The world is unprincipled. It’s dog-eat-dog out there! The world doesn’t fight fair. But we don’t live or fight our battles that way – never have and never will. The tools of our trade aren’t for marketing or manipulation, but they are for demolishing that entire massively corrupt culture. We use our powerful God-tools for smashing warped philosophies, tearing down barriers erected against the truth of God, fitting every loose thought and emotion and impulse into the structure of life shaped by Christ. Our tools are ready at hand for clearing the ground of every obstruction and building lives of obedience into maturity.
2 Corinthians 10:3-6, The Message, Eugene H. Peterson
Most Christians find it difficult in this humanistic, materialistic age to adjust their worldview to include a hierarchy of evil spirits operating against those who are a part of the kingdom of God. I believe Timothy M. Warner is correct in his observation that we evangelicals so often become functional deists: we assume that we hold a Christian worldview because we believe in a personal God. “But we also assume,” Warner goes on, ” that He is now on His throne up in Heaven and that the world is being run by scientific laws which have no functional spiritual components.” This is the error of Deism.
The Bible makes it clear that there are three orders of beings operating in our present world: first, there is God, the Creator-Redeemer, the Eternal One, the Holy One, the Almighty One; the All-sufficient One; and then there are angels. God created these His secret agents for the purpose of ministry throughout the cosmos – guiding, protecting, delivering, informing and guarding His children and servants. And He gave angels special assignments “for those who will inherit salvation” (Heb. 1:14); and finally, there are human beings who are created for the purpose of glorifying their Creator by taking authority and responsibility for the order and well-being of planet earth and for spreading His good Word to the nations.
If the death of Jesus Christ sealed Satan’s doom, why does the devil seem to be still in control of the nations today? Why can Satan torment, deceive and divide believers? How is it that He is able to keep the saints in ignorance of their most powerful weapon?
The Fierce Conflict
Fallen human beings of Adam’s race are now beset by hosts of evil spirits headed by a fallen angel, Satan, who before his fall from the celestial world was known as “Lucifer.” This Evil One lost his holiness and his exalted position, but in his wicked conspiracy against God, he involved a third of the angels, and they were all swiftly cast out of heaven. When Adam disobeyed God and yielded to Satan’s deception, the human race fell under the dominion of Satan.
But God, who foreknew the treachery of Satan and the fall of Adam, had in His wisdom and grace planned a way by which mankind could be saved. God sent His only begotten Son in the form of a man. Jesus Christ became God incarnate. The God-man came to seek and to save that which was lost. His appearance signaled a crucial battle between the Son of God and the Evil One. The destiny of the world and of the human race depended on the outcome of this conflict. Paul E. Billheimer wrote, “In the long conflict from Bethlehem to Calvary, the most terrific battle ever waged, the actual and only rightful Heir to the throne of dominion and the false pretender to that throne were locked in mortal combat. Through thirty-three years that warfare continued with unabated intensity. The fallen ‘son of the morning,’ the highest of all pre-adamic created beings, marshaled all of his subtlety and power to break down the allegiance of this God-man to His heavenly Father.”
The “prince of darkness” hounded Jesus clear up to his death, “even the death of the cross,” without scoring a single point. Not one single thought was allowed in His mind that was out of harmony with the Father. When Jesus finally bowed His head and died, it meant that He had through His atoning death cancelled all claims that Satan held upon the earth and the entire human race. The apostle Paul put it this way, “Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it” (Col. 3:15). Eugene Peterson in contemporary language explains what happened in Jesus’ victorious death on the cross, “He stripped all the spiritual tyrants in the universe of their sham authority at the Cross and marched them naked through the streets.”
Enforcing the Victory
If Jesus’ death at Calvary was the decisive blow to Satan, why did the apostle Paul refer to Satan as “the god of this world” who blinds the minds of the masses, lest they become believers? If Calvary was God’s stroke of victory against evil, why are there so many wars and so much suffering in the world? If the death of Jesus Christ sealed Satan’s doom, why does the devil seem to be still in control of the nations today? Why can Satan torment, deceive and divide believers? How is it that He is able to keep the saints in ignorance of their most powerful weapon?
The answer to these questions is very important, and it is this: because Calvary’s victory has only been partially enforced! Jesus was so absolute in His authority that demons obeyed Him. Note carefully His plan to delegate His authority to the Church and continue to see Calvary’s victory enforced across the centuries: “All authority – all power of rule – in heaven and on earth has been given to Me. Go then and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit; teaching them to observe everything that I have commanded you, and lo, I am with you all the days, — perpetually, uniformly and on every occasion – to the very close and consummation of the age,” (Matt. 28:18-20, The Amplified New Testament). As we read the book of Acts, we see how powerfully the Early Church was enabled to enforce the victory won at Calvary by our Lord.
“All authority – all power of rule – in heaven and on earth has been given to Me. Go then!”
