbelieve in their existence. The other is to believe, and to feel an excessive and unhealthy interest in them. They themselves are equally pleased by both errors.”9 Lewis’s point is insightful! I’m convinced Satan himself has been busy promoting nonbelief in his existence on a global scale. It is a sound strategy: If there is no real personal enemy, then there will be no preparation for defense against that personal enemy. If there is no preparation for defense, the enemy can attack at will and work his evil while remaining com- pletely incognito. The Biblical Evidence for Satan’s Existence There is scarcely a culture, tribe, or society in this world that does not have some concept or fear of an invisible evil power. Christian missionaries and secular anthropologists alike attest to this. Witch doctors, shrunken heads, voodoo dolls, and totem poles all give dra- matic evidence of this universal fear. What do the Christian Scriptures teach? The Bible is the Chris- tian’s barometer of truth. We test all spiritual truth claims against the Bible (Acts 17:11). In Scripture we discover the real truth about Satan and demons. The biblical evidence for the existence and activity of Satan and demons is formidable. Seven books in the Old Testament specifi- cally teach the reality of Satan—Genesis, 1 Chronicles, Job, Psalms, Isaiah, Ezekiel, and Zechariah (for example, Genesis 3; 1 Chroni- cles 21:1; Job 2:1; Zechariah 3:1-2). Spiritual Warfare in the End Times.indd 26 Spiritual Warfare in the End Times.indd 26 7/30/20 2:25 PM 7/30/20 2:25 PM Copyrighted material The Reality of Satan in the World Today 27 Every New Testament writer—and nineteen New Testament books—also refer to Satan. Devil, another term for Satan, occurs thirty-five times in the New Testament (for example, Matthew 4:1; 1 Peter 5:8-9; James 4:7; 1 John 3:8; Jude 9). Interestingly, out of twenty-nine references to Satan in the four Gospels, Jesus made twenty-five of them. Anything Jesus talks a lot about is something you and I need to pay attention to (see, for example, Matthew 4:10; 25:41; Luke 10:18; 22:31-32; John 8:44). In view of the foregoing evidence, we conclude that a denial of Satan’s existence amounts to a denial of both the statements of Scripture and the testimony of the Savior Himself. Satan Is a Real Person Scripture reveals that Satan is a person. When I call Satan a per- son, however, I do not mean that he is a human being. I mean that he is a spirit being who has all the attributes of personality—mind, emotions, and will. We know Satan has a mind and intelligence because he uses intelligent tactics to deceive people. Paul warned the Corinthian Christians, “I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cun- ning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devo- tion to Christ” (2Corinthians 11:3). Only a person can purposefully engage in deception. Satan also has emotions. He will become “furious” with Israel during the future tribulation period (Revelation 12:17). He abhors the racial lineage of the Messiah, Jesus Christ. He also manifests the emotions of desire (Isaiah 14:13-14), jealousy (Job 1:8-9), hate (1 Peter 5:8), and anger (Revelation 12:12). Spiritual Warfare in the End Times.indd 27 Spiritual Warfare in the End Times.indd 27 7/30/20 2:25 PM 7/30/20 2:25 PM Copyrighted material SPIRITUAL WARFARE IN THE END TIMES 28 We know Satan has a will, for he volitionally rebelled against God (Isaiah 14:12-14). He literally willed to take God’s place. Satan’s will is also clear in that he gives commands (Luke 4:3,9) and leads a rebellion against God and His people (Revelation 20:7-9). Other persons in both the Old and New Testaments interacted with Satan as a real person. One example is how Satan verbally inter- acted with God about Job (Job 1). He also dialogued with Jesus: “The tempter came and said to him, ‘If you are the Son of God, com- mand these stones to become loaves of bread’” (Matthew 4:3). Jesus met each of the devil’s temptations with strategic Scripture quota- tions and defeated him. We can also observe that the names, titles, and ascriptions used of Satan would make sense only if he were a person. For example, Satan is the evil one (John 17:15; 1 John 5:18-19), the accuser of our brothers (Revelation 12:10), the tempter (Matthew 4:3; 1 Thessalo- nians 3:5), the ruler of this world (John 12:31), the god of this world (2 Corinthians 4:4), and the prince of the power of the air (Ephe- sians 2:2). Satan is a real—albeit evil—person. Still further, other persons in both the Old and New Testaments use personal pronouns to describe him (Job 1; Matthew 4:1-11). He also engages in a variety of personal actions (Matthew 4:1-11; John 8:44; 1 John 3:8; Jude 9). Satan’s Existence Illustrated in Job There is perhaps no more potent example of undeserved pain and suffering than Job, an upright and godly man (Job 1:1). One minute everything was fine in Job’s life; the next he had lost nearly everything—his family, his wealth, and his health (1:6–2:10). Spiritual Warfare in the End Times.indd 28 Spiritual Warfare in the End Times.indd 28 7/30/20 2:25 PM 7/30/20 2:25 PM Copyrighted material The Reality of Satan in the World Today 29 Job had no idea of what was going on behind the scenes in “the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12). He did not understand that his body was serving as a spiritual battleground between God and Satan. He was blind to the reality that the powers of darkness had launched an insidious assault against him and that God purposefully allowed this assault. You and I are fortunate. We have the book of Job to inform us about Satan’s behind-the-scenes activities. Job had no such book. To him, it seemed like his calamities had perfectly natural explanations: The Sabeans took his oxen and donkeys; fire from heaven—perhaps lightning—burned his sheep; the Chaldeans took his camels; and a great wind (a tornado?) wrecked his oldest son’s house and killed his children. The truth is, Satan was behind all of this! When we encounter sufferings in life, it may appear that there are natural explanations for all of them, but in reality there may be a satanic or demonic attack behind them. This happened in Job’s life, and it may well happen to us. The problem is that our earthly per- spective has limitations, and we often cannot know whether there is spiritual warfare going on behind the scenes. I therefore suggest: • Trust in God and depend on Him, no matter what. Our painful circumstances may or may not relate to a demonic attack. Let’s follow Proverbs 3:5: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.” • God is never blind about why bad things happen to us, and, in fact, He always has a good purpose for allowing whatever circumstances come our way (Romans 8:28). That is all the more reason to trust Him. Spiritual Warfare in the End Times.indd 29 Spiritual Warfare in the End Times.indd 29 7/30/20 2:25 PM 7/30/20 2:25 PM Copyrighted material