Spiritual Warfare, Creating a Culture of Prayer (5), May 29th 2022

Spiritual Warfare, Creating a Culture of Prayer (5), May 29th 2022

May 29th . Sunday After Ascension.

John 17:20-end, but Acts 16:16-end.

‘Deliverance and Spiritual Healing’.

Father, in these coming moments, we ask you to teach us and form us by your Spirit, into the likeness of your Son. In Jesus name. Amen.

 ‘Healing – in its various forms – is Jesus Christ meeting us at our point of need.’’

There are four kinds of healing.



Spiritual – healing of the spirit, caused by being out of harmony with God. The ultimate form being salvation, but this can include for example bitterness or unforgiveness.

Deliverance – for problems caused by the powers of darkness.

We are focusing on Deliverance and Spiritual today.


Paul, Silas, Timothy and Luke are followed around by a slave girl under demonic influence. Luke in the Greek says she has a pythonic spirit – that is a person inspired by Apollo, the Greek deity especially associated with giving oracles – the future.

She declares who they are. But this is disruptive.

Confusing people, if Paul etc are associated with her, or with the Greek gods, and if people doubt or question who this girl or her power is, they will doubt Paul and the message.

Acts records in a number of places where demons are cast out – Acts 5, 8, 16 and 19. This is Paul’s second encounter with satanic power. He had encountered it first. Now, he encounters a demon seeking to cause confusion and interfere with the mission.  ‘I command you in the name of Jesus Christ, Come out of her.’ And the demon came out there and then.  Amazingly.

In Jesus ministry, demons had recognized the superior authority when Jesus commanded them go leave their victim. Now they equally recognize that authority when his name is used, invoked by one of his disciples, and this name proved as powerful in exorcism as it did in other forms of healing.

The powers of darkness.

We note Acts 5, 8, 16, 19 all occur post cross, resurrection, ascension and Pentecost. The devil is defeated at the cross, but he is still active until the return of Christ. Peter tells the Christians ‘your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.’ James tells the believers. ‘Submit yourselves then to God. Resist the devil.’ Paul, at the end of Ephesians: For our struggle is not against flesh and blood but against the rules, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of the evil in the heavenly realms.’’  In Colossians 1, Paul reminds us that each person saved, such as the jailor in Philippi, is transferred from the dominion of darkness – the devil’s territory – into the kingdom of Christ.

Okay. So it is possible, in fact is quite likely, at some point as Christians, you will encounter the powers of darkness.

A few points.

Point 1.

Some situations in a person’s life, can be caused by a direct attack of Satan and the powers of darkness.

One example, my friend Andras is a pastor in Hungary. I remember him telling me, years ago, that so many times, when he was coming up a significant important message for is church – one of his children would get sick the night before. It became so common, happened so often, that this was more than bugs, viruses, there was something more.

Second example. I was part of a team, working with Gypsy Pentecostals and a Baptist Minister in Western Ukraine, the mainly Hungarian speaking part. Now. God moved so mightily, that after a week God had a church planted – 80 people – amazing, people coming to faith all through preaching of the gospel. So, we were meant to be there to help with evangelism. Well that wasn’t really needed. We were asked to help with discipleship. I remember teaching this group of new believers about spiritual warfare and one of the team was the translator, from English to Hungarian. Now I could speak Hungarian, just not well enough to preach from. But there was so much trouble with the translation that day, Rebekah just couldn’t get it, in fact she would hear my words and then say the totally wrong word. I wondered what was going on!

When I was back home in the UK, I chatted to the Anglican minister, whose church I was part of and he immediately answered that he thought we were being prayed against at that time…

So some situations may not be ‘human’ but be direct onslaught of Satan.

Point 2.

We need to remember that Jesus is totally victorious over Satan through his sacrificial death and mighty resurrection. As Colossians 2:13-15 says, Jesus disarmed the powers and authorities and he triumphed over them by the cross. We are living in a victory.

We see this reflected in the words I quoted. Peter says ‘your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion.’ What does Peter say next – run away?

No, ‘resist him standing firm in the faith knowing that your brothers and sisters throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings.’

You are not alone in this he says. And he says, resist him. You can overcome.

James – Resist the devil – and he then says ‘and he will flee from you.’

Ephesians. Paul describes the powers, rulers, authorities. He says ‘ Put on the full armour of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.’

