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Spiritual Warfare, the Last Days, and Demonic Deception

"For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only he who now restrains will do so until he is taken out of the way. Then that lawless one will be revealed whom the Lord will slay with the breath of His mouth and bring to an end by the appearance of His coming; that is, the one whose coming is in accord with the activity of Satan, with all power and signs and false wonders, and with all the deception of wickedness for those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth so as to be saved" (2 Thessalonians 2:7-11).

Are Satan, fallen angels, and demons real and active in the world today? A 2015 Barna study suggested more than half of self-described Christians in America do not believe that Satan, fallen angels, and demons are real, personal beings. This brand of Christianity might be better described as Western Christianity which has been heavily influenced by a Western or Naturalistic Worldview which tends to deny much when it comes to the reality of the supernatural world. Such a belief is entirely contrary to the biblical revelation and worldview. In both the Old and New Testaments, the clear teaching of scripture is these evil, malevolent beings exist and spiritual warfare is real and sometimes dangerous. Furthermore, I believe the Bible predicts what can only be described as an increase in demonic activity and deception in the last days leading up to and including the final seven years of human history prior to the Return of Jesus and the establishment of His Millennial Kingdom.

A biblical worldview teaches there is a material and immaterial world. To put it another way, there is seen and an unseen realm--a physical and non-physical reality. Although the Bible tells us some things about the unseen realm much of its reality is a mystery to us. Although we are introduced to spiritual or unseen realities in the Old Testament much of what we know today comes straight out of the New Testament--Satan and other fallen angels, as well as, demons are real, personal beings. Demons, also known as unclean spirits, harass, oppress, infest, and sometimes possess people. Furthermore, these malevolent spirits are, along with the good angels and even believers, involved in a cosmic spiritual battle most of which occurs in the unseen realm but often spills over into our physical reality.

Consider, for example, Daniel 10:12-13, "Then he said to me, 'Do not be afraid, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart on understanding this and on humbling yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to your words. But the prince of the kingdom of Persia was withstanding me for twenty-one days; then behold, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, for I had been left there with the king of Persia."

The Prophet Daniel prayed for understanding but the answer did not come for twenty-one days. This three-week delay was due to a fallen angel who opposed the messenger Gabriel--a good angel who stands in the presence of God--in spiritual warfare. This account tells us Satan engages in spiritual warfare in an attempt to thwart the will of God and to influence people and nations against God and His people. The New Testament affirms this reality. Paul writes, "Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places" (Ephesians 6:11-12). Peter writes, "Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour."

The Bible further predicts an increase in demonic activity in the last days. Much of the focus is on the deceptive nature of this activity. Jesus warned several times in Matthew 24 alone to be careful so as not to be deceived. "And Jesus answered and said to them, 'See to it that no one misleads you'" (Matt. 24:4). "Then if anyone says to you, 'Behold, here is the Christ,' or 'There He is,' do not believe him. For false Christs and false prophets will arise and will show great signs and wonders, so as to mislead, if possible, even the elect" (Matt. 24:23-24). Even the Apostle Paul predicted the coming of the Antichrist would be, "in accord with the activity of Satan, with all power and signs and false wonders" (2 Thess. 2:9).

Finally, John predicts the return of those fallen angels who sinned in Genesis 6 by going after strange flesh with ultimately produced the Nephilim--that race of giants which ultimately led God to bring a flood upon the earth to destroy all flesh save for eight souls carried safely on the ark which Noah and his sons built. John writes, "Then the fifth angel sounded, and I saw a star from heaven which had fallen to the earth; and the key to the bottomless pit was given to him. He opened the bottomless pit, and smoke went up out of the pit, like the smoke of a great furnace; and the sun and the air were darkened from the smoke of the pit. Then out of the smoke came locusts upon the earth, and power was given them, as the scorpions of the earth have power... And they were not permitted to kill anyone, but to torment for five months; and their torment was like the torment to f a scorpion when it stings a man. And in those days men will seek death and will not find it; they will long to die, and death flees from them... They have as king over them, the angel of the abyss; his name in Hebrew is Abaddon, and in the Greek he has the name Apollyon" (Revelation 9:1-6, 11).

A biblical worldview, then, calls for a sound theology of and understanding about the existence of Satan, fallen angels, and demons. It further calls for the same in relation to the reality of spiritual warfare. We do not fight this battle like the armies of the world would fight. "For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ" (2 Corinthians 10:3-5).

The weapons of our warfare are further described for us in detail in Ephesians 6:10-20. Paul calls these weapons, "the full armor of God." This armor includes (1) the belt or girdle of truth, (2) the breastplate of righteousness, (3) the gospel sandals of peace, (4) the shield of faith, (5) the helmet of salvation, (6) the sword of the spirit, which is the word of God, and (7) a consistent lifestyle of prayer and petition. The idea of putting on this armor, according to John MacArthur, "Conveys the idea of permanence, indicating that armor should be the Christian's sustained, life-long attire." Three different times in this passage we are admonished to stand firm. Again, MacArthur notes, "Christians [are] to take a firm position in the spiritual battle against Satan and his minions. Whether confronting Satan's efforts to distrust God, forsaking obedience, producing doctrinal confusion and falsehood, hindering service go God, bringing division, serving God in the flesh, living hypocritically, being worldly, or in any other way rejecting biblical obedience, this armor is our defense."

Spiritual warfare is real. Satan, fallen angels, and demons are real. I believe the Bible is clear we will witness an increase in demonic activity leading up to the start of Daniel's 70th Week and continuing throughout that time. We may even begin to witness visible spillover from the unseen realm as this last days spiritual warfare heats up. I would include so-called UFO and alien activity in this vein, as well as, outright demonic attacks upon the church in general and individual Christians (and families) in particular. I am already experiencing such attacks in my own life and family.

I know other watchmen who are also experiencing increasingly difficult spiritual attacks. We must pray for one another. We must clothe ourselves with the full armor of God and pray earnestly for one another. Pray that God would protect all of us--especially our children--from all spiritual dangers. Pray that the church would wake up to the reality of the unseen realm and the spiritual battles raging around and among us. It's time to get serious about these things. Jesus is coming soon for His church. I believe Satan and his minions are fully aware of this and realize their time is short, so they are pulling out all the stops. They are doing everything possible in order to thwart the will of God and take as many as they can to hell with them. The answer to that is simple, yet profound--pray for protection and proclaim the gospel! Oh, and make sure the demons know you by name (see Acts 19:11-20).

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