Adversaries: Without and Within

The word “satan” means “adversary.” Its first use in the Scripture is found in Numbers 22:22, where it refers to the Angel of the Lord who stood against Balaam. In several instances it refers to men: I Samuel 29:4; Psalm 38:20; 71:13; etc. Your satan, then, can be anything that is an adversary to you. It could be the Devil himself; it could be the religious Pharisees and Sadducees that oppose and persecute you; it could be your own flesh nature that opposes the Christ coming forth in your own life; or, if you get off course and out of the will of God, it could be the Lord Himself.

Anyone that is truly dedicated to walk with God will experience great resistance, both from without and within. What we mean by a “walk with God” is being dedicated to and involved in the purposes of God for mankind. It involves a real submission to the Lordship of Jesus Christ, which allows Him to control and direct your life. You no longer live according to the dictates of your own reasonings, but in all your ways you acknowledge Jesus Christ as the Lord and Master of your life, knowing that it would be evil to think yourself wise enough to be the captain of your own destiny. Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths. Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the Lord, and depart from evil. Proverbs 3:5-7. Notice the last sentence. Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the Lord, and depart from evil. Depart from what evil? Depart from the evil of being wise in your own eyes, the evil of directing your own life instead of leaning on the Lord.

Those who endeavor to really walk with God are very much aware of the opposition from the adversaries that are without and those that are within. The Apostle Paul experienced both kinds of adversaries. When we were come into Macedonia, our flesh had no rest, but we were troubled on every side; without were fightings, within were fears. II Corinthians 7:5. Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches. II Corinthians 11:28.

Spiritual forces from without are against those who determine to walk with God. Paul spoke of those spiritual forces in Ephesians 6:12. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.

These spiritual forces of darkness and wickedness often come through religious people. An example of this is found in Acts chapter four. The chief priests and elders brought Peter and John before the Jewish council. They were threatened and told not to teach anymore in the name of Jesus. Peter and John returned to the church and they all prayed to God (Acts 4:23-31). Their prayer was based on the first two verses of the second Psalm. Why did the heathen rage, and the people imagine vain things? The kings of the earth stood up, and the rulers were gathered together against the Lord, and against His Christ. Acts 4:25-26.

The kings of the earth that rise up against the Lord and His Christ can just as easily be applied to the various aspects of your flesh nature. The kings of your earthen nature will always oppose the Christ coming forth within you. May the Lord come forth within us wielding a rod of iron to destroy the kings of our flesh (Psalm 2:9).

II Corinthians 10:3-5 For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh:
4 For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds;
5 Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.

The Apostle Paul is speaking here of the kings of our flesh. This is where the greatest battle will take place. This will be your personal “Battle of Armageddon.” It is the casting down of the imaginations of your carnal mind. Every high thing (kings of your flesh) that exalts itself against the knowledge of God must be brought down. These kings of the earth must be slain, as Samuel slew King Agag (I Samuel 15:33). Every aspect of your being must be brought under the Lordship of Jesus Christ. Submission to His Lordship gives access to the living Word to slay your Agags. For the Word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. Hebrews 4:12.

Revelation 20:1-2 And I saw an Angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in His hand.
2 And He laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years.

I’m sure you realize that this is not a literal picture of what will take place in the natural sometime in the future. This is spiritual. Jesus said, The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life (John 6:63). So if we hear what the Lord is speaking in these verses, it is because we are relating to them spiritually and not literally.

Recall that at the beginning of this message, we said that the word “satan” means “adversary.” All four names, “dragon,” “that old serpent,” “the Devil,” and “Satan,” are referring to just one adversary. And that adversary is our flesh nature. It is significant that the names are four. Four is the number of worldliness, which describes our earthen nature, or the wisdom of the flesh, which is “earthly, sensual, and devilish” (James 3:15).

The Angel coming down from heaven is Christ coming forth in His many-membered Body. The word “angel” in the Greek is angelos, which means “messenger.” This Messenger is sent from God and has a living Word. The “key” represents authority, and all authority in heaven and in earth belongs to the Lord Jesus Christ (Matthew 28:18). He alone has authority over the “bottomless pit.” The flesh nature is like a bottomless pit; the depths of its evil are unfathomable. Only the Lord has the authority and ability to overcome the flesh nature and to bring forth a new creation.

The chain in his hand is the living Word. It is the living Word that binds the satanic nature. In the same way that ignorance is bound by education, the Lie (John 8:44) is bound by the Truth (John 14:6). As the living Word comes forth in our hearts, our adversary the flesh nature is bound and Christ comes forth a Mighty Conqueror (Revelation 6:2).

The thousand years are not to be taken literally. Numbers in the Book of Revelation are symbolic. For example, the seven churches spoken of in the first three chapters of Revelation are not seven literal churches only, but they represent all churches. Likewise, the thousand years are not one thousand literal years. It was common among the Jews to use that terminology to express a long period of indefinite time. The binding of the flesh nature began with the first coming of Christ. So the thousand years probably indicates a time beginning with His ministry in the Gospels and continuing through the present time until it is finished. The binding of Satan spoken of in these verses is not an instantaneous thing, but a process of the Lord’s ministry to and through His chosen. The word “come” in the first verse is misleading in the King James translation. In the original it is “coming,” which indicates an ongoing process.

Those who are moving toward sonship experience the opposition of the adversaries from without and within. But their submission to the Lordship of Jesus Christ allows Him to come forth within them “conquering and to conquer” (Revelation 6:2). He is bringing death to the flesh nature of His Church, so that His life will be manifested in them (II Corinthians 4:11). Though we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter, we are more than conquerors through Him that loves us (Romans 8:36-37). Bringing down the “kings of the flesh” will reveal the glory of the Lord in us. For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. Romans 8:18.

“But the Bible says that He will not share His glory with another.” I am the Lord: that is My name: and My glory will I not give to another. Isaiah 42:8.

That’s true! He will not give His glory to “another.” But to those who partake of His nature and become as He is, His glory will rest on them (II Peter 1:4; Matthew 10:25; I Peter 4:13-14). Those who dedicate themselves to becoming as their Lord (Matthew 10:25) will face adversaries from without and from within. And they will be the “overcomers” that rule and reign with the Lord (Revelation 2:26-29). On the other hand, those who are satisfied just being a Christian will not experience this spiritual war. The adversaries from without and within will not oppose them, because they are not contending for anything, neither will they experience the glory.

Copyright © 1997 by Henry DuBose