Can you tell the difference between Christian Spiritual Warfare Strategies and Occultic operations of witches, warlock, and workers of iniquity? Have you ever been deceived into participating in evil works against someone out of judgement, dislike and / or offense at the person? Have you ever committed to a wrong approach or strategy in a group setting even though it went against your core beliefs? If you answered yes to any of these questions or are not sure keep reading… This is a conversation that has been needed for a while, but has not really been discussed as directly or openly in recent years.
In the United States of America we are approaching the one year anniversary (if you can call it that) of the January 6th Insurrection of the US Capitol building in Washington DC. This attempted coup from the former US president not only shook the nation, but it sent a strong signal around the world concerning the moral and ethical decline of the political system in the United States. It was something that had never been done to the level, scale and fierceness in our nation’s history. The amount of disrespect, violent threat, and pure insanity that took place leading up to and on that day is something that I hope this nation never experiences again. So what does this have to do with Spiritual Warfare vs. Occultism? Where is there a connection? Well, let’s first look at who participated in this “Insurrection” and “attempted coup”. It was people on various levels of political leadership – including the former president, and all other types of people. Wealthy people, who could afford to travel across the nation to attend the rallys and the storming of the US Capitol Building, militia groups that believed that they were “defending” the country from Joe Biden, from communist, from liberals, from whoever else they deemed a threat.And there were curious people who just wanted to show support for the former president…. This is actually the most dangerous group because they did not necessarily have premeditated plans to participate in an illegal breach of the US Capitol building and yet in the heat of the moment they joined in. With all of the fallout from the destructive activities on that day many people who participated, still maintain that they did nothing wrong and that they are in fact heroes for doing what they did. This article is not about the motivations and intentions behind the January 6th Insurrection, but it uses that event to show an extreme outcome when people become indoctrinated into occult agendas with the pretext being something that sounds good or just.
As Christians in Westernized modern churches, there is a lot of power, influence, and flexibility that is displayed and practiced as part of a social norm. When one of the world’s “superpowers” is a Christian nation the opportunity to show the world what “One nation under God” looks and operates like is tremendous. However in recent times can we really say that the reign and rule of God is really being expressed in our nation? The people who seem to portray themselves as doing God’s work seem the most combative, willfully ignorant, and stubbornly committed to strategies that do not work for all, only those in their group. This raises the questions: Are we really adhering to the principles of the Bible? Is love truly the motivating factor moving things behind the scenes? Is this the way that Jesus would actually handle things? Has Christianty become a political movement – making the same mistake as the children of Israel? Wanting a natural King/President to fight our battles instead of our Heavenly Father? Can people tell the difference between right and wrong anymore?
In the last ten to 15 years there has been a mass exodus of people leaving the Church (not necessarily Christianity) that very few have been willing to address. It may be that regardless of the increased focus on creating relationships and trying to get people to stay connected with study groups and service ministries that the love that attracted them is now waning. The truth is that many practices in local and international churches are not scriptural and end up wounding, discouraging, and even turning people off from even wanting to be a Christian. There is misplaced passion and enthusiam that would allow a person to in religious righteousness fiercely oppose abortion rights to the point of not being able to love or accept a woman who has made that choice at some point in her life into the body of Christ. Can a person who stands for such morally just causes love and accept a person who has fallen short or has differing views on those topics? It’s what Jesus would have done, so why is the Church having a hard time with this?…
Rejection and Shaming as a “Spiritual Warfare” tactic?
In every church congregation, local or international, there is going to be a time when a member falls short, backslides, or commits an abominable sin. In some cases, it may not be that the member is actively committing sin, but it was a part of their past that has come to light. How is the church supposed to respond? Should everyone gossip about the person, but act like they don’t know anything when they encounter the person? Should the sermon be about the sin that this person is accused of to show the congregation that this church will not tolerate that type of sinfulness and to put pressure on that person to come forward in repentance? Should the person who is now known by their sin (and not much else) be given a code name so that they can be reviled publicly without censorship? Should the atmosphere of that assembly become so hostile toward the person that has fallen that they see no other recourse but to leave— and in most cases never come back? Oftentimes using these ungodly tactics to “deal” with a church member’s sin (actual, perceived, or accused) is seemingly justified by the scripture 1 Corinthians 5:11-13 in which ends by encouraging the church at Corinth to “ Remove the wicked man from among yourselves.” This is the scripture that makes it seem like it is the “right thing to do” when dealing with a church member’s sin. What most people seem to miss is the context of this scripture. This scripture is talking about people who are unrepentant and flagrantly expressing their sinful lifestyle among other believers, possibly becoming a stumbling block for them. This person that needs to be removed has no intention of following God’s plan for holiness and consecration. It is possible that the person has already been confronted (in love) about their sin and they have no desire to change. At this point it makes no sense to keep fellowship with someone who has clearly shown that they are not in agreement. The point of that scripture is to
cut ties with an unrepentant sinner. While the scripture does say that, it also says that before taking such measures that the person in question should first be lovingly confronted privately by a church leader, giving that person an opportunity to acknowledge, explain, and repent for any transgression.