The apostles and believers complied with the conditions of their authority: they returned to Jerusalem after Jesus’ ascension and began praying, just as He commanded; they tarried in prayer for ten days until the Holy Spirit was poured out upon them; and they began the proclamation of the Gospel in the city of Jerusalem in great power before moving on to Judea, Samaria and to “the ends of the earth.” The apostles and deacons and believers in the Early Church lived in the power of the Holy Spirit – they prayed in the Spirit; they worshiped in the Spirit; they preached in the Spirit; they suffered in the Spirit; they healed in the Spirit; they cast out devils in the Spirit; they rejoiced and glorified God in the Spirit. The early Christians did nothing apart from prayer. Consequently, they were empowered by the Holy Spirit to enforce Christ’s victory at Calvary and demonstrate the same authority their Lord had demonstrated during His ministry on earth: the dead were raised, the lame walked, the blind saw, the deaf heard, the lepers were cleansed, and the Gospel was preached in power.
Dear fellow believers, what will it take to get us back to the purpose and power of the Lord for His Church at this late hour? Can we not see from the history of the Church the glory of God on His people when a remnant returned to the Upper Room and tarried for fresh fillings of the Holy Spirit? Under the anointing of the Holy Spirit: they went forth and took authority to preach the Gospel, and thousands were convicted of sin and converted to Jesus Christ; to command evil spirits, and the spirits obeyed; to lay hands on the sick, and the sick recovered; to denounce carnal behavior among believers, and see the compromised believers become sanctified holy; to challenge false doctrines and leaders, and see God vindicate His Word and send revival.
Armed And Dangerous
Where is the believer who will place his/her traditions, theology, family, significant others, pride, education, reputation, position, dreams and goals on the altar of consecration to God? Where is the believer who will confess any covert or overt sin? Where is the believer who will cease relying on past spiritual experiences and begin practicing daily “crucifixion with Christ?” Where is the believer who will be willing to experiment for a year in self-denial and total abandonment to the glorious will of God and the leadership of the Holy Spirit? Where is the believer who will believe the words of Jesus to Spirit-filled believers when He promised, “Most assuredly, I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in My name He will give you” (John 16:23)? Where is the believer who will dare to ask God to fill him/her with the Holy Spirit, who will take up the weapon of intercessory prayer and tear down the strongholds in his/her life, who will put on the whole armor of God and take authority and wrestle against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age and against the hosts of wicked spirits operating in the unseen dimension?
On such believers, God will pour out His Spirit and there will be an anointing (a divinely inspired authority, a holy equipping, a sanctified boldness) to tear down Satanic strongholds, to see dead churches come to life, to deliver the backslidden from delusions and carnal addictions. May God multiply the numbers of such spiritually armed and dangerous men and women who will push back the darkness and lead us in revival in the twenty-first century.
Destined to Overcome
by Paul E. Billheimer
Having just reread this book, Rev. Tharp encourages that all those interested in spiritual warfare also study it. He believes that you will gain depth of knowledge, insight and benefit from the reading. Paul E. Billheimer was a Bible college president and a television and radio preacher in the Wesleyan holiness tradition. In discussing the technique of spiritual warfare in this book, the author shares the secrets of spiritual authority discovered from his own life and ministry.
Billheimer attended Houghton College and Taylor University, and graduated from Marion College in 1923. He and his wife were married sixty-three years and raised three children. They began a tent ministry in Anderson, Indiana, in 1936 that grew to include a Bible Institute, a Christian High School, a Christian Day School, and, in 1957, a Christian television station. Billheimer authored such books as Destined for the Throne, Don’t Waste Your Sorrows, Love Covers, Destined to Overcome, Destined for the Cross, and The Mystery of God’s Providence. He and his wife spent their latter years working with the Trinity Broadcasting Network. Billheimer died in 1984.
- PART 1: The Technique of Spiritual Warfare helps the believer to recognize his “weapons” and use them effectively.
- PART II: Developing the Personal prayer Life shows the believer that prayer is training for future rulership.
- PART III: Turning on the Switch presents some important truths concerning divine healing.
- PART IV: Spiritual Warfare in Our Own Lives is a personal glimpse into the life and ministry of the Billheimers, showing how these principles of spiritual warfare have been developed
Personal Updates: Timothy W. Tharp awarded Greathouse scholarship
Rev. and Mrs. James W. Tharp were pleased to attend their grandson Timothy W. Tharp’s graduation from Trevecca Nazarene University in May, 2005.
Tim has been awarded the full three year Greathouse Scholarship to Nazarene Theological Seminary in Kansas City. Tim is the son of Rev. and Mrs. Tharp’s son Tim who with his wife Billie Jo attends Dothan, Alabama First Church of the Nazarene.
In July, Tim and his wife Tara moved to Kansas City to pursue his graduate degree. He has subsequently taken the position of associate pastor in charge of music and communication at New Hope Church of the Nazarene, Kansas City, MO. We pray that God will bless Tim and Tara as they prepare for the calling God has placed on their lives.