Tuesday, April 27, 2010

How To "Do" Spiritual Warfare, Part II

In the previous post, I wrote about what spiritual warfare is NOT (rebuking/binding demonic forces, "pleading the blood" of Jesus over objects/ground/people). Now for some reasons as what makes this particular brand of "spiritual warfare" teaching "BAD."


In various discussions with those who currently practice such forms of "warfare," I keep getting the same proof-texts over and over again used by those who would attempt to justify this practice.

To the question "where are the specific instructions to bind/rebuke demons given in Scripture"...the answer--which is really no answer at all to the actual question--is...

"Jesus commanded his disciples to drive out demons."

There are many problems that arise from such an answer. The first and most obvious response to that answer is that Jesus told his disciples they would not only have authority to cast demons out of people, but they would also have the same authority to heal various diseases, to handle poisonous snakes, and to be miraculously delivered from the effects of poison. Even if one is determined to believe that Mark 16:9-20 is the inspired word of God (which I am not inclined to believe, but that's another topic for another discussion), then exactly on what grounds do we "pick and choose" what apostolic signs we can show forth? Jesus did indeed grant His authority to His apostles to drive demons out of people (again...PEOPLE, not real or imagined spirits on property or inanimate objects), that much is evident from Matthew 10:1, Mark 9:38, and Acts 5:16 to name a few references.

If one is to claim that he/she can bind/rebuke demons based upon a reading of Mark 16:17, I would ask them if they stop there, or if they also pick up rattlesnakes in order to show forth an apostolic sign, or if they drink poison in order to show forth an apostolic sign. What about miraculous healing? If a person claims to me that are able to bind/rebuke demons based upon Mark 16:17, I would advise them to start making regular, daily hospital visits and begin laying hands of children who have terminal diseases with the intent of healing them.

So the real question here is....was Jesus speaking directly to his apostles and giving them that charge? Or was he also giving ALL BELIEVERS that same exact charge? If the answer is "yes" to the latter question, then why stop at binding/rebuking demons?


There is also a common belief among those who practice "warfare praying," which is that born-again Christians can be "demonized"...i.e., under the control of a demon. A "deliverance" is a ritual in which the born-again Christian has an exorcism performed upon him/her and the demon(s) expelled from their body.

"So are you saying that people actually believe that Christians can be demon-possessed?"

"Of course not," the warfare-praying Christian would respond. "Christians cannot be demon-possessed, but they CAN be "demonized," which is to mean "demon-OPPRESSED."

The New Testament contains NO such distinction between "demon-possessed" and "demonized" or "demon-OPPRESSED." This person would be drawing a distinction where NO DISTINCTION exists in the word of God. That is a dangerous thing to do.

"Demonized" and "demon-possessed" mean the same thing. When Scripture speaks of a person being possessed by a demon, Scripture means that person is being possessed by a demon. Period. And NOWHERE in Scripture is it specifically stated as a matter of practice or a matter of example that ANY born-again follower of Jesus Christ can be indwelt or controlled by a demon.


Scripture DOES teach that believers are indwelt with the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19, 1 John 4:4). If "he who is in you in greater than he who is in the world" (the latter "he" being Satan) then how exactly can a Christian have BOTH a demon and the Holy Spirit battling WITHIN the his body?

Colossians 1:13 tells us "he has delivered us from the domain of darkness." To what degree of effectiveness is this deliverance if more "deliverings" must be performed over and over again in the life of Christian?

Another bit of rotten fruit from these foul "warfare" teachings is the nonsensical, occultic teachings on "deliverance."


Whenever these bad "spiritual warfare" teachings come up, there is SURE to be at least one good story to accompany it. In fact, in one book I read on these "spiritual warfare" teachings (wrongly titled "Spiritual Warfare") I read, the author actually BEGINS the book not with a sound exegesis of Scripture, but with a PERSONAL STORY from his background in the pastorate. He tells the story of how God supposedly opened his eyes to the "reality" of what he considered "spiritual warfare." It wasn't through Scripture, though...which is God's ONLY means of direct communication with His elect. It was through the dangerous deception of PERSONAL EXPERIENCE.

Now, please don't think I am downplaying the importance of EXPERIENCE. After all, I could read all about the Gospel of Jesus Christ as contained in God's word until I was blue in the face, but it wouldn't be until I PERSONALLY EXPERIENCED it that the Gospel would have any value for me. However, the Gospel is the Gospel whether I personally experience it or not. I have confessed Jesus as Lord, but His Lordship isn't dependent upon my confession of it; He is Lord because HIS WORD TELLS US HE IS LORD (Philippians 2:11-12).

So, when we're referring to matters of Biblical doctrine; we should understand that doctrine is not made true by our EXPERIENCE of it...but it is true because God has revealed it as true in his word.

Experience is a horrible guide because experience is WIDELY varied. If one person claims that their "binding/rebuking" prayer caused his infant son to stop crying at night and another person claims that their "binding/rebuking" prayer to have NO effect on his crying infant son...exactly who am I to believe?

If it is your contention that "binding/rebuking demons works because I have personally seen it and felt it work," then might I respectfully suggest that you find a new source of truth.

God's word.

If you cannot find a command contained in God's word in which He specifically commands all believers to bind/rebuke demons, then do not do it.

"But it works," you might say. If "whatever works" is the idol to which we bow down to, then should we also affirm the claim of that person who says "every time I rub the belly of my Buddha statue, my infant baby stops crying!" After all, if we're guided by the principle of "it works," then we should tell the Buddha-belly-rubber to keep on rubbing, no?


