It is important to acquire knowledge and an understanding of the opposing kingdom of darkness and the strategies and methods employed by Satan to deceive, harm and control people, as that will enable us to offer effective resistance: “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places” (Eph. 6:12).
Beyond the world of physical phenomena is the real world – the unseen world – from which great and decisive influences emanate, which have an impact on the lives of all people. Since humans do not only comprise a body and a soul, but also a spirit, they are conscious of the spirit world and are receptive to communication from it. The immense importance of spiritual influence necessitates a sound knowledge of spiritual reality. Even in the instances where people choose to ignore these realities they are, nonetheless, profoundly affected by them. The two great realities in the spirit world are the kingdom of God, which is the kingdom of light, and the kingdom of Satan, which is the kingdom of darkness.
These two kingdoms are diametrically opposed to one another, both competing and contending for the souls of all people. Both have long been established on earth, and while neither has yet been outwardly revealed, both will be when their respective ‘kings’ emerge onto the world stage. The kingdom of Satan will finally manifest visibly when its forthcoming earthly king, the Antichrist, appears and he asserts himself to assume global control of the world for a short period. His disastrous reign will be ended by the visible appearance of Jesus, the true Christ, on earth, who will destroy the Antichrist and his Satanic kingdom and replace it with His millennial kingdom of God, as King of kings and Lord of lords (Rev. 11:15; 19:16).
All the people of God are engaged in a continual deadly struggle against Satan, who is the great adversary of God and His people. It is of crucial importance that we understand the principles and strategies of Satan’s kingdom in order to prevail in the struggle.
1. The reality of the battle against Satan
The spiritual battle against the evil forces of Satan is a very real one, and it will intensify as we approach the end of this dispensation. This fact presents us with the responsibility of achieving a thorough understanding of the objectives and methods of the enemy. This struggle is taking place in a number of different spheres. The most important battlefield is in the arena of human lives that were created in the image of God. Satan’s attacks on the kingdom of light are aimed at dethroning God and enthroning himself as the ruler of the universe. By means of this process he intends to gain control over all people, in spirit, soul and body, and to be worshipped by them as if he were God.
There are various forms and degrees of influence and control that Satan exercises over people, and his final objective is to further expand this control. The Bible says that “the whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one” (1 John 5:19). However, the kingdom of God also has established interests here and a considerable number of followers on earth, although they are a minority in a predominantly evil world.
Despite this situation, God still has undisputed sovereignty in the universe. Integral to His eternal plan was His decision to give humanity a free will as well as the authority to subdue the earth and to have dominion over it (Gen. 1:28). By having yielded to Satan’s temptation to disobey God in the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve and subsequently all their offspring died spiritually and became subservient to another god – the devil. In this way the devil and his fallen angels became “the rulers of the darkness of this world”.
Ever since, fallen humanity has been confronted with a choice between two kingdoms – the kingdom of God and the kingdom of Satan. The freedom of people to decide which of these two kingdoms to follow, would be the deciding factor as to whether spiritual light or darkness would prevail on earth or in specific parts of it. The sinful inclinations and unrepentant hearts of the majority of people are the reasons why believers everywhere find themselves “in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world” (Phil. 2:15).
Because the vast majority of people deliberately live in darkness and sin, they are the object of God’s wrath: “And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil” (John 3:19).
The majority support that the kingdom of darkness enjoys on earth is the reason for the Bible referring to “this present evil world” from which God wants to deliver us (Gal. 1:4). The great multitude who tread the broad way that leads to hell are those whose minds have been blinded by the god of this world and therefore do not believe (2 Cor. 4:4). The god of this dark world is Satan. In John 14:30 Jesus refers to him as “the ruler of this world”.
However, Satan does not rule over Christians because he has been dethroned in their lives. “For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil” (1 John 3:8). Even though they have been set free from the control of the Evil One, Christians are nevertheless engaged in the fierce battle that is waged by Satan against the kingdom of light. Therefore, the Bible emphatically commands us: “Put on the whole armour of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil” (Eph. 6:11).
Satan’s attacks are not aimed primarily at those who are already under his control, as he can oppress and manipulate them at will. He is, however, careful to maintain his grasp on them. His most virulent attacks are reserved for the believers who oppose him and have committed themselves to helping other people to be set free from the powers of darkness. In so doing, Christians have also declared war against him: “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ” (2 Cor. 10:3-5).