4. How does Satan wage war?


Introduction to Spiritual Warfare
Printer friendly PDF version


We are the Lordís army occupying enemy territory, with the battle raging all around us.   Those who live in the flesh do not comprehend this war. Satan leads his army against the Lord, comprised of his angels and servants.  The world cannot see this battle; they only reap the influences, because this battle is invisible, beyond the physical realms. 

   We know about this battle, through scripture the Lord has revealed the details.  So we, His army, can know how to wage war on enemy territory.  Understanding our enemy and his tactics is central to our victory, when attacked. 

   Knowledge of Satanís tactics is called is called ďIntelligenceĒ, in the United States we have the CIA, which stands for the Central Intelligence Agency.  The goal of the CIA is to gather intelligence or knowledge about the enemy.  They role is to understand the potential threats to the United States and its citizens.  In the former Soviet Union the KGB operated in a similar way, regardless of your political viewpoint, intelligence of the enemy is important. 

   We are in a war, with a real enemy, who sees us (those who know Christ) as his very real threat.  Intelligence of enemy operations is important for victory.  This flows both ways, Satan is on the prowl to uncover and take down threats to his work.  The purpose here is to shed light on Satanís method of warfare so we know how to better defend, and then advance the Kingdom of God in enemy territory.


Satanís Army


Satanís Angels


   Those who dismiss Satan and his army of fallen angels do so only to their detriment.  Satan is real enemy with both a visible and invisible army. For now, we will focus on the invisible portion of this army, the fallen angels.  Does Satan have angels?  Where did they come from?  Satan himself is a fallen Cherub (Ezekiel 28:16), the angel who was over the throne of God.  They are called his angels (Satanís angels), because they rejected their creator in favor of Satan.  They are under his power and serve him they have no other choice.  They are doomed too an eternity in the lake of fire with Satan.


41 "Then He will also say to those on the left hand, 'Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels: Matthew 25:41


9 So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him. Revelation 12:9


   Like Satan, they had the freedom of will to reject or accept Godís rule, they choose to reject the Lord and choose Satan.  One third of the angels fell, following Satanís lead (Revelation 12;4). They work under Satanís authority and direction, executing his plan against God and humanity, those made in the image of God.  The method of their warfare is systematic, with a hierarchy of control and authority.   Scripture indicates there are two groups of these fallen angels; one group has freedom and the other group is chained. 


Fallen angels without chains



   The group of fallen angels most are familiar with through scriptures are those angels who have freedom of operation on the earth.  We see them in both the Old and New Testaments, the distinction between these two groups is more fully revealed in the New Testament.  These angels operate within the guidelines established at the fall.  A great example occurs in the New Testament,  when the demons, who called themselves ďLegionĒ did not want to leave the region, and especially did not want to be bound to the abyss, where the second group of fallen angels are. 


28 When he saw Jesus, he cried out, fell down before Him, and with a loud voice said, "What have I to do with You, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg You, do not torment me!"

29 For He had commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man. For it had often seized him, and he was kept under guard, bound with chains and shackles; and he broke the bonds and was driven by the demon into the wilderness.

30 Jesus asked him, saying, "What is your name?" And he said, "Legion," because many demons had entered him.

31 And they begged Him that He would not command them to go out into the abyss.

32 Now a herd of many swine was feeding there on the mountain. So they begged Him that He would permit them to enter them. And He permitted them.

33 Then the demons went out of the man and entered the swine, and the herd ran violently down the steep place into the lake and drowned. Luke 8:28


   Notice the demons are subject to the command of Jesus, they understand a coming judgment awaits them.  They requested to not be sent to the abyss, where the bound angels are. These fallen angels like the others in the region, took possession of people.  They operated in a territory.  They had an identity, along with liberty to operate.  The evil in the region gave them the ability to operate freely.  First, the large number of pigs, 2000 (Mark 5:13) indicates a large gentile influence in the area, which would have included their pagan practices.




   Another point is the reaction of the people in the area of the Gadarenes[1].  When the feeders of the pigs, reported what happened, we might expect awe or wonder.  We get fear and dread instead.  Rather then, the village seeking truth and light from Jesus, they ask him to leave.  Darkness does not want light; the territory was in darkness controlled by demonic spirits (John 3:19).  The fear the people exhibit is the same fear the demons dwelling in the man showed.   The people of the area wanted nothing to do with Jesus. 


