A quick Primer On Spiritual Warfare Copyright John Edmiston 2003 but may be copied & distributed for non-profit use


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The Early Ministry

The early ministry of Christ is an outworking and authentication of His baptismal experience. I will deal with the temptations separately next month but here in His early ministry he comes primarily as the anointed one with the power to resist evil and to bring in the Kingdom of God in power.

(Matthew 4:13-25 NKJV) And leaving Nazareth, He came and dwelt in Capernaum, which is by the sea, in the regions of Zebulun and Naphtali, {14} that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet, saying: {15} "The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, By the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles: {16} The people who sat in darkness have seen a great light, And upon those who sat in the region and shadow of death Light has dawned." {17} From that time Jesus began to preach and to say, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." {18} And Jesus, walking by the Sea of Galilee, saw two brothers, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen. {19} Then He said to them, "Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men." {20} They immediately left their nets and followed Him. {21} Going on from there, He saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets. He called them, {22} and immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed Him. {23} And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease among the people. {24} Then His fame went throughout all Syria; and they brought to Him all sick people who were afflicted with various diseases and torments, and those who were demon-possessed, epileptics, and paralytics; and He healed them. {25} Great multitudes followed Him; from Galilee, and from Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judea, and beyond the Jordan.

The anointing received at his baptism leads Him into a widespread ministry of proclamation. Matt 4:23a "And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom,". From Galilee in north of Israel the word went out and many people were attracted to the "great light" (Matt 4:16). His fame caused people to travel hundreds of miles to see Him, people came from Syria in the north, Jerusalem in the south and from beyond the Jordan to the west. People came from the Greek speaking Decapolis and the Hebrew speaking Judea. Like moths to a flame multitudes were drawn to the ministry of Jesus. The anointing has "drawing power".

Secondly the baptism of the Spirit produces a public and obvious concern with holiness. Not that Jesus was unconcerned with holiness before! But now it is out in the open - His message is "Repent for the Kingdom of God is at hand..". This holiness is also reflected in a calling of others into ministry to lead lives separated from worldly concerns in the pursuit of the Kingdom. Simon and Andrew are called by Jesus not to be "nice people" but to be "fishers of men", to be apostles of a new Kingdom not just improved worldlings. The baptism in the Spirit imparts that eternal perspective that makes the Kingdom the only thing that really matters.

Thirdly the anointing has power to heal - after His baptism He healed "all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease..." . Before His baptism not a single healing is recorded. After it He puts the physicians out of business. All who came to Him were healed not by His diagnostic ability or His knowledge of herbs but by the power that flowed from Him that He received when the Spirit came upon Him. If we desire to heal others in body or in soul we will end up struggling to heal a handful by our own strength but we may heal thousands if God so chooses to impart His Spirit of healing in power upon us.

The final authentication of His baptism in the Spirit is the possession of extraordinary spiritual authority over the powers of darkness. This was, of course latent in Jesus from the beginning but it became obvious to all when His public ministry began and He moved in the continual power of the anointing of God. After Pentecost the apostles moved in this same power to heal the sick and to exorcise demons. These abilities are "graces" - no ordinary mortal by their own knowledge can heal the sick with a word or cast out a demon by their own authority. And they certainly cannot do it on the scale that Jesus or the apostles did it. And on Jesus authority we can know that we who believe can "do these works" and "even greater works" not because we are special but because Christ has gone to the Father. Because of this the Holy Spirit - who is God and who can do these things, has been poured out upon us. Jesus early ministry clearly shows that our effectiveness is not of ourselves but lies entirely in the power of God.

The "baptism in the Holy Spirit" as experienced by Jesus resulted in :
(1)The proclamation of the gospel of the Kingdom.
(2) An attractiveness to others that draws people widely to hear God's message, this is not natural attractiveness (of which Jesus apparently had very little) but a supernatural blessedness that draws people in like moths to a flame.
(3) A concern with holiness that calls others to lead a repentant and separated lifestyle.
(4) Healing of the sick that is way beyond normal expectations in its scope. This wide scope is both in the numbers healed and in the great range of maladies that are cured -including "incurable" conditions such as epilepsy and paralysis. (Matt 4:24)
(5) Authority over the powers of darkness.

