Do you believe in Spiritual Warfare?

Hi. A friend of mine stumbled across your site the other day and told me to check it out and I must say I am very impressed by it. It is very honest and challenging -both to non-Christians and Christians. I think that Christians are often sitting a little too comfortably in their comfort zones, me especially. That's something I'm working on though. I do have a question that I would like you to discuss, though, if that's alright. I was flipping through your book reviews and I came across one on Spiritual Warfare. You said that you agreed with the author that satan likes it when people "come after him and rebuke him". Firstly, I would like to know if you are actually against Spiritual Warfare, or if you just think that there are better things to do with our time. You said that we should just put on the armour of God and defend ourselves or something. Anyway, I have heard a lot about the amazing things that have been happening through Christians involved in Spiritual Warfare, and I have never heard of anyone who knows about it and isn't wierded out by it (which I'm sure you are not) who has said anything against it.

I know that you do not deny the existence of satan or the presence of evil in the world, so why do you think that we shouldn't fight against it? Spiritual warfare does not fight against people but against spirits by God's power, so it is not hurting anyone. It is also not us as humans fighting against the devil, but calling on God to release people (with their consent) and areas from evil presences. If God didn't agree with it, then surely He wouldn't do it. When we ask for God's Will to be done, it really is His Will, not just us getting Him to do things for us, right? As well as that, yes it does put our focus on satan, but as long as it isn't taken off God, I think that it is better than pretending He is not there surely? Anyway, I'm not trying to dispute what you said, I'd just like a little clarification on what you believe on this subject and why. The Bible does say to drive out demons, and I see this as a form of spiritual warfare.

Um, thank you. And sorry that this isn't exactly well thought out and ordered, but i read the article yesterday and don't really remember what it said or all the things I was going to say. Thank you for giving me so much to ponder about!

My response is in Green:

I don't mind you asking the question. I did not go into detail with the book review, but I will here.

I do believe in Spiritual Warfare, I just disagree with the way many people are teaching it these days. Paul tells us that our struggles are not against flesh and blood, but he does not stop there, he tells us what to do about it: (Ephesians 6:12-13 NIV) [12] For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. [13] Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.

Notice that Paul did not tell us to confront Satan or the demons directly, not even in the name of Jesus. What he told us was to lean on Jesus and allow God to help us. Now let me take that thought even further and show you two passages which condemn what happens under the name of Spiritual Warfare in many churches today:

(2 Peter 2:10-12 NIV) [10] This is especially true of those who follow the corrupt desire of the sinful nature and despise authority. Bold and arrogant, these men are not afraid to slander celestial beings; [11] yet even angels, although they are stronger and more powerful, do not bring slanderous accusations against such beings in the presence of the Lord. [12] But these men blaspheme in matters they do not understand. They are like brute beasts, creatures of instinct, born only to be caught and destroyed, and like beasts they too will perish.

(Jude 1:8-10 NIV) [8] In the very same way, these dreamers pollute their own bodies, reject authority and slander celestial beings. [9] But even the archangel Michael, when he was disputing with the devil about the body of Moses, did not dare to bring a slanderous accusation against him, but said, "The Lord rebuke you!" [10] Yet these men speak abusively against whatever they do not understand; and what things they do understand by instinct, like unreasoning animals-these are the very things that destroy them.

Who are these celestial beings that both Peter and Jude are speaking about? It has to be fallen angels. In fact we can be sure of that since Jude goes on to talk about Satan and says that Michael would not even bring a slanderous accusation against him.

If you have read or heard about these people they do all kinds of crazy things in the name of Spiritual Warfare. They demand that the demon tell them his name, and then they "take control" of the demon. They claim this is all done in Jesus' name, but it is them who are being arrogant and going against what Scripture says. I am speaking about the teachers who teach this stuff. There are many well meaning Christ loving Christians who have gotten caught up in this and I am not talking about them. I still think it is wrong, but I can understand that they are just following these false teachers.

You brought up a good point. You said if God did not agree with it, you did not think that He would do it for the people who are claiming this. Well this is a kind of sticky point. For one, some of what is happening is just plain wrong. For example, I have seen people cast out the demon of alcohol, or the demon of anger, etc... Those are not demons, those are works of the flesh and they are sins. You don't cast them out, you confess them before God. Now the Bible tells us that Satan can appear as an angel of light. Meaning that he can appear to be either God or one of God's angels. So why would he not help a person in this situation if it would further his deception? I say he would. So when a person casts out the demon of adultery from someone, yes they may not commit adultery again for a while, but it is not because any demon left them.

This is why I say this kind of stuff is dangerous. The people claim to be doing it in Jesus name, yet they are going against His word. When we see what we think is demonic, we should come after it using Spiritual Warfare, but it should be done in the proper way. The proper way is to take it to our Lord and Savior. Not in His name but to Him. He is with us and all we have to do is pray to Him. Notice that Michael said: the Lord rebuke you. That is a good lesson for us too, let Jesus rebuke Satan on our behalf. Our Spiritual Warfare is fought on our knees. Daniel is a good example of this. When Daniel asked for guidance Gabriel was dispatched immediately with the information, but he was held up by a demon. Daniel continued to pray and Michael was sent to help Gabriel. That is a good example of Spiritual Warfare. We don't know what might have happened if Daniel had stopped praying, but the lesson is that he didn't stop.

To give you a little background on this. It was a pagan belief that if you knew a god's name, then you could have power over him or use his power. In fact you can see this in action in this passage: (Acts 4:5-7 NIV) [5] The next day the rulers, elders and teachers of the law met in Jerusalem. [6] Annas the high priest was there, and so were Caiaphas, John, Alexander and the other men of the high priest's family. [7] They had Peter and John brought before them and began to question them: "By what power or what name did you do this?"

"By what power or what name" See what I mean? We can get into trouble when we run around yelling at demons and try to use Jesus' power by invoking His name. We need not fear demons, if Jesus is in our heart, then they have no control or power over us. That does not mean we can order them around, but we don't need to worry about them either. That is what this passage is all about: (1 John 4:4 NIV) You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.

We can keep our focus on Christ, when we have a problem if we take it directly to Him. Then we won't be doing things which go against God's word and we won't get ourselves into trouble. Let me give you one more passage which shows what I am talking about: (Acts 19:13-16 NIV) [13] Some Jews who went around driving out evil spirits tried to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those who were demon-possessed. They would say, "In the name of Jesus, whom Paul preaches, I command you to come out." [14] Seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, were doing this. [15] One day the evil spirit answered them, "Jesus I know, and I know about Paul, but who are you?" [16] Then the man who had the evil spirit jumped on them and overpowered them all. He gave them such a beating that they ran out of the house naked and bleeding.

Now people will say that these seven sons were not believers that is what the problem is, but I think it is more basic than that, they were trying to use Jesus' name to invoke His power. That is exactly what these false teachers today are doing. If and when they run up against a real demon, I think they might leave without clothes too.

Why do we need to use Jesus' power, when He is right here with us? Why not let Him take over and handle demons? I would encourage you to get some of these people's books or videos and check them out biblically. You will find them on the wrong side of the Scriptures.

I hope that answered your questions. I do believe in Spiritual Warfare, and every Christian is involved in it every time they pray or read God's word, or witness to an unbeliever.

Ralph

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