By Francis Frangipane
I want to talk with you about spiritual warfare. Before we proceed, however, I have two concerns. The first is our need for wisdom. There is an old European proverb worth heeding. It reads: "Age and treachery will always defeat youth and zeal." Before we engage in spiritual warfare, we should know this about Satan: he is an ancient and extremely treacherous foe. On the other hand, the strength of most Christians lies primarily in idealism and untested fervor. It is not long, usually five to ten years in the ministry, and most zeal has waned. Without warning, the minister's call has deteriorated from a walk of vision to a mere job.
What occurred was that zeal, by itself, challenged the treachery of hell and lost. The brightness of youthful dreams dimmed under the dark cloud of relentless satanic assault. Under the weight of growing frustrations and discouragement, compromise increased, and with it came iniquity and spiritual bondage.
Yet, the real villain was not sin but ignorance. We put the devil in a doctrinal box and expected him to stay there. He did not. He undermined relationships, and our love grew cautious. He resisted us in prayer, and our faith turned weak. Disillusionment set in. After spending much time with struggling pastors, I have seen a common trend in most: They failed to discern the assault of the devil. They stood unprotected against an ancient, treacherous foe.
Jesus prepared His disciples for everything, including spiritual warfare. They watched Him cast out demons; they clearly knew the devil was real. In fact, He sent them forth to also deliver people from demons. But before He sent them out, He charged them to become wise "as serpents" yet innocent and harmless "as doves" (Matt. 10:16). This fusion of divine wisdom and Christlike innocence is the taproot of all spiritual victory. Indeed, we can defeat the enemy, but wisdom must precede warfare and virtue must come before victory.
Consequently, my goal is to train the church in wisdom and call the church to innocence. We will not disregard what we have previously learned; we will still live by faith. But we must learn the ways of God, which means we must think with wisdom. And we must pursue purity of heart, that we may see God and gain discernment. Indeed, it is the lack of discernment that has left us vulnerable to satanic attack.
Of my second concern, let me say that there are no shortcuts to successful warfare, only ways to make it longer and more perilous. One way of peril is to enter battle blinded by presumption. When it comes to waging war effectively, consider carefulness to be the essence of victory.
Whatever lofty spiritual plane you imagine that you are on, remember: Adam was in Paradise when he fell. Before your increased knowledge and religious experiences make you overly self-confident, recall that Solomon wrote three books of Scripture; he actually gazed upon the glory of God, yet he fell. Yes, even in your deepest worship of the Almighty, do not forget in long ages past Lucifer himself was once in Heavenpouring out praise to God.
We each know of many who have fallen. Jesus warned that the love of many would grow cold. Do not presume it cannot happen to you. Our enemy has been deceiving mankind for thousands of years. Our experience, on the other hand, spans but a brief moment. It is wisdom to recognize that we do not know all there is to know concerning warfare.
Therefore, be bold but never brash or arrogant in your prayer life. Use your spiritual authority administratively, compassionately, but never presumptuously. Multitudes of well-meaning but ignorant Christians have approached the field of spiritual battle with flippant attitudes and have suffered greatly for it. Study several books and seek confirmation from the Lord for your strategies. As it is written, "Prepare plans by consultation, and make war by wise guidance" (Prov. 20:18).
Thus, our purpose here is to help equip you for battle in three primary areas: the mind, the church and the heavenly places. There are other fields or subcategories of spiritual warfare; however, these are where most of us will face conflict.
One last note. A few of you will be instrumental in actually turning your cities toward God. Our prayer is that the truth of God's grace will empower you for that goal and that others will join in that grace to see an enduring move of God accomplished. The promise of the Spirit speaks thus: "There was a small city with few men in it and a great king came to it, surrounded it and constructed large siegeworks against it. But there was found in it a poor wise man and he delivered the city by his wisdom" (Eccl. 9:14–15).
While many are predicting the destruction of our nation and the collapse of our cities, they have not considered the power of Christ in you. But remember, "Wisdom is better than strength . . . wisdom is better than weapons of war" (Eccl. 9:16, 18).
---Francis Frangipane, July 1989
Introduction to The Three Battlegrounds