We know that the devil is at war with the church.
This truth is implied and stated in many parts of scripture and set out clearly in Revelation 12:17; ‘Then the dragon was enraged at the woman and went off to make war against the rest of her offspring — those who obey God’s commandments and hold to the testimony of Jesus’. The question is; “How are we to fight back?”
The text most frequently quoted as an answer to this question is 2 Corinthians 10:3-4:
‘For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds’.
So what are these non-worldly weapons? Conservative Christians would probably answer, “evangelism and prayer”. Other Christians would include things such as Spiritual Mapping, Prayer and Praise Warfare, and Binding Demons.
Spiritual Mapping, for those of you unfamiliar with the term, is the attempt to determine the identity of supposed ‘territorial demons’ controlling areas and organisations. Before these areas can be ‘won for the Lord’, the demon principalities must apparently be identified and their methods of manipulation discovered. Once this has been done the ‘spiritual warfare’ commences with aggressive prayer and praise sessions intended to show the demons that the Kingdom of God is invading their territory. The third strategic assault is to ‘pray against’ these demons and to ‘bind’ them in Jesus name.
My first exposure to this ‘spiritual warfare’ was a statement by Yongi Cho, the South Korean mega-church pastor, that he never attempted to evangelise a new area before his people had obtained a ‘clear heaven’ through spiritual warfare. Now the problem with this is that Jesus neither practiced nor taught it, and neither did His disciples. On the contrary, Jesus’ instructions were to go into all the world and preach the Gospel, make disciples, heal the sick, cast out demons, and (yes) raise the dead. So either Jesus did not know that the secret to success was to first conduct ‘spiritual warfare’ or the Bible fails to record this important principle…. Nonsense!
Even the conservative idea of combating evil simply by praying is dodgy. Prayer is communication with God, and this includes asking Him to act in cases of demonic interference, iniquity, hardness to the Gospel, and so on. However, I can find no biblical evidence that prayer in itself is a form of power. Yet, somehow many Christians seem to think that if enough people pray then their combined prayers will magically cause something to happen. In my opinion, unpopular as it may be, this approach to prayer is just another religious attempt to place the control of circumstances in our hands instead of God’s, and the so-called spiritual warfare I have described earlier is also just another form of religious arrogance.
The book of Revelation gives an insight into the real practice of spiritual warfare when it states that the believers overcame the devil by ‘…the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death’ (Revelation 12:11). The basis for our warfare is the victory of Jesus Christ over the devil and all the powers of darkness, and the ‘weapon’ we use is our testimony to this victory. We exercise dominion over demons and all dark spiritual forces by virtue of the authority of the Lord Jesus and our assurance that He has delegated this to us. At another level, we testify through both words and deeds by speaking out and living out our belief and faith in Jesus Christ as the source of salvation and truth. While the keys to deliverance from demonic control are the authority of Jesus and the power of the Holy Spirit, the key transforming agents in human society are spiritual regeneration in and through Jesus, and the application of what He taught and modeled in all aspects of our lives.
Witnessing through what we say and how we live usually solicits one of two responses from the ‘worldly’; either they are positively impacted and respond by seeking Jesus, or they are hardened and act against us through marginalisation and even overt persecution. The last part of Revelation 12:11 that reads, ‘they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death’ has been a painful reality for many persecuted Christians over the ages.