Spiritual Warfare
Standing Firm Against Satan
How Satan Attacks the Believer PT1
Class Session 2
Eph 6:10-17

By Ron Jones ©Titus Institute 2009

Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. NIV®. Copyright©1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.


Last time we began a study on what the Bible says about Spiritual Warfare and how to deal with Satan’s temptations in our lives. There is a spiritual war going on that Satan is waging against God and all those who are God’s children

His desire is to set up a rival kingdom of angels and humans who are committed to his evil goal of rebellion against God. God has allowed Satan to set up this rival kingdom within limits that God has set.

If we are to stand firm against Satan, we need to know how he works and how we can stand firm against him.

Last time we started studying the major NT text on this subject from Eph.6:10-17 where Paul talks about putting on the Armor of God and then brings in other passages as we go.

Turn to Eph.6:10

Eph 6:10-17 is divided into five points.
I. The preparation
II. The enemy
III. The battle
IV. The victory
V. The way to victory

Last time, we looked at

I. The preparation

We need to prepare for our battle with Satan and his demons. We do this by

1) Depending on the Lord’s power and
2) Putting on the full armor of God

Then we looked at

II. The enemy
v.11 “the devil’s schemes”

The enemy is the devil. The Greek word for devil is “diabolos” which means “slanderer.” A slanderer is someone who lies about another.

Then we looked at

III. The Battle – how Satan attacks us.

We first saw
A. The Strategy of Satan in the Battle - deception v. 12

We saw that Satan is a liar and he focuses his work on his “schemes,” spreading strategic lies about God. He lies about who God is, what God is like, what we are like, what God desires for us to do, how to be saved, and the like. This is how he attacks us – through lies.

These “schemes” or “strategic deception or lies” are ones that will be effective against us if we do not give the proper defense.

Then we saw

B. The Power of Satan in the Battle - Satan and his demons are invisible evil spirits dominating and directing the unbelieving world

Satan and his demons dominate and direct unbelievers throughout the world.

These descriptions do not refer to different ranks of demons but to demons as a whole.

Paul describes all the demons with their leader, Satan, as a whole group in four ways.

1. They are rulers – they have subjects they rule – fallen man

2. They are authorities – They have limited spiritual authority by God to dominate and direct fallen man. They can only do what God allows them to do, but they have it.

They have authority to accomplish a certain amount of evil in this world and to influence fallen man toward evil in judgment against man.

3. They are powerful rulers and authorities in the whole world of darkness, of sin and error in the hearts and minds of fallen man.

Their rule and authority is worldwide. It is all over the world. “The dark world” refers to the darkness of evil in the lives of fallen humans on earth.

Satan’s lies form the basis of the beliefs and values of fallen man and express themselves in the sinful attitudes, words, and actions of fallen man all coming from Satan and his demons.

So, Paul is saying that the demons have powerful control over the sinful attitudes, words, and actions of fallen man based on their evil lies.

4. They are evil spirits operating in the invisible spirit realm.

Satan and his demons are invisible. We can’t see them as they manipulate the world so we have to recognize their work, their lies.

These four descriptions show us we are dealing with powerful foes.

This is where we left off last time. Today, we come to

C. The Attack of Satan in the Battle - external attacks through the unbelieving world

In Eph.6 Paul writes generally of the principle strategy of Satan which is deception through lies and the principle instrument of Satan which is the unbelieving world.

However, Paul does not mention the specific ways that Satan attacks believers. This can be understood by studying other passages from the Bible.

How do Satan and his demons attack believers?

I want to focus on what the Bible clearly reveals about how Satan attacks, what we can be sure about.

The Bible shows four ways Satan and his demons attack Christians:

1. He incites our fleshly desires within us through the unbelieving world around us
2. He attempts to deceive us with lies through the beliefs and values of the unbelieving world around us
3. He attempts to deceive us with a false Jesus and a false gospel through false Christians.
4. Satan can physically afflict us or ones that we love with illness, crimes, disasters, and persecution.

We will study the first two today and the last two next time.

1. He incites our fleshly desires within us through the unbelieving world around us

Key: The external source of temptation is Satan and his demons through the world and the internal source of temptation are our fleshly desires within us.

