The Origin of Spiritual Warfare; James 4:7b
James 4:7 NASB "Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you."
The believer is told to go on the defence. Who goes on the offence? The Lord. David said it best: "The battle is the Lord's." We see a tremendous illustration of what took place when the Israelites were leaving Egypt. On their way to Mount Sinai they ran into a bunch of brigands called the Amalekites. They engaged in a huge battle just on the plain not far from Mount Sinai and there the issue was going to be made clear that problems in life had to be solved by the grace of God, relying on His power alone. To illustrate this God had Moses stand up on the hill where the whole army could see him, and as long as his arms were outstretched and he could hold them up then the Israelites were winning. But if he began to drop his arms then the Israelites would begin to lose. So he got Aaron on one side and Hur on the other to prop his arms up. That was an illustration of his complete reliance upon the Lord. One thing we learn from that is that the victory did not happen instantaneously, it took a long time for them to win, but they did win. But the issue in that whole battle was defence. The Battle is the Lord's He is the one who engages the enemy in offensive action. The believer's responsibility is to maintain a defensive posture by putting on the armour of God. That is the metaphor that Paul uses in Ephesians chapter six, and the believer takes up his position putting on the armour of God, putting in the fortification of Bible doctrine to defend the soul against the onslaught of the three enemies in the believer's life: Satan, the world system (Cosmos), and the flesh which is the sin nature.
The sin nature is the only one of these three that operates inside the believer; it is the traitor within our bodies. The world is an external system or way of thinking, and Satan and all of his demons operate in a spirit realm, they are not observable to us through our sense, we are not aware of their presence, they are immaterial, they masquerade as angels of light. The only way we know anything about Satan and demons is what the Word of God tells us. We do not intuitively know what is satanic, what is demonic, and what is not. There are a lot of arrogant people who think that because they have liver-quiver, their glands get stirred, or whatever, that they know that Satan and demons are present. Therefore they go out and confront somebody who has a lot of problems and they immediately jump to the conclusion that it must be demonic and must be demon possession. One of the problems with this is that the sin nature that indwells every single human being, including every believer, is qualitatively evil. That is the nature of sin. The sin nature of Satan is no more potentially evil than our sin nature. The difference is that the greatest creature that ever came from the hand of God in terms of physical beauty, in terms of intelligence, in terms of talent, of every category of ability that we can think of, none surpassed Lucifer. So his ability is unsurpassed and he can fulfil his lusts of his sin nature to a far greater degree than any other creature. Even so, he is still a creature and he is still limited by the sovereignty of God and by his own creaturely limitations. What we learn is that just because something is evil does not necessitate that it is demonic.
James tells us that the solution for recovery from control of the sin nature starts with authority orientation: "Submit therefore to God." Then he says: "And resist the devil." The conjunction is left out of the English translation but in the original Greek is the conjunction DE [de] which here should be translated "and," and it shows that there is a connection between the second imperative and the first. They are two sides of the same coin. To submit to God you have to resist the devil. We have been talking about the fact that friendship with the cosmos is hostility toward God and whoever wishes to be a friend of the cosmos makes himself an enemy of God. So we only have two options. On the one hand there is God and on the other hand there is Satan. God is the God of light. We talk about the Holy Spirit who indwells every single believer. He operates on the principle of grace and Satan operates on the principle of arrogance, morality, religion. His is called the kingdom of darkness, he appeals to our sin nature, so when we are walking according to the flesh we are fulfilling Satan's goal. His world system is called cosmic thinking, from the Greek word kosmoj, which indicates that it is an orderly, systematic arrangement, and it operates on two basic principles: a) arrogance, that which is hostile to God and lifts itself up against God; b) antagonism to anything divine. Arrogance is a positive thing in terms of asserting our own self-will and human ability, and antagonism to God resists anything that supports Scripture. We have to learn to submit to God and resist the devil. There we have a wonderful promise that if we resist the devil he will flee from us, and this indicates that this is an automatic thing. This is not a process, this is instant.
The origin of the angelic conflict (Cont.)
3) At that point Lucifer received a new name. The Scripture names always reveal something about the essence, character or role of the creature. His names: Lucifer meant 'Son of the Morning,' and that indicated that he was a creature of light, and it also indicates by implication that he was created holy. Shatan [Heb.] means adversary or one who is in opposition, the opposer. It is a legal term for a prosecutor. Diablolos [Diaboloj], which ultimately becomes "devil." This is used 37 times in the New Testament and it means adversary, enemy, accuser, and its core meaning is to be a slanderer. Diabolos is found in Matthew 4:1; Satan is found in Matthew 4:10; Ephesians 4:27; Revelation 12:9; 20:2. He is also called the evil one, John 17:5; 1 John 5:18, 19. He is called the serpent in Genesis 3:1; the great red dragon in Revelation 12:3, 7, 9. He is called the accuser of the brethren in Revelation 12:10; 1 John 2:1, 2. He is called the tempter in Matthew 4:3; 1 Thessalonians 3:5; Acts 5:3; 1 Corinthians 7:5; because he is the one who is tempting man to disobey God. He puts thoughts into the minds of the believer. Cf. John 13:2. He is called the ruler of this world ARCHON TOU KOSMOU [a)rxon tou kosmou], John 12:31, emphasizing the fact that he is the ruler of the cosmic system. He is called the god of this world in the English translation in 2 Corinthians 4:4, but the term there is not "world," it is AIONOS [a)iwmoj] which has a temporal concept. It is the same word as for eternity and it means age. This emphasizes that he has a temporal, finite rule over the earth from the fall of Adam until the time that he is defeated first at Armageddon and then after the Gog and Magog revolution where he is finally thrown in to the lake of fire. He is called the prince of the power of the air in Ephesians 2:2. He is called the great deceiver in Revelation 12:9. He is also called Beelzebub in Matthew 12:24, a title for Satan as the chief of demons.
