and to overcome them ..."
We will lose many battles. But, remember ... the war has been won. It was won by Jesus Christ at the cross. The Bible even says that if Satan had known before the cross what he knows now, he would have actually tried to prevent Christ's death. But God did not allow him to have that knowledge. I personally believe that's the reason the time of the Rapture is not known. God doesn't want Satan to have that information.
I am beginning to understand the missionary who had been beaten and imprisoned many times. He said that in his opinion the spiritual battles are far more difficult than the physical ones.
Here are some examples of Satan's forces overcoming God's forces:
* The culture of the U.S. has lost its Christian influence.
* Bible reading banned in schools
* Legalization of abortion
* The Church has not only been infiltrated, but it can truly be said that it has been overcome (for the most part).
* The public schools have become evil places, and it is deliberately well hidden from the parents. I wouldn't place a child of mine in a public school, no matter what.
* The workplace is seeing continual battles won by dishonest people with agendas.
* The greed and fraud that has ruined our financial system is a battle that was won by Satan.
* The rotten state of our government
As you can see, these spiritual battles are taking place in the physical realm. This has been going on since the Garden of Eden, but now it has entered its fiercest stage in the history of man. It's hard for me to understand why people aren't aware of this. When they read about spiritual warfare in the Bible, do they think we are going to fly up into the atmosphere to fight? Where else would these battles take place than here on earth, for heaven's sake (literally, if you're a Christian!)?
And then there are other battles lost that may be a part of a spiritual battle:
* The loss of jobs by committed Christians, especially tithers
* The destruction of income sources, and the rise of expenses, by elderly (or any) Christians
* Physical illnesses can be attacks of Satan's forces
* Difficulties in raising grandchildren
* Problems in caring for elderly or ill parents (or disabled children)
* Family arguments
* Denial that Satan and hell exist, blinding of the eyes of Christians to spiritual battles
So, my advice to Christians is to open your eyes and recognize that we are heavily involved in spiritual battles (unless you've already been gagged and bound), and recognize that we will lose many of them. That's simply how warfare goes.
There is a huge price to pay if you are not prepared for spiritual warfare. In order to pick yourself up and keep on going, your faith must survive and be strengthened after each skirmish. Otherwise you will personally be defeated. You cannot allow your faith to depend on the circumstances. God is 100% in control, no matter what happens to you. He has his reasons for allowing it, and it is for your benefit.
Who does Satan target first? The scriptures, to the best of my knowledge, do not directly address this question, but here is my own belief. I think that, in general, he primarily focuses on the easy targets first, and on those who can impact large organizations such as seminaries, churches, schools, etc; in other words, he wants the biggest bang for the buck. I believe he does go after Christians with strong faith for reasons we will never know, but I think he also skips over them sometimes, until they are in a more vulnerable position. Otherwise, they're too much trouble. Even with Job, the Lord Himself drew Job to Satan's attention. Apparently Satan hadn't paid a lot of attention to him before that. None of us is ever exempt. The satanic forces have their board meetings just as the heavenly councils meet. We are not privy to that information.
One thing I know. From the writings of the 'dark side,' they absolutely hate Christians who spend time on their knees, praying. Why is this so? Because they know that the "effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much." James 5:16-17.
Prayer changes things. Satan and his forces know that better than many Christians.