"Discerning the Times in the Light of the Word"
This excerpt is from chapter three of the book Disarming the Powers of Darkness by Eric Barger and David Benoit.
Fruitful Warfare - Preparing for Battle
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.
Is the Devil Mad at You?
Do you realize why biblical followers of Christ are in control of their emotions and their lives are not filled with anger, hatred, unrest, and other evil qualities? It is because the fruit of the Holy Spirit—love, joy, peace, longsuffering (patience), gentleness, kindness, meekness, and temperance—is working in their lives.
Undoubtedly, these biblical fruits suppress anger, bitterness, hatred, and malice in the lives of believers. This also illustrates a microcosm of the battle in the spiritual realm. Evil versus good; right versus wrong; love versus hate; the fruits of the Spirit of God versus those of the Prince of Darkness.
In preparing for Spiritual Warfare, it is important to comprehend that the Devil is totally and completely void of the qualities represented by God’s fruits. Indeed, it is liberating to realize this as it helps define the battle lines and the adversary’s tactics. It is powerful to remember that there is nothing you can do to upset the Evil One. Satan’s work is the very reason people get upset in the first place! He is already upset, bitter, hate-filled, and enraged beyond any human imagination. He is the “Evil One”! Therefore, as we’ve mentioned in the last chapter, any actions you take are not going to make him any angrier. He’s already angry and you can not increase or decrease that anger one bit. No steps taken against the kingdom of darkness can increase his desire to see you fail and ultimately be destroyed. Yet the fearfulness and paralyzation generated by this misconception are genuine detriments in seeing some saints released to go forward in victorious spiritual living.
We are aware that this runs counter to what many Christians have either been taught or have merely perceived as they have gone to Sunday school. However, it doesn’t make it any less accurate and certainly any less biblical just because some may have believed a misconception about this. Thinking otherwise ascribes Satan ability and power outside what Scripture outlines. Let’s look at this further.
In referring to some instance or event, we often hear Christians say, “Well, that oughta make Satan happy!” How can that be? Though in a statement like this people are merely pointing out some event or circumstance where Satan has gained a foothold or advantage, we should understand that nothing actually makes him happy. Your lack of biblical action is not going to make him happy either. It is impossible for Satan to be happy. He once knew the greatness and beauty of God as one of God’s key servants. And though he may truly believe his own deception—that he, a finite being, can eventually conquer God Almighty—he does have access to the total revelation of what God proclaims his future fate is. Read here as God speaks to Satan in Ezekiel 28:14–16.
Thou art the anointed cherub that covereth; and I have set thee so: thou wast upon the holy mountain of God ; thou hast walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire. Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created, till iniquity was found in thee. By the multitude of thy merchandise they have filled the midst of thee with violence, and thou hast sinned: therefore I will cast thee as profane out of the mountain of God: and I will destroy thee.
The Great Intimidator . . . Why Many DON’T Fight
When discussing the spirit realm, we need to consider the idea that our human emotions concerning evil and good are also available to the enemy and his troops. While it is true that Satan manipulates emotions like fear, intimidation, and pain, to accomplish his mission in human lives, he is at best limited and perhaps void of any degree of emotion, as we know it. He knows that most humans know little of Spiritual Warfare, and thus will take the bait and buy into what he is selling. It works, and has done so for about six thousand years, so why change now? Just set up scenarios that play human emotions like a piano and watch them react without faith, allowing an even bigger foothold for the powers of darkness to operate in.
It stands to reason that if Satan is void of emotions and feelings, then those in the spirit realm under Satan’s command will exhibit few emotions—perhaps none—as well. Could theirs be any more than a cut and dried, antiseptic existence, driven by the hopelessness and bondage of Satan himself? While it is much more dynamic and interesting to portray the workers of darkness as raging, seething creatures, any such facade only veils the cold, calculating, and focused mission they are enslaved by their master to follow. Let us illustrate this further.
