Spiritual Warfare 101

by | May 6, 2020 | The Monstrous Regiment, All, Master

Hosts

The Monstrous Crew

Description

The devil walks around like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour, as the Bible says. But what does this mean for Christians today, and more to the point, what (if anything) can we do about it? Cover some of the basics of spiritual warfare with Suzannah Rowntree in today’s episode!

Transcript

Intro

The devil walks around like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour, as the Bible says. But what does this mean for Christians today, and more to the point, what (if anything) can we do about it? Welcome to the Monstrous Regiment podcast. Today I’d love to spend some time discussing the subject of spiritual warfare. 

Now, by spiritual warfare, I mean specifically the practices of intercessory prayer and verbal rebuke of demonic powers, together with some theological groundwork, since those are the specific areas I’m qualified to comment on. On the more extreme end of demonic activity, topics such as possession and exorcisdim are beyond the scope of this episode. However, I do want to start today’s scussion with an important disclaimer. Spiritual warfare is not simply about confronting demons. Long before we get to that, spiritual warfare is about walking in the Holy Spirit and not giving any ground to the devil in the first place. This is a practical matter of our daily walk in the Lord. It means refusing to tolerate sin in our own lives. It means loving mercy and doing justice. It means having the law of God written on our hearts. It means shining a light on injustice and protecting the vulnerable. Long before we ever get to the point of rebuking demons, we need to be sure we’re walking in the light. Otherwise none of the things I’m about to say in this episode will help you.

My interest in the area of spiritual warfare is not merely academic. As an author of historical fantasy fiction, I often find myself writing about the spiritual aspects of things that happened in real world history. I don’t pretend that my stories are strictly truthful, but when I retell history, I’m always trying to say something about what the deeper spiritual realities might have been. Along the way, I’ve learned some things about what the Bible says about spiritual warfare, and come to believe that large parts of the church by and large come to this subject with an attitude of unbiblical fear.

For instance, CS Lewis in The Screwtape Letters warns us off paying too little attention to the devil, and in the next sentence warns us about paying too much. With all respect to Lewis, It’s sort of a damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don’t scenario, and I’ve never found this take to be tremendously helpful. I’ve also had people express their concern about my making the topic of spiritual warfare a study at all. Multiple people have told me cautionary tales about Christians whose interest in the spiritual world resulted in their living in constant fear…afraid of demons, subject to demonic attack, unable to function in their lives or ministry. The unspoken assumption is that my own interest will lead me into a similar fear and a similar paralysis, and that if I ever try to communicate what I’ve learned, I’ll be passing on a sort of viral terror… And yet here I am, three years later, in a state of mental health that can only be described as offensively robust, and nobody seems to have caught anything off me, either.

Honestly? It was before I learned anything about spiritual warfare that I used to be afraid of demons. As a child, I’d have recurring nightmares in which I could feel myself under spiritual attack and be unable to fight back either by calling on Jesus or running away. As an adult, there’d be times late at night when I’d feel the darkness thickening and wonder if it was my imagination frightening me, or some real spiritual incursion. What was additionally frightening was the idea that maybe I could make myself vulnerable to spiritual attack simply by being sensitive to it. I mean, what happens when you tell yourself not to think about something? You just think about it all the more…and that just makes you more frightened. 

What happened when I started to learn about spiritual warfare was that I realised it doesn’t work like that. Spiritual warfare is ethical-judicial: you can’t summon demons just by thinking about them, and unless you are actually giving ground to the devil by sin in some area of your life, you don’t have to worry about him. These days, when I wonder if something is a spiritual attack or my own hyperactive imagination, I don’t spend any time worrying about it one way or another, and I don’t even bother turning on the light anymore. I just announce my authority in Christ to the darkness, turn over, and go back to sleep.

Our Authority in Christ

I certainly don’t dismiss my friends’ stories about Christians who come under spiritual oppression because of fear. After all, I’ve felt the same kind of thing myself. But the answer to this problem is not to keep the church of God in ignorance. The answer is to give us the weapons we need to fight back. The answer is not to run from the fight because we’re weak, the answer is to put on the armour of faith and win the fight.

