The salvation (Greek soteria) Jesus came to bring was not merely to be spared the wrath of a just and righteous God over sin as commonly preached from pulpits. Soteria is translated as deliverance and health as well as to save. As already noted, John tells that Jesus came to destroy the devil’s work, including healing of physical disease as well as emotional or mental oppression, and freedom from demonic influence making life seem unbearable for some and even leading to suicide. Jesus came not only to reconcile man with the Father in heaven, but to reconcile people with each other and even, at times, with oneself and thereby take back the territory Satan had claimed in many dimensions.
Disciples were sent out to preach the “gospel of the kingdom,” not just repentance to be forgiven of sins. It was never intended for those with faith in Jesus to merely ‘hold the fort’ defensively. We are to continue what Jesus of Nazareth came to do apart from His atoning work carried out at Calvary, namely to continue His work of destroying the devil’s work not only within ourselves but in others by the power of the Holy Spirit in the name of Jesus. Yet this latter aspect of the gospel of the kingdom has been pushed to the back burner by seducing spirits which have entered the church with what Paul calls “doctrines of devils” (1 Timothy 4:1).
Writing to the Romans, Paul speaks of conflict within the members of his own body caused by the “sin that dwells in me” (Romans 7:17,20). He recognizes that as a consequence of the Fall in Eden, something not representing God joined mankind. So it is the apostle writes that “evil is present within me” (7:21). There is a refusal in most denominations to recognize, let alone attempt to understand, what Paul is saying in this matter. But we are terribly handicapped when it comes to spiritual warfare if we cannot firmly grasp what Paul is telling us about a law of sin being “in my members” which tries to bring him into captivity (7:23).
“Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh. For if you live after the flesh, you shall die; but if you through the Spirit do mortify [put to death} the deeds of the body, you shall live.” Romans 8:12.13
Here we find the apostle writing to people of faith in Christ, explaining that they must put to death deeds of a sinful nature that dwells within them as a spiritual inheritance lest they die again spiritually. Refusal to accept scripture written by inspiration of Holy Spirit through the pen of Paul has multitudes within the body of Christ failing to deal with a carnal nature and thereby placing their souls at great risk. And the doctrine of Balaam known as ‘eternal security’ is but a false security placed in the Church by seducing spirits along with other doctrines of devils as prophesied would happen by the apostle. The doctrine of Balaam would teach that sin has no adverse consequences, either temporal during this life or eternally.
“Now the Spirit speaks expressly that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils.” 1 Timothy 4:1
A significant part of spiritual warfare concerns generational iniquities, a matter of inheritance for every person born since Adam through whom sin entered all men (Romans 5:12). We’ll find ourselves greatly hindered in having the kingdom of heaven operate in and through our lives if not willing to allow Holy Spirit freedom to expose the spiritual roots of our ways which are contrary to the ways of God. At times, this involves being brutally honest with ourselves as to hurts and hangups which have become strongholds, mindsets or dispositions which operated in our family tree and came to us as a generational inheritance. And such strongholds will compromise us when it comes to fulfilling the commission Jesus gives to His disciples today as well as two thousand years ago.
“As you go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand. Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils, freely you have received, free give.” Matthew 10:7,8
In the gospel of Matthew, preaching the “kingdom of heaven” is discussed repeatedly. In fact, the kingdom of heaven is mentioned over forty times in that gospel alone. Yet today, the gospel of the kingdom is often reduced to simply a gospel for the forgiveness of sins. The work of the kingdom in healing the sick, cleansing lepers, raising the dead, and casting out devils is nowhere found in churches bewitched into believing such works of the Holy Spirit through man have ceased. Those who accept such falsehood are encouraged to read free books found on this website. Cessationism is a lie instilled into the teaching of the present day Church by none other than the father of lies Satan.
