As we exited the streetcar onto the concrete landing, we stepped around a young woman who was lying there, passed out in the heat of the day. Her profession seemed obvious by her skirt that was raised, her fishnet stockings held by a garter, and her body exposed. I caught a glimpse of what appeared to be cocaine or meth taped to her inner thigh. Being an evangelical, a theological thinker, I had a strong desire to offer her a few words of hope and to let her know that she was created in the image of God. But she was out cold and the opportunity wasn’t there.
Time and again, my observations of the city and her people left me numb. Darkness was in southern Louisiana, perhaps a heaviness of long-standing history. Was it voodoo’s connection since the early 1700’s hovering over New Orleans like the thick morning fog? Eerily unsettling were situations I encountered. Yet, each one brought me back to my theology; those things God’s word has revealed and I know to be solid truth. As theologians who consider God’s creatures we ask ourselves, what role does evil play in the life of a Christian?
For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, - 2 Cor. 10:3-5
John MacArthur comments on this passage, “Paul is describing how the church must respond to false religion, worldly philosophies, psychologies, theories, and every other ideological fortress that stands in opposition to the truth of the gospel. Spiritual warfare is a battle against all anti-God ideas. He’s calling believers to fight against the religions of demons.” Paul also writes,
and to grant relief to you who are afflicted as well as to us, when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might, - 2 Thess. 1:7-9
When God’s name is dishonored and false religions corrupt truth, we as Christians are to grieve for those who get caught up. They are lost in sin and to escape God’s wrath, these people need the gospel.
Though an unseen reality, the adversary destroys, paralyzes, and causes humans to abandon all hope. Satan is the father of lies, seen as an angel of light or a roaring lion (2 Cor. 11; 1 Pet. 5). If you find yourself in life running scared or stuck in despair, stop long enough to think through who you’re really running from. Don’t buy into the enemy’s pursuit and attacks. As a child of the King, Satan has no lasting power over you. Remember, he can wreak havoc but God will hold you strong for the road still ahead (1 Kings 19).
There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. - Rom. 8:1
We cling to our Savior and to the gospel because Satan’s minions lurk in the most opportune places as he tempts with temporal pleasures, accusations, and condemnation. True spiritual warfare isn’t about Christians participating in incantations. It’s a tireless effort to which all believers have been called, an endless battle. We must wage war every day. We may face battles and attacks in this world, but we can trust in our almighty God to be our shelter through it all.
To quote missionary John Broger, “As an obedient believer, you are to stand firm in the strength of the Lord, to be sober in spirit, and to remain alert in order to resist the schemes of the devil. However, in all areas of your walk as a believer, you are incapable in your own strength and insufficient in your own resources to overcome the wiles and temptations of Satan. Therefore, you must put on the full armor of God to be an overwhelming conqueror in your continuing spiritual battle.” We must suit up with the Word of God holding to the truth of God.
We know that we are from God, and the whole world lies in the power of the evil one. - 1 John 5:19
We know we are protected and that we belong to God, but we also know we currently live in enemy-occupied territory. God will never allow the enemy to have full control; Satan doesn’t have the final say over our lives. As believers, we are responsible to deliver the message of rescue, salvation by way of the Cross (1 Cor. 1:18). Are you willing to go to battle? Are you equipped to stand firm (Ephes. 6:11-17)?
And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death. - Rev. 12:11