Spiritual Warfare – deliverance or discipline

We like quick fixes.  It gets easy to blame our problems on a demon and hope for the magic prayer that will make our demons go away.  One of the amazing phenomena in American Christianity has been the growth of deliverance ministries, a litany of so called prophets and exorcists who can deliver you from the demons of gluttony, doubt, anger, or lust.  Some may even go so far as to remind you that if you cannot find a girl friend that may be a sign of demon oppression, and credit card bills are the result of the demon of debt.  These guys lead us to believe that if we will come to them, their mantra and prayer will deliver us from all that ails us.

There is no doubt that the New Testament has examples of people who are oppressed and even possessed with the demonic, so we cannot discount the possibility problems have a Satanic element.  Yet, for the follower of Jesus, the call is not primarily to the quick fix of deliverance, but the hard road of discipleship.  In Ephesians 6:12-13, Paul describes the warfare that we as Christians will face by saying,

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. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.

While acknowledging that the enemy faced includes spiritual rulers and powers, the response is to prepare for battle by putting on one’s armor and then doing everything needed to stand.  The imagery is of a soldier who carefully prepares himself for a battle.  He wears his armor, knowing how each peace functions and becoming more than sufficient in its use.  He also prepares himself by doing everything needed to stand.  A soldier gets to this point through careful preparation, diligent physical training, and deep discipline.  He is tested, tried, and ready, because the day of battle will come.
Then, after doing everything to prepare himself to stand, Paul tells him to stand firm, dig your heals in, and endure.

God does deliver people.  Sometimes that deliverance will be from demonic oppression and even possession.  This can happen in an instant, with healing and transformation happening quickly.  But most of the time, Spiritual warfare is the result of careful preparation, spiritual discipline, and daily growth.  As a Christian, we are called to live as soldiers who have done everything needed to stand, and then we are to stand firm!

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