Is There A Demon On The Steeple

Bible Book: Ephesians  6 : 10-13
Subject: Spiritual Warfare; Demons

Sometime back I heard a fellow preacher speaking about Satan and his use of demonic forces. He was also speaking about the current condition of many churches. He bemoaned the fact that in many churches today, the Spirit of God no longer seems to be present. There seems to be a general lethargy, which chokes life. He stated (accurately or not) that Satan has so long ago won the battle for most churches that he no longer bothers with them anymore. He stated that since most churches  are no longer a threat to Satan's kingdom all he had to do was to station some second-rate demon on the steeple of each church. The instructions to the demon went as follows.

"While I don't expect anything to happen, if the church ever begins to wake up, you let me know."

That humorous and poignant scenario may not be very accurate but it certainly makes the point.  Many churches, many families, many individual lives have so long ago surrendered that there is little chance of an awakening to life. This entire series of messages on spiritual warfare has been to awaken our church. The purpose is to expose the enemy so that we might fight the battle victoriously. I am not in this for a truce, a stalemate, and certainly not defeat. I am praying for a church that will be on fire for Jesus Christ. I am praying for a church that will see victory in spiritual warfare. To lose the battle on this level is to lose the war. Is there a demon on the steeple of this church? If there is, I  hope that he is sending back regular reports of life inside the fellowship. I hope that he is screaming for help from Satan himself. However, I hope he knows that this church is protected by the blood of Jesus Christ. I hope that he knows that the families and individuals in this church are sold out to Jesus and his in-roads in their lives will simply not be tolerated.

Sooner or later every seeking believer discovers that the Christian life is a battleground, not a playground, and that he faces an enemy who is much stronger than he is--apart from the Lord. That Paul should use military illustrations in referring to the believer's conflict is reasonable. The text we will read this morning is from the book of Ephesians. While he wrote this letter, he himself was chained to a Roman soldier (Ephesians 6:20), and his readers were certainly familiar with soldiers and the equipment they used. In fact, military illustrations were favorites with Paul.

Turn with me to our passage for the day, Ephesians 6:10-13.

As Christians we face three enemies: the world, the flesh, and the devil (Ephesians 2:1-3). "The world" refers to the system around us that is opposed to God, that caters to "the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life" (1 John 2:15-17). "Society apart from God" is a simple, but accurate, definition of "the world." "The flesh" is the old nature that we inherited from Adam, a nature that is opposed to God and can do nothing spiritual to please God. By His death and resurrection, Christ overcame the world (John 16:33; Galatians 6:14), and the flesh (Romans 6:1-6; Galatians 2:20), and the devil (Ephesians 1:19-23). In other words, as believers, we do not fight for victory--we fight from victory! The Spirit of God enables us, by faith, to appropriate Christ's victory for ourselves.

In these closing verses of the letter, Paul discussed four topics so that his readers, by understanding and applying these truths, might walk in victory. Later, we will study the whole passage. This morning, however, we will focus on the enemy of victory (vs. 10-12). Unless we know who the enemy is, where he is, and what he can do, we have a difficult time defeating him. Not only in Ephesians 6, but throughout the entire Bible, God instructs us about the enemy, so there is no reason for us to be caught off guard.

I. We Need To Identify The Leader--The Devil

The enemy has many different names. Devil means "accuser," because he accuses God's people day and night before the throne of God (Revelation 12:7-11). Satan means "adversary," because he is the enemy of God. He is also called the tempter (Matthew 4:3), and the murderer and the liar (John 8:44). He is compared to a lion (1 Peter 5:8), a serpent (Genesis 3:1; Revelation 12:9), and an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:13-15), as well as "the god of this age" (2 Corinthians 4:4, NIV).

How does he accomplish so much? He is the leader of a band of organized helpers.