The church is failing its Christ in many ways. Seducing spirits have entered bible schools and seminaries. Many preach faith while denying the power of the Holy Spirit being in operation today. They may preach the need for faith to be saved, but are not part of the NT church. When it comes to spiritual warfare, however, the greatest offensive weapon of all is faith. It must not be forgotten that even in OT times, there were miracles, healings and raising of the dead. But Satan, the great deceiver, has had little difficulty convincing many that the Godhead has for some unexplained reason changed ways, and the supernatural power of God has ceased to exist. No wonder Jesus tells us to be aware of false prophets.
A second weapon for taking the offense in warfare against the devil is the name of Jesus which the Lord Himself tells is to be used in asking the Father to work in and through us by the power of Holy Spirit. Jesus said of those He was leaving, “In My name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues ….they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover” (Mark 16:17,18). But having authoriy to use a person’s name requires being under that person’s authority. If a Secretary of State speaks on behalf of a President, it’s as though the President himself were speaking. In spiritual warfare, one cannot use Jesus’ name and expect any results unless living under His authority. Demons are aware as to who has the presence of Jesus and the power of Holy Spirit and who does not (Acts 19:13-16 as an example).
Before thinking about setting others free from demonic influence, it’s wise to get one’s own spiritual life in order with help of the Spirit. Not only is ‘eternal security’ a false security. I recently heard an ill-informed preacher in a megachurch teach we personally contribute nothing to holy living (sanctification), and that sanctification is entirely up to God. He is a graduate of a seminary far better defined as being a cemetary where truth is buried and unbiblical doctrines are given life which deceive those in the pew who are most often rather biblically illiterate, at least in America.
This brings us to another weapon critical not only for defense against attack but also for deliverance from the bondage of strongholds as discussed shortly. It is the Word of God, described by Paul as the sword of the Spirit. It is a weapon not available to those unfamiliar with the Word of God. The Holy Spirit cannot bring anointed rhema words of God needed in warfare to one’s remembrance when a person has not washed his mind in the water of God’s Word. The sword of the Spirit is the weapon Jesus used so effectively when tempted by Satan during His forty days in the wilderness. It is those not only filled with the Spirit but with the Word of God who are instruments used to destroy the devil’s works as did our role model Jesus.
“God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power, who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him” (Acts 10:38). And elsewhere, Jesus tells it was actually the Father who did the miracles and other works, not Jesus Himself (John 14:10).
Another powerful weapon in defeating Satan is praise, especially combined with prayer and fasting. This is illustrated in the fascinating story about Jehoshaphat in chapter twenty of Second Chronicles. This godly king of Judah came under attack by an army described as a “multitude.” At once he set himself apart to seek the LORD, proclaimed a fast throughout Judah, and people gathered to ask help from God. Then a prophet of God proclaimed, “Be not afraid….the battle is not yours, but God’s” (20:15). The next morning, Jehoshaphat appointed singers who went before the army, praising the LORD. When they reached the place of battle, all the enemies were dead, having fought against each other. After three days of collecting spoils, they spent a fourth day blessing the LORD and then returned “to Jerusalem with psalteries and harps and trumpets” (20:28). What an example for the people of God today! Or has faith disappeared in the hearts of men?
It’s time for the Church to bring spiritual warfare to the forefront and go on offense against Satan and his evil kingdom. One cannot understand the gospel if ignoring an ongoing war in the spirit world. Wickedness is on the rise even within the Church and the faith of many is growing cold as Jesus prophesied would happen (Matthew 24:12). Most today avoid churches where teaching is bold. Pastors reject need for a ministry of deliverance. Millions of believers take psychiatric drugs to overcome depression and millions are under the bondage of addition. There is a widespread denial of spiritual issues being the cause for diseases including high blood pressure, heart attacks, strokes, allergies, and even cancer. Meanwhile spiritual warfare and deliverance remain under the radar, and casualties continue to mount daily in the congregations of God’s people.
Soldiers in our armed forces are taught to “live and die by the book.” The same should be applied spiritually. The Word of God contains marching orders and guidelines for captives to be set free from every kind of ungodly (including demonic) influence. The question is whether we choose to appropriate the victory Jesus has won for us. This subject is not only ignored in great part. Most in full-time ministry are ill-equipped to help the sheep under their care. It is my experience that many senior pastors are fearful of boldness in addressing sin from the pulpit over concern about falling attendance should they offend itching ears that prefer messages which are soft. And often religion has become little more than a business where the Spirit of God has long departed if He was ever present in the first place.
