Mag. Claudia R. Wintoch
Worship & Warfare
World Revival School of Ministry
3.1. Inward Battle
3.2. Outward Battle
3.3. Upward Battle
Over the last 30 years we have seen dramatic renewal in the church in the area of worship and of spiritual warfare. New songs are coming forth every week, and thanks to modern technology, they are spreading all over the world, leading the church deeper into worship and closer to the heart and mind of God. The worship renewal of the 70s and 80s prepared the people of God for the spiritual renewals of the 90s. Accompanying the renewed vigor and life of worship was a new understanding and depth of intercession and spiritual warfare, as believers in bondage, with emotional wounds and demons, were confronted with the truth of their condition when the Holy Spirit touched their lives, bringing healing and deliverance. Following their restoration, the Lord has been sending many back into the harvest to battle for others and set them free the same way they have been set free.
Yet, the renewal of the past few decades has only been preparation for the new season the Lord is taking us into right now; a season when we must have deep intimacy with the Lord, knowing how to worship in Spirit and truth, and when we must know how to fight spiritual powers, as darkness is about to increase on the earth, while His light will shine more brightly as ever in the nations of the world.
It is vital for every church to fill its sanctuary with worship that ascribes worth to the Lord, that is pleasing to Him and honors Him only. In our Western, individualistic society we have made worship all about us, instead of Him; what kind of songs we like, how we feel, if we feel His presence, if we are free to do what we want, etc. No one ever asks what God wants. However, the Bible is full with statements about what the Lord desires – which is what worship is about. And “only those born of the Spirit are capable of worshiping God the way He desires to be worshiped” (Gentile 1994:18). In John 4 Jesus tells us that the Father is seeking those who worship Him in Spirit and truth. Graham Kendrick, an accomplished worship song writer, states: “To worship ‘in spirit’ is to tap into the very source of worship himself, the inexhaustible, endlessly praising Spirit of God, and to allow him liberty to join with our own spirit in expressing through our mind and body the worth of our saviour Jesus, and the love of our heavenly Father” (ibidem 19). We are also called to worship Him in truth, which is “to worship the Father, through the Son, by the Holy Spirit” (ibidem 28). Kendrick defines it as meaning “to worship according to God's own revelation of himself and his purposes of mankind” (ibidem 29).
While our worship must be focused on God and His desires, it is true that He will draw near to us when we draw near to Him, which will lead to all the wonderful manifestations of His presence that has all too often become an end in itself. Gentile remarks, “When one worships the true God fervently, the Holy Spirit reveals the heart of Father God to bring all people before Him in worship.” (ibidem 24).
Angelic beings constantly worship the Almighty God before His throne. Yet, He desires His creation, those He created according to His own image, to worship Him out of their free will with their hearts, minds, spirits and strength. That is the kind of worship we must establish in our churches. He inhabits the praises of His people and will come down where the atmosphere is similar to the one in heaven. It is our responsibility to respond the way He has shown us in His word – by lifting hands to Him, clapping, standing, dancing, bowing, playing instruments, singing, speaking and shouting.
Robert Webber is optimistic: “We are witnessing the end of a faith and worship characterized by passive noninvolvement, intellectualized propositions, and a seeming absence of God” (ibidem 12).
Numerous books have been published on the topic of spiritual warfare over the past few decades. The Lord has been restoring truth to His church, as His people have been coming into a new awareness of their authority in Christ to resist the enemy and fight against the powers of darkness coming against them, their churches, their cities and even their regions and nations.
3.1. Inward Battle
The first battle every Christian has to fight is the one going on in his mind. As the apostle Paul put it: Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will (Romans 12:2). As the believer keeps winning the battles in his mind, he is being conformed into the image of Christ. He is commanded to demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God and to take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ (2.Corinthians 10:5). Some believers – because of circumstances and wrong choices in their past – seem to constantly lose this battle of the mind because of demonic activity in their lives and need deliverance from the enemy’s strongholds in their lives. It is the church’s responsibility to come alongside such weak brothers and sisters, feeding them with the truth of the Word of God and showing them the way to freedom. Unfortunately the church has widely failed in lifting up those that need help, denying any problems since we are a new creation, the old has gone, the new has come (2.Corinthians 5:17) and blaming those hurting and oppressed, making their condition worse than before, and leaving the body of Christ weak, hurting and ineffective in the kingdom of God.
3.2. Outward Battle
Throughout the ages the enemy has ceaselessly been working at destroying the body of Christ. He is strategizing against local congregations and has far too often succeeded at poisoning churches and destroying ministers of the gospel. Believers have widely been ignorant of the enemy’s schemes against their pastors, leaving their leadership vulnerable to attacks of the enemy, and even becoming the enemy’s instruments themselves through gossip and other sins. Pastors are in the frontline of the army, and their congregations must uphold them in prayer in order for them to be effective and victorious, advancing the kingdom of God in their churches and communities.
Another battle churches have to fight starts when revival hits their congregations. The religious system is challenged, traditions, things as usual, individual comfort and commitment. It is therefore not surprising that many churches lose numerous members when God shows up bringing revival and new life. Those who care more about themselves than God, those who have not won the inward battle (yet), those are the ones whose flesh will rise up against a move of God, not wanting their comfort zones being challenged. Instead of supporting their pastors, they rebel against them, working together with the enemy against God's move and His chosen minister. However, every pastor truly advancing the kingdom of God will have to deal with this situation, applying godly wisdom and rejoicing that the enemy needs to do something against the work they do for the kingdom of God.
3.3. Upward Battle
Finally, having won the inward battle and being
united in the outward battle, a church can confidently war against the powers
coming against their communities, city and nation. Christ has equipped His body
with everything necessary, having won the victory on the cross, and delegating
His authority to His followers. When churches and pastors of a city come
together in unity, with a common purpose and goal, God releases His power,
sending forth His angels to wage war in the heavenlies for whole cities and
nations: How good and pleasant it is
when brothers live together in unity! It is like precious oil poured on the head, running down on the beard, running down on Aaron's beard, down upon the collar of his robes. It is as if the dew of Hermon were falling on Mount Zion. For there the Lord bestows his blessing, even life forevermore (Psalm 133).
The Christian life is the life of a soldier who is constantly at war. He is equipped perfectly, and he knows he is on the winning side. All he has to do is use the weapons the Lord has given him and exercise his authority for the advancement of the kingdom of God. All his actions must be based on his intimate relationship with his Lord, friend and bridegroom, and a lifestyle of worshiping and honoring Him. Unfortunately, only few Christians experience that fullness of life in their relationship with the Lord and their battles with themselves and the powers of the enemy. It is because of that that the church has become ineffective, dead, no threat to the enemy, and no light to the world. It is up to us to return to God's ways and become the soldiers and lovers He has called us to be, spreading His light in the nations and calling the dead to rise, and the sleeping church to wake up, to takes its rightful place in the kingdom of God, not dishonoring the name of the Lord, but restoring His honor in sight of the nations, kings and powers of this world.
Gentile, Ernest B., Worship God!, City Bible Publishing: Portland, OR 1994