With contributions from Tendai Zaranyika and Dr. Winzrose E Chaurika
Mistrust of God’s Word
Once false doctrines have been bought by the novice minister, these will generate unbelief in the heart of the man of God. God has given us His word and it is “given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works” (2 Timothy 3:16-17). The minister who does not entirely trust the testimony of Scripture stands defeated in his spiritual struggle against sin and Satan. The Bible’s testimony is entirely trustworthy. God has given us His word and it is in His written word that we learn of the enemy’s tactics and our strategy for battle. The Lord told Joshua, “Only be thou strong and very courageous, that thou mayest observe to do according to all the law, which Moses my servant commanded thee: turn not from it to the right hand or to the left, that thou mayest prosper whithersoever thou goest. This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success. Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the LORD thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.” (Joshua 1:7-9)
If we at any given time we are made to doubt it by Satan as he did to Eve, then we are doomed (Genesis 3). We should be like Christ who used the word to repel the enemy and sent him fleeing (Matthew 4) by saying, “It is written!” The minister should understand that God has given him the sword of the Spirit, and it is part of his armory. Spiritual warfare is a battle of the mind too. The devil tries by all means to throw and sow seeds of doubt in tour mind as to whether the Bible is indeed the very word of God or just one of the religious books. If your understanding of the Bible is clouded with doubts and misbelieve, then you will not be able to stand. As part of your spiritual armory, you need the shield of faith and remember, it is by hearing the word of God that faith comes (Romans 10:17). By faith we conquer and win victories, yet this faith is not some suppositions or willful wishing and thinking, but true informed faith that has the Bible as its base and its point of departure. Without faith, it is not possible to please God who calls us o walk and live by faith (Hebrews 11:6; 2 Corinthians 5:17)
Today, there are several churches that look down upon the authority of Scripture, and undermines its biblical teaching simply because they are not so sure if it is indeed the very word of God or just a product of zealous missionaries who came up with such an intelligent masterpiece to use as a tool of colonization. It is amazing how some churches look at the Bible and speak so meanly and disrespectfully of it because they just doubt it. Their argument is thus flawed, if it is an argument at all, because they have no proof of whatsoever things they say or accuse the Bible of. Recently, some folks from one apostolic church claimed that Christians should not use the Bible because the word “Bible” is nowhere found in the Bible. They went as far as castigating even the use of the name “Christian” alluding that God did not call disciples Christians but apostles, hence, the Bible we are reading is corrupted and cannot be the ultimate and absolute truth. It grieves our hearts to see how Satan has had his seat in this church that has accepted nothing but lies from the enemy of life.
Such churches are prevalent in our day and Satan uses them to lure young ministers in various forms, waging a spiritual battle that he dreams of winning if the young minister is not fully rooted in the word, with the word of Christ dwelling richly in him (Colossians 3:16). This calls for wisdom on the part of the young ministers. It is imperative that they should choose wisely their circle of friends and associates in the ministry. If they are not skilled and trained well in the use of apologetics, they will fail to rationally defend the fundamental truths of the Christian faith and are tempted to forsake the truth in search for a better revelation that seems to be spiritually marketable and satisfying the curiosity of the novice minister. The devil is not concerned about people’s lives and he goes about in the spiritual religious market places selling poisoned apples dipped in honey so that those without discernment can buy and perish.
Spiritual warfare is not about casting out demons alone and enjoying witnessing some amazing supernatural phenomena in the churches. Spiritual warfare is real, but in contrast to our thought of spiritual battle, the devil is a master at his game. He knows many ministers would be out there, hunting and seeking him at any cost. However, he makes sure that we look for him at the wrong places, calling hell fire and brimstone in our churches to destroy and consume him. He doesn’t give a damn on that because he has been seeing the church doing that for ages. So instead, he brings a strategy that causes us to doubt God’s word so that we can be more vulnerable to his attacks because we do not know how he works. We cannot know the ways of the devil by reading and studying material about him. In the past two decades, many ministers have subscribed to doctrines that are taught by devils simply because they have taken the word of the devils as their final authority concerning Satan and having foregone what the Bible teaches, they have suffered a great shipwrecking experience.
