Sunday, December 10, 2006

Spiritual Warfare: Yelling at - Who Knows What?

How did we get to the place of yelling at demons? Even trying to wrestle them down? When are we told to study the history of a locale, and by that history discover the evil spirits which hold authority over cities, counties, and countries? Did I miss that book in the Bible where Jesus, or Paul prayed against territorial spirits in order to assure a free proclamation of the Gospel? I can not find that book.

Where does it tell me that my subjective experiences, which include the strange adrenaline rush of fear which comes each time I am confronted with something I don't understand is actually the Spirit of God telling me that some evil force is at play? Where am I to find the methods for naming demons, and identifying the spirits at work in people who are involved in the occult? Where am I told to avoid contact with people involved in the occult until I have bound the evil spirits working through them?

I appear to have missed these books. Maybe that explains why I pastor small church. I didn't read that book in the Bible.

If you find these passages in the Bible, please enlighten me. I am sure that I will be more fruitful then.

My tongue is deep in my cheek, could you help me remove it please.


White Rabbit said...

We feel more in control when we can label and catagorize things. It's like putting order to chaos, and it makes us feel better, even if that order is only an illusion.

It is our typical "Seven steps to..." You ought to pick up the pocket handbook on "how to overcome demonic possession in witches and druids." Or maybe the larger book on, "How to cast out a religious spirit." That one isn't for novices though.

i recently went to a healing service at a CRC church. The minister leading it was casting out demons, but there was no yelling, no showcasing. He was naming them off though, but i don't know how he gets that info so i can't really critique it. i'm always open to possibilities. Sometimes it's just difficult to know who really has some spiritual insight in these areas and who just acts like they do. i don't, but i do believe there is a spiritual war going on.

Pastor Phil said...

I have a difficult time believing "words of knowledge" which can not be objectively evaluated. Jesus cast out demons and everyone saw the person was now in their right mind. There was an measurable change in the person's demeanor, and behavior.

Too often both healings and deliverances occuring in Pentecostal settings are done without any noticeable change. How can we objectively evaluate the legitimacy of these gifts when we are forced to "take them by faith."

It makes me wonder if the leaders who say they are gifted in these words of healing, and deliverance are afraid to have their gifts challenged. Without authentication is it possible that we are merely modern day snake oil salesmen, or worse yet are we modeling occultists. I have seen Witches perform meetings which look like bad Pentecostal services - calling out words of knowledge which are accepted with excitement by the people they are leading, and are done so without any serious authentication, Shouldn't we be doing something different?

Of course someone will object and say that occultists are merely giving a counterfeit version of the true gifts in the church, but could it be that we are modeling our pattern of doing thngs after the world, and not after Christ? Could it be that there are times when we are trying to perform some version of spiritual alchemy by trying to turn our wood, hay, and stubble into gold?

Don't get me wrong I believe in miracles and all the gifts of the spirit. I just don't want spiritual alchemy happening in my life.

Marieke said...

I'm relatively new to the Pentecostal/Charismatic belief system, and there are times that I've wondered about certain things (namely demons and whatnot) and how they are treated within Pentecostalism.

I've wondered why there are so many books on "spiritual warfare" and casting our demons, etc.

It's never see Jesus casting out regional demons in any of the Gospels (that I can ever remember reading).

I'm very glad to be a part of a Pentecostal church that doesn't over-glamorize the spiritual and doesn't have a smoke-and-mirrors way of addressing demonic influences.

You've got me thinking...

Pastor Phil said...

A Thinking Pentecostal! Some Pentecostals have said that thinking gets in the way, some non-Pentecostals have said that Pentecostals don't do any thinking. Good for you Marieke. Break the mold - be a thinking Pentecostal!

This is one of the subjects for which we may need the most amount of thinking done in our circles.

Marieke said...

I am very blessed to be a part of a church (actually from within Foursquare) that encourages such outrageous thinking.

I believe you've been to my pastor's blog ( via John Smulo.

Honestly, I have been encouraged to do more "adventurous thinking" within a Pentecostal context than I did in the more mainstream Congregational church I grew up in (and the conservative, homeschooled circles I lived and fellowshipped in). Sometimes one can be tied to "traditional thinking" so much, that you are only allowed to think within the lines of a man-made box.

