Spirit Wars describes the nature of spiritual warfare in a Christian’s life. Many Christians struggle with the “old man,” that is, their sinful nature. However, Romans 6:1-7 clearly states that our old nature died and was crucified with Christ. Our old man is dead; if we are struggling with our “old man,” we are believing demonic lies. While Christians cannot be demonically possessed, since the Holy Spirit resides in Christians, Christians can be demonically oppressed, or “demonized.” In fact, even Jesus experienced demonic attack, from Satan, while fasting in the wilderness (Jesus was not demonized, however).

Paul describes three kinds of attacks in 2 Cor 10:3-5. The first is simply bad thoughts, except that demonic thoughts carry an unction to do them that is absent if they are our thoughts. Vallotton surveys Christians when he talks on this topic, and has found that 2/3 of Christians have experienced a thought to kill themselves, e.g. by swerving into oncoming traffic, so strong they felt they had to take action to prevent themselves from doing it. This is a spirit of death trying to kill you. The second type of thought is what-if speculations. These are typically worst-case scenarios that cast doubt on God’s goodness.  The third kind is lofty things, philosophies that make the problem feel bigger than God. If we believe these thoughts, they get lodged in our thinking about become self-reinforcing fortresses. Instead, we need to reject lies harbor only godly thinking based on truth.

A journey through the wilderness is inevitable in our Christian walk. We tend to see the wilderness as bad, but the reality is that both God and the devil have plans for our time in the wilderness, and we can choose whom we partner with. The devil wants to destroy you in the wilderness. God puts giants of impossibilities in our way so that we may have victory—there is no victory without a battle, and no testimony without a test, after all.

We need to recognize that temptation is not sin. The devil will tempt us, just as he tempted Jesus in the wilderness. The fact that we feel temptation does not mean that we have sinned; it is agreeing with the temptation that is sin. God will lead us into the wilderness where we are weak, and the enemy will attack us, but this is where we have victory. “It seems crazy to put yourself in a place of hunger, weakness and vulnerability before going up against an enemy—unless you understand that the goal of the wilderness is to uncover God’s unfailing ability to deliver you.” (73)

We also need to take care of ourselves. We are not monolithic beings, but made of three parts: body, soul (mind, will, and emotions), and spirit. If any one of these is out of alignment, the entirety of us is weakened. Lack of sleep, for example, does not just hurt our body, but also weakens our will and may make us emotionally weak as well. When our body needs attention it usually communicates in the form of pain. When our soul needs attention it typically manifests in depression, anger, or grief. When our spirit needs attention it conveys this to us in dreams.

Vallotton gives several recommendations for taking care of ourselves. One is to say nice things to ourselves. He cites a study that says we typically have 1200 words of self-talk a minute, and 1100 of these are typically negative! If we were two people, we would not be friends with ourselves if 11/12ths of that friend says is negative, so talk nicely to yourself. Another way is to laugh. Studies have shown that laughter, even in absence of something funny, releases endorphins that make us happier and heal ourselves. In fact, one person was diagnosed with an incurable disease, so he checked himself out of the hospital and watched funny movies for six months and got better. Finally, put on the armor of God described in Ephesians 6: the belt of truth (the Greek word is “reality”); the breastplate of the righteousness given us by Christ; the sandals of peace which we use to love our enemies and in so doing we catch them off-guard and hopefully win them into the Kingdom; the shield of faith; the helmet of salvation; and the sword of the Spirit which is the rhema (now-word) of God.

When we are healthy, we can help others become free. There are two kinds of demonized people: captives and prisoners. Captives were taken against their will; they have not sinned, but they have believed a lie. Setting captives free involves identifying the lie, having them repent of it, and replacing it with the truth. After that, you can tell the demon to leave, and since it has no support, it usually leaves with little trouble. Prisoners are people who have some long-standing sin, most frequently chronic unforgiveness. In this case, the demons have a right to be there, so the person needs to repent of the sin (in the case of unforgiveness, releasing the person or persons from all punishment and releasing them to live happily), and then you can tell the demon to leave. Afterwards, pray for the filling of the Holy Spirit, otherwise there will be a vacuum left, which invites the demons to come back.

Vallotton gives a number of practical guidelines for deliverance ministry. First, never deliver someone who is unwilling to follow Christ, because Jesus says that an empty, orderly house will attract seven worse demons. If the person is not already a Christian but is willing to follow Christ, lead them through giving their life to Christ, and pray for the baptism of the Holy Spirit. If the demons are still there (or the person is already a Christian), work through the root issues. Second, you can out-power a demon, but it will usually come back in a week or so if you don’t deal with the underlying issues described above. It is much more effective to out-truth a demon. You can identify the type of demon by the way it manifests, or by the gift of discerning of spirits. Asking its name is not helpful, since it will probably lie. Third, warn the person that the demon will try to come back, and to understand that it isn’t anything they did. Finally, Vallotton also comments on generational curses, namely that it is best to have the person involved repent, but if they are dead or unwilling, you can repent by identifying with the person and revoking the agreement.

Spirit Wars is a very practical book on spiritual warfare. It clearly identifies how demons influence us, and that they actually have no power over us except what we give them through our agreement. Vallotton includes some great personal stories that illustrate the points very well. After reading this, you should be able to more clearly identify demonic influences that you have experienced, and have concrete steps to deal with them. The book wanders sometimes, and is definitely not a step-by-step guide, but it should illuminate the workings of the demonic realm that American culture has assumed to be non-existent. I would be surprised if open-minded (Christian) readers did not see elements of their life in a new light, and get free of some things they did not realize were demonic.

Review: 8
Very practical, with clear explanations and excellent illustrations. Sometimes the argument wanders a bit, which is the major thing that keeps this book from being a timeless work. While the writing could benefit from some tightening of the train of thought, the beginning and ending of the book are very informative and definitely in short supply in today’s American Christianity. Anyone who does not already have a deliverance ministry will likely benefit from this book.