Contemporary Trends

of Spiritual Warfare










Mag. Claudia R. Wintoch











Revival Worship & Warfare

Kathy Gray







World Revival School of Ministry

Summer Trimester 2002





1. Introduction


2. Differing Worldviews


3. Personal Warfare


4. Corporate Warfare


5. National Warfare


6. The Spirit of Islam


7. Conclusion


8. Bibliography

1. Introduction


“Today, too, we are witnesses to the fact that a war is going on in the heavenlies.”

(Louwerse in Wagner & Pennoyer 1990:282)


Ever since Satan fell from heaven, there has been a war waging in the heavenlies. Satan is called the “ruler of the air” (Ephesians 2:2), the “ruler of this present age” (Ephesians 6:12) and this world. He knows his fate and he is doing his very best to take as many people with him as he can.

Many Christians are oblivious to the fact that they enrolled in a war when they first made Jesus Lord of their lives. They gave their mental consent to the gospel, without changing their allegiances and habits, therefore not posing any real threat to the enemy. However, those who truly pursue their Lord and strive to become more like Him, will soon encounter spiritual opposition. Besides battling the flesh and their old ways, some have to battle demonic influences in their lives more than others, caused by past experiences or decisions that gave a foothold to the enemy. Many books have been written over the past decades about personal demonization and deliverance, taking different approaches, which will be discussed in point 3.

However, churches are often unaware of the warfare that’s waging against them, and many have had to pay the price for their ignorance.

Ultimately, Satan is waging a war against cities, regions and nations. Over the past decade books on how to take your city and nation have been multiplying. They offer many different approaches which will be discussed in point 5.  Today, “King Jesus is gathering His people from around the world, and this is frequently accompanied by impacting demonstrations of His undeniable presence” (Louwerse in Wagner & Pennoyer 1990:282), as His kingdom clashes with and overcomes the kingdom of darkness. Evans (1998:11) states, “We know we are facing a real opponent because this world bears the bloody, painful scars of this conflict.”

Lastly, I would like to consider today’s greatest challenge and threat that we as Christians are called to battle, and that few are equipped to take on: the spirit of Islam.

The last few decades have brought a new understanding about spiritual warfare, as books have been written, and classes been taught, with C. Peter Wagner as one of the most popular teachers and pioneers in this field. One reason has certainly been the acceleration of world missions, where Western missionaries are faced with spiritual forces in a way they cannot deny or rationalize away. We in the Western World have a lot of catching up to do since the Enlightenment darkened our minds, as we learn about the realities of the spiritual world, regaining a knowledge Third World nations never lost.


2. Differing Worldviews


Our worldview is the basis for our beliefs. It colors and determines the way we see and understand things; it is the lens we see them trough. Lundell (2001:31f) defines it as “a person’s or society’s basic assumptions about reality, which give rise to beliefs and behavior […] these assumptions are largely taken for granted and assumed to be correct.”

There are two basic worldviews – the naturalistic (or scientific) worldview and the spiritual worldview. Lundell (2001:32) well exemplifies the two extremes by his experience:

“I had a European teaching colleague who grew up with empirical science answering all his questions about the world. To him, anything spiritual was theoretical and either a ritualistic part of society or pure imagination. I have also had repeated contact with pastors and evangelists from Asian and African nations who grew up with shamanism and witchcraft. To some of them, anything scientific was a frail attempt at describing what was obviously a spiritual issue at heart.”


Neither one is biblical. Neither can everything be explained scientifically, denying the existence of the invisible, nor can everything be ascribed to the spirit-world. Our world is both, visible and invisible, where human beings, angels and demons, and God interact with each other. The reason that so many Christians live in defeat is that they are not aware of the spirit-world and the battle they are in. It is unfortunate that Warner’s statement is all too true: “People are much more real to us than spirits are […] this applies to the Holy Spirit as well as to demonic spirits” (Warner 1991:24).

However, today we are seeing a new awakening to spiritual things in the Western World. Eastern religions and methods have found wide acceptance both in Europe and North America, capturing young people’s seeking hearts. Jacobs (in Wagner & Pennoyer 1990:312) made the following prediction in 1990:

“I also foresee masses of young people being swept into the New Age experience which will ultimately place them under spiritual bondage similar to the bondage of the occult and the demonic. About the time we identify the dangers of secular humanism, a new cosmic humanism has taken hold among us, and it may be some time before we really take this one as seriously.”