There are steps which can be taken to appropriate the victory won for us by the death and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth. The Holy Spirit is been sent to indwell and empower us for spiritual warfare. The following are steps which should be elementary if the kingdom of heaven is to manifest through our lives. The first is remembering the battle belongs to the Lord by using weapons having divine power as opposed to the ways of men. The LORD told Joshua before the Israelites attacked Jericho: “See, I have given into your hand Jericho, and the king thereof” (Joshua 6:2). It was a promise victory already had been given the people of God. And those having faith in Jesus Christ have the same promise: “Thanks be to God, which gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:57). We are required to have genuine faith that the One in us is far greater than Satan and his evil forces (1 John 4:4).
The next step is taking responsibility for and repenting of all known sin (including not only behavior but thoughts as well as speech). God never commits Himself to set us free from demonic influence, let alone heal our diseases or even forgive our sins, unless we truly confess and repent (turn from our sins). A most important issue here concerns forgiveness for everyone who has offended us in the past. This is critical! “And when you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against any: that your Father also which is in heaven forgive your trespasses. But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses” (Mark 11:25,26). Many are believers in Christ (perhaps a majority) who hold unforgiveness and resentment toward other persons. They may not realize a root of bitterness will prevent them from entering heaven if they fail to come to repentance from the heart.
Holy Spirit says through the pen of James, “Humble yourself in the sight of the Lord and He shall lift you up” (James 4:10). This involves repenting of all self-righteousness. We’re only strong in the Lord and His power (Ephesians 6:10). Dependence on self and our own power must be rejected. It is only standing with God, confident in the armor He provides, that victory is certain: “As for God, His way is perfect: the word of the LORD is tried: He is a shield to all those that trust in Him” (Psalm 18:30). We must be diligent in not opening doors that might give evil an access to our lives, being careful to remain alert so as to exercise our senses to discern good and evil (Hebrews 5:14). In simple terms, that means practice!
Curses are mentioned over 600 times in scripture, indicating they are not to be ignored. It is important to ask forgiveness for participating in any group requiring personal loyalty, not only for oneself but for past generations (see Nehemiah 1:6 and 9:2). Curses may have been placed on our forefathers and play a role in our lives today. It is error to ignore what are known as generational iniquities. This includes any fraternal or secular group where an oath of allegiance has been taken as well as prayers to other than God the Father. Jesus even tells us to not pray to Him, let alone to angels or to saints including Mary. There is only “one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Timothy 2:5). Yet our Mediator tells us to not ask anything from Him, but rather to ask of the Father in His name. In advance of returning to heaven, Jesus said, “In that day, you shall ask me nothing. Verily, verily, I say to you, Whatsoever you shall ask the Father in My name, He will give it you” (John 16:23). Repetition of verily indicates very strong emphasis is placed on what is said. Ignorance of how to pray is terribly common because many do not have minds renewed by washing in the water of God’s Word.
Finally the discipline of fasting is an important element whenever preparing for warfare in the spirit realm. Many are the examples both in the OT and NT, and yet fasting in any serious manner is all but forgotten. If OT saints as well as Jesus and His disciples fasted, why do we dare ignore fasting as a spiritual discipline. This is a discipline too broad for discussion here, but the subject is covered rather broadly in a lesson on this website. Suffice it to say that Christ commands us to fast as a matter of humbling ourselves, not only out of obedience but so that we might be rewarded by our Father in heaven.
“But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face; that you appear not to men to fast, but to your Father which is in secret; and your Father which is in secret, shall reward you openly.” Matthew 6:17,18
I pray these suggestions might enrich your life and by power of the Spirit make spiritual warfare more effective in overcoming works of a vicious and unrelenting enemy who has come “to steal, and to kill, and to destroy” (John 10:10).