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20 Nuggets from "Spiritual Warfare in Evangelism and Missions" | C18

The following nuggets are taken from Zane Pratt’s “Spiritual Warfare in Evangelism and Missions” class from Southern Seminary.


The World, the Flesh, and the Devil


1. A spiritual battle: “If once the curtain were pulled back, and the spiritual world behind it came to view, it would expose to our spiritual vision a struggle so intense, so convulsive, sweeping everything within its range, that the fiercest battle fought on earth would seem, by comparison, a mere game. Not here, but up there–that is where the real conflict is engaged. Our earthly struggle drones in its backlash.” -Abraham Kuyper


2. We can never look at the world, flesh, or devil in isolation from each other. They weave in and out of each other in ways that are difficult to distinguish. We must engage in prayers of deliverance and biblical pastoral counseling at the same time. Specifically, the prayer “In the name of Jesus, come out of him/her” is simply the model that we are given in Scripture.


World


3. On Worldview: By and large, people are unaware of worldview. Worldview is like a skeleton is to a body. The skeleton gives it shape and structure and enables it to move, though we don’t really ever think about it. The four primary worldviews of the spiritual realm from around the world:


A. Western Worldview: explain everything from the perspective of scientific research of the physical realm only.


PHYSICAL ONLY (No God or Spirits)


B. Animist Non-Western (virtually every other part of the world outside of the west): sees a small connection between God and the spirits and a big connection between the activity of the spirits and the physical World. They regard God as distant and far away.


GOD

____________________

SPIRITS

………………………….

PHYSICAL


C. Western Christians: Western Christians function largely with the worldview that there is a God that is separated by and large from His creation yet with little itty-bitty gaps where He intervenes once in a while. In general, He lets the world run on its own. It’s similar to a two-story house with very few connections between the two stories. The average Christian is a functional deist, believing that God created the world, wound it up like a clock, and let it run.


GOD

---------------------------------

PHYSICAL


D. Biblical Worldview of the Spiritual Realm: Sees a three-tier universe where God reigns supreme over everything. The world and the spirits are thoroughly under the kingship and authority of God. God is not distant but intimately and consistently involved in all things.


↓ GOD ↓

……………………………………………

↓ ↓ ↓

spirits

……………………………………………

↓ ↓

Physical


4. Friendship with the world equals enmity with God: Rather than pursuing acceptability with the world … we must pursue what is right. The pursuit of the world’s approval will inevitably get us in trouble. “Whoever wishes to be a friend of the world is an enemy of God” (James 4:4). Biblical contextualization must refer to clarity, not comfortability. A comfortable gospel is not a biblical gospel. When the church became a bastion of respectability, it lost its edge. It compromised on basic Christianity to become attractive to the world. Those in friendship with the world don’t need anyone to tell them “you do you.” Their nature is already bent that way and they don’t need to waste their time going to a church on Sunday morning to have that affirmed. This is why liberal churches eventually die.


5. The cultural influence of safety on the American church: Society has given us a value of safety that constrains every decision we make. This culture has profoundly influenced the church. There are great celebrations within many churches when a son or daughter chooses to join the military to go to war … yet but when someone seeks to go and share the gospel as a missionary seeking to fulfill the mission of God, many in the church will warn them that it is not safe. This conflation of American-ness with Christianity is not biblical.


The Flesh


6. The advance of the gospel most often comes through opposition: The advance of the gospel involved—and involves today—continual spiritual warfare that involves demons, sickness and death, human opposition, and sin even within the camp (Ananias and Saphira, etc.). These are the normal settings of Christian ministry. The Christian life is essentially a form of invasion … we are soldiers behind enemy lines … insurrectionists inside a supressionist regime … the god of this world is in opposition to us … and our own flesh is in opposition to us. As long as we are here, we are in a combat zone. We are not really doing any good when our enemy doesn’t really care. In many ways, it is good to find ourselves in conflict. The greatest believers throughout history have been marked by resistance. The people of God are a minority and “otherworldly” people surrounded by potentially hostile forces. We rarely appreciate the sovereignty of God when everything is rosy. All alliances with the world are only temporary and partial. Our alliance with anything other than with the people of God will never be permanent.


7. Grumbling is a spiritual threat. Grumbling is a form of spiritual warfare (of the flesh) that we must combat. Grumbling and disobedience unveil an idol of safety and a profound distrust of the promises and goodness of God. 1 Corinthians speaks of idolatry as a front for the demonic. Along these lines, one missionary has argued that there are two types of Christians: those marked by a sense of entitlement (grumbling) who are largely ineffective, and those who have a sense of gratitude and become largely effective.


8. People are NEVER our enemies: Ephesians 6:10-12 transforms the nature of spiritual warfare. People are never our enemies. We don’t call people enemies … the spiritual forces of darkness are our enemies. Every fleshly instinct is to react to those who our flesh may regard as our enemies. Spiritual warfare is the very act of fighting to love the people who hate us. The only people you have to love are the body of Christ, your neighbor, and your enemy (i.e. everybody).


The Devil


9. Satan takes advantage: Satan can take advantage of our unwillingness to forgive (this is a big one)! He has grounds to work within our propensities to lean in these directions (bitterness, anger, anxiety). We give Satan an opportunity when we get angry, make a harsh remark, and/or allow it to fester and drive a wedge. This is especially true in marriage.


10. The demon-possessed are profoundly orthodox: The most orthodox people in the NT besides Jesus are those who are demon-possessed. Their posture is one of groveling knowing that, as the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, He could—and would—cast them into the abyss.


