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How to Overcome the Devil Through Spiritual Warfare

Lori Colbo loves to write about her Christian faith and the Bible to encourage and inspire others.

...that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; Rev. 12:9

...that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; Rev. 12:9

He wriggles about like a serpent, but he cannot rule like a sovereign."

— Charles Spurgeon

Forget About Pitchforks, Horns and Pointed Tails

I hate to give the devil any airtime, but then again, it is important to know our enemy because of our standing with God and our eternal destination are at stake. The only way we can identify Satan and his methods, and how to overcome him, is by knowing God through His word and learning about Satan there as well.

Contrary to popular myth, the devil is not a cute little red menace with horns, a long pointed tail, holding a pitchfork, with an evil face. Satan is the enemy of our souls, he is dangerous, and we are no match for him in our own flesh. But for those who have called upon the name of Jesus as Savior and Lord, we can rely on the blood of Christ, shed on the cross, and His Word to cover us, and send the devil packing.

Where Did the Devil Come From?

Isaiah 14 tells the story of Lucifer (the original name of the Devil).

"How you are fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How you are cut down to the ground, you who weakened the nations! For you have said in your heart: I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God...I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the Most High" (vs 12-14).

Lucifer began as an angel of God in heaven. But Jesus said in Luke 10:18, "Behold, I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven."

Ezekiel 28 gives us much more detail: "You were the seal of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty. You were in Eden, the garden of God (as the serpent Gen. 3); Every precious stone was your covering...The workmanship of your timbrels and pipes was prepared for you on the day you were created. You were the anointed cherub who covers; I established you. You were on the holy mountain of God. You walked back and forth in the midst of fiery stones. You were perfect in your ways from the day you were created, till iniquity was found in you."

Satan was a cherub. Cherubs guard the throne of God (the mountain of God). He was "The seal of perfection, full of wisdom, and perfect in beauty." Lucifer was a high ranking angel, the most beautiful and perfect of all angels. Judging by the references to the timbrels and pipes, it is possible he was a worship leader of sorts, to put it in modern vernacular.

God continues his address to Satan in Ezekiel 28 to reveal how it all turned south:

"Therefore I cast you as a profane thing out of the mountain of God; And I destroyed you, O covering cherub, from the midst of the fiery stones (vs. 16)...I cast you to the ground... (vs.17).

Ego and pride got him a one-way ticket out of heaven. Rev.12:9 says he took a company of angels with him (demons), “So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.”

Satan is A Predator

Satan is not in hell just yet. For thousands of years, he's been roaming the earth. In Job 1:7, he tells God he has been "going to and fro on the earth, and from walking back and forth on it."

A few thousand years later, we find out from the Apostle Peter that the devil is still roaming around, "Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.” (1 Peter 5:8).

When Satan got the boot from heaven, he didn't just slink away and lick his wounds in a dark cave. He became a predator, seeking to destroy God's people and to deceive the non-believing masses. He's done a good job, but if you read the end of the story (Revelation) you find out God wins, and Satan loses big time - forever!

The devil is like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.

The devil is like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.

What Satan is Not

Satan began as an angel. Angels are created beings (Col. 1:16), thus he cannot be equal to God in power. Satan is not all knowing, all powerful and everywhere present. The devil is not likely the one who tempts you every time because there are millions of people in the world and he can't be everywhere at once. So he sends out his demons to do his bidding.

Satan also cannot do anything to anyone without God's permission. In the first and second chapters of Job, Satan went before God sniffing around for someone to destroy. God bragged on Job who was a righteous man. Satan was sure Job would curse God if adversity and suffering were put upon him. God gave Satan permission to afflict Job (with stipulations and limitations) and could do no more than what God allowed.

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Jesus told Peter, "Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you like wheat. But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail" (Luke 22:31-32).

Satan's Toolbox

Satan's toolbox is loaded with effective tools meant to destroy the faith of the Christian and to keep the non-believer blind to the truth. Following are some of the tools he uses to destroy the faith of the Christian.



Satan is very effective with this tool. Discouragement leads to hopelessness and despair. The discouraged person has his eyes on circumstances, not God's power and sovereignty. Discouragement strikes after a victory; a stressful situation (good or bad stress); physical problems (fatigue, illness, or injury); when some great work of God is approaching; or when we are in the middle of doing God's work. The idea is to get the discouraged person to toss in the towel in God's service, to weaken or lose their faith, and in the extreme, to commit suicide.

