[This teaching follows an outline for a talk I gave to Prayers for Healing ministers at my church in 1999. The content had been accumulating in my heart and mind since the early 1980s, when I began sharing it with people who were experiencing various forms of spiritual warfare. It was the subject of a talk I gave to a Christian men's group in 1989. In this and other forms, I have shared the substance of it with thousands of people, and many have reported changes it has made, some of them very dramatic. I urge you to study every scripture carefully. Print the teaching and meditate on what's in it, especially what the Bible says. All Bible quotes are from the New American Standard Bible (NASB), (c) The Lockman Foundation 1995, unless indicated otherwise.]
Spiritual warfare is the eternal struggle between the people or children of YHWH* and those spirits, powers, desires, attitudes, beliefs, influences and other forces and things that undermine, resist or fight against the kingship of YHWH, his authority, Jesus' salvation (redemption and healing), the work of his Holy Spirit, and his righteousness.
We are all at war whether we like it or not. There is no more neutrality for us than there was for Belgium and the Netherlands in World War II. And tragically, most people who call themselves Christian not only fail to fight the enemy, but we often join him without realizing it, especially when we are instruments through whom he hurls his fiery darts 1 at others.
But there is GOOD NEWS!
The victory has already been won
In 1988, I became troubled as I heard different people repeatedly refer to the devil's winning a victory when they spoke of the public moral failure or apostasy of some well-known Christian. So I took it to YHWH, and I received this thought that I believe was a word from him: "All victory is mine, David, no matter what the circumstances." Not sure I'd really heard YHWH, I asked him to show me where that is in the scriptures. Immediately, I recalled Jesus' statement that he has overcome the world (John 16:33). Five days later, as I pondered the magnitude of that revelation, another thought that I believe was a word from YHWH answered my wondering: "The LORD never loses, and the devil never wins ." Later I searched victory and overcoming in the Bible and found numerous confirmations. See, e.g., 1 Chr 29:11, Prov 21:31, Rom 8:28,37-39, and 1 John 5:4-5. We don't have to win anything; we just have to walk in his victory. And, yes, I know that's a lot easier said than done, but it's no less true just because it's hard.
Now, although YHWH has won all victory, that doesn't mean there is no further fighting and there are no further battles. Armies typically win victories but still have battles, and even after those, have to do what is called "mopping up". That's part of our commission as members of his body. Although the commission 2 isn't quite so direct, that's the effect of taking his word as we go and wherever we go in the world, making disciples of all men, baptising them into the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and obeying all that he commanded his disciples to do. He gave his disciples authority over all the power of Satan 3, a name that can be applied to all demons 4 or ungodly spirits to help his disciples fulfill the commission. Luke 10:19, see also Mark 3:14-15, 22-23.
I understand that generals on both sides of the European theater in World War II knew that the Allies had won the war there after the successful landing on D-Day, June 6, 1944, just as Jesus won for us when he died on the cross and rose from the dead. Nevertheless, more soldiers died after that than previously. Faced with defeat and being overpowered, the enemy fought ferociously until he surrendered. That is the way our spiritual battles need to be fought-- and won.
How do we recognize the spiritual battle?
Before YHWH becomes king in our lives, we are in bondage, slaves to sin and Satan's power. Then we accept Jesus, are reborn through him, and he gives us the key to freedom. We become more free as we walk in him, but we fight to do that while Satan tries to re-enslave us. The battle is fought in our hearts and wills, between the desire and will to live a worldly or carnal life and the desire and will to live a Godly, spirit-filled and spirit-led life. It is over who rules our lives: YHWH or any person or thing that controls our decisions and choices, such as a controlling individual, unmet physical or emotional needs, unhealed past hurts, or the desire for power, pleasure, prestige or possessions. See, e.g., Prov. 4:23 and 2 Cor 10:5. See, also, my lesson titled Healing Past Hurts.
