Our culture, just like during Apostle Paul’s time, condones and even promotes sin. We face temptations from many directions, we struggle with sin and relationships. Fiery darts seem to come from every direction, and it’s easy in our fleshly state to think we are being defeated. The picture I chose today is entitled “Checkmate”, and the devil seems to have convinced the young man he is about to lose.

According to legend, a chess champion visited the museum once and after studying the painting, noticed that the arrangement of the chess pieces were incorrect. According to him the devil who thought he was winning, was in fact not winning. The young man, who thought he was losing, was winning because according to the pieces left on the chessboard, his king had one more move left, which would make him the winner of the game! He told the curator that the title of the painting didn’t fit the scene because the forlorn-looking player actually had the ability to defeat his opponent. The title of the painting is a lie.

That story sums up what the enemy does; his modus operandi is deception as he is “the father of lies” (John 8:44). He will use others to deceive you, but we must remember who our battle is really with: the devil. “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.” (Eph. 6:12) We know who our enemy is, but do we really know him? Do we know what he’s like? When you’re in a battle, you must know your enemy and be able to recognize him.

Satan’s intention in spiritual warfare is to cause us to miss out on the goodness of God, leading us onto a path of destruction. As James tells us, “… and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death” (James 1:15). Sin produces death in a variety of ways, all bringing about the diminishing ability to experience God’s promise of the abundant life. This death can show up as the death of a dream, relationship, career, virtue, or in any number of areas. Primarily, sin produces a death within the fullness of our spirits as our fellowship is broken with God.

Breaking fellowship with God makes us ineffective as believers who have been designed to experience God and to glorify Him in all that we do. Oftentimes, the death in our relationships, hopes, careers, families, or in other areas will lead to depressing thoughts and discouragement, which are Satan’s aim. He seeks to make our lives void of the abundance that Jesus has promised, so that we question God and His promises. And when our lives feel miserable, we are frequently too miserable to give God any glory or to tell others about Him. In fact, many of us end up not only withholding giving God the glory that is due Him, but we also blame God for the misery that we are living in. Jesus gave us a key difference between Himself and the devil: “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” (John 10:10)

The foundational principle behind living a life of total victory is this: We do not wrestle against flesh and blood. The people are real. The problems are real. The health issues are real. The challenges are real. The conflicts are real. The strongholds are real. They are just not the root against which we wrestle. The job of Satan and his demons is to keep you and me from experiencing the abundant life God has in store for us, and that is done by distracting us from focusing on the root and complaining about what we see and experience. Our struggle is very clearly a spiritual one. Consequently, we are wasting our time fighting people when instead we need to: “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (James 4:7)

We learn what his motives are, but we also need to remember that his power is not equal to God’s mighty power. He is a created being (fallen angel), just as we are all created beings. He is limited in his knowledge and activity. Unlike God, Satan is NOT all-knowing, all-powerful, or everywhere-present (The Bible Exposition Commentary). He is organized and his goal is destruction, but we must never equate his power with God. And we must also not equate humans with Satan as we do not wrestle against flesh and blood (people). Our battle is taking place in heavenly places, where Christ is seated at the Father’s right hand “far above all rule and authority and power and dominion” (Eph. 2:20-21). And where are we? We have been “raised.. up with Him, and seated… with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (Eph. 2:6).

But God, who is not bound by time or space, has already won this battle. Living out His strategy of gratitude is one key to overcoming spiritual warfare and living a life of victory. We need to realize a key principle: we are not fighting for victory–we are fighting from victory. Remind yourself daily who you are in Christ, and that this battle has already been won!