Many Christians debate whether the devil is on the earth or in
hell; can he dwell in Christians or only in the world? The fact is,
the devil is in darkness. Wherever there is spiritual darkness, there
the devil will be.
For most, the term spiritual warfare introduces a new but
not necessarily welcomed dimension in their Christian experience. The
thought of facing evil spirits in battle is an
unsettling concept, especially since we came to Jesus as lost sheep,
not warriors. Ultimately, some of us may never actually initiate
spiritual warfare, but all of us must face the fact
that the devil has initiated warfare against us. Therefore, it is
essential to our basic well-being that we discern the areas of our
nature that are unguarded and open to satanic assault.
Jude tells us, “And angels who did not keep their own domain,
but abandoned their proper abode, He has kept in eternal bonds under
darkness for the judgment of the great day” (1:6, NASB).
When Satan rebelled against God, he was placed under eternal
judgment in what the Bible calls “pits” (2 Pet. 2:4) or “bonds”
of darkness. The devil and the fallen angels with him have been
relegated to live in darkness. This darkness does not simply refer to
areas void of visible light. The eternal darkness to which this
Scripture refers is essentially a moral darkness, which
ultimately degrades into literal darkness. However, its cause is not
simply the absence of light; it is the absence of God, who is light.
It is vital to recognize that this darkness to which Satan has
been banished is not limited to areas outside of humanity. Unlike
those who do not know Jesus, however, we have been delivered out of
the domain or “authority” of darkness (see Col. 1:13). We are not
trapped in darkness if we have been born of light. But if we
accommodate darkness through tolerance of sin, we leave
ourselves vulnerable to satanic assault. For wherever there is
willful disobedience to the Word of God, there is
spiritual darkness and the potential for demonic
Thus Jesus warned, “Therefore take heed that the light which is in thee be
not darkness” (Luke 11:35, KJV). There is a light in you. “The
spirit of a man is the lamp of the Lord” (Prov. 20:27). Your
spirit, illuminated by the Spirit of Christ, becomes the “lamp of
the Lord” through which He searches your heart.
There is indeed a holy radiance surrounding a true Spirit-filled
Christian. But when you harbor sin, the “light which is in
thee” is “darkness.” Satan has a legal access, given to him by
God, to dwell in the domain of darkness. Thus, we must grasp this
point: The devil can traffic in any area of darkness, even the
darkness that still exists in a Christian’s heart.
An example of Satan having
access to the carnal side of human nature is seen in Peter’s denial
of Jesus. It is obvious that Peter failed. What we do not readily
see, however, is what was occurring in the invisible world of the
Jesus predicted accurately that Peter would deny Him three times.
Anyone looking at Peter’s actions that night might have simply
concluded his denial was a manifestation of fear. Yet, Peter was not
fearful by nature. This was the disciple who, a few hours earlier,
drew a sword against the multitudes who had come to arrest Jesus. No,
human fear did not cause Peter to deny the Lord. Peter’s denial was
Jesus had warned the apostle, “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has
demanded permission to sift you like wheat; but I have prayed for
you, that your faith may not fail; and you, when once you have turned
again, strengthen your brothers” (Luke 22:31–32, NASB).
scenes, Satan had demanded and received permission to sift Peter like
wheat. Satan had access to an area of darkness in Peter’s heart.
How did Satan cause Peter’s fall? After eating the Passover,
Jesus told His disciples that one of them was going to betray Him.
Scripture continues, “They began to discuss among themselves which
one of them … was going to do this thing” (Luke 22:23).
This was a very somber time. Yet, during this terrible moment,
“There arose also a dispute among them as to which one of them was
… greatest” (Luke 22:24). They went from an attitude of shock and
dismay to an argument concerning who among them was the greatest!
Evidently Peter, the water-walker, who was also the boldest and most
outspoken of the apostles, prevailed. We can imagine that Peter’s
high visibility among the disciples left him with an air of
superiority, which was fanned by Satan into an attitude of
presumption and boasting. Peter, being lifted up by pride, was being
set up for a fall.
Pride caused Satan’s fall, and pride was the very same darkness
manipulated by Satan to cause Peter’s fall. Lucifer, from
experience, knew well the judgment of God against religious pride and
envy. He knew personally that pride goes “before a fall” (Prov.
16:18, KJV). Satan did not have a right to indiscriminately assault
and destroy Peter. He had to secure permission from Peter’s Lord
before he could come against the young apostle. But the fact is, the
devil demanded permission to sift Peter, and he received it.