These five things are among the works of Jesus that we can replicate and even exceed (John 14:12) though few have done so or gone anywhere near it. They are the marks of an authentic baptism of the Spirit. They are the fruit produced by an empowered and prepared believer baptized in the Holy Spirit.
Spiritual Authority
Matthew 10:1 And when He had called His twelve disciples to Him, He gave them power over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease.
(Luke 9:1 NKJV) Then He called His twelve disciples together and gave them power and authority over all demons, and to cure diseases.

(Matthew 28:18-20 NKJV) And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. {19} "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, {20} "teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." Amen.

(Ephesians 1:20-21 NKJV) which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, {21} far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come.
(Ephesians 2:6 NKJV) and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,
All spiritual authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Jesus Christ. (John 17:2, Matthew 28:18-20, 1 Peter 3:22) He in turn gives it to whosoever He wishes – such as the Twelve or the seventy-two. (Luke 9:1, 10:19)
Notice the word given – spiritual authority is God’s decision, He gives it to whosoever He chooses.
All believers have general authority over demons because they are seated in heavenly realms with Christ. However it is quite obvious that most believers are unable to exercise authority over sickness, death or the weather. This sort of authority is given as the Holy Spirit wills, to those who have the gifts or healing or of miracles.
Authority over major principalities and powers such as Communism is generally exercised by the Church as a whole, or the united churches in a particular city. Ed Silvoso has written on this in his book “That None Should Perish”.
How then can believers gain authority to bind and to loose, to heal, to deliver, to combat territorial spirits and to overcome the powers and principalities in the heavenly realms?

Firstly we must “ask, seek and knock” (Matthew 7:7). We must call on God to grant us the authority we require to accomplish the work that He has called us to do. God calls us to good works, and each of these good works requires some sort of spiritual authority. Even being a parent requires spiritual authority in the home.

Being a pastor or a missionary requires spiritual authority in the place of service and over the powers in that area. Counselling requires authority over indwelling demons and spiritual afflictions to speak the Word with power into a human life. The ministry of healing requires authority over sickness and death.
So we must work out what authority God wants us to have to do His work and carry out His Great Commission. Then we must “ask, seek, and knock” in prayer until we get such authority. This often requires real desperation and pleading with God. We often have to be at the point where we are crying out “Lord, I cannot do this unless you grant me power” before the power and authority is granted. The Lord Gives “authority to His servants and to each his work” (Mark 13:34, Luke 9:1, 10:19))
There are also many verses in the NT about how believers can gain and use their spiritual authority and as we obey these and follow these principles we will grow in authority, power and spiritual effectiveness:

  • Praying in unity. (Matthew 18:19,20)

  • Using the Scriptures –as Jesus did against Satan. (Matthew 4:1-11)

  • Standing on the promises of God. (2 Peter 1:2,3)

  • Praying for things that are clearly God’s revealed will. (1 John 5:14,15)

  • Persistent prayer. (Luke 18)

  • Prayer and fasting. (Matthew 17:21, Mark 9:29)

  • Discernment (Romans 16:19,20)

  • Innocence / purity of heart (Romans 16:19,20)

  • Being born-again (1John 5:4)

  • Right doctrine (1 John 5:5)

  • Faith (1 John 5:4, Mark 11:23,24)

  • Fearlessness & boldness (Rev 12:11, Acts 4:29-33)

  • Testifying to Jesus (Revelation 12:11)

  • The blood of Jesus (Revelation 12:11)

  • The name of Jesus. (Mark 16:15-18, Luke 10:17, John 14:13,14)

  • Understanding the indwelling Christ ( 1 John 4:4)

  • Putting on the armor of God. (Ephesians 6:10-18, 2 Corinthians 6:7)

  • Understanding Satan’s schemes. (2 Cor 10:3-5)

