Tuesday, April 15, 2008

...it's not about fighting Satan; it's about living for Christ

Original artwork for today's post done by the incomparable Stephen Hesselman. Thank you again dear brother for blessing the body of Christ with your gifts and talents--we are blessed to be the recipient of your work here at COT.

There is so much confusion about spiritual warfare today that many of the accepted techniques and practices resemble more of a superstitious Christianity than a biblical Christianity. For example: binding and losing Satan through prayer; shouting to Satan, commanding his hellish minions to leave a church or place of worship where any Christian gathering is taking place; seeing spiritual battle as a "cosmic dualism" between good and evil; attributing anything negative in our lives to the work of Lucifer; and most disconcerting, saying that Christians can be demonized (i.e. Neil Anderson).

Believers tend to forget that Satan maybe mighty, but Jesus Christ is Almighty--and the gates of hell shall not prevail against the Lord and His church. Satan, though supra-natural, is not a free agent; he still operates under the Sovereignty of God (consider Job 1).

Praise the Lord for men of God like Watson whom never bought into the TBN Word/Faith "theology" of spiritual warfare. Watson speaks "from the grave" and points us back to Scriptural reality. This simple, biblically rich quote from Thomas is lucid, succinct, and spot on target on resisting Satan and living holy for the Lord. The "steal of righteousness" is the greatest resistance against our "ancient foe."

May his words encourage you to "submit yourselves to God; resist the devil and he will flee" -James 4:7. IOW, the emphasis is never on battling demons, but on living for Christ. Soli Deo Gloria! "Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world." -1 Peter 5:8-9 (ESV)
"Another subtlety is to draw men to evil, sub specie boni, under a pretence of good. -- The pirate doeth mischief by hanging out false colors; so does Satan by hanging out the colors of religion. He puts some men upon sinful actions, and persuades them much good will come of it. He tells them in some cases that they may dispense with the rule of the Word, and stretch their conscience beyond that line, that they may be in a capacity of doing more service. As if God needed our sin to raise his glory." -Thomas Watson

For Further Study:


Hessel-Man said...

Thanks very much for your kind words, Brother. You are very welcome. Thank you for posting this Watson quote, along with your comments.

I used to be caught up in that sort of teaching: Binding Satan, telling him to leave, even the Neil Anderson stuff. By God's grace, He pulled me out of that. It does indeed create all kinds of confusion. How many times must we cast out demons or tell them to let go of our lives when struggling with some kind of sin. When that sin pops up again, is it that we failed to cast them out the first time, or are these the seven worse ones that came after they found our lives empty and swept clean? I am grateful that someone pointed out that if our body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, the Holy Spirit will not share that temple with demons. God is infinitely stronger.

Upon this Rock I will build my Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. Those are such encouraging words from our Savior.

Grace and peace,

Michele Rayburn said...

I was quite fascinated that you had this post today, as it was only yesterday that “out of the blue” I found myself reflecting on the fact that since I left the Charismatic movement that I had been involved in during the early 80’s, I no longer find myself involved in spiritual warfare everywhere I turn. The preoccupation with that type of mindset has since been replaced with a mindset that is preoccupied with the things of Christ Himself and walking closely with Him, rather than a preoccupation with demons.

Ephesians 6:12 does say “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.”

There is definitely a spiritual war going on for the souls of men. But the Bible doesn’t tell us to “set our minds” on the spiritual warfare, and it doesn’t tell us to speak to the Devil. That is reserved for God alone. But it does say to “resist the devil”. And Ephesians 6:13-18 says, after mentioning the spiritual warfare, that we should put on the whole armor of God to withstand the warfare. And the armor consists of truth, righteousness, the gospel of peace, faith, our salvation, the word of God, and prayer. It doesn’t say to talk to the Devil.

When I was in the Charismatic movement, I set my mind on the spiritual warfare and saw a demon behind every bush. If you think about everything through the lens of spiritual warfare and demons everywhere, that is what you will see. It becomes a “self-fulfilling prophecy”, a “name it and claim it” gone bad ( or I should say, “gone worse”).

But that should not be our focus. The Bible says in Colossians 3:1-2 “...seek those things which are above, where Christ is sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth”. It doesn’t say to set your mind on things below where the devil is roaming.

As Steve just said, the emphasis should not be on battling demons, but on living for Christ.

Our focus should be on the Lord, not on the Devil and his demons. The battle is already won.

In His Love,

Alice said...

Excellent post. In light of what Michele commented, when I was a student at Moody Bible Institute, I took a course in Angelology/Demonology. Our professor (C. Fred Dickason who wrote the book "Angels: Elect and Evil") made the statement, "Some people see a demon behind every bush. Other people don't even see the bush."

I recently read John MacArthur's book "Our Sufficiency in Christ"--it has an excellent chapter on spiritual warfare and what our response as Christ followers should be.

Only Look said...

Thats a really good quote by Watson.

Ron Foster said...

Amen brother. I was in this trap of false spiritual warfare for many years before God delivered me to sounder theology. I still have friends who pray, quite hapzardly, "...we bind Satan..." It's almost programmed in by our cultural Christianity. Thank you for pointing out this quote by Watson.

Ron Foster

David said...

I was just having that discussion with my cousin this evening on the drive home. We need to flee from even the hint of sin. Sometimes the greatest outgrowth of sin can come from a church so consumed with mission, that they forget the real reason for why they exist.