When faced with such a vast spiritual threat, it is encouraging to read in Ephesians 6:10–18 that God has equipped us with every spiritual tool necessary to stand firm against the spirit of antichrist. Ephesians 6:10–18 says:
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 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. 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. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints,
Given that the battle against the spirit of antichrist is ultimately a spiritual battle, it would behoove us to study the armor of God in great detail. However, such a study stretches beyond the scope of this book. Instead, we will merely focus on one aspect of this armor—the Sword of the Spirit—which is mentioned in verse 17.
Described as a sword, the Bible is presented as our chief weapon. The nature of a sword tells us that this can be both an offensive and defensive weapon. Of course, this is not an ordinary sword. We are reminded that the Bible is the Word of God. According to Hebrews 4:12, this is a double-edged sword of the finest craftsmanship, “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”
Consider the magnitude of the phrase “Word of God.” We possess the very words which created matter out of nothing (Gen. 1:1–27). These are the same words that broke the authority of Satan and the Law in our lives (John 19:30). These are the very words which struck instant fear into the hearts of a myriad of demons (Luke 8:27–32). When we say that the Bible is the Word of God, we should be filled with awestruck humility at the thought that God has entrusted us with His word.
Sometimes our appreciation for the scale of this weapon is diminished by imagining it as a sword. The best of swords is no match for today’s modern arsenal of guns, missiles, and smart bombs. Nevertheless, at the time that the Apostle Paul was writing, there was a special kind of sword which was the super-weapon of its day. When Paul says that the Bible is our sword, he used the term machaira which is the title for this particular super-weapon.
If we were to choose a sword with which to battle, we would likely gravitate toward the large broad swords such as the Scottish Claymore. The Greeks had a word for such swords. It is rhomphaia and refers to a sword that is at least a meter long. However, through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, the Apostle Paul chose to call the Bible a machaira which refers to a short sword that might be considered a dagger. Of course, this begs the question, “How was such a short sword the super-weapon of its day?”
The machaira requires great skill and precision to deliver a fatal blow. Greek soldiers practiced extensively to master the skill of using the short sword. However, once mastered, the machaira gave the Greek soldiers a quickness and agility which could not be countered. Soldiers using the heavy broad sword simply could not parry fast enough to counter the Greek short sword. This new sword revolutionized warfare and was largely responsible for the rise of the Greek empire. It was a highly feared and respected weapon.
The Apostle Paul’s God-inspired decision to refer to the Bible as a machaira is truly a perfect picture of Scripture. Aside from being a super-weapon, the Bible is also a tool which requires great skill and precision to use effectively. Just as the machaira was only deadly in the hand of a master swordsman who spent considerable time familiarizing himself with his weapon, so also the Bible is only truly powerful in the hands of a Christian who has spent much time studying and familiarizing himself with the text.
Rather than use the Greek word logos, which means “word,” Paul refers to the Bible as the rhema of God. Rhema means “a specific statement.” When Paul called the Bible the Word of God, he took care to say that the Bible is “a specific statement of God.” This furthers Paul’s imagery of the Bible being a precise weapon which requires great skill in handling. We do not break the skulls of demons by broadly swinging our Bible. Spiritual warfare is not fought using broad and general statements. Rather, spiritual warfare is precise. Specific verses of Scripture are used to encourage, strengthen, and defend us at very specific times in our lives. God expects us to be so familiar with His Word that we can call forth the exact statement needed to battle our particular enemy. Our lives are to be so saturated with the Word of God that we know exactly where to turn to face any struggle or temptation. This is precisely the example that Jesus set forth for us when He was tempted by Satan in Luke 4:1–13:
And Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness for forty days, being tempted by the devil. And he ate nothing during those days. And when they were ended, he was hungry. The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread.” And Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone.’” And the devil took him up and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time, and said to him, “To you I will give all this authority and their glory, for it has been delivered to me, and I give it to whom I will. If you, then, will worship me, it will all be yours.” And Jesus answered him, “It is written, “‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and him only shall you serve.’” And he took him to Jerusalem and set him on the pinnacle of the temple and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here, for it is written, “‘He will command his angels concerning you, to guard you,’ and “‘On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.’” And Jesus answered him, “It is said, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’” And when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from him until an opportune time.
Jesus did not battle Satan’s temptation by saying generally, “No, because the Bible says so.” Instead, Jesus used specific verses of Scripture to refute the Devil’s temptation. If we will commit to studying and applying Scripture in our lives, then the Holy Spirit will help bring these specific verses to remembrance when we need them. John 14:26 says, “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.”
Remember that Satan used Scripture when he tempted Jesus. Anyone can attempt to wield the Word of God. Just quoting Bible verses does not mean that an individual is equipped with the Sword of the Spirit. Before we attempt to identify and resist the spirit of antichrist, we must be certain that we are accurately and honestly wielding the true Sword of the Spirit.
Every Christian is a soldier who is called to actively battle for the cause of Christ. However, Jesus taught in Matthew 6:24 that we cannot be divided in our interests, “‘No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.” So long as a person is committed to those things which stand opposed to Christ, he will never effectively further the cause of Christ. He is like the man who works to build a wall with his right hand and tears it down with his left hand.
The Apostle Paul commands us in Ephesians 5:8–11 to fully commit ourselves to the cause of Christ:
[F]or at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them.