You may not be aware of this, especially if you’ve grown up in the reformed or cessationist churches, but the church actually does have at least one handbook on spiritual warfare, the book of Ephesians – there’s actually another, Revelation, but we’ll get to that later. If you aren’t intimately familiar with Ephesians already, I’d encourage you to open it up so you can see what I’m talking about. In Ephesians, the main theme has to do with the mysterious unity that exists between Christ and the Church. Paul starts by telling us, in Ephesians 1:3, that we are blessed with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ. Then he spends a great deal of time explaining how this can be. Jesus chose us before the foundation of the world, redeemed us, filled us with wisdom and prudence, and adopted us into the Father’s family. The bottom line is, all things have been put under Jesus’ feet. And we are Jesus’ body. I don’t think Paul is mixing his metaphors here at the end of chapter 1, I think he means that when all things are put under Jesus’ feet, they are also put under us, as his body. So, because we have union with Christ, we have the authority of Christ. Ephesians 2:6 makes it even clearer: having been raised up from our deathly sins, we are, right now, being made to sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus. 

Part of the Heavenly Council

So…what does it mean to sit in the heavenly places with Jesus? Allow me to make a detour. In recent years, a lot of historical research has been done on ancient Mesopotamian mythology, which has shed some very interesting light on certain passages of Scripture. Scholars have noted that in ancient Mesopotamian and Ugaritic literature (that is – the literature of the ancient Syrian city-state of Ugarit), there’s this concept of the “assembly of the gods” or the “host of heaven” or the “divine council”. The Dictionary of Deities and Demons in the Bible states,

A particular form of consultation … reappears at Ugarit and in the Bible: the high god calls for some god to volunteer to resolve a crisis; different members of the council may be proposed and prove inadequate; finally, when all appears lost, a winning proposal is made and accepted, and the saviour is commissioned…In general, it was in the supreme council that the destinies of individual gods, of cities, and indeed all of humanity were decided. In Ugaritic literature El presides over the council.

Now, of course I’m not saying that Mesopotamian mythology has the force of Biblical revelation. However, these mythologies arose very early in history, shortly after the tower of Babel, at a time and in a place when rebellious mankind would have still remembered a great deal of truth about the spiritual world and how it worked. Scholars agree that there’s a very similar concept of the divine council in the Bible. In 1 Kings 22, the prophet Micaiah describes Jehovah seated on his throne in the midst of his court, asking one of the host of heaven to volunteer to deceive King Ahab. A spirit does so, and becomes a lying spirit in the mouths of Ahab’s prophets. A similar commissioning ceremony happens in Isaiah 6, with the Lord asking for volunteers to go to prophesy to Israel, and this time Isaiah volunteers and is commissioned. Another happens in Job 1, with a spirit accusing Job and being sent to test him; and there’s another similar scene in Zechariah 3, when the accuser – this will be translated as Satan in your bibles – rather than a name, the word may simply be a title similar to “prosecutor” – when the accuser brings an accusation against the high priest Joshua, and the Lord overrules the accusation and commissions Joshua to bring forth a future saviour.

There are other Old Testament references to the divine council, some of them not always evident on a surface reading. Psalm 89:6-8 asks,

For who in the heaven can be compared unto the Lord? Who among the sons of the mighty can be likened unto the Lord? God is greatly to be feared in the assembly of the saints, and to be had in reverence of all them that are about him. O Lord God of hosts, who is a strong Lord like unto thee?

You may be surprised to learn that the original Hebrew of this passage is full of heavenly-council imagery. It speaks of God sitting “in the council of the holy ones”. The “sons of the mighty”, literally in the original Hebrew, are “the children of the gods” and “the convocation of the holy ones.”

Psalm 82 is one of the most illuminating passages on the topic of the heavenly council, as it existed in Old Testament times. 

God standeth in the congregation of the mighty; he judgeth among the gods. How long will ye judge unjustly, and accept the persons of the wicked? Defend the poor and fatherless; do justice to the afflicted and needy. Deliver the poor and needy; rid them out of the hand of the wicked. They know not, neither will they understand; they walk on in darkness: all the foundations of the earth are out of course.

It’s fascinating that we see God standing in his heavenly council, rebuking these powerful spirits for failing to judge justly. Remember from what we saw in Job and Zechariah, that the satanic accusers of Job and Joshua the High Priest still seem to be official members of the divine council at this stage. The Lord goes on to say in Psalm 82:

I have said: Ye are gods; and all of you are children of the most High. But ye shall die like men, and fall like one of the princes. 

Here, God prophesies that despite the power and glory of the spirits on his council, they will die and fall just like mortal men. The psalmist then responds in his own words:

Arise, O God, judge the earth: for thou shalt inherit the nations.

