In Luke 11:14-20, Jesus cast a demon out of a dumb person. Afterward, the mute spoke and the people marveled. To counter the wonderment of the people, some accused Christ of “casting out devils through Beelzebub the chief of devils.” Dismissing their accusation as ludicrous—“Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and a house divided against [itself] falleth.”—Jesus claimed that His casting out of demons “with the finger of God” was actually proof that “the kingdom of God” had come.
Jesus continued to speak of the demonic in Luke 11:21-22. Here, He compares demons to heavily armed strongmen. According to Jesus, demonic powers will never give up their “palaces” and “goods” until someone stronger comes along and strips them of their “armor.” Only then can the goods of strongmen be taken and the spoils divided.
Jesus Christ is stronger than demons (1 John 4:4). He came into this world to strip devils of their armor and to spoil their goods. This is why the Apostle John wrote, “For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil” (1 John 3:8). Christ’s whole ministry consisted of displacing, defeating, and dispossessing the devil.
In Matthew 12:29, Jesus asked, “How can one enter into a strong man’s house, and spoil his goods, except he first bind the strong man?” Satan claims lost souls as “his goods.” Therefore, we can’t “spoil his goods” until we first “bind” him in the lives of the lost. Only then can Satan be despoiled and lost souls stripped from his hands.
The Apostle Paul taught us the absolute necessity of spiritual warfare in bringing men “to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:3-6). According to him, this struggle for men’s souls could not be won “in the flesh” or with carnal weapons. Instead, it had to be fought in the Spirit and with “mighty” weapons given to us by God. Only then can we pull “down strong holds,” cast “down imaginations,” and demolish false arguments that keep men from “the knowledge of God.”
If our prayers for the lost are to become effectual, it is imperative that we come to understand that winning lost souls is not a simple matter of a well-rehearsed gospel presentation or a well-chosen outreach program for our church. It is a matter of spiritual warfare. Prayer is a “mighty” weapon from God to be wielded by us in bringing men “into captivity…to the obedience of Christ.” Although all prayer might be characterized as spiritual warfare, no prayer is more so than a prayer prayed for the salvation of a lost soul.
“I think there is no greater labor than that of prayer to God. For every time a man wants to pray, his enemies, the demons, want to prevent him, for they know that it is only by turning him from prayer that they can hinder his journey. Whatever good work a man undertakes, if he perseveres in it, he will attain rest. But prayer is warfare to the last breath.” (Abba Agathon – Sayings of the Desert Fathers)