Within the past few decades a false idea of spiritual warfare has arisen amongst Christian circles with an overwhelming influence which has caused much confusion about the topic. Thomas Ice and Robert Dean Jr. wrote of this false teaching, saying, “This could be viewed as something similar to Christian Ghostbusters. If there is something weird in your neighborhood, and if you know the right group to call, you can exterminate your neighborhood of demons and evil spirits.”1)Thomas Ice, Robert Dean, Jr., Over Run By Demons: The Church’s New Preoccupation With the Demonic, Harvest House Publishers, 1993, p. 182 David Cloud explains:

 

The current “spiritual warfare” frenzy led by Charismatic and “Third-Wave” leaders such as Cindy Jacobs and Peter Wagner is similar to Manifest Sons of God theology in its claim to be able to take control over demonic powers even at a national and world level.2)David W. Cloud, The Pentecostal-Charismatic Movement: The History and Error, Way of Life Literature, Second edition, 2008, p. 115

 

The Spiritual Warfare Network was a group consisting of top charismatic authors3)See Heath Henning “Beware of the New Prophets,” http://truthwatchers.com/beware-new-prophets/ on the subject of spiritual warfare such as C. Peter Wagner, John Dawson, Cindy Jacobs, Jack Hayford, Larry Lea, Gwen Shaw, Dick Bernel, Tom White, Joy Dawson, Dick Eastman, Ed Murphy, Charles Craft, and Frank Peretti. An article from Charisma said about them, “Their insight on the subject of spiritual warfare were not derived solely through Bible study, but also through personal experiences of challenging the forces of darkness.”4)“The Devils, Demons & Spiritual Warfare,” in Charisma, February 1994, p. 52-57, as cited by Dave Hunt, Occult Invasion, Harvest House Publishers, 1998, p. 514 C. Peter Wagner writes, “Another Latin American, Rita Cabezas, has done considerable research on the names of the highest levels of the hierarchy of Satan. I will not at this point describe her research methodology except to mention that the beginning stages were associated with her extensive psychological/deliverance practice and that it later evolved into receiving revelatory words of knowledge.”5)C. Peter Wagner and F. Douglas Pennoyer, ed., Wrestling with Dark Angels, Regal Books, 1990, p. 85; as cited by Thomas Ice, Robert Dean, Jr., Over Run By Demons: The Church’s New Preoccupation With the Demonic, Harvest House Publishers, 1993, p. 31 The leaders of this movement admit that it is not based on the Bible but experience.

This experience based theology has only been expanded because the contemporary church is biblically illiterate.

 

Many Christians today are losing the battle in spiritual warfare because they do not have an adequate knowledge of God’s Word. This has led some into occultic practices which have been cleverly disguised as “neutral” self-help techniques.6)Thomas Ice, Robert Dean, Jr., Over Run By Demons: The Church’s New Preoccupation With the Demonic, Harvest House Publishers, 1993, p. 16

 

Thomas Ice and Robert Dean, Jr., wrote Over Run By Demons: The Church’s New Preoccupation With the Demonic speculated why this false teaching has become so popular.

 

Possibly the fact that so many people have recently been converted out of the occult explains why spiritual warfare in many circles is increasingly resembling a “tit-for tat” battle between two sorcerers. But the Bible says that our minds are to be renewed by God’s Word itself, and not by the Word of God as interpreted from a non-Christian framework, especially a framework which has much in common with the occult.”7)Thomas Ice, Robert Dean, Jr., Over Run By Demons: The Church’s New Preoccupation With the Demonic, Harvest House Publishers, 1993, p. 194

 

Keith Gibson indicated, “I have studied and written on the subject of the New Age, Wicca and even tribal religion. The modern teaching on spiritual warfare has more in common with these practices than anything that can be found in the pages of the New Testament…”8)Keith Gibson, Wandering Stars: Contending for the Faith with the New Apostles and Prophets, Solid Ground Christian Books, 2011, p. 289

Commenting on Genesis 3:15, a leader of this false doctrine said: “The seed of Satan would in turn bruise mankind’s heel. This established the grounds for spiritual warfare.”9)Dean Sherman, Spiritual Warfare for Every Christian: How To Live In Victory and Retake the Land, YWAM Publishing, Study Guide Edition, 1995, p. 120 If that is the grounds for his teaching on spiritual warfare, then his whole system of theology is misconstrued. Wayne Grudem, a charismatic theologian correctly asserts, “in Genesis 3:15 the curse on the serpent includes a promise that the seed of the woman (one of her descendants) would bruise the head of the serpent but would himself be hurt in the process – a promise ultimately fulfilled in Christ.”10)Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine, Zondervan, 1994, 2000, p. 118 By interpreting this prophecy of Genesis 3:15 to identify “mankind” instead of Christ, Dean Sherman justifies his erroneous doctrine that mankind is to conquer the world through spiritual warfare. “God has done to the devil all that He is going to do on this earth. The rest is up to us. We are to drive out the powers of darkness. We cannot do it without God. And God will not do it apart from us…. We must learn to be warriors…. But we will do the actual fighting.”11)Dean Sherman, Spiritual Warfare for Every Christian: How To Live In Victory and Retake the Land, YWAM Publishing, Study Guide Edition, 1995, p. 165 He writes:

 

We long for conflict, adventure, and excitement because we were created to be actively involved in the ultimate conflict – the battle between good and evil…. Were meant to be actively destroying those things that would hinder or corrupt the Kingdom of God, pushing back the powers of darkness….

