What are the connections between evangelism and spiritual warfare?


(Carson Weitnauer) #1

Continuing the discussion from Why did a loving God allow other religions to even form?:

Hi @angelina_Edmonston,

I appreciate your contribution to the discussion. In my own cultural context, there is often a very ‘polite’ avoidance of candidly discussing how Satan is involved in the world. Yet, we need to be aware and informed of the spiritual battle that we are engaged in.

I think Tony Evans does a helpful job summarizing the links between evangelism and spiritual warfare in this interview with Jim Dailey at the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.

I’ve also attached an in-depth study of the issue from Charles Lawless, a professor of evangelism, on the topic: Evangelism and Spiritual Warfare.pdf (156.5 KB)

In Connect, we want to take seriously the whole range of the Biblical story, and Biblical theology. At the same time, I want us to think carefully and in a detailed manner about each reference to spiritual warfare. I expect we will learn a lot as we dive into deeper study of particular stories and teachings in the Bible on this subject.


(angelina Edmonston) #2

Thank you I look forward to this! I know when I think I know something I just begin all over again.

Thanks for the exaltation.

Blessings my brother!

:):blush:


(LaTricia January) #3

A couple of resources regarding Satan’s abilities.

Also, John MacArthur is one of my top resources for learning and understanding. Here is a brief writing from him as well.

https://www.gty.org/library/questions/QA189/can-satan-hear-our-thoughts

Satan doesn’t have access to be inside of our thoughts and knowing what we’re thinking, however he and his cohorts are cunning and have been running the temptation game for a very long time. I see them as button pushers fishing around to find the ‘right’ button to push. I think that what’s usually overlooked in the discussion regarding the abilities of Satan and crew is that they’re not planting within or suggesting anything to us that isn’t already there in some degree, it’s just some how the point of temptation/suggestion is magnified. I don’t know how those points are magnified, I just know they are and part of the magnification is due to our own proclivities and such. There’s much happening in the spiritual realm that we don’t know about and many intricate details that maybe we will never know about. It’s up to us to guard our hearts and renew our minds as we resist the devil and his band of fallen comrades. But rather than doing that, we in many ways open ourselves up to the unseen through behaviors and beliefs that does the exact opposite of protecting us.

A pastor friend will often say that we ascribe too much power to Satan. I think when we do that, we end up giving him and the other fallen angels more power than we do our Lord and subsequently our salvation. I remember watching, I think it was an episode of Our America with Lisa Ling. The episode was about a church or some people that do faith healing and exorcise demons. They weren’t just exorcising demons from regular everyday people, they were exorcising demons from professed Christians.:thinking::slightly_frowning_face: That’s not how this works. If one is in Christ, one cannot be possessed by a demon, that person is now home to the Holy Spirit, so such a practice/belief isn’t biblical. This falls under an area of spiritual warfare, but not against the supposedly possessed person, but the false teacher who perpetuates and teaches this fallacy that’s in no way rooted in the Word of God.

Spiritual warfare, from my understanding of the bible so far, is really rather practical and hinges on the believer abiding in Christ and remaining in communion with the Lord.

Some questions stemming from what @angelina_Edmonston said in original post regarding God allowing other religions addressing her (your) reasoning in regards to God allowing other religions - if God didn’t allow for the existence of other religions and so on, then are people somehow operating outside of God’s sovereignty and scope? Yes, we have the ability to choose, but we also have fallen hearts that all too often don’t take much convincing or our minds are highly suggestible. But further, nothing happens outside of God’s scope and sovereignty, so if He doesn’t allow something such as the formation of other religions to happen, then what would it be called? What is happening? And even more, is He really ‘all powerful’ if something can happen that He doesn’t allow to happen? If something happens that He hasn’t allowed to happen, does He really have a grand scheme/plan, is He caught of guard? And if He is caught off guard, then how can He be all-knowing and eternal seeing that He’s supposed to know everything from beginning to end?


(angelina Edmonston) #4

LaTricia_January

Thank you for your point of view. I pray my words do not come off wrong as that is not my heart. GOD bless you.

I agree Satan cannot read our minds. Satan has observed man for a long time. Satan and his Eph 6:12 kingdom has programmed man in ways of thinking speaking and acting ever since Adam broke one commandment.

I was raised in a family who had generational occultism. As a young adult until my mid 40’s I got involved in deeper aspects of occultism… I began attending a church got saved in 1998 and was reading the Word daily and tithing yet I was being tormented. I went to the church for prayer but nothing changed. As I was reading the bible I heard a still small voice say “you need deliverance.”

