The art of “spirit” War
Pt.3 the comparison of Scripture to the new methods of spirit warfare of today
When one joins the enclave of Peter Wagner’s apostolic spirit war, they find themselves Spending their time in prayer warfare instead of giving the gospel.
With so much of their attention concentrated on the prayer against demonic activities it would be difficult to have spiritual growth. When does one have time to study the word when there is so much demonic activity going on? They have been lead off into a different direction in solving
The spirit warfare is part of Wagner’s apostolic program to reshape the church that began in the 1990’s.
“In 1990 ‘prophet’ Jackson prophesied about Wagner in Wimber’s church in Anaheim: ‘You are now about to face the greatest challenge of your life. You are being called to help reshape the face of Christianity. You will be placed in an international arena which will begin in South America.’ (source: Spiritual Mapping by Holvast)
“I remember that it was in Bogota, Colombia. Mike and I were sitting at a restaurant with Peter Wagner, and the Lord gave me a word for him, that God was going to use him to do something that would change the face of Christianity. And he said, “Well, I'll probably never tell anybody that.” Oh, yeah, right, Then, well, right. … I was gonna say that. In fact, the Lord, the Lord, and the word of the Lord said, “It will be, it will be like unto what Martin Luther did.” What year was that? 90-something. We were at Cesar Castillano's, tour speaking, '92, '93. … Yeah, so, anyway, but we didn't know what that meant exactly. You see, we prophesy so far beyond our understanding, and the prophets are doing that right now. ”
(Cindy Jacobs speaking at the National School of the Prophets. “Mobilizing the Prophetic Office.”- recorded at 7:00 p.m., Thursday, May 11th, 2000.)
With hindsight we know what this means now.
Too much of the church is infatuated with sprit war against demons promoted by the new apostolic prophets and apostles that is not based on the Scripture. They want to change the church and introduce something other than the Bible, they call it the rhema; the fresh word of new revelation.
Wagner on the march for Jesus: “This kind of public declaration can do serious damage to the principalities and powers of darkness over a city ... What tremendous spiritual power will be released on that day I anticipate a world that will never again be the same” (Ministries today May/June 1992, C. Peter Wagner - Marching for Jesus).
Peter Wagner (excerpts of the 6 steps): “ allow me to summarize Ed Silvoso's six steps for taking a city... [Step] 4. Infiltrate Satan's perimeter. Launch the 'air attack' of specific and strategic intercessory prayer through hundreds of thousands of prayer houses (prayer cells), having the objective of weakening Satan's control over the unsaved, claiming instead a favorable disposition to the gospel. At the same time begin to plant embryonic churches ('lighthouses') in anticipation of an abundant harvest. [Step] 5. Attack and destroy Satan's perimeter. Begin the 'frontal assault.' Launch the spiritual takeover of the city, confronting, binding and casting down the spiritual powers ruling over the region... “ (Excerpt from Victor Lorenzo's “Evangelizing a City Dedicated to Darkness,” a chapter in C. Peter Wagner's book, “Breaking Strongholds in Your City”).
We see this practiced when they sent a team to hike Mt. Everest to conquer the Queen of Heaven. Ana Mendez states, “we are about to go out and cut the throat of the great beast.” Rony Chavez says, “the angel that has appeared in my dream has told me the dragon has 7 heads and must wounded in the neck, each has a head on a different mountain” (DVD of mount Everest expedition). From their numerous prophetic acts and decrees they claimed the Queen of heaven and the Beast were destroyed… really?
Peter Wagner along with his apostles and prophets have launched a successful media campaign to institutionalize their practice of spirit warfare by conglomerating thousands of independent, non - denominational Pentecostal, and Charismatic churches worldwide to join in their spirit warfare campaign. Their dubious testimonies of “success” continue to be spread as good spiritual gossip. They promise those who join with them can also have power to destroy devils over cities and countries throughout the world.
As enticing as this all seems we should first see what the Bible says about this before we spend long hours in warfare prayer or travel the world over to demolish demonic strongholds.
