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Particulars of Christianity:
311 Spiritual Warfare

Spiritual Warfare Part 1a:
A Study of Demonic Activity

Spiritual Warfare Part 1a: A Study of Demonic Activity
Spiritual Warfare Part 1b: A Study of Demonic Activity
Spiritual Warfare Part 2a: The Spiritual Warfare of the Believer
Spiritual Warfare Part 2b: The Spiritual Warfare of the Believer
Spiritual Warfare Part 2c: The Spiritual Warfare of the Believer
Spiritual Warfare Part 2d: The Spiritual Warfare of the Believer
Spiritual Warfare P. 3a: Biblical/Historic View of Angels & Demons
Spiritual Warfare P. 3b: Biblical/Historic View of Angels & Demons
Spiritual Warfare P. 3c: Biblical/Historic View of Angels & Demons
Spiritual Warfare Study Conclusions
Spiritual Warfare Additional Quotes and Definitions

Introduction and Types of Spiritual Warfare

Today's church has a developed and varied understanding of the spiritual warfare of the believer. That is not to say that this understanding is Biblically valid, on the contrary while many persons may hold this area of the Christian walk to be of the utmost importance, their understanding of spiritual warfare may not be Biblically founded.

The purpose of this series of articles will be to take a look at what the Bible has to say about spiritual warfare as well as some related issues that have become intertwined with this area of Christianity. This study can largely be characterized as a clarification on the popular misconceptions that constitute the modern Christian understanding of spiritual warfare. We will divide our examination into three areas of discussion.

After properly identifying spiritual warfare from a Biblical perspective we will first delve into a scriptural study of demonic activity and demon possession. This will be followed by a Biblical analysis of the New Testament presentation and concept of the spiritual warfare of the believer. Thirdly, we will take some time to address the proper distinction between angels and demons from a Biblical and historical point of view.

Before we get into these three areas let us first properly identify what we mean, or rather, what the Bible means, by the term spiritual warfare.

There are two Biblically supportable definitions of spiritual warfare. The first type could be called angelic warfare, or warfare that involves angels actually engaging in combat. Examples of the first kind of this warfare would be 2 Kings 19:35 or Isaiah 37:36, Revelation 12:7-9, and Revelation 19:11-16.

2 Kings 19:35…the angel of the Lord went out and smote in the camp of the Assyrians an hundred fourscore and five thousand…

Isaiah 37:36 reflects this same statement from 2 Kings 19. Both passages describe events in which the angel of the Lord enters the camp of the Assyrian army and kills 185,000 of them. Here we have an angel engaging men in battle and defeating them in accordance with God's will.

Revelation 12:7 And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, 8 And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven. 9 And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.

In Revelation 12:7-9 we are told of a battle that occurs between the angelic forces of Michael and the Devil (the dragon). This type of spiritual warfare involving angels is similar to Daniel 10:13 and 20 where the angel informs Daniel of a struggle he has with the angelic prince of Persia who prevented him from delivering the answer to Daniel's prayers. In this case, as in Revelation 12, the angel Michael is shown engaging the adversarial angelic forces.

The final example of this first category of spiritual warfare involving angels engaged in combat is the Day of the Lord or the battle of Armageddon.

Revelation 19:11 And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war. 12 His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself. 13 And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God. 14 And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean. 15 And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. 16 And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.

Revelation 19:11-16 provides for us a description of this battle, which will involve the armies of heaven (including both angels and glorified men) engaging the armies of the nations of the earth, which have gathered together against the Lamb of God. But again, this is a specific historical (yet still future) event.

Events, which constitute this first type of spiritual warfare (warfare involving angels engaged in combat) are recorded for us in the scripture. Likewise, our understanding of when they have occurred (or will occur) is limited to the descriptions recorded in the Bible of those specific historic instances. Beyond the specific Biblically described events we DO NOT have any Biblical support for suggesting angelic involvement in combat, especially combat, which includes engaging men in battle.

To be clear about what we mean we will repeat that last statement. Besides those specific historic (past and future) instances where the Bible describes angels engaged in battle we have NO Biblical information that angels are involved in combat or engage men in combat. Spiritual warfare, involving combat with angels, is limited to the specific Biblically identified instances that are recorded for us in the scripture. We have not presented all of the examples of this type of spiritual or angelic warfare that the Bible does record, but we have mentioned a few prominent examples to make our point.

(NOTE: By historic we do not mean exclusively past history, we simply mean actual events, which have or will take place in the course of history. This includes events, which lie in our past and our future. By historic we mean to contrast the types of events described above in the Biblical record to those events, which some might suppose purely by speculation and which we have no objective or scriptural means of verification.)

