‘Wrestling Against Wicked Spirit Forces’
1. Why is the activity of wicked spirits of particular interest to us?
MANY people scoff at the idea that there are wicked spirits. But it is no laughing matter. Whether people believe it or not, wicked spirits do exist, and they try to exert pressure on everyone. Worshipers of Jehovah are not exempt. In fact, they are the primary target. The apostle Paul alerts us to that fact, saying: “We have a wrestling, not against blood and flesh, but against the [invisible] governments, against the authorities, against the world rulers of this darkness, against the wicked spirit forces in the heavenly places.” (Ephesians 6:12) In our day the pressure exerted by wicked spirit forces has reached an all-time high because Satan has been cast out of heaven and is furious, knowing that his time is short.—Revelation 12:12.
2. How is it possible for us to win in the struggle against superhuman spirits?
2 Is it possible to win a struggle against superhuman spirit forces? Yes, but only by complete reliance on Jehovah. We must listen to him and obey his Word. By so doing, we can be spared much of the physical, moral, and emotional damage experienced by those under satanic control.—James 4:7.
World Rulers in Heavenly Places
3. Whom does Satan viciously oppose, and how?
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.” He was poised to devour, if possible, God’s Messianic Kingdom as soon as it was brought to birth in heaven in 1914. Failing in that, Satan unleashed a flood of vicious opposition against the earthly representatives of that Kingdom. (Revelation 12:3, 4, 13, 17) How would Satan wage this warfare? Through his own human representatives.
4. Who is the source of the power of human governments, and how do we know that?
4 John was next shown a wild beast with seven heads and ten horns, a beast having authority “over every tribe and people and tongue and nation.” That beast represents the entire global political system. John was informed that “the dragon [Satan the Devil] gave to the beast its power and its throne and great authority.” (Revelation 13:1, 2, 7) Yes, Satan is the source of the power and authority of human governments. Thus, as the apostle Paul wrote, the true “world rulers” are “wicked spirit forces in the heavenly places,” who control human governments. All who would worship Jehovah need to grasp the full significance of that.—Luke 4:5, 6.
5. To what are political rulers now being gathered?
5 Although many political rulers profess to be religious, none of the nations submit to Jehovah’s rulership or to that of his appointed King, Jesus Christ. All struggle fiercely to hold on to their own power. Today, as the account in Revelation shows, “expressions inspired by demons” are gathering the world’s rulers to “the war of the great day of God the Almighty” at Armageddon.—Revelation 16:13, 14, 16; 19:17-19.
6. Why is care needed in order to avoid being maneuvered into giving support to the satanic system?
6 Every day, people’s lives are touched by political, social, economic, and religious conflicts that tear the human family apart. In these conflicts, 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 people are not directly involved in some conflict, they often find themselves favoring one side over another. But regardless of which person or cause they endorse, to whom are they really giving support? The Bible plainly states: “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 by maintaining complete neutrality as to conflicts of the world.—John 17:15, 16.
Sly Devices of the Wicked One
7. How is Satan’s cleverness shown in his use of false religion?
7 In all periods of history, Satan has used verbal and physical persecution to turn individuals away from true worship. He has also employed more subtle means—cunning acts and sly devices. He has cleverly kept a large proportion of mankind in darkness by means of false religion, making them think that they are serving God. Lacking in accurate knowledge of God and in love for truth, they may be attracted by mystical and emotional religious services or be impressed by powerful works. (2 Thessalonians 2:9, 10) But we are warned that even from among those who once shared in true worship, “some will fall away . . . , paying attention to misleading inspired utterances and teachings of demons.” (1 Timothy 4:1) How could that happen?
