The Forgotten Battle of Spiritual Warfare

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavens.  (Ephesians 6:12)

Martin Luther ends his Large Catechism with these words: “They [the contents of the Large Catechism] must all certainly help us to believe, love, pray, and fight against the devil.”  So Luther teaches us that our Christian life is more than believing, loving, and praying.  We also fight and battle against the forces of darkness. 

But today, we think little of the devil.  We don’t see our Christian lives as a daily battle against the forces of darkness.  Yet, Satan has not forgotten us!  He prowls about daily looking to destroy us.  And the less vigilant we are, the more precarious our circumstances.  That’s why the Scriptures urge us to watch and be alert.

Be clear-minded and alert.  Your accuser, the devil, is on the prowl like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.  Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kinds of suffering. (1 Peter 5:8-9)

So how do we fight the devil–who, from eternity’s viewpoint, is already defeated?  First, we fight him with the same weapon that has already destroyed his power from the cross.  Yes, the first weapon is the blood of the Lamb, that is, the blood of Jesus.  It’s Jesus’ blood sacrificed on the cross that forgives our sin.  Jesus’ blood covers all our guilt and shame.  His blood makes peace with God.

We have Jesus’ blood covering us when we believe His promise of forgiveness and trust that His death saves us.  And even more, He gives His blood into our mouths in the Lord’s Supper.  There, Jesus says to us, “Take and drink, this is the blood of the New Testament, shed for you for the forgiveness of sins.”  

And so when we come to the Lord’s Supper, we are fighting the devil and overthrowing his kingdom of darkness.  How so?  For at the Lord’s altar, God give us the most precious treasure in the entire universe–the blood that won our salvation!

So, how do you fight against the devil?  One way is to receive Jesus’ body and blood for the forgiveness of sins.  You can never have too much forgiveness to silence the devil’s lies that constantly accuse you.

The second weapon God has given us is His revealed Word, the Scriptures, that bring us Christ.  Martin Luther said:

Certainly you will not release a stronger incense … against the devil than to be engaged by God’s commandments and words, and speak, sing, or think them.  For this is indeed the true “holy water” and “holy sign” from which the devil runs and by which he may be driven away [Longer Preface to the Large Catechism, 10].

The Word of God is the “Sword of the Spirit,” the weapon the Holy Spirit gives to Christians to fight against the devil’s lies.  The devil tells us that he has our best interest at heart.  The Bible tells us the devil is a liar, murderer, and thief.  The devil tells us that we are good people.  The Bible tells us that we are sinners who desperately need God’s mercy.  The devil tells us that God hates us, or doesn’t care about us, or that He has no more forgiveness left because we keep on sinning.  The Bible tells us that our heavenly Father is merciful and patient, and that Jesus has paid the price for the sins of the entire world.  Indeed, as we take up the Scriptures, the devil is beaten back and we are given the joy of our salvation.

When the Apostle Paul encouraged the church in Ephesus to take up their fight against the devil, he didn’t tell them to storm the citadel of hell and do what only God can do.  Instead, the Apostle told them to “stand” (Ephesians 6:13-17).  

And so what do we do?  We stand, refusing to be cowed down by Satan and his lies.  We stand, rejoicing in the death of Jesus for us and the forgiveness of all our sins.  We stand against the devil’s accusations, and–armed with the Lamb’s blood from the Lord’s Supper and His Word–we stand with clear consciences, ready for the Lord’s return.  Amen.