What is spiritual warfare and what part does it play during the end times? Join us as we talk through the origin of spiritual warfare and how believers can defend themselves against the enemy.
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Jeff: Welcome to the Prophecy Pros podcast. I’m Jeff Kinley, along with Todd Hampson, and today we’re going to be talking about Todd’s new book, The Non-Prophets Guide to Spiritual Warfare. Todd, I’m really excited to dive into this with you because this is something that affects every single believer out there listening to our voices, and it’s something that we need to be equipped on, because Satan is real and he’s in the world today. And like, the old book says, he’s alive and well on planet Earth. So, I want to jump in. First of all, hey, how are you doing?
Todd: I’m good, man. Doing good. Other than the wild stuff of 2020, which lines up perfectly with what we’re talking about today.
Jeff: Yeah. Absolutely. Well, Todd and I are broadcasting remotely here. He’s over in Georgia and I’m up in the mountains of Arkansas, and so we are extremely socially distant from each other today. Though united in spirit. But Todd, I want to know, first of all, what led you to write this book on spiritual warfare, because it certainly does relate to prophecy and to the end times?
Todd: Yeah. It’s funny. Our past three prophecy related books, without us planning it, just God sovereignly planned the launch for those, and when they launched it seemed like the perfect time for those books to launch. So, after doing The Non-Prophets Guide to the End Times, and then The Non-Prophets Guide to the Book of Revelation, another big systematic area that I saw a lot of believers are confused about, which also ties into Bible prophecy and eschatology, is the topic of spiritual warfare. And specifically how it ties into the lawlessness, the dangerous times, the philosophy of the day, the upside down thinking, the Romans one trajectory, all these things tie into spiritual warfare.
So, I really wanted to come up with, like the other two books, a simple, systematic way that showed not just Ephesians six, but the whole backstory, the whole history of spiritual warfare, how it began, who’s involved, how we’re trapped in the middle, and ultimately how we can defend against it, how we can, in a practical way, put on the spiritual armor and also specifically, how spiritual warfare plays out in the end times, both now and then in the future seven year tribulation period.
Jeff: Absolutely. Well, let’s back it up just a little bit then and let’s talk about the beginning of this whole thing. I mean, people think about the devil, they think about this evil entity. We’ve got the caricatures of the devil that are out there, and not just visually but just mentally in our minds about what he’s like and what he does and how much power he can have over believers, and different things like that. But take us back to just the beginning here. I mean, how did Lucifer become Satan? I mean, how did the devil become the devil? What’s his backstory?
Todd: Another reason related to the book is I wanted to answer some of the pop culture confusion, so to speak. So, in pop culture, which seeps into the church at times, a lot of believers I’ve talked to think that Satan is God’s equal. Like he’s just as powerful and it’s this equal battle between good and evil, but that’s not the case. Satan is not omnipresent or omniscient. He’s a created being, one of the highest, if not the highest angelic beings that God created, and pride got to him. When you read the descriptions of Satan, there’s a few places in scripture that describe it, where he walked among the fiery stones or it sounds like he was encrusted in jewels.
I mean, he was one of the most beautiful things that God ever created, and obviously this went to his head. And what’s weird is, at least for a time, the way scripture lays it out is that the angels had a choice to make, whether it’s… Satan thought he could take on God, take God’s throne, and he convinced, the Bible says, a third of the angels to rebel with him, so those are the fallen angels. And they’re locked into their position now after that event took place, but that’s the beginning of Satan’s fall and how that whole battle began.
Jeff: Yeah. A lot of times Christians get their theology from places like Star Wars, where there’s the force, the good side, the evil side kind of thing, which is just an old ancient theological heresy called dualism, is that God’s in this wrestling match with the devil. But you think about the places in scripture where Satan is basically overcome, it’s just an angel, another angel that overcomes him. We see that in Revelation as well with the great chain, and that he’s cast down on the Earth by another angel. So, I mean, angels do God’s biddings. But as you mentioned, Satan was originally an angel and he was…
I mean, some people have even said he was the worship leader, he dwelt above the throne and that kind of thing in heaven. I heard a pastor one time say that Satan is brilliantly stupid. In other words, he’s incredibly deceptive beyond human intelligence, that we can figure out his ways, all of them. But at the same time, he plays his hand. And so what are some of the ways that… Ephesians six talks about the schemes of the devil. What are some of the ways that Satan reveals some of his methods and the world today are believers?