It took me until 2004 to find a church who understood what I was dealing with. I went to a ministry that was very balanced who taught the Word of GOD and did deliverance ministry. Why? I had disobeyed GOD and served abomination that He warned of. Yes, I had asked Jesus to forgive all my sins at the new birth in 1998. But I had opened the door to the enemy and did not understand GOD’S people perish for a lack of knowledge. I needed instructions in righteousness and deliverance. As a result of deliverance I was healed of over 15 different diseases.

As far as spiritual warfare I see the church is doing a lot of shadow boxing. The church needs strong meat to discern both good and evil. Some do not want to talk Satan or give him too much power I feel that comes out of fear, which GOD said we are not given a spirit of fear.

The enemy already has the world. The enemy and his kingdom is after the church… Many are ignorant of Satan’s devices. Let me state I do not give any more “power” to the devil by speaking about him. The devil has power as a former arch angel and his kingdom is of a higher order than we.

Yes Jesus came to over come ALL the power of the devil… and HE gave that authority to us to deal with that kingdom.

This is Pat Robertson sharing about a friend John Ramirez. https://youtu.be/xxrldnzNqKA I was not in Santeria. I was involved in spiritualism and other junk. I thought you might like to hear his testimony. Mine is very similar.

Thank GOD for Jesus Christ and HIS ministry to misfits like me.

Blessings to you.


(Kathleen) #5

Wow, @angelina_Edmonston. What a powerful testimony! Praise be to our God of light who shines into the darkness and brings healing and freedom! I’m similar to @CarsonWeitnauer in my background where polite avoidance rules the day. It’s not that the church I’m in doesn’t believe in spiritual warfare or deny that we have an enemy that is ‘not of flesh and blood’, but we tend to not know what to do with warfare that’s so pronounced. I thank you for being willing to take the time to engage with us on here about these things!


(angelina Edmonston) #6

Thank you. I was not trying to be disrespectful to anyone I just wanted to say there are many of us who Jesus has saved and we are very thankful.


(Lakshmi Mehta) #7

@angelina_Edmonston, thank you for sharing your story. Praise God for Jesus victory on the cross and the deliverance we have in Him. I agree, the spiritual forces are very real and there is not enough awareness about it in many churches. Many a times they seem to come as false accusations, nightmares, choking in sleep and deathwish based on what I have seen or heard from some people I know personally who were ex-Hindus, practiced palmistry and / or astrology. I am reminded of Rev 12:10 -11 as I read your story and listened to the video. " Then I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, now salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God day and night, has been cast down. 11 And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death."

Its interesting that the diseases were related to spiritual attacks in your case. I have wondered that about a family member who seems to have gotten sick and lost much over the years physically since being initiated into a religious practice.


(Gertrude) #8

Great interview…thanks for the resources


(LaTricia January) #9

Thank you for sharing your thoughts with me @angelina_Edmonston. My view is quite simple and too the point. If a person is saved, they’ve already been forgiven their sins of past transgressions, including that of occultism. The process of sanctification is of a lifetime, and yes we are to confess and ask forgiveness for the transgression we commit along the way. It’s as ‘simple’ as that and it’s biblically sound.

As someone who spent the better part of their adult life worshipping false gods in African traditional religion, making sacrificing, getting initiations, burning candles, divining, and the list goes on, it was important for me to understand salvation. The person who was utilized to lead me to Christ was/is skilled in teaching biblically sound doctrine and guiding people like me coming from occultism. He helped me to understand that Christ is the Lord of everything due to me being saved. I didn’t have to pray for God to be the God of my dreams or whatever else I was having difficulty with. I also understand that nowhere in the bible does it state that I will not be troubled by Satan - he comes to still, kill, and destroy, therefore he and his crew will seek to oppress us in anyway possible. Salvation doesn’t equate to never being troubled, but it does equate to realizing that through our salvation and by abiding in Christ and keeping God’s word/promises in our hearts that we’re not defeated by the schemes and machinations of the enemy.

This is why in spite of how things appear, I dig deep to renew my mind. I gave up everything I thought I knew from when I was involved in occultism and studying all things ‘spiritual’. I turned my life over to Christ to do as He wills, even if initially I fight against it - I always fall back on the knowledge that He’s not sending me somewhere or taking me through anything that will cause Him to forsake me or prove that my salvation isn’t real and everlasting. I stand by my knowledge/understanding that if one is saved, the Holy Spirit indwells them; if the Holy Spirit indwells an individual, no demon can also occupy that person. That person can be tormented through the outworking of the old creature that Paul speaks of especially as the Holy Spirit convicts our hearts of our ways, which is internal; that person can be tormented through external means - the enemy, the wickedness of others, suffering due to natural disasters and even animal attacks, accidents and so on; and a person can also be caught up in torment due to following false teachers and believing/trusting in false doctrine - whether it’s a gospel other than the actual gospel or deviations from actual biblical doctrine that supports a believer’s effort to abide in Christ.

It really is this simple for me in spite of my past.