The captives are those who still walk according to the course of this world, the sons of disobedience (Eph.2:2) ruled by the prince of the air who operate in their lives by deceiving their minds.
Paul write, “For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds; Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:4-5).
Paul’s words are often used out of context. Paul is telling the Corinthians and us on how to be victorious using the “weapons of our warfare” with individuals that challenge God’s Truth: That he will not use carnal (Gr. sarkikos) weapons, but he will use weapons that are “mighty through God for pulling down strongholds.”
Casting down imaginations has the meaning of the Word of truth as our main weapon; Scripture is used against every lie. The strongholds are false philosophies and beliefs held, that have taken people captive. The spiritual battle is for the mind, because if you can influence a person’s thinking you can essentially control the person. We don’t attack the demons, but attack the philosophy in the mind of the captive, once the person sees what is false the spirit loses his means of control.
True spiritual warfare is NOT about our aggressive prayer or prophetic acts on demonic powers located in a “spiritual realm”, but takes place in the minds of men. The current held beliefs and philosophies are to be challenged, and when exposed by the word of God are seen by the individual as false.
Prayer accompanies the word we speak to those held captive, this is our weapon in spiritual war for individuals. It is not about territorial locations of demons. Paul defines these “strongholds” as “arguments (logizmous –imaginations) this is how Satan blocks the unbelievers thinking so that they cannot hear the word of God nor understand it.
The “high thing” (Gr. hypsoma, the pride and arrogance) exalts itself against the knowledge of God; the Truth of the Gospel. Their thoughts (Gr. noema) are not obedient to Christ. Thus, our battle is against the falsehood they accepted by changing their minds with the truth, when they believe with the heart, then they can be brought under the Lordship of Christ (Eph. 1:21-22). This is how we participate in spiritual war with unbelievers.
However, most of our everyday spiritual warfare is directed against us. Paul’s view of how to fight this spiritual war is addressed in Ephesians 6:10-18. Paul used the Roman soldiers armor of his day as the example of our being completely dressed for a battle, the armor is Christ.
No other Scripture has been more distorted than this in the new model of spirit warfare. “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places” (Ephesians 6:12). This is being used to promote one entering a spirit realm by warfare prayer.
However, It is not a contact fight. It states we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, (humanity) and it does NOT teach we are to go after (pursue) principalities and powers (spirits) either.
In Zoroatrianism, a Persian Gnostic religion there was the concept of two major Gods … Michael Horton writes, “A good god rules the spiritual world and a bad god rules the physical realm….the problem of evil is solved by blaming everything that goes wrong on the bad god (the devil); the good god is seen no more than a counter balance. One is left with the impression that the two gods each possess equal power both in quality and quantity. Everything that is wrong in the world is the fault of the bad god. And its up to the initiate or believer to make sure the good god wins” (“The Agony of Deceit”, Moody press pp.133)
Wagner has portions of this view in his book “Territorial Spirits.” p.179: “All other spiritual forces, be they good or bad, were ultimately of his creation, under his control and assigned as tutelary DEITIES to other nations. ...The nations which ruled the ancient world were under the supervision of their angel-princes, who in their turn were under the ultimate control of Yahweh, the Lord of heaven and earth...”
This book is endorsed by Jack Hayford, David Yonggi Cho, John Dawson, Larry Lea and Ed Silvoso and others.
Wagner goes on to say, “When Jesus came he invaded Satan's kingdom with the kingdom of God. Satan was not only insulted, but his power was broken through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. He is not taking this invasion lying down. This is why violence has erupted both in the heavenlies and here on earth. That is why Jesus said “the kingdom of heaven suffers violence and the violent take it by force” (Matt.11:12). That is why Paul said we must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God.”
Satan is not trying to take the kingdom of heaven, he can’t. He is trying to establish and keep his own kingdom in its place.
Wagner goes on to explain two postures; defensive, which avoids spirit warfare or “we can move forward aggressively in an offensive posture” (p.5 “Territorial Spirits”).
