First, a quick word about “Dualism” so that you do not get confused. Dualism is the view that two equal but opposite intelligent, uncreated powers inhabit our universe and war against one another. In Dualism, one power is good and one equal power is bad. They have been opposed throughout eternity and neither has won. Here and there they have a loss and then a victory over the other. Some people choose the good power and some choose the evil. Though some untaught people believe that this is what Christianity believes, it does not. Dualism is completely foreign and contrary to biblical Christianity.
The biblical Christian knows that the two powers that war against one another are nowhere near equal. One is Creator. That would be God. The other is a created being. That would be satan or the devil (not the cultural devil of red union-suit, pitchfork. horns, and tail fame). Satan was created for a purpose which he chose to abandon. He is far below God in power, authority, and ability. He rebelled against God and drew other angelic powers after himself. They warred in heaven against God’s loyal powers.
The spirit-dimensional beings that fell in rebellion are now demons. Demonic powers are mainly disembodied, though they seek human habitation and animate some humans. Demonized humans are willingly and/or unknowingly used by these powers to wage war both on those who do not serve their cause and on those in fellowship with Christ.
Under the anointing of the Holy Spirit, the Apostle Paul wrote of these supernatural beings:
Ephesians 6:10–13 (ESV)
10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.
We realize that the jihadists are animated by demonic powers. So the real war is against spiritual forces. Only those who are equipped to wage war spiritually will be victorious. The majority of people are clueless. Most of them have allied with Satan. A few serve the true and only King.
Matthew 7:13–14 (ESV)
13 “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. 14 For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.
In the excellent 2012 movie, “Act of Valor,” one of the Navy Seals presents a toast to his Seal team as they are gathered informally around a fire the night before their deployment. He lifts his glass and says, “To all those who have been downrange. To us and those like us . . . damn few.”
Genuine followers of Jesus Christ, who understand their calling to displace demonic evil, have been “downrange” in the spiritual warfare. And we are precious few.
I have seen the joy in the face of a woman who was delivered from a demon. Before her deliverance, the demonic spirit caused her eyes to roll back in her head and her body to go stiff as a plank. I have seen the result when I confronted a violent man bent on attacking me. In Jesus’ name, I commanded the violent spirit controlling him to be bound. He and his friend turned from me and couldn’t leave the scene fast enough. The terror of Christ filled them and overpowered that violent spirit animating them. I’ll never forget the look of fear on their faces.
Like it or not, this warfare is real. And we believers have not only authority but the assignment and responsibility to confront and displace demonic powers by the authority of Christ. We are sons of the Kingdom—the “sons of God.” We are with Jesus and we gather with him.
Luke 11:23 (ESV)
23 Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.
Revelation 6:15–17 (ESV)
15 Then the kings of the earth and the great ones and the generals and the rich and the powerful, and everyone, slave and free, hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains, 16 calling to the mountains and rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who is seated on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb, 17 for the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand?”
Christ, the Lamb of God, will destroy Satan and all the demons that currently traffic with humans. To destroy Satan and his powers is to destroy the spirit of murder and terror.
This is the war we fight. Our spiritual battle is not against people, but against the spirits that animate them and use them to champion evil until Christ returns. We have authority over these demonic beings only because Christ gave it to us (Luke 10.19). It is our assignment to crush them through intercession and the command of Christ as we stand in our authority to displace darkness and the demonic:
Luke 10:17–24, ESV
The seventy-two returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name!” And he said to them, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you. Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.” In that same hour he rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows who the Son is except the Father, or who the Father is except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.” Then turning to the disciples he said privately, “Blessed are the eyes that see what you see! For I tell you that many prophets and kings desired to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.”
Followers of Jesus, do not give up. Fight the good fight of the faith You will be victorious. For nothing can succeed against the Church–the body of Christ. We will sit enthroned with Christ to pass judgment on these beings and send them to their final and ultimate eternal destruction. In Christ we have the victory!
© 2013, David C Alves
- Stand Up and Fight Back – Book Review (rebeccaaarup.com)
- A Stealth Spiritual Warfare Weapon Satan Can’t Stand/Includes Jentezen Franklin – The King Has One More Move (vineoflife.net)
I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.
Some have said that Paul was talking and acting from pride. They must not have read or thought much about Paul, his teachings and his own testimony. He told us to have the same mind that was in Christ Jesus. Humility was constantly modeled and taught by Paul. No, Paul was merely stating what was true to encourage his son in Christ. He was urging Timothy to follow his “father’s” example.
As a spiritual dad and son of the Living God, I too want to finish well. I want to finish stronger than I started. And I want that for my spiritual sons–the young men I mentor/coach.
Paul used a couple of metaphors. Each brings something special to the table to be seen. He was in a habit of mixing metaphors, but not by mistake like so many of my previous students in English. He knew what he was doing and what those metaphors would evoke in the mind of his reader(s).
First he says in verse seven that he has fought the good fight. Faith can be just that too. Faith fights the deadly “D’s” of the enemy–doubt, discouragement, disappointment, depression, and darkness. Holding onto the promise can be hard–a fight. Certainly we’ve all fought doubt and discouragement. We know what it is to battle against unbelief. Unbelief plagues every promise and word of His. Paul has been there and holds up a picture for Timothy. He has fought the “good” fight. The fight is worth it. IMPLICATION: And so can you. You can and will. Paul, ever the encourager, places this encouragement before his “son.”
Second, he brings in an entirely different picture. “I have finished the race.” Interesting from two vantage points.
Paul sees our sonship as a race in that it has a starting line and a finish line, toward which we “run.” We began completely by the grace of our Father. Likewise, we have a destination. Otherwise how could he say that he “finished.” How did he know that? I think when you or I finish, we too will know. We don’t quit. We FINISH. As long as we finish well, we don’t need to finish first or even second. Even if I come in dead last (no pun intended), I want to FINISH. And from beginning to end, God’s grace and delight will carry us the distance.
Both metaphors–the fight and the race–point to activities that have an END. He says, I have fought and I have finished.
Finally he says, “I have KEPT the faith.” The word literally is “kept watch over” in the sense of a sentry on guard. Are you guarding, watching over, the Good News and your spiritual formation? Paul made sure that he held on to what was important to Father in the ministry he carried out. He was faithful, like his Master.
I love it that Paul was not asking Timothy to live something he had not lived. He was encouraging Timothy to walk like his “father.” To pass on what he had seen and heard in Paul (2 Tim. 2.2; Phil. 4.9). This is the pattern given us in Jesus (1 Jn. 2:4-6). The pattern is passed on through Paul to Timothy and all of us.
From start to finish, the fight, the race, the keeping of the treasure ALL require endurance. That is where the power and steadfastness of the Holy Spirit must be the energy at work in you to keep you going until the end. Paul desired for us to know the power and he wanted also to know the power that raised Jesus from the dead. That’s the same power that can carry you through all to finish well.
With all this in mind, we do well to invite Father’s Holy Spirit to empower us to fight the good fight, finish the race, and keep the faith until we see Jesus face to face.
QUESTION: What are your thoughts on this pattern in Jesus, Paul, Timothy, or YOU?
©2011, David C Alves