C-17°|F2°Spiritual Warfare C-17°|F1°An introduction to a tricky subject matter Spiritual warfare is often a topic of mixed if not dubious reception. It is a subject that is tricky to present, especially to a broad denominational base such as at CB. For most of us, the spiritual arena is a revelation when somehow we get thrust into its reality. For some, it is a pleasant one when we discover God's Kingdom, angels and His Holy Spirit. But there are some of us who have encountered the enemy and it would not have been pleasant. When this happens we often wish spiritual warfare is more openly taught at church. However, there are reasons to practice restraint. Not everyone receives such teaching in the right spirit. Not everyone wants to accept it, many ignore it and some even react to it in counterproductive ways. Yet counterproductive reactions are more often the exception rather than the norm and we shouldn't ignore the needs of the norm for fear of exceptions. Although ample reading material is available for those who seek, few of us receive enough teaching in this area. Left to our own devices, we often pick up the wrong ideas and sometimes get all weird about the subject. I've had many inaccurate ideas myself and I am still learning. I'm doing this to get some of my thoughts and notes on the subject organised, having studied many books over the past five years while being involved in a healing and deliverance ministry under church and pastoral covering. I regard deliverance as an extension of spiritual warfare as they are intertwined on many levels. Both are due to the same adversary. We take what we know about spiritual warfare into deliverance and to maintain (or defend) freedom it is critical we understand spiritual warfare. While deliverance is a vast subject that should be presented on its own, we will only be discussing it under the umbrella of spiritual warfare, a term that will be used here in its widest sense. Being something every Christian faces in our spiritual growth, it is essential we understand spiritual warfare as an aspect of our spiritual walk. None of us can deny individual battles to progress towards Christlikeness. Spiritual warfare may sound fancy but it is mainly engaged in through one principal activity - and that is prayer. Nothing dramatic, just something we hardly do enough of because we usually find it boring. Some concerns to be addressed There are many concerns about presenting this material and for now, I hope we can recognise some of the pitfalls and counterproductive reactions towards this topic and hopefully avoid them. My primary concern is that we tend to overact to spiritual warfare. On the one hand we may overemphasise the war. We can get all gung-ho about being warriors in battle. Some make it a personal crusade to rally stomping on satan. Or on the other hand, we may overemphasise the enemy. Either we think there is a demon behind every bush or we may develop an unfounded fear of the unseen. Overemphasising the "war" or "the enemy" is a bad testimony. Either way, we give the wrong message about our faith - and this may be exactly what the enemy wants. We may also have had our views about the whole subject matter negatively coloured. There are itinerant evangelists who have made deliverance into a show complete with sensational theatrics and screaming individuals. I've watched one guy on television stomping and shouting at an audience. He glittered in a white jacket decorated with sprawling rhinestone patterns - front and back! And if I'm not mistaken he spoke with a drawl. Maybe he fancied himself as a "deliverance cowboy" or perhaps "Elvis the Exorcist"? I don't know, but these sorts of antics do not give the ministry a positive testimony. If you have seen this sort of performances and think it is nuts, I totally agree. I hope we can leave behind the ridiculous theatrics that has undermined serious reality and start afresh about what spiritual warfare entails. Material on this topic may also fuel those who have an unhealthy interest in the demonic; and if we do, I hope we will redirect our focus towards Jesus. We should also urge caution towards the enemy. Not because we should fear the enemy but simply because we need to recognise that the enemy is an ancient foe we must not underestimate. Even the Archangel Michael would not rebuke satan directly (Jude 9). Throughout the Bible, we are instructed about the enemy so we won't be caught off guard. Unless we take notice of what we are being told we may remain ignorant and risk falling under the enemy's deception or bondage (Hosea 4:6; 2 Corinthians 2:11; Ephesians 6:11). A false sense of security would make us highly susceptible to deception and that is why we need to remain vigilant (1 Peter 5:8). Some of us have the mistaken notion that what we don't bother with won't bother us. We may think that spiritual attacks don't happen to Christians. But being Christian or close to God even, does not exempt us from being sifted by the enemy. Job was righteous and still suffered. Peter was right by Jesus' side when Jesus had to rebuke him for being an unwitting agent of the enemy (Mark 8:31-33). It is not impossible for a Christian to be tempted or influenced by the enemy. A Christian can be stumbled and many of us fall under such deep bondage to an area of sin that the sin remains habitual and seemingly impossible to overcome. It is also possible for a Christian to become so deceived that he or she becomes dominated by the lies of the enemy. If we were immune to the wiles of the enemy there would be no need for the various Biblical exhortations to not be ignorant of the enemy's devices and to be vigilant. Having said this, we also need to urge balance and resist assuming a spiritual influence behind every negative circumstance. Our flesh can also be responsible and we cannot absolve ourselves from sinful choices by blaming the devil. We also need to caution against rushing into any direct confrontations against the enemy. Some rush into battles that don't concern them. We should not engage the enemy by praying against other gods, binding temples and destroying idols without first understanding what the Lord wants us to do. Without an appreciation of holiness, covering and common sense precautions, among other things, we can be vulnerable to backlash. This applies also when well meaning Christians try to minister deliverance to their friends. Like the Sons of Sceva (Acts 19), we may wield empty religious title and bungling like they did, we can get battered although perhaps not in quite as dramatic circumstances. The potential harm is not only constrained to the person attempting to minister but also to the person we try to minister to. It is of utmost importance that we respect, love and protect the person needing and receiving ministry. Unless we know what we are doing, we may actually cause more harm than good. On the other extreme many of us choose to reject or somehow limit the existence of the spiritual realm. Either we think the spiritual realm is strictly fantasy; or, for some reason we believe there are no contrary spirits where we are at. Yet if we comb through the Bible we find so much about spiritual realities that it would be contrary to the Word to deny the spiritual realm. It is about appropriating Christlikeness While we can present spiritual warfare as a fight against evil, I prefer to begin from the perspective that spiritual warfare is really about a fight to be good and about getting closer to God. Spiritual warfare should not glorify the enemy. It ought to be about appropriating the character of Christ for ourselves and helping others so they may also be free from hindrances to pursue the same. It has always been God's intention for us to be like His son. As it was in The Beginning, we were made in His image and it is still His desire and purpose for us to be made into the likeness of Jesus. Our focus should be kept on Jesus.
