Posted in lion, resist, sin, victory

Spiritual warfare is real: the lion prowls seeking whom he may devour

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In the Old Testament bible days, there were active demons on earth, possessing people. It wasn’t a frequently mentioned activity in the bible, but it happened. Further, the people living at the time knew what it was when it was happening.

I hear unsaved folks and even Christians say that in the bible times of 1000, 2000, 3000 years ago, people were ignorant of medical things. They were just dumb sheepherders who attributed everything to demons and not to science or medicine. Well all I’ve go to say is, go build a Sphinx, a Pyramid, Solomon’s Temple, Aqueduct, or a Babylon Hanging Garden, Lighthouse at Alexandra, and then we’ll talk.

Though a visible presence of demons as bodily possessors was an occurrence in the OT days, they weren’t frequent. Demonic events seemed to ramp up immediately prior, during, and just after Jesus’ incarnation. The heightened activity of satan on earth was evidence of the battle in the heavenlies, by then having come to earth in a fierceness unseen since that time.

The presence of demons will again become visible and palpable immediately prior to Jesus’ Second Coming. As Revelation 9:2 tells us, the pit where many demons are being held will be opened for them to pour out like locusts and perform God’s wrathful will upon the people of earth. Sin will be unrestrained (2 Thessalonians 2:6) so demonic activity will have a heyday unlike any other, except perhaps immediately before the Flood. (Genesis 6:5)

Aside from the dramatic events of the Flood and the Tribulation, and the few years of Jesus’ incarnation, for the most part, demonic activity is invisible. Make no mistake, just because it’s invisible doesn’t mean it is not happening.

Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. (Ephesians 6:11-12)

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Here is an example of how demonic activity is present on earth but invisible. It is fairly early days in the kingship of Saul. The Israelites wanted a king they could see, “like the other nations.” They rejected God as their king and wanted a man. God did as they asked, and Saul initially had some success. However, God’s choice, David who had been anointed but not set up as king yet, was having more success.

And the women sang to one another as they celebrated, “Saul has struck down his thousands, and David his ten thousands.” And Saul was very angry, and this saying displeased him. He said, “They have ascribed to David ten thousands, and to me they have ascribed thousands, and what more can he have but the kingdom?” And Saul eyed David from that day on. The next day a harmful spirit from God rushed upon Saul, and he raved within his house while David was playing the lyre, as he did day by day. (1 Samuel 18:7-10)

Here is what struck me about this. Saul was jealous of David. Saul cast a wary, jealous eye upon David from that day on. This is Saul’s right. He can choose to sin. It is God’s right to do something about it.

How long was it before the evil spirit came upon Saul? The next day.

Do we suppose sin waits? Lolls around, just to see how it’ll go? No chance. Sin is always crouching at the door.
“If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it.” (Genesis 4:7)

Sin desires you! (And me!)

Here is an example of how sin crouches. “And when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from him until an opportune time.” (Luke 4:13)

The ‘him’ referred to here is Jesus. The devil tempted Jesus, got nowhere and departed to get Him another time (or so the devil thought).

So sin crouches. Guess what? Sin also prowls.

Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. (1 Peter 5:8)

Sin desires us, crouches at our door, prowls, and once sin appears in our heart or mind (like Saul) it comes in immediately.

We must master sin, as commanded in Genesis 4:7. Of course we cannot do that ourselves. The beauty of the universe and every atom in it, is that Jesus delivers us this grace, this power. Through this power that ever believer has, we can live victoriously before Christ! Saul did not rely on the LORD. David did. It wasn’t that neither sinned, but it was that David actively and constantly sought the LORD’S power to help him resist sin, and when David failed to resist, he repented sincerely.

Against you alone I have sinned.” (Psalm 51:4)

It might surprise some to know that satan isn’t behind every sin. Our own fleshly desires are part of the battle, too. When satan isn’t directly tempting, our own desires fill in the gap. Adding to that are the world’s desires, pressure from without. We cannot master the world, and we can’t master satan, but through Christ, we can rule over our fleshly desires, and when we do that regularly, satan withdraws “until an opportune time.”

The key is to give him the opportunity less and less frequently.

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It seems that the odds are stacked against us, with satan on the prowl, his demons crouching at the
door, the world pressing its desires onto us, our own desires clamoring to get out, but Jesus IS THE VICTORY. He has won it! He gave His victory to us! His Spirit in us is the all in all, able to conquer any and all sin. As ugly as sin is, how beautiful, wonderful astounding, that He sent His Spirit to enable us to resist satan. In so doing satan will flee! Otherwise, ‘the next day’ sin will come bursting through your door.


What Does the Bible Say about Demons?

Why did God send an evil spirit to torment King Saul?

Posted in c. peter wagner, resist, spiritual mapping, spiritual warfare

Spiritual warfare: there is a right way and a wrong way

[Updated to add two photos]

I’m still thinking about my last post about the fallen angels and satan flooding the earth. It will be a time of potent evil.

The Christian is always engaged in spiritual warfare, it is a fact of life. The bible tells us in many ways and in many books that we are to be vigilant. The most famous of these warnings is when Peter said,

“Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” (1 Peter 5:8- ESV).

There is a lot of truth in there. Let’s unpack it for a moment before we go on. Be sober-minded, and then he emphasizes again, be watchful. The word for sober literally means to be not drunk with wine, and figuratively, be free from the drunken influences that sin causes, so that you may keep your wits about you. You don’t want a drunk person driving you around in your car, do you? A drunk babysitter? A drunk security guard at your store? A drunk sentry at the barracks? No, of course not. When we are drunk with alcohol or sin, we cannot act in a responsible manner.

