The Believer’s Response

By James M. Rochford

What are our counter-measures to Satan’s attacks on the believer? A number are articulated in Scripture:

Fight him offensively

Jesus’ mission was offensive in nature—not defensive. John writes, “The Son of God appeared for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil” (1 Jn. 3:8). Likewise, Jesus said, “The Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost” (Lk. 19:10). Then he said, “As the Father has sent Me, I also send you” (Jn. 20:21). Jesus said, “The gates of Hades will not overpower [my church]” (Mt. 16:18). Gates are not offensive weapons in warfare; they are defensive. Therefore, we need to remember that our role is to take ground from Satan—not the other way around.

Resist him

James writes, “Resist the devil and he will flee from you” (Jas. 4:7). Peter writes, “Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 9 But resist him, firm in your faith” (1 Pet. 5:8-9).

Bind him

Amillennial interpreters hold that Satan is currently and constantly bound right now, but a thorough exegesis of Revelation 20 disagrees with this notion (Rev. 20:2-3). Instead, Jesus taught, “How can anyone enter the strong man’s house and carry off his property, unless he first binds the strong man? And then he will plunder his house” (Mt. 12:29). To do this, the believer needs to call on the authority of Christ to bind back Satan, knowing “greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world” (1 Jn. 4:4).

Argue over the truth

Paul wrote, “We walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, 4 for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. 5 We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ” (2 Cor. 10:3-5). Here we should follow the example of Jesus in Luke 4, who battled Satan with Scripture, repeating the expression, “It is written… It is written… It is written…”

Believing and resting in our identity in Christ

Theologian Merrill Unger writes, “The evil one delights to see a saint become occupied with what he is or does in himself rather than with what he is or does in his position in Christ. This is tantamount to leaving the protection of the mighty fortress God has provided in Christ for the perils of the unprotected open field… It is the omnipotent power of God that Satan dreads, and that power only becomes available to the believer as he counts on what Christ has done for him and is waiting to do through him in response to his faith.”[1]

Paul gives several instructions for battling Satan in Ephesians 6:

Gird your loins with truth: God’s truth is central to our battle with Satan. If we rest in our own abilities or competence, we will surely lose an argument with him.

Put on the breastplate of righteousness: Some commentators believe that this is our righteousness that we should display.[2] However, this is the worst way we could battle Satan! Satan relishes in our desire to defend ourselves based on our own righteousness, because we are fallen and he can find innumerable chinks in such an armor. Instead, Paul writes, “Be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ” (Phil. 3:9).

Shod your feet with the… gospel of peace: This might refer to our message for others. Jesus said that believers should remain on the offensive—not the defensive (Mt. 16:18). It could also refer to the peace that we have with God through Christ. Most likely, both understandings are in view.

Take up the shield of faith: The word “faith” is synonymous with “trust.” As we recite the great truths of Scripture, we need to exert personal trust in the fact that these are true. While we might feel one way, we need to remember what is actually true of us.

The helmet of salvation: Going along with the notion of our position in Christ, we need to rest in God’s love for us—not our moral perfection.

Sword of the Spirit: Paul says that the sword of the Spirit “is the word of God.” This would refer to knowing Scripture, memorizing key Scriptures, and reciting them and believing in them.

Pray at all times in the Spirit: Prayer refers to taking our seat with Christ moment by moment and trusting that he has authority over Satan.

Be discrete

God’s strategy for taking ground back from Satan’s kingdom is to infiltrate that kingdom with his own people. They are to build a new kingdom of God, coexisting within the kingdom of Satan (Mt. 13:24-30).


[1] Unger, Merrill. What Demons Can Do to Saints. Moody Publishers: Chicago. 1991. 18.

[2] For instance, Lordship theologian John MacArthur writes, “The weapons of warfare can be summarized in one word: Obedience.” John MacArthur, How to Meet the Enemy (Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books, 1996), 69. Likewise, dispensational interpreters Walvoord and Zuck write, “The breastplate of righteousness refers not to justification, obtained at conversion (Rom. 3:24; 4:5), but to the sanctifying righteousness of Christ (1 Cor. 1:30) practiced in a believer’s life… righteous living (Rom. 6:13; 14:17) guards a believer’s heart against the assaults of the devil.” The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures, Vol. 2 [Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1983], p. 643.