Intercession and Spiritual Warfare
Pastor Keith Hassell
Intercessors are a great gift to the body of Christ.
As a pastor I am thankful for every person who feels a special calling to intercede for me and for the church I pastor.
I recognize that intercessors have played a key role in what God has done and is doing.
The place of spiritual warfare in intercession has become a very popular and debated topic in the body of Christ in the last few years.
People are acknowledging that their battle is not against flesh and blood but against evil spiritual powers in heavenly places.
The war against satanic forces has moved from the realm of casting out demons to actual warfare in the heavenly realm through prayer, worship, and prophetic acts.
The concept of intercessory prayer has moved from praying for individuals and circumstances to direct confrontations with demonic powers in the heavenly places.
*Casualties of War*
In recent years spiritual warfare rallies and conferences have been organized to directly challenge and wage war on ruling principalities and powers over regions.
The testimonies of believers and intercessors who have entered the realm of spiritual warfare have been a mixture of both triumph and defeat.
Most are victorious testimonies of breakthrough.
However, some also testify of very devastating repercussions from the enemy.
Personally I have seen how Satan has targeted pastors, intercessors, and churches that have entered into spiritual warfare.
These “counter attacks” at times seem to be more than mere coincidence.
People who say they have received demonic counter attacks as a result of spiritual warfare point to things such as sickness, disease, financial setbacks, mood swings, problems in the marriage, problems with the children, divorce, oppression, depression, great temptation, tormenting fear, bad dreams, disunity in the church, problems among intercessors, church splits, deception, and even destruction.
Some teach that we have been commissioned and empowered to wage war in the heavenly realm while others teach that we should avoid spiritual warfare all together.
What is the truth?
How should we approach this subject of spiritual warfare?
Is it scriptural?
Is it possible to maintain spiritual victory without experiencing the counter attacks of the devil?
Is there reason to fear?
Let me state that my purpose here is not to exhaust the subject of intercession and spiritual warfare or to discuss issues such as travail, manifestations, or where and when to intercede.
Although I will expose areas where I believe the enemy has gained advantage, my purpose is not to deal harshly with the ministry of intercession or with intercessors.
Time and experience has given us great opportunity to learn, make mistakes, and to adjust.
My purpose here is to bring Biblical principles and whatever pastoral wisdom and experience I have received into this very controversial subject so that people involved in intercession and spiritual warfare can walk in victory.
I believe the following information will help bring the ministry of intercession into its proper place in the church while helping those involved avoid becoming a casualty of war.
Warfare is the result of unresolved enemy conflict.
Where there is no enemy, there is no need for war.
The enemy of God is called “Lucifer,” the “Devil,” the “serpent of old,” and Satan (See Isaiah 14:12 and Revelation 12:9).
He fell from his place before God because of his pride and rebellion.
He is now the archenemy of God and of the saints.
He was in the Garden of Eden and deceived Adam and Eve into disobeying God.
He is the accuser of the brethren and goes about to deceive the whole world (Revelation 12:9-11).
The Bible is clear that he is full of wrath in waging war on the saints (Revelation 12:17).
Our presence as saints on this earth presents a direct threat to his rule of darkness in the lives of men.
As a result, it is conceivable and likely that the enemy would seek to launch a counter attack against the saints (see Revelation 12:17).
The natural enemies of Israel in the Old Testament are types and shadows of the nature of the demonic enemies of the church today.
The kingdom of Satan
Revelation 12:9 reveals that Satan was cast out of heaven with a third of the angels.
These “fallen angels” are enemy forces who obey Satan and come to steal, kill, and destroy (John 10:10).
Jesus encountered these forces in His earthly ministry when He cast out demons.
Our contact with these forces is inevitable.
Ephesians 6:12 tells us, /“For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.”/
While Satan is the archenemy of God and of the saints, he is not omnipresent.
Few have actually encountered Satan personally.
However he works in this world through his army of demonic forces.
These forces make up the kingdom of Satan (Matthew 12:26).
