Spiritual Warfare, Part 1
StreetWise - February 2014
by Paul Hazelden

Dear friends,

We are constantly encouraging people to follow Jesus - not just to believe in Him, but to do what He says and to join in with what He is doing.

But as soon as you start to follow Jesus in practical ways, things start to go wrong, and other people (often Christians!) start to criticise and attack you. In theological terms: you cannot be involved in Christian ministry without some practical theology of spiritual warfare.

The Bible's teaching on this subject is simple, clear and consistent; but somehow the church tends to approach spiritual warfare in one of two common ways, both of which are wrong and very dangerous.

The first error is Practical Atheism: we believe in God, but we don't expect Him to do anything. This is never taught as such, but is expressed in our policies and procedures, in our Codes of Good Practice and Principles of Governance.

The trouble is that it all looks like common sense: you don't commit to anything you can't deliver, you don't promise to buy anything you can't afford. One one level, it is true, but it is only a half-truth.

We should not ditch common sense, but we can't be ruled by it. As Christians, we are called to do the impossible. If we can achieve our goal without divine intervention, then we don't need God. Of course, we say we need Him, we pray that He will guide and empower us; but if He does not turn up, we still have our check-lists and chequebooks to fall back on.

The second error is Magic: we believe that God performs miracles, so we want to make sure that He does the right miracles, at the right time. This is taught, and taught in many places, even if the word 'magic' is never used.

Much of the teaching involved is true, but again, it is only a half-truth. You are taught it is God's will that you are happy, healthy and successful; you are never taught to ask if those really are His top priorities for your life. You are taught that God wants to answer your prayer, and you are taught He will do so if you can achieve some combination of fervent prayer, holy life, deep faith, and obedience to my (God-given) authority.

We don't believe that either of these paths communicates God's character or teaching. As for what the Bible actually says on the subject... that will have to wait for the next StreetWise.

Every blessing,


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