8. How can Satan lure us into false religion even if we are worshiping Jehovah?
8 Slyly, the Devil plays on our weaknesses. Does fear of man still have a hold on us? If so, we may give in to pressure from relatives or neighbors to share in practices that are of false religious origin. Are we proud? If so, we may take offense when counseled or when others do not accept ideas that we advocate. (Proverbs 15:10; 29:25; 1 Timothy 6:3, 4) Instead of adjusting our viewpoint to conform to the example of Christ, we may incline toward those who ‘tickle our ears’ by saying that just reading the Bible and living a good life are enough. (2 Timothy 4:3) Whether we actually join another religious group or simply hold to our own brand of religion is not important to Satan, just as long as we do 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 sexual relations between unmarried people as legitimate pleasure or as a way of proving that they are adults. And what about those who are married? Many commit adultery. And even when there is no infidelity in their marriage, numerous individuals seek a divorce or separation so that they can take up living with someone else. Satan’s subtle approach aims to influence people to live for pleasure now, inducing them to ignore the long-range effects not only on themselves and others but especially on their relationship with Jehovah and his Son.—1 Corinthians 6:9, 10; Galatians 6:7, 8.
10. By what means does Satan try to subvert our attitude toward immorality and violence?
10 Another natural desire is for recreation. When wholesome, it can be physically, mentally, and emotionally refreshing. But how do we react when Satan cleverly uses occasions of relaxation to try to alienate our thinking from God’s? We know, for example, that Jehovah hates sexual immorality and violence. When movies, television programs, or theater performances feature those things, do we passively sit and take it all in? Keep in mind, too, that Satan will see to it that such things become more debased as the time for his destruction nears, since “wicked men and impostors will advance from bad to worse, misleading and being misled.” (2 Timothy 3:13) So we constantly need to be on guard against Satan’s designs.—Genesis 6:13; Psalm 11:5; Romans 1:24-32.
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 detestable to Jehovah. (Deuteronomy 18:10-12) Bearing that in mind, we would not think of consulting spirit mediums, and we would certainly not welcome them into our home to practice their demonic arts. But would we listen to them if they appeared on our television screen or on the Internet? 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? Knowing that the Bible condemns binding others with a spell, would we allow a hypnotist to take control of our mind?—Galatians 5:19-21.
12. (a) How is music used to get us to think about 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 Satan’s sly devices?
12 The Bible says that fornication and uncleanness of every sort should not (with unclean motives) even be mentioned among us. (Ephesians 5:3-5) But what if such themes are accompanied by music that has a pleasing melody, a catchy rhythm, or a persistent beat? Will we start to repeat lyrics that glorify sex without marriage, the use of drugs for pleasure, and other sinful acts? 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 hairstyles, or their way of speaking? How insidious the methods are that Satan uses to entice humans to conform to his own corrupted way of thinking! (2 Corinthians 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 wrestle against their influence.—1 Peter 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 his death, Jesus said to his apostles: “Take courage! I have conquered the world.” (John 16:33) They too could be conquerors. Some 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?” (1 John 5:5) Such faith is shown by our obeying Jesus’ commands and relying on God’s Word, even as Jesus did. What else is required? That we stay close to the congregation of which he is 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 and mistakes, we too can be conquerors.—Psalm 130:3, 4.
14. Read Ephesians 6:13-17, and use the questions and scriptures provided in this paragraph 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 6:13-17, 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 armor.
“Loins girded about with truth”
“Breastplate of righteousness”
Whose standard of righteousness is this? (Revelation 15:3)
“Feet shod with the equipment of the good news of peace”
“Large shield of faith”
“Helmet of salvation”
“Sword of the spirit”
What else is vital to success in spiritual warfare? How often is it to be employed? In behalf of whom? (Ephesians 6:18, 19)
15. How can we take the offensive in the spiritual fight?
15 As soldiers of Christ, 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 help to fellow servants of God. We will be ready and eager to take the offensive, spreading the good news of God’s Messianic Kingdom, the heavenly government that Satan so violently opposes.
• Why do worshipers of Jehovah maintain complete neutrality as to the world’s conflicts?
• What are some of the sly devices used by Satan to bring Christians to spiritual ruin?
• How does the spiritual armor provided by God safeguard us in our spiritual warfare?
[Pictures on page 76]
The nations are being gathered to Armageddon