The Battleground of the Soul (Part 2)

“Blessed are you, Simon … My Father (has revealed it unto you)” (Matt. 16:17; See vs. 13-25). “He [Jesus] … said unto Peter, Get behind Me, Satan” (Matt. 16:23). “Simon … Satan asked to have you … but I made supplication for you” (Luke 22:31-32).

The Ground Of Satan’s Power (a) The World

(b) Uncrucified “Self”

In the second place, there was Peter’s own self-strength, self-confidence. “Lord, with You I am ready to go both to prison and to death.” He later found out how unready, how unprepared, he was for that, but at the time it was a case of self-confidence, and that ground brought his undoing and Satan’s power. The self still alive and dominant instead of dead, put to the Cross, is the ground of Satan’s power.[4] Not until the soul has been denied and laid down is the power of Satan destroyed and spiritual power established in the life of the child and the servant of God. It is a question of the ground–whether it is the world or whether it is the self (another word for the flesh)– that determines how far Satan has power and how far we have spiritual power.[5]

The Need For Persistent Determination [6]

Now, what the Lord says here to Peter is very indicative and, I think, very helpful. “You are a stumbling-block (an offence) unto Me.”

The Lord had fought out this battle, had taken His ground, put both His feet down upon this way of the will of God for Him, namely, by the Cross to the Kingdom; and it was for Him no easy way. It was not just the being crucified and being killed, but being made sin and all that is involved of ultimately suffering the forsaking of God [the Father].[7] It was no easy way, and He had to keep Himself rigidly in that direction, and anything that came along to influence Him otherwise only brought up the new demand for resolution and persistence. Thus it offended Him in the sense that it made it difficult for Him, it made it hard for Him, it was not helping Him. It may have been intended to help, so far as Peter was concerned, not knowing what he was saying, but behind it the Lord saw that it only raised the old issue again, the old battle, and therefore it offended His sense of the will of His Father and stood across His path to make the way more difficult.

I think that does say to us that a position has to be taken inclusively and over many things where the will of God is concerned. We have to come very definitely and positively to such a position, and then realize that from time to time there will be, by one means or another, an effort of the enemy to change our minds, to weaken us in that course, to make other suggestions, to get us to reconsider it in the light of various issues and interests. We shall meet this offending, this stumbling, this hindering thing and have to be very ruthless with it. The way the Lord dealt with Peter was, in a sense, ruthless. Really there was no weakness in His attitude over that. Discerning its true nature, He saw clearly that, if He yielded to this suggestion, then He would go neither to Jerusalem nor to the Cross. It is a question of whether we have settled that such and such is the way of the will of God, and then will this or that arising–in the long run–mean that we never get there, never do God’s will? If so, it has to be handled very ruthlessly and put out of the way and put behind us. The Cross comes to us in many connections and different terms.

Then, if we are really going to come through to the place of spiritual power as did Peter [Acts ch. 2], that ground of the enemy must continually be forsaken and refused. The enemy has to be robbed of that which will destroy us and give him power to destroy us, and we have to be very ruthless with anything that arises to give him that position and defeat God’s intention where we are concerned. This battle of heaven and hell, God and Satan, goes on in our souls, but there is for us this consolation, that we have a High Priest ever living to make intercession.

[“Therefore He is able also to save to the uttermost (completely, perfectly, finally, and for all time and eternity) those who come to God through Him, since He is always living to make petition to God and intercede with Him and intervene for them.” Amp]

We have a great asset in the continual intercession of the Lord Jesus for us.[8] Let us close on that note of encouragement and assurance.

Part 2 of 2

Footnotes and bracketed content added by the editor

[4] The biblical language is to KNOW that the old man (who a person was in Adam as epitomized by his dead, corrupt human spirit) has been crucified with Christ (Rom 6:6). The believer’s spirit is now identified with Christ in His death, burial, resurrection, and ascension (Eph 2:5-7; Col. 3:1-3). Therefore, the believer is to RECKON this by surrender and faith (Rom 6:11; 12:1,2).

[5] The concept of “ground” is mentioned in Eph. 4:27: “…nor give place [ground Gk. “topos”] to the devil.” An area of legal jurisdiction is given to the Enemy whenever the believer actively resists God’s grace and truth (e.g., through supposed self-sufficiency, pride, rebellion, anger, or unforgiveness (2 Cor 3:5; James 4;6; Luke 9:23; Eph 4:26,32; 1 Pet 5:8,9; Cf. the legal aspect of “topos” in Acts 25:16 and Rev. 12:8 ).

[6] The concept of “determination” may cause some to confuse it with self-effort. However, trusting Christ as Life and being zealously cooperating with God (“persistent determination”) are not mutually exclusive (Col. 1:29).

[7] See Luke 9:51; Matt. 27:46; 2 Cor. 5:21

[8] See 1 John 2:1

For the threefold usage of “self” see the GN “Sorting Your Self Out

The author of this article, THEODORE AUSTIN-SPARKS (1888-1971), was a pastor who ministered in England. An archive of his writings is available at

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