SPIRITUAL WARFARE LEVELS AND TACTICS
“whether the demonic part is 0 percent, 5 percent, 10 percent or 50 percent does not make any difference...the critical part is submitting to God. Resisting the devil is simple if there are no unresolved issues between us and our heavenly Father.”
Neil Anderson, (Discipleship Counseling, 148)
Therapeutic Level Warfare
Spiritual healing, faith healing, or physical healing ministries are types of therapeutic level spiritual warfare.
This approach is to alleviate physical, emotional, mental, or spiritual harm done by demons.
This category of spiritual warfare does not engage in evangelistic ministry and avoids the topic of
Without salvation, no amount of therapy will solve one’s spiritual needs.
With salvation, there must be a point of release that trusts God’s provision or withholding of
comfort and relief.
helping people to “have their lives in order”
No theology of suffering - avoidance of suffering
When Paul asks God for deliverance three times from “a messenger of Satan” (2 Cor 12:7-10) sent to
harass him and keep him humble, God responds that “my grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Cor 12:9). Paul’s response is not in persisting in seeking therapeutic relief from the demonic, but to “for the sake of Christ” to be “content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities” (2 Cor 12:10) by remembering in self-weakness flows divine-strength.
Therapeutic-type warfare must avoid the delusion of trying to do reparative surgery on a dead soul.
Occult Level Warfare
Occult warfare describes a variety of activities and people directly connected with active worshiping of Satan and his demons.
Such a differentiation between Satan- worshipers and “regular” unbelievers is unhelpful and unbiblical.
The spiritual condition of members of the occult is no different from the spiritual condition of kind, nominal Christians.
Paul describes humanity as all having been “dead in the trespasses and sins . . . following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air” (Eph 2:1-2).
some warfare proponents endorse a view of engaging different levels or types of demons.
Charles Kraft goes so far as to describe at least eight different types of evil spirits: family, occult,
ordinary, territorial/institutional/religion, vice, household/geographical/cultural items, and
ancestral. (Kraft, Confronting Powerless Christianity, 59-60)
Kraft and others thus deduce that since there are different types of demons, there must be different
methods of warfare for each type.
Although demonic forces may manifest themselves differently in occult and non-occult persons,
biblical spiritual warfare methods remain unchanged.
God’s Word shows that there is only one suit of armor, the armor of God, that must be put on daily and saturated with constant prayer (Eph 6:10-20)
• All non-believers are in a condition of spiritual deadness, following Satan as his children in an active state of rebellion against God, but are never beyond the saving grace and power of Christ.
Strategic Level Warfare
Strategic level spiritual warfare is an approach that confronts demonic spirits that are geographically assigned and of a higher power and responsibility among Satan’s workers.
if you can identify and map these demons you will gain a knowledge that helps you to free a particular geographical area from demonic oppression.
This battle is viewed as happening in the air, but one that still affects believers on the ground.
Emphasis is on repentance from the corporate sin in a particular nation or culture.
Territorial spirits are the main focus of strategic level spiritual warfare. This concept comes from the
references to the Princes of Persia and Greece in Daniel 10:13, 20, 21; 12:1-2.
“Satan does indeed assign a demon or a corps of demons to every geo-political unit in the world and that they are among the principalities and powers against whom we wrestle.” (C. Peter Wagner, ed.,
Territorial Spirits: Insights on Strategic-Level Spiritual Warfare from Nineteen Christian Leaders
(Chichester, England: Sovereign World, 1991), 52)
They consider their interaction with territorial spirits to be “major league warfare” in contrast to
personal deliverance ministries and emphasize the need for expertise in this field, or “Satan will eat
you for breakfast.” (Wagner and Pennoyer, Wrestling with Dark Angels, 86-87).
Strategic Level Warfare (Territorial Spirits) - “Gaining Perspective on Territorial Spirits” Response
by A. Scott Moreau (and long quote of Clinton Arnold) https://www.lausanne.org/content/ territorial-spirits
“The first suggestion for refinement in this area is that we must be more cautious in the use of exaggerated claims and anecdotes as the means by which SLSW is established.”
“A second suggestion is that advocates of SLSW emphasize spiritual diagnosis over spiritual mapping, and be more cautious in their pronouncements. We must enable Christians to develop a world view that acknowledges the powers without capitulating to them or being captivated by an unhealthy interest in them.”
