By JFK Mensah
JFK is the area director for Pioneers North-West Africa.
What is Spiritual Warfare?
The early church understood that Satan was to be resisted and demons were to be cast out. Spiritual warfare is the unseen but real clash between the kingdom of God and the kingdom of Satan. The manifestation of this fierce conflict is seen most clearly in the ministry of Jesus.
Almost one-third of Jesus’ healings consisted of casting out demons and setting the captives of Satan free, Acts 10:38; Matt. 12:28; Lk. 4:18; 1 Jn.3:8.
Just as the victory of Jesus over sin gives us the foundation for fighting sin and claiming victory, Jesus’ redemption from curses and victory over demons gives us the grounds for ministering freedom and claiming victory over curses and demonization. 2 Cor. 5:21; Col. 1:13; Gal. 3:13,14.
All unbelievers are under the power and authority of the devil, the prince of this world-1Jn.5:19; Eph. 2:1-3; 2 Cor. 4:4 . The good news is that by his death on the cross, Jesus conquered Satan eternally, collected the keys of death and Hades from him, and made an open show of all his principalities and powers, Heb. 2:14,15; Col. 2:15; Rev. 1:17,18.
Christians may suffer from consequences of curses and demons through improper repentance, inheritance, ignorance, relapse, etc.- Lk. 22:3; Jn. 13:2,27; Acts 5:3,4.
Biblical Foundations for Spiritual Warfare
Even though some people expect too much from spiritual warfare and deliverance and blame the devil for all their problems, some too underrate the enemy and fall prey to his schemes. Both positions are biblically wrong. Here are a few reasons.
First of all, the Old Testament clearly treats Satan, evil spirits and principalities as real personalities:
Gen. 3;Rev. 20:1,2 (the ancient serpent is the devil and Satan);
Job 1-2 (God addresses Satan as a personality);
Ex. 7-8 (the magicians of Egypt challenge Moses);
1 Sam. 16,18 (King Saul is attacked by evil spirits);
28(The witch at Endor calls up the dead Samuel);
Zech. 3:1-6 (Satan opposes Joshua the high priest);
1 Chron. 21:1 (Satan incites King David to number Israel);
Micaiah discerns lying spirits in the mouths of Ahab’s prophets, (1 Ki. 22:15-28), etc. We have no mandate to take Satan for granted.
Secondly, our Lord Jesus dealt with Satan, demons and principalities as realities needing confrontation. The temptation is well attested by Matt. 4; Mk.1; Lk. 4. The general ministry of casting out demons is part of the good news: Matt. 4:23-25; 8:16,17; 9:35; Mk. 1:32-34; 3:11; Lk. 4:40,41. The specific cases of Jesus healing individuals through casting out demons is also clearly recorded in the gospels:
Legion, Mk. 5:1-20; Matt.8:28-34(two demoniacs); Lk. 8:26-39;
Demoniac in synagogue, Mk. 1:21-27; Lk. 4:31-36;
Mary Magdalene, Lk. 8:1-3; Mk. 16:9;
18 years crippled Daughter of Abraham, Lk. 13:10-16
Epileptic boy, Matt. 17:14-21; Mk. 9:14-29; Lk. 9:37-43;
Dumb demoniac, Matt. 9:32,33;
Blind and mute demoniac, Matt. 12:22,33
Syrophonecian woman’s daughter, Mk. 7:24-30; Matt. 15:21-28;
Jesus empowered both the 12 apostles and 72 disciples before sending them to preach, heal and cast out demons, Matt. 10:1-8; Lk. 9:1-2; Mk. 3:13-15; Lk.10:1-2,17,19.Mk. 6:12,13. (Remember the loner-Lk. 9:49-50; Mk. 9:38,39). All the Great Commission passages involve empowerment-Matt. 28:18-20; Mk.16:15-20; Lk. 24:47-49; Acts 1:8.
Thirdly, the Early Church Peter’s shadow, Acts 5:15,16; Philip’s ministry in Samaria, Acts 8:5-8; Paul’s ministry, Acts 16:16-18; 19:11,12.
We can conclude from all the above that either all demons left the earth after the ministry of Jesus and his early followers or that demonization still exists in today’s world and the church of Jesus is the most qualified agent to deal with such cases.
Fourthly, most animists, tribal religions, etc. are deeply rooted in idolatry and ancestor worship. From chieftaincy to rites of passage; death and burial customs; fetishism and witchcraft; voodoo and charms, necromancy and the occult, human and animal sacrifices, Ouija boards, palmistry, wiccan associations, horoscopes, secret societes – there is no end to the numerous traditions and customs that are steeped in demonic practices.
Today’s missionary needs resources, skills and equipment to handle cases he will definitely meet on the mission field.
Fifthly, most potential converts to Christianity are either bound by these demons from conversion or even after conversion have so many issues in their life that their spiritual growth and discipleship is slow with little character change and much spiritual galloping. Compare Simon Magnus-Acts 8:5-24; Ephesians converts, Acts 19:17-20.
Moreover, our political and traditional authorities make far-reaching innocent covenants with evil spirits on behalf of their tribes, etc. that continue to plague towns, families, tribes and individuals.