|A context for the Christian life and spiritual warfare dealing with the fall of mankind and the conflict between good and evil.
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What is Satan’s fundamental accusation against God?
Satan (or the Adversary) accuses God of unfairness and of placing rules on humanity that are not really for our good. In the case of Job, Satan’s accusation was that Job’s faithfulness was solely due to the way in which God had blessed Job above and beyond others.
|“Why shouldn’t he respect you?” Satan remarked. “You are like a wall protecting not only him, but his entire family and all his property. You make him successful in whatever he does, and his flocks and herds are everywhere. Try taking away everything he owns, and he will curse you to your face.” – Job 1:9-11|
In the garden of Eden the suggestion of the adversary1 was that God’s rules were not for the best good of Adam and Eve, and that they should step beyond the command of God.
We often think that Satan’s primary purpose is to tempt us and lead us into sin, and he certainly does that, but his primary role in scripture is as an accuser (Revelation 12:10).
|Be on your guard and stay awake. Your enemy, the devil, is like a roaring lion, sneaking around to find someone to attack. – 1 Peter 5:8|
Who are God’s primary representatives in this conflict?
We often think of angels as being God’s primary servants, but God has placed much of this cosmic conflict in the hands of human beings. We were made in God’s image (Genesis 1:27) and a little lower than God (Psalm 8:5).2 He has chosen us as his witnesses in the great conflict (Acts 1:8).
What is the conflict about?
The great conflict is about whether God is right and just in His sovereignty over the universe. The reason we often mistakenly believe that the conflict is primarily carried out between angels, demons or other spiritual beings is that we see the conflict in physical terms. We think of physical territory and physical strength.
But the great conflict is not about who is more powerful. God could easily demonstrate that he is more powerful. The conflict is about who is right and just and rightfully has sovereignty over the creation.
|We are not fighting against humans. We are fighting against forces and authorities and against rulers of darkness and powers in the spiritual world. – Ephesians 6:10|
What we need to understand is that these principalities and powers are fighting over possession of people; of the human will. God created the will to be holy and to be in line with His will. The spiritual powers want to take over the spiritual territory of your spirit!
What has God done in this conflict?
God has made the clear demonstration through Jesus Christ of His justice and His love. He has also shown not only His love, but His respect for His creatures by allowing them to exercise their will either for Him or against Him.
In the death of Jesus we see the two sides of this conflict clearly displayed. Jesus goes to the cross and dies in order to bridge the gap between infinite God and finite man. One of the reasons Jesus had to die was so that he would experience all of human life as we know it, including its end in death.
We recognize that through His life and death that Jesus truly has experienced life as we know it.
In addition, by allowing himself to be subject for his lifetime to life under Satan’s rules, He demonstrated exactly what Satan would do when presented with pure goodness in human form.
Jesus, in dying on the cross, announced to the universe that God was ready to experience death in order to provide life for His creatures. Satan showed that he was willing to kill even the source of life-God-in the person of Jesus, in order to further his own will and power.
Through the shedding of His blood, Jesus opened up to us the way to God. He closed the gap that we could not close.
Didn’t Jesus know He was God and know he would rise again? Doesn’t this mean He didn’t experience life exactly as we do?
Jesus grew in wisdom and strength. So he also experienced growth and learning as we do. He certainly did know before He died what was to happen to Him, but we also both know that we will die, and we also know that we have eternal life in us through Him.
|We have a great high priest, who has gone into heaven, and he is Jesus the Son of God. That is why we must hold on to what we have said about him. 15Jesus understands every weakness of ours, because he was tempted in every way that we are. But he did not sin! 16So whenever we are in need, we should come bravely before the throne of our merciful God. There we will be treated with undeserved kindness, and we will find help.
– Hebrews 4:14-16
How do we fight in this conflict?
- We let God work his holiness in and through us (Ezekiel 36:21-36).
- We become witnesses and overcome through our testimony to what God has done (Revelation 12:11)
- We submit to God and resist the evil one so that he will flee from us (James 4:7).
- We bring others into God’s kingdom (James 5:20).
Why can’t we use force to win the battle?
Force is the enemy’s way. God shows us his way and then allows us to exercise our will. Satan’s methods are entrapment, accusation, and deceit.
We need to be careful to use only God’s tools in fighting God’s battles. Loving, honest, straight-forward, non-manipulative testimony is our best weapon.
What is the final result of the battle?
|God’s home is now with his people. He will live with them, and they will be his own. Yes, God will make his home among his people. 4He will wipe all tears from their eyes, and there will be no more death, suffering, crying, or pain. These things of the past are gone forever. –Revelation 21:3 & 4|
Where can I find more information on this cosmic conflict?
The book of Revelation reveals much of the conflict. Milton, the great poet who wrote Paradise Lost used the concept of the cosmic conflict. C. S. Lewis, in his science fiction trilogy (Out of the Silent Planet, Perelandra, That Hideous Strength) discusses many principles. While the background and narrative of these books is fictional, the principles on which they are based are those of the cosmic conflict in scripture.
1Many would argue that Satan and the serpent are not the same. Genesis makes no comment. But we can clearly see that the serpent acts as an adversary.
2The KJV and NKJV read “angels” which follows the Greek Septuagint, but the NASB, NRSV, CEV and other modern versions provide a more accurate translation here.
Energion Publications also publishes the following pamphlets that you may find useful:
- God’s Good News for You!
Basic tract on salvation.
- Prayer Scriptures for Prayer Warriors
Some scriptural prayers adapted for use as personal prayers.
- Self-Defense for Prayer Warriors
How to stay spiritually healthy while praying for other people.
- Repentance and Rejoicing
How to repent and get back to the joy of the Lord.
- Seven Barriers to Hearing the Word
Overcoming barriers to hearing the word.
- Seven Kingdom Principles of Choice
The role of choice in discipleship and what this means to your own experience.
- Offering Peace and Forgiveness
The ministry of reconciliation in practical terms.
- Spiritual Warfare
While Cosmic Conflict deals with the background of the conflict between good and evil, Spiritual Warfare deals with its application in more personal terms.
All scripture quotations taken from the Contemporary English Version, Copyright © 1995 American Bible Society.
Copyright © 2002, Henry E. Neufeld