Wagner says when Jesus met Satan in the wilderness in his temptation it was a high-level encounter with Satan where Satan lost, then concluding it was an offensive posture by Jesus because he was led by the spirit into the wilderness (Mt.4).
Yet it is from the days of John, not Jesus, that this violence the Scripture refers to came from the religious leaders of Israel who wanted to hold onto their power, not Satan. (Mt.11:12 is taken out of context). And Jesus held the leaders responsible for their decision.
Yet Wagner gives the right answer trapped between the lines of his own answer of an alternative of aggressive warfare. “his power was broken through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.” Which means we must proclaim the gospel to break the enemies power; simple yet elusive to those who pursue aggression against Satan’s temporary allowed kingdom on earth.
When Jesus “was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil,” (Mt. 4:1) Satan quoted a Scripture to him v.6, For it is written: 'He shall give His angels charge over you,' in a misapplication to try and deceive Jesus. Jesus used Scripture correctly to overcome Satan’s temptations. Scripture is our best offensive weapon against the devil, not binding or long warfare prayers.
Like Satan that quoted this verse to Jesus, spirit warfare enthusiasts in battle with demons believe that we can order the angels what to do and where to go. This exalts man over God who said He gives aid to man by the angels (Heb. 2:16), the emphasis is “He,” God, not man controls them. 1 Pt.3:22 all are subject to him, not us.
Paul speaks of wicked angels that fell with Satan inhabit our atmosphere influencing the world for evil. We are instructed “Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. He then describes the armor we need worn to be protected . He completes this picture of our armor with his warning to protect our mind. First is the belt of truth. If you don’t have the truth you cannot withstand him, you will end in defeat. Considering how this new warfare is fought by information from new revelation outside the Bible from its start it can only end in defeat.
Paul said that we “wrestle . . . against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12).
The correct interpretation is crucial to win this battle. He instructed us to “stand against the wiles of the devil,” not plan an assault, pursue or attack him. The invention of a militant spirit war that we enter into the spirit realm to fight is what the Bible would list as a fable, vain imagination from prophets that prophesy falsely. Instructions that we must first identify demonic strongholds in our atmosphere and pull them down through new spiritual warfare prayer is misleading. Organizing an International army of prayer warriors seeking to enter a spirit realm and take the fight to the Devil for the intent of global revival, or what they claim will be world evangelization is a figment of their own imaginations.
The “shield of faith” is given to us to “quench” Satan's “fiery darts” that are launched at us. We do not fire back, and enter a battle. James 4:7: “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil and he Will flee from you.”
Note that is a personal resistance, the order is to submit to God, then resist the devil and he will flee from YOU, not someone else, not a territory. There is no verse that says, rebuke the devil, research the devil, pursue and fight the devil. It says to resist, withstand, stand against, hold your ground “in Christ”! We are to stand on the finished work of Christ and our submission to it. If we instead participate in this new method of warfare then Satan has us acting as if Christ's work is insufficient, to be aggressive leaves us on our own.
True biblical spiritual warfare is indirect confrontation with Satan. We do not fight with Satan and his evil spirits, we stand firm by faith, abide in Christ, and God is able to directly confront the evil forces and overcome them for us.
We have our examples from the Scripture: When, Paul told the Thessalonians (I Thess. 2:18) that Satan had hindered him from coming to them. He did not respond and attack Satan -- He appealed to God. Paul, did not directly confront demonic powers that were in his life afflicting him or preventing him from doing the Lords work. “There was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me” (2 Corinthians 12:7). In Vv.9-10 Paul states “Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.”
He didn’t “speak it away,” he didn’t bind him or do any spirit warfare to be
free from it. It was God’s will and Paul accepted it. God’s answer was
with His grace and Paul surrendered to the will of God in his situation. God’s
power was still exhibited in Paul’s life, even with his affliction.
In the spirit warfare now being practiced the church is not depending on the Bible’s instructions from the original apostles, but on “new revelation” from these “new” apostles and prophets.
Discovery of a spirit realm by these methodologies are simply not found in scripture but precipitated by voices that instruct those involved to use these new methods which leads them into experiences not verifiable from Scripture. In other words it is using a form of Gnosticism to lead one into mysticism.