34 When they that fed them saw what was done, they fled, and went and told it in the city and in the country.

37 Then the whole multitude of the country of the Gadarenes round about besought him to depart from them; for they were taken with great fear: and he went up into the ship, and returned back again.

Luke 8:34,37


   This was an area of demonic activity, where darkness reigned.  Compare this to the reaction of the man who was possessed by the demons.   He wanted to go with Jesus, stay with and be near Him.  Why is there such a contrast of reactions? 

   The territory was under demonic control; Jesus was demonstrating this principal for the church.  By coming to the area where the demonic force known in the spiritual realms as ďLegionĒ operated.  He demonstrated how we can claim territory.

   The situation is no different today, forces of fallen angels rule over areas and regions.  When we bring the Gospel into those areas, we are claiming territory from Satanís reign.  This is the reason an area might oppose the Gospel, because there is demonic opposition.



Demonic authority


    Demonic forces are not just territorial, but they exercise authority over areas as evidenced in scripture.   In Daniel chapter 10, Daniel prayer is resisted for three-weeks, 21-days, because we later find out the ďPrince of PersiaĒ opposed the angel who was to deliver the message.  The Prince of Persia is not the earthly ruler, but a spiritual ruler, who prevented the angel from reaching Daniel, until Michael the archangel came to the scene.  The message and revelation then was able to reach Daniel, the message, which follows in Daniel 11 and 12.  

               Why does scripture reveal this scene?  God wants us to understand how demonic realms operate, in our physical world.  Danielís prayer brought the angels to the scene, his prayers after 21-days also resulted in Michael coming to spiritual conflict with the Prince of Persia, allowing the fallen angel, who ruled over Persia to be overpowered.

   This is the point, Paul is establishing in Ephesians, the battle we face is a spiritual one, where fallen angels rule and have dominion.  This is also what Jesus is wants to understand, our battle is not one of physical realms, but spiritual.


12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Ephesians 6:12


   We are part of this struggle when we come to Christ.  The demonic forces understand we are the Lordís army, advancing on enemy territory.  This is why Paul stresses our battle is not against flesh and blood, the physical, but against spiritual wickedness in high places. This is why Jesus sent his disciples out on training, and specifically told them not to take anything with them, so they could see the spiritual power they had in His name, as opposed to the flesh.


1 After these things the Lord appointed seventy others also, and sent them two by two before His face into every city and place where He Himself was about to go.

2 Then He said to them, "The harvest truly is great, but the laborers are few; therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.

3 "Go your way; behold, I send you out as lambs among wolves.

4 "Carry neither money bag, knapsack, nor sandals; and greet no one along the road.

5 "But whatever house you enter, first say, 'Peace to this house.' Luke 10:1-5


   These seventy disciples were in training, they were also a demonstration for the rest of us. Jesus wants us to know we do not need to depend on the physical, for the work at hand. We need to trust him, and not rely on our own abilities.   The spiritual power we operate under is greater then anything the world can offer.  Sometimes we need to empty ourselves of the things the world offers and rely on the Lord alone. 


16 "He who hears you hears Me, he who rejects you rejects Me, and he who rejects Me rejects Him who sent Me."

17 Then the seventy returned with joy, saying, "Lord, even the demons are subject to us in Your name."

18 And He said to them, "I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.

19 "Behold, I give you the authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you.  Luke 10:16-19


We need to understand our position in Christ.  This is what Satan wants to keep from us.  The demonic realm has authority in this physical world; the demonic authority is subject to the authority we have in Christ.  Like Daniel, we have power of the heavenly realms, which Satan and his fallen angels cannot resist.  Jesus let the disciples go forward in his power, as a demonstration to us about the power we have.   Our feet and prayers advance the kingdom of God on Satanís territory, held under demonic authority.   In Matthew 28:18-19, Christ gives us the authority to advance the Gospel on earth.  This is the secret the enemy wants to keep from us, he wants us to live in defeat so the Gospel canít be advanced. 