Because of the fall of Adam every human being has a fleshly nature in him or her. That sinful fleshly nature has desires.

“So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want.”

Those desires (v.16-17) result in fleshly sinful actions (v.19-20) which Paul calls the “acts of the sinful nature.”

“The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.”

Paul describes those actions in four categories, which shows us the kinds of desires that our sinful nature has:

a. Sexual immorality involves all sexual activities outside of marriage.
“sexual immorality, impurity, debauchery”

b. Idolatry involves false religious doctrines and practices including the occult.
“idolatry, witchcraft”

c. Selfishness involves selfish attitudes and actions that create strife.
“hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy”

d. Destructive addictions involve all forms of substance abuse that cause people to lose control of their faculties and all the sinful behavior that results
“drunkenness, orgies”

These kinds of sinful actions reveal to us the kinds of sinful desires we will have rising up within our fleshly nature, in our fallen hearts.

When we become Christians, we break the domination of those desires in our lives. They no longer enslave us. We have the power of Christ through the Holy Spirit in us to help us turn away from them. However, we still have the sinful nature and those desires still remain in us.

These desires are from our flesh, our sinful nature; they are not from Satan. Satan cannot implant desires in us. These desires are from our sinful nature.

There is no such thing as the spirit of anger, or the spirit of lust as if Satan has implanted in us a fleshly desire that has become an obsession we are in bondage to. That is not Biblical.

Jesus speaks about this.

“But the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and these make a man ‘unclean’. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. These are what make a man ‘unclean’; but eating with unwashed hands does not make him ‘unclean.’"

Jesus tells us that out of man’s fallen heart comes evil.

James talks about this as well.

“When tempted, no one should say, ‘God is tempting me.’ For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.”

James is making sure that we understand where the internal source of temptation is – it is our desires.

This statement is important because James is also the one who talks about resisting the devil and he will flee from you in Jas. 4, which we will see later.

There is an internal source of temptation in us – our desires.

They will be there until the day we die if the Lord does not return before that happens.

But there is an external source of temptation in regards to our fleshly desires and that is Satan and his demons.

Their strategy (schemes in v. 11) in regards to our fleshly desires is to incite them, to stir them up in us through the world.

We have already seen in Eph.6:12 that Satan and his demons rule the dark world.

This dark world refers to unbelieving human beings who are in darkness, who are entrapped in sin and error, living out lives in rebellion against God based on a belief system that does not recognize the truth about God and His Son Jesus Christ.

Satan’s lies form the basis of the beliefs and values of fallen man and express themselves in the sinful attitudes, words, and actions of fallen man.

Satan uses unbelievers to stir up our fleshly desires. Wherever we live because unbelievers dominate, we will be surrounded by fleshly attitudes and actions, things and activities that stir up our fleshly desires.

This is obvious.

In Eph.2:2-3 Paul shows the connection between, the world, Satan, unbelievers and the sinful nature.

“in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts...”

V.2 says unbelievers follow the ways of the world and the ways of Satan (the ruler of the kingdom of the air) who works within them as sons of disobedience.

V.3 says that unbelievers live by indulging the desires of the flesh.

Unbelievers follow the ways of the world, which are ruled by Satan, which leads them to satisfy the cravings of the flesh. Unbelievers basically live by gratifying the cravings of their sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts.

Unbelievers build culture and society around their cravings and fleshly desires and spread those by the media, which create powerful temptations, which stir our fleshly desires within us.

This is why John tells believers to turn away from the world in 1 Jn.2

1 Jn.2:15-17
“Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For everything in the world - the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does- comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever.”

“Do not love the world or anything in the world “means “do not value the world, the ways of unbelievers, the ways of your fleshly desires as a way of life.”

At times we will fall into valuing the world, but if this is what our lives are all about, we must question our salvation, not that we have lost it, but whether we ever had it. The love of the father and what he values is in believers through the Holy Spirit and that dominates our minds and hearts.

Notice what the world is full of which incites our fleshly desires.

“For everything in the world - the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does - comes not from the Father but from the world.”

1. The “cravings of sinful man” refers to the desires of the human sinful nature for that which God forbids.

2. The “lust of the eyes” refers to the desires incited by the eyes – by looking. The world is full of things which incite our fleshly desires for the forbidden through sight.