Though we often express our love for the Lord through the praise of our lips and should constantly find ourselves in an attitude of worship and adoration toward Him, the same is not true of Satan worshippers. Though they pay homage to their master with words and through ritual activities, I venture to say that you will find few that worship the Devil, exhibiting real heartfelt thanks, weeping for joy that they know him. Certainly, no classical Satan worshipper—who understands whom he follows—feels any love in his heart at midnight on Halloween! Conversely, the fact that Almighty God sent His Son to save us from our sins, regularly brings many of us to our knees, joyfully worshipping Him with every fiber of our being. Perhaps the only exception to this line of reason will be the false worship presented to the Antichrist during the Tribulation period in the end days (see Revelation 13:3). Scripture seems to reveal that people around the globe will then genuinly and tragically give glory to this counterfeit christ. In reality, in those days it will actually be Satan receiving adoration, for through his earthly representative he is glorified as deceived mankind follows him to their destruction.
Truly, the Devil has no ability to possess love, joy, peace, longsuffering, or any other fruit of the Holy Spirit. Quite the opposite is true. While we humans may vacillate from time to time in the degree that these fruits operate and are apparent in us, Satan is one hundred percent evil—one hundred percent of the time. He’s the meanest of mean dudes and can’t do anything to alter it. He is the epitome of fear and terror and nothing we will do will increase the degree that these characteristics are evident. He’ll be that way regardless of what we do or don’t do and will maintain the same hateful attitude toward us. It is when we engage in Spiritual Warfare, “fighting the good fight,” that we take back ground otherwise lost to the powers of darkness through ignoring them or being unaware of their powers and activities. Scriptural action—i.e., WARFARE—nullifies the will of the adversary! Praise the Lord! If emotions are at all possible for him, the Devil and his workers must sense discouragement when they come upon a Christian, filled with God’s Spirit, knowledgeable of His Word, prepared for battle and ready for action!
Since the powers of darkness are not infinite, it is a great advantage to realize that by acts of Spiritual Warfare we actually weaken their future attacks. This is what the apostle James is speaking of in James 4:7. “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” The Greek word translated “resist” here is, antitassomai which literally means “to oppose” and “to range oneself against something.” Here again it becomes clearer that our position can never be neutral. This passage certainly encourages Christians to assume an offensive posture—not one of simply defense or abstinence.
“Resisting the Devil” begins with our pledge of obedience to God’s Word, by a life dedicated to walking in the fruit of the Spirit; and is solidified by the acts of Spiritual Warfare against the powers of darkness. This starts with having a working understanding the of enemy’s camp! Rule number one in resisting the Evil One is to remember that we are engaged in a constant battle that will only cease when the Lord Jesus comes again. This reality may seem intimidating to our flesh, but if we persevere, the victory is ours. We can stand assured that to accomplish their mission—the destruction of humankind—demonic powers must eventually move on to some more unsuspecting prey because you have exhibited your strength in God! Resisting the Devil DOES work and we really ARE more than conquerors! Wow!
So to view the spirit realm and our role as believers correctly, the notion that “ignorance is bliss” and other misconceptions about Spiritual Warfare must be dealt with in our hearts and minds. While it is true that those engaging in Spiritual Warfare may sometimes seem to have acquired the wrath of the Devil, that’s really not the case. As we eluded to earlier, when you expose Satan (Ephesians 5:11 ) and when you resist him (James 4:7), he may indeed, turn up the heat. He may throw an increased amount of his spiritual and even physical junk at us, try to give the impression that he is invincible, and attempt to make us believe that we are no match. However, in reality, the spiritual struggle has only become more focused and thus has brought us an increased awareness when the enemy attacks and counterattacks. Most likely, an upturn in the battle means that we are being effective or Satan senses that victory for us is eminent. His methods may seem more devious, his attacks seemingly more potent, and their effects or oppression on our hearts and minds may feel more painful or unsettling; but rest assured—if you don’t give up he will not win! If you remain focused and scriptural, he cannot win! As a good soldier, you are merely following your Commander. Upon sensing Satan’s increased attacks, you will also have very real and tangible evidence that you are indeed engaged in a war because your enemy is exhibiting signs that you are being effective through the power of the cross. This evidence will bode well and help you build spiritual muscle as you endeavor to take even more territory for the Kingdom of God .
