Generally speaking, before a believer has experienced the baptism of the Holy Spirit, he is like the servant of Elisha, who was very unclear about the realities in the spiritual realm (2 Kings 6:15-17). Although he may have received the teachings of the Bible and some instructions, he only understands them according to his mind and has no revelation in his spirit. The intuition in his spirit becomes quite keen only after he has experienced the baptism of the Holy Spirit. In his spirit, a whole spiritual world will be opened up before him. When a believer passes through the baptism of the Holy Spirit, he comes in contact with God’s supernatural power and touches a personal God.
At this point real spiritual warfare begins. First, the power of darkness will disguise itself as an angel of light and imitate the person and work of the Holy Spirit. Second, the intuition in the spirit will become truly aware of the existence of the spiritual realm and will know the reality of Satan and the evil spirits. The apostles did not receive the expounding of the Scripture by the Lord until after Golgotha. They saw the reality of the spiritual realm only after Pentecost. The baptism of the Spirit is the beginning of spiritual warfare.
After a believer has experienced the baptism of the Holy Spirit and comes in contact with a personal God, after his spirit is released and freed, and he realizes the reality of matters in the spiritual realm, he will engage Satan in warfare if he has the knowledge. (We should remember that although a spiritual man has knowledge, his knowledge does not come all at once, but is acquired through many testings.) Only a spiritual man knows the reality of the spiritual enemy, and only he will fight with such an enemy (Eph. 6:12). This warfare is not with fleshly weapons (2 Cor. 10:3-4). Since the warfare is spiritual, the weapons must also be spiritual. Hence, this kind of warfare is a warfare between man’s spirit and the enemy’s spirit. This is the warfare of spirit with spirit.
If a believer has not reached this spiritual state, he will neither understand nor be able to engage in such a warfare in the spirit. He understands the way to "wrestle" with the enemy with his spirit only when the Holy Spirit strengthens the power of his spirit. Believers see the reality of Satan and his kingdom and then know how to withstand and attack him with their spirit only when they become spiritual.
There are many reasons for such warfare. The greatest reason is the enemy’s attack and obstruction. Satan always applies his tactics to assault spiritual believers. Sometimes he assaults the emotion. At other times he assaults the body. There are also many obstacles that he places in the believers’ work and environment. Another reason for spiritual warfare is to fight for God. Satan has countless works in this world and has designed countless schemes in the air. His works and schemes are all for the purpose of opposing God. When we are for God, we fight against Satan with our spiritual strength, destroy his schemes, and work with the words of our prayer. Although at times we do not know what he is scheming or doing, we fight against him anyway because he is always our enemy.
In addition to the above reasons, another reason for fighting with Satan is to be delivered from his deceptions and to deliver those who are deceived by him (see Section Eight, Chapter Three and Section Nine, Chapter Four). Although believers become keen in their spirit’s intuition when they experience the baptism of the Holy Spirit, this is not sufficient to protect them from the wiles of the enemy. They can still be deceived. After one has spiritual feelings, he still needs spiritual knowledge. If he does not understand the leading of the spirit and remains in a passive position, he will become a prisoner of the enemy. At this time, believers very easily fall into the error of ignoring the leading in their spirit and following irrational feelings or experiences, thinking that these are from God. After a believer has been baptized in the Holy Spirit, he enters into a supernatural realm. If he does not realize his own weakness and that he is no match for supernatural things, he will be deceived.
A believer’s spirit can be affected by two sources: (1) the Holy Spirit and (2) evil spirits. If a believer thinks that his spirit can only be directed by the Holy Spirit and not be affected by evil spirits, he is very wrong. A believer should understand that besides the Spirit from God, there is also "the spirit of the world" (1 Cor. 2:12). This is the spiritual enemy mentioned in Ephesians 6:12. Unless a believer closes his spirit to reject them, evil spirits will take hold of his spirit through deceptions, disguises, and counterfeits.
When a believer is fully spiritual, he will be affected by the supernatural world. At this time, it is very important for him to know the difference between "spiritual" and "supernatural." Confusing these two things has led many believers into Satan’s deceptions. Spiritual experiences are experiences that originate from the believers’ spirit; supernatural experiences do not necessarily come from man’s spirit. Sometimes they are felt in the senses of the body, and sometimes they are found in the realm of the soul. Believers should never take supernatural experiences as spiritual experiences. They should study their experiences and find out if these experiences come from the outward senses or the spirit within. Things that come from outside may be supernatural, but they are not spiritual.
Believers should never accept anything supernatural without first questioning it. Besides God, Satan can also perform supernatural things. Whatever feeling, appearance, or declaration there may be, a believer has to study the source. One must practice the teaching of 1 John 4:1. The counterfeiting efforts of Satan are often beyond the believers’ expectation. If a believer is willing to humble himself and acknowledge the possibility of being deceived, he will save himself from many deceptions. Because of these deceptions, spiritual warfare becomes unavoidable. In spiritual warfare if believers do not exercise their spirit to advance in attack, the enemy will come to them and suppress their spiritual power. Spiritual warfare is a battle between the believers’ spirit and the evil spirits of the enemy. If a believer is under deception, his warfare is a battle for freedom. If a believer is free already, his warfare is a battle for the deliverance of others, for guarding himself and others against the enemy’s attacks, and for taking an aggressive stand to oppose all of Satan’s plans and works.
(Collected Works of Watchman Nee, The (Set 1) Vol. 13: The Spiritual Man (2), Chapter 4, by Watchman Nee)