‘Wrestling Against Wicked Spirit Forces’
1. Why is the activity of wicked spirits of particular interest to us?
PEOPLE who are materialistically minded may scoff at the idea of wicked spirits. But it is no laughing matter. Whether they believe it or not, demonic activity exerts pressure on everyone. Worshipers of Jehovah are not exempt. In fact, they are a primary target. The apostle Paul alerts us to this conflict, saying: “We have a wrestling, not against blood and flesh, but against the governments [that are not in the realm of blood and flesh], against the authorities, against the world rulers of this darkness, against the wicked spirit forces in the heavenly places.” (Eph. 6:12) In our day the pressure has reached an all-time high because Satan has been cast out of heaven and is furious, knowing his time is short.—Rev. 12:12.
2. How is it possible for us to wrestle successfully against superhuman spirits?
2 How can any of us possibly succeed in a struggle against superhuman spirit forces? Only by complete reliance on Jehovah. We must listen to him and obey his Word. By so doing, we can be spared the physical, moral, emotional and mental damage experienced by those under Satanic control.—Eph. 6:11; Jas. 4:7.
World Rulers in Heavenly Places
3. To what and whom is Satan viciously opposed?
3 Jehovah vividly describes for us the world situation as he sees it from his vantage point in the heavens. He gave the apostle John a vision in which Satan was depicted as “a great fiery-colored dragon” poised to devour, if possible, God’s Messianic Kingdom as soon as it would be brought to birth in heaven in 1914 C.E. Failing in that, Satan unleashed against the visible representatives of that Kingdom, the secondary part of the seed of God’s “woman,” a flood of vicious opposition.—Rev. 12:3, 4, 13, 17.
4. (a) To what fact concerning the source of the power of human governments does the Bible alert us? (b) To what are all the political rulers now being gathered, and by whom?
4 The source of the power and authority of human governments was also laid bare in that revelation to John. He was shown a composite wild beast, with 7 heads and 10 horns, a beast having authority “over every tribe and people and tongue and nation.” This represents, not just one government, but the global political system. John was informed that “the dragon [Satan the Devil] gave to the beast its power and its throne and great authority.” (Rev. 13:1, 2, 7; compare Luke 4:5, 6.) Despite any religious professions on the part of political rulers, none of the member nations of the “beast” submit to Jehovah’s sovereignty and to his appointed King, Jesus Christ. They are all struggling to hold on to their own sovereignty. Today, as the Revelation shows, “expressions inspired by demons” are gathering them all to “the war of the great day of God the Almighty” at Har–Magedon. (Rev. 16:13, 14, 16) Indeed, as the apostle Paul wrote, “the world rulers” are not mere men but “wicked spirit forces in the heavenly places.” (Eph. 6:12) All who would prove themselves true worshipers of Jehovah need to grasp the full significance of that.
5. Why is care needed in order to avoid being maneuvered into supporting the satanic system?
5 Daily our lives are touched by conflicts that tear apart the human family. It is common for people to take sides, verbally or otherwise, with the nation, tribe, language group or social class of which they are a part. Even when their particular segment of society is not directly involved in some current conflict, they may find themselves favoring one side over another. But no matter what the grievance, regardless of the person or the cause that they endorse, what are they really supporting? The Bible states plainly that “the whole world is lying in the power of the wicked one.” (1 John 5:19) How, then, can a person avoid being misled with the rest of mankind? Only by giving his full support to God’s Kingdom and maintaining complete neutrality as to conflicts between factions of the world.—John 17:15, 16.
Sly Devices of the Wicked One
6. What are included among the means that Satan has used to turn people away from true worship?
6 At all periods of history Satan has used verbal and physical persecution to turn individuals away from true worship. But he has also employed more subtle means—cunning acts and sly devices.
7. How is Satan’s cleverness shown in his use of false religion?
7 He has cleverly kept a large proportion of mankind in darkness by means of false religion, letting them think, if they so desire, that they are serving God. Lacking a genuine love for truth, they may be attracted by mystical and emotional religious services or be impressed by powerful works. (2 Thess. 2:9, 10) But we are warned that, even from among those who have shared in true worship, “some will fall away . . . paying attention to misleading inspired utterances and teachings of demons.” (1 Tim. 4:1) How could that happen?
8. How has Satan lured into false religion even some who used to worship Jehovah?
8 Slyly the Devil appeals to a person’s weaknesses. Does fear of man still have a hold on him? If so, he may give in to pressure from relatives or neighbors to share in practices that are of false religious origin. Is the individual proud? Then he may take offense when counseled or when others do not accept ideas that he advocates. (Prov. 29:25; 15:10; 1 Tim. 6:3, 4) What if his participation in the field ministry is not motivated by love? Instead of adjusting his viewpoint to conform to the example of Christ, he may incline toward those who ‘tickle his ears’ by saying that just reading the Bible and living a “good life” are enough. (2 Tim. 4:3) Whether he actually joins another religious group or simply holds to his own brand of religion is not important to Satan, just as long as he does not worship Jehovah in the way that God directs through his Word and his organization.