Todd: Well, interestingly there’s one in Genesis 3:15, we’ve got the first mention of the gospel and then the seed of the woman will destroy the serpent, so to speak, that’s a paraphrase but… So, from that point on, Satan changed his strategy to try to keep the seed of the woman from arriving. And just like we study prophecy, Satan studied prophecy because he’s not all knowing, so every time God would give a new line of prophecy or a new detail added to the coming Messiah, Satan would adjust his strategy to try to change that or keep it from happening. And that explains a lot of why he’s always trying to destroy the Jewish people.
Cain and Abel, I mean, the first murder was… He was trying to keep that seed from coming. And that’s one key detail that really makes a lot of the Bible make a lot more sense and tie in together. Where when you grow up in Sunday school, so to speak, you read a story about Joseph or you read a story about Daniel, and it all seems like stand-alone stories. But when you look at it through the eyes of Bible prophecy and through the connecting tissue of spiritual warfare, it all makes a lot more sense.
Jeff: Well, it really does.
Jeff: That’s incredible. So, let’s talk about… Let’s say that someone’s listening here today and they’re asking themselves a question, how do I even recognize when Satan is trying to attack me? Sometimes we blame things on Satan that probably aren’t coming from Satan.
Jeff: Satan gave me a flat tire, Satan gave me a runny nose or whatever. But I mean, obviously Satan is a command of a great host of demonic entities, and he’s the prince of the power of the air, and there’s a military hierarchical structure in that. So, how would an average believer be able to distinguish between, well, this is just life, or this is a spiritual attack on me? I mean, what might be a couple of thoughts there?
Todd: Yeah. That’s a great question, and you’re right. I see two extremes. One, there’s a demon behind every bush that’s causing my problems. And then the other, the demonic activities not active at all in my life and not coming against me at all. And like you said, we need to recognize three things. One, we’re in a fallen world. Two, we have a sin nature in our body, so it’s the enemy within. And then three, we have an active enemy trying to hurt God’s kids, trying to come against us, trying to mess up our testimony, trying to keep us from sharing the gospel and being effective in ministry. So, I think there are some ways you can prayerfully look at situations.
Just using a practical example. A friend of mine, years ago, was a youth pastor, and he was just having this crazy week where all kinds of bad stuff was happening to him. One of those things was, he rode a motorcycle, a guy ran into him on his motorcycle. And this was a neat lesson for me. I was a young guy at the time and I remembered hearing him wrestle with, “I have all this stuff going on. How do I know what’s spiritual warfare and what’s just fallen world?” And basically he got out and he talked to the guy, the guy was just completely… It was a complete accident, super nice guy. So, it didn’t seem like there was any way that the enemy could have been influencing this guy to hit him, so to speak. So, I think that’s one way, as we look at the people’s attitudes and what they’re doing, what they’ve been exposed to and where they’re coming from.
For example, I know for sure, in two of the cities, one in Minneapolis and Seattle, where we’ve seen a lot of this rioting, those have been two hot spots for occult action, new age stuff. So, it’s kind of, if there’s areas where… There’s a long, long answer to your short question. But I think if there’s areas or specific things we can identify where people have opened themselves up to dark forces and stuff like that, then I think there’s a strong likelihood that there’s some demonic activity there. For me, the only example I can think of that I’ve ever seen firsthand was on a mission trip. There was a voodoo priest in this one village where the missionaries we were working with were trying to witness, and he was coming against them at every turn. Undermining them and even doing other more shady stuff.
Todd: So, what do you think, Jeff? What are some ways that people can identify?
Jeff: Yeah. I think one thing, and again as you probably mentioned, I think the fact that we have a sin nature and us, the heart is deceitfully wicked above all things, who can know it? Jeremiah 17:9. And I heard, I think it was John MacArthur say one time, that 95% of all of our temptation comes from our own hearts. And to me, it’s almost like I always think of this as like, if you took a bowling ball and were to roll it down a big hill, you wouldn’t really have to say, “Come on, bowling ball. Come on down that hill.” Gravity is going to take over. Just trust in the gravity. And I think that for my own life, I know that a majority of my temptation probably comes from my own heart because I still have that sin nature within me and it battles, flesh eating spirit.