“If your brother sins, go and show him his fault in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother. But if he does not listen to you, take one or two more with you, so that by the mouth of two or three witnesses every fact may be confirmed. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector
This is an important step because depending on where that person is in there relationship with Christ they may not know that what they have done or are doing is sinful, they may know they are wrong but need support to change, or they may have already repented and had no idea that their past sin was publicly being held against them. It would also show that person that they are cared for beyond their performance as Christian in that fellowship. This approach seems like it is rarely done, although it is entirely scriptural. The same ministers who do not feel comfortable confronting someone about their “personal business” are often the same ones who will publicly “dog whistle” to shame, blame, and put pressure on a person without having to name them. Doing things like that is an occult practice. Occult in the most basic definition means hidden. It is not OK to not be willing to directly address a person about something that pertains to them, and yet publicly speak on that issue – covertly referring to that person specifically, all under the guise of warning, teaching, or any other virtuous cause. Matthew 18:15-18 says that only after the person has been privately confronted, then addressing them with a few witnesses, after that then publicly – again with the intent to lead the person to repentance and ultimately reconciliation. If that person publicly refuses to repent, only then are they supposed to be asked not to participate any more, until they are ready to repent. Even if things were to get to this point, there is nowhere mentioned at all that shaming, and mistreating that person out of judgement would be OK for church leadership or the other congregation members to do. More likely the congregation would be spurred on by their leaders to intercede for their lost member and to prepare a warm welcome for that person’s return.
Why would this be the model that the church is supposed to follow? It is because none of us, despite our best effort, is infallible. It is primary that the love of Christ is clearly shown and known by all involved. It is to defeat Satan’s attempt to cause one of God’s chosen to be led out of the Body of Christ and into his camp. All people have certain vices and temptations that cause them to fall, people also have varying tolerance of rejection and rebuke. Many of the people who get treated with shame and rejection at church not only leave that particular church, but may also end up leaving Christianity as well. In the book of Ephesians, the Apostle Paul advises that a father should not provoke his child to sin/wrath.
Ephesians 6:4 (NLT)
Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger by the way you treat them. Rather, bring them up with the discipline and instruction that comes from the Lord.
This is such an interesting statement because most of western culture highlights submission and respect to authority figures and leaders but neglect to teach leaders to care for and deal justly with their subordinates. This requires an amount of mercy that most of us are not used to see being expressed between father and son, or leader and subordinate.
Refusing to welcome in a “known” sinner into the fellowship as a spiritual warfare tactic?
There are people who are dangerous and there are people who are scared. There are people who are not easily read, and people who do not like uncertainty. There are people who are “wild cards” and people who play it safe. What usually happens is that a person who is cautious and sticks to what historically has worked in the past is promoted to a place of influence. Their reputation for consistency and keeping traditions attributes to that person wisdom and discernment, when actually they are only working at keeping things the same with little to no growth.This trusted leader now is threatened by anyone who makes waves, desires change, or is flowing with vibrancy and freshness. Instead of trying something new, the tradition is exalted and made an idol – daring anyone to defy it, Or the change is half-heartedly attempted, sabotaged, and caused to miserably fail, only to have everyone agree that the old way is better.
Anyone who is different, expresses desire to improve or change things, or has an untested approach is now a target, an enemy, someone not to be trusted in the leaderships’ eyes. Most people are not finding anything wrong with that person and are finding the new ideas refreshing. So now the “target / enemy” must be exposed as someone not to trust. This strategy keeps the current leadership looking flawless and infallible in their subordinates eyes, while doing irreparable damage to the target’s reputation, credibility, trustworthiness, and public acceptance. No one wants to listen to a sinner’s ideas about holiness, ministry, following Christ, etc.. How dare they… this sinner who did (whatever sin that is being held against them – actual, perceived, or accused) have the nerve to try to tell me how to follow Jesus…. etc. After this strategy is employed the previous strategy of rejection and shaming can ensue further ending the chance of that person’s ideas for change, growth, revival, etc. to ever see the light of day.
