There are two errors of interpretation that have contributed to the misunderstanding about spiritual warfare.
Binding and loosing
The first misunderstanding comes from Jesus’ words to His disciples in Matthew 16 and arises from a misinterpretation of the rabbi’s yoke.
“I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” Matthew 16:19.
Although this statement does refer to a form of “spiritualwarfare” it has been mistakenly interpreted to mean that Jesus’ disciples have to engage the enemy by binding him and his demons and “loosing” the Holy Spirit (God forbid – since when has the Holy Spirit been bound?) into situations where strongholds have been identified.
The correct interpretation has to do with the rabbi’s yoke which has already been explained in a previous section.
“We know that folks called Jesus Rabbi, but what is the significance of this title, beyond simply meaning “teacher”?
“Jesus was not the first, or the only, teacher to roam the country with Talmidim (students or disciples) The itinerant teacher (rabbi) was part of the system in first century Jewish religious life. Disciples would aspire to the role of rabbi once fully trained. Notice though that Yeshua was also regarded as a prophet and healer – signs of the power of God at work in him by the Holy Spirit. Notice the questions from the establishment questioning Yeshua by the cohanim,
“Jesus entered the temple courts, and, while he was teaching, the chief priests and the elders of the people came to him. “By what authority are you doing these things?’ they asked. ‘And who gave you this authority?’” Matthew 21:23
“Authority here is s’mikhah – a commissioning involving laying on of hands. We know where Yeshua’s s’mikhah came from. (http://www.wildolive.co.uk/Rabbi%20Jesus.htm)
“S’micha is Hebrew for leaning of the hands, and derives from a Hebrew word with means rely on, or to
be authorized. It is roughly equivalent to the English word ordination.”
“When Jesus had finished these words, the crowds were amazed at His teaching; for He was teaching
them as one having authority, and not as their scribes.” Matthew 7:28-29
Jesus’ authority is from God…(http://bellatorah.com/Lessons_files/Jesus_is_a_Rabbi.pdf)
But Jesus’ authority did not only come from God. He was God.
“Rabbis with s’mekah could make their own interpretations of the Scriptures because they were anointed by God to do so. They would say, “You have heard it said, but I say to you” and then make a new and different interpretation of a passage in the text. This was a very special authority and was only conferred on a very few of the most brilliant rabbis of the day.
“These rabbis with s’mekah referred to their own unique collection of interpretations of Scripture as their “yoke”. They travelled around the countryside showing their students how to understand and obey their “yoke of Torah”. (http://www.dodsonlumber.com/Acts242/jesus-a-jewish-rabbi-part-4/)
It was a disciple’s duty, not only to adopt his rabbi’s yoke but to teach it to (bind it on) new disciples so that they would be loosed from all other yokes.
Hence Jesus issued His invitation:
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30.
Jesus was offering His followers a yoke of freedom, not only from the bondage of religious rules and regulations, but also from the bondage of guilt, fear and shame coming from a life of slavery to sin. When He took His disciples to the region of Caesarea Philippi, He wanted them to see what went on there so that they would understand what binding His yoke on people who were held captives to idolatry and the terrible sin it produced, would mean. By teaching people to follow Jesus, they would be set free from the destruction of sin and brought into the kingdom of God’s love and light.
Is that not the most powerful and effective way to release people from the devil’s clutches, to teach them the yoke of Jesus and release them from all other yokes of bondage?
The weapons of our warfare
- The second misunderstanding has to do with interpreting Paul’s words in Ephesians 6:10-18 and 2 Corinthians 10:4-6.
Paul speaks of weapons and war. We have to ask three important questions: Where and with whom is the war we are engaged in, and what are our weapons?
Contrary to what we may think, the war is not between us and the devil or even between God and the devil.
“So I say, live by the Spirit and you will not gratify the deeds of the sinful nature. For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other so that you do not do what you want.” Galatians 5:16, 17.
Paul expands on this in 2 Corinthians 10:4-6. We are not engaged in a worldly war; we do not fight with worldly weapons and the site of the war is not in the world but in our minds, our thought life where the battle rages between our old fleshly nature and the Spirit.
It is our responsibility, when our thoughts are in conflict with what God has said, to “demolish strongholds. We demolish every argument and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take every thought captive to make it obedient to Christ,” 2 Corinthians 10:4, 5.
What are the weapons at our disposal and how do we fight?
According to Paul in Ephesians 6:10-18, there is a range of demonic forces against us, trying to lure us away from our knowledge of and confidence in the truth by sowing lies into our thoughts. When difficulties and adversities come, particularly through people, we can either interpret them from the perspective of our old sinful nature, mistrusting and blaming God and reacting like unregenerate people, with fear or anger against the perpetrators, or we can believe the truth and stand on what God has said in spite of what appears to be.
This has got nothing to do with the so-called principalities and powers over groups of people and nations. Jesus has already dealt with them at the cross. This has to do with the way we react to people (flesh and blood – Ephesians 6:12) when the enemy uses them to harass us. There is nothing anyone can say or do that will change the truth of who we are in Christ and what He has done and will continue to do in us and for us.
We have powerful spiritual weapons which protect our minds and demolish the lies that the enemy would sow into our thinking so that we believe him rather than the truth of God’s word. Everything God has said about righteousness, peace, faith and salvation comes from the truth which is found in God’s word. The only way we can defeat the enemy and sent him fleeing is by exposing his lies by standing on the truth. We do not need to be rescued by someone else. We need to take responsibility for our sin and believe and declare the truth.
To be continued…