Jeff: But at the same time, there are times when just in your spirit you recognize evil. You recognize evil thoughts that are not your own. You wouldn’t, if you just sat down and said, “Well, what’s something bad I can think about?” You wouldn’t think about that. And so I think Satan, I would say his demons, would suggest things to us, whether they’re feelings, whether they’re thoughts, whether they’re actions or words, that are just demonic in nature. And so, I think that’s one way. But another way I think, is just to think about the fact that Satan and the spirit of antichrist always comes against the word of God. So, there are ways that Satan tempts us, not just to do quote/unquote “evil,” but to stray from the word of God, or to believe things that are not true in the word of God. I mean, think about it.
Todd: He’s more subtle.
Jeff: Yeah. Much more subtle. Exactly as you mentioned, in the garden, when he tempted Eve, he didn’t say, “Hey, hate God.” He said, “No, no. Hey, here’s some cool fruit for you.” And there are pleasures of sin, Hebrews 11:25 says, that are just… I mean, that’s what they are. They’re pleasureful. All temptation is enjoyable to a certain extent.
Todd: The Bible even says, “Sin is fun for a season.”
Jeff: Yeah, exactly. It really is.
Todd: Until it catches up with you.
Jeff: Exactly. I used to tell youth groups, I’d speak to them, I’d say, “Look. Don’t let anybody tell you sins not fun. It’s a blast. But it comes with a consequence.”
Todd: That’s right.
Jeff: But, yeah. Just recognizing the overt attacks from Satan, but also the subtleties of him because he is a great deceiver and he’s good at blinding people’s eyes and that type of thing. In that vein then, Todd, let’s think about for a few minutes about just the armor of God, and about how we defend ourselves because when you look at that list of armor in Ephesians six, there’s only one offensive weapon in the whole arsenal. The rest of it is defensive. What does that tell us about the nature of the warfare that we’re in?
Todd: Yeah. I think you set it up perfectly because any good enemy knows his enemies weaknesses. So, Satan or his demons, like you said, whatever is around us that we can’t see, studies our weaknesses and tries to come against us. And that’s really what the spiritual armor is. It’s different aspects of protection. Like you said, it’s all defensive except for the sword of the spirit, which is the word of God, which Jesus aptly used when he was tempted. So many places, he showed us how to fight the spiritual battles. But, yeah. Those are set up to protect, the breastplate of righteousness protects our heart and our emotions, and it’s God’s righteousness imputed to us, but it’s also our righteous actions as we put distance between us and temptation. But like you not been on this earth long enough, we know we have to put distance between us and temptation.
Todd: We can’t just say, “Oh, I’m a Christian. I’m immune to it all.” No. Satan knows our weaknesses, and we have to be wise and learn how to protect against those things. And another thing, just related to what you said before, is I think to one huge advantage over Satan is that we have the Holy Spirit dwelling inside of us. So there are times, like you said, when you can recognize in your spirit, “Oh, that is spiritual warfare. There’s no doubt.” Like you said, with the thinking, when you think about the helmet of salvation, if you have… Here’s a practical example. If you have a sudden, and you alluded to this a little bit, if you have a sudden just evil thought pop into your head, that was nowhere on your radar, wasn’t triggered by anything and it’s not in your normal psyche, that is, in my opinion, that’s a clear indication that that is overt, spiritual warfare. The enemy trying to plant some seeds there.
And the more you recognize that, the more you can defend against it. And one verse I love is, “Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” We can’t bind the devil. We can’t. But we can resist him and he will flee from us. The scripture promises us that. And again, the best example we see is Jesus being tempted in the desert. Over and over and over again he stood up to temptation by using the word of God. So, that means we’ve got to know God’s word. We can’t fight with a sword unless we pick it up.
Jeff: That’s exactly right. And I think it’s the passage in Luke where it says, “The devil left him until an opportune time.” So, I mean, just because we resist the devil once, doesn’t mean… He’s not going to go running away with his tail tucked between his legs and say, “Well, I guess I won’t come back to that guy again.” No, he’s going to come back. He’s going to look for an open window if you shut that door at some point. And you mentioned the whole idea of knowing the word of God and those passages that Christ quoted to Satan were all from the book of Deuteronomy. And it’s amazing to me that… Because I don’t think about Deuteronomy when I think about battling Satan. That’s not [crosstalk] Exactly. I’m not running to Leviticus. But Christ did that and it’s not just the fact that he quoted Bible verses, because Satan knows those verses too.