II. We Need To Expose Satan's Helpers

Paul called them "rulers . . . authorities . . .powers . . . spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms" (Ephesians 6:12). Charles B. Williams translates it: "For our contest is not with human foes alone, but with the rulers, authorities, and cosmic powers of this dark world; that is, with the spirit forces of evil challenging us in the heavenly contest" (WMS). This suggests a definite army of demonic creatures that assist Satan in his attacks against believers. The Apostle John hinted that one third of the angels fell with Satan when he rebelled against God (Revelation 12:4), and Daniel wrote that Satan's angels struggle against God's angels for control of the affairs of nations (Daniel 10:13-20). A spiritual battle is going on in this world, and in the sphere of "the heavenlies," and you and I are a part of this battle. Knowing this makes "walking in victory" a vitally important thing to us-- and to God.

The important point is that our battle is not against human beings. It is against spiritual powers. We are wasting our time fighting people when we ought to be fighting the devil, who seeks to control people and make them oppose the work of God. I am not saying that every human action is a direct manipulation of some kind of demonic deity. To ascribe every action and/or thought to the devil is to remove ourselves from personal responsibility. There are some who think that we are the unwitting pawns at the mercy of some kind of cosmic wrestling match, some kind of divine WCW wrestling match. The truth is that the evil one is capable of taking any situation in your life, school, work, or relationships and using every thought, action, and situation for his glory. He is the master of manipulating relationships and situations so as to cause division among the body of Christ, stunted growth among believers, and misunderstanding among the lost regarding the truth of how to be saved. Please recognize that while we spend a great deal of energy and effort trying to do life so as to achieve spiritual victory, we fail miserably because we are fighting the wrong enemies and looking in the wrong place to do battle.

III. We Need To Recognize Satan's Abilities

The admonitions Paul gave indicate that Satan is a strong enemy (Ephesians 6:10-12), and that we need the power of God to be able to stand against him. Never underestimate the power of the devil. He is not compared to a lion and a dragon just for fun! The Book of Job tells what his power can do to a man's body, home, wealth, and friends. Jesus calls Satan a thief who comes "to steal, and to kill, and to destroy" (John 10:10). Not only is Satan strong, but he is also wise and subtle, and we fight against "the wiles of the devil." Schemes means "cunning, crafty arts, stratagems." The Christian cannot afford to be "ignorant of his devices" (2 Corinthians 2:11). Some men are cunning and crafty and "lie in wait to deceive" (Ephesians 4:14), but behind them is the arch-deceiver, Satan. He masquerades as an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:14) and seeks to blind men's minds to the truth of God's Word. The fact that Paul uses the word "struggle" indicates that we are involved in a hand to-hand battle and are not mere spectators at a game. Satan wants to use our external enemy, the world, and our internal enemy, the flesh, to defeat us. His weapons and battle plans are formidable.

IV. We Need To See The Way To Victory (vs. 10-11)

Since we are fighting against enemies in the spirit world, we need special equipment both for offense and defense. God has provided the whole armor for us and we dare not omit any part. While we will study this passage in much greater detail in the weeks ahead, we need to see the importance of positioning ourselves so that we might have victory and clothing ourselves with the spiritual armor of God so that we might do more than achieve a stalemate, but move on to victory!

Paul commanded his readers to put on the armor, take the weapons, and withstand Satan, all of which we do by faith. Knowing that Christ has already conquered Satan and that the spiritual armor and weapons are available, by faith we accept what God gives us and go out to meet the foe.

Please pay attention again to the admonition in v. 10 to "be strong in the Lord." He alone is the source of victory and we need to count on "His mighty power" to win the battle.

It all comes down to a choice, doesn't it? We need to choose between the way of God or the way of Satan. We need to choose the army on whose side we will fight. We need to decide whether or not to allow the demon on the steeple to rest or to flee with fright.

I shared with our witness training class an old illustration, which speaks to the point of this issue. It dealt with an elderly American Indian who had received Christ. He was asked by his missionary friend how he was doing in the Christian life. He stated that there were two dogs fighting inside him. With a puzzled look, the missionary asked him what he meant. He replied that these two dogs fought constantly. One was a good dog and one was a bad dog. The missionary then asked, "Which dog is winning?" The old Indian replied, "The one I feed the most."

The point is clear, isn't it? We need to take a stand, to claim an allegiance, to make a decision. Paul admonishes us to be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power. The decision is up to us.