SPIRITUAL WARFARE: The Battle Of Good And Evil

From Angels and Miracles, American Bible Society

The idea that there is some kind of invisible, spiritual war going on around us can be difficult to grasp.  Nevertheless, the Bible hints that such a conflict began with the fall of the angels (Luke 10:18).  Although victory was made certain by Christ’s resurrection, ultimate success will not be achieved until evil is punished once and for all at the end of time.

The Holy Spirit led Jesus into the desert, so that the devil could test him.  After Jesus had gone without eating for 40 days and nights, he was very hungry.  Then the devil came to him and said, “If you are God’s Son, tell these stones to turn into bread.”  Jesus answered, “The scriptures say: ‘No one can live only on food.  People need every word that God has spoken.'”

Next, the devil took Jesus into the holy city to the highest part of the temple.  The devil said, “If you are God’s Son, jump off.  The scriptures say: ‘God will give his angels orders about you.  They will catch you in their arms, and you won’t hurt your feet on the stones.'”

Jesus answered, “The scriptures also say, ‘Don’t try to test the Lord your God!'”

Finally, the devil took Jesus up on a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms on Earth and their power.  The devil said to him, “I will give all this to you, if you will bow down and worship me.”

Jesus answered, “Go away, Satan!  The scriptures say: ‘Worship the Lord your God and serve only him.'”  Then the devil left Jesus, and angels came to help him. (Matthew 4:1-11)

An example of spiritual warfare can be seen in the temptation of Jesus. (Matthew 4:1-11)  According to Matthew, Mark, and Luke, Satan tried to entice Jesus to test God.  The tempter even quoted scripture in an effort to convince Jesus to worship him instead of God, but Jesus refused.  After Satan left, angels appeared to assist Jesus, who had been weakened by his forty-day fast in the desert.  Many see the battle in the wilderness as a foreshadowing of Jesus’s road to the cross, where he would be tempted by Satan once more to abandon the work God had sent him to do. (Hebrews 2:14-15)

There were also a number of incidents when Jesus encountered people who were regarded as demon-possessed.  The interactions between Jesus and the demons provide further insight into the spiritual conflict.  According to Luke’s Gospel, when Jesus encountered a man possessed by several demons, they begged Jesus not to torture them.  So instead, Jesus cast them into a herd of pigs nearby. (Luke 8:26-36)  This is just one of many instances in the New Testament in which Jesus publicly confronted and defeated demons who were wreaking havoc in people’s lives.

The visions captured in the book of Revelation describe a final, cataclysmic battle between good and evil, resulting in the final defeat of all that is evil.  Revelation 12 describes war breaking out in Heaven; the Archangel Michael and his mighty army of angels take arms against a dragon and those loyal to it. (Revelation 12:7)  The enemies of God are thrown from Heaven to Earth.  In anger, the dragon wages war against those who are faithful to God. (Revelation 17)

At the end of this battle, however, the great deceiver – “the devil who fooled them” – is thrown permanently into a burning lake. (Revelation 20:10)

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