9. How does Satan cunningly use sex to accomplish his aims?
9 Satan also cunningly entices people to satisfy normal desires in wrong ways. He has done this with the desire for sexual intimacies. Rejecting Bible morality, many in the world view sex relations between unmarried persons as legitimate pleasure or as a way of proving they are adults. And what about married persons? It is not unusual for worldly people who experience marital problems to get a divorce and remarry or simply to separate and live with another mate. When we observe this way of life, do we feel that we are missing out on something, that the Christian way is too strict? Satan’s subtle approach is to make a person think that Jehovah is withholding something good. He urges us to think of the pleasure we can have now—not the long-range effect on ourselves and others, and certainly not our relationship with Jehovah and his Son.—Gal. 6:7, 8; 1 Cor. 6:9, 10.
10. By what means does Satan try to subvert our attitude toward violence?
10 Another natural desire is for entertainment. When wholesome, it can be physically, mentally and emotionally refreshing. But what is our reaction when Satan cleverly uses occasions of relaxation to try to alienate our thinking from that of God? We know, for example, that Jehovah hates those who love violence. (Ps. 11:5) But when movies on television or at the theater feature it, do we passively sit and take it all in? Or when it is presented in the name of sport, do we accept it and perhaps even shout encouragement to the participants?—Compare Genesis 6:13.
11. In what ways might even a person who knows the truth about spiritism be ensnared if he is not alert?
11 We are also aware that those who indulge in any form of spiritism—practicing divination, employing witchcraft or trying to communicate with the dead—are “something detestable to Jehovah.” We would not think of consulting spirit mediums and certainly we would not welcome them into our home to practice their demonic arts. But would we listen to them and watch in fascination if they appeared on our television screen? Although we would never accept treatment from a witch doctor, might we tie a string around the wrist of our newborn with the thought that it might somehow protect the child from harm? Or, knowing that the Bible condemns ‘binding others with a spell,’ would we allow a hypnotist to control our mind, even temporarily?—Deut. 18:10-12; Gal. 5:19-21.
12. (a) How is music used to get us to entertain ideas that we know are wrong? (b) How might a person’s clothing, hairstyle or manner of speech indicate admiration for those whose life-style Jehovah disapproves? (c) What is required on our part if we are to avoid falling victim to sly satanic devices?
12 We have read in the Scriptures that ‘fornication and uncleanness of every sort should not, with improper motive, even be mentioned among us.’ (Eph. 5:3-5) But what if such themes are cleverly accompanied by music that has a pleasing melody, a catchy rhythm or an insistent beat? Might we even unconsciously start repeating lyrics that glorify sex without marriage, use of drugs for pleasure and much more? Or, while we know that we should not imitate the way of life of people who indulge in such things, do we tend to identify ourselves with them by imitating the way they dress, their hairstyle or their way of speaking? How crafty Satan is! How insidious the methods he uses to entice humans to conform to his own corrupted mind! (2 Cor. 4:3, 4) To keep from falling victim to his sly devices, we must avoid drifting along with the world. We need to keep in mind who the “world rulers of this darkness” are and earnestly be wrestling against their influence.—Eph. 6:12; 1 Pet. 5:8.
Equipped to Be Conquerors
13. How is it possible for any of us, with our imperfections, to conquer the world that Satan rules?
13 Before Jesus’ death he said to his apostles: “Take courage! I have conquered the world.” So, too, they could be conquerors; and over 60 years later the apostle John wrote: “Who is the one that conquers the world but he who has faith that Jesus is the Son of God?” (John 16:33; 1 John 5:5) Such faith is shown by our obeying Jesus’ commands and relying on God’s Word, even as he did. What else is required? That we stay close to the congregation of which he is the head. When we fall short, we must earnestly repent and seek God’s forgiveness on the basis of Jesus’ sacrifice. In this way, despite our imperfections, we too can be conquerors.
14. (a) Read Ephesians 6:13-18. (b) Use the questions and scriptures provided as a basis for discussing benefits from each part of the spiritual armor.
14 To succeed, we need to put on “the complete suit of armor from God,” neglecting no part of it. Please open your Bible to Ephesians 6:13-18 and read its description of that armor. Then, by answering the questions below, consider how you can benefit from the protection afforded by each piece of the armor.
“Loins girded about with truth”
Even though we may know the truth, how do regular study, meditation on Bible truth and meeting attendance protect us? (Phil. 3:1; 4:8, 9; 1 Cor. 10:12, 13; 2 Cor. 13:5; 1 Pet. 1:13, Kingdom Interlinear)
“Breastplate of righteousness”
Whose standard of righteousness is this? (Rev. 15:3)
“Feet shod with the equipment of the good news of peace”
“Large shield of faith”
“Helmet of salvation”
“Sword of the spirit”
In harmony with that, at Ephesians 6:18, 19, what else is shown to be vital to success in spiritual warfare? How often is it to be employed? In behalf of whom?
15. (a) Is it simply a personal spiritual warfare that we all wage? (b) How can we take the offensive in the fight?
15 As Christian soldiers we are part of a large army engaging in spiritual warfare. If we keep alert and make good use of the full suit of armor from God, we will not become casualties in this war. Instead, we will be a strengthening aid to fellow servants of God. We will be ready and eager to take the offensive, spreading the good news of God’s Messianic Kingdom, that government to which Satan is so violently opposed.
● Why do worshipers of Jehovah endeavor to maintain complete neutrality as to conflicts between elements of the world?
● What are some of the sly devices used by Satan to bring Christians to spiritual ruin?
● How does the armor provided by God safeguard us in ways that are crucial in this spiritual warfare?