“Finally, our goal must be to integrate the spiritual, the personal, the cultural, and the social and to stop placing all the blame on the spirits and start recognizing the human side of choice to rebel against God’s established order.”
(long quote of Clinton Arnold shared by Scott Moreau)
“I close with an excellent eight-point summary given by Clinton Arnold which I would consider
an appropriate starting point for a Lausanne statement on engaging territorial spirits in spiritual
1. There is a hierarchy among the demons and angels in the evil spiritual domain. Some evil
angels have assignments over empires, people groups, countries, regions, territories, or cities.
2. There is struggle and warfare between the angels of God and the angels of Satan in the
supernatural realm that has an impact on the unfolding of events on earth.
3. Through biblical revelation, God has heightened our awareness of the angelic realm. The knowledge he has given us is for the purpose of prompting our dependence on him through
4. Although God has given us the responsibility of exercising our authority in Christ over unclean
spirits that afflict individuals, there is no biblical evidence that God has given us responsibility to
bind, expel, or thwart the territorial rulers.
5. Although we do not have the authority to directly engage territorial spirits, we certainly have
the right to appeal to God to hinder and obstruct the grip of a demonic ruler over an area so that the gospel can be proclaimed and the darkness may be lifted from the eyes of the unbelieving.
6. “Spiritual mapping,” or, as I would prefer to call it, creating a “spiritual profile” of people in a
city or country, is a useful way to help the people of God pray more specifically. It is also
beneficial for informing the teaching and discipling of new believers.
7. “Identificational repentance” is an appropriate way of leading the people of God in dealing
with issues of corporate sin. It does not, however, enable Christians to “remit” the sins of the nonbelieving population of a city, remove the curse of God’s judgment on them, or result in the weakening of the grip of the territorial spirits over the unbelieving population.
8. Christians do not need to feel a responsibility or a call to engage in a direct confrontation with the principalities and powers over a city, region, or a country We appeal directly to God, who will direct his angels to fight the battles against the high-ranking powers.”
Wayne Grudem “in no instance does anyone in the New Testament (1) summon a ‘territorial spirit’ upon entering an area to preach the gospel . . . or (2) demand information from demons about a local demonic hierarchy, (3) say that we should believe or teach information derived from demons, or (4) teach by word or example that certain “demonic strongholds” over a city have to be broken before the gospel can be proclaimed with effectiveness.” (Grudem, Systematic Theology, 421)
Strategic level spiritual warfare is mere speculation derived and reinforced by anecdotal evidence. A believer’s effectiveness in gospel sharing is solely dependent on Christ’s power.
Ground Level Warfare
Charles Kraft “takes place in human contexts, in contrast with warfare that takes place largely in the air.” (Kraft, Confronting Powerless Christianity, 200)
draws the most attention through the attention of media and popular culture in the form of possession or demonization encounters
Exorcism and Deliverance
It is clear from Scripture and early church history that demon possession occurred in a variety of ways.
Some people were delivered of these demons on their own faith, others on the faith of others (Mark 9:23- 24), and sometimes without any expressed desire to be rid of the demon. (Millard J. Erickson, Christian Theology (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1985), 473-74 )
Millard Erickson points out “there is no reason to believe that demon possessions are restricted to the past.”
Exorcists are widely criticized:
• Monetary Motives
• Experientially Driven
• Human centered approaches
Jesus and his apostles “cast out demons without pronouncing an elaborate formula” and sometimes
did it without even being physically present (Mark 7:24-30). (Erickson, Christian Theology, 474)
MacArthur cautions that the epistles never prescribe or “instruct believers to cast out demons” and
that whenever they did, “the demon-possessed people were unbelievers.” (MacArthur, Standing
Dangers of a Method Driven Approach:
• failure (Mark 9:14-18)
• physical harm (Acts 19:11-20)
• point people to the practitioner’s power and ability rather than to the power of God (1 Cor 2:1-5)
• “Satan, the great deceiver, may be encouraging interest in demon possession in hopes that
Christians will become careless about other more subtle forms of influence by the powers of
evil.” (Erickson, Christian Theology, 474) • REMINDER!!!
• The ultimate concern of an evangelist or missionary towards a hearer is not the presence of demons but rather the absence of Christ.
