What You Need To Know About Spiritual Warfare In 12 Lessons: The What You Need to Know Study Guide Series


There is a great deal of talk today about the supernatural. Spiritual Warfare outlines what the Bible says about angels, demons, and Satan as well as how God overcomes the world and will equip you to fight the good fight of faith.

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What You Need to Know About Spiritual Warfare in 12 Lessons: The What You Need to Know Study Guide Series

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There is a great deal of talk today about the supernatural. Spiritual Warfare outlines what the Bible says about angels, demons, and Satan as well as how God overcomes the world and will equip you to fight the good fight of faith.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780785211495
  • Publisher: Nelson, Thomas, Inc.
  • Publication date: 3/18/1997
  • Series: What You Need to Know about Series
  • Pages: 192
  • Sales rank: 754,725
  • Product dimensions: 5.47 (w) x 8.63 (h) x 0.49 (d)

Meet the Author

Max Anders (Th.M. Dallas Theological Seminary, D.Min Western Seminary) is the author of over 20 books and the creator and general editor of the32 volume Holman Bible Commentary. Dr. Anders has taught on the college and seminary level, is one of the original team members with Walk Thru the Bible Ministries, and has pastored for over 20 years. He is the founder and president of 7 Marks, Inc., a ministry specializing insupport for local churches (www.7marks.org).

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Read an Excerpt



Thomas Nelson

Copyright © 1997 Max Anders
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-0-7852-1149-5

Chapter One

What Is Spiritual Warfare?

For over two hundred years, Benedict Arnold has been cussed and discussed as an unfaithful American. Why? Because during the War for Independence, he attempted to smuggle a diagram of the fort at West Point on the Hudson River to the British enemy. Succeeding generations of Americans have never forgiven him for his act of treason, and Arnold's name has entered our language as a synonym for traitor.

"Why would Arnold do such a thing?" countless history students have asked. "What possessed one of the finest generals in the American army to defect?" Well, let me tell you another side to the story. The recent discovery of letters between Arnold and Benjamin Franklin has shed new light on the reasoning behind his treasonous act.

The desperate American colonies had asked the French for help in their battle with the British. The French, glad to oblige, sent so many troops across the Atlantic that at one time, the French soldiers fighting outnumbered the American troops they were helping.

General Arnold became deeply suspicious of the French motives. Why would the French be so willing to spill so much of their own blood on behalf of the Americans? Was their plan perhaps to help the Americans defeat the British and then make America a French colony instead? Arnold wrote to Franklin that America was going to be a colony of either Great Britain or France. If that were the case, Arnold preferred British rule. By remaining a British Colony, America would be ruled rather benevolently and the thirteen colonies might eventually be given their freedom. If they became a French colony, they would be ruled by tyrants and never given their independence. Therefore, Arnold argued, the American colonies should sue for peace with England.

Franklin, who was ambassador to France at the time, agreed with Arnold's opinions. Nevertheless, he said, "I believe, in the sovereignty of God, it will somehow work out." Franklin strongly opposed any overtures for peace with the British.

Benedict Arnold, however, was not content to entrust so much to the sovereignty of God. As far as he was concerned, the way to attain the great dream of freedom was to help the British win. Therefore, in an act of what Arnold would have described as deep patriotism, he attempted to turn the diagram of West Point over to the British. When that failed, he joined the British, not to conquer the colonies, but, as he saw it, to defeat the French and drive them off American soil.

As this story shows, warfare is not just armies on opposite sides of a line drawn in the sand having at it. Warfare is also diplomacy, espionage, negotiations, and maneuvering behind the scenes—which at times can have a greater impact on the outcome than the fighting on the battlefront. Because, after all, what's really at stake is power.

Whether they know it or not, all Christians are engaged in a titanic spiritual battle, not against the forces of any earthly nation, but against the forces of darkness. Yet this battle is largely unseen ... an invisible war. Things go on behind the scenes that we do not naturally perceive or understand. Yet these invisible acts and forces often determine spiritual victories or defeats. We must understand spiritual warfare if we are to emerge spiritually victorious.