Spiritual battles are often fought within ourselves and may be difficult to recognize in that form. They also appear when two or more people engage in any kind of harmful conflict. For example, we see them when two people argue and throw at each other intimate facts that were shared between them in trust. We see them when a parent or other adult verbally abuses and belittles a child. We see them when people file lawsuits to resolve their disputes. We always see them when one person seeks to control another. Anger and its relatives are sure signs of a spiritual battle. When we find ourselves trying to reason with someone but experiencing only an argument that goes in circles rather than producing understanding or resolution, we witness spiritual warfare. Every time we see any of Satan's weapons 1, a spiritual battle is underway.
We are able to fight the battle. But not in our own power.
Fighting spiritual warfare starts in Jesus
To be effective in the fight, we must belong to Jesus. Whether expressed as being in him or in his body or some other way, we must have been born anew of the Holy Spirit (John 3:5). That birth takes place in our innermost being, that part of us sometimes called the "heart". Until a person has experienced that, he or she lacks the necessary power and authority to win spiritual battles. See, e.g., Acts 19:13-16. Therefore, begin fighting spiritual warfare by receiving the wonderful gift of new birth that Jesus provides. For more on this, read Jesus is the Only Way. Then:
Anything we do without the power and authority of Jesus in it is nothing. Without him, all our righteous deeds are like dirty rags [literally menstrual rags; ritually unclean and fit only for the garbage] (Isa 64:6).
We must know what we have received in him: new, abundant and eternal life; freedom to live that life; forgiveness of sin; salvation (redemption, healing, wholeness); works that please YHWH; and authority, power and gifts to perform them.
Keep prepared by living the life that Jesus has given us
Biblical Christianity is lived, not learned. Learn what it's about, yes, but spend more time living it. Most of us are impotent, because we hardly even try. It takes daily effort to immerse ourselves in YHWH. But as physical exercise and rigorous training prepare and keep a soldier fit for battle, so our immersing ourselves in him daily prepares us. A literal translation of the Greek words that the apostle Paul wrote in Eph 5:18-21 reads, ...be being filled with the Spirit...."
We become true servants and disciples of YHWH by putting into practice what Jesus Christ puts into us (Eph 2:10, Phlp 2:12-13, James 2:17-19, Jer 9:24).
Put on YHWH's armor (Eph 6:10-18). Two major points to remember: First, our war is not against flesh and blood. Don't attack the people who are merely instruments of the enemy. Attack the unholy spirits at work in and through them. Second, put on the whole armor of YHWH, the one true, living God, by living into it, not as a ritual. Following is a very brief summary of just some of what I've learned about putting on that armor:
Paul's list of armor says nothing about the back. Perhaps Paul thought that since we are supposed to be on the attack, kicking down the gates of Satan's strongholds, we don't need anything in back. Or perhaps he knew from experience that we don't need it, because YHWH is our rearguard (Isa. 52:12, 58:8).
Fighting the Battle
Jesus has made born-again Christians more powerful than they may realize: Jesus has given us power and authority over Satan's power, Luke 10:19, 9:1, Matt 28:18-20. If we are in Jesus, we partake of his authority. Satan cannot harm us unless we let him or YHWH lets him, and even if YHWH lets him (as he did with Jesus), YHWH is with us always. We have nothing to fear, period.
The weapons YHWH has given you are powerful: The weapons of our warfare are not carnal but are powerful for tearing down strongholds. 2 Cor 10:3-6. What weapons are we given? Following are some scriptures that identify several and that have helped many fight their spiritual battles. You will probably know many of them, but you may not have thought about them in terms of spiritual warfare. MEDITATE (chew) on them and see if my including them doesn't begin to make sense. I assure you it does, even if you don't see that at first.
*YHWH or YHVH is the English representation of the four Hebrew letters that spell the name of the God of the Bible, the one true, living God worshipped by Jews and Christians. YHWH was the name by which he identified himself to Moses in Ex. 3:14. According to references that I've read, the exact pronunciation of YHWH's name was lost in antiquity. I prefer to pronounce the name "Yah-o-wah" (the "h" being aspirated as in "hay"), but the generally accepted pronounciation in common English is "Yah-weh" or "Yah-way". Some translations of the Bible, such as the KJV and NASB, substitute "the LORD" for his name, following a practice begun before Jesus' birth.