(angelina Edmonston) #10

Lakshmismehta

AMEN!!

In the Dake Bible the concordance speaks at great length about this kingdom and how it operates and why ie ; a spirit of infirmity, the spirit of envy, unclean spirit, deaf and dumb spirit, legion, a familiar spirit, a spirit of divination etc… Look what happened to Saul when he went to a woman who was practicing occultism he ended up with spirits of insanity, envy and jealousy against King David and committed suicide. As far as diseases I feel it is not always from the enemy but the Word speaks of consequences of not doing what He says, the wages of sin is death.

"Its interesting that the diseases were related to spiritual attacks in your case. I have wondered that about a family member who seems to have gotten sick and lost much over the years physically since being initiated into a religious practice… "

I have seen this many times as well.

Blessings,


(Lakshmi Mehta) #11

That’s what I have also always believed too. A Christian need not fear of possession but can be tormented emotionallly, physically and spirituallly by external means For ex. Story of Job. When it comes to victory in spiritual warfare prayer though, it seems we need more than saving faith. In Matt 17:14-20, only Jesus but not the disciples had enough faith to cast a demon and heal a boy.


(LaTricia January) #12

@Lakshmismehta in the case of Jesus healing the demon possessed boy, it wasn’t a matter of Him having faith, the way you say this is makes it seem as if Jesus was like one of His disciples, but He never was. Being the Word incarnate, He possessed the power; He taught His disciples the power of faith in Him which is the same as having faith in God’s power, sovereignty, and absoluteness. Even though Christ had yet to face the cross, this is foreshadowing of the power that the Holy Spirit brings to the lives of believers. The same power that delivered the boy from possession, is the same power that rose Jesus from the grave, and the same power that resides in all of those who have made Christ Lord of their hearts and lives. That’s the object of our faith.

I also think of Job, but the way I think of Job is that he suffered with purpose. He suffered for God’s sake, he suffered so that he would grow closer to God, his suffering only contributed to the revealing of God’s grace, mercy, glory, and eternality. While Satan believed that Job would forsake God and righteous living, God had a different opportunity and plan in mind. Also, God already knew what the outcome would be, and He also knew that Satan would propose such a challenge. All of that worked together for Job’s good in spite of Satan’s attempts to cause him to fall for God’s grace.


(LaTricia January) #13

I also thought this article from Got Questions.org would add to the discussion.


(Lakshmi Mehta) #14

@LaTricia_January, Great thoughts! Thanks for the feedback. I should have been more clearer by explaining what I meant by “more than saving faith”. I am sorry for any confusion I may have caused. I hope to be clearer without leaving loose ends this time.

My response seems to have raised two main concerns: 1) My view on prayer and 2) Why would Jesus need to operate in faith if He is God incarnate? For a long time I have struggled to understand what praying in faith meant and how it fits with God’s sovereignty. My current understanding is that praying in faith IS about trusting God’s goodness toward us and His power to turn a situation around as we desire if our prayer is according to His Sovereign will. I can have faith even with an unanswered prayer trusting that God works everything out for the good of those who believe in Him. Faith is NOT believing that God will do what we want just because we desire it sincerely with determination. While all faith is based on God’s attributes, faith doesn’t stop at prayer for salvation, but needs to continue in every prayer. In Matt 17:14-20, perhaps Jesus was telling the disciples that though they had faith to follow Jesus (saving faith), they still were not trusting Jesus in every situation (little faith) and were instead basing their faith on circumstances. What I meant by “more than saving faith”, is continual faith in every situation. So what I meant in my previous post was, though demons cant possess a believer due to saving faith, a believer cant exercise power over the demons without continual faith in Jesus. There was one time in my own life where God gave me faith during a family crisis that He would answer my prayer. This was not something I generated but it was a divine sense of peace despite all odds after commiting the crisis in His hands in prayer. When God answered prayer consistent with the peace He had given, I was strengthened in my faith that Jesus is a living God as a new believer.

Regarding whether Jesus ever had to operate in faith, I didnt honestly give much thought to this before you raised the concern. Its a great thought provoking question. Did Jesus need faith since He was God incarnate and knew everything? I will leave that answer to the scholars. Here’s a link I found about that. https://carm.org/did-jesus-have-faith . It comes down to the understanding of when and where Jesus used His Omniscience attributes.

