“You will be ever hearing but never understanding;
you will be ever seeing but never perceiving’.
For this people’s heart has become calloused;
they hardly hear with their ears,
and they have closed their eyes.
Otherwise, they might see with their eyes,
hear with their ears,
understand with their hearts
and turn, and I would heal them.”
Isaiah 6:9; Matthew 13:15
Over the last week from April 3rd through the 9th, SAGC held our first monthly prayer event with a prayer conference call taking place on the last day. To learn more, go here.
As the Title suggests, the topic was about exposing lies that the powers and principalities hold the world and the church in bondage to, and about seeing spiritual warfare in the reading of scripture. In the narrative that began the event, Jessica wrote:
For too long, our enemy Satan has rendered God’s people not only ineffective at spiritual warfare, but completely unaware of it! Satan has accomplished this by “deceiving the whole world” (Rev. 12:9)… including the church. Christians often promote theology which is not from God but from Satan. Throughout the week, we can unpack and pray against some of these false teachings that cause believers to ignore our purposes and misrepresent God to the world.
Following is a list of Satanic lies/misconceptions discerned throughout the week of prayer:
* One of Satan’s greatest lies is that he doesn’t exist. A similar lie among Christians is that he does exist, but that Satan’s actions (corrupting creation and afflicting suffering) are actually God’s actions. Some theology teaches that evil is allowed by God as part of his will to bring about the greater good. For those who would like to go deeper into this subject, see this post about the problem of evil and God’s sovereignty.
* The Platonist views that the spiritual realm is completely separate from this physical Earth and that the animals have no souls, are not based on the truth of scripture. Plato greatly influenced Augustine, who then influenced John Calvin, who still influences the church today.
* The Calvinist teachings of eternal decree and predestination both lead to a view of an unloving God; our love for the rest of creation will never surpass our view of God’s love. Both also remove some degree of personal responsibility by contributing to a fatalistic view of the world.
* Also contributing to fatalism is the ‘end times’ teaching which states that there will be a rapture and then the world will be destroyed. This view leads many evangelicals to wonder what the point is of taking care of this world. The truth is that God will restore this Earth, and invites us to participate in that! Evangelicalism has become so hyper-focused on believing the right things and then awaiting heaven, that we miss a large part of our calling for the present time.
* Several deceptions contribute to the misguided hearts and intents of many Christians. Instead of genuinely knowing God’s love which compels us to extend that love to all others (including animals), some are concerned with doing or believing the bare minimum to attain salvation. The former is a natural result of real relationship with God, while the latter is an erroneous result of religion. When we truly grasp what God did on the cross, that He has already rescued us from the evil powers and already offered reconciliation to all, we begin to overflow with that incomprehensible love. It shifts our focus from legalism to love, from “What am I allowed within the constraints of salvation?” to “How can I love God and love others?” Matthew 22:36-40
* People fall for the deception that their sins are minimal compared to others. This is related to an unloving view of God, which puts people in judge mode instead of love mode! (Matthew 7:3-5) Additionally, Christians emphasize certain sins while overlooking others, such as apathy, greed, and gluttony. These insidious sins are all factors in supporting animal cruelty.
* The temptation is to say, “Oh well, the flesh is weak, I’m just going to keep sinning.” The truth is that yes, the flesh is weak, but the Spirit is strong! Scripture tells us that we have everything we need to live a Godly life, and then gives us a formula in which to do so – see 2 Peter 1:3-15.
* The conservative resistance to novelty in hermeneutics of scripture reflects an unorthodox if not idolatrous presumption that one’s group is already in possession of all truth and is thus no longer in need of the Spirit to reform them. No denomination has the corner on truth. Losing sight of this humility makes us susceptible to the enemy’s corruption.
* Churches have been convinced that animals are here for us and our comforts, rather than to glorify God. It’s as if the devil has asked, “Did God really say that plants would be food for you and the animals?” (Genesis 1:29)
* Another Satanic strategy is to say that animal suffering doesn’t matter because there is human suffering, while concealing the link between the two and minimizing God’s love for His whole creation.
* Convincing us to become depressed and despondent because of the amount of evil is another way Satan wears us down. Scripture is clear in 2 Timothy 3:1-15 that “[t]here will be terrible times in the last days.” We are to remember that according to John 16:33: “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
* Sometimes Satan whispers, “There is no way you can do this; it is way too big; just leave it for God to handle.” In other words, if we can’t do it all, we shouldn’t do anything. We should rebuke this lie of perfectionism. Even Jesus did not do everything. He could only heal so many people and speak so much truth in one day. He did what He could, and did it very well.
* The powers and principalities would convince us that God is a god of violence when in fact he is a God of Peace. He judges people by removing himself – though it breaks his heart to do so – which allows the consequences of evil to have its way. Evil is Satanic in origin and should not be attributed to God (Psalm 92:15; 1 John 1:5). We should strive to be like our loving Heavenly Father who is the source of life, not the father of lies who kills, steals, and destroys (John 8:44; John 10:10).
* The final supreme authoritative view of the Father is found in Christ. Getting our picture of God straight is imperative. Without this grounding framework, without reading the scripture narrative through the lens of Christ, we risk not understanding what God’s purposes are and thus the church’s mission is in danger of being thwarted. For more about what is going on with regard to portraits of God that we see especially throughout the Old Testament scripture narrative that conflict with the view of the Father we see in Christ, go here.
* Finally, the Lord’s Prayer is often prayed as a means of submitting to God and accepting all that happens to us, good and bad, as the will of God. Praying for “his will to be done on earth as it is in heaven” is said in a sense as though the entire will of God being done upon the earth is up to God. The prayer is actually a spiritual warfare prayer, whereby we acknowledge that yes, the Father is the Hallowed One; however the rest of the prayer, ie: “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven, give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us, and lead us not into temptation but deliver us from the evil one” is actually a call for God to equip us to do those very things, as an act of war.
Stay tuned for Part Two of “Prayer As Spiritual Warfare” and thank you for reading and following our blog; we pray you are blessed by it and will share it widely with others! ~Jessica and Kathy