Spiritual Warfare: Exposing the Enemy By David Goudie
“Demons” I commanded, “In the Name of Jesus Christ you will leave Michael’s body--now!” As I watched my 20-year-old nephew’s body begin trembling, then convulse in spasms; my heart started moving into my throat, and began to beat double-time. I wondered what kind of monster I had awakened. “Oh no,” I thought, “this stuff really works!”
I was about three years into my Christian walk when I first tried to cast out a demon. Like any good Christian, I decided to practice on my rebellious, party-hound nephew. Unfortunately, the demonic manifestations scared me and I immediately stopped all further attempts at deliverance for him---until some 15 years later. By then he had caught Hepatitis C (probably from intravenous heroin use), become a full-blown alcoholic living on the streets, and had been hospitalized numerous times for various injuries due to fights, attacks, and falls. The fact that he is still alive today is a testament to God’s mercy in answering prayer on his behalf.
I now know that we Christians have tremendous authority in the spiritual realm. We do not have to put up with the devil’s minions tormenting our loved ones. All we have to do is convince them to accept Jesus as their Savior and then educate them on spiritual warfare. Thinking back on that first failed deliverance attempt, I will always wonder how differently life would have been had I known what I was doing. Chances are I could have helped save my nephew and the family 15 some odd years of turmoil as the enemy worked to destroy him through substance and alcohol abuse. This is how serious spiritual warfare is, especially in these last days. People are dying because we Christians do not understand our spiritual authority over the enemy and the inevitability of spiritual warfare. Much of this is because the church-at-large seems to be in denial. Most pastors, I’ve noticed, don’t seem to get it either.
Understanding spiritual warfare is a matter of life and death to many. And, as the day of Jesus’ return draws closer, we can expect the warfare to increase in intensity and severity. Remember, Christian martyrdom is not something of the past, it is happening in communist and Muslim dominated countries to this very day! In fact, according to Amnesty International, more documented cases of Christian martyrdom have occurred in the last 100 years than in the last two thousand years combined. As the enemy becomes more desperate in these days leading up to Armageddon, Christians in western countries should start preparing for oppression and persecution coming to a city near them---probably within the next few years. Learning about spiritual warfare today will be life changing not only now but also in the ominous days ahead.
Having spent years studying spiritual warfare, I have come to realize that most of western Christianity is in dangerous denial regarding this critical subject. In psychological terms, this is called “cognitive dissention.” When a particular reality seems too terrifying to our minds to consider, the mind simply tunes it out. In effect, our minds “pretend” the reality does not exist, often without us being consciously aware that we have effectively decided to live in a state of “unreality.” When we choose to pretend that spiritual warfare does not exist, we cease taking steps to spiritually defend our loved ones and ourselves. The devil himself encourages this. The consequences can be seen in the complacency and impotence of the western church today. One such example is the fact that divorce in the church today is comparable to that among non-church goers (the world). I wish this were the only similarity to the world I could cite. The sad reality is that concerning all manner of sin (e.g. pornography, substance abuse, sexual immorality) the Body of Christ is looking more like the world every year. Are we being outsmarted by the devil’s schemes?
In the verse above, the Apostle Paul indicates to the Corinthians that it is possible to be out-smarted by satan, and that through Paul’s personal experience and divine revelation, his team was “familiar with (the devil’s) evil schemes.” Personally, I believe it is inexcusable that so many western pastors neglect this subject. Those who gloss over this subject do so to the detriment of their flock; they allow the enemy to kill, steal, and destroy right under their nose. I have been one of these victims of “ignorance” and it has cost my family and me dearly. It is for this reason that I am passionately committed to educating the Body of Christ on this subject despite any demonic opposition I encounter.
So, how do we prevent being “outsmarted” or taken advantage of by this ultimate personification of evil? The simple answer is: (1) Know the Word of God; (2) Believe the Word of God; and (3) Walk in obedience to the Word of God and Holy Spirit. I realize this sounds like a pat answer, but it is the truth. It is simple (I did not say easy) and true. These actions result in a close relationship with God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The first step, however, is to cast off our foolish denial of spiritual warfare and courageously face spiritual reality.