Demons try to influence important people to do what is wrong by listening to them and not listening to God. Consider the new revelation streaming to the new prophets apostles each day about spirit war.
Eph. 6:14 “Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness.” If their warfare is not in the truth then they have no righteousness and they cannot stand and have them flee; so they instead chase the demons.
Do we enter battle directly against demons or does the Lord fight the battle for us as we stand in faith? We need to make up our minds which way we will battle.
2 Corinthians 4: 3 -4: “But if our Gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost.' In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not lest the light of the glorious Gospel of Christ, who is the Image of God, should shine unto them.”
The “warfare” we are involved with is “To turn people from darkness to light, from Satan's power to God, to get them to receive forgiveness of sins and the inheritance.”
Our manner of warfare is prayer and preaching the word for souls to be rescued. Confronting the blinded with the light of the glorious Gospel of Christ. It involves bringing down vain imaginations that exalts itself against the knowledge of Christ. The proclamation of Christ and his gospel is the command, when people understand and respond to the gospel they are transferred from being bound under the influence of the kingdom of darkness to becoming part of the kingdom of Christ (Eph. 2:1-6). This is not just a matter of human ingenuity; it is the work of the Holy Spirit as he honors His word being taught.
Let's look at a Bible example where we see the Apostle Paul engaged in spiritual warfare.
Acts 17:1-4 “Now when they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where there was a synagogue of the Jews. Then Paul, as his custom was, went in to them, and for three Sabbaths reasoned with them from the Scriptures, explaining and demonstrating that the Christ had to suffer and rise again from the dead, and saying, “This Jesus whom I preach to you is the Christ.” And some of them were persuaded; and a great multitude of the devout Greeks, and not a few of the leading women, joined Paul and Silas.”
Note Paul's spiritual warfare (here and elsewhere) consists of: reasoning, debating, and contending. Paul went after the vain imaginations, reasoning’s and high thoughts that exalted themselves against the knowledge of God.
Acts 17.16-18: “Now while Paul waited for them at Athens, his spirit was provoked within him when he saw that the city was given over to idols. Therefore he reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and with the Gentile worshipers, and in the marketplace daily with those who happened to be there. Then certain Epicurean and Stoic philosophers encountered him. And some said, “What does this babbler want to say?” Others said, “He seems to be a proclaimer of foreign gods,” because he preached to them Jesus and the resurrection.”
Here we have proper spiritual warfare! Paul, grieved by the idolatry, preached, reasoned, and debated with the people in the synagogue and marketplace. He is bringing down the demonic strongholds of thinking, and refuting the philosophies they held. He didn't wage spirit warfare against Zeus or any of their false gods. There was no “warfare worship” he did not conduct “praise marches” around Athens or blow trumpets or wave a banner. He promoted the message that alone can save and reasoned it to them personally. None of the apostles “made war in the heavenlies”, as we see it practiced today.
Pastor Bill Randles on p. 73 in his book “War in the Heavenlies” writes,When the devil tried to intimidate the early Church in Acts 4, they responded with spiritual warfare, but not by attacking “religious spirits”, “control”, or “Jezebel”. They appealed to God “with one accord” and said, “Lord you are God (not the high priests) which hast made the heaven and the earth and the sea and all that in them is.” Now, why do you think they appealed to God that way in the time of crisis? They called upon God as creator, God as Lord indeed! In fact, the Greek word Lord is despotes. God as Despotes! Absolute Ruler! It puts it all back in perspective.”
By Spirit profiling and confronting the spirits that terrorize humanity all makes good theater but is completely useless in engaging in the real warfare. God is excluded in their solution. We do not use frivolous methods to conquer the Devil and take his territories.
A fixation with the Powers of Darkness exalts Satan and diminishes Jesus, who we are to be focused on. It stops us from depending on God; It's God's war, the battle belongs to the Lord - it's Jesus versus Satan. We the church stand immovable in him in this battle. We are not to be seeking out information on spirits and their work. The armor is for protection of attacks on us, there is no spiritual armor for a city or country, only for believers.
