Russell Moore has warned that while Christian life in contemporary Western culture has largely neglected the concepts of demons and demonic powers, spiritual warfare is a reality Christians face “all the time,” both overtly and covertly.
In a video posted to his website on Oct. 1, Moore, the president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, warned that when tempted, many Christians blame their genetic predisposition or their psychological background instead of acknowledging the reality of spiritual warfare.
“You are in a place of spiritual warfare,” he stressed. “The Bible says all the time, overtly or covertly.”
The attacks from Satan and other demonic forces don’t necessarily manifest themselves in “visible or extraordinary” ways, Moore said, because spiritual warfare against Christians works in two ways: Deception and accusation.
Deception tells a Christian there will be no consequences for their behavior; that God does not have their best interest at heart; and that their life is meaningful and “without a plotline,” he said, referencing Satan’s temptation of Eve in Genesis 3:4.
“What this deception wants to do is for the human creature is to manifest the flesh, to manifest my creatureliness apart from the direction of the Spirit, apart from the self-control and the love that comes from the Spirit,” he explained.
Satan and demonic beings also accuse Christians, Moore said: “The way that Satan and demonic beings work is not just to tempt and deceive, but also to accuse, to give an indictment.”
“You have humanity created in order to be the pinnacle of God’s creation, bearing God's image and the angelic beings are created to minister to serve humanity,” he explained. “What's happened in the fall is that human beings have become POW’s to those dark spiritual forces, the principalities, and powers as the Bible puts it. So you are being accused by the devil. This is someone who is worthy of death.”
Moore reiterated that all Christians are in a time of spiritual warfare whether they know it or not.
“You may not see it. You may not recognize it, but if you're not dead, then that means that you are in the middle of a fight,” he warned. “And if you don't realize that you're in the middle of a fight, that probably is because you're surrendering to the fight.”
The way to combat these forces of darkness is not with magical incantations or “some mixture of herbs;” it’s by “standing in the Gospel,” Moore said.
“The way that we ultimately overcome these assaults of spiritual warfare on us is to recognize, ‘I'm not my own. I've been bought with a price. I have a different future and my future is secure in Jesus Christ.’ So I don't have to fall for the temptations that will come promising me a way to secure my own future. I can break the power of deception in the Gospel realizing that what God says about me and what God says about Himself and what God says about the world — all of that is true.”
The power of accusation is broken when we realize that while the devil’s criticisms of us are often true, “if I'm in Christ, I'm crucified with Christ, which means I have already undergone the judgment of God. I have already been raised with Christ, which means that my life is seated with Christ at the right hand of God,” Moore said.
“So I don't have to constantly be wondering, ‘Is God angry with me? Does God know about me? Is God looking to throw me out?’ If I want to know what God thinks about me, I just have to answer the question: ‘What does God think about Jesus?’ Because my life is hidden in His life,” he concluded. “I've blown my own life up and I've been incorporated into His life, so there is no accusation then that can stand against me. That’s spiritual warfare.”
According to a 2015 Gallup Poll, about nine-in-10 Americans say they believe in God (89%). However, the same poll shows that only about 61% believe Satan actually exists.
Lee Strobel, a former atheist and author of The Case for Christ, told The Christian Post that apologetics — a discipline that deals with a rational defense of Christian faith — gives Christians the power to fight the forces of darkness. He noted that John 10:10 clearly states the devil comes to “steal and kill and destroy.”
“C.S. Lewis said we make two mistakes about demons and Satan: we see the devil behind every bush, but we pretend like he’s not there,” the speaker and author said. “The truth is, there is a personification of evil and he does have certain capabilities and powers and we need to be aware of that. When we have a faith that’s undergirded by facts, it gives us the confidence to weather these attacks and come out stronger.”
“We all benefit when we understand why we believe what we believe,” he continued. “That’s an essential component of our faith that’s been missing in a lot of church teachings. Churches must develop an apologetics ministry that can strengthen the faith of its people.”