18 And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.

19 "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,

20 "teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." Amen.  Matthew 28:18-20


In chains of darkness


   Second groups of fallen angels are angels reserved in darkness until the day of judgment.  Here is where ďLegionĒ begged Jesus to not send them, before the day of torment.   Peter and Jude refer to these fallen angels.  There are many theories regarding what separates these fallen angels from the others.


4 For if God did not spare the angels who sinned, but cast them down to hell and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved for judgment; 2 Peter 4:4


6 And the angels who did not keep their proper domain, but left their own abode, He has reserved in everlasting chains under darkness for the judgment of the great day; Jude 1:6


   Most feel these angels are the ones referred to in Genesis chapter 6, verse 4. Called the sons of God, these angels left their first estate and married the daughters of men. Corrupting the humanity, violence on earth became intolerable, except for Noah and his family.    These angels were sent, to what Peter calls tartarovw Tartaroo or Tartarus[2] a separate compartment in Hades, where they are chained in darkness for the Day of Judgment. 

   Some feel these same fallen angels are released in the end times, as part of the judgment on a fallen world.  Revelation 9:1-11, the fifth trumpet and Revelation 9:14-16, the sixth trumpet, involve demons and fallen angels released on the world for judgment.  Demons are after the destruction of humanity, they are not friends of people, they only want the worst, and they like Satan are hunting for souls of the weak and lost.


His boundaries


   Despite all the blustering and threats from Satan and the fallen angels, they are limited in what they can do.  Several places clearly show, Satan must get permission to go beyond his limitations.  Satan could only attack Job, once the Lord allowed it.   Satan cannot go beyond the hedge of protection which surrounds Godís elect.   Satan can never do more to us, then God allows.  God is in control Satan is not, Satan is subject to Godís authority.


10 "Have You not made a hedge around him, around his household, and around all that he has on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. Job 1;10


   Satan again, needed permission to test Peter.  Jesus after the Passover supper, which Judas had left to betray Him, told Peter about Satanís request, to sift Peter as wheat. Two important points here to note, first Satan could not just attack Peter, he needed permission, Jesus was aware of the situation.  Second, Jesus also knew Peter would recover from Satanís attack, and that he would be able to strengthen the brethren with the experience. 


31 And the Lord said, "Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat.  32 "But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren."  Luke 22:31-32


   For Peter, Jesus used prayer to help Peter endure the trial, Jesus knew he was about to go through.  Here is a lesson for all of us, when we are in the midst of Satanís attack. We must remember:


   He can only go as far as God permits

   Jesus knows what we are going through

   Like Peter, God will use our trials to strengthen us


   Whatever our circumstances Satan has his limits. In addition to a hedge of protection around the saved, Satan can only tempt, to a degree. We have the power to say no to the temptations in our life. (See also 2 Peter 2:9)


No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it. I Corinthians 10:13


Satanís Goal


   The Bible is clear; Satan is fighting from a position of defeat.  He cannot defeat God no matter how hard he tries.  Satan is a fallen angel, created by an all-powerful God.  Jesus at the cross defeated Satan.   Since that is the case, why does Satan still fight? 

   Satanís goal is the destruction of humanity; he knows his judgment is coming.  He knows what salvation is, and what the saved have in store.    So his goal is simple, to prevent humanity from coming to salvation.   All his efforts have this one goal in mind, preventing the salvation of man.

3 But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing,

4 whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them. 2 Corinthians 4:3-4


   Remember from the beginning, Satan has tried to prevent the coming of the Messiah, who would save humanity.  Now the Messiah, Jesus Christ has arrived, He has paid for sins, eternity is offered to lost humanity.  Satanís plan is to prevent the message of salvation from reaching the lost, since he can no longer prevent salvation. Satan has two distinct strategies, one for the lost, the other for the saved. 

   For the lost its simple, keep people lost, prevent them from seeing the Gospel. For the saved, its a little more complex.  When someone is saved, they are now a threat.  A saved person is walking dynamite, as far as Satan and the fallen angels are concerned. Jesus has given us authority over the demonic realms, in his name. 

   Satanís goal for the saved is to keep them in a defeated, ineffective mindset. When the saved are defeated and distracted, they cannot advance the Kingdom of God.  Satan has the victory he needs.   He is then free to concentrate on his war at hand, against the Creator God, preventing the lost from being saved.


