The Bible constantly describes a war that we are in. Paul tells Timothy to "fight the good fight of faith", and later claims that he has fought that fight. Jesus tells us to be on guard from the wiles of the enemy and in Ephesians Paul tells of the armor of God which will allow us to withstand the enemies attacks. Though this war has ultimately already been won through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ we have been commended to keep fighting it in our own lives.
Like every war there
are enemies and it is important for us to recognize and understand who
our enemies are. The Bible mentions three enemies:
1) Satan and demons - Ephesians 6:12; James 4:7
Satan is called many things in the Bible and is the most obvious enemy
of the three. Even so there are many Christians who like to deny his
existence. On the other hand there are people who attribute too much to
Satan, they say things like "the devil made me do it". We need to
understand that on one hand Satan is very real and very crafty but on
the other hand he can not make us do anything. Satan only has as much
power in our lives as we allow him to have. However he will be sure to
take advantage of every opening we give him. This is why Paul told us
to not "give place to the devil" (Ephesians 4:27). We need to be sure to close all
opportunities for the enemy to enter our lives through oppression and
"take captive every thought" (2 Corinthians 10:5) that he attempts to throw at our mind.
2) The World - 1 John 4:3,4; 1 John 2:15-17
The Bible also talks about the spirit of the world, which is also
referred to as the spirit of Antichrist. This spirit is influenced and
directed by Satan but it is a separate enemy. We can see this spirit in
the media that we watch and the music we listen to. It is evident in the
materialism of our culture and the entertainment driven selfishness
that we see around us. The spirit of the world will work with Satan to
provide a stronghold in your mind that he can take hold of. This is why
Paul told the Romans to not be conformed to the world. It to be
transformed busy renewing our minds (Romans 12:2). The spirit of the
world will attempt to convince us to think alike which will in turn
direct our actions and our beliefs. It will then give a place for Satan
to come in and oppress us even further. We must be on guard for this
spirit in everything that we do.
3) Our flesh - Romans 8:5-8; 1 Peter 2:11
Our third enemy is the most prevalent in our lives and yet sometimes the
most ignored. This is the enemy we must fight against the most because
in many ways it has attempted to become a part of us. Our flesh, or our
carnal nature, is not the same as our body but works in our body and
uses the desires of the body. It manifests itself in selfishness, pride,
envy, lust, and gluttony. Paul lists the works of the flesh in
Galatians 5:19-21 but he then lists the fruits of the Spirit which is
how we are to combat the flesh. We are to make daily decisions to walk
in the fruits of the Spirit rather than the works of the flesh. The more
we make these decisions the easier the decision will become.
It is important that we recognize each of these enemies because if we
are ignorant of one we could easily open the door to all three. However
we must also recognize that we have the power to overcome all three. The
Bible tells us that Jesus has already overcome Satan and the world and gave us power to overcome our flesh.
As born again believers our spirit has already been renewed, we are new creations (2 Corinthians 5:17) but our souls and our bodies have not been renewed. That is our job. As we renew our mind and put to death the desires of the flesh we see our lives transformed (Romans 12:1-2) and give control back to our true selves, our spirit. We also protect ourselves from the attack of the world and of evil spirits as they will have no foothold in our lives.