Spiritual warfare covers a lot of territory. We might say that it runs from the beginning of creation until the present day. It takes on a variety of expression as we seek to move from our position of separation from God into the intimacy for which He created us.
From a Biblical point of view it has not always been the same. There are a number of stages that we can identify.
1. When human beings were created, they were Amoral, instinctive, and capable of training to take care of the garden chores. It is often assumed that they were moral from the beginning, but the text tells us otherwise. In this first stage, Satan was present as a tempter. Gen 1-3
2. After the Fall human beings were Immoral, willful, egocentric and error prone. (Man was certain that he knew good and evil for others, including God, as well as for himself. That is a good definition of Original Sin.) He was capable of knowing evil and rationalizing to blame others. Satan was the adversary. Gen 3
3. The Covenant of the Law brought another element into play. God made it clear that He intended a particular behavior. Humans became Immoral, Self righteous, Critical, Self justifying. The Law was difficult for us to interpret in particular situations, and it was impossible for us to keep. Satan was tempter, judge, jury and executioner.
4. The advent of Jesus brought a new humanity, moral fulfillment of the Law, and the possibility for us to be reconciled to God. The new humanity is offered as a gift from God. We receive it as we are willing to die with Christ to our self-centeredness, and enter resurrection life in the Kingdom of God. We cannot restore the old. "The wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life.." Rom 6:23 We must receive the new life as a gift. We are set free from bondage to Satan through death of self. We are raised up beyond his reach in the Kingdom of God, which is at hand. Mk 1:14
The battle between good and evil is not a battle between God and Satan. God is Sovereign over all of His creation, including Satan. The struggle lies between the Old Creation and the New Creation. The Old Creation is Satan's domain. The New has been opened for us through the Crucifixion and Resurrection of Jesus Christ., that we might walk out of bondage to Satan into the freedom of the Kingdom of God.
The New Testament Scriptures use the two Greek words for life, bios from whence we get biology or the study of life, and zoe, the commonly used word in the New Testament for eternal life, or life lived out in a living relationship wherein we know God. We are born first of the flesh, bios, then of the Spirit, zoe. We are born first separated from God , in sin. We are born into the family of God in our new birth.
We are not complete at our new birth. Paul refers to the Corinthians as babes in Christ, but carnal adults. I Cor 3:1 We are born anew, but must grow into the full expression of the incarnate Lord in our flesh. Our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being daily renewed. II Cor 4:16
There is no reason to fear Satan. The victory has been won, but the battles are still being engaged. That is spiritual warfare. Jesus said, "if you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained." Jn 20:23 It would seem that the scope of spiritual warfare begins with our willingness to be reconciled to God. Jesus' work is to set us free from the bondage in which Satan holds us until we receive the gift of freedom that was established on His Cross.
THE NATURE OF THE BONDAGE
The first type of bondage in which we find ourselves is ignorance. "How are men to call upon Him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in Him of whom they have not heard?" Rm 10:14 One essential way in which we are to set people free is to introduce them to Jesus - to deliver them from ignorance about God into a personal relationship wherein they know Him now in the Kingdom of God which is at hand.
Another type of bondage is weakness. We are born with inherent weakness which the church has called Original Sin. It simply means that "God has consigned all men to disobedience in order that He might have mercy on all." Rm 11:32 The need in that event is power. The addict who lives in bondage to drugs, or sex or control, must find a stronger power to set him free from the bondage to enter and walk in the freedom of the Kingdom.
There are also spirits, unseen but not powerless entities, that live within and around us to oppress, harass, and at times to possess us. There seems to be a variety of these spirits. The first order would be Satan himself, or one of his lieutenants. He may be cast out in the Name of Jesus from those who are willing to be set free.
There are spirits which seem to answer to the names of the deadly sins. There are spirits of Pride, Envy, Anger, Sloth, and others of that nature. They can be cast out in the Name of Jesus from those who are willing to be set free. Some of the forces that manifest in people seem to be spirits and some simply the weakness of the flesh within the person who suffers from habitual behavior marked by sin. (See tract on Exorcism)
There are spirits which seem to respond to the names of people. They would seem to be discarnate human spirits that are not yet loosed on earth that they might be loosed in heaven. They need absolution of their sins in order that they may be loosed on earth, and can then be loosed in heaven. The gates of hell shall not prevail against the church. Mt 16:18
I realize that this is a very controversial area, but my own experience, and the experience of others with whom I have shared seem to indicate that there are spirits that respond as human spirits even if they are something else. The ones I have encountered are not particularly hostile. They seem to be looking for a body to continue their living in the world, or they are seeking a ticket to the Kingdom. In either event they contribute anything from ambivalence to a dual personality until they are dismissed. (See tract on Unclean Spirits)
Another aspect of spiritual warfare seems to stem from those who have decided to follow Satan, or one of the Old Creation cultic gods. They have made a study of the powers of the Old Creation, and they have learned how to use spells and incantations to impact the lives of other people. A spell is a means of assault from a distance that uses the spiritual power of the Old Creation to make itself felt. (See the tract on Exorcism)
OTHER SIMILAR PHENOMENA
There is another phenomenon called Multiple Personality Disorder or MPD. It appears to be the presence of another spirit, but it is instead another part of the host person. MPD will generate personality splits called alters that will often act as alien entities within the personality.