The second type of spiritual warfare, is the kind that most Christians today associate with this term. The remainder of this study will be devoted to clearing up some misconceptions about this type of spiritual warfare, by rejecting concepts, which are unfounded from a Biblical or grammatical historical point of view. We will present a more detailed description of this type of spiritual warfare momentarily before we proceed into our study.

The Grammatical-Historical Method and the Prominent Modern View

Before we move on to the study itself let us first take a few moments to further context this topic. We will first briefly cover the grammatical historical approach for those who are not familiar with it. And second we will briefly describe the modern conception of spiritual warfare, which this study will be dismissing.

The Grammatical Historical Method is a name for the manner of Biblical interpretation, which was first championed (in recent history) by the Reformation. It is chiefly concerned with abandoning the allegorical method of interpretation that was the chosen method of Roman Catholicism. Put simply it requires that in order to accurately understand what the Bible means we must interpret scripture in accordance with the sound grammatical rules of the text and in accord with the historic understanding of the original audience and intent of the speaker of the passage. Additional points of this system of interpretation emphasize that the authority of the scripture lies in the text itself and not in the interpreter so that what the text intends to state is of crucial importance over what the text means to us as individuals.

There is much more that can be learned about this system of Biblical interpretation (hermeneutics). For the purposes of this study, the most important aspect of the Grammatical Historical Method is that which is concerned with the historic Christian understanding of the text. That is, we must interpret the text in accordance with the understanding that was known at the time the text was written, both by the author and by the audience to whom the author was writing.

Therefore, an interpretation of the text will only be accurate if it takes into account the historic understanding of the time. If our modern interpretation of a text or a topic fails to take into account this historic understanding it will tend to deviate from the intended meaning of the scripture. If our modern understanding conflicts or contradicts this historic understanding then we have strayed from the intentions of the Bible.

As we said at the beginning of this series of articles the modern Christian view of Spiritual Warfare is well developed. The question that this study will investigate is whether or not this modern understanding is Biblical and historical. Before we investigate these questions it is first helpful to be precise concerning the modern claims about spiritual warfare, so that as we examine the scripture we will know when a view is substantiated or disqualified.

The specific areas of spiritual warfare that this study will examine are:
1. How does the Bible describe demonic activity? What does it entail? What are its results, etc.?
2. How does the Bible portray spiritual warfare? What does it entail? How do Christians engage in it, etc.?
3. What is the correct Biblical understanding of angels and demons? How do they relate? What distinguishes them from one another?

The specific modern views of spiritual warfare that we will refute are:
1. Demons are responsible for ungodly human behavior, including attitudes, habits, etc.
2. Christians can be affected by demonic presence or activity.
3. Demonic presence and activity is not always readily apparent.
4. Spiritual warfare is the prayer life of a believer, which involves our engaging in combat, binding and loosing, and casting out fallen angels and demons in heavenly realms.
5. Demons are another name or term to describe fallen, wicked, or evil angels.

What we will demonstrate instead are that:
1. Demons are Biblically portrayed as responsible for either a) chronic or prolonged physical sickness (or disability) OR b) replacing the human spirit as the operator of the body, in actions and in speech.
2. All record of demonic activity in the scripture is limited to persons who are at the time of the demonic activity NOT in a saving relationship with Christ.
3. All record of demonic activity in the scripture demonstrates that demonic presence is always externally apparent and readily understood.
4. Spiritual warfare is a personal and worldwide struggle between the truth of God and the deceit of the Devil and those under him. This struggle is largely concerned with our minds and understanding, and while it involves prayer, it not exclusively the prayer life of the believer.
5. Demons are NOT another term for fallen angels, but are a distinct type of spiritual being, the spirits of the Nephilim - the offspring of angels who sinned by having children with women.

Now that we have clearly laid out the issues we will begin our examination of this topic in the scripture, beginning with the issue of demonic activity.

Demonic Activity in the Bible

The first thing we need to note from the scripture regarding demonic activity is the terminology. Namely, there are several Greek words that are used in the New Testament to describe demons and their activity. We will now show what these Greek words are, how they are translated, and where they overlap.

There are two Greek words for demon in the New Testament, and one Greek word for demonic possession. The Greek words for demon are daimonion (Strong's No. 1140) and daimon (Strong's No. 1142). The Greek word for demon possession is daimonizomai (Strong's No. 1139). In the King James these words are translated into the English word devil or devils. But in most modern translations they are translated into the English word demon or demons. There are two reasons for this.

