I’ve had one of those weeks where God has shown me something and I have to do something about it.
A friend of mine recommended the book The Bondage Breaker by Neil T. Anderson, an older book about spiritual warfare.
It’s not silly or over the top. It doesn’t encourage exorcisms or power encounters.
Instead, the book provides a simple, biblical approach for standing up against spiritual darkness.
It’s really good, and I recommend it.
After reading the book, I was convicted. Here’s why:
“For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” (Ephesians 6:12, ESV)
In ministry to the poor, I have often found myself wrestling against flesh and blood – feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, caring for widows and orphans.
Don’t misunderstand me. The things listed above are really, really good things that Christians ought to be doing out of obedience to Jesus.
But those acts of service won’t set anyone free.
This isn’t a theory of mine, it’s a truth I’ve seen first hand.
And it’s a truth we can deduce from scripture.
For example, Jesus came to preach good news to the poor and to set captives free (see Luke 4:18). Yet Jesus doesn’t give money to beggars and he never visits a literal prison to release the incarcerated.
For Jesus, good news for the poor was: “You are blessed, because the kingdom belongs to you.” And setting captives free looked like driving out demons and defeating the power of Satan on the cross.
So what does all of this have to do with ministry to the poor?
In my neighborhood, many families and individuals have lived in spiritual darkness for generations. Satan, whose native language is lying, has bombarded many of my neighbors with deception, falsehood, and fear.
And no matter how much food, clothing, and material resources the Church gives them, the darkness remains.
In light of Paul’s words from Ephesians, I think we need a more wholistic approach.
We need to challenge Satan’s lies with the truth of the gospel.
We need to stop talking about praying and actually do it.
And, according to Paul, we need to put on the full armor of God… truth, righteousness, the gospel of peace, faith, salvation, and the word of God.
These things are for our protection.
I can speak from first hand experience, ministry in the margins is not a spiritually safe place, it’s a war zone. In fact, I’m in a season of healing and renewal after the subtle lies of Satan started to get to me.
This stuff is real.
And all of the sudden, I realize why God has provided the Holy Spirit, the scriptures, and the Church.
It’s not to make us feel good, it’s our equipment.
As we engage in the dangerous mission of God – whether in the margins or elsewhere – we must remember to pray and we must arm ourselves with the full armor of God.
And we must not forsake Christ’s body, the Church.
Without these supernatural resources, we are likely to believe the enemy’s lies.
For my own sake, for the Church’s sake, and for my neighbors sake, I sure don’t want that to happen.