Not Bovvered

Spiritual Warfare 101

"Put very simply, Satan's power in the world is everywhere. Yet wherever men and women walk in the Spirit, sensitive to the anointing they have from God, that power of his just evaporates. There is a line drawn by God, a boundary where by virtue of His own very presence Satan's writ does not run. Let God but occupy all the space Himself, and what room is left for the evil one?" - Watchman Nee

“For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship.” (Romans 8:15 NIV)

“There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.” (1 John 4:18 NIV)

“More good stuff in, bad stuff out.”

I learned a lot watching Carol Arnott minister to people. She makes me think of Jesus’ words to His disciples: “I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.” (Matthew 10:16 NIV). Carol has a very pure and innocent heart and yet her discernment is as sharp as a whip.

During an overseas conference, we were ministering together at a church meeting of pastors and leaders. One of the leaders started to loudly manifest something that clearly wasn’t the Holy Spirit. While I was hesitating over what to do, Carol went over to the lady. I watched to see what she would do to stop the attention-seeking spirit that was bothering this woman. Carol carries a lot of spiritual authority and I wondered if she would simply bind the spirit and cast it out. But instead, she prayed a very simple prayer over this lovely lady; “More good stuff in, bad stuff out.” As she kept praying good stuff in,  this troubled lady quietened down and started to receive the Holy Spirit. No fuss, no muss.

I learned two things; Carol deliberately ministered in an honouring way that didn’t humiliate the lady. She didn’t draw attention to the fact that it wasn’t a Holy Spirit manifestation that we were witnessing. And she took a simple and effective approach to deliverance.

“Whatever you focus on, grows bigger.”

Demons like attention. The more attention we give them, the more they like it. Well, apart from the sneaky ones who are pretending not to be there. Like when you pray for a lying spirit to leave someone, and the lying spirit responds, “I’ve already left.”

Fear is a particularly sticky little fiend. He and I go way back and I’ve been trying to shake him off for some time, but he likes to find new and inventive things for me to fret about and fear, and he like to try and worm his way back into my thoughts.

It’s taken me a long time to realize it, but trying to fight fear is like trying to fight a bog. The more you thrash about in panic, rebuking and repenting, the more you get sucked into it. I’m not saying there’s never an occasion to address something icky, call it by name and tell it to go where the sun don’t shine. There is. But the problem with trying to minister to yourself in that way, is that you’re focusing on the problem. And whatever you focus on, grows bigger.

“We can’t stop the fearful or anxious thoughts coming at us, but we can stop giving them so much attention.”

A friend of mine had a very well-deserved night away in a seaside hotel with some girl friends. She has a lovely young son with special needs and he doesn’t sleep much. Nor does she. So after she and her friends had been for dinner in a swanky restaurant, she was looking forward to a good sleep. She went back to her room on the top floor of the hotel, hopped into bed and turned out the lights. Then she noticed a strange noise. Eventually, she worked out what it was. There were seagulls walking about on the roof of the hotel just above her head.

Now you wouldn’t think that the sound of a seagull walking around would measure that high on the Richter scale, unless you’re exhausted and the room is pitch-black, and suddenly all you can hear is monstrous sounds of seagulls perambulating around, taking in the sea air. Sad to say, the seagulls kept up their foot-slapping antics all night and she didn’t manage to get to sleep till 3 a.m.

There’s an old Chinese proverb that says, “You can’t stop birds flying over your head, but you can stop them nesting in your hair.” I think it’s what the Bible calls "guarding your heart." We can’t stop the fearful or anxious thoughts coming at us, but we can stop giving them so much attention. The more we let them bother us, the more they bother us, then that bothers us and we get bothered that we’re getting so bothered. And all this bothering rather steals the focus off our lovely heavenly Daddy.

“The good news is that we have a choice, we’re not helpless victims – and the alternative is to look to God and to trust in Him.”

"Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; and trust also in me.” (John 14:1 NLT)

When I used to read this verse I would feel condemned. But now I feel hope. Jesus isn’t telling me off here for feeling worried. He’s saying that he understands there’s a constant assault on our hearts from fear and anxiety who are trying to nest in there. He’s saying the answer is to say No to letting this happen. The good news is that we have a choice, we’re not helpless victims – and the alternative is to look to God and to trust in Him.

I read this on a friend’s Facebook status in January: “Gaze at God, glance at the problem”. It really struck me because I was doing exactly the opposite. I was gazing at a health problem I was having and only glancing at Father. This status inspired me to switch back to the right way round – and it really helped.

“The more we focus on how much our Father loves us, the more of his love we receive, the more the fear is driven out.”

Just like Carol prayed, we all need more good stuff in. And the more good stuff we get in, the less room there is for bad stuff. The more we focus on how much our Father loves us, the more of His love we receive, the more the fear is driven out. The Bible puts it like this:

“There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.” (1 John 4:18 NIV)

Rather than pray against fear, I now pray to be filled with Father’s perfect love. It keeps my focus on Him, and as more good stuff comes in, it’s good to know it specifically drives out that old sticky fella, Fear.

“We already have the Spirit of Sonship inside us, the trick is learning to let him lead.”

After all, the opposite of the spirit of fear is the Spirit of Sonship.

“For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship.” (Romans 8:15 NIV)

These are the two spirits that are contending for our focus. Fear wants to grip us. The Spirit of Sonship wants to lead us. We already have the Spirit of Sonship inside us, the trick is learning to let him lead.

“He is perfecting us in love.”

I love this. I love the fact that Father is committed to taking me to this place where I simply have so much revelation of being His child inside me that fear cannot stay. It’s not about me stepping up and trying to summon up this bold spirit and pretending I’m not bothered about things. But it’s about living in increasing revelation of how good my Daddy God is. He is perfecting us in love.

I’m not talking about denial. Denial of our problems doesn’t help. Sometimes we’re stuck in an issue and we need some counseling to help us get out of the bog. Sometimes we need deliverance. That’s good. That’s helpful. But to stay out of the bog, we need to learn to focus on the solid ground.

“Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” (James 4:7 NIV)

The Bible says to resist the devil and he will flee. Don’t give him airtime. Don’t gaze on him or the problem. Consciously turn your gaze onto Father and allow Him to pour in His Spirit and that will deal with the bad stuff. And that, my friends, is what we call spiritual warfare. Spiritual warfare that a child could understand: Worship God, ignore the devil. I always think a good sign that something is Kingdom-thinking is when it’s really simple.

So let’s all join with Carol in praying:  “Good stuff in, Bad stuff out.”

(And don’t let the seagulls get you down.)

This archived article was written by Adele Richards for release in Mar, 2013. Circumstances and situations may have changed regarding the author, locations and ministries. This content may therefore be outdated or misinformed.