We are not to be afraid of the devil and his minions. "God hath not given us the spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind" (II Timothy 1:7). We are, however, to be mindful and aware that the "roaring lion" can "devour" our experience of God and His working in our lives if we disregard or wrongly respond to the fact that we live among malevolent spiritual enemies who are inherently more powerful than we are (I Peter 5:8).
"Michael the archangel, when contending with the devil he disputed about the body of Moses, durst not bring against him a railing accusation, but said, The Lord rebuke thee" (Jude 1:9).
"Then certain of the vagabond Jews, exorcists, took upon them to call over them which had evil spirits the name of the Lord Jesus, saying, We adjure you by Jesus whom Paul preacheth. And there were seven sons of one Sceva, a Jew, and chief of the priests, which did so. And the evil spirit answered and said, Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are ye? And the man in whom the evil spirit was leaped on them, and overcame them, and prevailed against them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded" (Acts 19:13-16).
The most powerful angel described in Scripture, Michael, would not directly address Satan, deferring rather to God's rebuke. The seven sons of Sceva were not possessed of Divine or apostolic authority, and were thus put to flight and shame because they sought to directly confront a demonic entity. We must take heed of these warnings to avoid at all costs direct confrontation with spiritual enemies who will rout us if we seek to confront them in any direct manner. Indeed, James's command that we "resist the devil" is immediately preceded by the command to "submit yourselves therefore unto God" (James 4:7). We "fight the good fight of faith," meaning that we do not war in and of ourselves, but rather through the Christ who is "the Captain of our salvation" (I Timothy 6:12; Philippians 4:13; Hebrews 2:10).
The believer's calling is to be aware and wary of the devil's devices, and then submit ourselves unto God for whatever He purposes to accomplish through us in overcoming the works of the enemy. Prayer will often be the first line of battle to which our Captain assigns us. Upon this basis, He may call us to further duties of self sacrificial attitudes, words, actions, and relating to others whereby the devil's darkness is overwhelmed by the light of Christ. Our focus is on the Lord Jesus and ministry to people, even as we acknowledge enemies and God's working through us to pull down devilish strongholds of deception and falsehood.
We fight from victory, the victory of the risen Christ. His ultimate triumph and rule over all things is assured. However, there are countless battles of consequence that must still be fought in our present lives as the effects of His victory are yet to be fully realized. "He must reign until He has put all enemies under His feet" (I Corinthians 15:25). Our Lord purposes to engage us in the conflict, but always from the high ground, as it were, of fighting by Him, through Him, and in Him. Anything less involves tragic disengagement from our calling and responsibility. Anything more endangers our spiritual well being, setting us up for the rout of deception and disqualification from the true fight to which we are called. May our Lord lead us in His wisdom, and in the strong confidence that "the good fight" to which we are called, rightly waged, will reveal the glory of the Lord Jesus in ever greater display of His redeeming work in the lives of others and ourselves.
"Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest the savor of His knowledge by us in every place."
(II Corinthians 2:14)