There can be no doubt that being fearful of or simply ignoring God’s call to pick up the weapons of Spiritual Warfare and engage in the battle will assure that Satan attains at least a partial victory in any given situation. Why give him that? God has done His part, now we must do ours. Once again, James 4:7 instructs us to “resist the devil”! This is not optional. The same verse promises that if we do resist him, “he will flee”! The image is one of a fleeing army, scattered in battle after a merciless defeat. Satan is to be crushed under our feet—just as Scripture teaches that he is under the foot of the Savior! Don’t let him up!
When Satan brings out the “big guns,” remember that God has a bigger one! When you feel overwhelmed in the spiritual struggles you encounter remember . . . the battle is the Lord’s (II Chronicles 20:15 )! The Lord is our fortress in times of trouble (Psalm 71:3)! Scripture assures us that under His wings there is refuge as He has commissioned angels to assist and guard you (Psalm 91:11)! Praise His name!
Satan’s Intimidation . . . The Fear Factor
When people hear that this book preaches against the Devil, some will reject it because of their private fear of him. Without even bothering to read it, some will throw out the old excuse, “Oh, Benoit and Barger are just too far out . . . they see demons everywhere . . . they teach that scary stuff . . .” (ad nauseam). And there will be still others who have no interest because they can’t relate to the topic of Spiritual Warfare. Often, lack of basic understanding on issues leads us to miss out on the very things we need a good dose of teaching on. Yet, if these pages were to talk only of the attributes of God, the same syndrome could occur. Sadly, if this was a work about the character of God—who will one day judge the living and the dead—some would ignore it simply because they possess no fear for the Lord. We’re talking about an awesome God who created the entire universe and will one day cast the Devil, every demon, fallen angel, and lost soul into eternal darkness. You know? We’re talking about the lake of fire, absolute darkness and total separation from God’s righteous love forever and ever and ever! Get the picture? Thank God for His wonderful salvation—wow! Yet, somehow there are some folks—yes, church members—who don’t fear Him, but instead fear the Devil. It certainly seems upside down, doesn’t it? In fact, what has happened is a lack of understanding, a loss of the reality of eternity and surely, no vision for the reverence and awe of God.
More Misconceptions . . .
. . . greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.
—1 John 4:4b
There has been a lot of talk about witches and Devil worshippers praying against Christians, in particular, the idea of occultists praying for the demise of those in Christian ministry. While this is undoubtedly true, we feel their results have surely been exaggerated. In fact, there has been almost a feeling of near panic when some Christians describe these reports among themselves. In some Christian circles it is nearly akin to superstition and divination the way folks talk about what Satan’s human workers are doing and the damage they are allegedly inflicting on our side.
Now, let us say that in both of our ministries we have encountered witches and Satanists who have opposed us. This goes along with the territory. Once, several years ago on Halloween weekend, Eric was ministering at Southern Illinois University. He had been asked to come there and speak about the occult. Eric and his contact from the Baptist Student Union were backstage praying as people filed into the auditorium. When Eric was introduced and began his presentation, he felt an unusually strong hindrance, a spiritual blockage. After fumbling through the first ten minutes of the seminar, he stopped and simply stated that he knew in the spirit that there were people in attendance who were present only to oppose him and what the Lord had sent him to do. Eric stated that anyone who was actually praying against the presentation should beware because he was putting them on notice that he was rejecting their negative prayers and was sending back the power of God! Eric declared that because he was protected and ready, shielded by faith and covered by the blood of Jesus, their actions could not and would not stop what the Lord had ordained. The place erupted in applause—not just a little applause. This was thunderous! Thinking about it now, it was almost comical that it lasted so long and was so intense. When Eric resumed his presentation, immediately he had a peace of mind and clarity of speech that was not there minutes earlier. What Eric didn’t know was that while he had been backstage in prayer, the very vocal, high-profile coven of witches on the campus had filed in and were sitting across the entire second row before him! Everybody in the entire building knew it—everyone except Eric!