3. The boastful pride of life refers to the pride of the sinful human heart that boasts how one is above all others, deserves more than others based on their abilities and achievements, looks, etc. This is a value of the world directly opposed to God.

Satan uses the world to incite our fleshly desires so when you are tempted by a desire for the forbidden from something you see or experience you can be sure of two things: the external source of the temptation is Satan and his demons through the world and the internal source of temptation are the fleshly desires that are in you.

In 1 Jn.2:15, John says turn away from the world, these fleshly ways.

All these worldly temptations are like booths at a fair, like a County or State Fair. Each one calling us over to partake in their fleshly activities promising all kinds of fun experiences, but in the end lead to loss.

Satan is constantly attempting to draw us into sin by putting in our way all kinds of things to look at and think about that are wrong. We watch others around us indulge in fleshly activities and it is tempting. Unbelievers around us may directly tempt us into sin.

Example: A bunch of fellow-workers are gossiping and backbiting at work, which is a temptation to sin.

We need to stand firm against Satan and his demons inciting us through the world.

There is a second way Satan tempts us externally:

2. He attempts to deceive us with lies through the beliefs and values of the unbelieving world around us

Satan attacks our beliefs and values.

When fleshly desires rise up in us, it is our values and our beliefs that cause us to decide whether we will follow those desires.

We as human beings make decisions about what we are going to do based on what we believe and what we value.

God gives to us at salvation when the Holy Spirit comes to live within us new desires based on new values and beliefs. So Satan knows he must strike at our beliefs and values if he is to tempt us and he does this by lies.

He has blinded the world with his lies and he attempts to tempt us through his lies. These lies are accepted by unbelievers and are to spread to us externally through the world. When we accept those lies in our minds and hearts, we are falling into the temptations of Satan.

Remember from the time we are children we receive hundreds and thousands of lies from the world around us into our minds and memories, many of them we do not even notice. They do not just come from the culture or media; they can come from unbelieving parents and relatives and even from believing parents and relatives because we can still be deceived.

In the Gospels Jesus confronts the lies of Satan the people of Israel had believed, including his own disciples.

“From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life. Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. ‘Never, Lord!’ he said. ‘This shall never happen to you!’ Jesus turned and said to Peter, ‘Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.’ Then Jesus said to his disciples, ‘If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.’”

When Jesus says to Peter “Get behind, Satan” he is addressing Peter figuratively. He is addressing Peter as if he was Satan himself because he was speaking a lie of Satan. As we shall see, Jesus is not addressing Satan directly, but he is addressing the Satanic lie that Peter has accepted from the world.


There are at least two lies behind what Peter said to Jesus that Satan had deceived the Israelites into believing:

1) The messiah was to come and set up his kingdom without any need for a making a sacrifice for sin by suffering and dying

2) To enter the kingdom of God there is no need for Israelites to humble themselves before God and acknowledge they are sinners because they are Abraham’s children and thus have access to the kingdom as long as they follow the Mosaic Law outwardly

These lies are the same ones Jesus rebuked in Jn.8:44, which we saw last time.

Peter had heard these lies since he was a little boy from the entire nation around him, from the world. I call this the Satanic information network. It is the compilation of lies that Satan implants in a culture or society.

I don’t believe that Satan put that directly into Peter’s mind, he had implanted it in the nation and culture. Peter was saying what many were saying.

Jesus was emphasizing that Satan is behind these lies and warning Peter and his other disciples about it. Then he addresses Peter – you are looking at things not from God’s point of view, but from man’s (v.23).

Jesus tells Peter that he is setting his mind on the “things of man” or “man’s interests.”

Man’s point of view is that there is no need for the messiah to die for sin. That’s why Peter rebuked Jesus for saying such a thing.

If Jesus were speaking directly to Satan he would not have made this statement that he was looking at “man’s interests” or the “things of man.” Satan never looks at things from man’s point of view. Man’s perverted point of view comes from Satan. He is addressing Peter and the Satanic lie he had accepted from the world.

The lie is implanted in man’s point of view (which is the world’s point of view) – this is a clue to how Satan works.

