Spiritual Warfare

"If Satan can't get you to disobey God's commands, then he'll try to make

you obey them with the wrong spirit."

Spiritual Warfare


"The Accusing Spirit"

Cal Poulsen

Scripture Insights

11-16-12

 

Demonic Strongholds:

Let’s explore the whole issue of demonic strongholds. First, let’s define them. A stronghold is a demonic fortress of thoughts housing evil spirits that:

1.       Control, dictate, and influence your attitudes and behavior;

2.       Oppress and discourage you;

3.       Determine how you view or react to situations, circumstances, or people.

A demonic stronghold is anything that’s compelling enough to hold you in its power. It prevents you from receiving God’s love and truth.

Satan’s demonic servants stir up wrong emotional responses to the circumstances you face. The circumstance itself doesn’t cause the emotion, but what you believe about the circumstance does.

A chief demonic goal is to destroy your intimate relationships. Your relationship with God our Father, and His Son Jesus, with those in your household, and with those with whom you share close fellowship are targets for demonic disruption and destruction. This is because emotionally isolated people are easier for demonic spirits to influence, control, and oppress than people who have loving, supportive relationships.

“We have Jesus’s divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God” (2 Corinthians 10:4-5).

Another way of perceiving the effects of strongholds is that they block you from hearing the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit would guide you to apply the biblical truth you read or hear. But without the Holy Spirit’s insight, you’re unable to apply God’s truth to your life. And, you lack the Holy Spirit’s empowerment to even want to please God.

“This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, expressing spiritual truths in spiritual words. The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Corinthians 2:13-14).

When you speak words given to you by the Holy Spirit, only people who have the Spirit can understand those truths.

Foreword:

As believers we must be careful of the dangers that lurk when we have empty spaces in our lives. Many times, when we respond to God's call, we come loaded with baggage. We're laden with broken dreams, bad habits and lousy attitudes. But as good housekeepers, we strive to rid our lives of such things.

Christians try to clean up their lives by attending church on a regular basis, cutting ties with the past and giving up bad things we once considered fun. But it's not enough to simply get rid of our negative stuff. We must fill the void with God's desires for our lives unless we end up worse off than when we started.

In case you haven't noticed, the devil loves a spiritual vacuum in our lives. He loves it when we leave him just enough space to bring in spirits of doubt, anxiety and fear.

When something bad or negative happens to us, we discover that our faith is either strong or is made up of empty beliefs and is weak. Jesus warned us (Luke 11:24-26; Matthew 12:43-45) about leaving voids in our Christian walk.

Luke 11:24

When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through dry places, seeking rest; and finding none, he saith, I will return unto my house whence I came out.

Luke 11:25

And when he cometh, he findeth it swept and garnished.

Luke 11:26

Then goeth he, and taketh to him seven other spirits more wicked than himself; and they enter in, and dwell there: and the last state of that man is worse than the first.

To illustrate the danger of attempting to be neutral about him, Jesus explained what could happen to such people. Unfilled and complacent people are easy targets for Satan. The evil spirit was not “cast out,” but for some reason had left a person. The desert was believed to be the habitation of demons. Because demons need a resting place (that is, someone or something living that they can enter and torment), this demon returned to the person it came from. Jesus was making a serious point about people’s spiritual destiny—they must make a decision about him.

In the demon’s absence, the home (the person’s life) had been swept and made clean, but it is still empty. In fact, the accommodations are now so inviting that the demon finds seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they all enter the person and live there. The “owner” of the “house” is now filled with eight demons instead of one; definitely, that person is worse off than before.

Jesus was illustrating an unfortunate human tendency.  A personal desire to reform often does not last long, and any attempts to take care of ones life ends in disaster. It is not enough to be emptied of evil; the person must then be filled with the power of the Holy Spirit to accomplish God’s new purpose in his or her life (Galatians 5:22).

Getting right with God is only the first step to filling empty spaces in our lives. But as with any good relationship, the one we have with Him must be nurtured.

Our spiritual lives are like a garden. If you have ever seen or planted a garden, then you know that as long as you feed it, weed it and water it, it will grow into a beautiful sight. But if we leave our spiritual lives unattended in the same way some people do their gardens, we will deteriorate with all sorts of weeds and parasites. God is not just some casual observer sitting high and unconcerned as we struggle. He feels our hurts, our anguish, our frustration and our righteous anger. He knows who caused us to be afraid, who made us feel unloved and who instilled in us a spirit of rejection.

