Thursday, January 22, 2009
How the Lord Led Me into Spritual Warfare
For many Christians, spiritual warfare is an offbeat or even "weird" subject. Some believers do not even accept the idea that Satan, or his demons, exist, or that they possess any power to attack and afflict us in this age. For a long time, I maintained that very mind-set, oblivious to the reality of an active Satan and scorning those who posed the whole spiritual warfare scenario. Then one day my oldest son experienced his own personal and harrowing battle with the enemy. What happened annihilated any misgivings I had about such warfare, as my whole family was suddenly plunged into a heart-wringing and soul-disturbing situation that nearly took my son away. I asked, "How could this be happening to my son, my family? Didn't God keep Satan away from us? Didn't He prevent Satan from influencing or touching His children?" What followed was a battle unlike anything I'd ever imagined in nonfiction or even fiction. I rejoice about that today, because that incident open up whole vista of hope and healing to those engaging the enemy and not knowing it. Now I can help people deeply entrenched in the enemy's lies and trickery. Until my son's problem, I was often forced into the old cliches people use when Christians with problems came to me and I couldn't seem to help them resolve them. Old standards like "You don't have enough faith," or "Just read your Bible daily and you will get beyond this." I have learned that such responses are often the very lies Satan himself wants to foist on us. Don't get me wrong. I believe God is all-powerful, loving, and intimately involved in our lives. The enemy has no power that can stymie Him, or even derail His plans. That does not mean, though, that God's world is not a battle-ground, or that Satan cannot influence and even attack believers. During my son's time of crisis, a gracious friend patiently showed me step-by-step what this biblical battle involves and how to win it. Ultimately, my son gained true freedom in Christ. And I discovered in no uncertain terms that our common enemy "walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devious" (I Peter 5:8). That lion stalks all of us at different times and in different ways. But his goal remains the same: to devour us. For seventeen years I served as senior pastor of three churches. During this time I gave little attention to spiritual warfare because I thought only "crazy, radical kooks" were involved in it. This changed after my son came to freedom and I began to witness the real destruction and havoc Satan wreaks in the lives of Christians and others. As news of our family's struggle got out through the grapevine, my phone rang constantly, not because people were critical of me or my son; but people with desperate needs wanted help and believed my experience might offer them the insight they needed. As those beleaguered folks told me their stories, I began to research and understand the field of spiritual warfare and saw it not only as a personal struggle that a few Christians experience because of dabbling in the occult or other practices, but as a worldwide battle Satan wages for every heart and mind. I realized this was not unusual or abnormal, but rather the very thing all of us must deal with daily. Please understand from the start that spiritual warfare is not about attacking the devil. No swordsman, no matter how skilled, would consider going up against a dragon with billions of demons at his right and left. Christ is the One who has attacked, stopped, and broken Satan. It's not even up to us to knock him down a peg or two for divine spite. No, what warfare is about, in essence, is exposing the lies Satan used in lives through showing people God's truth. Satan's primary weapons are lies and deception-twisting, negating, and turing around the truth of God in any way he can to gain an advantage. My job is to help expose these schemes in a counselee's life. As Satan's lies are etched clearly against the prism of truth, they're exposed, and freedom and healing result. A whole new sense of hope and expectation grasps their hearts and personalities. Where there was struggle, despair, and (in some cases) a desire to end it all, a new exuberance appears and Jesus becomes a central figure in everything they do. That is my goal for everyone I counsel. My purpose is to expose the thinking and falsehoods of the enemy, break their power over a persons's life, and thus set him or her free. If you find yourself in a struggle to read the Scriptures or pray, resist sin, forgive an offense, or change an attitude, I guarantee you are involved in spiritual warfare. If God's love and power in your life seem distant and you struggle to draw closer to the heavenly Father, a spiritual battle is underway. It's those ensnared in such circumstances whom I want to help. Believe me, I know whats it's like to live in terror of tomorrow. My son's experience all most destroyed our whole family. But through Christ all things are possible. He preserved me, and He will do the same for you-if you seek Him and depend on Him for truth, hope, and power. Dr. Ken Copley is available for counseling, conferences, and local church meetings.