It has been my experience that the question of our Authority on earth to wage spiritual warfare has been one of the biggest hangups for Christians. In fact, that is usually the first comment I get whenever I try to broach the topic. I will hear something like this: "Yes, the Apostles were able to cast out demons, and heal the sick, but all that ended with their deaths." This is pretty much the basis for a theological position called Cessationism.
In strict theological terms, this refers, in Christianity, to a
doctrine that says "spiritual gifts such as speaking in tongues,
prophecy and healing ceased with the original twelve apostles". Notice
that, in this definition, casting out demons is not even mentioned!
Yet, the apostles did that work, too. So, in the intervening
centuries, the Church has simply glossed over these facts and no longer
even knows how to address it.
And, now that Believers are awakening to the Truth of John 14:12,
we are having to determine just how we regard this important part of
our commission as workers in the Kingdom. (Please take the time to
click on the link and see these important words from our Savior).
With that counsel from our Lord, I have seen two distinct disciplines: Healing and Deliverance. In my
opinion, Healing is using the authority and power from Jesus and the
Holy Spirit to bring the healing of physical ailments to suffering
Christians. The ministry of Deliverance finds us using our authority
and Their power to help heal the spiritual wounds caused by the Enemy's
attack on their flesh and soul. Very often, both of these disciplines
work together because there is interaction between the spiritual and
physical realms, and they affect both the spiritual and physical parts
of us. In other words, Jesus asks us to work with Him and the Holy
Spirit to help "set the captives free" from demonic oppression -- this
is one of the "things He did", as mentioned in John 14:12, and to which
He wishes us to do in even greater "outreach and extent".
This concept that there is interaction between the spiritual and
physical realms is also a difficult position for Christians to accept.
That's why I said in the previous post, that we modern Christians "don't
see the unseen world from the same point of view as the ancient
Biblical writers." They were familiar with the invisible world of the
spiritual realm. They interacted with it! Let me give you these few
examples from various passages in the Bible:
• In Genesis 28, Jacob was given a clear vision of interaction between the physical and spiritual realms. He
dreamed that there was a ladder (stairway) placed on the earth, and the
top of it reached [out of sight] toward heaven; and [he saw] the angels
of God ascending and descending on it [going to and from heaven]. Jacob
may not have fully understood what he was seeing in his dream, but he
awoke with the realization that "Without any doubt the Lord is in this
place, and I did not realize it." He knew that God had interacted with
him, and that his physical world had been affected by the presence of
God coming to him from the spiritual realm.
• Moses certainly experienced the interaction of the spiritual
with the physical, when he witnessed the burning bush and the voice of
God in its midst.
• The prophets in the Old Testament continually gave witness as
intermediaries between the spiritual and physical worlds for people who
could not see. False prophets spoke from their own minds and
imaginations. God opened the eyes of His prophets so they could see
into the spiritual realm and explain what they saw to the people.
Ezekiel saw wheels moving in unison. Isaiah saw "the Lord, high and
exalted seated on a throne; and the train of his robe filled the
temple." He also saw the angels that surrounded that majestic throne.
Elisha was able to assist his servant to see into the spiritual realm
during a frightening episode when their city was surrounded by an army
of horses and chariots. Elisha prayed, "Open his eyes, LORD, so that he
may see." Then the LORD opened the servant's eyes, and he looked and
saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha (2
• But it wasn't only the Old Testament Prophets and Patriarchs who had
knowledge and experience of this interaction. Stephen described what he
saw in the spiritual realm, just as he was about to be stoned to death:
"Look," he said, "I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at
the right hand of God" (Acts 7:54-56). Peter was released from prison
by a spiritual intervention: "Suddenly an angel of the Lord appeared
and a light shone in the cell. He struck Peter on the side and woke him
up. "Quick, get up!" he said, and the chains fell off Peter's wrists"
Even Jesus, as fully man, encountered the spiritual realm while on
earth. His baptism saw an intrusion of the Holy Spirit (in the form of a
dove) from the spiritual realms, and the voice of God confirmed it.
