May 30, 2008
I've had several people email me, asking my opinion on spiritual warfare. Not everyone is familiar with this expression, but if you've attended a Charismatic denomination for any amount of time, this is a household term.
I grew up in the Nazarene Church as a child. They didn't believe in stuff like the gifts of the Spirit and speaking in tongues. Very little was ever said about Spiritual Warfare. Other than an occasional mention of the Devil and his crafty schemes, I don't recall a single sermon where the Pastor talked about actually going to battle with the devil and his demons.
Years later, I started attending a Pentecostal Church. It was a whole new world. There was a lingo there that I had never encountered in my Nazarene life. It was like going to a foreign country and having to learn an entirely different language from scratch. It was no longer about a Devil and a few demons. These people had names and occupations for each demon. Their Devil was as omnipresent as God Himself and every bit as big. Their prayers were almost always a combination of talking to God and Satan at the same time. They would ask God to do something and then they'd stop and start talking to Satan, and they'd tell him to keep his hands off what God was doing. Almost every prayer went that way. It always amazed me to listen to the audiences' reaction to the prayer. When the person praying was talking to God, everyone "amened" and said stuff like, "Yes Lord, yes Lord," but the moment the person started talking to the Devil, the crowed would start screaming and clapping their hands. The sound level would increase by almost three times the level the moment Satan was "confronted." It was clear to me then, that the idea of battling and confronting the Devil provided these people with mountains of excitement and adventure.
The things they would say to Satan during their prayers to God were pretty much the same every time. They would bind him, rebuke him and command him to leave the building. They'd put a hedge of protection around everyone in the sanctuary and plead the blood of Jesus on themselves. They would command the Devil to release his grip on the people and then they'd tell him he wasn't allowed to hold people back from coming forward during the altar call. Sometimes the guy praying might even run through a list of specific demons along with their occupations and bind each one of them. The demon of alcoholism, the demon of drug addiction, poverty, unbelief, witchcraft and the occult demons were all bound and told to leave. They even prayed the demons away from the video equipment and the sound system. By the time they were finished praying, I felt like I had met the whole family.
To a guy like me who had never seen that stuff, I was filled with a mixture of simultaneous fear and excitement. It didn't take long until I started to think like them. Before I knew it, my personal prayer life was dominated with confronting demons and binding Satan. The Devil was on my mind 24 hours a day. I saw a demon around every corner and under every bush. Every single sin I struggled with had its own personal demon attached to it that I had to confront and cast out before I could find freedom. After a few years of this, it became emotionally exhausting. I felt like I was going crazy. It became more and more difficult to think straight and normal thoughts. This mentality eventually dominated my thoughts and speech in everyday activities. Even my dreams were affected by my fear of Satan's attacks.
I found that I could no longer see things as they were. If I had a lustful thought, I couldn't just accept that I had a lustful thought. I envisioned a demon of lust, crouched on my shoulder whispering that thought into my ear. I imagined that there was a conspiracy in hell to get me to think lustful thoughts and because of something my great-grandfather possibly participated in, they had legal rights to torment and seduce my mind. I found myself going through my house and throwing away CDs, magazines, movies and any other little trinkets that might be linked to the occult and have demons attached to them that could cause me to think lustfully. When I was alone, I would speak aloud and bind the demon of lust, and plead the blood of Jesus over myself. I would anoint the windows and doors to my apartment before I went to sleep. I even smeared a cross on my forehead with olive oil in an effort to protect my mind from them when I was dreaming.
For several years, I honestly believe that I had gone certifiably insane. I didn't see a psychologist during that time, but if I had, I'm certain that he would have put me on medication. At one point, I realized that even when I was in the darkest and most sinful point in my life before I became a Christian, I was still happier and more in control of my mind than I was after I got saved. If it wasn't for me getting to go to heaven when I died, I would have felt that I was better being an atheist. My religion had stripped me of my sanity and I knew it.
I've watched this same pattern of religious insanity play out in Christians across the world, and I've come to the conclusion that we need to re-think some of our teachings about spiritual warfare. They've caused us to view the world through demon-tainted sunglasses. Rather than see hurting people, we see possessed people. Rather than a poor side of town, we see a spiritual stronghold of poverty hosted and orchestrated by a politically-organized legion of demons. Rather than a lost person struggling for acceptance and validity, we see a "Jezebel spirit" attacking God's Church. Rather than listening to questions and contending with differences of opinion, we see a spirit of witchcraft and rebellion. Even physical sickness and ailments were seen as besetting sins and generational curses, making it impossible to acknowledge the person in front of us.
I've watched self-proclaimed "Intercessors" drift further and further into an imaginary world that I call "la-la land" until there was almost no hope of recovering a sense of normalcy to their lives. I've noticed that the tone of Christian prayers has gone from loving and simple to belligerent and complex. Sadly, this spiritual warfare language or "lingo" has become so detailed and complex that it has forever separated many Christians from having any authentic communication with normal people of the world.