Skeptical, you ask, what does spiritual warfare look like in modern western civilization? We can learn more about “satan’s schemes” several ways. One, of course, is to read the Bible (Ephesians chapter six is a good place to start). However, from a practical standpoint, we also need to analyze the contemporary experiences of other people. There are so many ways the enemy attacks; it is necessary to study a wide range of experiences from others in order to develop a “feel” for how he works today. This area is more caught than taught. I have found that there is no magic formula or manual sufficient to provide us omniscience on this subject.
I have personally interviewed many people, read numerous books on the subject, and had many bizarre supernatural experiences, yet I still do not have a “black belt” in spiritual warfare. Never think you or anyone else is going to have all the answers in this Earthly life to the mysteries of God. It is unfortunate, however, that books on the subject fail to provide comprehensive case studies. Instead, anecdotal examples without analysis are the norm. That frustrates me. In understanding any complex subject matter, I have found that case studies are extremely helpful in understanding the big-picture (or macro) principles involved. Apart from Biblical, contemporary, practical examples, how else can we Christians ever hope to develop a sense of the myriad ways the devil comes against us?
To make a contribution toward more case studies, I will volunteer one of my own. I have chosen the following example because it is both recent and unusually public (insofar as the recent advent of social networking platforms like FaceBook are public domain). It represents an impressive, unusual series of attacks with a common theme, one that successively builds upon the next. Generally, we tend to view demonic attacks on us as one time, isolated events. The following case study highlights how sophisticated, yet ultimately predictable, the devil is. There are many other good examples to learn from; in the mean time, I hope this will be helpful in getting you started on the path to better understanding the “schemes of the enemy.” Please be advised that reliving these attacks (by documenting them for your education) has not been without personal pain. The following case study involves betrayal and outrageous slanders against my Christian character by people I have either known a long time, cared for, ministered to, or held in high spiritual regard. As of this writing, I still grieve over the possible eternal affects this enemy campaign has had on those non-Christians who witnessed it. The reckless behavior and deception of the pastor involved still amazes me.
I believe I have succeeded in being objective (I am not saying it was easy) in reporting the following events. This means that I have reported unflattering things about my own actions when they have occurred. Nonetheless, having been involved in this attack, I have to acknowledge that my perspective may be skewed despite my best efforts to avoid that. I sincerely do not believe that is the case, but I believe in transparency and “full disclosure.” Feel free to draw your own conclusions. In the spirit of complete honestly, I use real names in the following case study. Since these attacks were all “public,” no one involved should have a problem with that. I believe it is important to name names when it comes to exposing the enemy, his tactics, and the duped vessels, despite any self-serving protests from those involved, including myself. Although less so now, I also have been occasionally duped by the enemy’s schemes. I believe it important for us to realize that spiritual warfare is not some polite, politically correct game we play. Eternal life and death are involved here. The stakes are not small.
It all started when my church sent out a reminder of upcoming assignments for various members. My assignment happened to be providing “fresh flowers and festive napkins.” Because this was a group notification, I thought, “great” now the enemy is going to try to use this to raise questions in the fellowship as to my sexual orientation (while I wait on the Lord for a wife, I have been a long-term bachelor). In hindsight, clearly, I was overreacting. Because of my spiritual warfare research, I have developed a heightened sensitivity to possible enemy attacks. All things considered, I believe it is prudent to over rather than under-react to such attacks. In responding to the group message, I confirmed acceptance of the assignment but then, strategically, slipped in a jocular comment that assured the readers of my heterosexual (albeit obedient non-practicing) orientation.
A brother who rarely attended worship service (and therefore did not know me well) thereafter sent a group-wide response. In that response, he indicated that my comment distancing myself from “homosexuals” was inappropriate. He then left open the question of whether I bore ill will toward gays in general. Realizing that the enemy was now using this brother to sow seeds of doubt as to my Christian character, I shot back a group-wide response. I corrected this brother on his handling of the issue: (1) He failed to contact me to discuss my intent before sending out his “teaching opportunity;” and (2) he created the possibility in the minds of those group members (some of whom did not know me personally) that I was a “gay-hater.”
