A foothold is a secure, strategic position from which one can advance. In World War II, Allied forces invaded Normandy, France, and established a beachhead—a foothold—behind enemy lines. That foothold allowed the Allies to create a base of operations and proved to be the springboard to victory in Europe. Absent this foothold in Normandy, the Allied forces were at a distinct disadvantage, and victory would have been much more difficult to realize. The Bible speaks of footholds in spiritual terms.
In his distress, the psalmist cried out to God for salvation. His situation was dire: “I sink in the miry depths, where there is no foothold. I have come into the deep waters; the floods engulf me” (Psalm 69:2). The psalmist felt as if he could not find any firm ground on which to stand, and he was in danger of being swept away by overwhelming trouble. He needed divine intervention, and fast.
At the moment of conversion, Christians are enlisted in a spiritual army and involved in a spiritual war as they immediately become an enemy of Satan (see Ephesians 6:10–12). The military symbolism utilized by Paul to describe our spiritual armor includes footwear: we are to have our “feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace” (verse 15). We must be sure our feet do not slip. It’s important that we maintain the foothold we have and not lose ground.
In giving instructions about how to live the Christian life, Paul warned against giving the devil a foothold: “Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold” (Ephesians 4:26–27). Satan is looking to establish a strategic position in the life of a believer. It may be through something as simple as holding on to anger. Grudges, bitterness, and the like give Satan a foothold in our lives, and he will have an easier time attacking us in other areas.
Once Satan establishes a foothold, he always looks to make further advances. He will continue to spread his lies and multiply temptations; ultimately, his foothold may become a stronghold. However, through the grace of God, the Christian has spiritual armor, and through the power of God, he or she can resist the devil (see James 4:7).
Second Corinthians 10:4 states, “The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.”
Fighting back against Satan begins with submitting to God (James 4:7) and requires drawing near to God (James 4:8). It involves using God’s Word, the sword of the Spirit (Ephesians 6:17), and praying “in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests” (Ephesians 6:18). It is when the Christian gives God everything and refuses to give Satan an inch that he finds safety and security.
Satan will try to defeat the Christian by first attempting to establish a foothold in his or her life. Continued sin and unrepentance can open the door to Satan and allow him a foothold. That can be prevented as we rely on God and keep the right priorities: “No one serving as a soldier gets entangled in civilian affairs, but rather tries to please his commanding officer” (2 Timothy 2:4). Jesus is our commander. He not only solved our sin problem, but He also gives us power through the Holy Spirit (2 Timothy 1:7).