In 1 Kings 19, Elijah became discouraged and depressed to the point of wanting God to take his life. His confrontation with the prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel resulted in a mountaintop victory, literally and figuratively. But afterward, he was physically, mentally, and spiritually exhausted. Satan used Jezebel to bring him down by threatening to kill him. He fled in terror, then became discouraged and despondent. God revealed Himself to Elijah. Then he gave Elijah a job to do, and he went off and did it, restored to a right view of God and life, and revived in his soul.

We see David's struggle with discouragement throughout the Psalms; we see it in Jeremiah in his book called Lamentations; Peter, James, and John slept from sorrow in the Garden while Christ agonized in prayer (Luke 22:45); Job of course was despondent and discouraged after losing everything; and Naomi after losing her husband and two sons (Ruth 1:13,20-21).


One of man's greatest base sins is pride. The devil uses flattery as a lure to pride and does so with cunning precision. He whispers honeyed words to give men a deluded sense of self-importance, thus ensnaring them into the sin of pride and arrogance. Here's a partial list of examples of prideful men in the Bible:

  • King Saul lost his throne and a heavenly reward because of his pride and greed. He always disobeyed God's instructions because he thought he knew better.
  • Jacob was greedy and stole his brother's blessing, and he conspired to get Esau to give up his birthright.
  • Pharaoh, King Nebuchadnezzar, all the Herod's, Judas Iscariot, and the Pharisees are just a few more who let pride rule their lives.

The Accuser

In Revelation 12:10, Satan is referred to as the accuser of the brethren. His accusations are used to shame and convince people they are unfit to approach God or to have a relationship with Him. The devil accused Job before God. When he didn't succeed with Job's losses and devastating illness, he used Job's friends to accuse and shame him.

And how about the religious, Jewish leaders, always accusing Jesus of something to discredit Him?

  • He ate with sinners (Matt. 9:11).
  • His disciples picked grain on the Sabbath (Matt. 12:1-2).
  • He healed on the Sabbath (Matt. 12:9-10).
  • He didn't pay his taxes (Matt. 17:24).
  • He cast out demons by the ruler of demons (Matt. 9:34, 12:24).
  • He was a blasphemer (Matt. 9:2-4, 27:65).
  • Did not ceremoniously wash before meals (Luke 11:37-38).
  • His disciples did not wash (Matt. 15:1-2).

Jesus had plenty of accusations for them too, but His were legit (See Matt. 23).

The Tempter

Satan knows our weaknesses and has been using temptation from the day of Adam and Eve. Everyone is tempted on a regular basis. Satan even tried it on Jesus, which we will read in a minute. The Hebrew writer tells us that, "Christ was tempted in order to aid those who are being tempted "(2:18), and Jesus was "in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin" (4:15).

The temptation is a ploy to get us to sin, and from there he uses his tools of accusation and discouragement. He recycles them over and over. Let's see how Jesus handled it.

Satan tempted Adam and Eve in the garden.

Satan tempted Adam and Eve in the garden.

How Jesus Overcame the Devil in the Wilderness

In Matthew 4, we read that the Holy Spirit led Jesus out into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. He wandered in the hot desert sun for forty days and forty nights without food or water. Then Satan appeared and began his work. Jesus fought and resisted him with the words "It is written..."

Honing in on Jesus' physical weakness, he suggested Jesus turn some stones into bread. Jesus' greater purpose was not to show His power through a miracle, but by resisting the devil with the word of God. He said, "It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God" (Matt. 4:4). Jesus not only spoke the Word of God but told Satan man lives by the Word of God.

Next, the devil took Jesus to the pinnacle of the temple and tried to manipulate Him with Psalm 91:11. "If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down, for it is written, 'He shall give His angels charge over thee,' and 'In their hands, they shall bear you up lest you dash your foot against a stone'" (vs. 6). Satan thought he was so clever using Scripture the way Jesus did; however, he left out a sentence which is "...and he will keep thee in all of thy ways." It makes a big difference, doesn't it? So Jesus countered with "It is written, you shall not tempt the Lord your God" (vs. 7). He was telling Satan he can't win by tempting God because God cannot sin.

