Spiritual or Psychic Warfare
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Spiritual (Or Psychic) Warfare
On the surface the battles fought in the Old Testament were primarily physical. That perception is slightly skewed in that the battles were against Satan moving on a physical level through polytheistic nations. The enemies of Israel were many – Assyria, Babylon, Chaldea, Persia, the Canaanite nations, Aramites, Moabites, Philistines and others who were bent on her destruction just as nations have been for millenniums. However there was a spiritual component to the battles. God moved to help Israel to victory which was usually dependent on their conduct toward God at the time of the battle. The satanic nations moved on Israel not only to defeat them in battle but also to infiltrate them to convince them to worship their many gods. Their infiltration was eventually effective perverting Israel so thoroughly that God allowed them to be conquered by outside nations. If Israel had obeyed God, He would have defeated these nations. Otherwise it was primarily God that moved on behalf of Israel to bring victory or defeat depending on the circumstances.
For instance God raised up pagan nations and conqueror Kings to judge Israel and Judah. Without God on their side they were helpless. God called Cyrus King of Persia His servant. “THUS says the LORD to Cyrus His anointed, Whom I have taken by the right hand, To subdue nations before him, And to loose the loins of kings; To open doors before him so that gates will not be shut” (Isaiah 45:1). Also: “And now I have given all these lands into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, My servant” (Jeremiah 27:6). Both Nebuchadnezzar and Cyrus were conquerors of Judah, men who did not even know God. God even allowed Assyria, who’s King greatly insulted the Lord, to be God’s instrument in conquering Godless Israel in the north (see Isaiah 10).
This was all a form of spiritual warfare in that God manipulated the spirits of men and nations to conform to His will using His spiritual authority. Ultimately he could control the nations of the earth but could not convince Israel and Judah to turn from their sins and be saved. In the end He turned the full force of His anger against them resulting in their destruction.
Upon the life and resurrection of Jesus Christ and the institution of the new Covenant (Hebrews 8) the nature of spiritual warfare changed. No longer did it take place on the physical level but in the realm of the psychic and spiritual levels. As Paul said: “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12). Elsewhere they are also defined as powers and principalities. These are Satan’s cohorts. Satan has been called “the god of this world” (2 Corinthians 4:4). When Satan was kicked out of heaven a third of the angels went with him (Revelation 12:3). Once on earth he set up a hierarchical system, like a corporate flow chart, where he set his fallen angels in authority over all areas of the earth. This is confirmed in the scriptures.
In Daniel 10 Daniel was fasting and praying to the Lord for an answer to the question of what would happen to Israel in the future. It took 21 days for the answer to come. When the angel finally arrived it explained the delay: “But the prince of the kingdom of Persia was withstanding me for twenty-one days; then behold, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, for I had been left there with the kings of Persia” (Daniel 10:13). The Prince of the power of Persia was a spiritual principality ruling the kingdom of Persia which ruled the world at that time.
It is these spiritual forces of wickedness that we have to bring down. We cannot have a partial victory but they must be rooted out completely. It is not enough to win a victory now and then; we must have the victory that positions us where God wants us. We must see the dethronement of satanic powers, the breaking of every spirit that comes against God’s people: the spirit of the nephilim (Genesis 6), the spirit of principalities and powers, the spirits of false prophets and false Christs, the spirits of religiosity that Satan controls until his ministers look like the ministers of righteousness and Satan is transformed, as it were, to be an angel of light (II Corinthians 11:14–15). All of the deception that wars against us must be broken. We must contend for God to bring the day in which the veil is lifted, so that Satan can be exposed for what he is and is doing, and we can see him as the defeated foe in actual practice. What is ours according to the Word, according to the theoretical principles laid down in the Word, must become reality in our total experience, in every way! (Stevens, John Robert: This Week, Volume IX (1978, p. 362).
Christ sits at the right hand of the Father, henceforth expecting until His enemies be made the footstool of His feet (Hebrews 10:13; Ps 110:1). In the heart of the Lord Jesus Christ, at the right hand of the Father (Colossians 3:1), it is a reality that He is Lord of Lords and King of Kings (Revelation 19:16). But we do not see that in evidence in the earth. We see demon powers and principalities; we see many things that rise up against Christ, even in our own hearts. We do not find ourselves as submissive to Him as we want to be. Yet He reigns, and He will reign until every enemy is made the footstool of His feet (Psalm 110:1; I Corinthians 15:25). In His heart, that victory is wrought already. He has accomplished it all, and the Father has proclaimed it. In due course it remains for a people to come forth: His many-membered Body that shall execute and bring into sight all of these things that are the reality of our Head, the Lord Jesus Christ.