This war is between good and bad, between righteousness and evil, between truth and falsehood. God is the source of all good, and with Him are good angels and His people. The initiator of evil is Satan, and he is allied with demons and all those whom Satan can deceive into serving his purposes. God's purpose is to fill all of creation with His glory. So He works to advance righteousness, goodness, peace, love and joy, and to call people to believe in Him and become citizens of heaven even while they live on earth. Satan's purpose is to spoil all of creation and to deny and oppose God's glory however he can, so Satan advances sin, evil, hatred, and despair, and seeks to prevent people from believing in God and becoming citizens of heaven. God's strategy is to enlighten and save. Satan's strategy is to deceive and destroy.

What Are the Three Battlefronts in Spiritual Warfare?

The three battlefronts in our spiritual warfare are the world, the flesh, and the devil.

Spiritual warfare occurs in our everyday lives in different ways, sometimes blatantly, but often very subtly. The rest of the book explores these ways. The Bible shows that this conflict rages on three battlefronts. These fronts are the world (1 John 2:15–17), the flesh (Romans 7:14–25) and the devil (1 Peter 5:8).

The "world" does not mean the material planet. This physical world was created by God, and he pronounced it good (Genesis 1). Yes, it has been corrupted by sin, but it will be redeemed and made new (Romans 8:19–22; Revelation 21:1) and be totally good again. That is one wonderful result of the salvation God is performing today. But "world" in its negative sense is the world system of values. It is the present evil order and arrangement of things that began, not with creation, but with the spoiling of God's good creation by sin (Genesis 3).

The world is the social battlefront, where believers battle sin and evil confronting them from "without." It is a battleground of external powers, values, influences, and temptations. In this battle, the Bible admonishes us to be in the world but not of the world and to resist the pressure of unredeemed society that would force us into its mold (Romans 12:1, 2). The apostle Paul wrote of our conflict with the world in 2 Corinthians 10:4–5, where he describes worldly convictions, habits, thoughts, and affections held by society, by a culture, by humanity as a whole. These are worldly because they oppose God, deny God, or attempt to exist apart from God.

Overcoming these forces in our own lives, as well as helping others to overcome them, is part of the war we wage against the fallen world in which we live. We are to disengage ourselves from the ungodly elements of the world value system, while at the same time influencing the world for the cause of Christ (Matthew 5:14–16; 28:19–20).

The "flesh" does not mean our skin, meat and bones, nor does it refer only to sexual desire. These are part of God's good creation. Rather, "flesh" refers to an inherent bent toward sin that every human being inherits from Adam. It refers not just to actions (sex, money, and power), but also to attitudes (lust, greed, and all kinds of selfishness). The flesh is the personal battlefront, where believers battle sin and evil "within" themselves, a battleground of internal powers, values, influences, and temptations.

The apostle Paul writes of the flesh in Romans 7 where he says that "I know that in me [that is, in my flesh] nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find. For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice. Now if I do what I will not to do, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me."

This passage describes a spiritual civil war raging within the heart of each Christian. Because of the new birth in Christ, the Christian wants to do the right thing, but the flesh is not redeemed and continues to pull us down until Jesus returns or we die (Romans 8:23). So we must war against this tendency, a kind of unhealthy gravity, within ourselves pulling us against the will of God. In this battle, the Bible admonishes us not to let sin rule over our physical bodies. Instead, we are to actively present ourselves to God as instruments to be used for His righteousness (Romans 6:11–14).

The "devil" is not the little man in red tights, with hoofs, horns, and a pitchfork. He is an extremely powerful fallen angel, evil to the core, and absolutely set against God. The devil refers to a supernatural battlefront where believers battle Satan and other evil supernatural beings, whom the Bible identifies as the source of evil. Satan and his allies use the world and the flesh to keep us from doing the will of God.

