Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Inner~View #53: Wisdom for Spiritual Warfare from a Spiritual Warrior

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Phil Miglioratti interviewed Eddie Smith, author of Making Sense of Spiritual Warfare.


Phil ~ Many pastors and prayer leaders are concerned and even in conflict with members who practice spiritual warfare but, often because of their own lack of knowledge or experience, are unable or unwilling to confront the issue ...

Eddie ~ Phil, having been a pastor I completely understand that dilemma. I sometimes say, “Anyone can pastor a riding pony, or a plow horse. But God’s warfare intercessors, like race horses, can be hard to keep up with and difficult to tame.”


Spiritual warfare is real. Whether we realize it or not, each of us encounters battles daily. Some battles are more difficult than others. But it’s easy for some to get so caught up in the battles that they begin to think that spiritual warfare is everything.


As a pastor I learned the hard way to thank God for my warfare intercessors. Some wonderful people “coached” and mentored me in my early ministry years. I determined that I would disciple my intercessors, including the warfare intercessors. In time, I was glad I had. Because I sought to understand them, their calling, their passion and lovingly led them, when I was “in the fight” they were always ready to help. So I’ve written “Making Sense of Spiritual Warfare” from a pastoral perspective.


Phil ~ Why is your insight "Spiritual warfare is not synonymous with spiritual maturity" so critical for pastors and prayer leaders as they seek to disciple their people into a praying lifestyle?

Eddie ~ Unfortunately some writers and teachers on the subject of spiritual warfare seem to communicate (whether they intend to or not) that spiritual warfare is a sign of spiritual maturity. This misunderstanding can create pride in an inexperienced spiritual warrior.


The Book of Hebrews clearly teaches that it is time and the skillful use of Scripture that brings one into spiritual maturity. A new Christian will encounter the enemy. In fact, many new Christians face spiritual warfare just breaking free from the darkness in which they have previously walked. So, new Christians can engage in spiritual warfare; but spiritual maturity requires time (years) and the victories of many battles fought.


Phil ~ Even though Satan is a limited being, he is capable of hurting an unlimited, omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent God. What does it mean for Satan to "hurt" God and how does Satan accomplish his plan?

Eddie ~ Phil, some of us have never considered how Satan, who is a limited created being, can hurt an Eternal, omnipotent God. I believe he hurts God in at least three ways. One of my chapter titles is, “If God is His Enemy, Then Why Am I His Target?”


The center of Christianity isn’t the cross. The cross was only necessary because of man’s sin. The center of Christianity is the “Father-heart” of God. Before anything existed, there was a Father and His Son. God created mankind so He could “father” us. Adam and Eve, by their sin, opted out of that original intention. Jesus came to earth to live and to die for man’s sin. Jesus was the first-born among many brethren. The purpose of evangelism is to fill the Father’s house with children. As a father of four and grandfather of five, I get it.

  • First, Satan hurts God by keeping the lost blind to the gospel of Christ lest they become children of God.

  • Second, he hurts God by hurting us. God suffers when His children suffer, like I do when my children suffer.

  • Third and saddest of all perhaps, is that Satan tempts and entices us to sin, and we hurt our own Father. No one can hurt me like my children can.

When I was a new Christian I worried that I would do something wrong and God would hurt me. The longer I was saved, the more fearful I became that I would do something wrong and hurt Him!



Phil ~ The Kingdom of God is advanced as lost persons find and follow Christ, yet, few pastors/prayer leaders seem to recognize the reality of spiritual warfare when they train their members to witness ...


Eddie ~ Our friend and Argentinean revivalist, Edgardo Silvoso, coined the term “prayer-evangelism.” I was an evangelist for my first 16 years in ministry. At that time there were praying people, and there were soulwinners. Rarely was anyone known for both. Silvoso says, “Trying to share the gospel with a lost man without prayer is like trying to show highway sign to a blind man.”


I have experienced praying for lost people and had them say, “When you prayed, it was as if something broke off my head and floated away.” In the next moment, they were born again. That veil that blinds the lost must often be removed before they can see and respond to the gospel message. In Making Sense of Spiritual Warfare I deal with this in more depth.


Phil ~ Explain the three levels of spiritual conflict and how leadership should equip their members in understanding and equip them for the battle:

Eddie ~

1. The Ground-Level Battlefield

In ground-level warfare we battle every day, run-of-the mill, lower level demons. Sometimes they are attached to a person’s life and must be removed in order for that person to be saved. Others are attached to believers who are saved, but not yet entirely free. Justification establishes our eternal destiny instantly. Sanctification frees us from the domination of our lower nature and from the power the enemy exerts on us gradually. Deliverance is the children’s bread.

2. The Occult-Level Battlefield

This level of warfare is against stronger and more entrenched demons. These demons are part of structures of control. They allow “a dabbler” in the occult to manipulate them. They will even “perform” for them until they establish a stronghold in that person’s life. Then, at some future point, they begin to destroy their host. The person’s life, relationships, and future begin to collapse around them.

3. The Territorial-Level Battlefield

This level of warfare occurs in what we call the second heaven. The first heaven, being the heaven we see. God’s throne is in the third heaven. The second heaven is where the Prince and Power of the Air operates. It is where the Eph 6 beings reside. These principalities are prince demons with greater levels of authority that dominate territories and those who dwell in them.