Analysis: The Bible warns us to be sober minded and on alert to the schemes of the enemy, (I did not say this was easy). Those who are not familiar with the reality of persistent spiritual warfare will not appreciate my sensitivity to potential attacks by the enemy. That is how the enemy victimizes most Christians; they do not understand how subtle, persistent, and devious he is. Because of my (still developing) understanding of spiritual warfare, I responded immediately. I do not like to waste time opposing the enemy’s attempts to plant lies. Neither should you, regardless of how seemingly insignificant the lie may be. Lies and truth are both seeds. Given enough time and watering, each will germinate and grow; one bearing evil fruit, the other good fruit.
Notice that both of these actions by this brother ignored Biblical principles. Disregard of Biblical principles and truth is always a red flag to enemy involvement through fellow Christians (or supposed Christians--remember, we have both wheat and tares in the local church). What I find fascinating is that the enemy took advantage of my original overreaction and used it as a springboard for the start of the real attack campaign! I have to wonder if the enemy knew I might overreact if he provided suspicious enough circumstances, thus providing a foundation for the start of his real campaign.
At this point, I had no idea that the enemy still had additional stages to unveil in this smear campaign. Despite it appearing to others to be an honest “misstep” by this brother, I clearly saw that the enemy was involved. Again, when in doubt, I always prefer to over-react than under-react when it comes to spiritual warfare. I choose to engage the enemy at the first sign of warfare, even if it turns out to be a “false alarm.” They usually do not.
Note: Around this same time, I began receiving subtle leadings that I was about to be reassigned to another body of believers. Because of this “stage one” incident, the level of spiritual ignorance members of this church were operating in was now obvious to me. Consequently, I began paying closer attention to the leadings to change fellowships. Whenever God permits, I have learned to avoid being in a body of believers where the enemy is allowed to run amuck. I know from experience it is only a matter of time before the devil starts to activate his pawns (or “sleepers”) and then, inevitably, the drama begins. Why make it easy for the enemy by hanging around people he can easily manipulate to cause grief? Therefore, despite the fact that I was undergoing an attack, I felt God was allowing this, in part, to loosen my roots at my church and hasten my cooperation in transferring to the fellowship I was receiving the leadings to join.
The next stage of this demonic campaign occurred a few days later when I was duped by an enemy scheme. I was duped by a FaceBook (FB) application called “friend fight,” which I now realize was inspired by the devil himself. In order to access the comments supposedly made about me by one of my FB friends, the application first required me to answer questions about some of my FB friends. No problem, I answered the questions in a positive and encouraging manner. In the end, I realized that none of my friends had made “comments” about me and I had been scammed. Two weeks later, my then Pastor accused me of making inappropriate comments to two of my Church sisters (both married) who were included in the distribution of the questionnaire mentioned above. He then showed me what had actually been sent to one of them. I was shocked! The questions and answers had been fraudulently manipulated! One such fraudulent answer indicated that I thought one of the married sisters “thought about David” when she went to bed at night! I could not believe this was happening to me. I had no idea such a devious FB approved application like that would be allowed. Neither did my former Pastor; hence the reason for his disbelief of my declarations that I had been victimized. In effect, this Pastor was choosing to believe in the integrity of a secular, mysterious social network application over the flesh and blood declarations of a known zealous brother in Jesus, without even attempting to verify my denials! Sad, but indicative that ulterior motives were involved (e.g. pride, selfishness, jealousy).
Because of the above disclosure, I immediately went on my FB page and posted a general warning about the fraudulent application. Next, I created a forum to notify the most likely recipients of the fraudulent questionnaire (I could not remember exactly who I had included in the original distribution). I included my then Pastor in that forum. Unbelievably, he began to challenge my claims of being victimized by the fraudulent FB application. Praise God, three of my beloved brothers and sisters vigorously defended my claims of innocence! Realizing that his presumptuous claims along this line were exposing his ignorance, the pastor abruptly dropped that failed attack, saving himself further embarrassment. Unfortunately, he lacked the personal courage and integrity to offer an apology. Scrambling to save face (notice the spirit of pride?), he then changed his attack to accusing me of making “inappropriate” comments in person to the same two married women/sisters-in-Christ. He ambiguously alluded to alleged comments I supposedly made to these women that “were over the top.” Nothing could be further from the truth. This pastor, having been thoroughly duped by the enemy’s distorted whispers and his own pride, continued to make FB forum comments designed to undermine my authenticity and integrity as a devout Christian zealous for the Lord. Eventually, I suspect he realized he was “totally blowing it,” and abruptly left the discussion.