How does Jesus engage with “known” sinners? When Jesus encountered Zacheus, a tax collector who was reviled by his local community because of his cheating, stealing,and immoral financial dealings, He called out to him and asked to come to his house (Luke 19). Zacheus had over taxed the people to boost his income and build his own wealth at the expense of people who were already financially oppressed. The people had a good reason for not liking or trusting Zacheus, his bad character and unscrupulous dealings were known. Yet when Jesus saw him up in the tree, He called out to him to host Him at his home. Out of all of the people who were present, most of whom were not as poorly regarded as Zacheus, Jesus invited Himself to a known sinner’s house for dinner. Jesus did not go to Zacheus’ house with intent to spy and gather damning information about him to present to the people that already despised him. Jesus did not get to Zacheus house and start lecturing him on what he needed to change and why he wasn’t measuring up. Jesus did not seek to capitalize off of Zacheus’ wealth and indulge by taking all of the luxurious goods He and the disciples could carry. No, He went so that he could get to know Zacheus, and more importantly Zacheus could know Him. Jesus chose to intimately fellowship with someone that no one wanted associations with. As a result, Zacheus, under no pressure or obligation from Jesus, repented and changed his whole life. He gave away his expensive possessions, and gave money back to those he overcharged. He did this all in response to the love that Jesus showed him. It made the old way he was living not worth it anymore. The void that he attempted to fill with ill gotten possessions and wealth was now filled with the love of God.
When Jesus encountered a person who’s faith believed that a miracle could be achieved in a way that Jesus had not operated before, He was amazed! In Luke 7:1-9, an account of a Centurion who sought Jesus to heal his servant is told. Jesus and the disciples began to make the journey to the Centurion’s home, however they were stopped by the Centurion because he did not feel that his home was worthy for Jesus to enter. Instead, he asked Jesus to try something new and instead of going in person to heal the servant, but instead to simply speak a word concerning healing the servant and it would be done. Jesus did not challenge the man by asking him how he was sure it would work. He did not warn the Centurion that doing something different would be a great risk. Jesus did not even mention that going in person was the way that He usually healed people. Jesus’ response was amazement. He marveled at the man’s faith, trust, and respect in His ability to heal. The Centurion also revealed that his military training gave him insight to the way that the spiritual realm operates as well. Not only was Jesus blown away by this man’s idea, He not only liked it, He executed it immediately! In the Modern Church it could be a bit unrealistic to use this scripture as a comparison, however it still provides the model of how Jesus did not let tradition or comfort zones cause him to miss out on an opportunity to heal a person by doing something that He had not done before. Jesus was open to fresh, new, and slightly challenging ideas. He was not threatened by another person’s suggestion on how He conducted ministry. This story is a great example of true freedom in trying something new. There is absolutely no fear or anxiety expressed in this story at all, apart from the Centurion’ humility towards Jesus.
Humiliation and Embarrassment as a Spiritual Warfare tactic?
If it hasn’t happened to you so far you are blessed, but if you live long enough it will happen, there will be something that you did, experienced, or was a part of your life that will embarrass you. It could be a funny picture from your childhood or a story of an experience that would love to forget ever happened, etc. In many cases, regardless of the way it makes us feel, it’s pretty harmless, right? You know that whoever is bringing up those embarrassing moments is just playfully teasing, not intending to harm you right?…Or are they? What if someone who opposes you decided to silence you through humiliation and embarrassment? Regardless of the severity of the embarrassment, the effect is always the same. People draw back, do not want to be publically humiliated, become withdrawn, and in many cases feel attacked. Even if it is a playful gesture, the pressure of it all seems surreal in that moment. Depending on what it is, some people can laugh it off, make an explanation for it, or shrug it off, downplaying it like it is no big deal. Amongst family and friends, these are the types of responses that would be expected. However if the campaign to embarrass you comes from someone you formerly trusted, confided in, or has shown themselves to be an enemy, it is no laughing matter.