But none of this stops Him from calling each of us to a closer and more intimate relationship with Him. He not only longs for us to return to Him, but when we get there, He also wants us to stay. He wants to fill our lives with Himself, with His goodness. 

God is not concerned with the untidiness of our past, but He is concerned with our passion for His presence and the miracle of our future. God is looking at our hearts, and He is saying that we must tend to our houses and our gardens because there is no middle road.  We are either filled with the things of God, or we are empty.

The Voice of Condemnation:

Condemnation is one of those common tactics of the enemy.  The accusing spirit is an antichrist spirit, because it approaches people with no love, but a tone of condemnation. It works through a voice; the voice of condemnation. It constantly tells you how much of a failure you are. It tells you how your heart is not right with God. It tells you that if you don't read your Bible every day, that you aren't serious about your relationship with God.  It basically tells you that you're never good enough. This is the exact opposite nature of God. It tears down rather than builds up. The accusing spirit uses the letter of the law to lay heavy burdens and crush its victims.

The accusing spirit works hand in hand with the family of religious spirits and strongholds, including legalism. The accusing spirit will make itself known in a variety of ways. It can accuse a person directly, it can cause them to accuse others around them, or it can accuse God in a person's mind.

Anytime the enemy brings up your past failures that is the work of the accusing spirit. This spirit feeds on past mistakes, in order to justify how that person is supposedly a failure, even though the Blood of Christ has washed away those failures.  In this way, the accusing spirit is an antichrist spirit, because it deliberately writes off the work of Christ and the shed blood of Jesus.

The accusing spirit speaks with the voice of condemnation.  Even when the accusing spirit seems to be pointing to the answer, the burden that it lays on the person is overwhelming or irrational. For example, it may tell a person that they must go back to everybody that they have ever wronged, and apologize, and then they can be forgiven. That is not only unbiblical, that is salvation by works, and God's Word tells us that if we try to be made right by works, then we have fallen from grace.

Galatians 5:4 

Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.

Getting us to fall from grace, that is, to stop trusting God's mercy and grace for our salvation and justification, is exactly what the accusing spirit wants to do.

As stated earlier, the accusing spirit is a voice. It speaks to us. It may even sound righteous, because it speaks of how failures are bad. It's true that failures are bad, but what Christ has done for us is the remedy to our failures. What the accusing spirit wants us to do is overlook or even discredit God's remedy for our failures. This spirit has all the makings of being righteous, even a minister of righteousness, but inside is a raving wolf seeking whom he may devour. He's busy carrying out the work of his father, the devil.

The whole motivation behind this ugly demon spirit is to discredit the work of Christ in our lives. We failed, Jesus forgave, but this spirit keeps pointing to the mistake, as if Christ did nothing to erase it. 

The fruit of the accusing spirit is widely varied. Self-hate almost always involves the accusing spirit. Guilt, and fear resulting from guilt will make you feel ashamed.  Doubts, unbelief, hate, being judgmental, being critical, having resentment towards God, feelings of hopelessness and, shame, are a few but the list goes on. The accusing spirit wants to tear apart your faith and wear you down spiritually. He wants you to walk in guilt, condemnation, and never feel worthy of God's glorious plan for your life. Its goal is to wear you down, and make you weak as a child of God.

The accusing spirit is a finger-pointing spirit. It is a blaming spirit that specializes in digging up the past, and blaming somebody for it. That somebody could very well be you, or others, or even God. The bottom line is, the accusing spirit will always point to the problem (even if it's been washed away by the work of Christ), while the Holy Spirit will always point you to the solution.

If the person continues to struggle with guilt, then they have not mentally accepted the fact that their sin has been washed away, or the accusing spirit is at work. Once a sin is confessed and forgiven, the Holy Spirit stops convicting, but the accusing spirit doesn't stop, but continues to badger the person over their failures. The accusing spirit will also work in conjunction with spirits of guilt, shame, condemnation, hopelessness, and others.

How do we combat this deceitful spirit? For one, we need to fill our mind with the voice of God's Word (concerning the forgiveness of sins, God's love and mercy, etc.). We need to learn to recognize the voice of the accusing spirit and cast it down.

2 Corinthians 10:5

Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;

We need to be diligent in renewing our mind with God's Word, in order to undo the damage that it has done to our thinking patterns.

