The following is based on Eric Gondwe's Spiritual warfare book separating bible-based principles from harmful non-biblical spiritual warfare teachings
It would be wrong to assume that all the doctrinal beliefs held in our various evangelical denominations are infallible or free from error. The church, the bride of Christ, is fallible and liable to err.
The Bible says we do not yet have perfect knowledge of everything, until this present world passes away. "For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears." 1 Corinthians 13:9-10.
Exposing the errors has been our Lord's way of building, growing and maturing his church. Those that made changes have steered the church to higher levels of obedience, truth, and usefulness.
One of our most recent false beliefs in the body of Christ are on Christian deliverance teachings. This book and its companion on spiritual warfare, titled Major Spiritual Warfare Principles: Biblical Do's and Don'ts of Warfare, reveal how and why the spiritual warfare and Christian deliverance errors have among the worst consequences among false doctrines currently circulating in the body of Christ. Thankfully there is a way out and there are actually bible based principles that bring freedom.
Knowing our sphere or territory of influence is important to avoid going into unauthorized territory and matters. Much error has arisen here in the body of Christ. Some have wrongly assumed we could exercise authority over everything on earth and in the spirit realm except God.
However, through sin that came by Satan's deception on Adam and Eve we lost this authority on earth. What Jesus did on the cross was to restore it to us. He was restoring the authority mankind lost by giving it to his church.
Binding and loosing therefore implies making decisions on allowing or forbidding matters on earth which once agreed upon would be supported in heaven. These matters could be in whatever area of life -spiritual, social, political, physical and material. They have largely been spiritual or religious matters throughout history. Unfortunately we recently (in the past few decades) took the binding and loosing to imply the authority to go after evil spirits.
For example, "some things forbidden by the law of Moses were now to be allowed, as the eating of such and such meats; some things allowed there were now to be forbidden, as divorce; and the apostles were empowered to declare this to the world, and men might take it upon their words. When Peter was first taught himself, and then taught others, to call nothing common or unclean, this power was exercised." (Matthew Henry Complete Commentary.)
"Whatever you bind on earth..." It is "on earth," not in the spirit realm, nor in the heavenly and nor in the unseen world. It is also "whatever" matters or issues, not "whatever" spirits nor demonic beings. Taking the original meaning out of context invalidates what Christ actually meant. Changing what he meant creates a totally different scripture that's not in the bible and one that does not have the backing of heaven.
"The highest heavens belong to the Lord, but the earth he has given to man," Psalm 115:16.
The heavens or the spirit world, or the unseen world, are a restricted territory to us human beings.
John Paul Jackson in his book, Needless Casualties of War, distinguishes between terrestrial (earthly) and celestial (heavenly) realms, showing were our jurisdiction lies and where it does not. He shows where our given authority is - the earthly (terrestrial) realm. Jackson says, "Sending us into the world to preach the Gospel, Jesus commissioned us to cast out demons, heal the sick, cleanse the lepers and raise the dead -all warfare activities in the terrestrial (earthly) sphere."
It may be easy for some to understand this distinction between the two realms. The Lord is keeping you from danger in a good way. For some of us, understanding may have come through associating the avoidable experiences encountered in the years of active duty in the erroneous spiritual warfare and deliverance teachings. We're able to see that certain types of "spiritual warfare prayers," and "deliverance seminars," are unscriptural and dangerous.
Most of the erroneous spiritual warfare and deliverance teachings trespass into celestial (heavenly) realms that are outside our domain. Jackson says, "Only God has power to command his heavenly realms. Therefore, we who at present remain a little lower than the angels ought not to presume to command those spiritual beings who are higher ranking in the created order. This includes all of God's heavenly hosts - Michael, Gabriel, or even any lesser angel. Remember, Gabrielle struck mute Zacharias, the high priest, because he spoke presumptively and simply questioned the angel (Luke 1:11-20).
"If we can't even question angels, why do we think we can speak presumptively to command celestial beings?&ldots;. Since scripture is clear that angels only follow commands from God, neither will their counterparts in the second Heaven (i.e. principalities, etc.) respond to our commands. The consequences of such behavior maybe grave." (Needless Casualties of War, p. 92-93)
Scripture says these beings are higher ranking in the created order than we are. Yes they are fallen angels yet we are not, in this life, entitled to rule over them in their various ranks. Even the archangel Michael, in disputing with Satan about the body of Moses, had to follow protocols that God has set up. And we being "a little lower than the angels," (Hebrews 2:7) deceive ourselves when we assume we can do otherwise -with serious consequences.
Satan's territory is therefore outside our given realm of authority. Ours is on earth and only God has power and authority over the celestial beings in heavenly realms or the spirit world. Anything done outside our given realm of authority is, as the book of Jude says, considered rejection of authority. It is rejection of God's authority on the limited spheres of influence he gave us.