Unfortunately, the damage had already been done. Emotionally, I had just been hit with a sledgehammer in the stomach. Talk about a surprise attack, not only did I not see the content of the attack coming; the fact that the pastor was spearheading it was inconceivable to me. Because he was not noticeably spirit-filled, I now know that I should have guarded my heart toward him. Some may ask why I would even be attending such a fellowship; I go where I believe God is leading me--- for His purposes, not mine.
Analysis: Imagine the spiritual minefield I now faced. My flesh cried out for vengeance but my spirit said “wait just a minute, this is spiritual warfare, you’ve just been blind-sided, proceed with caution.” Moreover, this was not just any warfare; this was part of a focused multi-stage campaign by the enemy to slander my reputation and render my ministry in the Kingdom ineffective! Here are some of the spiritual “mines” I now faced because this pastor was ignorant of spiritual warfare. In my opinion, if a self-proclaimed Shepard shies way from equipping the saints in spiritual warfare, it would seem to me they are effectively agreeing to be on the same (or a similar) “page” as the prince of darkness. What other conclusion exists?
• I had just recently advised this pastor I was feeling led to leave the fellowship but had not yet placed myself under another pastor. I still felt subject to his spiritual authority over me. The Bible is clear that we are to respect the spiritual authority God has placed over us, even when they appear to be unworthy of that honor (see Romans 13).
• Despite my intense indignation, I realized tremendous ministry stress had compromised the pastor emotionally and spiritually. Thus, making him an easy target for demonic deception:
o He had already experienced two church splits, both involuntary, within the last year or so.
o His associate pastor had gone to be with the Lord, also within the last year.
o He was losing one “lay” leader after another.
o He had just lost the church building to foreclosure and Sunday services relocated to temporary facilities within the last couple of months.
o He had publicly admitted to experiencing a spirit of discouragement (no doubt, of Biblical proportions).
Note: Ministry is not for the faint of heart! From my perspective, I noticed signs of clinical depression sneaking up on him. Clearly, he had undergone a demonic campaign of his own, one of discouragement intended to destroy his faith. Because of the pastor’s ignorance of spiritual warfare (as evidenced by his ambivalence toward the subject), it was beginning to look like the pastor was gradually sinking deeper and deeper into complacency.
With all of this stress going on in his life and ministry, he certainly did not need to lose another gifted member who was highly visible, zealous for the Lord, and very active in the flock. How would he explain yet another loss? So even though I could have crushed him with the cold, hard facts on FB (even after he slithered out of the forum); would that have pleased God? I did not think so.
• The Bible tells us “do not repay evil with evil.” With my flesh enflamed with righteous indignation, could I be sure I would not also fall victim to the enemy’s schemes or my flesh’s inherent tendency toward pride and self-centeredness? Could I avoid causing unnecessary hurt to anyone involved? In all honesty, I did not think so. My level of indignation and sense of betrayal pretty much rendered me (shall we say) emotionally volatile at that time.
• Several of the members in the forum broadcast were non-Christians. Unlike the pastor, I was concerned for their eternal destiny. I realized a public Christian-slamming contest would only justify the “wisdom” of not becoming a Christian in their minds.
Clearly, I needed to exercise wisdom in this minefield. In response to questions from other forum members, I explained, as unemotionally as I could, the basic facts that were twisted. Next, I rebuked the pastor for his conduct privately and then contacted the national headquarters with my report of pastoral misconduct including a transcript of the public discussion and notified an elder in the local church of the same. Then I contacted the Reno, Nevada Pastor and urged him to help get some church sponsored counseling for the Sacramento Pastor. When we become aware that one of our brothers or sisters in the Kingdom is operating in demonic deception, we need to be our brother’s keeper. The last thing we should do is cut and run, like most do. Even when we are not personally in a position to assist a fellow Christian under deception, we should work with those who are. God frowns on those who take the easy way out when it comes to the ultimate welfare of His children.