When I brought up the example of Job, I was thinking more about “how” spirits can influence a believer than “why”. I could be wrong but as we agree that believer’s cant be possessed, Job’s story may suggest that demons can inflict believers with sickness even without possession. So, though someone may think they are casting demons out of believers, what they may be actually doing is praying against external demonic influence. Your thoughts made me think of “why” evil spirits influence believers: If I may think aloud, possible reasons could be 1) because of sin and 2) because of God’s plans. I will need to study and look into this further. Both Paul (2 Cor 12:7) and Peter ( Luke 22: 31-34) may have been allowed to be influenced by Satan by God according to His sovreign plan similar to Job. I wonder if in the case of Ananias and Sapphira in Acts 5: 1-11 , Satan was able to influence them because of sin. From our limited human perspective, in our own lives, I think it might be hard to know always if spiritual attacks were due to sin or due to God’s Sovreign purposes. Coming back to applying these principles in spiritual warfare, regardless of the reasons for the ability of evil spirits to influence a believer, I guess we have an actionable course which is to always abide in Christ. There is truly nothing we can do apart from Christ. (John 15:5). Our only authority over the demons is by abiding in Christ.

I hope this helps understand my perspective behind my previous post better :slightly_smiling_face: It may have resulted in more questions and thoughts. I look forward to learning more ! Thank you!


(Bill) #15

I am still pondering the experience of Job as a demonstration of his ‘faith’. The way I understand Job is that he was seeking an audience with God to ask, ‘Why me?’

Bill


(Lakshmi Mehta) #16

True! That is the main point of Job I would think too. I was just sharing an observation, really a side note on reading previous posts. There seem to be so many ideas to reflect upon in the book of Job - God’s sovereignty, role of Satan, faith, suffering and may be more.


(SeanO) #17

@Mofokeng @Lakshmismehta Regarding Job, here are two other threads on Connect that discuss some issues you may find of interest. Blessings!


(Lakshmi Mehta) #18

Thank you!


(LaTricia January) #19

@Lakshmismehta yes, thank you very much for expounding. I think that we oftentimes do ourselves a disservice by not fleshing out not only our thoughts, but also the subjects that we’re looking at in and of themselves. Sometimes we may come to the same conclusion as before the examination, but usually there’s so much more to unpack.

In regards to spiritual warfare and the influence of Satan and his cohorts, we are not always influenced by Satan and his cohorts. We have our own fallen hearts that lead us astray plenty enough each day. This is where I think many believers fall short. We want to say everything that we perceive as wrong is Satan/demons. While that can be the case in some instances, that’s not always the case. And for those who believe in the methods of deliverance Churches and so on, everything is a demon or sin. A genetic mutation is a demon, a child born blind has been afflicted by a demon or sin, food addiction is a demon, MS is a demon and so on. And for me, that is overlooking a few teachings that the bible points out to us: 1) we live in a fallen world - there will be natural disasters, accidents, and so on in this world because perfection no longer exists in creation; 2) we are fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14) - while our bodies are spectacular creations, so intricate and astounding craftsmanship of God’s hand, they are delicate and require great care and attention at times and can be compromised, again because perfection no longer exists; 3) we are born the way we are or go through many of the things we go through not because of either sin or demons but for God’s glory (John 9:1-3, also pay attention to v. 4). And even more, we can’t/don’t definitively know what the cause of many of our afflictions are. That is beyond our comprehension and knowledge no matter how we choose to label our experiences and decide what the cause/source was.

That takes me back to Job. Job wanted to know why. Though he hadn’t sinned with his mouth, he hadn’t blasphemed or denounced God, I believe that there was a part of him that thought like so many of us, “I’ve done everything by the book! Why is God doing this to me! This isn’t fair! I want my audience!” It also didn’t help that the general belief was that if a person suffers any type of affliction, they have sinned and God is displeased with them - which his friends eventually started conveying to him. An area where Job fell short, but not sinned, was in his all too narrow view of God. Though we can’t understand the full depth and expansiveness of our Heavenly Father, we tend to fall way too short in acknowledging just how ‘enormous’ He is, and we don’t stand in awe of His being enough. I’m not talking about His ability to do miracles and give us things, but just His being and how incredible it is. It was Jobs fate to experience this at that appointed time and under those circumstances. The ultimate cause was of God’s purpose, that we know for sure. We also know that nothing happens outside of His plan no matter how circumstances look. If we know these things which also leads us to act in the name of Christ and act from His power and not our own, I truly believe we’ve girded ourselves rather well for spiritual warfare, and that girding rests on the foundation of a proper perspective of God, salvation (which includes deliverance), the gospel, who we are in Christ, and the importance of God’s word at the very least.

I’m enjoying this exchange by the way. :slight_smile:


(Patrick Teo) #22

There are two camps in the belief of concept in Spiritual Warfare. One camp believes that Holy Spirit ceases to conduct any spiritual walfare after the biblical canon era. We are to rely 100% on the words of God to resist the demons. We can not wristle with the Devil at the stage because they have strong fortress.

Another camp believes that the existence of demons are very real in this world. We are constantly wristling with the demonic force as God never change. The Holy Spirit is always available to help us to combat with the enemies.

Therefore, which camp are you at & why?

Patrick