4) Satan then appealed after the fall to the angels. He led one third in revolt against God. Revelation 12:4.
5) In eternity past God convened a trial in heaven, judged them guilty, and sentenced them to eternity in the lake of fire. Matthew 25:41; Revelation 20:10. Matthew 25:41 says that the lake of fire was prepared, past tense, for the devil and his angels. If it was prepared in eternity past for them for their judgment, why aren't they there? Because God halted the process to resolve Satan's appeal and inserted all of human history as a training aid to all of the angels to show them His justice, His righteousness, and to reveal to all creatures for all time and eternity that the only way to have success in anything is to have complete submission to the authority of God the Father.
6) Although condemned, Satan apparently entered an appeal, challenged the justice and fairness of God, and so God granted the appeal and that is the basis and explanation for human history.
7) There are two dangers in talking about demons. The first is excessive rationalism. In rationalism we tend to only believe the saying that make sense to us, that we can justify on the basis of our own reason, and this always limits the power of Satan, or it denies the reality of Satan. The other extreme or danger is mysticism. Mysticism always ends up in some sort of dualism which blames all the problems of life on Satan and the demons instead of recognizing the fact that you as a believer have volition and are making all your decisions from your own volition. Paganism always tries to go for victimization. Human viewpoint thinking says if evil is natural then my evil is not my fault; it is someone else's fault, I'm the victim.
8) Conclusion: We are engaged, therefore, as key players in this cosmic war. There is a war going on throughout all of the universe between the rebellious angels, called demons and Satan, and against God and the holy angels. And we are the test case, the experiment. We are carrying out the drama and Satan has a strategy for he and the demons to get their way.
1) Satan is the master counterfeiter. 2 Corinthians 11:13-15. "For such men are false apostles, deceitful workers, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. No wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. Therefore it is not surprising if his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness, whose end will be according to their deeds." Satan would rather masquerade and promote morality because that is much more destructive than immorality. Remember Satan wants to rule and bring order to the cosmos, to bring peace and stability to everything, so he would rather promote righteousness and morality than unrighteousness and immorality.
2) Satan counterfeits the truth a number of different ways. He has counterfeit doctrines, 1 Timothy 4:1. He has counterfeit teachers and prophets. We would be amazed to see how many men there are in pulpits of churches who are not believers and who are there to promote false doctrine under the sponsorship of Satan and the demons. He sponsors a counterfeit communion table, 1 Corinthians 10:20, 21. He offers a counterfeit righteousness which is based on legalism and morality, Matthew 19:16-26. He promotes a counterfeit gospel, a false gospel that includes works, 2 Corinthians 11:3, 4. This is one of the ways he obscures the truth of the gospel and blinds unbelievers to the truth of the gospel, 2 Corinthians 4:4. He offers a counterfeit spirituality which is designed to get believers off-track, Galatians 3:2, 3. He also performs counterfeit signs, wonders and miracles, 2 Thessalonians 2:8-10.
3) His primary method of distracting and blinding people to the truth is through false systems of thinking called cosmic thinking. The term that is used is COSMOS DIABOLICUS, the devil's cosmic system. As the promoter of these systems he is called the ruler of this world, this cosmos.
4) As the ruler he is a failure. One of the best quotes on this comes from Louis Sperry Chafer, Systematic Theology, Vol. II, p. 100:
"Next to the lie itself, the greatest delusion Satan imposes—reaching to all unsaved and to a large proportion of Christians—is the supposition that only such things as society considers evil could originate with the devil—if, indeed, there be any devil to originate anything. It is not the reason of man, but the revelation of God, which points out that governments, morals, education, art, commercialism, vast enterprises and organizations, and much of religious activity are included in the cosmos diabolicus. That is, the system which Satan has constructed includes all the good which he can incorporate into it and be consistent in the thing he aims to accomplish. A serious question arises whether the presence of gross evil in the world is due to Satan's intention to have it so, or whether it indicates Satan's inability to execute all he has designed. The probability is great that Satan's ambition has led him to undertake more than any creature could ever administer. Revelation declares that the whole cosmos-system must be annihilated—not its evil alone, but all that is in it, both good and bad. God will incorporate nothing of Satan's failure into that kingdom which He will set up in the earth."