It is said that there are many ways to skin a cat.There are many versions of this proverb, which suggests there are always several ways to do something. We find in ministry work the enemy uses several ways to thwart the work of God and to kill His servants’ motivations and themselves. Let us not be the cat that is killed by our lack of knowledge.
There is a battle raging for man’s soul and for control of the universe. It is a very real war between the “God of truth” (Deut 32:4; Ps:31:5; Isa:65:16) and Satan, “the father of [lies,]” in whom there “is no truth” (Jn:8:44). One either believes God’s truth or Satan’s lie. There is no neutral ground. The cosmic battle of the ages is the battle for truth.
What is truth?
God designed us to personally know and love Him and His truth. Instead, many people allow a guru, the latest prophet, religious primate, a “professional psychologist” or some other deceiver to take the place of God. They have lost the battle for truth!
“Truth” has two meanings in Scripture:
1) temporal facts man may observe about himself and the physical universe, including truthful reportage of the facts;
2) eternal and spiritual reality pertaining to God and the relationship all else bears to Him.
The Bible when it speaks of the truth , means the latter.
Some evidences of the battle for truth today
Success/motivation/self-improvement and “personal empowerment” seminars and group therapies teach that one creates reality with the mind. Eve’s descendants still love the Serpent’s lie. It’s the heart of Hinduism and of such pseudo-Christian cults as Christian Science, Unity and Religious Science. Their erroneous teachings are concealed with biblical language.
“Christian psychology” has brought Satan’s lies into the church. They teach “All truth is God’s truth.” This delusion confuses temporal facts and God’s eternal truth. That they are not the same should be clear. Jesus said, “ the truth will set you free.” Truth should not be exchanged for feeling good about oneself. Even among evangelicals, sin, repentance and judgment are avoided as “negative.” A false Christ is preached, one who loves us because we’re valuable and who affirms our self-worth. Flattery is preferred to honesty, doctrine and correction are despised, and parents are told to praise their children always, even when they need reproof, in order to “boost their self-esteem.”
Even if it were a science, psychology could not be part of “God’s truth.” Freud, an anti-Christian, knew nothing of the truth to which Christ referred when he told Pilate, “Everyone who is of the truth heareth my voice.” That non-Christians are not “of the truth” is clear from His words: “My sheep hear my voice” (Jn:10:27). Non-Christians know nothing of God’s truth , for “the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God” (1 Cor:2:14). “God’s truth” is only revealed by His Spirit to His own. Jesus said: “the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive” (Jn:14:17); and “when he, the Spirit of truth is come, he will guide you into all truth” (Jn:16:13). If “the Spirit of truth” guides into all truth, and the world cannot receive Him, then teachers who know not God teach not God’s truth!
What is “God’s truth”? Paul referred to “the gospel of your salvation” as “the word of truth” (Eph:1:13). Christ, who “came…to give his life…a ransom for many” (Mk 10:45; 1 Tim:2:6), Salvation comes through believing the truth— the message of the Cross.
1. “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” (1 Tim:1:15) from the penalty God’s justice demands (Ps:9:8; 96:13; Eze:18:4, etc.). Christ said that He had come “to seek and to save that which was lost” (Lk 19:10) and “to call…sinners to repentance” (Mat:9:13).
2. Christ saves only those who, believing in Him, admit to and repent of being lost, guilty sinners, unable to please God or to save themselves. Here is the truth that sets free!
3. We’re unable to live up to His example. His sinless life “condemned sin in the flesh” (Rom:8:3) and is the standard by which mankind will be judged. His perfection both damns the sinner and qualifies Him to be our Savior, for only One perfectly holy could die for the sins of others. God’s truth includes man’s evil as well as God’s holiness and His righteous provision for sinners.
4. God’s love gave His Son to die; God’s justice laid upon Him our sins and demanded the full penalty. And man’s evil, self-centered, rebellious heart hated, rejected, and crucified Him. The cross fully demonstrated both the limitless love and justice of God—and the horrifying evil that lurks in the depths of the human heart. The very nails driven into His hands and feet and the spear that pierced His side drew forth the blood that saves!
5. The salvation Christ purchased with His blood must be received directly from Him (“come unto me “) as a free gift of God’s grace (Rom:3:24), “not of works, lest any man should boast” (Eph:2:9). Acceptance of this gracious gift is by faith: “It pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe” (1 Cor:1:21).
Believe what? The gospel. It is “the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth” (Rom:1:16) that “Christ died for our sins… was buried, and…rose again” (1 Cor:15:1-4).
Sin’s penalty could not be set aside. God’s love cannot compromise His justice. Christ had to suffer the full punishment we deserved, so that God “might be the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus” (Rom:3:26). This “gospel of God” has been declared “by his prophets in the holy scriptures” (Rom:1:1-2). It must either be accepted on God’s terms or rejected. It cannot be changed.
Here we confront a solemn question. How much distortion does it take to turn God’s truth into a lie, to corrupt the gospel so that those who believe it are not saved, but damned? We should accept nothing less than the biblical answer: the spiritual warfare that rages for the eternal destiny of souls is a battle for uncompromised truth!