• Salvation, not exorcism, is the goal, understanding that if one accepts Christ, they become “the temple of the living God” with which Satan has no portion (2 Cor 6:14-16).
Ancestor Spirits and Ghosts
The worship of ancestor spirits and interest in paranormal phenomenon are different but have a common fear and unhealthy desire to ascertain the future.
In one example demonstrating the widespread influence of ancestor worship, over 90 percent of the Chinese in Taiwan “do not want to become Christians because they must give up ancestor practices.” (Hiebert, Case Studies in Missions, 24).
Relief of Fears - rituals, sacrifices, idols, superstitious practices, and the consultation of a variety of practitioners (witch doctors, mediums, sorcerers, necromancers, etc.).
Prideful Pursuits - a “desire for knowledge,” “lust for power,” “need for comfort,” “protection,” or “spiritual satisfaction” to their unhealthy curiosities. (Douglas and Graham, Let the Earth Hear His Voice, 895)
Ancestor worship practitioners see ancestors as “important mediators between humans and spirits” who defend and provide wisdom to their relatives. (Hiebert, Case Studies in Missions, 24)
Christ is the only mediator, lasting comfort, true hope, and power available to people who struggle with ancestor spirits or paranormal activity.
Scripture wholly condemns the practice of consulting the dead (Deut 18:11), divination (Lev 19:26), sorcery (Deut 18:10), mediums (Lev 19:31), seeking ghosts (Ezek 13:20), witchcraft (Gal 5:20), astrology (Isa 47:13-14, Deut 4:19), spell casting (Deut 18:11), and interpreting omens (Deut 18:11).
Binding and Loosing
Spiritual warfare advocates often use the term “binding the strongman” with reference to Matthew 12:29.
assume that the “strong man refers to evil spirits” and that “it would seem reasonable that the principle could be applied to a nation or a city or a people group as well as a house.” (Wagner and Pennoyer, Wrestling with Dark Angels, 78)
“Jesus had entered the strong man’s ‘house’ (the world of unbelievers who are under the bondage of Satan), and he was plundering his house, that is, freeing people from Satanic bondage and bringing them into the joy of the kingdom of God.” (Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology, 418)
“As for you also, because of the blood of my covenant with you, I will set your prisoners free from the waterless pit.”(Zechariah 9:11 ESV)
When one senses a demonic presence, or experiences a demonic attack, many Christians utilize a process of rebuking.
Rebuking usually involves the verbal confrontation of Satan and his demons.
Christ rebukes both Satan (Matt 4:10, 16:23)
Christ rebukes demons (Matt 17:18; Mark 1:25)
Paul’s condemnation and cursing of Elymas the magician (Acts 13:8-11)
Paul’s exorcism of the spirit in the soothsaying girl of Philippi (Acts 16:16-18)
Zechariah 3:1-7 also describes God directly rebuking Satan by saying, “The Lord rebuke you, O
Satan! The Lord who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you! Is not this a brand plucked from the fire?”
Jude 1:9 when the archangel Michael spoke to Satan saying, “The Lord rebuke you!”
Although there are some biblical examples for a verbal rebuke of the demonic, these examples
demonstrate that it occurs in limited instances.
Biblical rebukes are not formulaic, are brief, and are solely focused on the power and name of
should be specific to the situation
directly to the manifesting demon or Satan
not done “with a spirit of arrogance” ( Franklin and Lawless, Spiritual Warfare, 153-54)
• false teachers are condemned for their ignorant, hasty, pride-filled rebukes towards the demonic
(2 Pet 2:10-13; Jude 1:8-11)
• If a believer chooses to speak aloud in a situation of spiritual warfare, he should not primarily
address the enemy but rather focus his prayers and concerns towards God for His power and work in the saving and protection of souls.
Naming is a tactic believed to gain power or authority over demons by discovering their names.
Advocates postulate that since Christ found the name of the demonized Gadarene to be
‘Legion’ (Mark 5:9,15), that one should likewise make the same practice with both individual and
territorial spirits. (Wagner and Pennoyer, Wrestling with Dark Angels, 84)
“Legion” may be more descriptive of the plurality and multiplicity of the demons rather than a
demon’s specific name.
Even if that was one particular demon’s name, Christ’s awareness of its name gave him no
additional power or ability to exorcise it, for He already possessed in His own nature and name, the
sufficient power for exorcism as the Creator of all angelic beings (Isa 45:22-23; Rom 14:11).