Bringing Christ’s victory into physical reality doesn't happen automatically. It is accomplished by the Body of Christ. How do we accomplish this? Paul explains in Ephesians 6:10-20 how we use the armor of God that is necessary to defeat the spiritual enemy. “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might”. Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil”. As the army of the Lord, we put on armor. The armor is HIS righteousness not ours. We must understand that it is His righteousness, and that it is our prerogative to put it on. This is not a righteousness that we manufacture; it is not something that we attain by our efforts or discipline. It is something we acquire by faith. We put it on. His words are blunt: “But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh (Romans 13:14). He becomes our protection. He becomes the aura of immunity round about us.
Then: “Stand firm therefore, HAVING GIRDED YOUR LOINS WITH TRUTH, and HAVING PUT ON THE BREASTPLATE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS” (VERSE 14). The idea is that Satan will come against the seat of your emotions, the very thing that the loins represent. Some New Testament references use the word “bowels” instead of loins, but they involve the same part of our anatomy. Our breastplate is His righteousness. We do not stand in our own righteousness but in the righteousness He won for us on the cross. Every effort that we put in to creating our own righteousness is playing right into Satan’s hands. Satan, Lucifer the “light bearer”, stands in his own idea of righteousness; but he is standing in the lie.
After we have put on the armor of righteousness we shod our feet. “Having shod YOUR FEET WITH THE PREPARATION OF THE GOSPEL OF PEACE” (Verse 15). Once a man is crippled, he is out of the fight. No matter how strong he was elsewhere, if he was disabled in his feet, he is in a dangerous position. There must be that which protects our feet so we don’t wander into dead ends; that we are not directed as we should be. We fall into the traps and snares that are laid for our feet. One device used in ancient methods of battle was to attach large sickles to the hubs of chariots, so that as the chariots came through, they actually cut the legs off of the men on the field of battle rendering them completely ineffective.
That is why the Word says to “make straight paths for your feet, lest that which is lame should be put out of joint” (Hebrews 12:13). The legs of a fighter will give out before his power to hit with his fists. That is why a prizefighter spends so much time skipping rope and jogging; his legs must be so strong that when he is almost beaten senseless there is still a reserve of strength within his feet. This is exactly what Ephesians 6:13 is saying: … Having done everything, to stand … When everything else is done, you must still be on your feet.
Now we come to the shield of faith. “in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one” (verse 16). If we are true sons of God everything we have the righteousness that comes from our faith. Satan attacks our faith by lying to us about how bad he thinks things really are. Faith must be our shield: Above all [or chiefly] taking the shield of faith, (v. 16). This is more necessary than any of them. Faith is everything to us in an hour of temptation. The breast-plate secures the vitals; but with the shield we turn every way. “This is the victory over the world, even our faith” (John 5:4). We are to be fully persuaded of the truth of all God’s promises faith being of great use against temptations. Consider faith as it “is the evidence of things not seen and the substance of things hoped for” (Hebrews 11:1), and it will appear to be of use for this purpose. Our faith receives Christ and the benefits of redemption, so deriving grace from him, is like a shield, a sort of universal defense.
Our enemy the devil is called “the wicked one” (1 John 2:13; Matthew 13:19, KJV). He is wicked himself, and he endeavors to make us wicked. His temptations are called darts, because of their swift and undiscerned flight, and the deep wounds that they give to the soul; fiery darts, by way of allusion to the poisonous darts which were sent to inflame the parts which were wounded with them. Therefore they are correctly named just as the serpents with poisonous stings are called fiery serpents. Violent temptations, by which the soul is set on the fire of hell, are the darts which Satan shoots at us. Faith is the shield with which we must quench these fiery darts, wherein we should receive them, and so render them ineffectual, that they may not hit us, or at least that they may not hurt us.
Now the helmet of salvation. “And take THE HELMET OF SALVATION’ (VERSE 17A). The helmet of salvation protects the head but most importantly the mind. The human mind is fertile ground for Satan to deceive with a continual barrage of unwanted thoughts. Paul describes the human mind: “For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace, because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so, “ (Romans 8:5-7). The helmet protects the mind and the constant distractions that come and keep us from focusing on the Lord. It is called the helmet of salvation because in salvation we receive the mind of Christ, which is constantly focused on Him.
Paul said: “But the” natural [unspiritual] man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised. But he who is spiritual appraises all things, yet he himself is appraised by no one. For WHO HAS KNOWN THE MIND OF THE LORD, THAT HE WILL INSTRUCT HIM? But we have the mind of Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:14-16). Just as the helmet protects the head and brain during battle, the helmet of salvation ensures we correctly evaluate whatever comes against us and respond with the mind of Christ. The helmet also ensures our spiritual covering to protect us from danger in time of spiritual battle.
Finally we always have the sword of the spirit to use in spiritual battle, which is the WORD OF GOD. “and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (verse 17b). Hebrews 4:12-13 says: “For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do”. The Word of God pierces deeply and discerns to the separation of the tightly connected bones and marrow. It can’t be deceived as it searches the heart and mind.
