Spiritual Warfare and Evangelism: Three Methods of Satan

by Mar 3, 2022Christian Living, Theology

Spiritual warfare is a reality for every follower of Jesus Christ – and especially for those who take seriously the call to reach the world with the gospel of Jesus Christ. Make no mistake: when you have decided to be a part of winning people from the kingdom of darkness to that of light, warfare is guaranteed. But what exactly does that warfare look like? It must be more than simple “opposition” to our evangelistic efforts, as Paul shows us in Acts 16:6:

“Paul and his companions traveled throughout the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been kept by the Holy Spirit from preaching the word in the province of Asia (emphasis mine).”

So, how do we recognize spiritual warfare? What methods does our enemy use that we can identify and “stand” against as we adorn ourselves with the “armor of God” listed in Ephesians 6:10-20? Here are three methods our enemy employs in the context of evangelism.

Accusation and slander

I start with accusation because this is really who Satan is. The name “Satan” is the Hebrew word for “the accuser.” This is brought out clearly in Revelation 12:10 where he is said to be “the accuser of our brethren”.

Satan does not accuse stupidly. He knows where you struggle; he is aware of where you falter; he is well acquainted with where you harbor doubt – these areas will be the epicenters of his accusations. What is critical for you to know is that his accusations are always bathed in falsehoods, and they always have the same objectives: to convince you that God cannot use you and is not for you.

Whispers to watch out for:

  • You sinned again? Why would God ever want to use you to reach others?
  • Look at how distracted and unorganized you are – God needs someone who “has it together”
  • You have no right to share the gospel. Look at your sin. You are nothing more than a hypocrite!

What we can say in response

Of course, we cannot declare ourselves sinless. We cannot hold out or proclaim our own righteousness either. Isaiah makes it clear that our own righteous efforts are nothing more than “filthy rags” (IS 64:6). However, we can say with the apostle Paul, “Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? (Romans 8:33-34). We can say, “nothing can separate us from the love of Christ” (Romans 8:38). We can declare that “we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all” (Hebrews 10:10). In short, we can tell Satan, “Yes, I am imperfect, but my Savior’s righteousness is flawless and has been imputed to me. If you want to challenge His righteousness, your argument is with God, not me.”

When we are clear about God’s satisfaction with us because of Jesus, we are freed from guilt, freed from unworthiness, and freed to reach others with the gospel.

Temptation and doubt

“And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. It is not surprising, then, if his servants also masquerade as servants of righteousness…” (2 Cor 11:14-15 emphasis mine).

These verses create a picture of Satan and his servants that I think can be summed up in one word: counterfeits. Who would be tempted by a raging beast or seething monster? That’s why Scripture makes it clear that Satan’s (and his servants’) objective in temptation is to win us toward something that seems good while sowing seeds of doubt in the actual goodness of God.

Just look at how he tried to tempt our Savior in Matthew 4. His counterfeit dedication to God’s word didn’t fool Jesus in the wilderness. However, we can be prone to his temptations if we do not guard our hearts with Scriptural truth as Jesus did.

Whispers to watch out for:

  • Of course you should share the gospel – but later
  • This isn’t the kind of person that would say “yes” to Jesus. It’s safer to stay quiet.
  • God has ordained professionals for evangelism. He doesn’t want you to mess this up.
  • You already do so many good things – how much does God expect from you?

What we can say in response

We can remind ourselves of 2 Corinthians 5:11-21, which emphatically declares that all of us are ministers of reconciliation, not just pastors and evangelists. We can pray along with Paul in Ephesians 6:19 for the Lord to provide the words and the opportunity – and trust Him to provide both. We can choose to see sharing our faith as a “get to” instead of a “have to.” In Scripture, we see that it’s not an expectation from God in the sense of “do this, or suffer my wrath!” It’s an expectation in the sense of “do this, and experience the joy and privilege of being a part of winning people to the Kingdom!”

All of these things bring us back to scripture as our source of truth. And all of them are hated by our enemy who wants you to see evangelism as a burdensome, tiresome, impossible task. He is a liar.

Affliction and persecution

One look through the book of Job and walkthrough of the persecutions experienced by the apostles, early Christians as well as those around the world today confronts us with stark realities. The Christian life has never been one of ease and leisure. While we, as Christians, are safe and secure in Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit, we are nonetheless living in a fallen world where Satan has been given a measure of authority for a time. Scripture brings this out clearly:

  • All that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution (2 Tim 3:12)
  • Marvel not, my brethren, if the world hates you (1 John 3:13)
  • I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Cor 12:7b-9a)
  • Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walks about, seeking whom he may devour; whom resist steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world (1 Pet 5:7-9)

Whispers to watch out for

  • Remember when they made fun of you for your faith? They’ll do that every time.
  • You can’t think about sharing the gospel – look at your financial problems!
  • Today is not a good day for ministry – you’re just too tired

What we can say in response

In the world you shall have much trouble, but take heart, I have overcome the world (John 16:33).

This is one of my favorite verses to quote in the face of affliction and persecution. Jesus gave us a signed, sealed, and delivered guarantee that this world is fallen, and it will act accordingly. In our fallen world, sin runs rampant, sickness abounds, and threats hide around every corner. But then Jesus gives us the best news ever – I have overcome the world.

When we see the world in disrepair and experience the persecution and affliction that often comes with it, we have to remind ourselves that the world is performing exactly the way the Bible says it would. Our hope is not in a better world. Our hope is beyond this broken world and placed in a perfect Savior who overcame it all for us, and so that we can be empowered to reach other in this world for Him.

But what about…?

If you have questions not addressed here, I encourage you to attend our upcoming webinar, Spiritual Warfare and Evangelism on March 30 from 12 – 12:30 CST. We’ll discuss more about the tactics of our enemy and dig into the armor of God to see how we can respond biblically and with confidence. I also encourage you to reach out directly to me at banderson@evantell.org. I make every effort to return emails within 24 hours on regular business days.