It’s the fact that he was obeying those verses as he was quoting them. It was just an extension of his heart obedience to the Father in that. And so, I tell people about scripture memory. It’s like scripture memory is great, but it’s like having a sword. I mean, it’s in the sheath when it’s memorized. When you obey it, you take it out of the sheath and you use it against the enemy, and yes, we can resist. I mean, people… I hear Christians all the time in this defeatist mode and it’s almost like life is too great for them, and relationships and everything else has gone on. It’s like, no. You’ve got the God of the universe living inside you.
Jeff: And we really do have access. It doesn’t mean we don’t have problems or that we won’t struggle, but it does mean we can overcome anything that Satan fires against us. And I mean, like you said, we’ve both lived long enough on this earth to know that through things we struggle with individually and families and with ministry. And I’m telling you, there have been dark days, but God is always there, his light always shines. And if we run to his word, then Satan has to flee because he can’t handle that sharp two-edged sword that we draw on him.
Todd: And no victory is really a victory we’re celebrating, unless there’s been struggle involved. And Paul says that outright in Ephesians six. “We wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, powers and rulers of this dark age.” And that term wrestling, it’s a close hand to hand combat. It’s not a, “Hey, I’m going to fire some missiles at you from a hundred miles away.” It’s in your face fighting. And that’s what I love about… Well, that’s why I spent most of the book unpacking the history, and that’s what I love about Ephesians six, is how practical it is. When my wife and I are doing some premarital counseling right now with some family members, and my wife and I, before we got married, we did some premarital counseling. And we looked… One activity we did that was really eye-opening, the pastor had us read first Corinthians 13, the love chapter separately.
And he had us each write down… Look at each of those characteristics, and he had us write down which area we felt we were weakest at, and which area we felt our future spouse was weakest at. And what was mind opening, number one, my wife didn’t kill me for putting anything down about her. But we both picked the same thing for each of us. So, we knew us well enough. But to me, that was really eyeopening because I didn’t realize that was a weakness that I had, until I looked at those characteristics. And I think that’s one practical thing we can use Ephesians six, when we look at the different pieces of spiritual armor, and we think through those, we can say, “Oh, okay. I’m weak. My emotions get the best of me, and I fall into sin or I get offended easily. Or my thinking, I get caught up in the wrong thinking,” and that’s the helmet of salvation.
Or, “I’m not bold in sharing my faith when I have the opportunity and I don’t have the shoes of the gospel of peace. My ground is kind of shaky because I don’t feel confident to share my faith.” And we do that in different ways, but that’s a whole different topic. But, anyway. You can look at those pieces of armor and like any soldier you have to train to get better. So, we’re going to get better and better the more we know our own weaknesses, and the more we understand each piece of the armor. And ultimately, the more we understand the enemy’s tactics, the better defensive we’ll be. And one key thing is, we always have to keep our guard up. There’s a verse that says, “Let him who thinks he stands, take heed lest he fall,” because brother, as soon as you think you’ve got it, that’s when you’re going to get knocked on your butt.
Jeff: Yeah. And many times Satan’s… If you think about, again using the example of Jesus, Satan’s attacks on us come many times after a great victory. It’s not just during times when we’re not doing well. I mean, Jesus had just been baptized. I mean, literally just been baptized. The Holy Spirit descends as a dove. The voice of the Father is my son. I’m well pleased in him. And immediately says the Spirit led him into the wilderness. So, many times after a huge victory or an answered prayer or whatever, we tend, like you said, to let our guard down. And to me, one of the things about spiritual warfare, Todd, is that it’s an ongoing thing, but at the same time, the more we pose a threat to Satan’s kingdom, the more he will attack us. I think some Christians are almost safe in some ways, in that they’re not really trying anything for God, and we need to attempt great things for God and to think about what am I doing for God with my life?
How can I help the cause of the gospel to advance the Kingdom of Christ on this Earth? And that may be as simple as, I’m going to attend this Bible study. Well, try it, and just watch and see how many ways Satan tries to keep you from that Bible study. Every single little excuse possible he’ll try to keep you from it, all the way up to you’re actually trying to do some sort of ministry and you’re going to feel it. You’re going to feel the attack emotionally, mentally, physically possibly. And in many other ways that he will attack you, so you’re you’re right, Todd. We have to keep all the armor on. We can’t just walk around with a helmet on.