Finally, he took Jesus to the highest mountain and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and said with audacity and stupidity, "All these things I will give You if You will fall down and worship me" (vs. 9). Jesus rebuked him by name, followed by "It is written, You shall worship the Lord your God and Him only shall you serve" (vs. 10).

Then the devil fled.

Jesus was tempted by the devil in the Judean wilderness.

Jesus was tempted by the devil in the Judean wilderness.

Spiritual Warfare

Many Christians call out a rebuke to Satan as their offensive weapon, but the Bible places more emphasis on another method -

"Submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded" (James 4:7-8).

Paul elaborates in Ephesians 6:11, 13, "Put on the whole armor of God that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil...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."

The next several verses detail the armor we are to put on to withstand and resist the devil:

  • Gird your waist with truth.
  • Wear the breastplate of righteousness.
  • Shod your feet with the gospel of peace.
  • Take up the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one.
  • Take up the Helmet of salvation
  • The sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God (Jesus' weapon)
  • Praying always with all prayer

We can shake our fist and order the devil to flee with bossiness and bravado in Jesus name, but the most effective and biblical way is to put on the whole armor of God - truth, righteousness, the gospel of peace, faith, salvation, the Word of God, and prayer.

In Luke 9, Jesus gave the disciples power and authority over demons. They used this authority to cast demons out of non-believers.

In Job, God gave Satan permission to afflict Job within certain limitations. Job was a believer. Satan will attack and oppress Christians only with God's permission. Thus, Scripture focuses more on resisting the devil with the armor of God as his chosen way than anything else.

The Apostles didn't rebuke the devil when they were being tested; rather, they drew near to God, clung to His promises, and prayed. The Bible emphasizes that our authority is to resist the devil by putting on the whole armor of God.

Take up the whole armor of God.

Take up the whole armor of God.

Spiritual warfare

"Submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded" (James 4:7-8).

Know the Word of God So You Recognize Satan's Lies

As important as knowing our enemy is, knowing the Lord through His word is most important. If we study the Bible regularly and diligently, we will recognize the devil and his ploys and lies much easier. The Bible tells us not to believe every spirit but to test the spirits (1Jn 4:1); to test all things; to hold fast to what is good (1 Thess. 5:21). We see the Berean's (Acts 17) were nobler because they tested what they heard by studying the Scriptures to verify that what they heard was true. The more familiar we are in detail to the authentic, we will recognize the counterfeit much more readily.

© 2013 Lori Colbo


Binoy from Delhi on October 06, 2020:

Good information about satan and how to deal with him. Keep up the good work.

Lori Colbo (author) from United States on August 23, 2020:

Blessings to you, Jeremiah.

JEREMIAH MWANIKI KILUNDA from Nairobi on August 23, 2020:

Good message.

Lori Colbo (author) from United States on August 23, 2020:

Dear Adorable Pen (love that name),

May this message bless your life and help you to stay closer to the Mighty One. God bless.

Adorable Pen from Onitsha on August 22, 2020:

This is powerful...

Lori Colbo (author) from United States on November 22, 2019:

Blessings Jack. Thanks for stopping by.

Jack Jenn from Living in hope on planet earth. on November 21, 2019:

Hi Lori,

I very much enjoyed your article and the truth in it.

I like what you said - "Many Christians call out a rebuke to Satan as their offensive weapon" and I too have been guilty of same. 'Depart from me Satan for I hate thee and I want no part with thee'.

But the Bible places more emphasis on another method -

James 4: 7, which says Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

And we've all been there in a rebuking situation before but the real key to it is the first part of that verse. . .Submit yourselves.

As you have said we have no power on our own and we will fail every time until we believe in a power outside of ourselves and just submit and allow Him to do the battle. He is the one who will win this battle for us if we just submit to Him and allow Him to do it.

Thank you for reminding me of that scripture Lori.

Again and always my best regards,


Lori Colbo (author) from United States on April 13, 2018:

Thanks for stopping by Stages. I think we underestimate both Satan.and God sometimes. That's why we need to be sober, vigilant, and in the word and prayer. To God be the glory indeed.

