Territorial Warfare, Fact or Fiction?

   by Jeannette Haley

There’s a lot of marching going on these days—marching for women’s rights, gay rights, animal rights, minority’s rights. You name it! Everybody seems to be promoting some sort of cause or the other. And the church is no exception.

Besides marches for Jesus and other non-traditional public exhibitions, there is now a growing movement to “take our neighborhoods, cities, counties, countries and world for God.” Up front this may sound noble and good, but is it really? A closer examination of the foundation, motivation and goals of this popular trend may surprise you.

As the world is plunged deeper into chaos, destructive weather patterns, economic fluctuations, political and social unrest, fearful new plagues and incurable diseases along with the continual threat of nuclear global destruction, a large percentage of Christendom has responded in a heretofore unprecedented manner. In just a little over a decade we have witnessed a growing restlessness among the majority of charismatic churches that has culminated in nothing less than militant zeal.

There is somewhat of a savage, intimidating, forceful and unyielding energy behind this zeal. It is an energy that strongly gives the impression if you’re a Christian who is not caught up in today’s type of “spiritual warfare,” then you’re falling short of God’s ultimate plan (for this planet) and will (for your Christian life.) In other words, “You’re missing it!”

Just what is “spiritual warfare” anyway? Can we find that term in God’s Word? No, but the principles of spiritual warfare can be drawn from such passages of scripture as Ephesians 6:10-18; 1 Timothy 1:18; 6:12; 2 Tim. 1:7; 2:4; Heb. 10:32; Rev. 12:11, 17; Luke 10:19; 2 Cor. 10:3-5; 1 John 4:4. As you will note, all of these portions of scripture, in context, reveal a very different type of “spiritual warfare” than that being waged in churches around the world today. True Biblical “spiritual warfare” centers on the battle between the individual Christian and Satan for the believer’s FAITH. The primary battle each believer is called upon to fight is against personal temptations, accusations, lies, fears, lusts, hindrances, curses and such. There is not one mandate in the entire Bible that commands the church to overthrow Satan’s dominion over this world. Rather, the Bible makes it clear that it is God who overcomes our enemy.

Revelation 12:7-9 says, “And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven. And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.” Only then does the victory cry ring out, “And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night” Revelation 12:10.

Where did all of this frantic pressure to “take over the kingdoms of this world” begin? We shall find the answer within the Latter Rain, Manifest Sons of God, Dominionists camps. In 1983 Earl Paulk in “Wounded Body of Christ”, stated: “We begin to take dominion in spiritual areas by casting out devils and discerning spirits…finally, we begin to rule and reign with Christ. We rule and reign in social settings, in the heavenlies, and here on earth.” To further add to today’s confusion over spiritual warfare certain books and articles such as the following are widely read: “Taking Our Cities For God” by John Dawson; “Breaking Strongholds In Your City” by C.P. Wagner; “The Three Battlegrounds” by Francis Frangipane; “Territorial Spirits” by P. Wagner/Roger Forster; Possessing The Gates Of The Enemy” by Cindy Jacobs”. All of these authors are part of the MSOG/Dominionist movement whose aim is to bring in the Kingdom of God (prior to Christ’s visible return) and to rule the nations of the world through their [false] “apostles” and “prophets”. The Bible warns that it will be Satan and the Antichrist, not the church, who will hold worldwide power prior to Christ’s second coming.

This replacement of the church over Satan’s earthly rule is simply another form of “replacement theology”. Roger Forster writes in the foreword to the book, “Territorial Spirits”, “Heb. 2:5 reveals to us that the world to come will no longer be under subjection to angels but will be under subject to redeemed men and women who will reign with Christ. We are at present in training for reigning.” What Forster fails to understand is that the “world to come” in this passage of scripture is not the present age ruled by an overcoming church. It is referring to the Millennial age that will be ruled by the Lord Jesus Christ, King and Messiah.