Our knowledge of the enemy should come from what God, the omnipotent and omniscient One has revealed for us in the Scriptures. Many times, we are tempted to follow other voices and face the danger of drifting. We have seen most of what is practiced in the churches as spiritual warfare having its roots in the African movies where Satanism is always said to rampart in some African countries such as Nigeria and South Africa. People in the churches have forgotten that the film industry is for entertainment and most films are based on fantasy and creativity that is aimed at entertaining others. They have thus believed that whatsoever they see in the African movies clearly portrays what happens in the spiritual realm. The movement of African movies has contributed to a new kind of spirituality that is defective in its biblical worldview as we witness Scriptures being taken out of context and abused to promote a certain belief portrayed in the films. Our people because they are untaught, quickly embrace such teachings and erroneous beliefs and carry them with them to church. Most of the acting appeals mainly to Africans because of our roots in African Traditional Religions. The concept of the films then, are viewed as the departure point for exegesis in spiritual warfare which is a very tragic mistake. No one consults the Bible like the Bereans to see whether if things are so (Acts 17:11).
Once the minister is convinced that what he has seen in the movies is the truth, it impacts his understanding of the word of God and his Christian worldview. For example, in some Nigerian movies, the dead returns to protect their loved ones and families in answer to Christian prayers and God changes them into guardian angels. They manifest in various forms taking care of the orphaned children and leading them into successful and prosperous lives. If they were the wicked dead, they are transformed into demons that come to haunts the living. This and other similar concepts, are borrowed from African Traditional Religions and as a result, appeals mainly to those with a pagan background who have been wrongly taught that the “watchers” are the spirits of the dead who come back to take care of the living. Since the Bible does not support the theory of dead spirits becoming angels, several theories will then be conceived and advanced, with proof texts affixed to them so that the whole drama becomes Christian. Yet, this is a dangerous occult practice.
Another theme for example in these movies, is the idea of cursing and blessings, with Christians mainly triumphing over their enemies by resending back the curses, spells and bad lucks to the senders. Songs have been composed and sung in churches that portray such ideology. At one church one of us attended in South Africa, the pastor rose to his feet and announced that he had received a special revelation from the Lord that he should send back bad luck and curses to those who have wronged us. The congregation was asked to stand on its feet and begin to send curses, disease and bad luck to anyone who has wronged them in their lives. We also saw similar experiences in Zimbabwe, Malawi and Mozambique and we just wonder where the truth of God in all this is!
When Satan makes believers and ministers to doubt God’s word, he makes sure that biblical and doctrinal truth is avoided and neglected in favor of a different spirituality, mysticism and religious drama. People will think they are doing God a service while they have forsaken the Way, the Truth and the Life having molded their own false gods and proclaimed them to be the Lord just as Israel at the foot of Mount Sinai. When we doubt the Bible as God’s written word which is meant for our instruction and guidance, we lose focus in our spiritual lives and other voices hijack our spiritual lives. Oh servant of God, have you looked at the time to see what time it is in the spiritual realm? It is almost midnight, and behold now is the hour of deception. The days are evil and only the wise, who seeks understanding by the books of Scripture, will understand just as what Daniel did in Babylon. But if you ever doubt the voice of Scripture, how can you heed its calls and warnings?
The devil’s strategy in spiritual warfare is to cause believers to doubt God’s written word and make them to subscribe to some supernatural revelations. One writer has well penned it,
There is a wonderful completeness in the revelation that the Bible contains. We have in the Bible an account of the great presuppositions that should underlie all our thinking — the righteousness and holiness of God and the sinfulness of man. And then we have an account of the way in which God saved man once for all by the redeeming work of Christ. That redeeming work was not partial but complete. It needs to be applied, indeed, by the Holy Spirit; but the redemption that is to be applied was accomplished once for all by Christ.
We should not think that the devil is doing us a favor if he suggests that at any point in our Christian walk we should doubt God’s word. We should be on guard, because, if we cannot hearken diligently to the voice of the Lord, then we will definitely hear Satan’s voice, and that, we will obey. But alas! This is not God’s doing. He has given us the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Truth to help us and guide us. The greatest mistake that many young ministers have done is to distrust the testimony of Scripture and thought that the Holy Spirit will bring new revelations that will overlook what Scripture has said. The Spirit does not work in such ways. He bears witness to Christ, the Living Word who has given us the written word. “To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them” (Isaiah 8:20).
You cannot know Truth if you have no light. You need the Bible to be your guide. The Psalmist has written, “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path” (Psalm 119:105). Our lives as ministers are surrounded by a great darkness from the enemy, who always lays traps and snares to endanger us, and what we need is Divine revelation and such revelation comes from knowing Scripture, for, by the word of God, one is made wise and is warned. If we deviate from God’s word to the right or to the left, there will be consequences; it will be disastrous. The Holy Spirit will stand by us if our hearts have been seasoned by the word and we are willing to do God’s bidding. But, if we mock God’s word, become disobedient and call the Spirit to come and help us, we grieve and quench him and we will fall in the day of battle at the battle mount.