“The things of men” also tell us that Peter was articulating the views of fallen men he had heard from his culture and society. Had Satan directly implanted that into his mind, Jesus would have said “the things of Satan.” However, Satan had implanted that in the culture. That is where Peter picked it up.

It was a lie and Peter had fallen into believing it. Jesus rebuked him for that.

In the epistle of James, James confronts the lies of Satan, which had infiltrated the church.

James refers to the “wisdom of the world” which is another term for the lies of Satan spread as wisdom in the minds of unbelievers. James talks about the “wisdom of the world” and how it had infected the believers he was writing to.

Jas. 4:7
“Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

This is a well-known verse in the Bible, but its context is not as well-known.

What is the context that speaks to the devil’s work that needs to be resisted?

Jas. 2:1-4
“My brothers, as believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ, don't show favoritism. Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor
man in shabby clothes also comes in. If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, ‘Here's a good seat for you,’ but say to the poor man, ‘You stand there’ or ‘Sit on the floor by my feet,’ have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?”

The believers were showing favoritism to rich Christians. This is a worldly belief and value which holds that having more money than others makes a person more important than others and gives them priority over others.

This ties into man’s fleshly desire of envy and greed, the desire to have more and more and more. This favoritism was part of a larger problem of envy, jealousy, and selfish ambition, which was rampant in the church.

Jas. 3:13-14
“Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show it by his good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth.”

James now moves to the underlying beliefs and values, which creates favoritism and which stirs up envy, jealousy, and selfish ambition to rule in people’s lives.

He contrasts godly wisdom and worldly wisdom.

Wisdom is a way of thinking and acting based on one’s beliefs and values. Godly wisdom reflects godly beliefs and values. Worldly wisdom reflects ungodly beliefs and values which are based on Satan’s lies.

In v.13, James says that good behavior comes from godly wisdom.

“Such ‘wisdom’ does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, of the devil. For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.”

“Such wisdom” refers to the worldly wisdom that underlies the bitter envy and selfish ambition in their hearts. Notice, that he calls worldly wisdom “demonic.” It comes from Satan and his demons.

So, what James is saying is that the fleshly sins, the deeds of the flesh they were allowing in the congregation were based on worldly demonic wisdom.

Jas. 4:1-4
“What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don't they come from your desires that battle within you? You want something but don't get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures .You adulterous people, don't you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.”

James says that when Christians follow their fleshly desires they are being friends with the world. In these verses, you can see the strong connection between the deeds of the flesh and the beliefs and values of the world and the lies of Satan.

Satan attacks us through the worldly wisdom, which caters to our fleshly desires. They were following their fleshly desires because of their worldly beliefs and values.

We need to resist these lies.

Jas. 4:7
“Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

This means “submit to God not to the world’s wisdom and ways. Satan was tempting them through the world. Resist the devil’s temptation toward the world by turning away in faith and obedience and he will flee from you.”

Friendship with the world is where Satan is operating and his wisdom tempting us with his values and beliefs, our desires then carry us the rest of the way.

By the way, “friendship with the world” means the same as “love the world.” (1 Jn.2:12)

How do we resist? We submit to God’s wisdom. Who are we listening to, God’s wisdom James 3:17 or the devil’s wisdom 3:14?

Satan’s desire is to get us Christians to accept worldly wisdom and thus move our lives toward our fleshly desires.

Examples of Satanic Lies:

1. You are more valuable and deserve better treatment if you are beautiful or handsome, or make a lot of money, or are famous, or are very athletic.

2. Tolerance means that every opinion is equally right.

3. There is no absolute truth. Each person and culture determines what is right and what is wrong. This is a post-modern lie.

4. Sex before marriage is not wrong as long as you love the person and are mature enough to handle it.

5. Dishonesty is not wrong if you do it because you are trying to “survive.”

6. If it feels good, it doesn’t hurt anyone else, and you don’t feel guilty about it, then it is not wrong to do it.

7. A fetus is not a human being until it is born. Therefore, a woman has a right to abort a fetus she does not want.

8. Homosexuality is an alternative lifestyle, not a sinful behavior.

9. Whatever we do in this life has no consequence after death because there is no life after death or because we don’t know anything about what comes after death.

10. If you are sincere and a good person, you will go to heaven.

Next week we will look at the third and fourth ways that Satan attacks us.