As we consider this great invisible war in which the devil and his hosts engage us, we must concentrate on two realities. First, we are to be alert to his evil intentions, to his strategy to deceive and destroy us. Second, we must recognize that it is God alone who can make us victorious in this great invisible war. His resources, His strength, His ministry to us are what allow us to keep from being destroyed in this battle. We must develop the conviction and habit of turning to Him, depending on Him, obeying Him so that He can win the battle for us.

I realize that this is strange talk in our nuts-and-bolts world of computer chips, CDs, and space shuttles. We are not used to thinking about invisible foes and celestial combat. Yet if we are not careful, we will be duped into thinking we are merely battling people and circumstances, when all the time things are being orchestrated by a mastermind behind the scenes. The evil mastermind of darkness is intelligent and powerful. He makes archvillain Darth Vader look like child's play. If we pretend he is not there, or if we try to do battle with him in our own intelligence and strength, we are doomed to failure.

What Is the Source of Our Strength?

The source of our strength in the spiritual war is God alone.

You cannot control a flood with a flamethrower.

You cannot douse a forest fire with floodlights.

You cannot stop a hurricane with bullets. And you cannot fight supernatural battles with natural strength. Natural power has no effect whatsoever on spiritual things.

If we could ever get that through our heads, we would change the way we do things. Instead of relying on hard work and creativity and shrewdness and politics and money, we would rely on prayer and Scripture and godliness and spiritual unity and sensitivity to the Lord.

Our power, our strength, is only that—ours. Natural. Puny against the onslaught of Satan and his demonic army. Of course we should work hard, be creative and shrewd, and use politics and money. But we must not depend on these things. Our true strength, our real power, does not lie within ourselves. It is in the Lord.

This is extremely difficult for us to accept at first. We may be very strong physically, accustomed to relying on our physical strength to achieve our goals. Or we may be highly skilled business executives, very talented artists, or shrewd negotiators, and we may depend on these talents to make our way through the world. So it is hard for us to lay those abilities at the foot of the cross, admit that in spiritual warfare they are useless and we are powerless, and say, "Lord Jesus, help me." But until we come to that point, we are thoroughly duped—and we will remain thoroughly defeated.

In spiritual warfare ... God does the work of God, Man does the work of man. Man cannot do the work of God, And God will not do the work of man.

God's work—spiritual warfare—has to be done God's way. The work of humans is to learn and employ God's tactics and rely on God—and God alone—in the spiritual war.

For the life of us, however, we cannot get this straight. We insist on trying to do the work of God while neglecting the work of man. Then we wonder why things aren't going so well.

What Are the Weapons of War?

Our weapons of war are the pieces of spiritual armor described in Scripture.

Since we are in a spiritual battle against an invisible but very real foe, our weapons of war cannot be lead and steel. Rather, they must be spiritual weapons. And Ephesians 6 describes one of those weapons: the armor of God.

Of course, armor is a figure of speech, a metaphor for the spiritual resources He provides for our protection, power, and effectiveness in the spiritual warfare against the forces of darkness. These resources are truth, righteousness, the gospel of peace, faith, salvation, and the Word of God. These are the spiritual weapons for the good guys.

But this passage also tells us about the weapons of the bad guys, that is, "the schemes of the devil."

The word schemes in the Greek is methodeia, from which we derive the English word method. This implies craftiness, cunning, and deception—all of which describe Satan's schemes.

Both Satan's Hebrew name, Abaddon, and his Greek name, Apollyon, mean "destroyer" (Revelation 9:11). He is also called the "serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world" (Revelation 12:9). Satan is a deceiver and a destroyer; he deceives in order to destroy.

In the very beginning, in the Garden of Eden, Satan deceived Adam and Eve into rebelling against God. His purpose? To destroy them. Thousands of years later, Satan attempted to deceive Jesus into departing from the will of God (Matthew 4). His goal? To destroy Him and nullify God's plan of redemption. He appears as "an angel of light" to deceive us in order to destroy us (2 Corinthians 11:14).