  • Using our spiritual weapons (2 Cor 10 :3-5)

  • Good works (Romans 12:21)

  • Standing in the peace that Christ has given us. (John 16:33)

  • Binding the strong man. (Luke 11:17-26, Matthew 18:19,20)

  • The word of command (Matthew 8:16, 21:21, Acts 3:6)

  • Anointing with oil (Mark 6:13, James 5:14)

  • Knowing our identity in Christ. (All of Ephesians)

  • Understanding the nature of faith and authority. (Matthew 8:5-13)

  • Faith for miracles – particularly believing that nothing is impossible with God. (Matthew 17:20, 21:21)

  • Destroying the things of darkness. (Acts 19:19)

  • Repentance and confession (Acts 19:18, James 5:16, Acts 3:19)
  • Forgiving sins in Jesus name (Matthew 9:1-8, John 20:23)

  • Resisting the Devil, being vigilant and taking a stand against him. (James 4:7, 1 Peter 5:8,9)

  • Humble service increases our authority (Matthew 20:25-28, Mark 10:42-45, 1 Peter 5:7)

  • Sharing the trials of Jesus means we will reign with Him (Luke 22:28-30, Romans 8:17,18, Philippians 1:29, 3:10.11, 2 Tim 2:11,12)

  • Faithful service to God. (Luke 19:17)

  • NOT through our own power or godliness (Acts 3:12)

  • A special apostolic or prophetic call from God. (Acts 26:15-18, 2 Corinthians 10:8, Revelation 11:4-6)

  • By abiding in the cross and in redemption. (1 Corinthians 1:18-31, Colossians 2:13-15)

  • Accepting the grace of God in the midst of our weaknesses. (2 Corinthians 12:9,10)

  • The strengthening of the Holy Spirit in the inner man. (Ephesians 3:14-21)

  • Depth of Christian character. (2 Peter 1:3-8, 2 Timothy 2:20-26)

  • Persistent long-term obedience, doing the works of Jesus. (Revelation 2:26,27)

  • The baptism of the Holy Spirit. (Luke 3:16, Acts 1:5-8)

To sum up, you must be born-again and baptized with the Spirit and seek authority to be granted you by God so you can carry out your ministry. You should travail in faith-filled prayer and live by the principles of those who God trusts with authority – those who are faithful, humble and obedient and who call upon Him.

The Keys Of The Kingdom

(Matthew 16:17-19 NKJV) Jesus answered and said to him, "Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. {18} "And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. {19} "And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven."

(Matthew 18:18-19 NKJV) "Assuredly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. {19} "Again I say to you that if two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in heaven.
(Luke 11:52 NKJV) "Woe to you lawyers! For you have taken away the key of knowledge. You did not enter in yourselves, and those who were entering in you hindered."
(Luke 13:12 NKJV) But when Jesus saw her, He called her to Him and said to her, "Woman, you are loosed from your infirmity."
(John 11:44 NKJV) And he who had died came out bound hand and foot with graveclothes, and his face was wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, "Loose him, and let him go."
(Acts 2:23-24 NKJV) "Him, being delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God, you have taken by lawless hands, have crucified, and put to death; {24} "whom God raised up, having loosed the pains of death, because it was not possible that He should be held by it.
(Revelation 1:18 NKJV) "I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen. And I have the keys of Hades and of Death.

(Revelation 3:7-8 NKJV) "And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write, 'These things says He who is holy, He who is true, "He who has the key of David, He who opens and no one shuts, and shuts and no one opens": {8} "I know your works. See, I have set before you an open door, and no one can shut it; for you have a little strength, have kept My word, and have not denied My name.