We engage in spiritual warfare by using the sword of the Spirit (Eph. 6:17). We preach Christ as Lord (2 Cor. 4:5), we explain the message that saves. Real spiritual warfare is attacking the strongholds of people's ideas, in their minds. It is taking away their justifications, challenging their reasoning and stripping away the excuses (2 Cor. 10:4-5). Biblical spiritual warfare challenges peoples beliefs with the truth and in love.
But, when spiritual warfare proponents teach that over every area there is a spirit, a principality, a power, or an entity, that we are to bring down, I submit to you that this is beyond scripture. To believe in their existence is one thing, but what to do about them is another. Nowhere did God instruct us to “bring down principalities over cities?”
A spiritual war is taking place on earth for the heart and minds of everyone whether they know it or not. The same spirit that can give a psychic insight by feelings and thoughts can just as easily influence someone by visions and dreams. This does not exclude Christians being influenced by the demonic, in fact it may happen more than one wants to admit. It can only be discovered by having the truth. By teaching these new methods of spirit warfare to the church we have brought real warfare into the church!The real spiritual war the church is involved in is not about battling territorial spirits but false teachers teaching about territorial spirits as the new way of warfare.
If Satan can convince you to (continually) battle him instead of standing in Christ to deceive you into thinking you are making a difference. He knows only Christ can destroy him; he knows the word better than most. So to make Christians think they can bind him judge him or destroy him is subterfuge. If one is getting thoughts about the devil, how to fight him, their focus is on him, not God. He has detracted you into his ways, depending on the arm of the flesh, and not Christ.
My conclusion is those who practice these unbiblical methods of spirit warfare have been taken captive by their own warfare methods. They see everything through their myopic unbiblical worldview of demons over all the countries, over all the cities and over the things people do. They have a religious spirit.
Deuteronomy 29.29: “The secret things belong unto the Lord our God,- but those things which are revealed belong to us and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of the law.” Whatever we need to know in any matter, God has revealed in the Scripture (1 Tim.3:16). There is a principle we hold to - we live by and practice what is written in the word, not by what is not in the word.
To seek the demonic activity over a certain area by spiritual intuition or instructions by a voice that one assumes is the Holy Spirit can be dangerous. The idea of seeking revelation beyond the word, (the inspired written word –Scripture) to battle the devil and enter the invisible realm is in itself occultic.
The Occult means to reveal what is hidden, thus they are fighting the occult with the occult -- which amounts to nothing. It does not affect the Devils plans, in fact it allows him to reach inside the church to have a greater influence of deception.The more you concentrate on demons the more you open a door and power is given to them. There is a balance in these matters; we are to be aware but not infatuated.
Deception can be defined as the acceptance of false ideas in place of true ones. When accepted it changes a persons view and leaves him helpless and vulnerable to the control of others. The idea that we are to "engage in a direct conflict with Satan,” is one of the largest deceptions the church has accepted today. This is a concept out of Gnosticism, that if you control the spirit realm of its evil it affects our reality, our physical world. It is this type of warfare that is a lie from demons. They have influenced certain individuals to lead the church into a false battle where imagination has no boundaries and travels over the borders of the Bible.
The Churches that allow this false spiritual warfare model to come inside the church promote end up becoming high trafficked avenues through which demons perpetuate a teaching that is useless against them, thus allowing them more influence. They have people focus on them more than being proficient in spreading the gospel.
Of course people who focus on demons each day will demonize those who challenge their methods, who use the Bible correctly to refute them. These apostles and prophets don’t want you to have a choice other than what they offer. Don’t let them convince you of their way being the only way.
What was said about the law can be said about this Gal. 2:4-5 “And this occurred because of false brethren secretly brought in (who came in by stealth to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage), to whom we did not yield submission even for an hour, that the truth of the gospel might continue with you.”
The new methods of spirit warfare are bondage, not freedom. The sooner the Church understand this the more effective we will be in the real spiritual war we are to be in.