Warfare, Without Presumption

BemaBased 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? 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. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. 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. 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”? But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 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.

13 thoughts on “Warfare, Without Presumption

  1. Thank you for providing the links for the reviews. I’m collecting them to share with others as I’m fully expecting to be ostracized for questioning the movie.
    Same has happened to me as I speak out against women in the pulpit and the many followers of Beth Moore, Joyce Meyers, etc.
    I appreciate you confessing to how you alluded to unbiblical practices. It is so refreshing to hear fellow believers share openly how they were once mislead. Hah, I am so grateful for God’s protection as He also saved me from such heresy.
    God Bless you and your loved ones.

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  2. Ok, so I have issues with several things you said in this article:

    1. You assert, “Secondly, and more significantly, we as believers are not to be addressing Satan. Ever!” Hmmm . . . ok, please show me the Scripture to back up this assertion. Michael spoke directly to Satan in the passage you mention. Would you be happy if in the movie the woman had said, “The Lord rebuke you Satan,” instead of “I rebuke you”?
    2. The Apostles had a different calling and/or authority than other Christians, or at least they were given authority to cast out demons only that one time Jesus sent them out before he was crucified (I’m not sure which it is you are asserting in this regard). Where does it say in the Scriptures that the authority Jesus gave the Apostles to cast out demons before he was crucified was only for that one time he sent them out? If you are saying he gave that authority to the Apostles for all their lives and only to them, where does it say that he only gave it to the Apostles? If Christians after the Apostles do not have authority over demons then why did Paul say in 6:10-18, “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” Exactly how are we wrestling against demonic force, therefore, in this passage. This passage sounds an awful lot like what Michael the archangel was doing over the body of Moses. Next, in Luke 10:17 Jesus gave authority over demons to 72 of his disciples. Hmmm, I never knew there were 72 Apostles. Hmmm. . .In Acts 16:16-18 Paul speaks directly to a demon to cast it out of the diviner slaver girl. So, Paul was not present when Jesus gave 72 of his disciples authority over demons therefore, how then did he get that authority. Is it because he saw Christ in a vision after the resurrection and so that qualified him to be called an Apostle, thus giving him authority over demons? Do you really think no one has seen Jesus in a vision since Paul? I tell you it is happening regularly in the Middle East and other parts of the world today. James 4:7 says, “Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” So when we find a person demon possessed and in terrible torment from it, do we just go away and pray for them? Are we only to resist the devil in our own lives and not help others who cannot resist him by resisting him in their lives, such as an unbeliever who is possessed? If post-Apostolic Christians do not have authority over demons then how are the demon possessed to be healed, delivered and saved? One of the reasons Jesus lived a life on the Earth was to set an example to his followers on how to live and how to minister. What would be the purpose of sending out the 72 with authority over demons if it was only for that one sending or if it was only for 12 Apostles? In Matthew 16:19 Jesus said, “I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” So, are demons not on the Earth or are they an exception to this rule? You may say that Jesus was speaking to Peter there, however, one of the primary pillars of the concept of discipling others is that you pass on to them all that you can do and have learned. Jesus was passing it on to Peter and Peter, who was commanded to make disciples of every ethnic group was expected to pass on to them the full teaching, practice and example of Jesus.
    3. You said, “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.” This is factually inaccurate and you should not be asserting things about a movie you have not seen.
    4. You quote Pastor Jim Osman in his book Truth or Territory writes, “What God’s highest holy angel would not dare to do, sinful, fallen men presume the authority to do”. Ok, so were the 72 Jesus sent out with authority over demons not sinful, fallen men? Does it really say in the Scriptures that Jesus would never give Christians any authority that he would not also have given to an archangel? If you are saying that Michael the archangel does not have authority over demons and that therefore we should not presume that God would give such authority to human beings then what do you do with the 72 human beings (all lower than Michael the archangel) who were given authority over demons? You also included the following: ‘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.” Ok, were the actions of the 72 marks of prideful, arrogant, self-willed false teachers? I do agree that ridiculing demons is a mark of prideful, arrogant, self-willed people.
    5. You said, “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.” Ok, so did Jesus or did he not give the 72 more authority than he’d given the archangel Michael?
    6. Here you make a huge leap of assumption and presumption without any Scripture to back it: “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.” Huh? What a huge, huge assertion yet you give zero Scriptures to back it up. Please show me how the Scripture says we are not to follow Jesus’ and the Apostles example and teaching concerning casting out demons? So, if that commission was only for that specific time then why did Peter and Paul both cast out demons after that specific time? Did Jesus really leave Christians hamstrung regarding the demon possessed, or are we allowed to speak directly to demons only if we are casting out demons? Where in the Scriptures does it say that the Apostles had some kind of authority over demons that later Christians would not have? Do you know that in the 4th century A.D. Cyril of Jerusalem wrote about Christians casting out demons as a normal practice? So, did they have some temporarily resurrected Apostles doing it for them?
    7. You say, “When I presumed to exercise authority over Satan, therefore, I placed myself in a position of apostolic authority that didn’t belong to me.” Where in the Scriptures does it say that casting out demons or taking authority over them is singularly a mark of Apostolic authority?
    8. You assert, “As we submit to the Lord by turning away from the world in favor of Him, Satan loses his influence over us.” This is true and a good teaching, however, it is self-focused, myopic and stinks of naval-gazing. What about others who are suffering under the torment of demons? How are they benefited from Satan losing his influence over us unless we go to them and bring them deliverance in the name of Jesus?