Not every Christian will receive assignments to war at that level. It’s especially no place for a new believer, a believer who is basically ignorant of God’s Word, one with “holes in their armor” (sin), or one who is wounded.


God issues territorial assignments. In Making Sense of Spiritual Warfare I share my wife Alice’s story about how we lost everything, and she almost lost her life by taking on a territorial assignment without God’s direction. The surgeon said she was within a few hours of dying. She has since taken on much greater assignments without negative consequences because she learned to operate according to the Father’s specific instruction.


There are warriors, prayer groups, and even churches who receive such assignments, but there’s no place in spiritual war for “Rambos.”



Phil ~ Many teachers and preachers exhort us from Ephesians 6 to get dressed with the armor of God each morning - Good advice?

Eddie ~ That’s what I grew up being taught. You pray on the armor every morning. However, one morning I was awakened to a totally new understanding of the armor. Let me see if I can briefly state it.


I don’t “pray on” the helmet of salvation every morning. Why? Because when I trusted Christ as a five and one-half year old preacher’s kid, Christ put it on me. I wear the helmet of salvation. I never take it off! I sleep in my armor!


I don’t “pray on” my “gospel shoes” every morning. Why? Because since I was nine years old I’ve been a soulwinner. One can “pray on” those shoes every morning, but until they actively witness and win people to saving faith in Christ, they are “spiritually barefooted.”


I don’t “pray on” the breastplate of righteousness. In a positional sense, it was placed on me at the moment of Salvation. God declared me righteous. I’m being kept blameless; and will be presented faultless! As surely as Christ became sin for me, I became the righteousness of Christ. Secondly, I choose righteousness moment-to-moment. It’s absurd to think that I can sin continually, and “pray on” the righteousness of Christ each morning.


The Word of God is the sword of the Spirit. If I don’t internalize it, the Holy Spirit in me has nothing in His hand. I can’t “pray it on”, I must read it, memorize it, and meditate on it. And so on…


Phil ~ What start-up counsel would you give to:

Eddie ~

  • A pastor who wants to lead his/her congregation into spiritual warfare?

It’s important to teach warfare in relation to God’s plans and purposes. We don’t determine our own causes or develop our own targets. And our weapons aren’t carnal.


We should teach Christians warfare appropriate to where they are in Christ. To some, it’s praying with their children as the put them to bed. To others, it’s learning to minister deliverance to those who are bound. To a few, it’s taking prayer groups to spiritual trouble sites in their cities, or around the world, to boldly confront the powers of darkness that have held people in darkness. I was in the Vietnam War. But I didn’t fly a plane. I typed letters!

  • A pastor who has realized the congregation's approach to spiritual warfare needs correction?

Anytime we bring correction we must do so with love and direction. If I were pastor of a church in this condition I would expect to take no less than six to twelve months of teaching to make the turn. And I wouldn’t begin with Satan at all. I’d begin with the Father, His kingdom, and His purposes. I’d teach a solid foundation of salvation and sanctification and gradually bring in concepts that are biblical and positive. God hasn’t called us to focus on darkness. He’s called us to turn people to the Light!


Listening to the conversation of some well-meaning Christians you’ll hear more references to the Devil and what he’s doing that to God and what He’s doing! That’s imbalance. And one of the ways we worship a deity is to “declare his works.”

  • A prayer leader who only has authority to work with a team of intercessors?

A prayer leader in a church needs to work with, not against the pastor. It’s important that before we teach anything we learn the pastor’s position. Otherwise we’ll undermine the pastor’s ministry, cause division, confusion, and hurt to the body of Christ. If we disagree with the pastor, we need to make appointments and loving share our position to see if we can come to agreement. If we can’t, perhaps we aren’t the ones for the job.

  • A small group leader who is ready to face serious issues of body, soul and spirit with biblical weapons of war?

The principle above is the same for a small group leader. Perhaps I should explain the difference between warfare proclamation and warfare prayer. Warfare prayer is when we talk to our Father about the enemy. It’s little more than “holy tattling.” He’s your Father. You can ask Him for anything.


Warfare proclamation consists of things we say to darkness. First, we need to know that the Devil isn’t omnipresent. To hear some people pray, you’d think they believe he is. They address him as if he’s present. As God’s ambassadors we are only permitted to say to the enemy what the Father is saying to the enemy.


We can bind or loose only what’s already been bound or loosed in heaven. That’s why Jesus taught us to pray, “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” We are in the process of “synchronizing” heaven and earth.


Phil ~ Eddie, please write a prayer we can pray that invites the Holy Spirit to lead us into battle ...

Eddie ~
Father God, we understand that we were born on a battlefield. We are aware that this battle isn’t about us, it’s about You. It was raging for eons before we were born. We know that the only reason we’re involved at all is because You, our Daddy, is at war. The enemy likes nothing more than to use us to disappoint You. Fill us with your Holy Spirit. Help us keep our focus on Christ and Christ alone. Show us the warfare assignments You specifically have for us, for we know that those are the assignments for which we will possess your anointing. We love you with all our hearts, in Christ’s name. Amen.


[Eddie’s book “Making Sense of Spiritual Warfare” and other resources are available at http://www.PrayerBookstore.com.]

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