The Spiritual Battle for the Kingdom of God

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armour of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armour of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should (Ephesians 6:10-20).

I beg you that when I come I may not have to be as bold as I expect to be toward some people who think that we live by the standards of this world. For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. 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. And we will be ready to punish every act of disobedience, once your obedience is complete (2 Corinthians 10:2-6).

There is indeed a great spiritual battle being waged as the kingdom of God gloriously and victoriously advances. 

I will make your battlements of rubies, your gates of sparkling jewels, and all your walls of precious stones. All your children will be taught by the Lord, and great will be their peace. In righteousness you will be established: Tyranny will be far from you; you will have nothing to fear. Terror will be far removed; it will not come near you. If anyone does attack you, it will not be my doing; whoever attacks you will surrender to you. “See, it is I who created the blacksmith who fans the coals into flame and forges a weapon fit for its work. And it is I who have created the destroyer to wreak havoc; no weapon forged against you will prevail, and you will refute every tongue that accuses you. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and this is their vindication from me,” declares the Lord (Isaiah 54:12-17).

If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died —more than that, who was raised to life —is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: “For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:31-39).

The raging battle is fierce. However, from the perspective of our sovereign God and King of kings who are in heaven, the devil has already been completely defeated and cast out of heaven to the lower earthly realm. His power of humanity has largely been broken and people have been set free from his control which was once through accusing sinners of their sin and filling them with the fear of death.

Death is the consequence of sin.

The accuser of our brothers and sisters, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down. They triumphed over him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death. Therefore rejoice, you heavens and you who dwell in them! But woe to the earth and the sea, because the devil has gone down to you! He is filled with fury, because he knows that his time is short.” When the dragon saw that he had been hurled to the earth, he pursued the woman who had given birth to the male child (Revelation 12:10-13).

Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil — and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death. For surely it is not angels he helps, but Abraham’s descendants. For this reason he had to be made like them, fully human in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people. Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted (Hebrews 2:14-18).

By holding people in bondage according to the guilt of sin and through their fear of death, the enemy of humanity provokes people to respond to one another with uncertainty, fear, suspicion, greed, selfishness, dishonesty and coveting as they continue to indulge the sinful nature. Jesus brings the forgiveness of sins, he fills us with the Holy Spirit and with his love and reconciles us to God and to one another in peace. We are made a new humanity through whom the love, mercy and peace of God prevails in his kingdom which is not of this world – and through the transforming power of the Holy Spirit we are indeed set free from sin. Our faithfulness to God is now expressed through love for God and for humanity.

Dear children, do not let anyone lead you astray. The one who does what is right is righteous, just as he is righteous. The one who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work. No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in them; they cannot go on sinning, because they have been born of God. This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not God’s child, nor is anyone who does not love their brother and sister (1 John 3:7-10).

Many people, including Christians, believe that there is a great battle raging between God and Satan as to gaining control over humanity in the flesh. However, the battle is not over the control of humanity in the flesh. Humanity in the flesh is already under the control of Satan, the accuser, deceiver and liar. Although the accusations brought against humanity in the flesh are all too often true and deserving of death by God’s holy law, we do not seek clemency nor does God grant clemency for sinners. On the contrary, to satisfy God’s justice, the sinner is indeed sentenced to death.

Some have taught that Jesus paid the price by dying for us and that we are therefore set free from condemnation and spared from the sentence of death. This is not true. Jesus died as far as his body of flesh was concerned and when we are baptised into his Name, so too, are we baptised into his death and counted as if we died with him and were buried with him. By the power of the Holy Spirit we both put to death the former life lived under the control of the desires of the flesh – and we are raised to a new life by the power of the Holy Spirit. We cannot embrace the new life in the Spirit unless we put to death the former life which was once under the control of the flesh. By the Law we have died to the Law and thereby also set free from the accuser and deceiver who still hold all of humanity in the flesh in their bondage. However, they may indeed be set free from the power of the devil through believing in Jesus and the good news of the kingdom of God and His mercy.

We know that anyone born of God does not continue to sin; the One who was born of God keeps them safe, and the evil one cannot harm them. We know that we are children of God, and that the whole world is under the control of the evil one. We know also that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true. And we are in him who is true by being in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life. Dear children, keep yourselves from idols (1 John 5:18-21).

No human being confined only to the realm of the flesh will be reconciled to God or made friendly with God. On the contrary, all flesh is hostile to God and cannot ever hope to become pleasing to God no matter how religious or devoted to the Law of Moses one may profess to be. The Law will always condemn the sinner and all have sinned and need to be set free through death and through being born again.

Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God.

You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ. But if Christ is in you, then even though your body is subject to death because of sin, the Spirit gives life because of righteousness. And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you (Romans 8:5-11).