3. Personal Warfare


The thrust of missionaries into the nations of the world in this last century has led to a revolution, especially in more evangelical circles, as scholars and Christians had to deal with explaining missionaries’ encounters with the spirit-world they were not supposed to have according to their theology. Unfortunately, that theology has led to many ‘casualties of war’ because missionaries were not prepared to encounter the spiritual forces on their mission field. One missionary with Wycliffe Bible Translators, who went to the Amazon Jungle, recounts about his preparation for the field: “My professor transmitted the idea that a servant of Christ was untouchable or exempt form demonic attack; that sort of thing wouldn’t be a problem for us.”[1] (Warner 1991:78).

Thankfully this ignorant view is slowly disappearing from Christians’ minds, even though the acknowledgment of the possibility of satanic attack does not make Christians victorious yet.

However, the enemy does not only attack from the outside as obviously as on the mission field, but he attacks unknown to the ignorant Christian by planting thoughts and influencing the believer’s mind. While some deny that possibility, others blame the enemy for all their wrong actions, therefore ridding themselves of personal responsibility. In reality, we are battling three areas in our lives: the world, the flesh and the enemy.

One question has been very prominent in many Christian circles: Can a Christian be demon-possessed? This question arises first of all from a bad translation of the Greek word δαιμονίζομαι (daimonizomai), which should be translated demonized rather than demon-possessed, which would imply a loss of control over self. The Assemblies of God reached the conclusion that “Christians could not be demon-possessed; this was something that only could happen to non-believers. Christians could be influenced, afflicted, or oppressed by demons, but not possessed” (Arnold 1997:76). They base their claim on the fact that a believer is indwelt by the Holy Spirit, so that demonic habitation cannot be possible. The writings of the respected scholar Merrill Unger spread that view; however, twenty years later his view had changed dramatically, after witnessing believers manifesting demons.[2]

The enemy counterfeits everything the living God does. As the Holy Spirit takes control of those yielding it to him, so people can yield their bodies to demons, which is well-known from demonic cults like Voodoo. When Christians walk in sin or ‘play’ with witchcraft (which is an abomination to the Lord), they open themselves up to the demonic. Wagner (in Lundell 2001:10) – considering the Wesleyan approach of a holy lifestyle – says, “True personal holiness and aggressive holy war are a combination that the devil cannot possibly resist.”


4. Corporate Warfare


The enemy does not only attack on a personal level – whether individually or marriages and children – but he’s also waging war against churches. As with individuals, the attacks come from within – whether members of your own church or other Christians – and without, the unbelieving world. “Bringing spiritual warfare inside the doors of the church is a key strategy of the devil. He knows if he can weaken the church internally, he can weaken its witness and impact the world” (Evans 1998:363).

Some churches do not pose a threat to the enemy, after years of being convinced that they “worship an impotent, powerless Savior who can do nothing for us” (Evans 1998:364). Others have correct doctrine but have lost their first love (see the church in Ephesus in Revelation 2:2-4), which gives access to the enemy. The church in Smyrna (see Revelation 2:9-10) endured hardship by a group of people energized by Satan, and was tempted to give up. However, we as churches must continue faithfully and without compromise in the face of persecution (as shown again and again in countries where believers are persecuted.

The church in Pergamum (Revelation 2:13-15) was attacked from within. False teachers had arisen and they tolerated their teachings. We must not compromise the teaching we know to be true, but must watch out for those false teachers who poison the church.

The danger from within is by far the greatest, because it is hardest to recognize. Gossip, rumors and slander spread like poison in the church, as the enemy does all he can to divide and destroy the church, succeeding far too often.

The Church’s awareness of the enemy’s tactics against them has also grown over the past decades. Today many churches have weekly corporate prayer meetings and monthly prayer nights, where they come together as one to fight for their churches.


5. National Warfare


Over the past ten years the focus on spiritual warfare for nations has increased significantly, thanks to C. Peter Wagner, John Dawson and others. Teachings about hierarchy in the kingdom of darkness, and territorial spirits, have been more and more accepted.