We can see good triumph over evil and prisoners set free. This is not the plot of a book or the theme of a movie. It is exactly what God intended for us. It can become reality when we learn how to engage in spiritual warfare.12)Dean Sherman, Spiritual Warfare for Every Christian: How To Live In Victory and Retake the Land, YWAM Publishing, Study Guide Edition, 1995, p. 21-22

 

Discerning the dangers of this heresy, Thomas Ice and Robert Dean Jr. stated, “It is extremely important to pay attention to the defensive aspect of this command [Eph. 6:13], since it is just the opposite of what some people are teaching today about spiritual warfare…. This offensive type of response was described by Peter as character of false teachers (2 Peter 2:10-11).”13)Thomas Ice, Robert Dean, Jr., Over Run By Demons: The Church’s New Preoccupation With the Demonic, Harvest House Publishers, 1993, p. 136 They emphasize this offensive type of spiritual warfare as an aspect Scripture identifies in the end time apostasy. “Unfortunately and tragically, when examined in the light of Scripture, this new spiritual warfare seems closer to fitting the description of the final apostasy during the end-times of the church age. In addition, the new spiritual warfare theology increasingly appears to fit the description of the false religious system headed by the false prophet in the coming tribulation period.”14)Thomas Ice, Robert Dean, Jr., Over Run By Demons: The Church’s New Preoccupation With the Demonic, Harvest House Publishers, 1993, p. 187

The Bible presents nothing similar to what is being passed as “spiritual warfare.” Paul charged Timothy to “war a good warfare” (1 Timothy 1:18), defining it as “Holding faith, and a good conscience” (1 Timothy 1:19); contrasting this with “Hymenaeus and Alexander; whom I have delivered unto Satan, that they may learn not to blaspheme.” (1 Timothy 1:20). This blaspheme is repeatedly explained as how one acts (1 Timothy 6:1; Titus 2:5). James speaks of being “double minded” (James 1:8). Paul confessed his struggle of being double minded in Romans 7:18, 21-23 “For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not…. I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me. For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.” This follows his discourse on the need to bring the fleshly desires under the control of the Spirit of God. “Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God” (Romans 6:12-13).

Spiritual warfare is therefore the flesh battling against the Spirit. “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ; And having in a readiness to revenge all disobedience, when your obedience is fulfilled” (2 Corinthians 10:3-6). Fighting against the flesh and finding victory through the Spirit in obedience to Christ. Paul commends us to “Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry (Colossians 3:5). “That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness…. Neither give place to the devil” (Ephesians 4:22-24, 27). “This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would” (Galatians 5:16-17). It is “the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God” (James 4:4). John says, “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world” (1 John 2:15-16).

When John speaks of “greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.” (1 John 4:5), he is referring to false prophets teaching the antichrist doctrine (1 John 4:1-4). He that is in us is obviously the Holy Spirit indwelling the saints in His office as our teacher (1 John 2:20, 27). John wrote his epistle “concerning them that seduce you.” (1 John 2:26). Jesus promised to send the “Spirit of truth: Whom the world cannot receive” (John 14:17) so He could “teach you all things” (John 14:26) and to “guide you into all truth” (John 16:13). Peter tells us a Christian “no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God” (1 Peter 4:2). But the sin nature of our flesh wars against the Spirit of God that was given to lead us. Irenaeus explained this in the second century, stating: “They do not take this fact into consideration, that there are three things out of which, as I have shown, the complete man is composed — flesh, soul, and spirit. One of these does indeed preserve and fashion [the man] – this is the spirit; while as to another it is united and formed to another – that is the flesh; then [comes] that which is between these two – the soul; which sometimes indeed, when it follows the spirit, it is raised up by it, but sometimes it sympathizes with the flesh and falls into carnal lusts.”15)Irenaeus, Against Heresies, Book V, Chap. IX:1; The Ante-Nicene Fathers, ed. Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson; 1885-1887, Hendrickson, 1994, Vol. 1, p. 534 In the third century Cyprian expressed this truth as follows: ““For since we possess the body from the earth and the spirit from heaven, we ourselves are earth and heaven; and in both – that is, both in body and spirit – we pray that God’s will may be done. For between the flesh and the spirit there is a struggle; and there is a daily strife as they disagree one with the other, so that we cannot do those very things that we would, in that the spirit seeks heavenly and divine things, while the flesh lusts after earthly and temporal things…”16)Cyprian, “On the Lord’s Prayer,” The Treatise of Cyrian IV:16; The Ante-Nicene Fathers, ed. Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson; 1885-1887, Hendrickson, 1994, Vol. 5, p. 451 Thomas Ice, Robert Dean, Jr. accurately portray this in Over Run By Demons: The Church’s New Preoccupation With the Demonic: “The flesh is set against the Spirit and the Spirit against the flesh (Galatians 5:17). Peter tells us that these fleshly lusts wage war against the soul (1 Peter 2:11). It is not a battle that calls for demonic deliverance, exorcism, or any other sort of exotic practice which holds forth the empty promise that there will be no more struggle with a particular temptation or habitual sin. This battle takes place in your own heart.”17)Thomas Ice, Robert Dean, Jr., Over Run By Demons: The Church’s New Preoccupation With the Demonic, Harvest House Publishers, 1993, p. 80-81 “The secret to controlling the flesh is learning the Word of God – letting it transform our lives and then living in accordance with this new standard. This is what it means to walk by the Spirit.”18)Thomas Ice, Robert Dean, Jr., Over Run By Demons: The Church’s New Preoccupation With the Demonic, Harvest House Publishers, 1993, p. 89 “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.” (3 John 4)

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