You have probably noticed that we Christians usually “shoot” or abandon our own wounded; there is something ungodly about that picture. I have determined not to do that. Next, I made a conscious decision of my will to forgive him (and the one deceived sister). Additional consequences for the pastor, however, are still pending. Despite forgiveness, we need to understand that those who have been deceived, either knowingly or not, by the devil, need to be held accountable for their ungodly behavior. Yes, accountability can often be painful but to do otherwise is to condone the works of the devil in the Church, and deny the victim of enemy deception a painful cost that perhaps will bring them to repentance. We have no choice but to hold the Christ-proclaiming vessel used by the enemy Biblically accountable for their actions.
This incident reminded me that even seasoned pastors are subject to demonic manipulation---especially when they are in denial of spiritual warfare. I hope the seriousness of demonic deception and spiritual warfare are beginning to become painfully clear.
The Next Attack:
About a week or so later, the next attack took place. I had offered to perform some legal work for a gal I had reconnected with (through FB) from high school. It was not long after we reconnected several months ago that she began making some aggressive sexual advances toward me. Being an eligible bachelor, I was flattered but educated her on the Bible-based moral code I followed (not to mention she was in a marriage at that time!)
By this time, her now estranged husband had filed for divorce and she had moved in with her adult daughter. In discussing her situation, I discovered her estranged husband was not cooperating with financial disclosure issues, I recommended she protect her legal rights by filing a response to the divorce petition. She could not afford to hire someone to ensure her legal rights were protected. Regrettably (in 20/20 hindsight), I volunteered to help. I had previously assured her that the necessary paperwork would be ready the date following the below blow-up.
The day before my promised completion date, I called and asked her to drop by so I could resolve a couple loose ends. Since it was dinnertime, I offered to fix her something to eat. Within minutes of hanging up, her “best friend,” (who I later discovered was her lesbian lover), called me and started making insulting wild accusations regarding my intentions toward my friend. I was baffled! After I got over the shock of this event, I was justifiably angry. This seemed to be coming out of nowhere. Then I realized that my friend had been on the FB forum discussion where my integrity and character were slandered. Most unfortunately for her, she had bought in to the lie and now she was being used to continue the enemy’s public attack on my character. There would be significant consequences for this.
By this time, I had had enough of my character being spit on. I slammed the phone down on this woman, called my friend, and told her I was not going to be insulted like this then expected to perform free work for her. I advised her to find someone else to help her. The next day I found that she had posted slanderous comments about me on both her FB page and mine. Keying off the pastor’s previous slanderous attack, she accused me of making inappropriate advances toward her and then leaving her in a lurch with her legal issue. Diabolically, she thought that the pastor’s slander would provide her credibility for her own lies. Once I discovered this slanderous attack, I responded by setting the record straight.
Realizing she was now an enemy pawn, I decided to launch a counter-attack. I revealed her lesbian relationship with her friend. I did this not because I bear ill will toward gays, but because I realized she was concealing this reality about herself. By doing this, I was letting her know that the truth is more painful to her than the lies of the devil she was trying to spread about me. I also posted back asking her if she would like to reveal the sexual advances she had previously made toward me. I heard nothing more from her. I also “reported” her post on her FB page as “offensive” and then watched in surprise as it disappeared from the page (I admit to being only partially FB literate). Now only my remarks remained, which gave the incorrect impression that I was the aggressor in this string of comments. In my haste and fury, I did not comprehend that until later, after the footnote attack below. In the future, I will simply delete any and all slanderous comments about me and call it a day.
The Footnote Attack
This next incident keyed off my counter-attack response to this woman's slanderous post about me on her FB page. As stated earlier, my counter-attack to her involved exposing her lesbian relationship. I want to point out that I do not believe this was “repaying evil with evil.” What I posted was the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, what this woman was posting were evil lies. If someone is doing the work of the enemy in burglarizing your integrity, you are completely justified in shining a spotlight back on their lack thereof. To do otherwise, is the equivalent of catching a burglar in your house and allowing him to leave with your valuables in hand, while you hold the door open for him.