What to do With Our Feelings:

Feelings do not necessarily speak the truth. If you feel guilty, it does not mean that you are guilty. Many times, feelings merely tell us what is going on in our thought life.  If we think we are guilty, there will be feelings of guilt.  This is the fruit of those thoughts or beliefs. Feelings should not be ignored, but properly interpreted. For example, if you feel guilty, don't start thinking that it must be true.  That is letting feelings tell us what to do, and feelings can be, and often are wrong.

When we begin to feel guilty, we need to instead get to the root of the problem and address it with God's Word. What does God's Word say about our guilt? It tells us that if we confess our sin and forsake it, we are forgiven and cleansed of whatever kind of unrighteousness that we've committed.

When we choose to believe that over how we feel, then our feelings will begin to change because they are merely the fruit of our thoughts and beliefs. In this case, our feelings were wrong because our belief was wrong. Remember, feelings are just the fruit of our thoughts and beliefs. If we feel wrong, then it wouldn't hurt to stop and ask ourselves what we believe. Do we believe that when a man confesses his sin and believes upon Christ, that he is forgiven? Or do we, in the back of our minds, wonder if we've sinned too badly, or if we need to do something before we can be forgiven? Our feelings can be a great revealer of what we really believe under the surface.

It is important to be balanced when dealing with our feelings. I don't think it's healthy to completely ignore our feelings, but I can assure you that it is not healthy to go by our feelings either.

The key is to learn how to discern what our feelings are really telling us, and then get to the root of the problem. Feelings of guilt, for example, do not necessarily mean that we are indeed guilty, but rather that our beliefs are not rooted and grounded on God's Word like they ought to be.

Hebrews 9:14 

How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?

We can only have that clean conscience when we stand firm on God's Word and believe what it really says about the forgiveness of our sins. When we truly believe that the Blood of Christ has paid the full price for our failures, only then can we have a truly clean conscience. As long as we think that we've messed up too badly, or need to do something before we can be forgiven, we will live with a dirty conscience. That is because we don't truly believe we are forgiven, and when we don't believe that we're forgiven, how on earth can we expect to feel like it?

Fear is another feeling which is completely unnecessary in the life of a believer. God's Word tells us that perfect love casts out all fear. For those who think that fear is a natural and unavoidable feeling, God's Word tells us that "He who fears has not been made perfect in love."

1 John 4:18 

There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.

If you have fears, don't believe them, but rather seek to be established and made perfect in God's great love for you. That will dispel those fears.

What most people do is go by their feelings and believe them, rather than seeing them as a warning that something isn't right in their beliefs or thought lives. We can’t ignore those feelings or warning signs, and do nothing about them. So the question is, what are you doing about those feelings? Are you going by what you feel as if it were truth? Or are you asking yourself, "What am I thinking or believing that may not be aligned with God's Word?" Fear, like false guilt, is a result of believing something other than God's Word. False guilt is when we choose to believe an imagination that has risen itself against the knowledge of God, even though God's Word assures us that when we confess our sins, He is faithful to forgive us of any sort of unrighteousness that we've committed.

Now of course, not all feelings should be interpreted as a fault in our thoughts or beliefs. There are times when then Holy Spirit will give a person an uneasy feeling about a situation called discernment, or maybe a burden to pray over somebody that we normally wouldn't pray over.

These types of feelings are used by God as a means to communicate with our spirits, and should not be ignored.  What we are talking about is feelings of low self-esteem, fear, false guilt, shame, etc. Feelings along these lines are spelled out clearly in God's Word as being completely unnecessary for the children of God. What these types of feelings have in common is that they are rooted in a belief or imagination that has risen itself against the knowledge of God.

2 Corinthians 10:4 

(For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;)

2 Corinthians 10:5 

Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;

Spiritual Warfare – Weapons:

The difference between deliverance and spiritual warfare is that deliverance is dealing with demonic bondages, and getting a person set free, whereas spiritual warfare is resisting, overcoming and defeating the enemy's lies in the form of deception, temptations and accusations that he sends our way. Spiritual warfare is dealing with three key things the enemy sends at us: temptations, deception and accusations. Spiritual warfare comes in two ways: offensive and defensive. Offensive warfare is tearing down the strongholds the enemy has formed in your mind through deception and accusations, and defensive warfare is guarding yourself against the tactics or schemes of the devil.

Satan’s Three Primary Weapons:

There are three things that we can expect from the devil. The Bible tells us that we struggle not against flesh and blood, but against demonic forces.