Forster explains his “replacement theology” this way: “These structures [territorial principalities] will be refurbished with a whole new personnel. The final overthrow of Satan’s rebellious colonial government by the central government of God is preceded by the faith-sons of Abraham bringing blessing to all the families of earth. This demands territorial claims and advance through the earth.” In other words, Forster is claiming that the church replaces the territorial spirits and governs the nations of the world! (Notice that national Israel is missing.) He further writes, “Eventually, this resistance movement can produce sufficient numbers of trained personnel to take over the authority and administration of the colony from Satan and his angels, giving the least amount of disturbance to the heavenly structural powers…until such a network of resistance against Satan is found all over the earth, the second coming of our Lord is held up and his total reign restrained.” Personally, this sounds more like science fiction scenes from Star Wars (which is pure Hinduism) than from sound biblical exegesis.

The arrogance of these self-proclaimed leaders never ceases to amaze us. They truly believe that the result of all of this “spiritual mapping”, “territorial warfare”, “binding and releasing” and so forth will actually defeat Satan and his demons and their control over this world. Not only is this arrogant and presumptuous, but it is unbiblical as well. Yet, in spite of the clear teachings of the Word of God, millions of people who call themselves Christians are totally caught up in this futile activity.

There is also a grave danger in using the Name of Jesus to obtain one’s personal, unbiblical goals such as railing against Satan and demons for the purpose of routing them from their positions (that God has allowed them to hold until such time He expels them) or in commanding and calling forth those things that we, as Christians, have not been assigned as our responsibility. Christians today use the Name of Jesus in such a flippant, disrespectful and irreverent manner that it causes me to tremble! 2 Peter 2:10-12 states, “…Presumptuous are they, selfwilled, they are not afraid to speak evil of dignities. Whereas angels, which are greater in power and might, bring not railing accusation against them before the Lord. But these, as natural brute beasts, made to be taken and destroyed, speak evil of the things that they understand not; and shall utterly perish in their own corruption.

Jude 8-10 states, “Likewise also these filthy dreamers defile the flesh, despise dominion, and speak evil of dignities. Yet Michael the archangel, when contending with the devil he disputed about the body of Moses, durst not bring against him a railing accusation, but said, The Lord rebuke thee. But these speak evil of those things which they know not: but what they know naturally, as brute beasts, in those things they corrupt themselves.” Dignities are angelic powers and principalities.

When Jesus told His disciples, “and these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues” (Mark 16:17) He was speaking in the context of individual, personal ministry. Yes, a true believer who is upright before God does possess the authority to cast out devils, out of certain individuals in times of personal ministry as led by the Holy Spirit. But there is not one scriptural mandate for the church to “cast down principalities and powers” ruling over cities and nations so that the church may take dominion! Neither Jesus nor the disciples left us with any examples of such activity.

Satan’s goal is to usher in a one-world system over which he presides. This system will be political, economic and religious. His platform will be peace. It will be promoted by “love” and “light” and “goodwill” for all mankind. Because of lying signs and wonders, his counterfeit utopia will deceive all but the very elect. Through the New Age Movement, the United Nations, the Parliament of the World’s Religions, the Global Ethic and other powerful means the one-world government draws closer. And, unwittingly, zealous, militant Christians who have devoted themselves to the monumental and endless task of “pulling down strongholds” so they can “take their cities for God” may well be only another means by which Satan will be able to establish his earthly rule. Think about it. Daniel 10:20 reveals that when one demonic ruler was prevailed against, another came and took his place.

God’s plan for His people has not changed regardless of what the dominionsts and other false prophets teach. Our commission is the same—to lift up Jesus! We are still to “Go…therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you” Matthew 28:19, 20a. “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another” John 13:34. “Ye shall be witnesses unto me…” Acts 1:8.

Who, then, is responsible for the devil’s defeat? None other than the Victor Himself, Jesus Christ! “For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil” 1 John 3:8

The next time your church sings songs such as “I’m going up to the enemy’s camp to take back what he stole from me”, stop and think what you’re singing about. Who is being exalted, the church or Christ? Who is claiming responsibility to do that which only God can do? Christ, not the church, not this world, not spiritual warfare, is our blessed hope! “And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war. His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself. And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God, And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean. And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS” Revelation 19:11-16.

Test the spirit, examine the fruit. Make sure you are not being led astray from the truth. May God help us to not be as the five foolish virgins in Matthew 25 who dissipated their oil on deceitful pursuits so that in the end the door closed, leaving them forever shut out. Amen.