The necessity for the discipline of Spiritual Warfare needs to be brought back to life. Our awareness and ability to counteract negative influences is now paramount for modern life. Traditionally, seminaries don’t cover much material as to how the pastor or student can deal with spiritual attacks. Do you believe in good and evil? If not, you’ll have a difficult time navigating reality. This is a first of a series covering modern spiritual warfare. I will offer citations and links where appropriate.
Jesus and the apostles described our ministry as warfare.
We do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places (Ephesians 6:12 NKJV).
Mainline protestants should not dismiss the idea of Spiritual Warfare as belonging to the Pentecostals and Charismatics. In many congregations such topics are anathema lest they offend the faithful with images of archaic demonic influence. Such imagery should rather be efficient by focusing primarily on the mental domain of spiritual discipline. When our thoughts and actions consistently align with the will of God, we remain in relative safety. This safety can be illusory when we confront genuine negative forces in life. Too often these types of crises receive dismissal as psychological and the victim is brought to the mental health domain. While psychological causes are certainly a factor, we can’t hesitate to bring prayer to these situations as well. Once physical causes or psychological causes are eschewed, we must consider the possibility of an evil influence.
Spiritual Warfare: A Costly Battle
While “The Kingdom of Heaven as been forcefully advancing, and forceful men lay hold of it” (Matt. 11:12) we are assured of a final victory as Jesus is building his church and the gates of hell cannot stop its forward momentum. Central to our prayers against evil influences we must remember that Jesus, “having disarmed principalities and powers, made a public spectacle of them (Col. 2:15 NKJV). Although the trials will be difficult toward a final victory. As Paul said, “We must through many tribulations enter the Kingdom of God.” (Acts 14:22 NKJV). Every warrior knows that battles result in suffering and pain. Toward victory we must bear in mind that Jesus has given us the spiritual authority for healing the sick, tearing down enemy strongholds and casting out demons. Jesus first proclaimed then demonstrated he was the anointed one by the miracles of healing, casting out demons and raising the dead.
The heart and soul of evangelism is to proclaim the Gospels. This is our first and best defence in arming ourselves for Spiritual Warfare.
The War is Real!
We must first be aware that the war exists. There is a large array of programs in popular television that deal with paranormal topics and content. Is this only because of emotional evocation? Are the TV execs tapping into the fear response to take advantage of an already fearful populace? Covid has certainly changed the psyche of the public but further examination reveals a more sinister source. Many of these paranormal topics have been treated like UFO sightings, ridiculed and dismissed out of hand as rubbish by a materialistic media. The focus and lessons learned in such paranormal encounters are rarely seen in their biblical context. Prayers are offered by “investigators” that many not be Christian or even believe in God. Prayers are treated as spells to ward of evil, a sure way to guarantee they are ineffective.
Wrestling with Dark Angels – Peter Wagner
“In the Kingdom of God “supernatural” and “natural” are not treated as separate realities that we slip in and out of, like entering and leaving the twilight zone. In the Kingdom of God, angelic visitations, dreams, visions, and prophecies are a natural way of life, some of the means God uses to communicate His desires and direction to His people. In contemporary society, Christians frequently screen out the possibility of supernatural interaction with the natural. We refuse, for the most part, even to study or allow for the possibility of supernatural activity in our day.”
C. Peter Wagner and Fredrick Douglas Pennoyer, eds., Wrestling with Dark Angels: Toward a Deeper Understanding of the Supernatural Forces in Spiritual Warfare (Presented at the Academic Symposium on Power Evangelism, Ventura, Calif., U.S.A: Regal Books, 1990)
Openness and constant awareness of the Holy Spirit is paramount to practice Spiritual Warfare. The more often we pray, the stronger our armor becomes. Prayer against the principalities is finally effective when these prayers are in our heart, not as a product of fear or rote recitation.