Now, we don’t know a huge deal about how the heavenly council actually worked in Old Testament times. But from what we do know from Scripture, it seems that there were fallen spirits on this council at this time, and that these spirits had a role in governing the ungodly nations around Israel. For example, in Ezekiel 28, Ezekiel is given a message to “the prince of Tyre”, which says, in part,

Thou art the anointed cherub that covereth…thou wast upon the holy mountain of God; thou hast walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire. Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created, till iniquity was found in thee.

In the same way, in Daniel 10, the angel Gabriel tells Daniel that he was sent to answer Daniel’s prayers but was delayed in a battle against the spiritual prince of Persia. Later in the same passage, Gabriel tells Daniel about a new, rising spiritual power: the prince of Greece.

Several times in the Old Testament, God speaks of Israel as his own special inheritance, suggesting that while rulership of the other nations was deputed to these fallen princes, God ruled Israel directly, himself. But Psalm 82 prophesied a coming time when God was going to destroy the demons who ruled over the pagan nations, judge the earth and inherit the nations himself. And…this is exactly what we see happen in Revelation chapters 4 and 5. The Apostle John has a vision of God enthroned in the midst of a heavenly council, which is now made up of twenty-four elders. An angel asks for a volunteer to break the seals and open the scroll. John tells us that nobody was found in the cosmos who was able to do this thing…but then the Lamb appears and opens the seals – which inaugurates God’s judgement on the earth, a judgement which saves the lives of a precious remnant of persecuted saints. This is the very same divine council drama that we see enacted in the Old Testament and in Syrian-Mesopotamian mythology, but this time, the appointed saviour is taking up supreme authority not for a short while, for all time. In the course of this salvific judgement, in Revelation 12, for the first time the devil and all his angels are cast out of heaven, no longer able to access the divine council.

And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night.

In Revelation, therefore, we see the Psalm 82 prophecy being fulfilled as the old order of corrupt angels is destroyed, the accuser of Job and Zecharaiah is cast out, and Jesus Christ inherits all the nations as his own inheritance. The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdom of our God and of his Christ. Incredible, right? But the most amazing part is that there’s still a divine council in heaven…and this time, humans are on it. Revelation 20:4:

And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.

In fact 1 Corinthians 6:3 suggests the saints had a role in judging the old, corrupt council: Know ye not that we shall judge angels? 

And now we come all the way back to Ephesians again: 

He raised Christ from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places, Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come: and hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church; Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all.

…He hath quickened us together with Christ….and hath raised us up together , and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.

Doesn’t that make a whole lot more sense now? Paul tells us that since we died in Christ’s death, and were resurrected in Christ’s resurrection body, therefore we sit and reign together with Christ in the heavenly places. And in the process, every other spiritual authority that rebels against Jesus, has not only been put under his feet, but under our feet as we reign with Jesus on his heavenly council.

The demons tremble at Christ’s power. And that very same power is our inheritance in Christ. I want you to know this and believe it with every fibre of your being. You are a member of the divine council. This is what it means to have access to the throne of grace. There is no demon in this cosmos that has more authority than you do, because Christ’s authority is yours. This is why you can put on the whole armour of God and wrestle fearlessly against the spiritual wickedness in this world.

A Word About Timeline

I have to concede that since part of my argument here relies on Revelation, you may have a few questions about the timeline of all this. Do we really know, after all, that the saints are currently reigning as part of the heavenly council? There are multiple views on that thousand-year passage. And for that matter, do we really know when it is that the devil and his angels get cast out of heaven? If that’s already happened, then why does Paul speak of the saints judging the angels as if that’s still going to occur in the future?

Well, very quickly, I take the viewpoint on eschatology known as postmillennialism. Paul spoke of the saints judging the angels as a future event because it was future, relative to him. I believe that the New Testament, including the book of Revelation, was written during the time of transition between the Old and New Covenants, between the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus; and his judgements forty years later in 70 AD. I take the bulk of the book of Revelation as being a prophecy of events which occurred in the first and second centuries AD, primarily covering the fall of Jerusalem in 70 AD and the Bar Kokhba rebellion 150 years later, and I think the war in heaven described in Revelation 12 is probably supposed to have occurred shortly before 70 AD, as an answer to the prayers of the persecuted saints of the time. Following this war, the devil was bound in the lake of fire, the saints were enthroned on the heavenly council, and although some demonic activity continues to the present day, by and large the church is now conducting mopping-up operations. That’s the general idea; for a very detailed and convincing presentation of this viewpoint, I can recommend Phil Kayser’s sermon series on the book of Revelation. I should note that I have areas of strong disagreement with Pastor Kayser, I think he’s extremely weak on some things – kinism, for example, and his critique of the cherem principle was not impressive, but he’s pretty strong on Revelation. Chew the meat, spit the bones.