YHWH revealed himself in various ways to the children of Israel in the Hebrew Bible, which Christians call the Old Testament. He also revealed himself in and through his son Jesus Christ and acts, among other ways, in and through Christians by the Holy Spirit. Because the word "God" is being used today to designate all kinds of human inventions, although accepted for centuries in English as a name for YHWH, I prefer to use the name that YHWH chose for himself rather than "God" or "the LORD" as I did in early versions of my writings. Please read The Name of the One True, Living God for a fuller discussion.
|Remember who He is and whose you are|
1 Fiery darts or flaming arrows, Satan's Weapons
The enemy's many weapons, what I believe Paul probably meant by the term translated "fiery darts" in the KJV or "flaming arrows" in the NASB, include, among others, accusation, bitterness, condemnation, dares, deceit, depression, disappointment, discouragement, doubt, fear, flattery, fraud, hatred, insecurity, regret, resentment, ridicule, self-pity, shame, temptation, uncertainty, worry, and arguments that resolve nothing and add no understanding. The fear from the enemy is fear of harm, not the standing in awe kind of fear YHWH inspires in those who fear him. The doubt and uncertainty of the enemy are doubt and uncertainty about YHWH (Father, son and Holy Spirit) and the Bible, such as that produced in many people who have read any of the Gnostic writings or The DaVinci Code. The shame the enemy uses is not the same as guilt: It's not feeling bad because I have done something wrong; it's the feeling that I am something bad, that something is wrong with me. People who have suffered the enemy's assault for many years often have open wounds from past hurts that interfere with their ability to function in their environment. YHWH will heal those hurts and close the wounds, removing their impact on a person's life. You can read about that in my lesson titled Healing Past Hurts.
2 Our Commission
Matthew 28:16-20 records the following, which has been pretty widely referred to as "the Great Commission":
16But the eleven disciples proceeded to Galilee, to the mountain which Jesus had designated. 17When they saw Him, they worshiped Him; but some were doubtful. 18And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, 20teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." (NASB)
From the Greek text that I have, what Jesus says in verses 19 and 20 should be translated more literally as follows:
"Going [or As you go], therefore, make disciples of all nations, baptizing them into [not "in"] the name of the Father, and the son, and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey [actively do, not merely watch or learn] all that I have commanded you; and behold, I am with you always, even to the end of the age."
What I take from this is that Jesus starts with our being in the world already, so as we go about our daily affairs, we are to make disciples of everyone (at least those who will), saturate them with the whole person of YHWH (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) by reporting about him and living out the new life he puts in us. Then we are to obey everything he commanded his disciples. This is based in part on some information that does not appear in the Bible at this point:
To the people of Israel, "nations" (goy or goyim in Hebrew) referred to everyone who was not one of them. In much the same way today, people who have not been born again are often referred to as "lost" or "unsaved". The Greek word (baptizo) that is translated "baptize" was used in other ancient literature to refer (1) to cloth that is soaked in dye to give it the color of the dye and (2) to wood that has become waterlogged. It carries the concept of being thoroughly filled. In the same way, every fiber of our being should be filled with YHWH, so that Jesus shows in our lives, just as a dye's color shows in the fabric. And we should seek to see others filled by lifting him up, so that, as Jesus said, he will draw all people to himself (John 12:32).
3 Speaking to "Satan"
Many years ago, I was leading a meeting to which I'd invited a man who displayed mental problems, hoping that we could help him. During the meeting, he became irrational and incoherent. Reasoning with him failed, so I began praying in the spirit. Suddenly, I knew our meeting had been invaded by the enemy. Anger spread over me, and without thinking about what I said, I suddenly found myself ordering "Satan" to leave the meeting while I told the man to stay. After a few seconds, the anger left me as suddenly as it had come over me. In the meantime, the man became calm and remained quiet during the rest of the meeting. After the meeting, he said that when I began what he called "yelling" at him, he tried to get up, but someone had their hands on his shoulders holding him down in the chair, although none of the people in the room was touching him. Then rationally and coherently, he told my wife and me how he'd become demonized. Merely by my rebuking "Satan", he had been delivered and restored to his right mind. I didn't have to know what demon or demons4 were afflicting his mind.
