Spiritual Warfare

On Misplaced Militance

When the biblical fundamentalist movement was in its heyday, evangelicals often complained that the movement was afflicted with a misplaced militance. It seemed to be at war with fellow believers. Today, some of the same evangelicals are caught up in a misplaced militance of their own.

They’re constantly emphasizing battle against American culture and government.

It’s not entirely an emphasis problem, but mostly. Much of what’s trending in our culture is a continued departure from our Christianity-influenced roots. Riding that wave, some of what’s trending in government is also increasingly hostile toward a traditional, Christian way of life—as well as hostile toward certain freedoms.

If your focus is narrow, the situation looks worse than it really is. But let’s stipulate that some bad things are happening in society and government, and we should try to slow or reverse these problems—in ways that don’t undermine the rule of law or work against our higher priorities as Christians.

And that’s the problem. Overemphasizing a lower priority always sucks time, energy, and passion from higher priorities.

Against this emphasis problem, let’s consider a simple question:

When we look at “militant” language in the New Testament, what do we see identified as the target(s) of our struggle?

To hear some talk, you would think “the world” would be in the spiritual crosshairs everywhere in the NT. But that’s not what we find.

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Want to defeat evil? Put down the swords and pick up the tools

"David’s story feeds into Jesus’ proverb: 'all who take the sword will perish by the sword' (Matthew 26:31). Jesus was telling Peter who began fighting to defend him from being taken to the cross. It was a time when lots of people thought it was right to use violence to fight for independence." - Mark Horne

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Are Conservative Christians at War With the Left? (Part 2)

Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. (ESV, 1 Tim 6:12)

The Bible frequently describes Christian living as a war. It also calls us to “stand” under attack (Eph 6:10-19). But does it call us to defend our liberties, oppose cultural change, or save our nation from decline?

Before we can think biblically about these issues, we have to get our fighting priorities straight. Everything else we fight for or against must be informed and shaped by the ages-old war at the core of the Christian way of life.

Where is this fight fought?

In a previous post, we saw that for each of us, the war begins with self, every hour of every day.

But it doesn’t end there.

2. It extends beyond “me” to “us”: family and church.

If we scan the table of contents of our Bibles and note all the books written to tell unbelievers how they ought to behave, how many are there? Scripture overwhelmingly focuses on teaching God’s people what they should believe, desire, and do.

The pattern is doubly clear in the epistles, where we find most of what we know about church life and Christian living. That should tell us something about what daily problems should top our list of concerns.

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Are Conservative Christians at War With the Left? (Part 1)

By all indications, conservative Christians have strife and conflict on their minds these days. But do we understand what sort of war we’re in, who the enemy is, and how we’re supposed to fight?

I’d love to do some man-on-the street interviews at a conservative evangelical event and ask, “Who or what are Christians at war with?” Answers would probably include “the world,” and “the devil.” Someone might quip, “one another!”

I suspect many would say “the Left,” and many who said “the world” would have the Left in mind.

This is a serious problem! Christians need to be lovingly confronted with the biblical truth about our place in this world and the nature of our conflict with the cultures we find ourselves in. Those involved in preaching and teaching ministries are in an especially vital position to do that.

A passage in the 1662 Book of Common Prayer aptly summarizes the war Christians are really in. It’s a much older war than political parties, elections, corporations or “mandates.”

LORD, we beseech thee, grant thy people grace to with stand the temptations of the world, the flesh, and the devil; and with pure hearts and minds to follow thee the only God, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Though the three-part formula of the world, the flesh and the devil can be assembled from many portions of Scripture, Ephesians 2:1-3 has all three.

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David French on American Pentecostalism, spiritual warfare, Paula White, and “Satanic Pregnancies”

"Think of spiritual warfare existing on a spectrum, with folks at the more moderate end praying, for example, that the “demonic spirit of addiction” release their son or daughter and people at a more radical edge developing an entire battle plan against malign spirits who torment specific parts of the world from the demonic realm. White joins many other believers on that more radical edge." - The French Press

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A Biblical Perspective on Demons and Deliverance Ministry

“Deliverance ministry” is enjoying increasing popularity in the church. Don Dickerman is a notable advocate, and teaches a “deliverance process.” For Dickerman, the basic thrust is as follows: Salvation is a first step to being free, but many Christians are oppressed by demons in their bodies, wills, minds, etc., resulting in ailments of all kinds. The demons don’t get into the spirit, Dickerman says, because the Holy Spirit indwells the spirit. But while Dickerman insists a believer cannot be demon possessed, he does assert that believers can have demons in their soul, by appealing to certain legal rights to get in. These rights can come by unforgiveness, generational curses, secret society oaths or pledges, childhood traumas, and anxieties. If doors are opened to allow demons in, in they will come. Those same rights can be revoked, Dickerman asserts, but they must be handled by closing the legal-rights demonic doorways, and by binding and casting out the demons themselves.

The prescribed solution for demonic oppression is not counseling nor medication, but rather is “deliverance,” which includes intercessory prayer and binding and casting out demons, and which can allow Christians to be free from demons who lay claim to the Christian’s body, will, mind, or soul. The process works like this: the believer must confess the doorways, have a genuine desire to close the doorways, and the deliverance minister will cast out the demons. Dickerman speaks of a “courtroom of deliverance” in which he represents the oppressed believer and prosecutes the demon(s) before God. He leads the oppressed in a prayer of confession and repentance. Then he binds demons, commanding them in the name of Jesus to depart to the abyss after having fixed what they damaged in the oppressed person.

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Demon Fight'n - Part 3: The Weapon and the Battle

Read Parts 1 and 2

Continuing the series on demon-battling, we consider the believer’s divine weapon.

As stated earlier, the battle against Satan is primarily a defensive one,1 yet there is an avenue for the Christian to attack. However, as Chuck Lowe cautions, “There is a battle to be fought, but our role is neither to win some spectacular victory, nor even to launch an all-out offensive. Our function is primarily, if not exclusively, defensive.”2

Paul exhorts the Ephesians, who have put on their armor, to take up “the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (Eph. 6:17). These last two instruments of war constitute the final piece of the warriors equipment (i.e. the helm) and the offensive weapon. The sword spoken of here is a short sword, much like a dagger which was used to strike hard and fast at close range.3 The picture Paul paints is one where the battle is fought at close range with viciousness.

However, the battle is not ours to fight. Paul informs the saints of two offensive plans of attack. In both plans, God is the primary actor in the battle. First, they attack with the sword, which is God’s word and contains all his promises. Second, they attack by praying at all times in the Spirit. As Christians, we have the impenetrable armor of God and divine weapons of war.

This whole passage sounds off on a triumphal note. There is no hint that the believer who has put on the new man (Eph. 4:24) and is controlled by God’s spirit (Eph. 5:18) has to be anxious about Satan or demons controlling, or in someway taking them over.

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