We can stand in victory because of Christ. But it is not automatic, as Peter, Paul and James are teaching, we make choices as we face it.

Point 3.

We are under the power and authority of Jesus and, we each, minister in his power and authority.

Point 4.


a)If you are praying with someone, if you think the powers of darkness are involved, never minister on your own. Always be praying with someone else.

b)In the eyes of this church, and the Church of England, never minister in this area, without seeking advice from those in authority in your church.  In All Saints, that means, the chaplain. Or the priest, pastor of the church you attend.

c)Finally always seek prayer support, when you are involved in this situation.

Those who become involved in occult practices potentially expose themselves to demonic forces.  How a person is affected will vary. Many become involved at a very minimal and casual level and all that may be needed is repentance for such involvement.

Others can get sucked in at a much deeper level, and their lives are much more affected. 

In this sermon, I believe it is enough to say, that I believe, based on the bible and from my experience, that the matter of possession is one that the church still encounters today. However, a very wise approach, is that in all dealings with people who may be suspected to be possessed, professional and expert counseling and psychiatric advice will be involved, to understand if this is possession or a disorder which will need medically treating.

Footholds and Schemes

The second part of this sermon, brings together these two areas – spiritual healing and the powers of darkness. In Ephesians 4, Paul says the devil can gain a foothold in a believers life.

In 2 Cor 2, Paul when talking about forgiveness, he mentions ‘’What I have forgiven  … I have forgiven in the sight of Christ for your sake, in order that Satan might not outwit us. For we are not unaware of his schemes.’’

Ephesians 4:26-27 – ‘In your anger, do not sin, do not let the sun go down while you are still anger and do not give the devil a foothold.’

Anger is not wrong. We remember how God is described ‘the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands and forgiving wicknedness rebellion and sin.’’ God’s pure character – slow to anger. Jesus expressed anger in the temple.

Anger is not wrong. It is not a sinful emotion. So to feel anger is not a sin.

We may be angry over personal boundaries being abused, injustice done to you,

over racism, sexual abuse.

We should not feel guilty over feeling angry, when we are harmed, or when harm is done to others.

The questions are = why am I angry. And secondly, what we DO with our anger.

Listen to what Paul is saying: in your anger do not sin –  ‘we can be angry and there is wrongful use of anger.’  Paul says – do not let the sun go down while you are angry. 

The sun goes down. ‘After time’. It means we embrace it, anger that lies unresolved in our hearts, festering. When Jesus teaches on anger, the word he uses is one for long live, nursed anger that wants revenge.  Paul is saying – this bitterness, deep vengeful anger, hate, I think it can said, gives the devil a foothold, an opportunity the NASB says.

Paul said in 2 Cor 2 – he has forgiven – for we are not unaware of Satan’s schemes, so he might not outwit us.

I think Neil Anderson may be right: Satan’s greatest access to Christians is often through the sin of unforgiveness – where anger has become bitterness, resentment, hate.

In Ephesians 4, Paul goes on to say: get rid of all bitterness … forgiving each other just as in Christ, God forgave you.

I believe as we forgive, we remove that foothold, the opportunity for the enemy, defeat his schemes.

But it is important to review what is forgiveness and what it is not.

1.Forgiveness is not forgetting.

To forget all that has been done to is, is very difficult and we may find we cannot do it.

We instead face the wrong done to us.

We do not put off forgiving those who hurt you, waiting for the day the pain has gone away. We find the healing begins when we first forgive.

2.Forgiveness is a choice, a decision of your will.

It is something God asks us to do. It is something, we can do, through his help and strength of his Spirit.

Sometimes it is very hard to forgive someone because we naturally want revenge, in some way, for the things we suffered. Forgiveness seems to go against our sense of right and fair.

We hold onto our anger, trying to punish people over and over again in our minds or in other ways, for the pain they have caused.

But Romans 12 tells us, not to take our revenge, but to let God deal with the person.

Let that person off your hook because as long as you refuse to forgive someone, you are still hooked to that person, you are still chained to the past. By forgiving, you let the other person  off your hook, but they are not off God’s hook. You trust that God will deal with the person justly, lovingly, fairly. You cannot turn back the clock and change the past, but you can be free from it.

3.Forgiveness is agreeing to live with the consequences of another person’s sin.