Although I didn't understand the principle at the time, scripture supports what I did. In Matt. 12:24-26, Mark 3:22-23, and Luke 11:15-18, Jesus responds to the accusation that he casts out demons by the ruler of the demons: He asks how Satan (the ruler of the demons) can cast out Satan (the demons). Luke 13:11-16 tells of a woman who had been bent double by "a spirit" until Jesus freed her from her bondage. Jesus attributes her bondage to Satan. 1 John 3:8 tells us that one who sins is of the devil. Unless "the devil" is present in many places at once, this confirms that the term refers not to a single spirit but to all spirits that rebel against YHWH. I can't tell you it's always true that speaking to "Satan" addresses all the demons in someone. But the Hebrew word satan means adversary and is sometimes translated that way (see, e.g., Num. 22:22), and every unholy spirit is that.
As an alternative to addressing "Satan", you can address the "spirits at work in [name of person]". Or use both. Don't be too concerned with having to know what goes on in the spirit realm. If it were important, Jesus would have told us more than he did. A good rule of thumb is, when you meet an evil spirit, throw it out. I got that from Jesus' teaching in the Bible. Also although I have used the conventional capital "S" in writing the word, I regard "him" as nothing more than a puny spirit, the spiritual equivalent of a cockroach. Since coming to understand the significance of that first deliverance, I have administered deliverance to others simply by rebuking "Satan" and ordering him to leave without being concerned about how many spirits or even what spirits oppressed the victim.
Now, just in case you missed it, I believe that it's important that you speak directly to Satan or the oppressing spirit(s). I have not found any command to pray that YHWH do something to make the evil spirits back off and leave us or our loved ones alone. But I do find very clear instructions to the disciples to cast them out. Since Jesus has given us authority over all the work of the enemy, Luke 10:19, I believe YHWH expects us to do this part ourselves.
And don't be concerned about distance. I believe the Bible supports the proposition that the spiritual realm is not limited by distance as the physical world is. Matt. 15:22-28 demonstrates that. Whether you could deliver someone from a demonic spirit if the person is not in your presence, you certainly can rebuke demons working at a distance. My experience and that of many others confirms this.
If you're not sure what to say to the enemy, here's a general rebuke that I've used in one form or another for many years:
In the name of Jesus-- Satan and all you demons, powers, principalities, forces of evil and wickedness, all of you spirits who oppose YHWH, the heavenly Father, his son Jesus Christ, and his Holy Spirit-- I rebuke and curse you; and in the name of Jesus, I bind you and forbid you to attack, to hurt or in any way to come against me, [NAMES/RELATIONSHIPS OF OTHERS YOU WANT TO PROTECT], our homes, jobs, businesses, trades, professions, and incomes; our possessions; our health, safety and welfare; any and every part of our lives. You have no place in them and I forbid you to enter or operate in or against them. Back off, in the name of Jesus.
You can follow that by asking YHWH to cover and protect everyone and everything you have just named or referred to. The following note contains more on this subject.
The Bible does not make clear who or what demons are, nor where they reside when not inhabiting a person. In fact, it tells us very little about the nature of demons, but it does reveal something of how they operate. In the Old Testament, we see YHWH send an evil spirit to torment Saul (1 Sam. 16:14) and a deceiving spirit to speak through Ahab's prophets to destroy him (1 Kings 22:22-23). In the New Testament, we see spirits operate in various ways: one made a man mute (Matt. 9:33), one threw a boy into fires or water and caused convulsions (Matt. 17:15-18, Luke 9:42), one cried out loudly in "church" and threw a man down (Luke 4:33-35), one made a man so violent he had to be chained (Luke 8:29), and one crippled a woman (Luke 13:11-16).