Personal experience can never trump Holy Scripture.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

How To "Do" Spiritual Warfare, Part I

There are few Biblical doctrines more vital to the Christian walk than the doctrine of spiritual warfare. Unfortunately, some preachers/teachers have--perhaps with the best of intentions--clouded this doctrine with false teachings that end up doing more harm than good--spiritually speaking.

When I speak of "spiritual warfare" I am speaking of the reality that a born-again Christian is engaged in a battle with demonic forces. In the New Testament, the Gospels are replete with accounts of Jesus openly casting demons out of people using verbal rebukes. His disciples were commissioned with the similar ability--that is, to cast demons out of people. We know that the Apostle Paul himself was harassed by some sort of Satanic force (2 Corinthians 12:7). Christians are taught--again by Paul--that our real enemies are not humans but rather Satan and his evil forces at work in the spiritual realm (Ephesians 6:12). So we know who our REAL enemy is, and we know that we are engaged in a continual battle with this enemy, and we know that we have spiritual (and practical) weapons at our disposal to fight this enemy (Ephesians 6:12-19).

As with all Biblical doctrine, there is always a possibility that Christians will misunderstand the teaching of Scripture and then--unfortunately--perpetuate such misunderstandings throughout the church. The spiritual effect of this perpetuation of false doctrine--ironically--actually ends up benefiting the work of the enemy, who works through falsehoods to achieve his perverted goals (John 8:44). A practical effect of this perpetuation of false doctrine is that (in most cases) well-meaning Christians are hamstrung by engaging in a un-Biblical practice and--at best--waste their precious time and--at worst--engage is overt superstition dressed up as "spiritual warfare."

There are 2 main questions that concern me for the purposes of this article...

1.) What "spiritual warfare" is
2.) What "spiritual warfare" is not

For my own purposes, I'm going to answer both questions in reverse order, prayerfully hoping that the Biblical directives for the Christian to "wage the good warfare" will be fresh in the mind of the reader.


I have some personal experience with some false teachings on spiritual warfare, having sat under some bad teaching on the subject and then perpetuating it in my own personal life. All doctrine eventually is practiced in the day-to-day practice of LIVING, and that includes both GOOD doctrine and BAD doctrine. So, for any who may question why I am addressing this subject, it is because--somewhere, somehow--somebody is applying false doctrine in their lives. And the results of that could definitely be problematic.

Here's the progression of the teaching that eventually leads us into un-Biblical territory. It always BEGINS with sound Biblical truth and then takes a detour into worldliness (more on that later)...

- Satan is REAL and demons are REAL (Okay...I agree 100%)

- Satan hates God and the people of God (Again, I'm totally with ya)

- Satan and his demonic angels try to destroy/sabotage the work of God (Still totally agreeing with ya)

- Christians can--in fact--be "demonized"...i.e., under the oppressing control of a demonic spirit (Wait...isn't "demonized" just a word substitute for "demon-possessed" and doesn't the Bible teach that Christians are indwelt with the Spirit? How can a demon and the Holy Spirit share the same space like that?)

- It is the responsibility of every Christian to rebuke Satan and/or his demons (Ehhhh... Huh?)

- Certain demons are assigned to certain sins...i.e., "demons of alcoholism"...."demons of lust"..."demons of pride", etc. (Whaaaaat are you talking about?)

- Demons can invade certain territories and must be driven out by the power of speaking the name of Jesus (Say again? Did we wander into a charismatic congregation?)

- Christians need to "plead the blood of Jesus" over people, buildings, sanctuaries, electronic equipment, etc. (Hmmmm....now where is that in the Bible?)

As it goes, we begin with SOUND Biblical truth, and "wander off into myths" (2 Timothy 4:4). We know that the text of Scripture is clear on the reality of Satan and demons. We know that Christians are engaged in a battle against Satan, demons, and the lies they use. From that, how did we arrive at the conclusion that ALL Christians can--and SHOULD--verbally rebuke demons out of people, buildings, properties, etc.? How did folks arrive at the conclusion that demons can indwell born-again believers of Jesus Christ?

As you will notice, these teachings have no basis in Scripture, but rather in a movement. In the next blog...we will address specifically the false teachings and how these teachers justify the perpetuation of these false teachings.

May God be glorified by it all.

- Shane

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Good Friday in Bricktown

Our evangelism team (Brady Brewer, Adam Evans, and myself) met in Bricktown in downtown Oklahoma City last night. This time, we were joined by several others (Darryl, Chase, Andrew, Chris and Tom). Between us and the other team that was out in full force last night, there were no short supply of "fishermen." Needless to say, the large crowd all got tracts (some of them got several offers for tracts, but that's okay).

I have been burdened lately about doing more in the area of open-air preaching. To that end, we labored for a few hours in preaching the Gospel in the open air. We took turns "on the box," and there were many who heard...and quite a few that actually stopped and listened.

Please pray for one young man in particular named Joseph. Brady spoke with Joseph, who claimed that he is a Christian because he was "baptized." He had the Law and the Gospel explained to him, and once he heard the TRUTH of the Biblical plan of salvation, he was visibly shaken. We left him with a copy of Living Waters' "Why Christianity?" on DVD (an EXCELLENT evangelical tool).

I was very encouraged by those from our churches who were there to help us and support us for the cause of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. They stepped out of their comfort zone and I am grateful for their service.

If you're a born-again Christian who lives in the Oklahoma City metro area (OKC/Moore/Norman) and if you desire to step out of your comfort zone for the cause of Christ...please email me.

We covet your prayers always. Specifically for us, please pray for....

- BOLDNESS (Ephesians 6:19-20)


- PERSONAL SANCTIFICATION FOR EACH OF US (that we would be sensitive to sin in our own lives) (2 Peter 3:18)


Thank you.

Soli Deo Gloria!

- Shane