BOTTOM LINE: Identifying names of demons is not suggested, practiced, or recommended
anywhere else in Scripture so it is unwise to make much of this method.
Some warfare practitioners make special mention of the importance of believers confessing and repenting of every known sin in fear that they may have given Satan a special gateway into their lives.
They utilize long lists of possible sins and prayers of repentance and renouncement of Satan’s lies. (Anderson, The Bondage Breaker, 199-252)
They point to Acts 19:18 where believers came out after coming to faith, “confessing and divulging their practices.”
Unbelievers should realize that repentance is necessary for salvation (Acts 2:38, 3:19, 20:21)
Once one is in Christ, “there is therefore now no condemnation” (Rom 8:1).
repentance becoming a ritual or formula and not sincerely from the heart
There should not be an unhealthy fear of one’s own limited ability to remember past sins, as if
salvation is dependent on verbal confession of each and every past sin.
Some argue that vulnerability can occur through “contact with physical objects,” “the curses of others,” “genealogical transmission,” or due to “geographic location.” (Anderson, The Bondage Breaker, 14-18; Rommen, Spiritual Power and Missions, 19)
This view states that one should not be “outwitted by Satan” since one can anticipate and be aware of his “designs” (2 Cor 2:11). (Wagner and Pennoyer, Wrestling with Dark Angels, 76)
In this passage Paul is not suggesting a cat and mouse game with Satan but rather, as seen in the context, is explaining that Satan seeks to destroy unity in the church through a lack of forgiveness (2 Cor 2:5-10).
Many are convinced that “demons can and do attach themselves to objects, to houses, or other buildings, to animals and to people.” (Wagner and Pennoyer, Wrestling with Dark Angels, 76)
1 Corinthians 10:18-20 is often referenced as support of this view in light of food being sacrificed to idols.
In consideration of 1 Corinthians 8:1-13, however, it is seen that the conscience, not the food, is the issue as it might cause concern in leading others astray.
These passages do caution against provoking God to jealousy through carelessness in casually taking part in activities dedicated to demons.
A final vulnerability reference is given in Acts 19:19 where new believers burned their magic books.
This action was not for fear of demonic power but rather served as a public act of repentance
(renunciation and confession) of their changed lives.
These scriptural examples are not about vulnerability to items or locations, but are about the
changed heart Christ desires to see in believers.
It is important to note that the Holy Spirit’s power is described as flowing in faith through objects
such as Jesus’ cloak (Luke 8:44), handkerchiefs/aprons (Acts 19:12), and even shadows (Acts 5:15).
Some claim that Satan has claims on people through multiple generations due to the sins of their ancestors.
Charles Kraft states that he uses “the power of Christ to break generational curses, vows, dedications and rights given to the enemy through sin by the person’s ancestors.” (Kraft, Confronting Powerless Christianity, 216)
Other advocates of generational sin point to passages such as Exodus 20:5, 34:7; Numbers 14:18; and Deuteronomy 5:9.
This concept of demons passing through generations is one which “occasionally appears in animistic religions,” but that is not taught by Scripture. (Rommen, Spiritual Power and Missions, 67)
Neil Anderson and Elliot Miller
Miller confronts Anderson’s belief in generational sins and familiar spirits.
Miller ascertains that much of Anderson’s doctrine on this topic is experientially validated, for he
holds that Exodus 20:4-5 is not referencing evil spirits, but circumstantial punishments onto the next generation. In a similar way Miller highlights how Jeremiah 32:19 and Ezekiel 18 communicate the continuation of punishment if parental sin is not repented of by children.
He argues that “by confusing the punishment for sin with the sin itself, Anderson makes God the transmitter of sin from one generation to the next.” (Miller, “The Bondage Maker (Part 3),” 8.)
the cross of Christ broke all curses so that the “old has passed away” and believers are free from the
condemnation of their past (2 Cor. 5:17; Rom. 8:1)
Generational Consequences VS. Curses
Believer as Proclaimer
Believers must be concerned with spiritual warfare in their own lives in order to be used effectively in evangelistic ministry and disciple making.
Christians are reminded in Scripture of their need to “stand firm” (Eph 6:13) and “resist” (Jas 4:7) the devil.