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    • Obviously, I can’t answer all those questions in a brief comments section, Tom. You challenge both my comments and those of Justin Peters. Your questions deserve careful answers, and it would take several blog posts to address them all adequately. I will consider writing such posts in the future, although right now I have other plans in the works. Until I can make time to write about the questions you raised, I hope you will take time to watch the following video by Phil Johnson, in this video he addresses many of your concerns.

      Why I am a cessationist — by Phil Johnson

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      • Praying for you DebbieLynne.
        Tom has given quite a challenge to you. Your link to Phil Johnson is a start, however …

        Tom, besides Phil Johnson, there is John MacArthur, Steve Lawson etc who have eloquent articles and sermons that will answer your questions.
        Instead of putting the burden on DebbieLynne I would graciously invite you to listen to these Christ-honouring men.
        Justin Peters has several excellent series on such extra-Biblical teachings … Youtube has them available. (229) Justin Peters: Exposing the False Doctrines of Word of Faith (Part 1) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TB4QFkl-aIA The VASVIK MEDIA link has several as Justin was ministering to this group. I haven’t had a chance to check but I believe it goes up to 238 or 239 …
        Like DebbieLynne, I used to be in “that crowd” but began to question much of what they were leaning towards. Plus, Michael was an angel and even he didn’t rebuke Satan. Who are we, mere mortal people to feel we can do so?
        Another excellent resource: http://www.gotquestions.org/authority-rebuke-devil.html “Do Christians have the authority to rebuke the devil?”
        I apologize for typing this quickly but like DebbieLynne I have a few items in life that I must tend to. Hope this helps. 🙂

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      • Thanks, Bev. Justin Peters is an expert in this area, and I hope Tom will avail himself of these resources.

        Tom has been in my home, and has seen how slowly I type. I hope he’ll take my physical challenges into account and therefore allow me to rely on outside resources. I will try to address some of his concerns myself as well, and I appreciate the challenge.

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    • Tom, evidently you’re really more interested in putting me on the defensive than in understanding my perspective. Unfortunately, I don’t have time for such games. Bev and I offered you some perfectly good resources, which you’re quite able to access. If you showed genuine interest in this topic, I’d be more than pleased to offer resources with comments of my own. However, it seems as if you are merely baiting me, looking for a debate. I am not interested in participating in such a fruitless activity.

      Typing each blog post generally takes 2 to 3 hours — sometimes longer. I have not intention of derailing this blog simply for the sake of argumentation. If you sincerely care about arriving at truth, you will demonstrate that sincerity by looking at the few links Bev and I provided. Once I am satisfied that you have considered those links, I will be more than happy to continue this conversation. But if you respond to this comment by refusing to look at the excellent material already provided, I will not approve your comments. I, too, am busy.

      John and I pray that the Lord will open your heart to study this matter honestly and carefully. He wants all of us to know His word and to respond to it in humility and obedience. May all of us search His Word with an attitude of humility. Go bless you.

