We have an Enemy.
Resistance to a Christian witness among Muslims is not just due to a hardened heart or antagonistic religious worldviews that have been ingrained in their culture. There is a spiritual adversary who is actively working against God being known and glorified among the nations. That’s why Paul, in his testimony before King Agrippa in Acts 26, described his mission to proclaim Jesus Christ to the Gentiles, as an effort to “open their eyes, turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God” (verse 18). The word “devil” comes from the Greek “diabelein” which means to oppose. He is opposed to the church, the expansion of God’s kingdom and the individual Christian experiencing the full and victorious life. And he is an adversary to mission efforts to penetrate the dominions of darkness where Christ is not known with the light of the gospel.
The enemy has real authority.
Among the temptations of Jesus, as described in Luke 4:5-7, Satan took Jesus to a high mountain and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world. He said he would give Jesus all these kingdoms with all the authority and glory if He would worship him. Of course, Jesus did not succumb to that temptation, but it is intriguing that he did not question the right of Satan to make that claim. 1 John 5:19 says, “We are of God but all the world lies in the power of the evil one.” Where Christ is not known, where God is not worshipped, the nations, cultures and peoples of the world are in darkness and under the power and dominion of Satan. And the god of this world is not going to simply roll over and relinquish the kingdoms of the world to become the kingdoms of our God!
The battle is spiritual.
Spiritual warfare is not just a struggle between good and evil. It is not limited to injustice, oppression and immoral behavior. There is a cosmic battle “in the heavenlies” between a jealous, fallen angel and the One to whom has been given all power, glory and authority. We are told this is not a conflict of flesh and blood but one of principalities, powers of darkness and spiritual forces of evil. We are warned to be vigilant, sober, alert and on guard that we may resist the enemy who is described as a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.
The battlefield is the nations.
We need to understand how this plays out in the world today. Entire countries are closed to missionaries and a Christian witness due to godless political systems under the sway of the powers and principalities of the god of this world. Believers and churches are being persecuted and subjected to atrocities in an effort of the evil one to inhibit the spread of the gospel. Satan is robbing the Christian church of its spiritual vitality, leading it to become ingrown and self-centered instead engaging the battle to disciple the nations?
The battle is for God's glory.
Even when we are diligent to witness, Satan is actively deflecting the truth of the gospel. In the parable of the sower Jesus explained that some of the seed would fall on the hardened, beaten down pathway where it does not take root–certainly a description of the Muslim world. He said that the birds come and take away the seed. Then He explained in Luke 8:12 that the birds are the devil, taking away the truth of the gospel even as it is sown in witness. How does this happen? Satan is described as a deceiver and liar; there is no truth in him! It is not so much the evil that is perpetrated by those who do not know the love of God and external manifestations such as demon possession, territorial spirits and generational bondage. It is his deception that has been misleading generations to believe a lie and follow that which is false. Who has convinced Muslims worldwide that Jesus did not really die on the cross, the Bible has been corrupted and the trinity is a blasphemous worship of three gods?
The enemy deceives the nations.
As a new missionary filled with faith and idealism, I became disillusioned when those in the large Muslim nation where I served did not readily respond to embrace the gospel once the truth of God’s redemptive love was proclaimed. I soon came to realize that expecting a Muslim to respond to the gospel is not unlike asking a blind man to read a newspaper. The Apostle Paul explains in 2 Corinthians 4:4 that the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel.
Our weapons are not carnal.
We must recognize the nature of the battle and that the weapons of our warfare “are not of flesh but are divinely powerful for the destruction of (spiritual) strongholds” (2 Corinthians 10:4). It should not surprise us that there are Muslims who hate and want to destroy Christians and Jews, savagely behead their enemies and subjugate and oppress those who do not adhere to their ideology. Those “without God in this world” (Ephesians 6:12), are pawns of the evil, destructive aspirations of Satan.
The enemy deceives the Church.
Our greatest vulnerability is not the threat of harm or even the loss of life but in allowing Satan, in his subtle and devious ways, to create discouragement, dissension and indifference toward our task of making Christ known. So, how can we prevail against a devious, unseen enemy, creating fear in our hearts and leading us to respond with hate instead of love toward those who need to know our Savior?
Faith is the victory.
In 1 John 5:4 we are told that “this is the victory that overcomes the world, even our faith.” Ephesians 6:16 reminds us that we have been equipped with the shield of faith that deflects Satan’s fiery darts and temptations; it squelches his lies and deceit in our own minds. According to 1 Peter 5:9 we can resist Satan, “firm in our faith.” That, however, is not just faith to believe in Jesus, but to believe the truth of God’s word and accept it as reality, all evidence to the contrary. God’s desire is to be exalted among the nations. We have His promise that there will be people from every tribe, language and nation gathered around the throne of God, worshipping the One who is worthy of all praise, honor and glory. That includes a remnant of every segment of Muslim people in the world–believe it!
Victory is assured.
The victory has been procured by the blood of Jesus who came to destroy the works of the evil one on the cross. Though Satan’s power and influence seems to be pervasive in a world that does not know Christ, he is a defeated foe. We are already on the winning side. 1 John 3:8 say, “The Son of God appeared for this purpose that He might destroy the works of the devil.” “Greater is He that is in us, than He that is in the world” (1 John 4:4). We are to stand firm in the power of His might.
Claim the power of the Spirit of God.
We cannot expect to have the wisdom and discernment to deal with a Muslim antagonist, or the courage to lift up Christ in a bold, positive witness if we are not walking in victory. God will not entrust His power to one who is casual in his own devotion, readily neglects the word of God and is equivocal in his obedience. The Spirit of Almighty God lives within us, empowering us to be witnesses to the ends of the earth. The Christ who told us to disciple the nations has promised to go with us, even to the end of the age.
Victory through prayer.
It is prayer that gives us access to power and wisdom to encounter the deception and influence of the real enemy. It is in prayer that we commune with the Father, and we are reminded of our own inadequacy so that we do not rely on logical arguments and the wisdom of men. Through fervent intercession hearts are softened and the Holy Spirit brings conviction. Jesus assured us that the gates of hell will not be able to prevail against the Church which faithfully confesses Him as the promised Lord and Savior. We are not to fight from a defensive position of fear and intimidation. The victory is assured. We are to engage the battle–not against Islam, but against the powers of darkness and the one who continues to deceive the nations and hold multitudes in bondage to sin and eternal destruction.