(Revelation 9:1-2 NKJV) Then the fifth angel sounded: And I saw a star fallen from heaven to the earth. To him was given the key to the bottomless pit. {2} And he opened the bottomless pit, and smoke arose out of the pit like the smoke of a great furnace. So the sun and the air were darkened because of the smoke of the pit.
(Revelation 20:1-3 NKJV) Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, having the key to the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. {2} He laid hold of the dragon, that serpent of old, who is the Devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years; {3} and he cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal on him, so that he should deceive the nations no more till the thousand years were finished. But after these things he must be released for a little while.
Keys represent the ability to lock up (to bind) and the ability to let out (to loose) . If I have the keys to a jail I can use them to lock up a dangerous prisoner or to release a pardoned inmate. The key to the bottomless pit is used twice, once to release demonic horde of locusts, and secondly to confine Satan for one thousand years.
Also keys denote access and control. With the keys one can control movement, times of access and who and what goes in and out. This then controls other activities. The keys to a bank vault with a time lock means that at certain seasons the bank manager can unlock the cash and the tellers will have something to give customers. This is the "key of David" in the sense of the Davidic dynasty, which was something that God opened that no man could shut. This is the key to opportunity, times and seasons.

Keys also denote power an authority. The one with the keys has control. Jesus has the keys of Hades and of Death. He has complete authority over who goes in and out. Death has been taken out of the Devil's control and is now in Jesus power and its captives have been set free. (Hebrews 2:14-15 NKJV) Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, {15} and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.

Keys also denote our ability to explore and discover, to find a treasure or to leave it unaccessed. It is this sense that Jesus uses when He speaks of "the keys of knowledge" that the scribes took away, thus not entering themselves and hindering others. (Luke 11:52 NKJV) "Woe to you lawyers! For you have taken away the key of knowledge. You did not enter in yourselves, and those who were entering in you hindered." By discarding the real spiritual truths and teaching the "doctrines of men" they left their audience without the keys to the spiritual life and its treasures.
Now we come to one of the most disputed verses in Scripture - Matthew 16: 19 where Jesus gives Peter the "keys of the Kingdom" with the clear implication that Peter's earthly actions would somehow either lock up heaven or release things from Heaven. When Peter allowed the Gentiles into the Church on an equal footing with Jews (Acts 10,11 and 15) he was using His keys to let people into the Kingdom. On the other hand Peter's stern judgment on Annanias and Sapphira seems to have been using the keys to bind up a spirit of greed, lying and deception that had started to creep in. (Acts 5:1-11)
Another use of the keys was during the Samaritan revival the Holy Spirit was only released after Peter's arrival:
(Acts 8:14-17 NKJV) Now when the apostles who were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them, {15} who, when they had come down, prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit. {16} For as yet He had fallen upon none of them. They had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. {17} Then they laid hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.

The keys here are in the context of "upon this rock I will build my church" and seem to involve the setting of precedents for the Church as a whole. It was Peter who released the Holy Spirit in Judea at Pentecost, in Samaria during the revival and to the Gentiles with Cornelius's household. Peter then confirmed these precedents at the Jerusalem Council (Acts 15) freeing the other apostles and the Church to act in similar fashion. These "precedent-setting keys" also were used to "unlock" the issue of permissible foods...permitting the consumption of all foods. (Acts 10)

Have these keys been passed on? No. They were used by Peter to set spiritual precedents and define many liberating issues in the early Church. The realms have been opened up and now we minister within those areas bound and loosed by Peter, we can see the Holy Spirit coming on the Samaritans and the Gentiles, we can eat unclean foods, we have been released from the burden of the law. (Romans 7:1-6).
But did Peter release us from the Law or did Christ? Christ's work on the cross released us - it did the work in the heavenlies, then Peter with his decisions on earth loosed on earth what had already been loosed in Heaven. Similarly Christ released the Holy Spirit from Heaven but Peter then released it to others. The literal version translates the verse thus:
Matthew 16:19 LITV And I will give to you the keys of the kingdom of Heaven. And whatever you bind on earth shall occur, having been bound in Heaven. And whatever you may loose on the earth shall be, having been loosed in Heaven.