Still, of course it’s entirely possible that I’m all wrong on Revelation, and that the thousand-year reign of the saints depicted in chapter 20 has not yet begun. I still think that the bulk of my argument stands, because the book of Ephesians stands, and there’s no possible doubt about the timeline there. Ephesians definitely talks about the way things stand during the present new covenant age. Christ still announced at his ascension that he was being given all authority in heaven and on earth. He’s still already been enthroned far above every principality and power. Paul tells us that we sit in the heavenly places in Christ and have access by the Holy Spirit to the Father, right now. So even without the context that Revelation provides, Ephesians still tells us that we have spiritual power now. 

Giving Ground to the Devil

So, having laid the groundwork for our authority in Christ over the demons, let’s talk about some of the ways that some of us may be experiencing some demonic activity, and why.

I don’t want to provide a comprehensive study of what the Bible has to say about the devil and demonic activity here; I would recommend the book The Adversary by Mark I Bubeck as a level-headed, Scripture-based study on this topic by someone with more experience than me. However, there are a few things that are fairly plain from Scripture.

Scripture tells us that the devil is our enemy. He can appear as an angel of light. He was a murderer from the beginning. He has a kingdom of darkness. He is called a liar, a deceiver, a destroyer, a tempter, and the evil one. 

Even Christians who are saved need to engage in spiritual warfare. 1 Peter 5:8 says, “Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” Ephesians 6 tells us, “Put on the full armour of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.” So that gives us our marching orders. From our position of strength in Jesus, we need not to be complacent, but we must take the battle to the devil – the more so as Jesus promised that the gates of hell would not stand against his church.

Ephesians 6 goes on to tell us that “our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” I think this is extremely important for Christians to understand. As my co-host Elisabeth mentioned in our previous episode on tribalism, huge parts of the modern church have allowed themselves to be distracted from fighting our real enemies in spiritual places. We’re more interested in the culture wars than we are in spiritual warfare. We ignore the spiritual enemy and instead focus on fighting the captives we were sent to save. We demonise those who disagree with us on politics and religion, instead of casting out the very real demons behind it all. Instead of binding the strong man, we shoot his captives. No wonder we don’t see any positive change in this world!

2 Corinthians 11:45-15 tells us that Satan masquerades as an angel of light. Quote, “It is not surprising, then, if his servants masquerade as servants of righteousness.” Paul was writing this at a time when many Jewish believers were turning to Christ and being persecuted by their synagogue authorities. The apostle John referred to these synagogue leaders as “a synagogue of Satan.” We should of course expect to see the devil working through unbelievers in the world, but we shouldn’t become complacent about demonic activity in the church, either. Indeed, when I think about the most obviously demonised people I’ve ever met, every single one of them was a professing Christian. As I said at the start of this episode, the first step in spiritual warfare has to be walking in the Spirit. Satan is able to masquerade as an angel of light because the church of God shelters hypocrisy, false teaching, and wicked doctrine within it. They may seem like pretty low bars to clear, but I’ve witnessed so many Christians closing ranks to protect kinists, misogynists, abusers, and other false teachers of a similar ilk, and that’s just in my own tradition. Let’s be real: no amount of spiritual warfare training will help us if we can’t even recognise the enemy.

Scripture shows us that demonic activity may take several forms. It may involve prompting and emboldening people to sin, as happened in the Garden of Eden or with Judas Iscariot. It may involve causing sickness and suffering – Acts 10:38 says that Jesus went around “healing all who were under the power of the devil.” Or laying traps and snares for spiritual leaders, as we see in 1 Timothy 3:7. It may involve accusing and condemning us for forgiven or false sins, or trying to distract us from hearing and remembering God’s word, as in the parable of the Sower. Or infiltrating the church with those under their control, or tormenting God’s people in hopes of leading them into sin, as happened to Job in the Old Testament or Peter at Christ’s trial. Throughout Revelation, we see the devil acting through worldly leaders to persecute and imprison believers, or to set up godless totalitarian governments as in Revelation 13.