Sorry, that was kinda of a tangent...all the discussions I'm following regarding and related to your situation are challenging my mind and my thinking quite a bit!

Anonymous said...

I believed in all that as a pastor of a small church. Looking back it appared to provide short term relief (a panacea)but long term did nothing for people or cities ir regions. In fact looking back I feel quite silly about some of the stuff i did and as you say totally unmentioned in the Bible even if the local Christian book shop was full of books telling you how to do it.

Pastor Phil said...

and the bottom line is people - and the people in the cities and regions we live in, isn't it? How is it that we came to the place of ministering by adrenaline? and not by the gentle Spirit which John and James were reminded, "You know not what spirit you are of."

Yet, we have the opportunity to speak up, and change things now. People are realizing that demon screaming is not effective for reaching hearts.

Brian said...

I think it's trick of the enemy! He wants us to focus on him. Maybe someone should write a book called The Satan Focussed church.

Jamie said...

Love this topic. We've just come out of a situation where words of knowledge and prophecy were very destructive. My oh so insightful 18 year old daughter said, "Mom, it's not that I don't believe God can speak through people. He can. It's just that alot of the time, prophecy is just used to spiritualize someone's emotions."

I'm afraid she's right.

Pastor Phil said...

Brian, yes I'll throw a chapter in. "The devil revisits the clergy in Salem."

Jamie, that's one darn smart 18 year old. Help her to retain that balance of believing God and never fully trusting people. Partially trusting - yes. Fully leaning on - no way. Don't be afraid that she's right. Just remember that this is the attitude we should have had all along, we were given the book of 1 Corinthians because this is true, and her attitude is the one we should insightfully maintain through life. Unfortunately legitimizing our emotions through prophecy is one of the less devious things which occurs. Wait till someone communicates their desires, or leadership goals through prophecy - then manipulation takes on one of its darker manifestations.

Mike Murrow said...

Phil dude, i like how you think.

Jenelle said...

I don't think we can throw out the baby with the bathwater. I've been awfully blessed by people who've used prophecy and words of knowledge in not-glamorous ways to draw me to Christ. Those willing to take a risk with these gifts should always be careful, use Scripture, and be willing to be checked.

There is much to be argued about in Daniel 10 concerning territorial spirits. I don't think it's enough to say, "Jesus didn't challenge them, so we shouldn't." There's lots of things Jesus didn't do that we take great liberties to do.

I read about guys like Carlos Anacostia in Argentina and am very intrigued and challenged. Carlos begins every speaking engagement with a challenge to Satan to let go of those in his audience. When he does so, 100s of his ministry team are on hand to care for the the 100s of people who instantly begin manifesting demons. From what I understand it's all been verified in writing by secular newspapers.

I'm also intrigued by Dr. Charles Kraft, whose books on his personal experience with ministering inner healing and deliverance are quite stimulating. I stumbled upon Kraft through my work at Fuller. But others had ministered inner healing to me years before I'd ever known that they were using techniques suggested by Kraft. That's the only reason it seems legit to me: I've seen freedom evidenced in my own life through the work of the Holy Spirit.

Pastor Phil said...

Hey Jenelle,

My concern over territorial spirit issues is not that it doesn't exist, but because we don't know by scripture how it is aligned that we have people running around telling exactly how it is aligned, and how to take it down. I have seen it at work in Salem for about 12 years to no significant social change, or increase in the numbers of those who are churched.

Daniel 10 doesn't even have Daniel yelling at demons. He simply fasts, and discovers some issue about a demon later. In Jude we are told that even Michael the archangel did not engage Satan as some Christians do. Now Michael would have seen the devil face to face unlike us who take things by faith. Yet he simply said "the Lord rebuke you." John Paul Jackson's book, "Unnecessary Casualties of War" is a good read on this topic.

I am sure some of this stuff works some of the time. Peter Wagner's edited compendium of thought (Wrestling with Dark Angels) which started the popularity of this issue has some decent examples, but I think that some groups have ritualized what might be an occasional event.

Just a few of my many thoughts on the subject. :-)

Steve Hayes said...

I don't know if yelling at demons constitutes pronouncing a reviling judgment, but Jude 8-10 has something to say on the subject if it does.