To undermine the “truth of the gospel,” Satan has invented clever counterfeit gospels that promise life but damn the soul. Those who preach these lies are cursed. These false gospels are like rat poison camouflaged – tasty 99 percent nutritious, but containing just enough hidden poison to kill. We must be prepared to contrast the lie with God’s truth and to warn the unwary earnestly and clearly.
“Christian psychology” has brought a false gospel into the church. It replaces God’s truth of sin and the Cross with humanistic diagnoses (addictions, dysfunctional families, compulsions, co-dependencies, traumas buried in the unconscious, etc.) and pernicious “remedies” (self-esteem, self-assertion, positive self-talk, visualization, and a host of therapies) unknown to heroes of the faith (Heb 11) who triumphed without them. There is a false gospel which denies Christ’s finished work and offers salvation through baptism, indulgences and sacraments administered by the Church through her primates cardinals, bishops, priests and the intercession of Mary.
The enemy cleverly uses those who live in the flesh to skin and kill others who are in the spiritual battle for truth. It behoves us with that forewarning, to be prepared not to fall into temptation or be instruments against the Truth. We can succeed only with the help of the Holy Spirit who sees all and knows all. When He is the Leader, we cannot be vanquished. When He is the Leader we need not fear.
Billy Graham explained the reality of spiritual warfare in his book Angels:
We live in a perpetual battlefield …The wars among the nations on earth are mere popgun affairs compared to the fierceness of battle in the spiritual unseen world. This invisible spiritual conflict is waged around us incessantly and unremittingly. Where the Lord works, Satan’s forces hinder; where angel beings carry out divine directives, the devils rage. All this comes about because the powers of darkness press their counterattack to recapture the ground held for the glory of God…
Since the fall of Lucifer, that angel of light and son of the morning, there has been no respite in the bitter Battle of the Ages. Night and day Lucifer, the master craftsman of the devices of darkness, labors to thwart God’s plan of the ages. We can find inscribed on every page of human history the consequences of the evil brought to fruition by the powers of darkness with the devil in charge. Satan never yields an inch, nor does he ever pause in his opposition to the plan of God to redeem the “cosmos” from his control.
From a Christian perspective, spiritual warfare is the cosmic war of good versus evil: its battles are fought daily between God and Satan; between the Christian Church and the world system ruled by our spiritual enemy; and between the Holy Spirit and the lusts of the carnal flesh within every human soul. The clear meanings of good and evil, as defined by God rather than man, are revealed within the verses of the Holy Bible and the life of Jesus Christ.
Tools of Spiritual Warfare would include
- Discipleship: This ministry emphasizes the process of Christian discipleship while we are being conformed to the image of Jesus Christ by the indwelling work of the Holy Spirit and the scriptures.
- Deliverance: Christian “deliverance ministries” with ending of generational curses; the use of authority in binding and loosing; and demonic oppression.
- Exorcism: practice of exorcism from demonic possession.
- Strategic Level Spiritual Warfare: Peter Wagner explored the concepts of territorial spirits and the demonic hierarchy which Satan uses to rule the world system and oppose the plans and purposes of God. Practices such as spiritual mapping, and prayer walking apply here.
Spiritual Warfare does not include
- Warmongering: which is promoting or glorifying war – neither in the spiritual nor in the human realm. Spiritual warfare sounds the alert at the advance of the enemy, training soldiers to overcome that enemy, and protecting innocent refugees from abuse and destruction.
- Demonizing your adversary: Christ’s enemies accused even Him of being demonic. The careful study of scripture delineates the demonic from the natural man rather than obscuring the line. The Holy Bible clearly identifies who is the enemy and who is the friend of God. Jesus Christ taught His disciples how to love their human enemies while simultaneously resisting the works of the devil. Love does no harm to your neighbor. That said, when the enemy is in fact a demon… name calling doesn’t really hurt its feelings.
- Dualism: Satan is not equal to the Most High God. Studying the purposes, strategies and tactics of an enemy does not lead to a coup d’état. On the contrary, it helps ensure that the kingdom is not overthrown. While the soldier guards against the advance of the enemy, the country remains secure with liberty for all to serve the true king and to worship the only living God in peace.
Christian Spiritual Warfare is NOT:
- Islamic Jihad, Holy War, or religious war: Christianity does not threaten the non-believer with beheading by the sword if they will not convert. Nor with any other form of terrorism, or military campaign against a nation, or all “infidels” in general. Note: Christians should NOT equate all Muslims as terrorists.
- Militarization of the Church: No destruction of the enemy by means of fire and maneuver with human weapons.
What must our response be to the false gospels that abound and are deceiving multitudes? It is not enough to grieve or even to pray. Ask God to show you what action to take to oppose heresy and to rescue the perishing! Search the Scriptures. Know the truth for yourself. Be convinced of it and live it. Then “[speak] the truth in love” (Eph:4:15) and resist the devil.
Watch out! Don’t be the proverbial dead cat.