Kathy Henderson from Pa on April 13, 2018:

Hello Lori,

Enjoyed your article. I particularly like your reference to Satan's tool box. So true, he has quite the aresenal yet, nothing compared tothe power of the most Holy Spirit. Also true that he, Satan, was a created being and though he will have great power of persuasion. He does not win in the end. Therefore, we give God all the glory as you have done in this article.

Take care andpeace be with you

Lori Colbo (author) from United States on March 30, 2018:

Hi Tim, thanks for leaving your comment... As human beings we often have tunnel vision. We only focus on what we can.physicLly see, touch,. And hear. It happens to me a lot but eventually I will reminded there is a spiritual battle going on in the unseen world. That's why we need to be in the word.

Tim Truzy from U.S.A. on March 30, 2018:

Excellent article. Many Christians forget we are battling not mere beings, but "spiritual" beings. Christians forget they have the power to defeat Satan by drawing near to Him. Thank you, and your article is a wonderful reminder.

Likewise, we must recognize our spiritual gifts and use them along with the armor of God to thwart our enemy.



Lori Colbo (author) from United States on December 09, 2017:

Thanks for you comments William. I agree with you 100%.

William Jordan from Houston on December 08, 2017:

Very informative Hub there is not a lot of people who knows the work of Satan as believers we must know our enemy ...

Lori Colbo (author) from United States on July 19, 2014:

Gig Harbor. It's gorgeous. Whidbey is a ways away but I've wanted to visit. I went there a few time as a kid as a great aunt and uncle lived there and we'd go beach combing. Nice to meet a fellow Washingtonian.

Mary Gaines from Oak Harbor on Whidbey Island, Washington on July 19, 2014:

Yes I am! Love it here how about you?

Lori Colbo (author) from United States on July 19, 2014:

Thank you Whidbeywriter. Are you from Whidbey Island WA?

Mary Gaines from Oak Harbor on Whidbey Island, Washington on July 19, 2014:

I finally got to read this hub, so interesting and you definitely did an awesome job at describing him. I hope that person who does not believe in Satan will read this and become educated......blessings to you as always great hub voted up and useful!

Lori Colbo (author) from United States on January 26, 2014:

Thank you for stopping by Lybrah. I will check them out.

Lybrah on January 26, 2014:

This hub is EXCELLENT! I loved it. I agree with everything you said. I wrote a few hubs on hell myself. Check them out if you get a chance. I love feedback.

Lori Colbo (author) from United States on January 18, 2014:

Stages, I love your heart. Thanks for sharing it.

Kathy Henderson from Pa on January 18, 2014:

As do you Lambservant ~ It's the passion of this discussion that shows God is so alive in us. He is alive in all who want to pray and talk about Him. At least when there is a passion for discussions on His word, there is a place for His Holy Spirit to continue to do a work in all of us. Even in our differences there is the continuity of Christ.(To coin a phrase) God Bless us everyone, Have a blessed day :)

Lori Colbo (author) from United States on January 16, 2014:

Amen Stages. You speak truth.

Kathy Henderson from Pa on January 16, 2014:

Wonderful hub Lambservant and passionate discussion of the Word. The light that awaits is so beautiful, the pain of attack is prevelent even in our discussion. Knowledge and law are so easily used by the enemy, if not used for understanding as opposed to condemnation of even like yokes. God's word is a love letter, He is AGAPE. God is Truth, He reveals Himself, allowing the choice of acceptance in all circumstance. He presents in all corners of the earth, even under the remote piles of destruction, vile situation and isolation. God is ever present. To come to our end knowing of knowledge does not assure the knowing of HIM. It is by the belief in the cross and His promises, through faith and works for His glory that we will be with Him. Separation Isaiah 59:1-2, Ephesians 2:8-10,Revelation 12:9, MATTHEW 23:33 _ Hell, Gehenna, torment, regardless it is separation. We can pick apart these verses we can pick apart one another. It is hell, satan. To attack in such a manner is not of God. To be angry and passionate is understandable one soul lost is for satan to have power that thought alone is Gehenna. Interpretation is dangerous, agreed that the spiritual battle of the well versed and educated can be enlightening as well as condemning depending on the heart of the deliverer. God is good and wants everyone, however outward and purposeful denial of Him is to ultimatley separate and thus this would be Gehenna. There is great peace in the simplicity of belief in Him, and in His Kingdom discussion will be needless, rather complete sanctification and glory of God. We must be careful as Christians, as believers to present His love and understand to berate with His word is not of God. We are to trust and to share His light, while understanding our convictions. I appreciate our boldness to discuss His word, thereby showing the immense desire we have as believers to know Him fully. I am recently saddened by the separtation of marriages, friendships and community churches. We must remember the church will be destroyed and the church is it's people, as we are the bride of Christ. I just pray we are careful and loving and examples of that word in our conversations. I suppose it is a personal conviction day-to-day to decide where we fall on the line of Godly conversation verses berating knowledge. We all fall victim in our passion for our reunion. Praise God for His accountability of those seeking Him, Praise God for the ability to be in a place where such conversations doesn't allow for us to be jailed and torn from our loved ones. The truth is when we can find Him in those circumstances always looking up, well then we know His Power is so great that all will know Him. If they are open to His call. Again their denial or their choice will be their destiny. Heaven or Gehenna. I pray we keep seeking Him first and pointing all in the direction of His light for there is assured darkness in the separation from God. That is HELL, and better is one day in His courts than a thousand elsewhere.

