When I think of spiritual warfare, I usually think of a defensive posture that protects me from the attacks of the enemy. This idea comes from Ephesians 6, where the Apostle Paul encourages his readers to “put on the full armor of God.” But he also instructs believers to “resist” and “stand firm” when attacks come. Most of the armor Paul writes about is for my protection, with the exception of the sword of the Spirit (which can be used for both defense as well as offense).
Recently I was challenged in a seminar to consider “resisting” as another weapon for offense. It is not my practice to tell the devil to “get lost” in my own authority but James 4:7 implores us to “resist the devil and he will flee from you.” From this passage and 1 Peter 5:9, we are told to resist the enemy as we submit to God’s authority. When the enemy sees our firm confidence in God’s authority and our refusal to believe his lies, his unfounded authority cannot intimidate us.
Jesus identifies the enemy’s activity in His explanation of the parable of the sower and soils in Mark 4:15. The first soil has fallen the beside the road where the birds have come and eaten the seed before it could germinate. Satan is the one who takes away the Word from people’s hearts when it is not receptive. I have seen this to be true as many people quickly reject the message about Jesus. I should not become offended that the person is rejecting me but “resist” this lie realizing it’s because of the enemy’s influence in the person’s heart.
This practice of resisting became real to me during a recent home Bible study with a small group of believers. A friend who was visiting one of the participants was invited to join in the study, and was quick to say that he did not want to hear about Jesus. When we inquired about his beliefs, it was clear he was trusting in the lies of the enemy. Instead of remaining quiet or debating his ideas, we resisted in two ways. One was to pray (silently) that God would open his spiritual eyes to the truth about Jesus (2 Corinthians 4:4). The second was to share the truth about who Jesus is rather than debating him about his beliefs. At the end of our conversation, I was surprised to see that even though he initially said he did not want to hear about Jesus, he was now curious to hear more. The spiritual battle for this person’s heart is still ongoing.
Resisting Satan can be an offensive weapon when we encounter resistance to the Gospel. We should be praying for those who are blinded to the glory of Jesus. Do you know someone who does not want to hear about Jesus? Would you pray that God will remove the blindness from their heart? This kind of battle is usually not won by a single act of resisting, but rather through persistent resisting as we await the victory of their new birth.
Dan Green and Nancy moved back to the US after missionary service in Brazil with Encompass World Partners for 15 years. They were involved in evangelism, church planting, and leadership training. Dan grew up on a farm in Indiana, while Nancy comes from northeast Ohio. Dan studied at Purdue University (Agronomy), OSU (Soil Chemistry), and Columbia Graduate School of Bible and Missions. They have four children and six grandchildren. Dan enjoys gardening, camping, and international travel.