How does Satan deceive us? By appealing to "the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life" (1 John 2:16), he makes

bad look good, false appear true, wrong look right, ugly seem beautiful, hurtful feel helpful, painful look pleasant.

In every confusing, conniving, deceptive way possible, Satan attempts to mislead us with his schemes. In Matthew 24:24 we read that "false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect." That is how great his powers of deception and destruction are.

So you can see that by ourselves, we are no match for Satan's spiritual weapons. We need the armor of God.

The powers of darkness encompass a hierarchy of evil spiritual beings who do the bidding of their master, Satan. Difficult though it is for us to think in these terms, we must become aware of the invisible spirit world that surrounds us: forces of darkness locked in mortal combat with the forces of light. Spiritual warfare is a reality!

If we do not prepare for this spiritual battle, we may be the next casualty. "Be sober, be vigilant," Peter writes. "Because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour" (1 Peter 5:8). And Paul warns that Satan transforms himself into an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:14). Jesus asserted that Satan is "the father of lies" (John 8:44 NASB). He can make poison taste like candy. He is the master illusionist.

Every day we engage in spiritual warfare, and we cannot succeed in our own strength. As soldiers of the cross we need the strength, the power—and the armor—of the Lord.

What Are Satan's Methods of Deception?

Satan employs two particularly effective means of deceiving us: first, he gets us to sin; then, once we have sinned, he keeps us mired in guilt. To get us to sin, the master of deception

convinces us that "it isn't so bad. It won't hurt,"

assures us that no one will find out, and that God will forgive us anyway,

persuades us that what he is tempting us to do will actually satisfy us,

saps our spiritual convictions so that we don't care,

exhausts and frazzles us so that we just want immediate relief and are willing to do whatever will give us that relief, and

twists our thinking so that we can't discern wrong from right any more.

Spiritual conflict takes two forms: temptation and spiritual opposition. When we are tempted to sin, we are to flee (2 Timothy 2:22). When we are confronted with spiritual opposition, we are to fight (James 4:7).

Most of us, however, have a genius for reversing the two. When we sense spiritual opposition in our life and ministry, we want to flee. And when presented with temptation to sin, we want to stand and fight. That is contrary to the Word, and we will have little success until we get it straight.

Do you want to run away from your financial obligations? Stand and fight.


Excerpted from WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT SPIRITUAL WARFARE by MAX ANDERS Copyright © 1997 by Max Anders. Excerpted by permission of Thomas Nelson. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Table of Contents


Introduction to the What You Need to Know Series....................v
How to Teach This Book....................vi
Chapter 1 What Is Spiritual Warfare?....................1
Chapter 2 Who Are the Unseen Forces in the Invisible War?....................25
Chapter 3 What Is the Belt of Truth?....................38
Chapter 4 What Is the Breastplate of Righteousness?....................50
Chapter 5 What Are the Shoes of the Gospel of Peace?....................62
Chapter 6 What Is the Shield of Faith?....................75
Chapter 7 What Is the Helmet of Salvation?....................87
Chapter 8 What Is the Sword of the Spirit?....................101
Chapter 9 What Role Does Prayer Play in Spiritual Warfare?....................114
Chapter 10 What Is Our New Identity in Christ?....................126
Chapter 11 How Can We Gain a Clear Conscience and Pull Down Spiritual Strongholds?....................139
Chapter 12 How Can We Stand Firm in the War?....................157
Master Review....................178
About the Author....................184
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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 5, 2001

    Stand Firm!

    Max Anders certainly brings home the issues of spiritual warfare so that all may understand and apply the Biblical mandates. Christians are definitely foot soldiers in a war between good and evil. Without the proper spiritual weapons, there is no way a Christian can stand against the enemy. Dr. Anders is a brilliant writer and preacher. His book amplifies the Apostle Paul's marching orders in Ephesians 6 to put on the weapons of war: truth, righteousness, peace, faith, salvation, and the Word of God. Excellent book for children and adults. Great for Sunday school, small groups and personal studies. Jeffery K. Passage, CPA, Noblesville, Indiana

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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