And I sometimes think we Christians forget that Jesus's ministry on
earth always originated in the spiritual realm of Heaven. Jesus
continually tells us that He only did what His Father had shown Him.
How could that be, if He wasn't being shown things in the spiritual
realm? And how can we dismiss what happened at the Transfiguration?
Jesus parted the curtain between the physical and spiritual realms, so
Peter and John could see that Moses and Elijah were living with God!
While all these examples show us that there were many good and
glorifying experiences of interaction between the physical and spiritual
realms, we must not ignore that the Enemy also has used this ability to
interact with this world. When he tempted Jesus in the desert, he was
able to show Him, in the spiritual dimensions, all the things of power
and fame he could give Him, if Jesus would only bow down and worship
And I find another interesting episode of interaction in the storm
which arose when Jesus accompanied the apostles on their boat. The
Greek translation says that "a great storm arose in the sea, an
earthquake of the sea, its waters stirred to their depths". This
suggests to me that the forces of darkness understood that Jesus was a
risk to them. He was casting out demons, and they were powerless. He
was healing the people they had inflicted with sickness. They knew that
they had to deal with him, before He really got going. So they stirred
up the sea and the wind in an effort to kill Him. That's why He rebuked
the wind in the same way as He rebuked the evil spirits He was casting
out in people.
Can you see how both God and the devil -- both Good and Evil -- are
able to interact with us through the overlapping dimensions of our
physical world with the spiritual realm? There are many more examples
in the Bible of such experiences, and if Christians throughout the
centuries (after the inspired Word of God had ended) were to write down
their testimonies of spiritual interactions, it would fill untold
numbers of manuscripts! And guess what? It is still happening, whether
we recognize it or not!
So, it is imperative, if we are to serve our Lord as He purposed us to
do, that we recognize and acknowledge that there is an invisible world
just as real as this physical one, and it comprises the spiritual realm.
It was created just as certainly as this rock we live on. These two
realms overlap and the forces that aligned with Satan have access to our
realm, but we are not powerless to withstand them! We need to
understand that we have access to Jesus and the power of God -- the same
power that He used in His ministry on earth to deal with those
collaborators with the Enemy. And He has given us His permission to
call upon those powers (it is His Name that activates them!) to resist
the devil and his schemes to oppress us. That is our Authority!
We desperately need to understand and get this concept! We need to know --- I mean really know,
deep in our spirit -- that we are involved in a visible and invisible
world that intersect, and there is a war going on, a cosmic conflict
that has eternal implications. The souls of every man, woman, and child
on this earth depends on us knowing that! And we need to know that the
Enemy seeks to blind us, and convince us that this is not Scriptural.
And he has been winning on that front for quite awhile now. The state
of misery that so many Christians are living in is proof of that.
So I can imagine that he is none too happy that more of us are
waking up to the Biblical Truth that Spiritual Warfare is part of our
commission as the Body of Christ. Our eternal Victory has been won on
the Cross for those of us who call Jesus our Savior. But there are
millions of lost souls who are in the cross hairs of the Enemy, and it
is our calling to share our salvation story. With that, we can expect
skirmishes, battles, and sometimes all-out war with the Adversary. And
that means that we need to be more vigilant than ever to put on our full
spiritual armor, as Paul advises in Ephesians 6. We need not be afraid
or timid, or go searching for the fight. We just need to stand firm in
the knowledge that there is power in the Name of Jesus, and we have
access to it and the authority to use it. With that recognition comes
the victories that will allow us to fulfill our purpose on earth. And
that is what God and Jesus desire for us!
1 Corinthians 2:13 "We also
speak of these things, not in words taught or supplied by human wisdom,
but in those taught by the Spirit, combining and interpreting spiritual
thoughts with spiritual words [for those being guided by the Holy