11. Real demons? While the concept of demonic spiritual activity is not particularly popular in evangelical circles, there are countless examples from credible sources involving interactions with the spiritual forces of evil. The devil and demons are real. The primary reason for not believing in demons/supernatural beings is our own naturalistic worldview. A word of warning: It is just as mistaken to ascribe everything to demons as it is not to assign anything to demons.


12. What’s the biblical answer to dealing with the demonic or a person who has been demonized? Demons are cast out by prayer. It’s that simple. Jesus and the disciples pray. It’s not any more or less complicated than this. There are no elaborate rituals. Corporate prayer has a special place. Doing this with the elders is altogether appropriate.


Application


13. Our greatest joy: Holiness turns out to be our greatest joy. Our greatest pleasure is to know Him and be like Him. We must cultivate holiness in a way that is attractive … not in a way that is obnoxious, legalistic, or moralistic. An amazing sense of fervor for and delight in the Lord.


14. Holiness, godliness, and proclamation: There are two things that I see that are outcomes that we are to pursue. First, we ourselves need to grow in conformity to the image of Christ. Personal holiness and godliness flow from an infinite relationship with Christ. Second, advancing the knowledge of Jesus in the world both quantitatively and qualitatively. We are to advance the agenda of God. The more you are acting to advance the gospel the more obstacles you will experience. 70 or 80 years is nothing compared to eternity. The more afflicted people are in life, the more they think about heaven. The liabilities of prosperity and comfort is that we think that we’ve got it pretty good right now.


15. Should we seek to Christianize our nation? Christianizing the world will never alleviate the world as our enemy. Constantine’s Christendom (merging church and state and baptizing everyone into the church) had devastating effects on the church. Corruption and nominalism became issues on levels that the church had not had to deal with previously. We are not interested in Christianizing a country but evangelizing a culture. Those who aim to transform culture end up with the wrong foundation and never achieve their goal. If you aim at new disciples and discipleship that is embedded with the Kingdom of God (i.e. incorporates all of life), the culture will change. Syncretism (the merging of two different sets of beliefs) is prominent in every culture, it’s just that in America it’s Christianity plus a consumeristic, self-help, individualistic worldview than another named religion. Many who call themselves Christians go to church on Sunday while functioning from the worldview of the surrounding culture that this life is all there is. They merge two religions that are antithetical to one another (Mark 9:34-35). True discipleship never has an adjunct purpose (e.g. making the American dream even better). He (Jesus) is better than life. The greatest thing in the world I have is Him! I am now living to serve His glory. This is the vision for the Christian life. It is amazingly and pervasively radical.


16. Sanctification always follows regeneration: When God gives us a new heart, our new nature reveals’ itself in a way that is radical, visual, and lasts. The process of transformation into the image of Christ is called sanctification. Sanctification has two parts: (1) Mortification, or putting sin to death, and (2) vivification, breathing life into the fruit of the Spirit. The breathing of life into the character of Christ in us is a beautiful and attractive thing. The struggle of putting sin to death is the evidence of life. Asking God to put my sin to death is part of God’s will. Those who are content in their sin show signs of not having been born again. Sin is serious business. A casual attitude toward sin should prompt compassion in us to ask serious questions about our own salvation and the salvation of others. Scripture over and over tells us to put sin to death … to flee from it … to crucify it. Killing sin is critical to our spiritual health. Complacency or a casualness regarding sin (not putting it to death) may be an indication that we have not yet been born again.


17. How we do battle? We do battle through very ordinary means: (1) the intake and meditation of God’s Word, (2) serious prayer (and regular fasting), (3) and fellowship with our brothers and sisters within the local church. Fasting is a biblical discipline that enhances our prayer life and serves as a good way to express and deepen our commitment in the fight against sin. Fasting is the most un-American of all spiritual disciplines because we are taught that we are entitled to self-entitlement … taught and trained to indulge ourselves. Fasting is a demonstration of foregoing lesser things for greater things … fasting serves as an intensifier for prayer. Get specific about your besetting sins in prayer and fasting. We’ve got to chase God on our knees. God is more prone to heal people where people really believe that God is going to heal. In areas where people pray but don’t really believe that something is going to pray


18. Does a Christian ever have to sin? Does Romans 6 really imply that I never have to sin? YES! I never have to sin. Does temptation also present itself to us as inescapable? Yes. Is it lying? YES. Scripture is clear: we never have to give in … EVER! When I lived in sin, I was free from righteousness. I was free to live according to my nature—a nature enslaved to sin. When my nature changed, I became alive where I once was dead. I am now free. That which once intrigued me now disgusts me! Galatians 5:13-14 states: “13 For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. 14 For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” You were called to freedom … free to love God and love others. Verses 13 and 14 go together.

19. Cultivate a sense of being foreign: My citizenship is in heaven and my ultimate allegiance is to God Almighty. We must cultivate a sense of being foreign. If we don’t, we will be less mobilizable to the mission of God. Think often about home … not our earthly home, but the one that lies ahead. Meditate on the new heavens and the new earth. We must place our hopes in going forward to where we ultimately belong. We must maintain a willingness to lose everything. It is harder to stay zealous for the Lord the older you get. Don’t let the world get its claws on us. Our goal at all times is to maintain our distinctiveness as citizens of another country.


20. Jesus’s victory is our victory: Jesus conquered death, transcended the consequences of the fall, and was resurrected in a resurrection body that is the hope that we have of one day being resurrected with resurrection bodies like His. We have been clothed in Jesus Christ. This is not only our shield but our power as well. The victories of Jesus are now shared with us.



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