Peace in His Loving grip, for all of you who passionately discuss, God's blessings always

Faith Reaper from southern USA on January 07, 2014:

Yes, dear sister, Lambservant, God is a Holy God. Light and darkness cannot occupy the same space. God made a way through His son, our Lord and Saviour Jesus, so that we may have that personal and intimate relationship with Him. The weight of the world's sins were placed on Him on that cross. He paid the highest price for our sins. We all have that choice to accept that gift or reject it. God made a way so that we do not have to live eternity separated from Him. We are eternal beings and will be spending eternity in one of two places and the choice is ours to make. God bless you. In His Love, Faith Reaper

Lori Colbo (author) from United States on January 06, 2014:

Bill, thank you for your comments. I appreciate this challenge as it has caused me to do the research, aside from what I already know. You can read my comments and response below. Jesus used Gehenna and Hades both I believe. In other places he just described it using language he used in the passages where named hell.

William Kovacic from Pleasant Gap, PA on January 06, 2014:

Hi Lori,

Isn't it nice when someone tells you where you learned something!

Jesus mentions 15 times in the Gospels the word hell (hades). What it comes down to is disbelief. Oh, and Gehenna certainly is a real place, That's for sure! That's all I'm going to say. This is your hub.

Bronwen Scott-Branagan from Victoria, Australia on January 02, 2014:

Very well explained.

Betty Bolden from Bucyrus Ohio on January 02, 2014:

great job

Tamarajo on December 30, 2013:

Excellent comprehensive teaching! Informative, insightful, and very relevant revelations in your presentation.

I have gotten a bit frustrated when I hear so much time spent rebuking the devil and so little attention given to the truth of God's Word

You did well in presenting how the devil operates historically and presently as well as the scriptural prescription being the "Full armor of God" as described in Ephesians which centers on our knowing and living in the truth of His Word. Also appreciated the inclusion of the best spiritual example of that given by Jesus Himself as to what the looks like in His wilderness temptation experience.

Good stuff!!

Faith Reaper from southern USA on December 30, 2013:

Dear lovely sister, Lori,

What a most useful hub here. I have been in many spiritual battles against the enemy! Yes, he is so deceitful and so sly, for he has had thousands of years to practice his craft to take down many, as that is his goal.

I always remember to put on the full armor of God each day and when in actual battle, I do rebuke him in Jesus' Holy and precious name, the Name above all names!

Up and more and sharing.

God bless you. In His Love, Faith Reaper

Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on December 30, 2013:

Lori, I feel like you do that I'd rather ignore the devil. However, an article like yours is very helpful in pointing out the liar, tempter, accuser an archenemy that he is. You did a great job!

William Kovacic from Pleasant Gap, PA on December 30, 2013:

Good Moning Lori,

That was a pretty thorough study of our enemy. I like you last heading - "Know the word and you will recognize the devil's lies." That's the best way to see through him. I'm told that bank tellers don't study counterfeit money, but study the real thing. When the fake comes along, they compare it to the original and can easily tell the difference. Should we be any less diligent when it come to the things of God? Thanks for pointing your finger at the guilty one.

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