Be watchful means just that, as well: watch, be vigilant. The literal Greek word translated to English means “stay awake.” Too many of us fall asleep on our Christian walk. The figurative meaning is also obvious, stay on the alert.

Then Peter said “your adversary the devil…” Devil means adversary, (and slanderer) so using both adversary and devil in rapid succession drives the point home. The word adversary also has a legal connotation. Satan acts as such an adversary, “bringing the (law)suit of darkness against believers for their eternal damnation.” He is the opponent at Law.

The word prowls connotes constant, sneaky, quiet motion. But the Greek word is peripateo, from which we get peripatetic in English. A peripatetic person is someone who walks around constantly, a wayfarer, a traveler.

A roaring lion…why did Peter use the Holy Spirit’s inspired word “roaring”? Doesn’t that contradict with prowling? Why would satan sneakily prowl but then announce his presence by roaring at his prey? Well, did you know that in real life, “resident males only roar when they are on their own territory. So the first thing we can say about roaring in males is that it is a display of ownership that is only given by residents on their own territory.” We know that satan is god of this world, (2 Corinthians 4:4) given authority and power on earth (Mt 4:7-9).

Wiki Answers explains the lion’s roar: “They roar to communicate with each other and they roar to proclaim where their territory is, they do this every evening. Roaring is also one of their strategies for catching prey – they creep up on the prey and when they are close enough, they will let out a roar that confuses that animal(s) and strikes fear into the lion’s prey. The prey then cannot “think” or react correctly out of fear and so is trapped and caught by the lion.”

Seeking whom he may devour…the Greek word means “swallow, devour, destroy, consume.”

It is clear: we have an enemy we must always vigilantly be on guard from. But now here is the point of the essay.

People engaged in misguided spiritual warfare fancy themselves as warriors brandishing swords, going out deliberately and purposely engaging with demons. This kind of wayward spiritual warfare uses “spiritual mapping.” The proponents go to a territory or neighborhood and try to uncover the demonic obstacles that are hindering spiritual growth in that location. Through spiritual mapping they attempt to discover the specific hindrances to the Gospel message in an area, such as divination, or fortune telling, and then, through persistent intercession performed in various ways, remove them. They believe that if they know first that it is a spirit of fortune telling that is blocking the flourishing of the Gospel in that neighborhood, they pray in that direction, then they can share the Gospel and God can do His work.

The seminal book on this type of warfare is James Dawson’s 1989 book Taking Our Cities For God in with the subtitle: “How to Break Spiritual Strongholds”. C. Peter Wagner is the next generation carrying this kind of spiritual warfare forward. In the book Mr Dawson stated, “To overcome the enemy we must resist temptation ourselves and then continue in united, travailing prayer until we sense that we have gained authority and that God has broken through.” The approach is man-centered, with conditions that must be met before God can be effective. You see how wrong this approach is.

On its face this is unbiblical. Not that there aren’t hindrances to the Gospel. We read up above that satan is the god of this world. Earth is his territory, all of it. Not that we are supposed to succumb to temptation. Not at all. But one can simply acknowledge that there will be hindrances to the Gospel and get on with sharing it. Paul didn’t spend two weeks at Mars Hill walking about the area spiritually mapping it, learning the history of the city, discerning its moral weaknesses, deciding which demon was working where. After the scales fell from Saul’s eyes, Saul, now Paul, “At once he began to preach in the synagogues that Jesus is the Son of God.” (Acts 9:20). At once.

“When they arrived at Salamis, they proclaimed the word of God in the Jewish synagogues.” (Acts 13:5). Did Paul walk around for a few weeks, gather a focus group, and discern which spirits were were hindering the word of Jesus? No. He simply walked in and told them about Jesus. Preach the gospel, witness, disciple.

How did Jesus engage in spiritual warfare? When satan tempted Jesus in the desert, Jesus answered with the Word. He said, “It is written.” Jesus didn’t go into the desert and say “Satan, come out come out wherever you are so I can bind you before I do this work here!”

The problem with this kind of spiritual warfare is that the soldiers take their eyes off Jesus. They wind up looking for demons instead of looking at Jesus. They get so wrapped up in searching out the demonic that they go off on tangents when it is Jesus they should be looking to all the time.

The other unbiblical aspect of this kind of offensive warfare, as opposed to defensive, is that the verse in James 4:7 states: “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” Every translation says the same.

The verse does not say “Engage the devil and he will flee from you.”
The verse does not say “Charge at the devil & he will flee from you.”
The verse does not say “Bind the devil and he will flee from you.”
The verse does not say “Locate the devil and he will flee from you.”

It says resist. It is the Gospel that has the power to make the spirits flee. The Gospel has the power to bind the devil’s work. The evil spirits are not scared of us. They are scared of the power of Jesus. Even the angel Michael did not rebuke satan in his own power. (Jude 1:9). It is defensive action, not offensive.

The seven sons of Sceva were going around binding spirits. One day, “the evil spirit answered them, “Jesus I know, and Paul I recognize, but who are you?”” (Acts 19:15). The Sons of Sceva were relying on a methodology, applying it uniformly in every town they went. So it is the same with the methodology of spiritual mapping and offensive spiritual warfare as opposed to the biblical method of defensively resisting, sharing, witnessing and discipling.

Be mindful of the schemes of the devil and his spirits, rebuke when you come across them in Jesus’ authority. We always seek a balance. We don’t underestimate them and we don’t overestimate them. They are not under every rock, but they do exist. They are not the root cause of every failed neighborhood, but they do love to cavort in ruined waste places.

Our best defense against satan is knowing the word and being ready to apply it when satan does come, as Jesus showed us in his handling of spiritual warfare.

“Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.” (1 John 4:4)