In the New American Standard Bible, the word "demon" only appears in the New Testament. It translates the Greek word daimonion, which means "spirit", but not the same kind as the Holy Spirit or the spirit that gives us life (Greek pneuma). Demons appear to be spirits that have a life of their own, such that they can enter and leave a person. Without dwelling on the subject, the Bible reveals that demons are spirits that oppose or rebel against YHWH and oppress people. They do not literally "possess" people. Instead, they impair people. They are more like street bums who enter and exit abandoned houses through broken windows or doors, fouling and damaging the interior and never bothering to clean it. They are not always present, and when the broken windows and doors are repaired, they move on. See Healing Past Hurts for more on this subject.
Do demons, evil spirits, or Satan cause earthquakes, hurricanes, tornados or other natural phenomena? I have found no support for that in the Bible, because they seem to work entirely within people, not externally. While disembodied, such spirits seem to have no power. They acquire whatever power they have only in a human body and only according to the power or influence of the person inhabited. Satan may have incited the disasters that killed Job's children, but they were attributed to YHWH (see, e.g. Job 42:11). On the other hand, I believe that demons, evil spirits or Satan can be blamed for wars and other human conflicts. Because they operate in people, who start wars or do things that provoke YHWH, I believe we can attribute wars to the work of such spirits, whether working in the people who initiate the war or in those on whom war is made.
Contrary to some of the teaching I've heard about casting out demons, those born of the Holy Spirit need not and should not fear demons. Our authority in Jesus trumps their power every time. Nor should we dwell on them or even bother with trying to determine their names. Although I used to name spirits during deliverance in the early days, I no longer do it. Merely addressing them as "Satan" has been enough. In fact, unless deliverance is clearly needed to calm someone or enable them to receive Jesus' healing in their innermost being, I prefer to help them receive healing from past hurts or emotional wounds, which repairs and closes the broken windows and doors through which the spirits operate.
5 "Back off"
Several years ago, I had a dream in which my car was broken down, and my wife and I were stranded in a rough neighborhood. As I looked up from under the hood, three tough-looking characters were approaching with rather obviously evil intentions. Without thinking, I stood in front of the car, made a fist with my palm facing the ground, pointed my index finger at them and commanded, "Back off!" Immediately, they began walking away.
Weeks or months later, I had another dream in which I was in a corral, sitting against a tree doing something, and I saw three rather seedy characters, dressed in cowboy clothes, approaching me. I knew they were up to no good, and I formed my fist again, palm down, pointed my index finger at them and commanded, "Back off!". They stepped back rather abruptly, and I asked their names. One was named "Two Pockets" and one "Mumbles".
I believe those dreams were from YHWH and have had occasion to prove it in my own experience. Feel free to use "Back off" whenever you are fighting the enemy.
6 Rejoicing always, praying without ceasing, giving thanks in everything
Rejoicing always isn't easy if you're in a pit. But you don't have to feel joyful to do it. In fact, joy is a product of rejoicing. Rejoicing is being openly glad. What Paul is telling us is to express gladness. I know no one who can't be glad about something. As you look for things to be glad about, you will experience more joy.
Praying without ceasing can be a greater challenge because almost all of us have much to think about, but what Paul really seems to be encouraging is the attitude of communicating with YHWH as intimately as you would a very close friend with whom you enjoy doing everything: sharing the good and bad, asking for help, asking forgiveness for an unloving act, giving thanks, and in YHWH's case, asking for direction, guidance, and instruction (which, by the way, is the better translation of the Hebrew torah that is often translated "law"). For more help with prayer, read Praying Effectively.
Finally, giving thanks in everything doesn't mean thanks for everything, although Eph. 5:20 does mention "giving thanks for all things". Giving thanks for some difficult trial or tribulation may seem to ask too much in a given situation, but when we know that YHWH works all things together for good to those who love him and are called according to his purpose (Rom 8:28); when we know that he loves us so much he gave his only begotten son that we might have eternal life (John 3:16); when we know that he cares for us as much as the birds, then we can give thanks for what he is doing in the midst of our situation, whatever it is. And we can follow Jesus' example and seek what the Father is doing, so we can join him in it. See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God; and such we are. 1 John 3:1 If you can't think of anything else, give thanks for that.
|Remember who He is and whose you are|