The unfortunate reality is that many Christians do partake in the unfruitful works of darkness. Many Christians suffer from spiritual schizophrenia. On the one hand, they genuinely desire to honor God with their lives, and on the other hand, they desperately hold tight to the very things that Christians are called to fight against. Sometimes this is intentional disobedience to the Word of God, and other times it is rooted in willful ignorance. Too many Christians have accepted the motto, “If I don’t know, then it can’t hurt me.”
Christians are no different from any other human beings. They become emotionally attached to things. Soon their emotions begin to excuse these pleasures, and they develop an aversion to the truth because they fear that it might require that they change their lifestyle. Recall from chapter 2 that this aversion to pure truth is a fruit of the spirit of antichrist. Anyone who is truly obedient to God will never fear the undistorted truth.
By remaining ignorant, numerous Christians have accepted practices and lifestyles which are rooted in the spirit of antichrist. Many Christians do not realize what they are doing. Nevertheless, Christians do not need to understand that their actions—what they watch, and what they listen to—are, in reality, furthering the cause of Satan in order for it to be true. Too many Christians today are blindly supporting the efforts of Satan by clinging to those things which help to establish the atmosphere of antichrist. Rather than battle against the spirit of antichrist, Christians have begun to incorporate it into the church!
The church is God’s means of accomplishing His work in the world today. In Matthew 16:13–19, Jesus told the Apostle Peter that He would build His church upon the solid rock of Himself and Peter’s confession of Jesus as the Christ, being the Son of the Living God. Embedded in His declaration is the understanding that Satan will actively resist and battle against the church. Nevertheless, Jesus promises in verse 19 that the gates of hell will not prevail against Christ’s church.
Regardless of how vigorously Satan may resist the efforts of Christ working through His church, Satan will ultimately fail. It may appear for a short while that Satan is succeeding, but in the end Satan will always fail. For now, however, Satan uses clever strategies which include fooling the church into embracing his agenda.
Sad and even treacherous as it may seem, many in the church today have accepted Satan’s agenda. Satan has enticed Christians into incorporating the spirit of antichrist into their lives through the allure of false promises, emotional manipulation, and false security. Christians have become emotionally attached to lifestyles, forms of entertainment, and teachings which have at their core the spirit of antichrist.
Those lifestyles, forms of entertainment, and teachings which set themselves in place of or against Jesus Christ are, in reality, driven by the spirit of antichrist. We can identify this spirit by observing its fruit. Recall the list in chapter 2. We can identify these fruits by asking questions such as, “Does this lifestyle, form of entertainment, or teaching produce coveting, pride, disobedience, idolatry, witchcraft, strife, heresy, envy, fear, unbelief, etc.? Does this lifestyle, form of entertainment, or teaching resist love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, or self-control?” If the answer is yes to any of these, then it is a spirit which does not come from Christ. Rather, at its core is the spirit of antichrist.
We would do well to compare specific areas of our lives against the list in chapter 2 which identifies the characteristics of the spirit of the antichrist. As an example, we could consider our wardrobes. We can ask, “Does wearing this outfit produce pride within ourselves? Is wearing it an act of disobedience to our parents or to Scripture? Will it produce coveting, filthy thoughts, or unholiness in others? Will it result in false accusations from others, foolishness, or strife?” If so, then regardless of how cute, attractive, or socially acceptable that outfit may be, wearing it would further the cause of the spirit of antichrist. Likewise, we should question the things that we watch, the music that we listen to, the magazines and books that we read, the parties that we attend, the relationships that we are in, the friendships that we have, and more. As Christians, all that we do must be scrutinized in light of the Word of God to be sure that we are not deceived by the spirit of antichrist.
If Satan can convince Christians to accept practices and teachings which are motivated by the spirit of antichrist, then he can neutralize the effectiveness of those Christians without ever fighting against them directly. Today’s church is neutralizing itself! Christians today have knocked themselves out of the spiritual war because they do not wish to fight and stand against the very things that they enjoy and habitually practice.
It is imperative that Christians realize the spirit of antichrist is not something which is relegated to the end times. It is not something to be left to those who enjoy studying prophecy. Rather, according to 1 John 4:3, the spirit of antichrist has been active and present in the world for thousands of years. In other words, it is an enemy which we face today. Consequently, it is a subject every Christian must understand.
Nobody enjoys giving up something which is dear to him. Likewise, nobody wants to believe that he has unwittingly furthered the cause of Satan. However, if we allow these sentiments to keep us from honestly evaluating our lives and actions, then we remain willfully ignorant. There are few places more spiritually dangerous than willful ignorance. It is not only dangerous to one’s self, it is also dangerous to the believers and unbelievers who surround them.
The spirit of antichrist is a very real threat to every Christian today. Thank God that He has given us an extensive means of identifying this spirit as well as the spiritual weapons to resist it. The question is, “Are we willing to stand in the light of pure truth? Are we willing to honestly compare our lifestyles, motives, thinking, forms of entertainment, and teachings against the list in chapter 2 which identifies the fruit of the spirit of antichrist? Are we willing to do whatever it takes to be a faithful and effective soldier for Jesus Christ? Are we willing to stand on the Word of God and keep ourselves from being deceived and influenced by the spirit of antichrist?”
These are easier said than done. This spirit of antichrist is actively establishing strongholds in every realm from politics, to popular media, and from to science and technology to the Christian church. A comprehensive attempt to trace this spirit through current events would require volumes. Instead, the following chapters will focus on six key topics into which the majority of social issues can be fit. Despite the diversity of these topics, we will discover that there is a consistent thread which binds them all together, and that common thread is the spirit of antichrist.