By now, it was beginning to feel like the devil had recruited half the women in Sacramento to jump on the bandwagon of the pastor’s slanderous comments. I realized I must have been starting to look like a real cad and womanizer, probably a fornicator and adulterer as well. Understandably, other female friends, including a niece, started to look side-ways at me. I can only imagine what they were thinking “Wow! I had no idea Dave was like that, he sure fooled me!” No, ladies, the devil is fooling you through his pawns! That is what I wanted to tell everyone but my credibility was obviously under attack. Who (without understanding spiritual warfare) would believe me after all this? It honestly felt like the devil might be winning this battle; I determined not to accept defeat.
All of that said, I next received a post from a woman (we go back to 5th grade) slamming me for exposing the woman's lesbian relationship and accusing me of being “unchristian.” “How dare her,” I thought. She did not even ask me my side of the story! Oh, I get it; the woman is a “poor female” and since I am a bachelor, I am obviously a degenerate “dog.” As I read her completely presumptuous (and implicitly sexist) criticism, I could feel my blood pressure reach the boiling point.
Consequently, (and regrettably) I crushed her in a withering, indignant reply--possibly ending our friendship. Chalk another one up for the devil, I thought. On the other hand, would it please God for me to allow the enemy to use her as a vehicle for his diabolical attacks? Not likely, I thought. As I explain later, I have learned to go for the jugular when it comes to spiritual warfare. I give the enemy no quarter; I give the enemy no aid or comfort. I realize that I am in an invisible war where the eternal destiny of others is at stake. As Christians, we are called to be warriors, not contestants in a popularity contest.
That said, however, I do regret responding in such haste and fury to this woman's misguided attack. Had I first gained control of my anger, I would have been more gracious and effective in my response. Responding in naked anger is usually unhealthy and counter-productive. Fortunately, my sister in Christ, Mary, happened to be online, saw what was going on, and convinced me to shut my counter-attack down (thank you sister!)
Analysis: There are several points I believe are noteworthy at this point.
• All of these attacks were focused on an attempt at Christian character assassination. For those called to ministry, integrity just so happens to be all we have! Consequently, I have made major personal sacrifices in obedience to the Lord to maintain my personal integrity. Clearly, the devil ‘gets that’ and understands that if he can steal my integrity, then he steals my service for the Almighty Living God. The devil desperately wants to destroy our character in the eyes of others, especially non-Christians. If we allow him to succeed [and our actions, or lack thereof, are usually required for him to succeed (think about that)], then we are allowing our witness for Jesus Christ to be compromised, possibly resulting in many of our unsaved friends and loved ones spending eternity in torment!! Just what satan wants! (Note: enemy campaigns designed to discourage us, weaken our faith, destroy our health or finances and the like are also common).
o First, the enemy wants to convince the world that a “true Christian” must be perfect or else the person is a hypocrite. The enemy wants to deceive your friends and relatives into believing that either you are without flaw and imperfection (in other words, superhuman) or you are a “false” Christian----lacking integrity and honesty. If we allow the enemy to accomplish this, he succeeds in destroying our witness to a dying world. We cannot afford to be indecisive or cowardly on this brothers and sisters! People are dying in their sins. People are going to Hell: not for a month, but for eternity! Eternity is a looooooooooooong time!
If we would not want our worst enemy to spend eternity in Hell, why in the world would we shrink from doing mortal combat for the sake of our (spiritually blind) friends and loved ones? We have to be more militant in the defense of our witness and those we care for. We have to fight courageously against the temptation to deny the reality of spiritual warfare and do our share of combat.
o Lastly, even if we are the most righteous person on Earth, our character will be attacked if we are leading people to Jesus and walking in obedience to God’s Word. If the devil cannot find actual immorality in our life (to expose and destroy our character), don’t think he will not make something up (usually something plausible). In the rare event of his lie being implausible (the world is eager to believe darkness), expect him to manipulate several of his pawns to come up with a similar lie. A lie told often and by several easily becomes believable, especially to the world.
In the above case study, because of my bachelorhood, the enemy chose to use lies related to improper and unchristian motives toward women. For others, he may fabricate lies of dishonesty, addiction, or something else that will fit within his strategy to destroy your witness for Jesus Christ.