How did he “know” there was opposition and that the hindrance he was feeling in the freedom of his thoughts and presentation just wasn’t from lack of sleep or the exhaustion of travel? Tiredness and crazy schedules are things we incur regularly in our ministries, but this was different. This was a spiritual battle going on; one that Eric may not have been sensitive to if he hadn’t been in constant and recent communion with God. There is absolutely no shortcut for a dedicated devotional life. It aids you in the entire arena of human life, but it is of utmost importance during times of spiritual struggle and opposition. Otherwise, Eric might have ineffectively limped through the evening’s seminar and the witches would have gone on their way, declaring a victory over the “preacher.”
Were the witches’ prayers actually affecting Eric? Yes, but by following the biblical commands of resisting and exposing what he knew inside was happening in the spirit realm, Eric overcame the occult activity. Not only was he able to conduct the seminar in power, speaking effectively, with good recall and poise, but God used the occasion to show Himself strong over the powers of the occultists before several hundred students on that campus. Could Eric have missed it? Could he have just fantasized the feelings he had? Sure, in our humanity we do sometimes miss it, but if we don’t act as we believe the Holy Spirit is leading us, isn’t that much more troublesome and far less honoring to the Lord? But the seminar presentation that was noticeably out of joint as it began, ended with a great victory for God. We wonder just how many kids might have either left the witches coven or perhaps even were halted from joining it when they saw how the power of God overcame the power of witchcraft that night.
Therefore, sensing opposition because of occult manifestations and actually being manipulated because of them are two different things. If a Christian sins, is it because his next door neighbor is casting a spell on him to do so? No. If a pastor or minister falls, can we blame it all on the work ethic of Satanists or occultists? No. The Scripture tells us that we are all accountable for our own actions. Our sins are truly our own, and though the work of those given over to the powers of darkness may add to the effect, to identify them as the sole reason for our troubles, sicknesses, or sins does two unhealthy and unscriptural things. First, by doing this we shirk our own personal responsibility to live a righteous life. Though we are certain to sin, God’s keeping power and the strength of Jesus’ blood is greater than our sins. Thank God, if we sin His forgiveness is available through the power of repentance. Second, by blaming occult prayers for our actions, we are in effect, yielding to the powers of Satan. This attitude surely dethrones the Savior and glorifies the Devil. In short—it is tragic that God’s people would ever ascribe the Devil more power than the Word of God suggests that he possesses. This says nothing of those who seem to place Satan with God on an equal level. Of all people, we are supposed to know what the Word says, and it never alludes to any such lofty position for the Prince of Darkness. Remember—that was Lucifer’s intention to start with and the very reason for his ouster from Heaven! (Isaiah 14:12–15)
Any effect that negative prayers to the Devil may have cannot match the effects of prayerlessness and the lack of knowledge about Spiritual Warfare of many in the church! Now, make no mistake, occult prayers, spells, and incantations do wield power, but do they really have the ability to single–handedly destroy? It would appear that with direction from the underworld, these prayers are merely aimed at preexisting weaknesses that may already have a grip on any given man or woman. Isn’t it a waste of time to be overly concerned about what the witches might be up to—especially if it becomes an unhealthy or unbiblical fascination? Our efforts should be concentrated on seeking the Lord, staying washed in His blood and walking in a manner befitting of the calling we have received. Part of that walk is having a healthy, biblical understanding of the arena of Spiritual Warfare. That goes for all Christians, whether they’re involved in full-time ministry or not.
Right along these lines, another thing people constantly say is that we shouldn’t talk about the Devil, because then we’ll give him praise . . . like he has a mystical name, never to be uttered. Well, as we’ve pointed out, the Scripture implores us to expose his works and deeds instead. When the Scriptures were written, the name of Jehovah was so reverent that the scribes changed their pens when they penned the name of Jehovah. Now, it is tragic that some people throw God’s name out all over the place, but by their attitude, they reverence the name of the Devil. By believing that we should be silent about the Devil’s schemes and just praise Jesus, many allow the door of ignorance to swing open and sometimes slam shut—right on their lives and homes.
All rights reserved. Copyright 2002, Eric Barger and David Benoit
Take A Stand! Ministries - POB 1485 - Rowlett, TX 75030
(972) 495-9490 http://www.ericbarger.com