Spiritual Warfare versus Torment
A lot of Christians get demonic vexation (oppression, harassment, torment and troubling by evil spirits) and spiritual warfare confused. Many of God’s children live their lives being troubled by evil spirits simply because they think it’s normal and consider it spiritual warfare. I have news for you, I see people break free from what most people live their lives battling with, because they recognized the vital difference and sought the help they needed to break free! Notice that Jesus went about healing (setting free and making whole) ALL who oppressed of the devil (Acts 10:38)? That tells us clearly that it is not ‘normal’ to be tormented, oppressed or harassed by evil spirits!
What spiritual warfare involves
Spiritual warfare involves three key elements:
1) Temptation: It is normal for a believer to be tempted to sin. James 4 tells us how to deal with temptation, and it’s by resisting the devil and drawing near to God. As you do that, the power of temptation will seize. For more information on breaking the power of sin in your life, see the teaching Forgiven Sinner or Saint?
If you do as James 4 tells us, feeding yourself spiritually by setting aside a steady devotional time each day with God, and do your best to resist the temptations, but you just cannot overcome it, then I suspect demonic bondage. It is not uncommon for people to be held in bondage to things such as uncontrollable anger, or addictions such as pornography as a result of demonic influence.
2) Accusations: This is where the enemy tries to continually badger us with our past, or even things that aren’t even true. The enemy tries to drive us into the ground spiritually via means of guilt and shame. If you’ve confessed your sin(s), then they have been washed away by the blood of Christ, and there’s no need to look back. As a matter of fact, we are told NOT to look back! Philippines 3:13, “This one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before.” Satan is know as the accuser of the brethren (Revelations 12:10), and is known for trying to drag a person through their past to pull them down. If you struggle with guilt from past sins, then I recommend the teachings Dealing with Guilt and Condemnation vs. Conviction.
If you follow the steps laid out in the teaching Dealing with Guilt, and nothing you do seems to solve the problem, there’s likely one or more strongholds that need to come down, and it’s possible that unclean spirits are causing the shame and guilt and need to be cast out.
3) Deception: The enemy is always trying to get us to believe his lies. What’s the first thing he did with Eve? He tried to deceive her into thinking that God lied and she would not surely die if she ate of the tree. I see the enemy deceiving many people today into believing they are merely forgiven sinners, and not the heavenly saints that they really are. I see the enemy trying to deceive people into believing there is no hope for them, or that God is angry with them (even after they turned from their sin and repented of it). It is not uncommon for a person to have a hard time accepting the fact that they are forgiven, because the enemy has been constantly telling them that they messed up too much to be forgiven.
You can learn more about these elements, as well as Biblical methods for overcoming each one in the teaching Spiritual Warfare.
The difference between torment and warfare
Warfare: Physical warfare involves sending fiery darts (or bullets) towards your opponent, and they send fiery darts (bullets) back your way. The same is true with spiritual warfare; the devil throws fiery darts your way in the form of temptations, accusations and deception, and you fire fiery darts his way by tearing down his strongholds. Your enemy cannot gain access to you when you are properly guarding yourself and letting his fiery darts hit you.
Torment: In war, there are prisoners of war (POW), those held captive by the enemy for purposes of torment, torture, and sometimes even death. The enemy has gained the power or ability to torture the victims. The same happens in the spiritual battleground, people fall for temptation, sin, and then fall into the enemy’s hands. Paul tells us not to give place to the devil in Ephesians 4:27, and in 2 Corinthians 2:10-11, we are told not to hold unforgiveness in our hearts, “Lest Satan should get an advantage of us (gain a ‘right’ to harass or use us): for we are not ignorant of his devices.”
Those fighting the war can expect to be thrown temptations, deceptions and accusations, but if they find themselves being tortured by the enemy as a POW, then it’s time to step back and figure out what is going out and seek help to break free.
How spiritual warfare can bring a person into bondage
If spiritual warfare is not properly fought (we take the bait), it can be a tool the enemy uses to bring us into bondage or give him grounds in our lives.
Temptations lure us into opening a door for the enemy. If we take the bait and sin, a door is open for the enemy to gain access into our lives.
Accusations can open the door to the demonic if we let it, because it’s goal is to pull a person down spiritually and cause them to hold their past against them self, which is unforgiveness and as many of us know, unforgiveness is a full blown ‘legal right’ to the demonic.
Deception is where the enemy can try to torment us through our thought lives, and cause us to believe things that are not true. If you believe you don’t have enough gas in your car to make it off the freeway, suddenly you begin to seriously worry, even if the gas tank is full you will worry because of what your believing or thinking. You believe the tank is empty when it’s really full. The enemy often tries to deceive people into believing that God doesn’t love them, when in reality, God’s love for them is so rich that He sent His son Jesus to die for us! You can’t demonstrate your love for somebody in a much stronger and real way than laying down your life for them. As Jesus said, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13)
The truth is, deception only torments a person to the degree that they allow it to when they listen to what the enemy has been feeding them.
A brief look at strongholds
A stronghold is an incorrect thinking pattern and is formed when a person pays attention and listens to the deception the devil feeds them. Demons thrive on strongholds and love to use them to play havoc on our minds. An example of a stronghold is when a person sees God as a cruel distant taskmaster, rather than the loving Father that He really is. Out of that faulty thinking pattern, many fears are given birth to, such as fear of being hopeless, fear of God being mad or angry with you, etc. Another common stronghold is when a person sees themselves incorrectly; even though they have been bought with a price and washed in the Blood of the Lamb, they still see themselves as dirty old sinners saved by grace, and therefore don’t have a close relationship with their heavenly Father, because they feel unworthy to be in His presence. The result? A poor relationship with their heavenly father, feelings of guilt, worthlessness, shame, and the list goes on. In other words, they live ‘defeated’ lives because they see themselves wrongly. Demons are not afraid to use strongholds to their advantage and cause much torment through them. You can learn more about all this in the teaching on Strongholds.
Spiritual warfare is real and can cause some torment through deception if a person takes the bait and listens to what the enemy has been telling them, but it by no means explains all the things that many people write off as simply spiritual warfare. I see people quite often claiming that they are in spiritual warfare, when their bondage far exceeds the torment that spiritual warfare could ever bring them! Even the torment that spiritual warfare can bring a person through deception is very uncalled for, and we are supposed to overcome it, not struggle with it.
We are to wrestle against temptations, accusations and deception, but NOT torment, vexation, and trouble from evil spirits. I believe it is also important to mention that often strongholds (deception that took hold) and demonic bondage often works hand in hand, and it is not uncommon to minister to people who need to tear down strongholds and have demons driven out. If you seem to face an immovable mountain even after tearing down strongholds and guarding yourself against the 3 elements of spiritual warfare, then it’s time to seek a deliverance.
Torment from evil spirits is not called for, it is not supposed to be lived with (tolerated), and there are Biblical ways to be completely set free from it. Notice that throughout Jesus’ ministry here on earth, He went about setting free ALL who were oppressed (harassed, vexed, tormented, troubled, etc.) by evil spirits! (Acts 10:38)
The Power of Your Thoughts
(Where many strongholds begin)
What’s on Your Mind?
(Where the battle is fought)
Condemnation vs. Conviction
(Feeling like a failure? Guilty?)
Forgiven Sinner or Saint?
(How the power of sin is broken)