We are going to have to usually, live with the consequences of their sin.  

The choice we have is whether we will do so, in bondage of bitterness or in the freedom of forgiveness. 

We do not wait for the person to ask for your forgiveness,

Jesus forgave, Stephen forgave, before they changed or said sorry.

4.Forgiveness comes from your heart

Our painful memories may be near the surface, or God may bring them to the surface;

we acknowledge how we feel towards those who hurt you.

We recognize and acknowledge the emotions inside.

Forgiveness deals with resentment, bitterness.

Although we may still feel hurt until healing is complete.

5.Forgiveness is choosing not to hold someone’s sin against him or her anymore.

This does not mean that the sin did not matter.

This does not mean, that we fail to confront – if safe and possible – their wrong and hurtful behavior.

It means, we choose not to bring it up.

But we do not put up with their future sins.

We do not allow ourselves to be abused, to be harmed, to have our boundaries trampled upon.

We take a stand against sin, while exercising grace and forgiveness.

6.Forgiveness cannot wait until we feel like forgiving.

If we wait til we feel like forgiving, to be honest, we will probably never get there.

 We make the hard choice to forgive, even if we do not feel like it.

We remove the opportunity the foothold, defeat the schemes Satan is trying to do. 

Freedom is what we may gain first before any change in feelings.

But new feelings follow forgiveness.

7.Forgiveness is a process.

We often need to keep on forgiving, sometimes on a daily basis. Like an onion with layers, the fact that we need to forgive again, does not mean that we have not forgiven the first time. There is another layer.

Putting into Practice.

It is rare that we will encounter the powers of darkness as Paul did in Philippi. But the NT warns us that each of us are in a spiritual battle, and he seeks to get influence, and opportunity within our lives.

So I wanted to suggest this exercise and invite you to do this.

This is about a way, to help you to forgive others.

You may say, you do not need to forgive anyone at the moment. Great.

This exercise I am about to suggest comes from a process called ‘Steps to Freedom’ by Neil Anderson. Usually once a year, on retreat, I go through the 7 steps, as a kind of spiritual MOT, as the steps cover all aspects of our walk with God. When I come to this step, I do it as I will describe. Sometimes I am already aware of the issue, other times, after I have prayed, I remember and go, ‘ah yes, this is still an issue there…’ it is interesting how much can build up in us…

Set aside an hour.

Ask God to bring to mind people you need to forgive.

On a piece of paper write down those names.

Often we hold things against ourselves, punishing ourselves for wrong choices, for sins we’ve made in the past. We write ‘myself’ on the bottom of the list.

To forgive ourselves, is to accept the truth that God has already forgiven you in Christ.

We then turn to prayer.

The prayer takes this format.

Lord, I choose to forgive – we name the person

For – what the person failed or did do

Which made me feel – and we tell God every hurt and pain that comes to mind what that person did.

This is not about excusing or explaining their behavior.

We make the hard choice to ‘I choose to forgive’.

After we have forgiven each person for all the offences that came to our mind, and we have expressed how we feel, we conclude our forgiveness in a prayer such as this…

‘Lord, I choose not to hold onto my resentment.

I thank you for setting me free from the bondage of my bitterness.

I let go of my right to seek revenge and ask You to heal my damaged emotions.

I now ask you to bless – name the person

In Jesus name. Amen.

You  may find this easy to do this by yourself. Or you may find it helpful to go through this process with a friend. Or you may know someone who would find it helpful, going through this process will be helpful, and so you could let them know and offer to be a personal or praying support in this.


Paul encountered Satanic power. We may encounter the power of darkness in a similar way. The NT reminds us that our enemy is active,  but we can resist him.

One way, we all face his attacks, will be when we are hurt, when we become angry.

What will we do with the anger.

Paul warns us that the enemy, through nursed anger, resentment, bitterness, seeks to gain a foothold, influence within us.

Instead we are to forgive and do defeat his schemes.

This is a battle we all face and will face.

Shall we pray.

Lord, thank you for winning the victory over the devil.

We thank you that while he prowls, attacks, seeks to gain ground,

we can resist him, and stand in victory.

Grow our confidence in your victory; show us where he has or is gaining ground and opportunity in our lives, and help us see what we need to do.

We thank you for the day coming when all demonic powers will be thrown into the fire and this world.

In Jesus name. Amen.