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The Promise Keepers and Spiritual Warfare

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. — Eph. 6:10-13

Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. But resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world. –1 Peter 5:8-9

You are from God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world. — I John 4:4

One of the most powerful points in my personal learning curve with Promise Keepers was experiencing first-hand, up close and personally, the reality of spiritual warfare. I had experienced the work of Satan before but never with this intensity and ferocity.

As we serve and lead in the body of Christ, we must never forget that there is a battle, a very intense battle, for our very souls, our marriages and children, our churches, ministries and work.

What specifically is spiritual warfare?

John MacArthur in his book, How To Meet The Enemy states,

What is spiritual warfare? A war of universal proportions pitting God and His truth against Satan and his lies. It’s a battle of wills between God and Satan. It’s a cosmic conflict that involves God and the highest creature He ever made and it filters down to every human being. Satan and his army of demons are fighting Christ, His holy angels, the nation of Israel and believers. The battle lines are clearly drawn.”

Any ministry veteran knows MacArthur’s definition is on target.

Let’s get clarity about our enemy. He is powerful but not omnipotent. He is in many places but not omnipresent. He is smart but not omniscient. We know he is invisible. His domain is the earth. He is organized. He is cunning. He is focused.

Satan is absolutely ruthless and hates the church and those who lead it. He will stop at nothing to do his work of destruction.

He wants to steal our faith in Jesus, kill our families and ministries, and destroy every good and decent thing we know. He is a dirty street fighter who will use any possible means to take us down. Scripture is clear about who he is and what he does.

Please do not allow him to lull you to the place where you are ignoring his work in your life and ministry. Be aware always of his presence and practices.

I had a series of sermons I had written and delivered some months before P.K. began. After our third men’s event, I felt like going back to my office, shredding those sermons and starting all over again! My experience was an excellent training opportunity in understanding how Satan works and how he uses his scheming methods on each of us.

Satan’s External Attacks

P.K. was attacked repeatedly from the outside. At our large events, we would have people from opposing views come and protest. The protests were normally peaceful. The gay movement and NOW (National Organization of Women) were present at many of our events, handing out flyers, and taunting men coming into the stadiums.

I always found it interesting that many of the messages delivered in our events dealt with topics like, “How To Be A Better Husband To Your Wife” and “How To Raise Godly Children.” Topics that encouraged men to minister to their wives with understanding, kindness, and gentleness. We were constantly imploring our men to take time with their children to encourage them and teach them important life lessons. We presented topics you would think that any wife would definitely want her husband to hear.

Those things didn’t seem to matter to the people who were protesting.

The only time there was ever a raucous, and a small one at that, was at our “Stand In The Gap” event in Washington, D.C. in 1997 (more on that below). NOW women behaved very badly up by the Capitol Building, partially disrobing and doing a small amount of damage to property in the immediate area.

Satan’s Internal Attacks

After 53 years of ministry and 25 years of church consulting, I know one thing for sure: When Satan wants to attack hard, he goes after relationships. It is his most effective form of warfare.

Separating people, damaging long standing relationships between Christ followers, fostering betrayal and disloyalty are his specialties. I see it all the time.

Ministers against elders or the minister and a couple of elders against the youth minister and a couple of elders, etc. He cultivates misbehavior and mistrust into an all-out battle between believers.

And when this battle is raging and Christian believers are shouting at one another and accusing one another, do you know what he does? Satan stands back and just laughs! He makes fun of those in the fray. He dances a jig!

He laughs and says to himself, “I have been using selfishness, the hunger for power, disunity and broken relationships for literally millennia to destroy the church and they have never caught on! They simply don’t get the fact that this is my most effective tool.”

I am sorry to say that our P.K. team was not immune to his attack. We all had feet of clay.

Many Boards of Directors are made up of what I would call a “room full of stallions.” Men and women who are leaders and have egos. They are movers and shakers and are used to getting their own way.

Understand that there was an overpowering sense of loving each other and serving each other as members of the board. This was true. But at times, power was an issue. Personal desires sometimes seemed to come to the surface and generate a real source of dissonance.

Several of our board members were preachers. We had staff who were former preachers. The possibility of standing before 55,000 to 60,000 men to preach is heady wine.

The need for prominence and to be upfront at an event could come into play.

We normally navigated most of these potential struggles with a good deal of success. At times, the stress was very intense as we prayed and worked through things like this together.

Oct. 4th, 1997 was one of our most momentous days. We were calling a million men to the mall in Washington, D.C. to participate in a day we titled, “Stand In The Gap.” It was one of the most powerful and life changing days in all of our time together. But I remember the intense relational warfare that happened the day of the event as we struggled, prayed, and worked together to see the day unfold.

Knowing the pieces of the armor of God from Ephesians 6:10-20 will equip me for every battle.

Protecting Ourselves

Scripture is clear about how we protect ourselves when in the heat of spiritual warfare. From my P.K. experience, here are some truths that I learned:

  • Don’t ignore the fact of spiritual warfare and the power of Satan to act and move.
  • Satan is absolutely ruthless and hates the church and those who lead it. He will stop at nothing to do his work of destruction.
  • The Word of God is one of the main weapons at our disposal to defeat Satan.
  • Prayer is the power source for attacking and damaging the kingdom of darkness. It is the key element in winning and finding the Lord’s victory.
  • Fasting when combined with prayer is an impacting and mighty weapon. It can turn the tide in a tumultuous spiritual battle.
  • Our personal obedience, righteousness, and holiness protect us when we are in the battle.
  • Remembering my identity as a son or daughter of the King is a critical acknowledgment. Knowing my identity as a warrior undergirds me as I do battle.
  • Total and complete dependence on the presence and power of the Holy Spirit in my life, my family and the ministry is key.
  • Studying and internalizing the sections of Scripture that explain Satan and his methods will equip me to defeat him. Paul tells us that we must know our enemy and the elements of his activity.
  • Specifically, knowing the pieces of the armor of God from Eph. 6:10-20 will equip me for every battle. When daily putting the armor on, I must remember to put on every piece to be protected in every area. “Put on the full armor of God.”

Just this final thought about spiritual warfare: As a leader, if you sense no spiritual warfare or battle in your ministry, I would take note. It may be that you are in a period of peace and protection. If this is the case, enjoy these times.

On the other hand, it may be that your church poses no threat to the kingdom of darkness.

This would cause me to meet with my leadership team, pray, and take a hard look at the life and fruitfulness of our church.

The good news in the midst of spiritual warfare – we have already won! We are protected daily from the evil one (I John 4:4.) Until our Lord comes back, we must be at our posts, watchful and fighting the good fight.

This is the fourth installment in our series on the Promise Keepers by one of PK’s founding members, David Roadcup. Here are the other articles in the series: 

  • Part 1: “Promise Keepers: The Beginning” 
  • Part 2: “The First Promise Keepers Event: Witnessing the Power of God” 
  • Part 3: “Promise Keepers and the Power of Prayer” 
  • Part 5: “Promise Keepers & Stories of Changed Lives” 
  • Part 6: “Promise Keepers: The Night We Encouraged Our Pastors” 
  • Part 7: “Promise Keepers: Stand in the Gap” 
  • Part 8: “Revival: God Could Do It Again.” 
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