In my last two posts, I looked at 18 biblical realities concerning Satan and demons. You can read them here and here to get caught up. Satan and demons are very real, as we have seen, and are quite active in the world. To deny their presence and activity is blind ignorance. We saw how demons can afflict physically and spiritually. We saw how demons carry limited power, but power nonetheless. However, to obsess over or live in fear of demons is out of place for the Christian because we saw finally that demons find their ultimate demise in the cross of Christ. Jesus has conquered Satan and his host through his life, death, and resurrection. In fact, John goes so far as to say that the “reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil” (1 John 3:8).
Still yet, there is the reality of demonic influence and activity in the world today. If we take God at his word, then we must admit that demons play an intense role in human society. So, how should Christians respond to Satan and demons? What should our position be toward demonic influence and activity? In the face of serious spiritual warfare and demonic influence in individuals and society at large, Christians should respond in three primary ways.
1. Proclaim the gospel fearlessly
While Jesus and Paul occasionally casted out demons that were hindering their ministry of the gospel, the New Testament normality of gospel ministry was to simply preach the gospel anywhere and everywhere. There are no circumstances that should hinder the proclamation of the gospel. While demons are actively and desperately working to destroy God’s work and prerogative in this world, Christians fight back with a violent punch every time we humbly and boldly share the gospel with a friend. The gospel is the Achille’s heel for Satan and his host of demons. Christ has conquered Satan. Proclaim this fearlessly.
2. Pray confidently
Whether we realize it or not, we are in constant spiritual warfare. However, at times demonic activity can be increased. We combat demonic activity not only with gospel proclamation, but with fervent prayer. Prayer is one spiritual weapon that we wield in the process of spiritual warfare. As Paul wrote, “For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds” (2 Cor. 10:4). Paul would later command that we put on the whole armor of God “that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil” (Eph. 6:11).
Dealing with demons is not a game. It is a war. “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” (Eph. 6:12). In order to stand strong in the face of demonic activity, we must use prayer as a deadly weapon ready to strike blow after blow to Satan and demons. We can with certainty know that praying confidently is the proper response to powerful demonic beings and forces, because of the One to whom we pray. Make no mistake, there is no power in prayer. There is power in the one to whom we pray. The response of Christians to demons is war. The Bible teaches that one way we fight is through prayer (Eph. 6:18).
3. Live in victory over and not in fear of demons
All enemies of the cross find their ultimate destruction and defeat in the cross. If there is one verse of Scripture that Satan and his demons have memorized it is Matthew 24:14, which reads, “And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.” Satan’s end is certain. His demise is sure. There is a time limit on demonic activity in this world, and one day it will cease to exist because of the work of Christ. Satan and his demons find their end in the eternally incinerating fires of judgment (Rev. 20:10).
Because of this, Christians can live fearlessly, confidently, and victoriously in the midst of real spiritual warfare and demonic influence. Listen to the words of Wayne Grudem.
If we really believe the scriptural testimony to the existence and activity of demons, and if we really believe that “the reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil” (1 John 3:8), then it would seem appropriate to expect that even today when the gospel is proclaimed to unbelievers, and when prayer is made for believers who have perhaps been unaware of this dimension of spiritual conflict, there will be a genuine and often immediately recognizable triumph over the power of the enemy. We should expect that this would happen, think of it as a normal part of the work of Christ in building up his kingdom, and rejoice in Christ’s victory in it (Systematic Theology, 433).
The influence of demons in the world is real. Spiritual warfare is a constant battle. However, through the gospel of Christ’s death in the place of sinners, Christians can respond to demonic influence with boldness. In a world filled with demons, proclaim the gospel fearlessly, pray confidently, and live victoriously–all in the shadow of the cross.
Mathew Gilbert is a student at Boyce College (B.A. Biblical and Theological Studies). He is the author of the forthcoming book Come to the Well: 50 Meditations to Fuel Your Joy in God (CrossBooks). Mathew lives in London, KY with his wife, Erica, and their dog, Simba. You can follow him on Twitter @Mat_Gilbert.