Jeff: We’ve got to have the breast plate too and stuff.
Todd: He’s going to attack you where you’re weakest.
Jeff: That’s right. That’s exactly right. He’s going to look for that chink in your armor to try to find somewhere, to get to you. And here’s what I love, Todd, about this book like your other books, is that it’s so creatively done. It’s well-written, it’s incredibly illustrated throughout. I mean, it’s entertaining, with the sidebars and the illustrations and stuff. And it really puts biblical truth in a new language that people can immediately identify with. It’s like you’ve bought the ship up to the dock. Okay. And so, the gangplank is not so long that anybody’s going to fall over the side when they walk on this thing.
So, I just want to thank you for writing this book. And I received obviously a copy from the publisher because we’re co-authors together on some other things, but also because I want to promote it and I have promoted it. But for some reason I got two copies. So, I get a chance to gift some to my kids as well. I passed on some of your other books to them as well. But it’s an amazing book. What would you say to people just in closing about just spiritual warfare and maybe inspiration to really get into a book like this?
Todd: Yeah. Two things. One, at the end of the book, I talk about spiritual warfare in the end times. And like I said, one reason we decided to do this podcast now is because here as we head towards the end of 2020 and the craziness of the election coming up, and I mean, in our gut, we know we’ve got a few crazy months ahead of us, no matter how things turn out.
Jeff: That’s true. Very true.
Todd: And just other things we’ve seen in 2020 is definitely clearly spiritual warfare. The enemy knows his time is short. We don’t know how short, but he’s… If you back an animal into the corner, they’re going to start lashing out and that’s what we’re seeing. So, it’s very practical and gives us insight to the times we’re living in right now, as the tribulation shadows cast on us. But the main reason I wrote it, and with all the books, is I want to give people hope. The more we see, God planned all this. God understands all this, is systematically in his love letter to us, he’s still got his hand on the wheel. He’s not letting go. I think of it like a river. We went whitewater rafting a couple of years ago on our 20th anniversary on the Snake River up in Wyoming, it was amazing. And we jumped out of the boat at one time, the water was freezing, even though it was June, but we could swim up behind the boat and then back down the boat or over towards the bank.
But the whole time that river was still taking us downstream. So, even in the midst of crazy politics and crazy stuff going on in our culture and in our personal lives, this river is going somewhere to a designated end, and God knows exactly where that is. And he has promised never to leave us, never to forsake us. Like you said, Christians, we shouldn’t be defeated in our thinking, in our attitude. We should be the most joyful, courageous, alive people on Earth. People should see us, how we live and how we weather storms like we’re seeing now and be attracted to the cross and want to know why we can live in such a way, even though it seems like the world’s falling apart around us.
Jeff: Amen. That’s so true. And I was thinking about, just yesterday, I was watching a college football game that I had recorded, because I was away this week and couldn’t watch it. And you know what, Todd, it’s funny, because I already knew the outcome of the game. I knew that we won the game. Some of these I don’t want to know ahead of time. I already knew we won the game. And so as the game is going on, when there was a setback or a fumble or an interception or whatever, I’m thinking to myself, it’s okay. It’s all right because we win in the end. You already know this. And the question is not whether or not the Kingdom of God is going to win this thing.
The question is whether or not Christians are going to choose to get on board with that, and to be a part of that winning team and to participate in the victory, because God wants us all to be victorious over sin, over temptation, over the devil. And though ultimately we definitely are going to win, along the way we can also have some key victories as well, and that’s what this book helps people do. It helps them have the equipment and the training and the motivation to be able to know how to overcome Satan and spiritual warfare. So, thank you for writing this book. And I look forward to seeing how God’s going to use it in people’s lives as we move forward.
Todd: Well, hey. This has been another episode of the Prophecy Pros podcast. We thank you so much for tuning in, and as always, if you want to ask questions, go to the website and you can contact Jeff and I and ask questions there. Please share this with as many people as you can. Tell others about it. The podcast is picking up steam and it’s really hitting a nerve in a way that we didn’t fully expect. So, it’s been neat to see. So, until next time, go to prophecyprospodcast.com and we’ll talk to you soon.
Jeff: Pay for more resources and show notes, how to contact us, how to ask questions, go to prophecyprospodcast.com. Hey, we’ll see you next episode. Or maybe not. Maybe we’ll see you in the air.