Bruce Latshaw, April 29, 2012
We are in a battle every day. God calls us to not only to know that we have spiritual authority in Him, but also to use it on a daily basis.
Below is a follow-up note from Bruce meant to supplement the teaching:
Hey Barn Family,
I had some more points to make in last Sunday’s teaching on using our authority in spiritual warfare. So here goes–
1. To actually use our authority over all the power of the enemy, we must develop the spiritual attitude called “vigilance” or “watchfulness.” Paul mentions this in the Eph. 6 passage on our spiritual armor: “With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view–to be on the alert with all perseverance and intercession for all the saints.” (Eph. 6:18) Peter used this same word in 1 Peter 5:8 as he warns his readers to remain constantly on guard against potential enemy attack: “Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.” Eph. 6:18 is one of those “all” statements that Paul loves. By using “all” four times, the apostle is attempts to dramatically raise our awareness of the great need for vigilance, particularly in terms of detecting the “works of the devil” so that we can quickly oppose them through authoritative praying. I think the works of the enemy, such as tempting thoughts or feelings, an outbreak of sickness, the threat of trouble or calamity, etc., are like incipient cancers. If we detect them early enough, we can act quickly to remove them. If we wait until they become more thoroughly entrenched, they get more of a foothold in ourselves or our circumstances and require more of a fight to counter-act.
2. How can learn and practice spiritual warfare vigilance? Part of this skill comes through education and part through practice. We must, before all else, understand that much (not all–that would be out of balance teaching) “negativity” in our spiritual environment (and physical as well at times) is simply attack from demons targeted against us by the evil one. We must learn to “discern” the supernatural realities behind the “natural” dimension of life. This requires a shift in how we think, in how we perceive. Though related, I believe this spiritual capacity is different from the spiritual gift of “discerning of spirits.” It is not a special enablement but a general perceptual ability that develops through practice over time. The writer of Hebrews alludes to it when he/she says, “Solid food is for those who are mature (fully developed), who through training have the skill to recognize the difference between right and wrong.” (Heb. 5:14). The discernment capability is here described as a developed skill, sharpened over time as we learn what evil “feels” like when we encounter it. Personally I want to grow to the point in discernment where I do not have to “feel” evil in order to recognize and expel it. That’s way too close–though honestly, as I’ve learned vigilance, it’s been through the school of close encounters with evil that have occurred because my discernment skill was not mature enough. Unfortunately! I have now reached the point in my life where I can often detect the approach of demonic attack “from afar,” usually through catching “glimpses” of negative things “in the air” or by sheer revelation through prayer. Then I come against (bind) whatever spirits I have detected attempting to infiltrate, and defeat them before they have opportunity to manifest their destructive purposes. (This does not mean that demonic attacks are never successful against me or those under my protective authority. Of course they are–because God’s kingdom has not yet fully come. But the frequency and intensity of those attacks have been greatly reduced as I have learned how to practice “early detection” and then take the appropriate counter-measures.)
3. What can we do now to start practicing spiritual vigilance? First, we can ask the Lord to increase our capacity to recognize evil when it tries to challenge us. Here’s a good general test: Is what is happening (or threatening to happen) the kind of thing that you imagine would go on in “heaven,” where God’s rule is absolute? If not, then it is not to be simply accepted as God’s will. Let your first response always be to go to the Lord to ask for clarity on what you’re dealing with. It may not be a demonic attack (which often come simply because the enemy hates you and desires to oppose and torment you as much as he can). It may be a consequence of your own sin, in which case confession, repentance, and receiving healing would be the appropriate response. But if you pray and receive no conviction of personal sin, it very well may be just a plain old demonic attack against you, your family, your success in your work, or your role in church. And such attacks will be more likely against those of us who really do want to do our part in bringing God’s kingdom to earth. If it is that, then you must take immediate and rigorous action against it. If you do, sometimes repeatedly if needed, that attack will be thwarted and God’s kingdom rule (righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit) will take its place.
4. Binding, Resisting, Expelling. You take action against demonic attack by using the authority Jesus has given us to destroy the works of the devil in His name. The Scripture refers to this by using at least three verbs: to bind, to resist, and to expel. The capacity Christians have to defeat demonic enemies in Jesus’ name is one (in fact it is the first) of the Mark 16 “miraculous signs” given to those who believe in Him: “They will expel demons in My name…” The seventy disciples Jesus sent out on mission to announce the kingdom’s inbreaking and to heal the sick reported back, to their astonishment, that “Even the demons are subject to us in Your name!” (Luke 10:17) Demonic subjugation to the authority of Jesus in Christians involves far more than deliverance. It governs all spiritual warfare, including the kind of “defensive” warfare I am addressing. Overcoming demonic power is part and parcel of our mission to “carry” Jesus’ kingly reign everywhere we go. Use the model of authoritative payer given to us by Jesus and by Paul, “I command you, evil spirit of _______, be gone from this situation in Jesus’ name!” “I bind you in Jesus’ name!” “I come against (the literal meaning of “resist”) you in Jesus’ name!” This is the simple, biblical way we defeat evil by using our authority over its power in the name of Jesus. If we use our authority, we will see amazing results. If we don’t, we won’t.
5. Be instant! This an old King James phrasing meaning “be quick to act.” It is my final encouragement to us in learning to use our authority over evil: what you do, do quickly! If you sense evil “afoot,” come against it–vigorously, repeatedly (if necessary), and unhesitatingly. Remember that spiritual “leadings” are often simply “nudgings,” “promptings,” a “whisper” in our innermost being. When you sense that kind of inner reality, act on it immediately and resolutely in Jesus’ name! If you are right, then you have exercised your “kingly” (Romans 5:17) authority in Jesus’ name and have defeated evil even as Jesus did and told His followers to do! If you are wrong, honestly you’ve lost nothing but a little prayer time. And is any prayer time ever really “lost?”