The spiritual battle is not so much between God, (who is in heaven), and Satan, (who has been cast down to the earthly realm). If that were the case, God is sovereign and all powerful and could destroy Satan immediately. However, God has allowed Satan to test and sift humanity in the flesh to test genuine faithfulness and love for God, but also to deceive all who in the sinful pride refuse to love the truth of the gospel through which they could potentially be reconciled to God.

The battle between good and evil is waged over the control of the human mind and soul. The victory of evil is through death of the flesh and through bringing one’s mind under the control of the Holy Spirit. Satan already has control over humanity in the flesh and he maintains control through sin and people’s fear of death. However, while the gospel is being preached and the present day being the “day of salvation”, the knowledge of the truth will set people free from the control of Satan.  There will come a time when the opportunity for salvation will draw to a close at which time Satan will be released to fully deceive all of humanity who refused to love the truth.

A time is coming when Satan will be released to manifest the full extent of his power and he will indeed gain full control over humanity in the flesh. At that time, the trap of evil will suddenly close and people will even long to die but for no purpose.

The opportunity to die, (the first death), and to also be raised to the new life, (the first resurrection), as the one new humanity in the Spirit is now through faith in Jesus. It is certainly not in a future and literal millennium. The battle continues to rage and it reveals as to whether humanity is in the flesh and under the control of Satan or, if they die in Christ and are raised to new life, they become a new creation – the new humanity in which there remains no former racial or national barriers. The mind will either come under the willing control of the Spirit through the new life or remain under the control of the flesh and still under condemnation and God’s wrath.

God is an extremely jealous God.

“You shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments” (Exodus 20:3-6).

Break down their altars, smash their sacred stones and cut down their Asherah poles. Do not worship any other god, for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God (Exodus 34:13-14).

God is an extremely jealous God. We were created for God’s glory and that his Spirit may live in us and bond us in unity with one another and with Jesus the Messiah and King in the Spirit. However, God will not share his affection and love for humanity with any other god – and of course certainly not with Satan who entices humanity to find glory and purpose in the realm of the flesh through which they would forfeit eternal life. We were created with the purpose of becoming immortal spiritual beings who will be given new, glorified and immortal bodies in the second resurrection. But humanity must first participate in the first resurrection to new life in the Spirit or they will be raised only to experience the second death – which is eternal condemnation for having clung to the life controlled by the devil who tries to imitate – and put himself in the place of – God.   

The Spirit he caused to live in us envies intensely over us – but he does not force any human being to be reconciled to him.

You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God? Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. Or do you think Scripture says without reason that he jealously longs for the spirit he has caused to dwell in us? But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: “God opposes the proud but shows favour to the humble.” Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up (James 4:4-10).

God is Spirit, but the devil enticed Eve into the visible realm of the created world. People often worship the creation more than they do the invisible God who is Spirit. To devote oneself to anything above that of God, who is Spirit, is to commit idolatry and spiritual adultery with the god of this world, Satan.

We were made to be a body – a new humanity – in which God lives by his Spirit.

Consequently, you (who were formerly not included among God’s holy nation) are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit (Ephesians 2:19-22). 

Satan wanted to be glorified and worshipped by humanity who were made at first a little lower than the angels. Some people have suggested that when Adam and Eve disobeyed God they fell from a high position but they were never higher than the angels to begin with – and that is why Eve was – and could be – deceived by the serpent’s cunning

Humanity was tempted, seduced and deceived into coming under the control of Satan in the physical world and the realm of the flesh. Satan gained a hold over humanity through their sin, through their love of this present world and by their fear of death and the “great unknown”. 

Humanity can only be set free from the realm of the flesh so that the spirit over which God envies intensely may return to him. Jesus paid a ransom (on behalf of humanity) by having also been given a body of flesh to be offered in sacrifice so that humanity may be set free from the control of Satan in the realm of the flesh and to come under the control of God who is the Spirit and in whose image we are still “being made”. 

God knew the evil of Satan and his potential control over humanity in the flesh and so he warned Adam that if they ventured into the things of the world, to be ruled over by the lusts and aspirations of the flesh, they would eventually be deceived by evil and enticed into sin and surely die.

But it is through death that we are set free. 

In being set free through death we are only raised again to a new life in the spirit as a new humanity if we prove genuine faithfulness to the God who is Spirit. Genuine faithfulness can no longer love visible things of the realm of this world and of the flesh. 

Because the flesh already stands condemned and rejected by God and cannot be made good or acceptable the only pleasing solution to God that proves genuine faithfulness to God is not to bow down to the flesh and let it rule our minds but to put it to death finally and completely. No flesh will enter the kingdom of God and without holiness no human will see or know God who is invisible and Spirit. 

The angels  too are invisible and they desire to manifest themselves through humanity in the flesh, but the jealous God will destroy all flesh either through faith in Jesus and the cross or through the second death. The spiritual battle rages on.

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