Spiritual Resources > Spiritual Warfare > Tactics & Strategy
It's not only good faith, but often a good tactic to take action in the opposite way from evil. Where there's anger, act to bring calm, and things may calm down. Where there is greed, start giving - it might become infectious. Where large egos rule, be a servant of all, and the contrast will speak for you. Where there is backbiting and gossip, say things to build people up, and it may suck the poison out. Where there is disunity, seek a way to bring people together, and you may find surprising allies. Do these things deliberately, in a way which exposes the evil for what it is. You may not be safely able to name the evil, but your actions and attitudes can reveal the truth when words can't.
|Let this world's tyrant
In battle we'll engage /
His might is doomed to fail /
God's judgment must prevail ! /
One little word subdues him.
------- Martin Luther (LBW #229 translation, *A Mighty Fortress Is Our God*)
TAKING THE DEVIL HEAD-ON
Pentecostalists believe very strongly in aiming directly at the Devil and his works. Sometimes, that's a must. However, there are many problems with using the 'frontal assault' approach by itself. For instance:
So, direct attacks on a work of Satan have their place, but not by themselves. A badly-aimed attack is like a mischosen drug which can kill the patient.
Never give the devil a ride.
He'll always want to drive.
>> what is your perspective on Multiple Personality Disorder?<
I don't know, I'll have to ask my committee of other selves what they think of it....
Seriously, MPD, a strong form of what is now called dissociative identity disorder (DID), is rare; some even question whether it really ever occurs. I had one who lived a few blocks away from me back in the late '60s, who was in and out of clinics, so I believe there is a real MPD. He had a full second personality, which grew out of his first, mainly because of sexual abuse by a relative and two very traumatic accidents.
It's nearly impossible to talk about MPD/DID without talking about 'possession', because most supposed instances of Multiple Personality Disorder since the start of the '70s involve some claim of demonic 'possession' or twistedness. (Note: the above example made no such claim; he came before the '70s wave hit.) It's given a lot of money and attention to a lot of real jerks, liars, nuts, and demagogues, both within Christian circles and outside of them. If you need a good source on the hyping of it, check out Jon Trott's book *Selling Satan*, which touches on it through the sad story of Mike Warnke. I don't address MPD or dissociative identity disorder elsewhere in my Spirithome site because I do not believe there is a real connection between Satanic stuff (or any other spiritual phenomena) and multiple personalities.
In its section on frontiers for further investigation (para. 4 bullet 3), the Lausanne Committee's Nairobi consultation on spiritual warfare urged Christians to develop a diagnostic approach for telling whether the other personalities are demonic or a DID personality. Some differences are already well-known. A demonic personality is willingly taken on from an outside source, whether directly or step by step (decision by decision). Unlike a multiple personality, a demonic personality isn't really part of the person at all but a different 'being' (or maybe 'un-being') which pulls strings or lays bait from within its host, slowly shaping the host into its evil image. The demon will push existing weaknesses to an extreme. Demons or Satan can never actually own or possess anyone. But they don't have to, because for whatever reasons the host is joining them in their game. (It's why I don't usually use the term 'possession' to describe it.)
> I am doing a presentation on the theme
'Lord, change me' - with the sub-themes
> Changed through earthly power, demonic power, godly power
The first key here is that the Lord changed you from what you were, and is still changing you. As a baptized Christian believer, you have the Holy Spirit living inside you, teaching you how to live as a follower of Christ. The Spirit brings you Christ Himself, so you might have His righteousness. And the Spirit works through other followers of Christ, the people around you, building each other up strong and keeping each other going in the right direction. That's godly power. Tell them about what God has done for you in these ways.
Earthly power changes us, too. Think of the people around you who do not believe. What they do matters to you, affects you, shapes you. Their kindnesses and cruelties set the tone for much of what you do. What happens to your nation, and how it acts as a nation -- you're part of it, and you have to live with the fruit it bears. This is not right or wrong by itself -- it is just true. The world and local economies are earthly power -- it can bless with good things, like jobs, goods, and being able to go from place to place. Earthly power is a mixed bag in spiritual warfare and in life. God can use it. The Devil can use it. But most of all, people use it and are used by it.
Demonic power changes us, too. Not that the Devil has any real power - Christ broke his power. The Devil has not much more than what we give him. When we give him something of ourselves, we sin. We decide we'll go for fame, power, wealth, or lust. We break our promises of marriage, friendship, business, faith, village, law, or school. We break other people by way of gossip and maneuver to take their social place, to bring them down. All of us act like that sometimes. How have you been that way? And what led you to do otherwise, and follow God rather than these temptations? Share something of that. The more we give ground to the temptation, the stronger the pull of Satan on our soul.
Please remember to pray several times each day until you present, and trust that the Spirit will use you. Try to draw on your own experiences and of those you're talking to. And also read Paul's letter to the Romans.