Yet against all these efforts of the evil one, we have the power of Jesus Christ. “Submit yourselves to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you”, James 4:7. And in Ephesians 4:27, Paul says, “And do not give the devil a foothold”. 

I think these verses show two ways Christians may come into conflict with spiritual wickedness. First, some of us may at some times in our lives, through the promptings of our flesh, give the devil a foothold in our lives as in Ephesians 4:27. This may happen even to Christians when we indulge in sin, especially repeated sin. Have you ever had to deal with a person who has become completely spiritually blinded to their own sin to the point that they’re unable to see the need for repentance? Again, this is why I cannot overstate the importance of walking in the Holy Spirit on a daily, practical basis as the foundation of all spiritual warfare. It’s only when we’re firmly rooted and planted in Christ that we have any authority at all over the enemy. Or, have you ever found yourself beset by some particular sin that you seem unable to resist even though you know how deadly it is? Have you ever had some weird, malicious or self-destructive thought flit through your head at the most unlikely moment? Perhaps not all such things come about as a result of demonic activity, but I’ve often found that when the person being oppressed like this has a sincere desire to be free, spiritual warfare prayer has immense power to rebuke such thoughts and break the hold of such sins.

I think it’s important to note that the basis of demonic activity in our lives is ethical-judicial. We may give the devil a foothold through sin. It’s also possible that, as with Job or with the Apostle Paul, who had a recurring problem with a spiritual tormentor, God may permit us to undergo demonic attack for the same reason as the man born blind, in John 9: that the amazing works of God may be made manifest in us. But in either case we can be confident that God’s grace is sufficient for us. We know, that as long as we remain in Christ, nothing can truly harm us, and certainly nothing can snatch us out of his hand. We may suffer, but we suffer in hope knowing that God holds the key of our deliverance.

As an aside, some of you may be wondering if it is true that Christians may come under spiritual oppression as a result of sins committed by previous generations of their family. This is something which has often been taught in Pentecostal circles, but does Scripture bear it out? I think that Exodus 20:5-6 is relevant here: “I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.” Then in Ezekiel 18, Ezekiel goes into this in depth: “Yet say ye, Why? doth not the son bear the iniquity of the father? When the son hath done that which is lawful and right, and hath kept all my statutes, and hath done them, he shall surely live. The soul that sinneth, it shall die. The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son: the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him.”

Taking these two passages together, I have to come away with the conclusion that although there are multigenerational consequences for sin, this only applies to multiple generations of wickedness, just as the multigenerational blessings for righteousness mount up to great mercies for righteous children. So, it’s my opinion that a righteous person will not bear the demonic consequences of an ancestor’s wickedness, so long as they no longer perpetuate, excuse or idolise that sin.

The second way that Christians may come into conflict with spiritual wickedness is through some kind of relationship with another person who may be suffering from demonic activity. In The Adversary, Mark I Bubeck identifies three escalating levels of demonic attack on people, as demonic oppression, demonic obsession, and demonic possession. I don’t intend to go into detail on these things, since as far as I know, I’ve only had to do with people suffering from oppression; but I appreciated reading what The Adversary had to say on this topic, and I would recommend finding and discipling yourself to Christians who are active in spiritual warfare to learn more.

As for demonic oppression, I believe I’ve seen this take several forms. It may involve a person being blinded to their own sin, so that they’re unable to see that they are wrong. It may involve a person being in bondage to a specific sin. It may involve a spirit of condemnation, guilt, or shame either for things that the Bible doesn’t condemn as sin or for real sins which the person has already confessed or repented of (remember, Satan means accuser or adversary, the one who seeks to prosecute and condemn us before the throne of God). It may involve self-destructive or suicidal tendencies; deep irrational feelings of bitterness or hatred towards certain people or groups; doubt of one’s own salvation; terrifying nightmares; and so on. I would definitely encourage you to include aggressive spiritual warfare prayers as part of your ministry to a person suffering from such problems.

Putting It Into Practice

So far, I’ve outlined the basis for a Christian’s practice of spiritual warfare, and identified some of the warning signs which I personally have come to associate with demonic attack. What I want to do next is briefly outline how I tend to proceed in actually engaging in spiritual warfare. Again, this is on a very basic level – Spiritual Warfare 101.