Finally we need to consider our own "binding and loosing" where corporate decisions of the "two or three" have some sort of authority in Heaven. We cannot bind or lose anything we can like, we can only operate within the context of the finished work of Christ. We can release spiritual gifts into someone's life through the laying on of hands such as Paul did with Timothy:

(1 Timothy 4:14 NKJV) Do not neglect the gift that is in you, which was given to you by prophecy with the laying on of the hands of the eldership. (2 Timothy 1:6 NKJV) Therefore I remind you to stir up the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands.

In Paul's own life he was released from blindness and into Christian service through a similar procedure: (Acts 9:17-18 NKJV) And Ananias went his way and entered the house; and laying his hands on him he said, "Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you came, has sent me that you may receive your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit." {18} Immediately there fell from his eyes something like scales, and he received his sight at once; and he arose and was baptized.

The laying on of hands seems to loose people from illness and infirmity (Mark 6:5, 8:23, 16:18 Acts 28:8) fill them with the Holy Spirit (Acts 9:7,8 19:6 and impart spiritual gifts (1 Timothy 4:14, 2 Timothy 1:6) and ordination for ministry (Acts 6:6, 13;3). All of these bindings and loosings are of the finished work of Christ - His healing ministry, His Holy Spirit, His gifts and His call to ministry. We can also bind sin and forgive (loose) the penitent and set limits on church behavior, which is the major context of Matthew 18 and is seen in operation in Acts 5 and 1 Corinthians 5.

To summarize - all spiritual keys are aspects of the work of Jesus Christ that we are given some power to release or bind here on earth. There is not an apostolic succession but there is a "Christological succession" as Christians release that which Christ has done. Peter had a unique role in setting spiritual precedents for the Church. That role is finished. We now operate within the confines of the apostolic faith. We are to use our keys wisely and judiciously and not as the lawyers did who "took away" the keys in the name of spiritual control and safety.

The World, The Flesh And The Devil
There are three major battlefronts in spiritual warfare and the New Testament calls these “the world, the flesh and the Devil”. First a few definitions:

The World – Greek “kosmos”, society organized in complete disregard of God. Babylon and Tyre are symbols of this worldliness. The “kosmos” literally means “what is constructed from it constituent parts” (Kittel) in this case ”human order” or ‘world order’ and implies that the World is a human construct., a system, with a hierarchy. The World is fallen, unredeemed creation setting up its own order in direct contradiction to the Kingdom of God. The contrast is so clear and absolute that whoever makes himself a “friend of the World” makes himself “an enemy of God”. (James 4;4). What we war against are evil world orders ruled by principalities and powers utterly hostile to God. This “World” is different from the general term world, which means humanity or society as in the sense of “God so loved the world”.

The World – leads us to make wrong alliances and pursue wrong objectives, to be short-term and pragmatic and to pursue a worldly kingdom rather than a spiritual kingdom. The world induces us to the pursuit of fame, wealth and human glory outside of the will and blessing and permission of God. When unsuccessful the World persecutes the saints so that Jesus said “in the world you will have tribulation”.
The Flesh – Greek – sarx The human body as the repository of sin and controlled by lusts that wage war with the Holy Spirit and which lead the believer astray from the will of God. (see Romans 7, Galatians 5:16-23). The NIV translates this as “sinful nature” to avoid connecting it to directly with the body which is created by God to be His temple, and which will eventually be redeemed and resurrected in glory. The body is not bad but the lusts that emanate from it and the sin that indwells it is evil, which is why the body needs to be redeemed.

The Flesh – leads us to satisfy right appetites in wrong ways or at wrong times and to prefer wrong and perverted appetites to righteous ones. Sexual immorality is just one aspect. The desire for justice can be turned by “the flesh” into murderous revenge and the desire to tell the truth; can be turned into gossip and slander. The flesh is extremely deceitful and enticing (Ephesians 4:22, Titus 3:3, James 1:14,15) and can fool us into thinking our actions are legitimate.
The Devil – Greek diabolos , the resister of God, Satan, the dragon of old, the accuser of the brethren. The head of the evil spirits, a very powerful demonic being, once a guardian cherub, now fallen, not a divinity but a powerful fallen angel. (See elsewhere in this book.)

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