NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–Satan, Lucifer, the Evil One. Whatever name some people give the devil, they seem to have discarded the childish notion of a red creature with a forked tail and a pitchfork, two authors say.
And for most, the reality of a devil doesn’t exist at all, according to a 2001 Barna poll that found only 27 percent of American adults who believe Satan to be a real being who can influence people’s lives.
It is to these people who Chuck Lawless, associate dean and associate professor of evangelism at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, and John Franklin, prayer specialist for LifeWay, have aimed their Bible study, “Spiritual Warfare: Biblical Truth for Victory.” The nine-week study is published by LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention.
“The Bible is clear that we are in a battle against principalities and powers. The enemy seeks to devour us,” Lawless said, noting that Christians do not seem to realize the imminent threat.
“For years, many believers have ignored the reality of the enemy. Churches have not been effective at teaching believers how to put on the armor of God. Consequently, many people in our churches are living defeated lives, and they don’t even know they’re in a battle.”
Lawless and Franklin define spiritual warfare as the conflict of two opposing wills — God and his followers and Satan and his followers.
The two main truths they seek to communicate in the study, the authors said, are that the Bible contains essential truths believers need to wage successful spiritual warfare and that victory does not always guarantee immediate deliverance from evil.
While the study helps participants recognize the devious nature of Satan, its primary focus is to give Christians practical handles for knowing how to use good to trump evil.
“I want them to come out of [the study] God-centered and equipped in knowing how to respond,” Franklin said. “There is a greater purpose in spiritual warfare.”
The study includes a workbook and videos that feature interviews with the authors along with an ongoing vignette about a family dealing with spiritual warfare. Each session is designed to include two video segments — a short discussion with the authors and the next segment of the family’s story.
Both Lawless and Franklin say they believe that resources on spiritual warfare have a responsibility to readers to be biblically based, something they’ve done with their study by focusing it on biblical examples, passages and ideas. The authors also seek to correct some common misconceptions about spiritual warfare, address current issues and reestablish God’s central role in it.
For example, Franklin said, “There is no record in the Bible that Satan ever destroyed the people of God. He deceived them into sin, and God [destroyed them] for him.”
Franklin said the church is under God’s judgment today, but doesn’t know it. “We are attributing much of our failure to Satan, and failing to see it is actually the disciplinary action of God,” he said.
Citing a 1997 Barna poll that found many Christian leaders believe that more than one-half of those in churches may be lost, Franklin stressed the importance of developing a Bible study that centers on God, not Satan.
“We want people to focus on God more than the devil,” Franklin said. “Many times the reference point is Satan. We want the reference point to be God.”
For use in small groups or as personal study, Spiritual Warfare is important because of its biblically based practicality, Lawless said.
“Our faith is something more than just head knowledge; we have to live it out,” he said. “This study is designed not only to give information, but also to give direction.”
(BP) photo posted in the BP Photo Library at http://www.bpnews.net. Photo title: THE BATTLE IS REAL.