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    • Hi Tom, Like you said, ” There is no rush.”
      I’m praying you will find time “… to do a bunch of research.”
      The links have been made available. I’m somewhat dismayed at your attitude and putting the burden on women to defend the links we have provided. Interestingly, many of the links are presentations made by ‘men’ who know the Scriptures and are providing the “research-informed response” you are desiring.
      The Lord has graciously allowed me to listen to audio presentations via an MP3 or Ipod. I also have my computer hooked to an FM transmitter which allows me to listen and glean while I do other household tasks.
      On a more personal note; I am grateful that the Lord has allowed the technology for me to glean from God’s infallible and all sufficient Scriptures in this way. Why? Because I am a busy woman and even busier as I have been faced with much persecution from family and fair-weather friends.
      I apologize for this long-winded response but I would like to share just a tad more:
      I don’t believe this was ‘by chance’ … Today, I was catching up on some downloaded messages from a ministry I have appreciated. Pastor Bob DeWaay is well respected for his teaching/preaching and research. He has faced persecution and health issues. This still has not slowed him down. Tom, May I suggest you avail your self of the audio and printed ministry. He also speaks out against the rebuking of Satan … and so much more.
      http://cicministry.org/commentary/articles_topic.htm
      http://cicministry.org/radio.php
      These were the two messages I heard today and really emphasized Christ’s supremacy.
      Christ as the True Creator of Everything: Colossians 1:16a
      Christ as Creator is Non-Contingent: Colossians 1:16b
      Pastor DeWaay and Eric Douma do a much better job of explaining what you would like to know, Tom.
      Praying for all whom seek to humbly and passionately “defend the faith” Jude 3.

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  3. Hi Bev,
    I am troubled by your comment, ” I’m somewhat dismayed at your attitude and putting the burden on women to defend the links we have provided.” As I said previously, I had done a bunch of research and included the information in my comments rather than referencing a bunch of things and asking you to do the research. I am not sure why you do not get that. Why is it appropriate for you to send me a bunch of time-consuming research when I have not asked you to do my research? I also do not understand why you cannot find it in yourself to respect the fact that I am just too busy to do all the research your two are asking me to do. Concerns greater than this discussion with you two demand my time. Is that somehow wrong? I think we should just end this discussion. I begin to feel a trend of condemnation coming my way because I am not able to review all this research you want me to review. Peace to you both.

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    • Bev, I agree that further debate with Tom is unprofitable.

      Tom, I feel that you were the one demanding that I answer questions (I refer to your original comment, which consisted of 8 questions). Bev and I merely offered resources that answer those questions. If you genuinely want answers from our perspective, you’re free to look at those resources as your time permits. But I’m making no demands that you do so.

      I will not debate with you (or anyone else). I will, over time, address my disagreements with Charismatic theology. Having spent 31 years in Pentecostal and Charismatic circles, I’m well-educated on their premise that all Christians have the same mantle of authority that the 12 Apostles did. Your comments offered nothing that I haven’t heard many times over. Certainly, I have reason to reject the way Charismatics use Scripture, but I believe it’s more effective (given my typing speed of 150 words an hour) to refer people to material that’s already been written. If you had time to read my responses to your questions, surely you have time to read or listen to just one of the resources we offered. But I’m not demanding you do so.

      Bottom line: it’s my blog, so we play by my rules. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thank you DebbieLynne for your eloquent reply to Tom.
        Tom — I was not demanding that you glean from the spiritual food in the links provided to you; it was a suggestion since you appeared to be interested in receiving sound doctrinal teaching. You claim to be busy but I am smelling a ‘double-standard’ as you don’t seem to give others the same grace in realizing that many of us ‘are busy’.
        I really can’t help you with your feeling of condemnation because I did nothing but condemn the charismatic doctrines.
        Furthermore, the links provided are authored and presented by “men”. I would rather that you receive the proper Biblical teaching on many charismatic issues from men who have a much more articulate way of presenting the Truth in this area than me.
        Like DebbieLynne, I was a part of the charismatic movement but am grateful the Lord was forever faithful and true to His Word and I soon realized and witnessed many false doctrines not lining up with Scripture. It took years of prayerful study of the Word and research to bring me to where I am today. What a loving Saviour and Lord; to patiently guide me into His truth and His Word now implores me to share that with others.
        The book of Jude sums up very nicely my life of desiring to “earnestly contend for the faith…”

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