Monday, February 23, 2009



When it comes to understanding the spiritual warfare, there is so much confusion. It's such a "hot" topic, much like prophecy, therefore people spend so much time and energy cussing and discussing it. The excitement of the latest fulfillment of prophecy-the number of the anti-Christ, 666, the latest signs of the 2nd coming of Jesus, the alignment of powers in the end-times-can overrule most discussion topics. But even more stimulating than prophetic events and signs are the breathtaking stories of "demon-possession" and exorcism!

There is nothing more chilling than to hear an eyewitness account of a person who has become demonized. It's spooky, downright bloodcurdling at times. It's like the old E. F. Hutton illustration: "When E. F. Hutton talks, people listen!" When anyone breaks into sharing a demonic story, all other conversation stops. I've seen this numerous times. When I share any of the counseling stories of a demonized person, all attention is focused immediately. Whenever I share one of these stories in a message or lecture, the silence is deafening.

The issue is so forceful that it drives people into extreme positions. As I shared in the first podcast on this particular subject, confusion reigns when it comes to understanding this kind of war. There are usually two extremes in spiritual warfare: (1) Ignore it and it will go away and (2) when in doubt, cast it out. The problem with the first extreme is that the spiritual warfare doesn't depend on whether or not you believe it or know anything about it. There is an enemy of God out there who is also your enemy and he is out to destroy you in whatever ways he can. So, ignoring the reality of the spiritual warfare will prove to be certain destruction for you, even though you choose to be ignorant about it. The second extreme of "when in doubt, cast it out" will most certainly drive you crazy. If you believe everything bad or scary is caused by the devil, you will develop a real good case of paranoia and phobias. The devil doesn't cause everything that is bad or scary in your life. You are perfectly capable of screwing up your life without the devil's assistance.

At the end of the devil's temptation of Jesus in the wilderness, Luke records a most interesting insight for us: When the devil had finished every temptation, he left Him until an opportune time. What is an "opportune" time? Basically, a more opportune time is when you would least expect it or when you are vulnerable. In the Anonymous community the word is that you are most vulnerable when you are Hungry, Angry, Lonely or Tired. The acrostic given to help you remember is HALT.

The HALT times in your life are good indicators for the most opportune time for the devil and his demons to attack. Other opportune times might be when you are the weakest, stressed out, or as in the life of David, when you have too much time on your hands. One kind of opportune time that seems a little surprising to most is when you have just experienced a spiritual victory or successful mission or being blessed. This is precisely when the devil and his demons find it most effective to move in to do their destructive work in your life.

Jesus gives us the best perspective on the extremes when dealing with the devil and his demons. In the 9th chapter of Luke's Gospel Jesus sent out His twelve disciples to heal and cast out demons. In the 10th chapter Luke records when Jesus sent out the 70 or 72 disciples. He sent them in pairs ahead of Him to every city and place where Jesus was about to go.

Their mission trip was highly successful. Let's listen in to what happened when they returned: The seventy returned with joy, saying, "Lord, even the demons are subject to us in Your name." They were so excited about their victories over the demonic world. The stories they had to share were absolutely amazing! Their minds were definitely blown and they were filled with enthusiasm!

Jesus' response is interesting. He didn't criticize, but affirmed them: And He said to them, "I was watching Satan fall from heaven like lightning. Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing will injure you." In other words, Jesus was saying, "You guys did a great job out there! I gave you the power to do your work. In fact, Jesus uses a triple negative to describe what kind of protection He gave them. He said, "I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions-any kind of danger-and over all the power of the enemy and nothing, no way, no how will be able to injure you."

Then, NOTE what Jesus said: "Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are recorded in heaven." Here Jesus brings in the balance. FIRST-Don't get so excited over the demonic stories and activities, where in the name of Jesus you have power over them. That's an extreme and keeps you distracted and off-message. SECOND-BUT be excited about what is most important-that your names are recorded in heaven. Be excited about your supernatural and eternal relationship with the Lord. Get enthused about your personal relationship with Jesus! That's what's important!

Jesus was bringing them back into balance and focusing them away from the possible distraction. He was bringing them back on track. There is no doubt that the devil and his demons are out there and the spiritual warfare is for real, but keep your focus on Jesus, not the devil.

I like to say it in this way: When the Lord is your Master, the world is your mission and you are a prime target for evil each and every day. Hang on to your relationship with Jesus and those who follow Him and your eyes will be exactly where they need to be in order to fight the fight most effectively!