On the other hand, if you have actual unrepented of sin in your life; you just came into partnership with the devil to destroy yourself (and eventually others). Because most Christians are either naive or in denial of spiritual warfare, they make easy targets for destruction. I never cease to be amazed at how many pastors cavalierly and recklessly venture into the devil’s territory of sin. Do they really expect to escape unscathed?
Beware brothers and sisters: the demons are watching, waiting, and even manipulating circumstances for you to slip-up. If pastors (who usually enjoy a higher level of divine protection) are routinely being deceived and destroyed, how much more will YOU be destroyed if you fall victim to the enemy’s temptations?
• Two of the people used as pawns by the devil in the above attacks were Christians, but not demonstratively spirit-filled (by my appraisal). Two others claimed they were Christians but were clearly not. What I have learned from this demonic campaign is that I need to guard my heart around anyone who is not clearly a spirit-filled Christian. The enemy is not going to waste his time manipulating people we do not care about (as a vehicle to launch attacks.) He is going to use those as close to us as possible: the closer, the better.
I have noticed that Spirit-filled Christians, because of their close relationship with God, are much less susceptible to the lies and manipulation of the enemy. That is not to say we should isolate ourselves from everyone else, just keep an eye on our heart toward others. Many people are already reserved in this way. Myself, I love being a vessel of God’s love and joy toward my brothers and sisters in the Lord. It will require a new discipline in me to be more guarded around people who are not spirit-filled. I will have to see if and how I can pull that off. Being gregarious by nature around fellow Christians, it will not be an easy task.
The Bottom Line
I have not had the time to develop many aspects of spiritual warfare here. This subject is far more complex than we imagine. I hope examining this case study of a real-life enemy campaign has helped in some small way alert you to the subtlety and complexity of your very real personal enemy, satan. I could recommend several excellent books for your continued study on this subject; however, my favorite is The Invisible War, by Chip Ingram of Living on the Edge ministry.
The purpose of this case study article is to be educational, not depressing, or scary. In order to focus on the educational value of this article and avoid being unnecessarily redundant or dark, I omitted two additional instances of enemy attacks. In the most recent of these omitted events, the enemy outdid himself. This ridiculous, “way over the top” incident involved several police training their shotguns, pistols and tasers on me. Then I was handcuffed (“for my protection”) for about 20 minutes in front of my house and my neighbors! Perhaps I will have an opportunity to share those events with you in one of my future articles. The above instances, however, are sufficient to give you an idea of how complex and ruthless an enemy campaign can be. I recommend we begin looking at spiritual warfare in terms of themes instead of hit-and-run, isolated attacks.
One of the more complex subjects involved in spiritual warfare is the obvious fact that God allows the enemy a certain degree of wiggle-room to come against people, including his servants. For example, the above enemy campaign could not have been conducted without God deciding to allow it. Why would God allow us to be attacked by His (and our) worst enemy? In the case above, I believe it was part of His long-term effort to strengthen me for the future. As I move more into the realm of God’s supernatural power, I believe He wants me to build spiritual and emotional endurance to weather the inevitable future level of enemy harassment. In the alternative, this campaign could also be a spiritual “sifting” demanded by the enemy (see Luke 22:31). The devil occasionally does this hoping we will fail the "test," and thus delay further promotion in the Kingdom of God. Whatever the case, I rest assured that I have a loving, holy, and merciful God who has promised that “ALL things work for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28).” Amen!
A Few Final Thoughts…
As already stated, there is no time in this short article to adequately develop several important points regarding spiritual warfare. To be thorough would require a rather thick book on the subject. Nonetheless, I cannot end this article without making a few final critical points regarding this subject.
1. Not everything “bad” (from our temporal viewpoint) that happens to us is connected to demonic involvement. God is sovereign. He can send consequences and judgments upon us, in this Earthly life, so that we do not have to pay the cost in eternity. I have been hit over the head with a spiritual 2x4 many times, and I am grateful for God's loving correction. The above campaign, however, was demonically driven; here are some of the possible signs of demonic involvement in an attack:
a. Betrayal from someone close to you;
b. Deception, presumption and outright lies;
c. Twisting or distortion of facts to such a degree that the resultant accusation is clearly misleading (or an outright lie). For example, the pastor implied that three women were involved in the supposed inappropriate behavior. In reality, only one misled him. This one person was emotionally, physically, spiritually, and financially compromised. In retrospect, she was a demonic attack waiting to happen. Without going into labored detail, it seems the enemy used strongholds of bitterness and jealousy to motivate her deceptive allegations about me. These were either distortions of the truth in her memory by the devil, or conscious misrepresentations in retaliation for my counter-attack a brother, one of her friends.