Wagner (Wagner & Pennoyer 1990:77) states:

“Satan delegates high ranking members of the hierarchy of evil spirits to control nations, regions, cities, tribes, people groups, neighborhoods and other significant social networks of human beings throughout the world. Their major assignment is to prevent God from being glorified in their territory, which they do through directing the activity of lower ranking demons.”


The main New Testament Scripture they build upon is Ephesians 6:12: For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. However, there is also evidence in Acts[3] and in the Old Testament, where “territorial spirits and their dominance of geographical areas are taken for granted” and where “names of some of the specific principalities are mentioned”[4] (Wagner & Pennoyer 1990:79).

Today, churches want to take their whole cities – and even nations – for Christ. Grigg writes, “Taking cities has to do with reestablishing the covenants of the cities, destroying the covenants made with devils, and reestablishing covenants with God” (Grigg in Wagner et al. 1995:24).

However, caution is also advisable. John Paul Jackson recently published a book called Needless Casualties of War that stirred up the community of those going on the offensive against principalities and powers, as he warned against taking on the power of darkness presumptuously without the necessary authority. If churches aim to take on the powers over their city, they should all be in unity against their enemy.

Wagner (& Pennoyer 1990:86ff) also lists a few dangers: Engaging in meaningless rhetoric – saying “I bind you” alone won’t do it; Underestimating the enemy – don’t be casual; Expecting power without prayer – we must know what the Father is doing; Overemphasizing power.

Many ways of overcoming the enemy over a city and nation have arisen over recent years:

Prayer Summits – “Pastors get together in a retreat setting for 4 days and have no agenda of their own whatsoever” (Wagner 1993:141). They are for the purpose of spiritual renewal, building relationships and unity, unifying in the common goal of reaching the city and praying to that end, finding a new vision for concerted prayer.

Citywide Prayer – Different churches are signing up for different days of the week to keep a 24- hour prayer chain for revival in their cities going.

Prayer Walks – They focus on communities, where believers pray “in the very place in which you expect your prayers to be answered” (Wagner 1993:170). Wagner states, “The idea of walking brings us into the closest contact with those in the community for whom we are praying” (ibidem). It is also a tool for spiritual mapping, i.e. gaining insight into the community’s history and spiritual strongholds of the enemy, as the prayer walker watches with his natural and spiritual eyes.

Prayer Marches – In 1987 the first March for Jesus took place in England, started by Graham Kendrick and other leaders, to not only “pray for the community, but also […] pray in the community” (Wagner 1993:150). It soon spread all over the world with millions marching in the streets of their cities, praising the Lord, being a visible light and establishing the Lordship of Christ over their cities.

Prayer Expeditions – They focus on primarily on regions and nations. Believers march around the borders of their region or nation, as they strategically intercede, usually together with believers of many different denominations of the regions. Graham Kendrick and John Houghton praise its efficiency saying, it “is the sheer breadth of praying which it generates, and often national and international issues become clear in a way that is missed on the shorter walks” (Wagner 1993: 189).

There are many more creative ways the Lord has released to His people – prayer journeys, identificational repentance, spiritual mapping, etc. – that go beyond the scope of this paper.



6. The Spirit of Islam


“The rise of Christianity in southwestern Arabia is attributed to power ministries […] It[5] tells of a Christian construction worker who cursed a snake which died, prayed for a blind boy who was healed, and then in God's name cursed the local sacred palm tree which was uprooted by a wind.” (Wagner & Pennoyer 1990:321)


Today the spirit of Islam is found in all the nations of the world, holding millions of people in its grip, in more than one case even whole nations. In most of these cases, people don’t adhere to the pure form of Islam as held by scholars, but they still have attachments to their local animistic beliefs, rituals and magic. Woodberry (in Wagner & Pennoyer 1990:318) states, “The folk Muslim wants to acquire the aid of helpful beings and forces and avoid those that are harmful.”  They live in fear, constantly trying to appease evil spirits and gaining the favor and power of good spirits.

Today, many Muslims in those parts of the world are turning to Christ – not by persuasive words, but by dreams and visions, signs and wonders as quoted above. It is Christ’s power of spirits, over sickness and even over nature that convince Muslims of the reality of God, the Father of Jesus. For too long Christians have tried to convince Muslims to exchange their powerless god for their powerless God, seeing little fruit and much persecution. Today Jesus is revealing Himself sovereignly to Muslims all over the world, who then follow Christ with the same commitment and abandonment with which they used to serve Allah, bringing many more into a relationship with the living God.