They cannot be cast out. They are an integral part of the person in whom they are found. They seem to issue from some trauma that causes the person to dissociate. An alter personality comes out to protect the host during the trauma. In some people they remain "out." The need is for the alter to reenter the host and become re integrated to restore the personality to make it whole. (See tract on MPD)
A related problem that receives little attention in most circles is the bondage that is established in sexual intercourse. When two people are joined together, they become one flesh. There is a sense in which a portion of the male and a portion of the female are interchanged in the transaction. The Scripture puts it that the two are made one flesh. In God's grace and love the two become a husband, a wife, and the Person of the marriage.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS
The symptoms of the need for deliverance or exorcism are varied, but there are two questions that we may ask. "Are we always able to do what we will to do?" and "Is there something I am compelled to do against my will?" If there is a discrepancy between the will and the action, there is possibly some need for ministry. With our minds we might serve the Law of God, but the law of sin is at work in our members. Rm 7:19-20 In some instances the stress can be removed or at least alleviated through exorcism of some spirit.
There seem to be two sources of behavior that intrude on our own wills. One will come from a spirit acting in a compulsive fashion. That is one that is dealt with through exorcism. The other seems to be a reaction to some one or some situation. That is one that may be dealt with by ministering Healing of Memories. (See the tract on Healing of Memories.)
In either event the symptoms will be some form of behavior that violates the will of the person who is exhibiting the behavior.
HOW DO WE TREAT THE DISEASE?
The ultimate way out of the warfare is to get out of the Old Creation and into the Kingdom of God where none of the above powers have any presence. There is no ignorance in the presence of God. There is no sin in the Kingdom. The sinner has been put to death (crucified with Christ), and the new creature is raised up sinless.
The spirits are left with the corpse in the Old Creation and the soul of the Christian is given a new resurrection body in the Kingdom where there is no darkness. The evil one has no access to us there. Rev 12:7ff In short we are not simply delivered from spirits so we can live freely in the Old Creation. The affected part of us is literally delivered into the New Creation where there is no access by the spirits.
The spells are returned to the sender, since they cannot ground in a child of God without permission.
When we are working with an MPD, we seek to heal the trauma from which the alter emerged, speak to the alter about returning as a part of the host, and encourage the reunion and the integration so the person can become whole.
When we deal with sexual bondage we seek to separate the union of the two that yields discord, and let each of them find a measure of wholeness and integrity in their lives.
We are not at war with flesh and blood, but with principalities and powers. We cannot be set free from the bondage of the spirit without spiritual ministry in the will of God. Jesus came to undo the works of the devil. He has sent us to cast out spirits.
Spiritual warfare includes our whole pilgrimage from birth through death into life, dealing with each bondage as we find it in the person who is seeking ministry to be set free. It includes not only exorcism, but forgiveness, intercession, teaching, and growth in Holy Spirit.
When we are to engage in Spiritual Warfare, it is wise to have at least two ministers present. It is very important that the two be of one accord about what they are attempting to do. If there are a number of people, the chance of conflict in the ministering body is far greater.
It is wise to ask God for direction and protection when we seek to exercise His authority and power in exorcism. It is important to seek His direction in dealing with MPD, and it is important to seek His direction in dealing with sexual bondage.
As each one of the ministries in Spiritual Warfare is somewhat different in nature from the others, we have made the effort to describe the playing field of life in the Old Creation, and some of the games that are played. We recommend that anyone who is attempting to minister in this area read the specific tracts for the particular type of ministry they are intending to practice.
While there is often need for more than one kind of ministry in the area of Spiritual Warfare, the ministries are not the same, nor is what we are trying to effect in the person for whom we are praying the same procedure.
We cannot cast out alters. We do not absolve any spirit that we are seeking to cast out, but we may use some form of absolution when we are dealing with spirits of departed people, or with the fragments of persons who are trapped in Sexual bondage.
I send every spirit removed from a person to Jesus because He knows what is needed to take care of them in accord with the will of God. I send spells and curses back to the one who sent them because they must ground in the Old Creation.
Jesus has authorized and empowered us, and He has commissioned us to go and cast out demons. They are not all the same. It is well for us, when we engage the enemy, to know the nature of the enemy we engage.
We do not seek to regain the Old Creation and reestablish Eden; but to set people free to die with Christ to the Old Creation and enter into the Kingdom of God as His children, set free to live with Him.
Spiritual Warfare is a matter of the unseen reality that surrounds us in the Old Creation. It is not a simple war between God and Satan over the humans that live on the earth. It is the context in which God has chosen to invite us to be His own children.
The choice is not, as it was with Adam, whether we will disobey God. We cannot obey God until He comes to lead us out of the bondage into which we were born. The choice that we must make is whether or not we will seek to obey God, at His invitation.
He has sent His Son to open the Kingdom of God to all whom He has redeemed. He has opened a New Creation into which we enter through death into resurrection. It is not enough to learn how to be good. It is a matter of our being transformed and made the righteousness of God which we see in Jesus Christ.
If we are to enter the Kingdom of God completely so we might know God even as we are known by Him, we are going to have to be set free from the bondage under the Law where we are held in bondage by Satan. We are not able to defeat Satan in our own strength. That is why we are given power and authority to cast out demons.
We wield that authority and power as Holy Spirit comes to incarnate Jesus in us to drive out Satan, and to incarnate Jesus through us to set others free from the same bondage.
EXORCISM OF SPACE
People are not the only abode of the spirits. They will also occupy space from time to time. The old ghost stories that seem so other worldly are grounded in the reality that spirits actually come to live and hang out in particular places.
Houses need to be blessed for this reason. Where someone has died, this is especially true. Where there has been any occult practice in a place, this is especially true. If a place may have been cursed, this is especially true.
It is not a matter of what we see or feel. It is a matter of the spiritual reality that surrounds us. The world is cluttered with spiritual mess. We have been sent to clean it up.
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