Though Satan is in principle defeated, we still need to be rescued “from the present evil age” (Gal 1:4) and to “struggle … against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” (Eph 6:12).
Just as in the days of Jesus, the kingdom of Satan focuses most of its activity on hindering the advancement of the kingdom of God. When the church is spreading the kingdom, the kingdom of darkness will be most at work. Here are some ways the that Satan hinders the church in the New Testament:
- Satan opposed ministry through circumstances. Paul told the church in Thessalonica that he wanted to come to them “again and again—but Satan blocked our way (Thess 2:18).
- Satan is portrayed as continually at work to bring trials to Christians in order to discourage them (1 Thess 3:5).
- Satan works to entrap church leaders, apparently by slandering their reputations, according to Paul (1 Tim 3:7). For this reason Paul, following the advice of Jesus, prays that leaders would be protected “from the evil one” (2 Thess 3:2-3).
- Satan incites divisions among churches. Hence as he encourages them to preserve the unity in the body (Rom 16:17-19), Paul reassures that the “God of peace will shortly crush Satan under your feet (Rom 16:20).
- The Satanic kingdom is at work in trying to deceive believers (1 Tim 4:1-7) and to pollute their minds with falsehood. The Christian’s mind is a battlefield between the evil one who blinds and the Savior who brings light (2 Cor 4:4-6).
- One of Satan’s designs is to cause believers to harbor unforgiveness. This gives the devil room in the believer’s heart; it can drive a person in need of forgiveness into despair (2 Cor 2:7), and it can bring about division within the body of Christ.
The kingdom of darkness wars against the kingdom of light where churches manifest God’s character. To be a people who live out the distinctness of God’s kingdom, we must, like Paul, see that we are warring against an enemy. Christians are to “be strong in the Lord and the strength of his power,” which means putting on “the whole armor of God, so that you might be able to stand against the wiles of the devil” (Eph 6:10-11).
—Adapted from God at War, pages 278-281