Christian missionaries today cannot afford to enter the enemy’s territory with wise words and ignorance; they must have the power of God. We must say with Paul: My speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power (1.Corinthians 2:4).

Why do we see such a great outpouring of God's Spirit in the Muslim world today? God's people have reached out in many ways to the Muslim community, but one act has been very crucial in my opinion: the Reconciliation Walk.

In the Middle Ages,

“the church taught that acts of penance, indulgences and pilgrimages were the only means of escaping the tortures of purgatory and entering the bliss of heaven. Because the emphasis on pilgrimage and relic worship was so strong, the church had a responsibility to keep the routes to Jerusalem open […] Popes Gregory VII and Urban II […] said that an act of warfare against the infidel, i.e. the Muslims, was in itself an act of penance, and if a Christian were to lose his life so doing, he would go straight to heaven.” (


900 years after the crusades where Christians murdered countless Muslims and Jews, the fruit we reap today is deep hatred. The founders of the Reconciliation Walk recognized the need for repentance on the part of Christians and walked the same street the crusaders had walked, repenting and asking forgiveness of Muslims on the way. As Christians repented of their sins, the Lord released His blessings, touching many Muslims’ hearts and breaking a spiritual stronghold in the Muslim world. Testimonies like the following abound from Muslims who have seen the light of the gospel: “‘We have heard about your message. It is a holy message. I think that the people who carry this message must be angels.’  Who would have foreseen that the words of our simple message of apology would so move the heart of a senior Palestinian police officer?” (


7. Conclusion


“Spiritual warfare remains one of the most controversial subjects in the Church today. Some people believe that Christians should not wrestle with demonic spirits in the heavens. Others believe that everyone should bind demonic principalities and powers in Heaven as well as on earth. Still others believe that only a select few – high ranking intercessors – are anointed to bind demonic spirits that rule over geographic areas of the world.”

(Jackson 1999:24)


The previous pages have discussed some of the contemporary trends in spiritual warfare – approaches and views that are held, the different arenas where the enemy attacks, as well as different methods of waging spiritual warfare. The battle started 2000 years ago, but the day of the final victory has not come yet. The enemy knows his fate and the closer it gets, the greater his rage and the battles he is fighting against the people of God. We must not be ignorant of his schemes, but with great wisdom and the leading of the Holy Spirit engage in the battle the Lord has called us to, to advance His kingdom on this earth.

8. Bibliography


Arnold, Clinton E., 3 Crucial Questions About Spiritual Warfare, Baker Books: Grand Rapids, MI 1997


Evans, Tony, The Battle Is The Lord’s, Moody Press: Chicago, IL 1998


Jackson, John Paul, Needless Casualties of War, Streams Publications: Fort Worth, TX 1999


Lundell, Peter N., Armed For Battle. A Balanced Approach to Spiritual Warfare, Beacon Hill Press: Kansas City, MO 2001


Murphy, Ed, The Handbook for Spiritual Warfare, Thomas Nelson Publishers: Nashville, TN 1992


Pirolo, Neal & Yvonne, Prepare For Battle, Emmaus Road International: San Diego, CA 1997


Powlison, David, Power Encounters. Reclaiming Spiritual Warfare, Baker Books: Grand Rapids, MI 1995


Wagner, C. Peter, and F. Douglas Pennoyer (eds.), Wrestling With Dark Angels, Regal Books: Ventura, CA 1990


Wagner, C. Peter, Warfare Prayer, Regal Books: Ventura, CA 1992


Wagner, C. Peter, Churches That Pray, Regal Books: Ventura, CA 1993


Wagner, C. Peter, Stephen Peters, and Mark Wilson (eds.), Praying Through the 100 Gateway Cities of the 10/40 Window, YWAM Publishing: Seattle, WA 1995


Wagner, C. Peter, Confronting The Powers, Regal Books: Ventura, CA 1996


Warner, Timothy M., Spiritual Warfare. Victory over the Powers of This Dark World, Crossway Books: Wheaton, IL 1991

[1] One wonders who else demons would attack – non-Christians who are already part of Satan’s kingdom?

[2] See Arnold 1997:76.

[3] See Acts 13 Elymas.

[4] For example in 2.Kings 17:30-31.

[5] A biography.