I marvel at 90% of the things I hear Christians say in reference to spiritual warfare because I find it nowhere in Scripture. It seems that it's the result of an interpretation of an interpretation of an interpretation of something someone said about an interpretation of a verse that was wrongfully interpreted. Before we know it, we are walking and talking about stuff that has absolutely nothing to do with anything real and true. I think perhaps this happens because for the most part, we have become truly bored with the simplicity of the Gospel. We're not happy living our lives in this world, so we create excitement and adventure in our theology in an effort to spice things up.
Imagine hiring a thousand people to run a lemonade stand. It only takes one or two to do the job, but what if a thousand people were given this task? One guy would take the money, one guy would pour the lemonade, and 998 people would sit around creating policies on how many cups would be stacked in each pile, how many inches from the edge of the table each stack would lay. They would decipher how far the spout of the pitcher would bend, how thick the handle on the pitcher would be and whether it would be made of plastic or glass. They would be in charge of what kind of table covering would be used, paper, plastic, vinyl or cloth, and how high the chairs behind the table would stand from the ground. Methods of pouring the lemonade would be debated. Should the pitcher be held in the right hand or the left, should the pinky be extended or folded in? Each individual ice cube would be examined for firmness and shape and all lemonade must be subject to a microscopic pulp count before hitting the public.
I believe that out of sheer boredom and a loss of what else to do inside the four walls of the institutional Church, people have created intricately-detailed teachings on stuff like generational curses, deliverance and spiritual warfare. The problem with Christianity is that it's just too simple. It takes about 30 minutes to explain the entire plan of salvation. After that, it might take another 15 to 20 minutes to be baptized. Beyond these two things, there's not a whole lot of other stuff that would keep an entire staff of clergy busy for 40 hours a week, 52 weeks a year. If you want the people's money and you need their faithful attendance, something new must be presented every Sunday morning. Something exciting and enticing must be taught, in order to draw a crowd to build a Church in today's generation. Christianity was never supposed to be a religion. The Freedom that Paul talks about all throughout the New Testament is freedom from religion. The moment we make it a religion, we inevitably create a lemonade stand and before we know it, we start coming up with a thousand different things that just don't make sense or matter.
So we tell people that they have the authority to "bind demons" in Jesus' Name. We're not really sure what that means. Silly questions and details, such as, how long do they stay bound, what are they bound with, are cleverly left out. Annoying questions like why doesn't it work, are shrewdly deflected through the use of spiritual peer pressure. It keeps the people busy and gives them a sense of power and comfort, all at the same time. Never mind the fact that nowhere in the Bible does it say that we can do such things, or that Jesus, John, Jude, James, Peter, Paul and Mary never once bound a single demon in their lifetime. We just came up with the idea because someone else had the job of collecting the money and pouring the lemonade.
I think the idea that we are supposed to "confront the Devil" is both ridiculous and destructive. I believe that for many of us, it's a way to toss off personal responsibility and point the finger at something invisible as being the culprit. I think it's much more productive to abandon "spiritual warfare" and take up the practice of "get your act together." The Bible says that "Each one is tempted when by his own evil desire he is dragged away and enticed." Why not take our eyes off Satan and put them on ourselves? All that wasted energy in confronting the Devil could have been used to control our own evil desires. I'm not sure where in the Bible we were ever told to "confront the Devil" in the first place. Standing your ground and picking a fight are two very different things.
I have found that people who practice and believe in spiritual warfare are almost always caught in a world of doom and gloom. Their lives seem to spiral downward into a pit of depression and oppression. You can't spend time focusing on the dark side and expect to live your life with any degree of freedom and happiness.
Do I believe in spiritual warfare?
The simple answer is NO. Not the way we see it today. Live your life loving people and loving God. If you do this, and nothing else, you will have everything you need to be a happy, well-adjusted and successful Christian. The term, "Spiritual warfare" isn't even in the Bible. I have found that a loving person can cause more damage to hell than 50 "Prayer warriors," which, by the way, is also a term that is found nowhere in Scripture. The very fact that those two words have been linked together in modern-day Christianity is significant and reveals how upside-down and spiritually-perverted our thinking has become.
Don't worry about "generational curses" (another un-biblical term) because you don't have one. The Bible says that the day will come when no longer will the people say, "The fathers eat sour grapes and it sets the children's teeth on edge." Each man will answer for his own sins. That day is NOW! I don't care if your great-grandmother was a hooker and your mama's a witch; you are not cursed! Don't believe a word of it. If you've been told that heart disease and diabetes are generational curses that have been passed down to you, you have been lied to. You wanna know what IS passed down from generation to generation? Recipes! Don't look any further than that. Anything else is just a plot to put you under fear.
Stop walking around "pleading the blood" of Jesus on yourself (another teaching not found in the Bible). The day you asked Christ into your heart, His blood washed away ALL of your sins. The sins you committed in the past and the sins you'll commit in the future. They're all gone. You don't have to plead the blood because you're not on trial! It is finished. You're innocent.