First, if I’m going to be doing spiritual warfare, I usually begin it from a position of reading God’s Word and praying to God. If we are to confront demons, we cannot afford to do it in our own strength, and we cannot afford to do it naively, since the devil is the father of lies and his children take after him. We must be full of the truth of God’s Word, and we must be full of the authority of Christ. That means keeping our own house clean. Prepare for battle by studying and memorising the Word of truth, confessing and repenting of your sins, asking the Lord for wisdom, and praying for his Holy Spirit to watch over you and the situation as you begin to address it. In some situations, we may need to fast as well as pray.

This is actually a pretty organic process for me, since I have found that normally the Spirit prompts me to engage in spiritual warfare praying as part of my own ordinary devotions. It’s while I’m reading the Bible and talking to God about the challenges that I and my friends are facing, that I ordinarily find myself being prompted to speak prophetically against evil spirits.

Once I begin speaking to the evil spirits, I start speaking aloud, because I’m not convinced they can read my mind. They may be spiritual, but they aren’t all-knowing or all-perceiving, the way Our Lord is. I will begin by declaring to them my identity with Christ and the authority I have in him. I will, if I can, address the spirits by name; for instance, as a spirit of bitterness or control. Sometimes, I encounter some form of resistance. Once I was praying against demons on behalf of one person I knew. I didn’t know exactly what she might be dealing with, so I mentioned fear, religiosity, and a couple of others without much effect; but when I mentioned a spirit of control I felt that resistance. For me, it usually comes as a sense of physiological fear, with chills, hairs prickling on the neck, and so on. Obviously I don’t assume I’m having a spiritual conflict every single time I feel this – fear comes from all sorts of causes – but at that moment there was no obvious reason why I should suddenly be overtaken by the physical symptoms of fear upon addressing one more in a list of suspects. At any rate, I took that as a sign to be even more aggressive and thorough in return. Something might have tried to frighten me off; but I had no reason to accept this fear that came from outside of me and was just trying to stop me.

Tell the demons that you bind them. Tell them that you command them to go away. Tell them they have no authority over yourself, your property, or any part of Jesus’ creation. Quote Scripture at them. Command them to go where Jesus is sending them, to the lake of fire where Satan is bound. Confess the promises and power of God against them. Have you ever really done this and felt freedom? I certainly have. And it doesn’t matter if, with time, the spirits come back for another go. You know who they are now. You know they have to run from the name of Jesus. You’ll be ready for them.

Finally, invite the Holy Spirit in to fill the space that the demons have left behind them. It isn’t enough to clean the house; we have to become full of the Holy Spirit. The spirit of God has no rivals. When we are filled with him, we’ll have all the grace and strength we need to fearlessly confront future conflicts.

Now, there are a number of great templates for spiritual warfare prayer out there, but with my love of history, obviously my own favourite one is a historical example from way back. In the fourth century AD, St John Chrysostom penned an absolute howler of a spiritual warfare prayer which is, I believe, still used today by the Eastern Orthodox church. I love John Chrysostom’s prayer for so many reasons. One reason is that it’s a brilliant example of all the spiritual warfare principles I’ve learned and practiced in a small way myself. Another reason is that it’s pretty much solid Scripture. There’s a general riff on Jude’s comment about how the archangel Michael called on the Lord to rebuke Satan when they were struggling over the body of Moses, and it’s pure wasabi. There have been plenty of occasions when I’ve felt my family under spiritual attack and have just prayed through this prayer as a sort of general spiritual tonic; but I’ve also used parts of it as a model, adapting it for some reason or another. Check the podcast webpage for a link to this oldie but goodie.

Once again, I would recommend reading Mark I Bubeck’s book The Adversary. Unfortunately, this is the only practical handbook on spiritual warfare that I’ve currently read, so it’s the only one I can personally recommend. I do differ from Bubeck in certain theological matters, but this is still a confident, level-headed, unafraid look at the topic of spiritual warfare that goes into much more depth than I have in this podcast. A final book I would recommend is Michael Heiser’s book The Unseen Realm, which helped me parse out a lot of the material about the heavenly council that I discussed at the start of this episode, although I have even more urgent disagreements with him. It’s still well worth a read, especially when allied with a robust postmillennial eschatology.

Conclusion

To conclude, I will be the first person to admit that I have very little boots-on-the-ground experience in spiritual warfare. There are many Christians with far more experience and knowledge in this area than myself. All I can do is share what little I know with those who know less, and hope that those with more experience will graciously excuse what I lack. 

This has been Spiritual Warfare 101. Thank you for listening. I’m Suzannah Rowntree, for the Monstrous Regiment.

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