By design, a kingdom has differing levels of rule and authority.
Satan is the king of his kingdom with different levels of delegated authority beneath him.
Ephesians 6:12 reveals four distinct levels:
Principalities:* The Greek word here is “archas” which describes the highest order of delegated rule in Satan’s kingdom.
We get the English word “architect” from this word.
Principalities are delegated rulers assigned over geographical nations and regions (see Daniel 10:1-21).
They are the masters “architects” of Satan’s rule in these regions.
Regional religious and political systems take on the nature of the principalities that rule over them.
*2.* *Powers:* The Greek word here is “exousias” which means “authorities.”
These “powers” are delegated authorities in Satan’s kingdom under principalities.
They might be described as the “contractors” who build the “architect’s” master plan.
Satan is called the prince of the power (“exousia”) of the air (Ephesians 2:2).
Rulers of the darkness of this world:* The Greek word for “rulers” is “kosmo-kratoras” which means, “word rulers.”
It can also be translated “lords of this world” and “princes of this age.”
“Darkness” includes the concepts of destitution, lack of light, obscurity, concealment, covering, secrecy, murkiness, shadiness, dimness, and death.
In other words, spiritual darkness is the spiritual atmosphere that is void of the true wisdom, knowledge, understanding, and authority of God.
Rulers of the darkness of this world are demons assigned to cover this world in darkness in order to conceal the true knowledge of God and of salvation through Jesus Christ.
(2 Corinthians 4:4) These rulers of darkness are masters of human deception.
This darkness is rooted in “philosophy and empty deceit, according to the traditions of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ.”
(Colossians 2:8) False religions, political mindsets, humanistic philosophies, and man-made traditions are powerful influences through which Satan blinds men to the truth in different areas of the world.
Spiritual hosts of wickedness in heavenly places:* “Hosts” is a word that can also be translated “armies.”
“Wickedness” describes the nature of these spirits as being morally bad or evil.
The English word for “wicked” is derived from the root word that means, “twisted.”
[We get the word “wick” (for a candle) from this concept].
Spiritual hosts of wickedness are armies of wicked spirits sent forth to twist the truth of God into a lie.
They work to twist man’s behavior, thinking, and character against the moral standard of God.
These are the front line demons that oppose our pursuit after God.
It is these wicked spirits that come to oppress and demonize the bodies, minds, and souls of men.
! Jesus and spiritual warfare
If warfare in the heavens was all it took to get this earth free from Satan’s hold, then the battle could have taken place there without the cross.
But Satan’s spiritual hold on human lives had to be broken in the earthly realm.
The battle was spiritual, but it was fought on an earthly battlefield.
Jesus came as the last Adam to take back what the first Adam lost.
When He came to this earth, Jesus took on the form of a servant and became obedient even to the point of death on the cross (Philippians 2:5-9).
The Bible tells us that Jesus was manifested in order to destroy the works of the devil (I John 3:8).
Jesus laid down His divine authority in heaven and operated as a man with delegated authority on this earth.
Jesus did nothing by His own initiative, but carried out only what He saw His Father doing (John 5:19; 30).
As a man under delegated authority, Jesus exercised great authority and power over the devil.
As with the first Adam, Satan came to Jesus to tempt him to misuse God’s authority.
The issue behind every temptation in the wilderness was trying to deceive Jesus into exercising His authority independently of God.
Jesus submitted Himself to the authority of God’s Word in every temptation.
Submission to God was demonstrated through submission to His word.
As a result Satan could not touch him.
Based on the life of Jesus, it seems that it is possible to enter a place under God’s authority where the devil cannot touch us.
This doesn’t mean that the devil will not attack us, but it means that he does not have to succeed.
The key to God’s protection is whether we will walk according to our flesh or according to the Spirit (Galatians 5:16-18).
When we give in to the temptations of the flesh---lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes, and the pride of life---we can find ourselves defeated and enslaved (I John 2:16).
I believe there are reasons we sometimes experience defeat in our personal battles with demonic forces.
I will cover some of these.