The word of God is creative in nature, not just predicting future events, but actually creating them. This has been true since the beginning of creation. In Genesis we see creation being formed by the speaking of God, creating something out of nothing. Genesis 1:3 says: “Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. “Then God said, “Let there be an expanse in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters.” Then God said is repeated in Genesis verses 1:9, 11, 14, 20, 26 and 29.
Many see the prophecies of men of God in the Old Testament as being predictive seers rather than creative. Actually these prophets by their words were creating reality by speaking the Word of the Lord; creating the events that were to occur. When Isaiah spoke in 9:6-7 he was actually creating the reality of Christ on the earth: “For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace” Hebrews 11:3 says: “By faith we understand that the worlds [ages] were prepared [framed] by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things which are visible”. The writer is just repeating what we saw in Genesis; that the entire creation and the coming ages were created by a Word from God.
By taking the sword of God, which is the Word of God, we tap into the same creative power of God to create. By using that two edged sword against Satan we are creating his demise and creating (or framing) the Kingdom of God. By speaking the word of God we are using the same authority of God that He used to create the heavens, man and the earth.
Intercession is a component part of every ministry. You cannot be an elder and not be an intercessor. You cannot be a ministry in the Body and not be an intercessor. You cannot be a good anything—even a good janitor. Do you know why? Because spiritual warfare is involved with even sweeping the floor in the house of the Lord. If the Lord said, “I hereby commission you and give you a ministry to go down to the corner and bring back a newspaper,” you had better pray, “Lord, help me,” because there will be six dogs and a riot waiting as you go down the road! You will have to have something from God because it doesn't happen by natural means.
In the spirit world, rank is measured by authority, not by power. The Word does not say that when the Father raised Christ from the dead and set Him at His own right hand, that He gave Him all power; it says He gave Him all authority. He sits there, henceforth expecting until His enemies be made the footstool of His feet (Hebrews 10:13). We can still see those enemies refusing to submit, raging in their power. With the exercise of Christ’s authority, they have to come under—every one of them. Every demon power must come under Christ’s authority. He will reign until His enemies are the footstool of His feet. Everything is going to come into submission to the Lord.
Jesus made five wonderful provisions for the Christian to meet the world with, so the true believer is adequately equipped spiritually for the spiritual warfare in which he will find himself engaged with the world (and the ruler of the world, Satan). Jesus has not left us to fight Satan in our own strength; we have the enablement of the Holy Spirit, confidence in our sword, the Bible, the assurance of eternal life, direct access to the inexhaustible resources of Almighty God, and assurance that the battle is already won. What more can a believer ask for to fight this spiritual war? We are thoroughly equipped; let us use the equipment and join the fray on our Lord’s side!
The Christian’s warfare is preeminently a spiritual warfare and he has been equipped with all the armor necessary if he is to obtain victory (Eph. 6:10-20). It follows that he should be under military discipline, and to this end the NT abounds in injunctions couched in military terms (cf. 1 Tim. 1:18; 1 Pet. 5:9) and in military metaphors generally (cf. 2 Tim. 2:3-4; 1 Pet. 2:11). The critical battle was won at Calvary (Col. 2:15) so that the emphasis in a passage like Eph. 6:10-20 is not so much on the gaining of new ground, but on the holding of what has already been won. Victory ultimate and complete will come when Christ is revealed from heaven at the end of the age (2 Thes. 1:7-10). The final clash between Christ and the minions of darkness is depicted in chs. 16, 19 and 20 of Revelation. A decisive battle is fought at a place called ARMAGEDDON (or Har-Magedon) according to Rev. 16:16. The most likely explanation of the name is that which links it with the hill (Heb. har) of Megiddo(n). Although this is probably a symbolic reference, Megiddo was the scene of many great battles in history (2 Ch. 35:22) and its appearance in an apocalyptic context is most fitting. For the enemies of Christ this encounter will mean destruction (Rev. 19:17-21). But thus will Ps. 110 and a host of OT passages find their fulfillment as the era of Messianic rule begins. The harbingers of that blessed age will indeed be ‘wars and rumors of wars’ (Mt. 24:6), but when Messiah reigns ‘of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end’ (Is. 9:7) (Wood, D. R. W. ; Marshall, I. Howard: New Bible Dictionary. 3rd ed. Leicester, England; Downers Grove, Ill. : InterVarsity Press, 1996, S. 1230).
[*phy•sic is defined: outside of natural or scientific knowledge; spiritual. of or pertaining to some apparently nonphysical force or agency; sensitive to influences or forces of a nonphysical or supernatural nature (Dictionary.com*]
Scripture references: New American Standard Bible, 1978 and 1995 Ed. unless otherwise noted.
Thanks to The Church of the Living Word, Inc; the writings of John Robert Stevens
©Kenneth B. Alexander, 2014
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