Submit to God
The trip wire that Satan used to
cause Peter’s fall was the disciple’s own sin of pride. Let
us recognize before we do warfare that the areas we hide in darkness
are the very areas of our future defeat. Often the battles we
face will not cease until we discover and repent for the darkness
that is within us. If we will be effective in spiritual warfare, we
must be discerning of our own hearts; we must walk humbly with our
God. Our first course of action must be, “Submit … to God.”
Then, as we “resist the devil … he will flee” (James 4:7, NASB).
Satan will never be given permission to destroy the saints.
Rather, he is limited to sifting us “like wheat.” The good news
is that God knows there is wheat inside each of us. The outcome of
this type of satanic assault, which is allowed through the permissive
will of God, is to cleanse the soul of pride and produce
greater meekness and transparency in our lives. It may feel terrible,
but God causes it to work for good.
Our husk-like outer nature must
die to facilitate the breaking forth of the wheat-like nature of the
new creation man. Both the chaff and the husk were necessary; they
provided protection for us from the harsh elements of this life. But
before God can truly use us, in one way or another we will pass
through a time of threshing.
Peter’s husk nature was presumptuous and proud. His initial
successes had made him ambitious and self-oriented. God can never
entrust His kingdom to anyone who has not been broken of pride, for
pride is the armor of darkness itself. So, when Satan demanded
permission to assault Peter, Jesus said in effect, You can sift
him, but you cannot destroy him. The warfare against Peter was
devastating but measured. It served the purpose of God.
Peter was ignorant of the areas of darkness within him, and his
ignorance left him open to attack. But the Lord would ask each of us,
“Do you know the areas where you are vulnerable to satanic
assault?” Jesus would have us not be ignorant of our need. In fact,
when He reveals the sin in our hearts, it is so He might destroy the
works of the devil. Thus, we should realize that the greatest
defense we can have against the devil is to maintain an honest heart
When the Holy Spirit shows us an area that needs
repentance, we must overcome the instinct to defend ourselves. We
must silence the little lawyer who steps out from a dark closet in
our minds, pleading, “My client is not so bad.” Your “defense
attorney” will defend you until the day you die—and if you listen
to him you will never see what is wrong in you nor face what needs to
change. For you to succeed in warfare, your self-preservation
instincts must be submitted to the Lord Jesus, for Christ alone is
your true advocate.
We cannot engage in spiritual battle without
embracing this knowledge. Indeed, James 4:6 says, “God is opposed
to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” God is opposed to the
proud. That is a very important verse. If God is opposed to the
proud, and we are too proud to humble ourselves and admit when we are
wrong, then God is opposed to us.
James continues in verse 7, “Submit therefore to God. Resist the
devil and he will flee from you.” When we see this verse, it is
usually all by itself as a monument to spiritual warfare. However, it
is in the context of repentance, humility and possessing a clean
heart that we find Satan fleeing from us.
We must go beyond a vague submission to God; we must submit the
exact area of our personal battle to Him. When we come against the
power of the devil, it must be from a heart in submission to Jesus.
It is vital that you know, understand and apply this principle
for your future success in spiritual warfare. That
principle is this: Victory begins with the name of Jesus on your
lips, but it will not be consummated until the nature of Jesus is in
your heart. This rule applies to every facet of spiritual
Indeed, Satan will be allowed to come against the
area of your weakness until you realize God’s only answer is to
become Christlike. As you begin to appropriate not just the name of
Jesus but His nature as well, the adversary will withdraw. Satan will
not continue to assault you if the circumstances he designed to
destroy you are now working to perfect you.
The outcome of Peter’s experience was that after Pentecost,
when God used him to heal a lame man, a more humble Peter spoke to
the gathering crowd. He asked, “Why do you gaze at us, as if by our
own power or piety we had made him walk?” (Acts 3:12). Peter’s
victory over pride and the devil began with the name of Jesus on his
lips, and it was consummated by the nature of Jesus in his heart. The
darkness in Peter was displaced with light; the pride in Peter was
replaced with Christ.
About the author: Francis Frangipane is the
founder of River of Life Ministries in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and has
traveled throughout the world ministering to thousands of pastors and
intercessors from many backgrounds. In June 2009, he retired from his
position as senior pastor of River of Life Ministries and is devoting
himself to prayer and the ministry of God’s Word. To read more
teachings by Francis or to learn more about his ministry, go to