Arrogantly, the pastor scrambled to save his own reputation in complete disregard of the truth and potential eternal damage to unbeliever witnesses. This pastor dishonestly gave the impression his accusations were backed up by the complaints of more than the one compromised woman: deception at its best. This kind of behavior always happens with demonically deceived pastors. Pastors infected with the pride, arrogance and self-serving spirit will always reveal themselves eventually.
d. Anything that results in economic, physical, or spiritual loss or emotional damage. That is, unless we are walking in rebellion or have made something the equivalent of an idol before God. In which case, it is probably God Almighty trying to get our attention.
2. After each of the attacks described in this article, my spiritual warfare consisted of:
a. Telling the truth, the devil hates the truth. Set the record straight; do not worry about whether anyone believes you. Expose the truth, including immorality, about the vessel which is being used by the enemy to come against you. How and when this should be done is a question of thoughtful/prayerful discretion. Should this be done publicly or privately? Is there an accountability structure in place that can be advised? Should it be done now, or after you have calmed down?
The Bible tells us that we do not struggle against flesh and blood, but against spiritual powers in the spiritual realm (Ephesians 6:12). Clearly, we should direct prayers against the higher spiritual forces orchestrating the attack. That said, we must also confront the physical, human vessel the enemy is operating through (see Acts 13:6-11). Knowingly or not (usually not) the enemy’s vessel has come into agreement with enemy forces and thus is a legitimate target for imposing God-directed consequences upon (see Matthew 6-9 and 18:21-35). By declaring the truth and standing up for righteousness and accountability, we are extending God’s grace to those who the enemy uses. This is done in the hope that they confess and repent of their foolishness, that their rewards in eternity should not be denied. As long as we focus on this temporal carnal existence instead of on eternity, we will not appreciate the long-term blessing of God’s ways, including his judgments and chastening in this life (see 2 Corinthians 4:18).
b. Make a conscious decision of your will to forgive the person used to come against you. In each of the above attacks, as soon as I gained control of my anger (usually within thirty minutes of the attack), I consciously decided to forgive them. Every time the flesh or the enemy tries to remind you of the outrageous of the attack, respond with a decision to forgive the person. Keep this up until the forgiveness “sticks.”
The pain of betrayal was once so deep in my life that it took almost a whole month of confessing my forgiveness of this person several times a day before it actually “stuck.” The devil was hoping I would surrender to bitterness and unforgiveness. As servants of God, we can never afford to come into agreement with the devil’s desire to destroy others and ourselves through withholding forgiveness.
c. Ask God to bless the person used in the attack. God’s ways require us not only to forgive our enemies, but also to bless them (Romans 12:13). This is the “nuclear bomb” of spiritual warfare; it completely rejects what the devil and your flesh want. Yes, it can be hard. It must be done as an act of your will in surrender to God’s ways. With practice, it becomes easier, I promise.
d. Ask God if He wants you to do anything else. There are times when God expects you to be an agent for bringing about consequences to the attacker. For example, I believed God wanted me to expose the pastor’s misconduct in the above campaign. When God chooses to use you in this regard, it is called obedience, not vengeance. We must be careful, however, that we are not listening to the enemy or our carnal nature. We must want what God wants more than what we want.
For feedback or questions, reach Brother Dave at firstname.lastname@example.org or through www.PowerChristianity.com . Comments, criticism, questions, and suggestions are encouraged and answered.
Brother Dave facilitates and writes extensively for www.PowerChristianity.com and heads two other ministries: LifeForce Christian coaching and Revival Quest, a promoter of Christian revival and speaking events.
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This following video is an excellent “Spiritual Warfare 101,” resource.
The following book is another excellent “Spiritual Warfare 201” resource: "Invisible War" by Chip Ingram.