I agree with much you have written here. It is true that it's easy to get so bound up in spiritual warfare, that before you know it, you start blaming satan for everything, or how you put it, him hiding behind every bush! We have to take responsiblity for our own actions and understand that our actions have reactions.
I also like how you pointed out that even Michael did not rebuke satan on his own authority, he understood that satan is powerful.
Many good points, thanks!
As you say, dear brother, this is one very difficult subject to get into without opening cans of worms on all fronts. Yet, it is very obvious in the New Testament that this is a subject we must be aware of, knowledgeable of and willing to not be afraid regarding.
Much of the doctrine on this subject appears in Paul's very deep epistles such as Ephesians chapter six. This is not a coincidence. I believe the deeper one gets into the whole spectrum of the Christian walk, life and service the more this arena comes into play. Whereas a new Christian doesn't need specific instructions on dealing with spiritual attacks so much as information on what Jesus did for us; a mature Christian who is faithfully serving others MUST receive instructions on this subject or the enemy will destroy their ministry.
Thank you for an excellent introduction to this field. I consider you the foremost authority on this subject we have at this site. I know you have studied this field inside and out and you have tons of experiential knowledge to go with what you have read. I look forward to further sharing and I pray readers are neither afraid of learning or feel it not necessary for spiritual growth.
Good start and study doulos..thanks for sharing. Looking forward to learning moreand your next instalment... I am sure as I read/learn more it will remind me of the city-wide deliverance miracle rallies in the 1960s when many from the regions around came to Singapore and were delivered.. how we need godly power for more of such deliverance from sickness, addictions, possession and oppression in these evil days.
Great post. I never completely understood spiritual warfare, until i ended up in the middle of it. Being blind to the spiritual realm is indeed very dangerous, and i found myself begging for God to save me from all of the demonic spirits that were living in my home. I would try to tell the person about themselves in the natural, but they couldnt understand what i was talking about and denied their actions to the death. Thats when i began to realize that spirits were moving on these people, and that sometimes they transferred the spirits to me! My mom explained it to me perfectly, how people cant see whats going on because they refuse to acknowledge the spirit realm, and this gives free reign for any spirit to jump on them and manifest works through the person.
I only wanted to add that I too am looking forward to reading more of what you write on this very important subject. Praying that God inspires and directs your writing so that we may all grow stronger in Christ.
Thank you everyone for your kind comments and encouragement. It is much, much appreciated. I do know that B2Y and many others here are highly qualified regarding this subject and much more experienced than I am. It gives me a good measure of comfort to know that there are many Spirit-filled elders and scholars here to audit anything I write and correct me if I am wrong. I pray to share responsibly and stay under His cover and guidance always as I give my level best to present as much as I can in a balanced and Biblical manner.
@Blackrose: The one I saw appeared in a documentary on either National Geographic or Discovery and I remember wondering why they had to get some guy like that on film; then I realised that the serious ministers wouldn't want that sort of publicity!
This has got to be the best blog that I have read on the subject of Spiritual Warfare thus far! You have put a lot in perspective regarding it. Thank you so much for sharing this! For me, I have always felt that it isn't talked much about within the church but I do completely understand on what you are saying on practicing restraint. I really agree with you on this because in truth, (not to contradict myself) I am realizing this and been for some time now. I don't claim to be an expert on Spiritual Warfare even though I do talk openly about it. There are many things that I don't understand and am still learning as I walk with Christ. In fact, to be honest, a lot of times I had to literally recant on a lot of my ideals of leaning on my own understanding about it as well.
Yes, it is essential that we understand Spiritual Warfare as an aspect of our spiritual walk. And I also believe very much that Christians need to fully understand this. You are also right; we are not exempt just because we are followers of Christ. I also believe that this is where some Christians go wrong. No where in the scriptures does it say that everything will be "peaches & cream." The Apostle Peter warns us that Satan is in constant search for whom he can attack (I Peter 5:8) and Paul gives us certain instruction on defending against such demonic attacks (Ephesians 6: 10-18). Jesus wants us to take up our "cross" and follow Him. Also, Jesus suffered for us and that we should follow in His steps (I Peter 2:21). There is no way of getting around it; we are to suffer like Christ. We are to endure and can because we are assured that He has conquered all things.
I personally, have witnessed quite a few times where people would be "gung-ho" about it to only fall flat on their behinds so-to-speak thus, fall out of the faith. I have done this myself - I admit. I have also seen the so-called "rally" to stomp on Satan. Personally, I believe that the devil laughs at people like that. I really do! And yes, I totally agree with you, we should urge caution towards the enemy - not to fear him but to recognize him. And I have said this over and over, myself, the enemy should not be underestimated. I also agree with wehavewon's comment, the spiritual realm is real and it does exist. It definitely is not a place for those to toy with if they have no understanding of it whatsoever! My advice, consult your Pastor. I know from first hand experience in trying to tackle this on your own and with your own understanding! But all and all, I really enjoyed your blog and Praise God for it!!!!!!! Thank you Doulos for sharing this with everyone. God Bless!!