by David Roadcup
(Dr Roadcup shared a similar post earlier on Renew.org.)
One of the most powerful points in my personal learning curve with Promise Keepers was experiencing first-hand, up close and personally, the reality of spiritual warfare. I had experienced the work of Satan before but never with such intensity and ferocity.
Let’s get clarity about our enemy. He is powerful but not omnipotent. He can go nearly anywhere but is not omnipresent. He is smart but not omniscient. We know he is invisible. His domain is the earth. He is organized. He is cunning. He is focused. He wants to steal our faith in Jesus, kill our families and ministries and destroy every good and decent thing we know. He is a dirty street fighter who will use any possible cheap shot to take us down. Scripture is clear about who he is and what he does. Please do not allow him to lull you into ignoring his work in your life and ministry. Be aware always of his presence and practices.
I had a series of sermons I had written and delivered some months before P.K. began. After our third men’s event, I felt like going back to my office, shredding those sermons and starting all over again! My experience was an excellent training opportunity in understanding how Satan works and how he uses his scheming methods against each of us.
SATAN’S EXTERNAL ATTACKS
P.K. was attacked repeatedly from the outside. At our large events, we would have people from opposing views come and protest. The protests were normally peaceful. The gay movement and NOW (National Organization of Women) were present at many of our events, handing out flyers and taunting men coming into the stadiums. The only time there was ever a ruckus, and a small one at that, was at our Stand In The Gap event in Washington, D.C. in 1997. NOW women partially disrobed and did a small amount of damage to property in the immediate area of the Capitol building. The external attacks could have been a lot worse.
SATAN’S INTERNAL ATTACKS
After 53 years of ministry and 25 years of church consulting, I know one thing for sure: when Satan wants to attack hard, he goes after relationships. It is his most effective form of warfare. Separating people, damaging long-standing relationships between Christ followers, fostering betrayal and disloyalty are his specialty. I see it all the time. Ministers oppose elders or the preacher and a couple of elders come against the youth minister and a couple of elders, etc. The Accuser cultivates misbehavior and mistrust until an all-out battle between believers erupts. And when this battle is raging and Christian believers are shouting at one another and accusing one another, do you know what he does? Satan stands back and just laughs! He makes fun of those in the fray. He dances a jig! He laughs and says to himself, “I have been using selfishness, the hunger for power, disunity and broken relationships for literally millennia to destroy the Church and they have never caught on! They just don’t get it.”
I am sorry to say that our P.K. team was not immune to such attacks. We all had feet of clay. Many Boards of Directors are made up of what I would call a “room full of stallions;” men (and women) who are leaders and have egos. They are movers and shakers and are accustomed to getting their way. Understand that there was an overpowering sense of loving each other and serving each other as members of the P.K. Board. This was true. But at times, power was an issue. Personal desires sometimes seemed to come to the surface and generate a real source of dissonance. Several of our board members were preachers. We had staff who were former preachers. The possibility of standing before 50- to 60,000 men to preach is heady wine. The need for prominence and to be upfront at an event could come into play. We normally navigated most of these potential struggles with a good deal of success. At times, the stress was very intense as we prayed and worked through things like this together.
And how have we seen this very same relational attack in our own circles this year? Masks, candidates, policies, closings, openings – all have been used by the enemy to do his dirty work among us. People have quit church families, friendships and more over such pettiness as the relational tension ratchets ever higher, conflict directly fueled by Satan and his minions. Are our bonds of love and commitment as brothers and sisters in Jesus stronger than these attacks of Satan?
Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you… (Col. 3:12-13)
Paul’s comments paint a picture quite different than much of our experience this year, don’t they?
Scripture is clear about how we protect ourselves in the heat of spiritual warfare. From my P.K. experience, here is what I learned:
- Don’t ignore the fact of spiritual warfare or underestimate the power of Satan to act and move.
- Satan is absolutely ruthless and he hates the Church and those who lead it. He will stop at nothing to do his work of destruction.
- The Word of God is one of the main weapons at our disposal to defeat Satan.
- Prayer is the power source for attacking and damaging the kingdom of darkness. It is the key element in finding and winning the Lord’s victory.
- Fasting with prayer is a mighty weapon. I have seen it turn the tide in tumultuous spiritual battles.
- Our personal obedience, uprightness and holiness protect us when we are in the battle; “the prayer of a righteous person can accomplish much” (James 5:16).
- Remembering my identity as a son or daughter of the King is a critical acknowledgment. Knowing my identity as a warrior undergirds me as I do battle.
- Total and complete dependence on the presence and power of the Holy Spirit in my life, my family and the ministry is key.
- Studying and internalizing the sections of Scripture that explain Satan and his methods equips me to defeat him. Paul tells us that we must know our enemy and the elements of his activity.
- Specifically, knowing the pieces of the armor of God from Eph. 6:10-20 will equip me for every battle. I must remember to put on every piece, daily, to be protected in every area. “Put on the full armor of God.”
One last thought about spiritual warfare: as a leader, if you sense no spiritual warfare or battle in your ministry, take note of that fact. There are two possibilities: 1) you are in a period of peace and protection and if so, enjoy these times; however, 2) it may be that our church poses no threat to the kingdom of darkness and if so, something must change.
Finally, remember that there is good news in the midst of spiritual warfare – our King has already won! We are protected daily from the evil one (1 John 4:4.) Until our Lord comes back, we must be at our posts, watchful and fighting the good fight.