C. How to Seek Revival
e. Persist in spiritual warfare
If we pray and prepare in depth for Revival we shall experience significant spiritual attack. I am not a person who “sees demons everywhere.” Some Christians get carried away by belief in the devil and demons. They see demons behind every blade of grass! That is not helpful. On the other hand, other Christians never really think about the devil and demons. That too is not helpful. The right approach is in between those two extremes – to take the deceitful, hindering presence of the devil and his demonic servants seriously, knowing that he can powerfully attack and deceive believers and churches, but to know God can give us victory.
Peter warns us “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8). Similarly Paul writes “Put on the full armour of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armour of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand” (Eph 6:11-13).
The driving out of demons was a significant feature of Jesus’ ministry. He certainly believed in the presence of demonic forces. He commissioned his disciples to drive out demons (Matt 10:8) and gave them authority to do so (Mark 3:14-15; Luke 9:1). He “gave them authority over impure spirits” (Mark 6:7). He sent out the 72 and when they returned “with joy and said, ‘Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name.’ He replied, ‘I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you. However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.’” (Luke 10:17-20).
So we need to recognise when we are facing demonic influence. One common experience will be demonic oppression. It may take the form of excessive anxiety (which can be irrational in the middle of the night) or a feeling of ‘heaviness.’ Then, of course, the devil will use the failings of other people and adverse circumstances to hinder, deflect and depress us. At such times we need to be aggressive against the demonic influence. James says “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (James 4:7).
We ourselves are no match for the devil so, before resisting him, we must submit to God and repent of any known sin. We must also check our motives that we are seriously wanting the will of God to be done. This is all part of resisting the devil. Then we can say – forcefully – and maybe repeat “I resist you in Jesus’ name” or “Be gone in Jesus’ name.” Time after time, during my time of yearning and praying for God to bring Revival such spiritual warfare has quickly, often instantaneously, released me from anxious or depressing feelings. And, as a person, I would more easily fall into rationalism than naivety! So what I am saying to you is not naïve. It is effective.
Peter urges us to be alert to the devil’s attacks. The danger is that we don’t recognise them or are slow to identify them. We allow feelings of anxiety or of “heaviness” to remain and think we’re just in a negative mood or that life is difficult at the moment. But the Lord wants us to live in the victory. By his grace and in his protection we can go on the offensive.
We shall also experience attacks from other people, including, sadly, some Christians. It is distressing to see how ungodly and faithless some Christians can be, even over Revival. We should weigh what they say prayerfully before the Lord, and perhaps seek the advice of a trusted Christian leader. But if the Lord shows us that those opposing us are wrong we must resist their opinions. However, be alert, because the devil can attack us “from the rear” by making us resentful towards the people concerned. We must distinguish between people’s opinions or behaviour and the people themselves. The old saying is still relevant: “Hate the sin, love the sinner.” Sadly, Christians all too often forget that vital distinction.
We must firmly resist wrong opinions or wrong actions which might hinder us in praying and preparing for Revival. But we must not resent the person(s) conveying those opinions or taking that wrong action. We are to love even our enemies. We should have a forgiving attitude (although the Lord won’t forgive them until they repent). I have found it helpful to say, perhaps aloud, in my private prayers “[Name], I forgive you” – and to ensure I mean it. So the spiritual warfare is against wrong opinions and actions, not against people. However, it is not wrong to distance yourself, from people who prove to be a real hindrance. Paul says “I urge you, brothers and sisters, to watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned. Keep away from them” (Rom 16:17 cf. 2 Thess 3:6).
So we need to be alert to the devil “prowling around” and to take a stand against his scheming. Having submitted to God, we need to resist him – firmly. And we need to distance ourselves from those who seek to hinder us in praying and preparing for Revival.