Be bold; God's with you whenever you seek Him.
more on the Spirit's work in you.
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> Because it says in Romans 4:24-25, "O wretched man that I
> am! who shall deliver me from the soul of death? I thank God
> through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with my deliverance
> of soul I now serve the law of God; but with my corrupt flesh
> the law of sin." So I perceive that we must be delivered of
> the demons that have built strongholds in our lives.
It's Romans 7:24-25, and the Greek word there is not 'soul' but the body (ie, his physical being) which, of course, is mortal and tends to go against God by its very nature. The chapter says nothing at all about Satanic strongholds built by demons. It's simply not there, and your teachers do you a disservice if they're teaching you that it is.
> And it says that we must use the Word as a spiritual weapon
> in I Corinthians 10:4, "For the weapons of our warfare are not
> carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds."
It's 2 Corinthians 10:4. And what it talks about here is not the Word (it's not mentioned), or any other specific "spiritual weapon". He is saying we live by God's power and not our own. Paul refers back to the meekness and gentleness of Christ (v. 1), and how there are some among the Corinthians who would not treat him in the same Christly way (v. 2). He speaks of 'strongholds', but that refers not to the demonic (which is never mentioned here) but simply the parts of life (our own life and our lives together) which have not been given over to the Lord, which still harbor our own fiercest resistance to Jesus. Specifically, speculations (thoughts we create about God) and lofty things (that which we judge God by, or hold in actual practice to be more important than God). The objective is for every thought to be captivated by the Lord.
> Because some of my friends believe that once you are
> saved you are not able to be oppressed by the devil or
> his servants, I think you must be delivered or they will
> claim you as open oppression ground.
The devil can speak temptations to anyone -- including Jesus. But when Jesus was tempted, He spurned it. The devil can whisper (or even yell) temptations to you or any Christian. That's not 'oppression', that's 'life'. And anyone, even the best and most Christlike of us, can and sometimes will listen. We follow Christ when we spurn it -- but we do not always follow Christ. (That was Paul's point in Romans 7.) Talk of being 'oppressed' and on 'open oppression ground' border on superstition, and give the devil more than his due. The devil can claim someone all he wants to, but he has no actual power to take someone for his own. The spiritually oppressed are the ones who, for whatever perceived gain or pleasure or addiction or spiritual laziness, or from quitting on God, give themselves over to Satan's whispers, and the oppression ends when they stop doing so. The rest of us, Christian or otherwise, are just living.
Somebody's taught you some pretty strange things about spiritual warfare. They read Satan into every line of Scripture. But according to Scripture, the devil is not hiding behind every tree, waiting to gobble people up. Not everything is the Devil's doing. Indeed, the Devil is pretty much a failure, and is certainly a loser. A poor loser, too. The devil is not God's anti-peer, not a counterbalance to
goodness, not a mad power which can zap weak people into submission. Our spiritual warfare is not a Frank Perretti book, nor even Dante Aligheri's book. In fact, on the day-to-day level, people shouldn't give the devil a second thought, their minds should be on what Jesus wants of them. You need to learn from other, more reliable teachers that go from what a Scripture passage actually says.
A transcription of a question from a meeting:
> As long as we stay doing what our Father wants
> us to do, then we are okay. When we make the wrong choice,
> and go the way of the world, then we are not protected.
First : the root of spiritual warfare is not fighting the Devil, but loving God and people. When you do that, the Devil loses even if he wins a battle.
Second : bad things happen to God's people, even when they're doing right. While in some sense we are protected, the image usually used is of an overprotective mother or some hyper-defensed fortress. This is not how God works. God gives us the ability to suffer real suffering (and, by the way, to inflict suffering on others). Other peoples' choices have a real effect on you, and your choices have a real effect on others. God doesn't stop anyone from taking an action. God 'protects' you not by an army of angels or a perfecting work of the Spirit's power, but by giving you ways to discern what God wants of you (a work of the Spirit) and by giving you forgiveness in Christ when you repent of doing wrong. This is a whole lot more complicated than just being 'in' or 'out' of the Spirit.
> If we entertain any of these thoughts, we are sunk!
Third : spiritual battles are not won by our own power or our own efforts at self-control, but by Christ. It will not do to just try harder to do right or to be right. It fails.
Fourth : YOU ARE FORGIVEN !!!! You are not 'sunk' because of sin. You're a baptized believer. You're Christ's, and He will not just let you go. Jesus will chase you down to the very end, offering His love and forgiveness. Trust in Christ, love, and be unafraid to live.
Too many Christians trust in behavioral rules, and measure people by them. Jesus spoke against the Pharisees who did that. The whole Reformation started with a rejection of this misplaced trust. Yet some pastors and churches still try to bring back the Law when their job is to preach and live the Gospel. Don't fall for it.
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Spiritual Warfare III. Copyright © 2005-2011 by Robert Longman.