Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.
People who live in a war zone are well aware of the dangers they face every day. The evidence of deadly conflict is all around them. But spiritual warfare is different. Those who belong to Christ take part in a great battle against forces that remain largely unseen: “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Eph. 6:12).
Today’s passage draws the curtain back and gives us a glimpse of war in heaven. The symbolic nature of John’s description (the woman and the dragon are referred to as “signs”) has resulted in multiple interpretations. What is clear is that John draws on biblical images and events to set the stage for Satan’s final defeat. It is also evident that there is a correlation between the unseen struggle that takes place in heaven and events that occur on earth.
All those who trust in Christ have been rescued from the dominion of darkness (Col. 1:13). Prior to this we, “followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air” (Eph. 2:2). Now that we have been made alive in Christ, we are under the authority of Christ. Because sin no longer controls us, we have power to say no to the world, the flesh, and the devil and to say yes to God.
This new ability to live for God does not go unopposed. The battle in heaven described in today’s passage mirrors the struggle we face in our own world. Satan is at work in today’s world in many ways. He attempts to obscure the truth of the gospel (Matt. 13:19). He sows discord between believers in an attempt to gain a foothold in the church (Eph. 4:26–27).
Apply the Word
The threat Satan poses to our spiritual wellbeing should be clear. The Bible reveals enough for us to say “we are not unaware of his schemes” (2 Cor. 2:11). If you would like to learn more about how to defend yourself against Satan’s strategies, you can read The Strategy of Satan by Warren W. Wiersbe (Tyndale House).