Why do people share embarrassing things about other people? It could just be immaturity and lack of discretion. It could be for shock value, to gain popularity by doing or sharing something that breaks the boundaries of all that is decent. It could be that the person sharing just thinks it is funny and wants others to be in on the joke (at your expense). Or the worst possible scenario, that person is desiring to destroy the reputation, credibility, access to opportunity, and any chance of success for that person,
In some families, friendships, and even cultures privacy is not a thing. Everybody knows everybody’s business and that is how they like it. The open and transparent policy may work for some, but will probably not work for most, even those who say they agree with it, It is not abnormal to have parts of your life that is not for public access, however with increased technology to spy, gather information, monitor, and track people without their consent or knowledge it is very difficult to maintain privacy nowadays. Socially the attitude towards privacy has shifted and people now feel that they have the right to know about the private life of leaders, entertainers, and basically anyone who does anything publicly. Smear campaigns used to be only reserved for high profile politicians and entertainment elite, now it could happen to anyone. On the flip side, what is equally disturbing is the people who will only show and acknowledge the positive attributes and qualities of the person they are loyal to. This has to be mentioned because this extreme may actually be more dangerous than smearing a person who is disliked. Ignoring the character flaws while only acknowledging positive traits of leadership is part of the failure that led to the Insurrection of January 6th.
Let’s be honest – humor, even the type that humiliates people, is something that most of us indulge in from time to time. There is communication of other ideas and relevant points that remind us of what we believe in, even as we laugh. There are whole comedy shows that consistently challenge the social and political justice issues of our time and I do not believe that these are inherently evil. However when the strategy is to “make an open show of’ someone to prove a point – Jesus is not in any of that. The Bible says that Jesus made an open show of Satan and his legions – not a human person. This “open show” took place in the spiritual realm and was expressed to us to be a testimony of the glory and power of Jesus Christ. It was not a scripture that gave permission for us to mistreat, abuse, or actively humiliate another human being – even one we don’t like or perceived as evil. Yes, Jesus did this to Satan, however He did not – despite all of the opportunities He had – ever do this to a fellow human being.
When the Pharisees brought a woman who was caught in the act of adultery to Jesus (John 8:1-11) – in a place publicly before a group where Jesus was teaching. They not only exposed her sinful act, they more than likely exposed her nakedness as well because she was “caught in the act”, and made a death threat over her life in an attempt to expose Jesus as not following the ten commandments. This group of men were spiritual and community leaders who set themselves before the people as examples of holiness and godliness. Yet when Jesus made His response: “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.” not one of those men had a rock or even a pebble to throw.
How did Jesus respond to the woman that the Pharisees used to humiliate, embarrass, accuse, and “make an open show” of? He gently addressed the woman and admonished her to essentially repent – to not sin anymore. Jesus’ response was so simple, so pure, and so full of love. Even this woman who was caught in a sinful covenant breaking sexual sin was not treated harshly by Jesus. He not only cared for her, He cared for her soul and offered her the opportunity to repent and reclaim her right standing with God. The Pharisees attempted to make her sin and the law the issue, however if sin was truly the focus of this scripture wouldn’t the writer have given us a follow up on whether or not the lady stopped sinning? The focus of the passage is the Christ-like way to respond to those who have fallen and to acknowledge that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. If you think about it, even Jesus’ response to the Pharisees was loving. He didn’t drag all of their skeletons out of their closets and publicly humiliate them, the way that they desired to harm that woman. He could have cut each one down to size and been completely justified to do so, but He chose love and to have each Pharisee measure their own godliness by the same standard that they placed on the adultress.
Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever, and the examples He gave to us are what we should follow. It is easy to get caught up in Groupthink, or following secular approaches, however, the Proverbs 14:12 says that there is a path that seems right but ends in destruction (death). I don;t know about you, but I pray to God in Jesus name that I do not find myself in hell after following a path labeled righteousness. Yes, we are supposed to hate what God hates, and love what God loves, however that is not with exclusivity to a certain group or ideology, This means that even when we believe that we are hating what God hates, we may find opposing arguments that believe the same – they are hating what God hates. We can not use that argument to mistreat, abuse, hate, or hold the opposers in contempt. We are to follow Jesus’ example and if there is no specific scenario in the Bible that addresses what we are facing, we seek the Lord for direction, not assuming that what was historically done in the past is the correct recourse. For every situation Jesus is always going to choose love, acceptance (of people to give the opportunity to repent), and reconciliation. This is the reason that He gave His life, to bring us all into right standing with God hoping that none should perish (2 Peter 3:9).
Thank you for reading to this point. If you still have doubts about being led into occultism – ungodly hidden agendas, when you are actually seeking righteousness and holiness, take some time to study what Jesus is like from the accounts of His works in the New Testament. There are other resources that teach about Jesus and Christian principles as well, however keep the Bible as your foundational reference and allow the Holy Spirit to reveal to you the heart of Father God and the ways of Jesus Christ.
P.S.- A former sinner who repented and was saved by Jesus’ grace wrote this.
Blessings with Love,
The Holy Bible