The topic of personal spiritual warfare tends to fragment rather than unify the church of Christ today. Are you part of a congregation with a healthy and accurate focus on equipping the saints for battle? Does your pastor ignore the topic or give it periodic lip service, with little content you can use?
Sometimes the topic is addressed in “galactic” terms as warring against Satan or principalities. What about addressing it on a personal level that an individual can incorporate into their daily routines?
I’ve chosen to segment Christ’s body using three uncommon groupings:
- Non-Believing Believers
- Partially-Believing Believers
- Believing Believers
I use this “believer” terminology for the different levels of conviction about the reality of present day “spiritual warfare.” These terms avoid the stereotypes linked to other conventional labels: charismatic, pentecostal, evangelical, mainline, spirit-filled, full gospel, to name only a few.
It ‘s hard to find churches who would explicitly state that they do not believe in spiritual warfare; you have to deduce it from the weight of evidence of what they teach (or don’t) teach on.
Many contend that the battle is over because of Christ’s victory on the cross. They will occasionally mention Satan (not demons), and Christians are encouraged to ignore him because he has no power.
You will hear things like:
- “We don’t give the devil any glory here.”
- “Satan can only have access if we allow it.”
- “I don’t want to speak it out because I don’t want the devil to hear me.”
If you believe there is an actual demonic realm still out to kill, steal and destroy (John 10:10), you need to run away from these places quickly if that is your current church home. Don’t try to stay and change the pastor’s mind or wait until he or she gets the revelation. God’s people perish for lack of knowledge (Hosea 4:6); can you afford to wait?
This group represents the lion share of fellowships in the Kingdom of God today. They believe in the present day reality of spiritual warfare but are typically unsure on how to teach it and, most importantly, how to train the sheep to be effective. As a general rule, they will:
- Acknowledge the reality of demonic influences in our relationships (Eph 6:12 – our struggle is not against flesh and blood)
- Preach a sermon series or two periodically on the armor of God, as Paul describes it in Eph. 6:13-17. I believe many pastors heave a sigh of relief when they get through this Scripture and can check the “spiritual warfare” box off the sermon outline spreadsheet. Unfortunately, most messages are light on the specifics. For example, “take up the sword of the Spirit.” What exactly does that mean? The purpose of the armor is to take up our stand against the devil’s schemes so we can stand. I contend that a proper application of this is to have specific scriptures that you can speak out against the demons when one or more (fear, depression, pornography or another) comes against you. How do you recognize the spirit? How do you respond? These are important tactical questions that beg for accurate answers so that each person can stand.
- Teach on the importance of winning mind battles that Satan can wage (just like the Unbelievers, they give Satan much more power and visibility than he deserves. The struggle is against demons, not the prince of the air himself).
- Mention the need to resist the devil (James 4:6) without actually giving much insight on how to discern and react against the torment).
- Accept the need for deliverance ministry, at least for the heathen and unsaved of the world. The notion that Christians need deliverance is not widely accepted.
They will have a proper understanding of some aspects, but struggle to teach specific “how-to’s.” Let’s face it: most pastors don’t like to talk much about the demonic realm because it is a topic that unnerves people.
Most of the sheep come to church to hear a “feel good” message so they can leave tanked up with the Holy Spirit and equipped to tackle the week ahead. It takes fortitude, knowledge, and commitment to address the topic of spiritual battle in a meaningful and consistent way.
Many of our clients share a common complaint after they meet with us:
“I never hear this talked about in my church.”
If you are an attender of one of these churches, do not despair! If you are in a region that has a healthy church in the “Believing Believers” group below, check it out. If not, you can begin your own journey of getting knowledge and training from reputable sources (think Derek Prince, Peter Horrobin to name only a couple). It’s worth the investment of time and resources, but be wise and discerning. There’s a lot of inaccurate material out there also.
Sadly, this is the most under-populated segment in the Body of Christ today. These are the churches who truly understand and embrace the multi-faceted aspects of spiritual warfare and are committed to equipping the saints.
Many other areas of the world are further ahead than those in the US. Churches in this grouping will have advanced beyond the “Partially-Believing Believers” mindset and are seeking truth and more training.
We have written other articles on this topic, but let me summarize what we consider to be the five top aspects of personal spiritual warfare:
- Discerning spirits
- Resisting spirits
- Binding spirits
- Driving out spirits
- Interceding against spirits
Those who want to fulfill the calling of God on their lives, and who want to engage the enemy for the salvation and destiny of their loved ones, need to be aware of all aspects so they can be confident of securing the victory. As a minimum, you need to be competent in discerning and resisting spirits.
You may be called to help drive out spirits (deliverance ministry), and you certainly need it for yourself. Not all are called to intercede against spirits (second heaven warfare), and there are reliable resources from other in this area.
Football teams with a potent offense, but weak defense or special teams play, are not likely to succeed in their struggle on the gridiron. The stakes are much higher against the enemy of our souls; are you willing to run the risk of not being prepared for battle? Don’t be a needless casualty of war.
If you are not in a “believing believers” church, I urge you to find one. The time is short, the times are dangerous, and the Body of Christ is in desperate need for warriors who are trained, anointed and equipped for battle! If you require help to get untracked or to be set free from your own torment, please seek it out. If you can’t find it locally, connect with us. We have clients and students all over the world and are here to help you.
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