Satan’s testing of Job teaches Job to have an “increased awareness of God’s greatness and his own sinfulness” and of the “the necessity of submitting to God’s sovereign purposes.” (MacArthur, Standing Strong, 31)
MacArthur points out Satan’s sifting of Peter being instructive for in Peter’s realization that “he could not stand on his own.” (MacArthur, Standing Strong, 34)
Biblical methods in spiritual warfare are seen in putting on the full armor of God daily and petitioning the Lord in prayer (Eph 6:10-20) so that he might provide the workers for the harvest (Luke 10:2).
Satan desires to disrupt and hinder the Christian witness. The devil opposed Paul as he sought to visit the church of Thessalonica.
“the evangelist and the work of evangelism is opposed on every hand by tremendous spiritual forces.” Billy Graham, Why the Berlin Congress?
The harassment of Christian witness is also seen in Paul’s description of his thorn in the flesh (2 Cor 12:7), a “messenger of Satan.”
Whether this was an actual demon or some sort of physical or mental suffering is not significant.
It is important to notice that in his suffering “Paul didn’t attempt to bind, rebuke, or cast out this
satanic messenger. He simply prayed to the Lord for its removal. Certainly God was able to do as
Paul prayed, but He chose not to.” (MacArthur, Standing Strong, 33)
Paul’s trust in God’s sovereignty is essential to understanding a biblical view of spiritual warfare.
Satan also wants to hinder Gospel work by giving practitioners “a false sense of victory in spiritual
warfare.” (Wagner and Pennoyer, Wrestling with Dark Angels, 86)
Lucifer wants believers to follow a ritualistic model (works based) for spiritual warfare, rather than
an approach that is defined by Scripture and truth (faith).
Spiritual Warfare and the Continuation of Gifts?
Need to know theologically where you stand:
• What are these gifts? These roles?
• Do they continue? If so, how?
• How can you recognize the true use of these gifts versus the false use of these gifts? • If they continue what gifts might you have?
• How do they apply to spiritual warfare?
• How do they work together for the body of Christ?
“If a prophet or a dreamer of dreams arises among you and gives you a sign or a wonder,  and the
sign or wonder that he tells you comes to pass, and if he says, ‘Let us go after other gods,’ which you have not known, ‘and let us serve them,’  you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams. For the LORD your God is testing you, to know whether you love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul.  You shall walk after the LORD your God and fear him and keep his commandments and obey his voice, and you shall serve him and hold fast to him.  But that prophet or that dreamer of dreams shall be put to death, because he has taught rebellion against the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt and redeemed you out of the house of slavery, to make you leave the way in which the LORD your God commanded you to walk. So you shall purge the evil from your midst” (Deuteronomy 13:1-5 ESV)
“Now concerning spiritual gifts, brothers, I do not want you to be uninformed.  You know that when you were pagans you were led astray to mute idols, however you were led.  Therefore I want you to understand that no one speaking in the Spirit of God ever says “Jesus is accursed!” and no one can say “Jesus is Lord” except in the Holy Spirit. ...” (1 Corinthians 12:1-3 ESV)
“... Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit;  and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord;  and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone.  To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.  For to one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit,  to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit,  to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues.  All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills. ...” (1 Corinthians 12:4-11 ESV)
“.... For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ.  For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body— Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit.  For the body does not consist of one member but of many.  If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body.  And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body.  If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell?  But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose.  If all were a single member, where would the body be?  As it is, there are many parts, yet one body. ...” (1 Corinthians 12:12-20 ESV)
“.... The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.”  On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable,  and on those parts of the body that we think less honorable we bestow the greater honor, and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty,  which our more presentable parts do not require. But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it,  that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another.  If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together. ...”(1 Corinthians 12:21-26 ESV)
“... Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.  And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, helping, administrating, and various kinds of tongues.  Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles?  Do all possess gifts of healing? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret?  But earnestly desire the higher gifts. And I will show you a still more excellent way.” (1 Corinthians 12:27-31 ESV)
“Miraculous” - Common vs. Less Common
Ordinary/Regular vs. Irregular/Infrequent/Rare
Spiritual Warfare - Covert vs. Overt
Same Lord and Same Spirit
Worldview - Western, Tribal, Biblical?
John MacArthur - Strange Fire Conference
Wayne Grudem - Continualization