Based on reviews by Justin Peters, Seth Dunn and Elizabeth Prata, I’ve pretty much decided not to bother with the newest Kendrick Brothers’ movie, War Room. Since I have no intention of seeing the movie, obviously I lack the qualifications to write a review of my own. But Justin Peters’ review brings up a concern that I can address from my 31 years of first-hand experience in and around Charismatic/Pentecostal circles. Peters writes:
Sadly, biblical parameters dealing with spiritual warfare are exceeded throughout the movie. The entire film is saturated with Word-Faith/N.A.R. spiritual warfare lingo. There seemed to be as much time and effort expended in binding, rebuking and casting out Satan by Mrs. Clara and Elizabeth in their respective war rooms as there was praying to God.
In one of the more emotionally rousing scenes of the film, upon discovering her husband’s philandering ways, Elizabeth retreats to her war room. As she repeatedly cites to herself James 4:7b, “Resist the devil and he will flee from you,” indignation swells within her and she begins to talk to the devil. “No more, you are done! Jesus is Lord of this house and there is no room for you anymore! Go back to Hell where you belong and leave my family alone!” she shouts.
There are at least two significant problems with this. First, Satan is not in Hell. Only when the eschatological events of Revelation 20 take place will he be thrown into the lake of fire and “tormented day and night forever and ever” (vs. 10). The Bible makes it very clear that, for now at least, Satan is quite free “prowling about like a roaring lion seeking someone to devour” (1 Pet. 5:8).
Secondly, and more significantly, we as believers are not to be addressing Satan. Ever!
Consider that in Jude we have the record of Michael the archangel disputing with the devil and arguing over the body of Moses. Jude records for us that when he disputed with the devil, Michael the archangel “did not dare pronounce against him a railing judgment, but said, ‘The Lord rebuke you!’” Think about that for just a moment and let it sink in. If Michael the archangel – the archangel – did not “dare” to rebuke Satan then I think it’s probably a safe bet that we should not do so either. Pastor Jim Osman in his excellent book Truth or Territory writes, “What God’s highest holy angel would not dare to do, sinful, fallen men presume the authority to do. It is unthinkable. I have been in the presence of Christians who boldly declare, ‘Satan, I rebuke you in the name of Jesus,’ and I wonder, ‘Who do you think you are?’ Rebuking, commanding, or ridiculing the devil are not tools of effective spiritual warfare; they are marks of prideful, arrogant, self-willed false teachers.”
I engaged in the unbiblical practice of “‘rebuking” Satan for many years, falsely believing that Christ had given Christians more authority than He’d given the archangel Michael. I misapplied Matthew 10:1, in which Jesus gave His twelve disciples authority over demons. That commission, I now understand, was limited to that specific time rather than being a broad prescription for all Christians at all times. When I presumed to exercise authority over Satan, therefore, I placed myself in a position of apostolic authority that didn’t belong to me.
Yes, James 4:7b does say that Christians must resist the devil and he will flee from us, but that verse fragment rests in the context of obedience and submission to God.
What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? 2 You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. 3 You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. 4 You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. 5 Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, “He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us”? 6 But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” 7 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9 Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you. ~~James 4:1-10 (ESV)
If anything, this passage calls us, not to proudly consider ourselves as equal to the apostles, but to humility. As we submit to the Lord by turning away from the world in favor of Him, Satan loses his influence over us. The victory comes, not in shouting down the devil, but in surrendering our will to Christ.