As said earlier, the biblical interpretation of spiritual warfare principles endorsed by this book are supported by the entire 2000 year church history -from Christ's time up to now. They constitute the old teachings on spiritual warfare and have stood the test of time on doctrinal scrutiny. Nearly all our various evangelical branches (denominations) in the body of Christ endorse the old teachings on spiritual warfare. Read on to find out. So much is at stake.
On the other hand, the spiritual warfare teachings that advocate for direct confrontation with Satan have been around only since the 1980s. They constitute the new teachings on spiritual warfare. The doctrinal foundation they're based on has had controversies ever since the teachings started. This ought to ring a doctrinal analysis bell to any Christian serious enough to walk in truth and in spirit. Many scriptures have literally been taken out of context to establish the new teachings.
I was for years caught up in the false teachings on spiritual warfare. Being a person who goes to extremes on any matter that's important I aggressively applied the false spiritual warfare teachings. I was one of the most radical followers of the false teachings on spiritual warfare. Being led by the spiritually blind on what true biblical spiritual warfare really is I also ended up being spiritually blind.
All the scriptures you may raise I therefore know them. The book is thus coming from an insider who's intimately familiar with the false teachings on spiritual warfare. God graciously got me out of it and he's doing the same for you through this book -or through any other way -hopefully not through a severe wake-up call.
The main biblical basis being used for direct confrontation on spiritual warfare is that Christ gave us authority over unclean spirits (i.e. evil spirits, demons or fallen angels). This is very true. Yet it's only true to the extent that our given authority is exercised within its contextual limits that it was granted. All given authority, whether earthly or spiritual, is limited. The only being with unlimited authority is God. His kind of authority is called power because it's not granted and cannot be sanctioned by anyone. He's sovereign.
God's angels have limited authority, demons (fallen angels), including Satan, have limited authority. Who are we to think our given spiritual authority is unlimited? Exercising our given spiritual authority beyond its given limits is mere presumption and venturing into unauthorized territory. Once you enter into an unauthorized territory you're at the mercy of its residents. Satan and his fellow demons have no mercy over believers entering unauthorized spiritual zones. It'll be free lunch for them -unless God in his sovereignty stops them.
Thus our given authority over evil spirits did not mean it was a blank check to go after evil spirits wherever we wish to confront them -in people, in thin air, in geographical territories, in water, in the spirit world, or wherever. This makes understanding the boundaries of our given authority a very important matter.
True Christian Biblical spiritual warfare is living a life of consecration, obedience and fellowship with God in such a way that we enable God to effectively deal with the evil working against us and against other people. It is a form of abiding in Christ that overcomes Satan's legal and illegal grounds against us and others. This is seen in the outline of our spiritual armor given in Ephesians 6:11-18 (outlined below).
Biblical spiritual warfare is therefore indirect confrontation against Satan. We approach God to intervene for us against Satan on matters in our lives and the lives of others.
It's true that Satan and his demonic spirits (fallen angels) are our primary enemies we wrestle against. It's also true that God has given us certain ways in the Bible of confronting these evil beings whose full time ministry is scheming to ruin our lives. Working outside these biblical ways only increases their effect in our lives. One of these non-biblical ways is the assumption that direct confrontation against Satan is our role.
Nowhere in the scripture do we see Jesus or the apostles bombarding demons in thin air and calling it spiritual warfare prayers or deliverance prayers. When Satan sought to sift Peter and finish him off Jesus prayed to God. Jesus prayed that Peter's faith would not fail and when he'd turned back from the attack he'd strengthen his fellow disciples.
"Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers," Luke 22:31-32.
Jesus Christ, God made flesh, prayed to God, the Father, for Peter's deliverance. His spiritual warfare prayer or deliverance prayer was addressed to God not to Satan. How much more should we follow his example of indirect confrontation.
Examples of Indirect Confrontation after Jesus' Ascension and During the Early Church
Some may say direct confrontation with demonic spirits, binding and loosing them became necessary after Jesus ascended to heaven. How come the apostles did not practice it? When confronted with threats that could have closed the emerging church they turned to God.
At one point they prayed so much that, "After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken," Acts 4:31. In our time fellow believers assume earth shaking breakthroughs will come after binding and loosing demonic spirits, familiar spirits, generational spirits, Jezebel spirits, territorial spirits, spirits of division, spirits of unforgiveness, and so on. This only ends up taking us outside our biblical limits.
It also ends up summoning demons to interfere with our lives because we confront them in their spiritual territory where only God and his hosts have access to. We have direct access to God when confronted with evil. However we do not have direct access to the spirits of darkness. The previous chapter covers this in depth from God's word.
See: Listening-prayer.com home spiritual warfare and our real mission spiritual warfare in everyday life - a Biblical perspective spiritual warfare and binding and loosing About George
George Hartwell M.Sc. is a Christian counselor with a masters degree in clinical psychology and 30 years experience in private practice. To learn all About George or his professional practice see: George's Professional web site, Christian marriage counselling, Christian phone therapy, and Christian Marriage Retreats. To e-mail George click on: