Reforming the "Spirit Filled" Church (Part 3): Authentic Spiritual Warfare
Spiritual warfare is real. The only problem is sometimes the ideas people have about spiritual warfare aren't real. J. Lee Grady's 3rd and 4th reforms for the Pentecostal and Charismatic movements both speak about people's perceptions of spiritual warfare.
(This post is part of a series interacting with J. Lee Grady's article 'It's (Past) Time for a Charismatic Reformation'. Here are the links to the previous posts in the series: Part 1, Part 1b, Part 2.)
3. It’s time for personal responsibility. We charismatics must stop blaming everything on demons. People are usually the problem.
4. Stop playing games. Spiritual warfare is a reality, but we are not going to win the world to Jesus just by shouting at demonic principalities. We must pray, preach and persevere to see ultimate victory.
Unfortunately, from time to time, strange ideas about demons and spiritual warfare seem to come along as the latest fad in charismatic circles. So, instead of a commitment to evangelism to see people in our communities come to faith in Christ, sometimes people decide it would be much more effective to cast out territorial spirits (despite the fact that the New Testament church never once engaged in such a practice). When there is sin that needs to be dealt with in the lives of Christians, instead of the hard work of mortification (which sounds far to morbid for us happy-clappy types), people decide it would be more effective to rebuke the spirit of whatever the sin is, or cast out the demon (despite the fact that there isn't a single biblical example of an evil spirit or demon being cast out of a believer). You see, it's just so much easier to put the responsibility onto evil spirits than it is to accept the responsibility ourselves.
But it's not just a matter of taking responsibility. It's also a matter of taking things seriously. Perhaps some people find it fun to spend a few hours shouting at territorial spirits in a highly charged atmosphere. But the real work of prayer, preaching and persevering isn't quite so easy. Prayer, preaching and persevering demand patience. Shouting at territorial spirits looks more like a quick fix. But God is patient (Ex. 34:6) and He calls us to be patient too (e.g. Ps. 37:7; Rom. 12:12; 1 Thess. 5:14; James 5:7). He is not the God of the quick fix, but the God of the long-term solution. What's more, He has promised to work through prayer, preaching and perseverance!
True spiritual warfare isn't about shouting at territorial spirits or rebuking the spirit of laziness. True spiritual warfare involves standing firm against the devil's wiles (Eph. 6:10-11), clothed in gospel armour (Eph. 6:14-17) and armed with the Word of God and prayer (Eph. 6:17-18). In fact, true spiritual warfare looks a lot more like praying, preaching, and persevering.
P.S. If you want to learn more about spiritual warfare, give Peter Wagner's books a miss and try William Gurnall instead. Gurnall's very biblical The Christian in Complete Armour is a classic for good reason. You can read it in a 3 volume modernized and abridged version (Vol. 1, Vol.2, Vol. 3), or, for the less faint hearted, the full 1244 page 17th century original. David Wilkerson wrote of this book that 'I believe The Christian in Complete Armour, should be in the library of every man and woman of God. No Christian leader, teacher, pastor, evangelist, or Christian worker should be without it.' John Newton, the writer of 'Amazing Grace', said: 'If I might read only one book beside the Bible I would choose The Christian in Complete Armour.'