After we returned home from a very fruitful mission trip, my wife called a dear friend in Christ to let her know that we were back in town. After an exchange of pleasantries, their conversation turned to a dear couple who were mutual friends. They served the Lord as the local leaders for a well-known organization. But they had been suffering through trial after trial, including persistent health problems. Strangely even their children, one by one, had been suffering through unexpected trials.
Sensing a possible reason for such vicious and unabated attacks, my wife asked her friend if the couple had been involved in a popular practice called strategic-level spiritual warfare against powerful demonic beings which inhabit the “second heaven.” Our friend replied almost in glowing terms that they had memorized all the Bible verses about warfare prayer, and essentially knew everything there was to know about the subject. With that, my wife decided not to pursue the conversation any further.
Interestingly however, our friend then added, “but with all that the two of you do for the gospel, you always experience smooth sailing!”
What might be the reason for such nonstop trials in this godly family?
One possible reason might have something to do with the nature of strategic-level spiritual warfare which its practitioners direct against powerful demonic entities, principalities, and territorial spirits in the heavenly realms above. Despite all the books written by well-known authors teaching and encouraging believers to engage in such warfare, in the gospels Jesus never directly commanded his disciples to engage in direct warfare against such beings. And neither do we actually see the disciples directly addressing and rebuking territorial spirits whether in the gospels or in Acts—as is done by quite a few believers today. Such action is not commanded but rather at best only implied in the Scriptures, and therefore goes beyond the direct commandment of the Lord as recorded in Scripture. It can therefore invite consequences which are not in the perfect will of God for His children.
One very well-known author who advances this practice used the term “experimentation” in reference to its application. (Strategic-Level Spiritual Warfare Revisited—Is Scripture really INSUFFICIENT as it implies?) Apparently the author himself is aware that the practice is neither taught nor explicitly commanded by our Lord Jesus in Scripture.
We in The Elijah Challenge have decided to obey the clearly written word of God. We limit our practice and teaching to what Jesus directly commanded his disciples to do with regard to the preaching of the gospel in the New Testament.
When Jesus had called the Twelve together, he gave them power and authority to drive out all demons and to cure diseases, and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal the sick. …So they set out and went from village to village, proclaiming the good news and healing people everywhere (Luke 9:1-2, 6).
Heal the sick who are there and tell them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’ …The seventy-two returned with joy and said, “Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name” (Luke 10:9 & 17).
In Acts we see the disciples continuing to carry out these commands as they preached the gospel to both Jews and Gentiles in the known world at the time.
This is what we teach and train the Lord’s disciples to do today as they proclaim the kingdom of God to the lost. We are teaching them to obey everything the Lord has commanded, in this case focusing on training them to heal the sick and cast out demons as evidence to the lost that Jesus Christ is the only way to the Father. And the Lord has graciously made us fruitful in the six continents where we have ministered and taught. We have indeed experienced “smooth sailing” all this time. We have not suffered from unabated attacks from the enemy, whether against us personally or against our loved ones. Rather by God’s wonderful grace we are enjoying “heaven on earth.”
“Nothing by any means can harm us” (Luke 10:19b) as we simply do and teach what the Lord commanded in the same passage ten verses earlier: “Heal the sick and tell them, ‘the kingdom of God has come near to you’ ” (Luke 10:9). Since we have chosen not to go beyond the written word, the Lord’s promise of protection for us holds. Especially within the invisible and potentially dangerous realm of the spirit, it is important to follow the Lord’s command as closely as possible. It is dangerous to “experiment” in this invisible realm inhabited by powerful beings, many of them extremely hostile to servants of the kingdom of Light.
In a sense it may be commendable for a servant of God who undergoes such suffering to bear it cheerfully believing that they are being “persecuted for the sake of righteousness.” But what if the trials are in fact unnecessary and due to our own ignorance of and disobedience to the Scriptures? Who among us does not mind suffering such pain unnecessarily? Do we actually receive full credit from the Lord for cheerfully bearing unnecessary suffering due to our own ignorance of the Scriptures?
Please feel free to forward the following link to believers or servants of God who you think might be involved in not simply prayer to God, but also in direct “strategic-level spiritual warfare” attacking and rebuking powerful territorial spirits above. (If they are not involved in such warfare but are suffering through painful trials, then there may be another reason for it.)