The Scriptural Basis for "Warfare" Against the Powers of Darkness



from War On the Saints
by Jesse Penn-Lewis

Scriptures Referenced in This Section:
          (Follow the Scripture links if you want to study the Scriptures for yourself.)
Mt. 4:3-4 π Mk. 3:27 π Mk. 9:29 π 1 Cor. 2:14 π 1 Cor. 2:15 π Gal. 6:1 π Eph. 6:12 π 2 Tim. 3:17 π Jas. 4:7 π 1 Jn. 3:8

by Evan Roberts.

"So that the man of God...may be perfectly equipped for every good work." ( 2 Tim. 3:17 , Wymouth; top)




Praying "against" the powers of darkness is Scriptural, and in accord with truth, and attested facts of Christian experience.

It can be clearly seen in Scripture and in the history of the Christian church, that

  1. Prayer must be made "against" all evil, and "for" all good.

  2. God needs the co-operation of His church to carry out the destruction of sin and Satan.

The "things of God" are "spiritually discerned" ( 1 Cor. 2:14 ), and only those who are "spiritual" can understand them; and such words as "stand," "withstand," "wrestle" ( Eph. 6:12 ), "resist" ( Jas. 4:7 ), "labour" in prayer, etc., need spiritual discernment and experience to interpret them, for they describe facts in a spiritual realm, not comprehended by the natural man. A questioner should ask himself, "Am I 'spiritual'"? ( Gal. 6:1; top ) If he is not "spiritual" he cannot understand, or interpret in a spiritual sense, the language used by the Apostle in connection with the warfare with the forces of darkness.

Let any questioner take to God the whole matter, and ask for a leading into all truth concerning it; then he will be shown the true meaning of the words, not from intellectual reasoning, but from Divine enlightenment, and the experiences of life.

There is a "natural" view and interpretation of the fight of faith, so often referred to in Paul's epistles, which has its source in natural wisdom, and is part of the uncrucified "old man." This hinders the receiving of the spiritual knowledge given by the Holy Spirit, but the spiritual man taught of the Holy Ghost "discerneth all things." ( 1 Cor. 2:15; top )

Take the word "wrestle." What is the meaning of physical wrestling in the natural realm? The object of the one who is wrestling with another is that he should overthrow his opponent, and keep him under. This is body wrestling with body. Spiritual wrestling means also the overthrow of the powers of darkness, and the keeping of them under, and that by any lawful means you can use. And in this is not prayer a factor in overthrowing the Devil?

Take the word "resist" - it is not a physical resistance such as body with body. It may mean an intellectual resistance, as with Christ in the wilderness answering the Devil, mind to mind - a lie with truth, temptation with victory, Scripture with Scripture, and a misleading quotation of Scripture with a correct quotation of Scripture. The resistance may also be by the mind, on behalf of the body, as was the case with Christ in the first temptation of the Devil, when the Tempter said, "Make these stones into bread, and thus satisfy your physical need"; and Jesus answered, "It is written..." ( Mt. 4:3-4; top )

There is also a resistance by the spirit, not against physical force nor against expressed thoughts, but purely against evil spiritual force.

There is no place for physical wrestling in the spiritual realm, for the body in that realm is not dominating but dominated. But there is an intellectual and spiritual wrestling, and this may be a wrestling for the body, and for the soul, and for the spirit, and for anything the devil may contend for, either within or without the man.

The man's spirit and mind must co-operate in resistance against the Devil, for the protection of the body, so that the body does not cause the man to sin.

So also they must combine in resistance to protect the mind from the enemy, as when Christ tempted to cast Himself down from the temple used the sword of the spirit, resisting the Tempter. This temptation was not suggested to meet His physical need, but to a possible response of the soul.

The resistance may be for the spirit in like manner. It all depends upon what the Devil is attacking. The whole being must act as one - spirit, soul, and body - in the defense of the man, and in reliance upon the Holy Spirit.

PRAYER IS AN INDISPENSABLE WEAPON IN EVERY ASPECT OF RESISTANCE AND WRESTLING AGAINST THE ENEMY. You cannot resist, or wrestle, or stand, or withstand without PRAYER. It is a powerful defensive and offensive weapon against the spiritual enemy. The church as a whole does not experience victory over the Devil in these ways because it does not pray AGAINST the foe. It is when you are engaged in battle against the spiritual foe that you become really conscious of the existence of the foe, and become aware of the need of weapons to wield against the foe.

As to prayer against evil spirits we have this indicated in the Lord's words, "This kind goeth not forth but by PRAYER and fasting." ( Mk. 9:29; top )

In 1 John 3:8 (top), it is written, "The Son of God was manifested that He might destroy the works of the Devil," but how will He, how does He, and how has He destroyed them? Have they all been destroyed? Have any been destroyed? Are there still any to be destroyed?

God needs the co-operation of His church to carry out the overthrow of sin and Satan, just as God needed the co-operation of Israel in His dealing with the Canaanites.

Christ said, "First bind the strong man." ( Mk. 3:27; top ) This implies and involves praying against the strong man. How does the binding take place, and what is it that binds but PRAYER?

In saying that the enemy is "not bound" when you claim victory in the Name of Jesus you admit a lie from Satan, for God would not tell you that. Do not confuse faith and fact. When you claim the victory the devil is "bound" by faith, but you must let God have His time to make it fact. If you go by appearances you admit the Adversary's workings as facts, instead of God's statements in His Word.

[14.8] How Demons Attack Advanced Believers
Appendix - Table of Contents
Table of Contents π Topical Index

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