When a group of Christian friends are screaming and yelling at the Devil, have no part of it! In fact, don't even mention him. Don't request prayer from your friends because you feel "Satan is attacking you." The Devil has been defeated. He can't hurt you. Don't talk about him and don't talk to him. While I was in the institution of Church I seriously considered raising my children Catholic. My Church friends would almost have a heart attack when I told them this because they said that Catholics talk to Mary. I could raise them Catholic and teach them to talk to Mary, or I could raise them Pentacostal and teach them to talk to the Devil; which is better in your opinion? I am amazed at how willing Christians are to attribute everything that goes wrong in their life to the Devil. We give him glory for things he didn't even take part in. Life is hard and things go wrong. This generation of Christians has become greater "accusers" than the great accuser himself. I honestly believe that he's actually innocent of 99% of the things we credit him for.
I don't care if everything goes wrong in your life inside of a 24-hour day: If your car breaks down and you walk home only to find that you left your house key in your car. If you climb through a window and cut yourself on the broken glass and while running to get a band-aid, you trip and fall on a roller skate one of the kids left lying around. If you open the cupboard where the band-aids are and everything falls out on top of your head and you take two steps backwards and fall into the bathtub and bonk your head on the faucet knob causing it to spray freezing cold water all over your new outfit you just got from Ross. I don't care if the phone rings in the midst of all this and it's your boss calling to tell you that you're fired and while you're on the line with him, the other line rings and it's the vet calling to inform you that your dog just died of Parvo. DON'T BLAME THE DEVIL!!!! Just move on and get through it.
Don't anoint your doors and windows (you guessed it, it's not in the Bible) with olive oil in an effort to secure your home from spiritual attacks. Olive oil is for cooking. It soaks into the wood on your door and leaves a stain that's difficult to get rid of without using a powerful primer and several coats of paint. It also makes smudges your windows and is almost impossible to see through. I remember a time in my life where I put so much anointing oil on my doors and windows to ward off demons that I had to go out and sit on the front porch. These things are all fear-based and counter-productive.
Don't worry about "breaking down strongholds." It's not your job. Nowhere in Scripture is that job given to you or anyone else who is a Christian.
Don't worry about a "Jezebel spirit" (again; not in the Bible) or any other spirit that you've heard about in the Church. If these spirits existed (and they don't), they couldn't do anything to hurt you in the first place. You are God's child. Believe it and live your life.
You don't have a "Soul tie" (not in the Bible) so don't waste your time trying to break it or untie it. The only thing your soul is tied to is GOD and HEAVEN.
You don't have a demon and as a Christian you cannot be "demon possessed." Not one Christian in all of Scripture was demon possessed. The very definition of being a Christian is that you are possessed by God and His Spirit.
You can fast yourself to skin and bones and it won't make you the slightest bit stronger in the spirit, or closer to God. All the teachings that tell you that you can get closer to God and have a stronger influence on demons and strongholds when you've skipped breakfast and lunch are flat-out WRONG. The one verse where Jesus supposedly said, "This one comes out by prayer and fasting" was NOT found in the "earliest and most reliable manuscripts." In other words; it was added later by a bunch of pro-fasting Monks. Most translations of the Bible even go as far as to skip that particular verse altogether. If you want to fast, do it to lose weight or practice self-control, but don't think for a moment that it's a tool for spiritual warfare. None of those teachings are Biblical. They are all based on a works mentality and in my opinion, they put people under bondage.
Believe it or not, you don't have to put on your "Spiritual armor" every morning when you get out of bed. Your Jesus-suit is armor enough. Love God and love people. If you do that and nothing else, you're going to be the Rambo of this generation.
What this all comes down to: spiritual warfare is something we came up with because, for the most part, we don't love and we don't believe in the power of love. Because of this, we have to create a thousand different ways to fend off the enemy and move forward. Everything has to be done manually when love is absent from the Church. Understand that love is the most powerful spiritual weapon in the universe. If you have it, nothing can stand in your way. No "flaming arrows" can hit you, no demon can possess you, no curse can stick on you and no stronghold can resist you. Love God and love people. Don't worry about anything else. Spiritual warfare is about fear. Perfect love drives out fear.
Ironically, many people will be angry at me for writing this article. They'll call it a dangerous way of thinking. This is truly sad because it is once again evidence that the average Christian in today's world really doesn't believe in the power of love. They think that love is one of many things within Christianity. Make no mistake about it. Love is EVERYTHING. God is love. If you have love, you have everything you need. It is not one of many things you need; it's the only thing you need. Everything in the Christian life flows out of love. Everything!
Rate This Post:
Leave a Comment
Leave a comment with your very own customized avatar!
FBN uses Gravatars to allow commenters to customize their very own comment image!
The Free Believers Newsletter
Sign up for our FREE newsletter!