Ephesians 6:12

"For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places."

The three primary things we struggle against include the following.

Deception:

To deceive somebody means to make another person believe a lie or something that is not true. When the enemy sends deception your way, it is an attempt to deceive you into believing something that is not true, so you will fall into error. Strongholds are built through deception. A stronghold is formed when deception takes hold in a person's mind. A stronghold is an incorrect thinking pattern that stems from believing something that is not true. From the very beginning, Satan deceived Eve into believing that God's Word was not true. In (Genesis 3:4), the devil told her that she would not surely die as God said she would in (Genesis 2:17).

Temptation:

Temptation often follows deception.  Temptation is when we are enticed or encouraged to sin in one way or another.  Temptation by itself is not a sin.

In (Matthew 4), Jesus was led out in the desert to be tempted by the devil.  Jesus, during His temptation saw through Satan's deception, and resisted the temptation by speaking God's Word. King David said in (Psalms 119:11), "Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee."

Accusations:

The devil is known as the accuser of the brethren (Revelation 12:10). He is known to take a believer who has done an embarrassing or gross sin in their past, and continue to rub it in their faces and beat them down with guilt and condemnation over their past.

Dealing With Deception:

We have two weapons to deal with deceptions. They are the belt of truth (Ephesians 6:14) and the sword of the Spirit (Ephesians 6:17), which is the Word of God. Both are truth, which is found in God's Word, so why are they given two different names. It is because the belt is meant to be defensive, while the sword is meant to be offensive. This means that the Word of God is both an offensive and a defensive weapon. A belt is something you wear to guard against an attack, while a sword is used to destroy the enemy. You use the belt of truth which is Gods Word to guard against the enemy's deceptions or lies he sends your way, while you use the sword of the Spirit to tear down existing strongholds which are deceptions that have taken hold in your mind.

In (Romans 12:2), we are told to "be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind." How do we renew our minds? By getting in God's Word. In (Ephesians 5:26), this process of renewing your mind is referred to as washing of water by the Word. "That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word."

Dealing – Temptation:

In (James 4:7), we are told to resist the devil and he will flee from us. But it's not that simple; in the same verse, we are also told to draw near to God. Dealing with temptation is a two-fold process of resisting the devil and drawing near to God. The closer you get to God and the more you become aware of His love, and the less power temptation will have over you.

Dealing – Accusations:

The fiery darts of the enemy in (Ephesians 6:16) are accusations sent our way. For example, when the devil tries to accuse us of our past sins, we are to have faith in the work of the cross and know that they are forgiven and not to look back. Faith is what we use to put out the fiery darts of the enemy. We are not to meditate about our pasts, because they have passed away (2 Corinthians 5:17), and our sins have been forgotten (Hebrews 10:17).

Ephesians 6:14,

"Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth (knowing your sins have been forgiven through your faith in the work on the cross), and having on the breastplate of righteousness (not our righteousness obviously, but the righteousness of God through Christ Jesus);"

Our righteousness is as filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6), but because of the work of the cross, we can receive the righteousness of God through Christ Jesus (Romans 3:22, Galatians 3:6). Therefore when the enemy tries to remind you of your past, tell him it's been washed away (2 Corinthians 5:17), your sins have been forgotten (Hebrews 10:17) and you have the righteousness of God.

Tearing Down Strongholds:

A stronghold is deception that's taken hold in a person's mind. It's an incorrect thinking pattern based on a believed lie. People can get incorrect perceptions of God by listening to Satan as he tells them how God doesn't love them. People can feel like dirty old sinners when they believe Satan's accusations as he continually reminds them of their past. Strongholds are based on lies from the devil. They can come in the form of deception or accusations. Accusations always lead to guilt and the feeling of unworthiness, which weighs you down and tears you apart spiritually.

Since strongholds are built upon lies that we have been fed, the way we tear down strongholds is by feeding on the truth in God's Word, which is the opposite of what the enemy has been feeding us. If the enemy has been feeding us a lie, we need to stop eating the lie and start feeding ourselves the truth.

The weapon we use to tear down strongholds is found in (Ephesians 6:17), "The sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God." A sword is an offensive weapon and is meant to tear down and kill the enemy's troops. Strongholds are the devil's assets in war, and he uses them against us. Take up the sword of the Spirit (God's Word) and start destroying the enemy's assets that he's been using against you.

 

Your questions and comments are always appreciated.

Scripture Insights

2015 – 2016

 

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