First, the Greek nouns daimonion and daimon are used distinctly in the NT from the Greek word for devil, which is diabolos (Strong's No. 1228). (We will cover this distinction more near the end of this study.) Second, as is somewhat obvious from the spelling of the Greek words the English word demon originates from these two Greek words used in the New Testament in the same way that the English word devil comes from the Greek word diabolos. For reference here is the definition and etymology for demon from Webster's Dictionary, tenth edition.

Demon or daemon /de'mon/ n [ME demon, fr. LL & L daemon evil spirit, fr. L, divinity, spirit, fr. Gk daimon, prob. fr. daiesthai to distribute - more at TIDE] )13c) 1a: an evil spirit b: a source or agent of evil, harm, distress, or ruin 2 usu daemon: an attendant power or spirit: GENUS 3 usu daemon: a supernatural being of Greek mythology intermediate between gods and men 4: one that has exceptional enthusiasm, drive, or effectiveness )a ~ for work) - demonian /di mo'ne-en/ adj. demonization /de me'ne'za-shen/ n. - demonize /de-me-niz/ vt.

So, in the remainder of this study we will use the English word demon as a translation of the Greek words daimonion and daimon. To avoid later confusion and to remain in the modern vernacular that is reflected in modern translations, we will NOT use the English word devil as the translation of these two Greek words as the King James does.
The second thing we will want to note from the scripture regarding demonic activity is that the New Testament uses the term demon and unclean or evil spirit interchangeably to refer to the same thing. The following passages all illustrate this point. (We are using the KJV here so keep in mind that the words translated as devils are the Greek words for demons as is indicated by the Strong's No. 's.)

Matthew 8:16 When the even was come, they brought unto him many that were possessed with devils (1139): and he cast out the spirits (4151) with his word, and healed all that were sick:

Mark 6:7 And he called unto him the twelve, and began to send them forth by two and two; and gave them power over unclean (169) spirits (4151);…13 and they [the twelve apostles] cast out (1544) many devils (1140)

Mark 7:25 For a certain woman, whose young daughter had an unclean (169) spirit (4151), heard of him, and came and fell at his feet: 26 The woman was a Greek, a Syrophenician by nation; and she besought him that he would cast forth the devil (1140) out of her daughter. 27 But Jesus said unto her, Let the children first be filled: for it is not meet to take the children's bread, and to cast it unto the dogs. 28 And she answered and said unto him, Yes, Lord: yet the dogs under the table eat of the children's crumbs. 29 And he said unto her, For this saying go thy way; the devil (1140) is gone out of thy daughter. 30 And when she was come to her house, she found the devil (1140) gone out, and her daughter laid upon the bed.

Luke 4:33 And in the synagogue there was a man, which had a spirit (4151) of an unclean (169) devil (1140), and cried out with a loud voice, 34 Saying, Let us alone; what have we to do with thee, thou Jesus of Nazareth? art thou come to destroy us? I know thee who thou art; the Holy One of God. 35 And Jesus rebuked him, saying, Hold thy peace, and come out of him. And when the devil (1140) had thrown him in the midst, he came out of him, and hurt him not. 36 And they were all amazed, and spake among themselves, saying, What a word is this! for with authority and power he commandeth the unclean (169) spirits (4151), and they come out. 37 And the fame of him went out into every place of the country round about.

Luke 8:27 And when he went forth to land, there met him out of the city a certain man, which had devils (1140) long time, and ware no clothes, neither abode in any house, but in the tombs. 28 When he saw Jesus, he cried out, and fell down before him, and with a loud voice said, What have I to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of God most high? I beseech thee, torment me not. 29 (For he had commanded the unclean (169) spirit (4151) to come out of the man. For oftentimes it had caught him: and he was kept bound with chains and in fetters; and he brake the bands, and was driven of the devil (1142) into the wilderness.) 30 And Jesus asked him, saying, What is thy name? And he said, Legion: because many devils (1140) were entered into him. 31 And they besought him that he would not command them to go out into the deep. 32 And there was there an herd of many swine feeding on the mountain: and they besought him that he would suffer them to enter into them. And he suffered them. 33 Then went the devils (1140) out of the man, and entered into the swine: and the herd ran violently down a steep place into the lake, and were choked. 34 When they that fed them saw what was done, they fled, and went and told it in the city and in the country. 35 Then they went out to see what was done; and came to Jesus, and found the man, out of whom the devils (1140) were departed, sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed, and in his right mind: and they were afraid. 36 They also which saw it told them by what means he that was possessed of the devils (1139) was healed. 37 Then the whole multitude of the country of the Gadarenes round about besought him to depart from them; for they were taken with great fear: and he went up into the ship, and returned back again. 38 Now the man out of whom the devils (1140) were departed besought him that he might be with him: but Jesus sent him away, saying,

Luke 9:42 And as he was yet a coming, the devil (1140) threw him down, and tare him. And Jesus rebuked the unclean (169) spirit (4151), and healed the child, and delivered him again to his father.