Satanís Battleground


   In this physical world, when we look at war, what are the reasons warfare is conducted?  For the most part, war are fought for two reasons for land or ideology.  A ruler wants or demands more territory, so he/she conquers surrounding lands.  A nation believes their ďphilosophyĒ is right, and others must follow so war ensues, examples include Islam, Communism, Socialism, Capitalism and others. The more land under control, the more dominant the ruler or ideology.  Satan operates in the same way.  He is at war, but his battlefield is the mind. 

   The mind is the territory he seeks; control of the physical just follows the control of the mind.  If we look at 2 Corinthians 4:4, what part does Satan blind?  Its not the physical eyes, he is after the mind.  The Greek word for mind is novhma Noema, translates mental thought or perception, that which thinks.  Here is where Satan fights for control.  All for the purpose of blinding the person from the Gospel. 

   How we think, the inner-man guides our perceptions. Here is where Satan is at work, and here is where scripture warns us to guard.   Godís word implores us to be of one mind, and to guard our mind, against the ways of this world.


6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God;

7 and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7


   Satan and his fallen-angels, through the proxy of fallen-humanity, battle for control of our thinking.  When a person is saved, their perceptions change, because the Spirit of God, the Holy Spirit is now dwelling within.  Satan looses total control over their mind. The kingdom of God has advanced on his territory.



His Weapons


   In this war for humanity, Satan has a vast assortment of weapons at his disposal.   His goal is not to spread one particular ideology, but to keep the mind in ďblindĒ to the Gospel.  To accomplish this task, he looks to our flesh, our fallen nature.  Regardless of our culture or geography, all of humanity has a ďhuman natureĒ.  This nature is fallen, in this nature the flesh rules.  Satan rules in this realm, he keeps those under his influence as captives. 


1 And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins,

2 in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience,

3 among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others.

Ephesians 2:1-3


A relationship with Jesus Christ liberates us from Satanís power.  We are now a part of the Lordís army, advancing the kingdom of God on enemy territory. Satan works through the lusts to keep his captives.  The word for lust in Greek is ejpiqumiva Epithumia, and means desire, craving and longing, the desire for what is forbidden.   Satan pursues our fallen nature through, the mind, feeding our lusts with perceptions.   There are three areas Satan uses to attack, these are listed in 2 John 2:16.


16 For all that is in the world-the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life-is not of the Father but is of the world. 2 John 2:16



The Carnal nature craves all three areas, Satan in this world operates and tempts, controlling the lives of the lost in one or three of these aspects. Here John gives us a broad overview of Satan areas of attack.


   Lust of the flesh

   Lust of the eyes

   Pride of life


Through these areas, Satan seeks to develop strongholds, which allows him to have a grip.  The mind becomes dependent on an aspect of sin, Satan, is like an archer whose quiver is full, he has many arrows to send. 

Lets look at our own life, what prevented us from finding Christ?  Where did Satan have control?


                     Were we too proud to need a savior?

                     Did we have habits which we could not give up?

                     Did we worry what our friends and family would think?

                     Were we too wise for the simple Gospel?


Whatever our reasons in the past, we were also once blinded by Satan.  Now that we know Christ, we are freed from his power.  Satanís goal now is to deceive the believer, to take away from him/her the victory and potential we have in Christ.  He wants to keep us in bondage and defeat, though we have power and authority. 


Today, Satan uses these same weapons to hold others under his power.  Look at the works of the flesh below in Galatians 5, each one of these is like an arrow in Satanís quiver.   



19 Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness,

20 idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies,

21 envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. Galatians 5:19-21


[1] These three names are used indiscriminately to designate the place where Jesus healed two demoniacs. The first two are in the Authorized Version. (Matthew 8:28; Mark 5:1; Luke 8:26) In Gerasenes in place of Gadarenes. The miracle referred to took place, without doubt, near the town of Gergesa, the modern Kersa , close by the eastern shore of the Sea of Galilee, and hence in the country of Gergesenes.

[2] Tartarous and Hades are both places known in Greek mythology for the place of the dead.  These are names used in the Greek to explain the after life. They are not meant to be the equivalent of the Greek meaning, but a term used which a Greek speaking audience would understand.  The Hebrew word is Sheol for grave, meaning the place of the dead.