On the other hand, I firmly believe that South Africa was demonized by the evil spirit of apartheid from 1948-1994, and we need to watch that seven worse ones don't come to take its place. And the USA has definitely been under the influence of evil spirits since the rulers and authorities of that country decided to invade Iraq. If that isn't spiritual wickedness in the heavenlies, I don't know what is.

Anyone exorcised the Pentagon and the White House lately?

Pastor Phil said...

Hey Steve,

In contributing the evils of humanity to specific unseen, personal beings at best we are left with subjective experience as an evaluator of its validity.

A few references such as the Prince of Persia, or the spirit of infirmity do not give me enough information to declare that there is a demon called the Spirit of Witchcraft over Salem, or one called the Spirit of Smoking hanging over a guy with a cigarette. (Sorry, had to throw in one of those absurd exaggerations.)

I am convinced that the evil of man can be as dark as the evil of any devil, and though temptations and specific actions may be influenced and given a directive push by demons, I believe the entrenchment of evil actions and policies we see on earth ultimately lives in the human heart, with few exceptions.

Of course Washington has more demons than anywhere else. It is the seat of greatest world power.

Evil spirits influencing Washington since the decision to invade Iraq? You'd have a hard time pressing that point among the most avid spiritual warfare proponents in this country. ;-) Which begs the question: Whose version of the unseen realm of authoritative powers do we believe?

When changes happen in the earth, and spiritual warfare prayers have been offered during that same season of change (i.e. apartheid) is it really a verification of the existence of that demon? Could it not be that the work of good people has finally overcome the work of prejudice? or, that it was not the warfare prayers which God heard, but the simple faith of the hearts, which albeit slightly off in theology was seen and answered by God? This is not to say that I don't think that apartheid was devoid of demonic influence, but rather to say that I am not sure I could ever attach the title Spirit of Apartheid (or insert any other event) to a specific demonic being.

Okay I've exhausted my brain power for this morning. ;-)

Good post Steve.

Steve Hayes said...

There is a point where myth congeals into superstition, and I think this is where the modern (and modernist) take on territorial spirits comes in.

I first became interested in the exorcism of places (as opposed to people and institutions) after a police riot in the Anglican Cathedral in Cape Town, when the police chased student demonstrators into the cathedral and beat them up inside.

But perhaps this is the kind of thing we could pick up to discuss in the Christianity and society discussion forum.

Pastor Phil said...

I am interested in what you mean by myth congealing into superstition.

Anonymous said...

hey phil, I remember you talking back a month or so ago about how the popular topic of unity and prayer are often combined when talked/preached about, almost to the point of cliche, and we don't really know what(or how)that looks like (something to that effect). Anyways, I believe that this is key in the topic of spiritual warfare.
One of Jesus' longest prayer was for his church to be one. (John 17). So in my opinion, this is one of Jesus' strongest desires; and for good reason. In verse 21 it says "that they all may be one, just as you, Father are in me and I in You, that they also may be one in Us, so that the world may believe and be convinced that You have sent Me.."
The whole point of why people are interested in spiritual warfare is because we want people to believe in Jesus. Yes, this means prayer, but slighty more important(again, my opinion)is the unity part which implies relationship.
Why would an unbeliever (or pre-believer: I like that term better) want to believe in a God who's followers are so split and distant from each other.
Regarding territorial spirits, I do believe that the demonic realm is not one of complete chaos but one that has a government so to say, but the details are mostly unimportant. What I do know is that they use the concept of conquer and divide when they come against us (I can't find that in the bible but ephesians does talk about schemes) and so I can see it right in front of me.
Perhaps the church in Salem has a lack of real relationship between congregations. Unity does not mean that we would agree on doctrinal issues or how ministry should look like but that there is dialogue and time spent with each other in fellowship, worship and prayer. This is probably why the church of Salem has been praying for so long and little effect has come our way. Some has though. You are an answer to prayer for the city of Salem.
Of course the whole issue of division within in the church is one of immense discouragement but we should not ignore it.

Pastor Phil said...


I'm with you on this one. Your points on spiritual warfare are great - organized, but how is unimportant mostly.

Divide and conquer is a keen insight as well, and of course to develop unity which does not demand theological lock-step is critical as well.

But alas we are idealists aren't we? ;-)