Revelation 18:2 And he cried mightily with a strong voice, saying, Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and is become the habitation of devils (1142), and the hold of every foul (169) spirit (4151), and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird.

(For additional examples, see Matthew 10:1, 8, Mark 5:2-13, Luke 8:2, and 1 Timothy 4:1)

Note that these passages also demonstrate the overlapping use of the Greek words daimonion (1140), daimon (1142), and daimonizomai (1139) to refer to demons or unclean (169) spirits (4151). From these examples we can clearly see that daimonion and daimon are synonymous for evil or unclean spirits.

Now that we have covered the Biblical terminology that is used to refer to demons and their activity we can take a look at some additional terminology that is used to describe this activity.

Demonic activity regarding their interaction with humans entails the demon dwelling inside the human body. The following various phrases (with their Strong's No. 's) are all used to describe demonic activity and present this same idea that the demon dwells within the human body. (Some of these phrases can be seen in the passages quoted above).

1. Cast out (1544), from the Greek word ekballo, the idea of being drawn or cast out of something else (compare examples: Matthew 7:4-5, Matthew 7:22).
2. Come (1831) out (575), from the Greek words exerchomai and apo, meaning to come forth or be separated out of a place, from the body (compare examples: Matthew 8:32, Matthew 10:11, Matthew 12:43-44).
3. Possessed of a demon(s) (1139), from the Greek daimonizomai, meaning to be under the power of a demon (compare examples: Matthew 4:42, Matthew 8:16, Mark 1:32, Luke 8:36, John 10:21).
4. Had (2192), from the Greek word echo, meaning to have, to hold, to own, to possess (examples: Matthew 12:11, Matthew 19:22, Mark 7:25).
5. Vexed (3791), from the Greek word, ochleo, meaning to trouble, molest, disturb (Luke 6:18, Acts 5:16).
6. Entered (1525) into (1519), from the Greek words, eiserchomai eis, meaning to come into as of men or animal, as into a house or a city (compare examples: Matthew 24:38, Mark 1:21, Mark 7:7, Mark 5:13, Luke 8:30, 33).

The scriptural presentation of demonic possession as being the state when a demon is dwelling within a person is best exemplified in the following passages, which utilize some of the above phrases.

Matthew 12:43 When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through dry places, seeking rest, and findeth none. 44 Then he saith, I will return into my house from whence I came out; and when he is come, he findeth it empty, swept, and garnished. 45 Then goeth he, and taketh with himself seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter in (1525) and dwell (2730) there: and the last state of that man is worse than the first.

Luke 11:24 When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through dry places, seeking rest; and finding none, he saith, I will return unto my house whence I came out. 25 And when he cometh, he findeth it swept and garnished. 26 Then goeth he, and taketh to him seven other spirits more wicked than himself; and they enter (1525) in, and dwell (2730) there: and the last state of that man is worse than the first.

The word "dwell" that is used in both of these passages is the Greek word katoikeo, which actually means to inhabit. It is the same word that is used in Matthew 2:23 to indicate that Joseph, Mary, and Jesus dwelled or lived in Nazareth.

So we can see that the Biblical presentation of demonic interaction with humans is quite accurately understood as possession. Possession being a state when a demon (or demons) dwell within or inhabit the human body. We do not have any scriptural evidence that demons simply follow humans around sitting on their shoulder so to speak without actually entering into their body in the manner described above.

Before we move on to the next topic (the results of demon possession) we can now dismiss one of the modern Christian understandings of demonic activity from our list above, the notion that Christians can be affected by demonic presence or activity.

Since, the Biblical portrayal of demonic interaction with humans is limited to the demon spirit dwelling within the human body, we can rule out the idea that a Christian can be affected by demonic activity for two reasons. First, the New Testament is clear that Christians have the Holy Spirit dwelling inside of them and NOT any other spirit (John 7:39, 2 Corinthians 11:4, 1 John 4:1, 2 Timothy 1:7, and 1 Corinthians 10:20-21). This reality of the Holy Spirit living within the believer is directly contrasted with the state of a demon-possessed person as it is described elsewhere in the New Testament. Second, all of cases of demonic activity that are described in the Bible, which describe a person in a demon-possessed state involve persons who are not saved at the time of possession.

There is more that could be said on this matter, but for the purposes of this study we will end our discussion of this particular area and move on to the Biblical presentation of the results of demon possession with the conclusion that demonic activity in the Bible is limited to possession of unsaved persons.