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.
- I married the girl of my dreams and had an idyllic first year of marriage. One day while I was in the bathtub, I had a thought that I was going to die. I had a panic attack and my 8-month pregnant wife had to help me out of the bathtub. It got worse, and for three years I could barely function. After a year we moved to a quiet town in the northern Californian mountains, but that made the problem worse. One evening I was listening to the radio and heard a preacher say that fear is a spirit, and that some of you have been listening to spirits of fear and insanity. I turned the radio off and asked Jesus what to do. He said I was listening to the spirits of insanity and fear, and that I needed to tell them to leave, now. So I did, and I instantly felt fine. I felt so fine that a week later I said out loud while I was driving that I would tell people to set them free, and I had a thought “If you say that, I will kill you,” and the panic came back. The Holy Spirit said “the devil can’t kill you.” So I told them to leave.
- Ghosts are not really dead people, they are demons impersonating dead people.
- Most Christians think they struggle with their flesh (their “old man”) because in Rom 7:18-24, Paul describes his struggle with sin. But it was not his current struggle with sin, it was his past struggles, because in Rom 6:1-7 he says that the old man was crucified with Christ.
- If you are struggling with your old man, you are believing demonic lies.
- We are to consider ourselves dead to sin. We still have an obligation to do the things that the law requires, but now we have the grace to do them.
- “When we were married to the Law, our spirits were dead, separated from God through sin. This spiritual death left our minds (souls) under the control of the sinful demands and passions of our corrupt bodies.” (39) But when we died with Christ, he cured that and made us, including our bodies clean.
- When Paul says that the mind set on the flesh is opposed to God, he means that the mind controlled by the desires of our flesh is opposed to God, not that our flesh is inherently bad. In fact, the word used for “flesh” (sarx) is neutral.
- We don’t have to sin, otherwise 1 John would not say "if we sin, we have an advocate.” In fact, Kris considers it possible to go for weeks without sinning.
Ch. 3: Rules of Engagement
- Many Christians are attacked by demonic thoughts. These are bad thoughts that differ from normal bad thoughts in that there is an unction to do it, even thought we don’t want to.
- Kris does regular surveys of Christians that have been driving and had a strong impulse to crash their car and die, so much that they had to grip the steering wheel to not do it. About 2/3 of Christians say they have experienced this.
- 2 Cor 10:3-5 describes three tactics in this war
- Thoughts: like described above
- Speculations: what-if’s. These are invariably bad, and cast doubt on the goodness of God.
- Lofty things: philosophies that make God seem small and the devil powerful.
- What we need to do is rebuild the walls of our thinking to keep the enemy out. This is establishing patterns of thinking truth.
- We also need to close our city’s gates: we need to choose not to harbor non-godly thinking.
- God takes fear seriously. Saul’s kingdom was removed from him because he feared men, but even though David murdered, committed adultery, and lied, his kingdom was not taken away.
Ch. 4: The Wilderness
- God puts giants in our way; “the dogs of doom always lie waiting at the doors of our destiny.” (70)
- “... there is no victory without a battle, is no testimony without a test and no miracle without an impossible circumstance. God leads us into triumph by leading us into battles, tests, and impossibilities!” (71)
- Both God and the devil have a plan for our dark night of the soul, but rather different outcomes; the question is, who are we going to follow?
- Temptation is not a sin. Agreeing with the temptation is the sin.
- Satan attacks us when we are weak, and the Holy Spirit lures him by weakening us (well, at least in the case of Jesus in the wilderness, but it seems like Vallotton is generalizing to us). “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)
- (When God promotes us, He doesn’t expose us to more Satanic attack, He gives us the additional protection that the promotion requires.)
- Trials do not test our character, they test our faith (James 1:2-4: “... knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.”)
- The question is, who will be believe?
- God is all-powerful, and loves us enough to die for us; it is irrational to worry.
Ch. 5: The Flesh is Weak
- We are triune beings: flesh, soul, spirit. If any of those pieces has a problem, it affects the others.
- Vallotton had several months where he did his own conference schedule plus Bill Johnson’s schedule. He couldn’t sleep from all the time zone changes, had a family member going through an emotional crisis, and his son’s marriage was falling apart. He was so emotionally exhausted that he began resenting the people he was ministering to, but ignored this and other warning signs. Eventually his body crashed, he went into depression, and had to be on medication for a while.
- The natural production of serotonin is affected by how much sleep, sunlight, stress, and exercise we get. In the past 100 years, we get less sleep (an hour less, on average, than before the invention of the light bulb), less sunlight, more stress, and less exercise, so it isn’t surprising that we have a lot more people who need drugs to feel normal.
- Our spirit is affected by the spiritual. When it needs attention, it normally communicates to our consciousness in dreams.
- Our body orchestrates the complex natural processes. When it needs attention, it normally communicates with pain.
- Our soul processes life more intangibly, often in ways that express themselves emotionally (this is where things like love, passion, mercy, come from). When it needs attention, it tends to communicate with depression, anger, or grief.
- Depression can also come from actual chemical imbalances. You’d take drugs if your pancreas weren’t working correctly, why not when your brain isn’t working correctly?
- Make sure you take action when one part of you is communicating something!
Ch. 6: Treat Yourself Kindly
- In Eph 5:29 Paul says to cherish yourself. So it is not more holy to belittle yourself or call yourself a sinner.
- We have 1200 words of self-talk a minute, and for most people, 1100 are negative.
- It is important that we speak God’s words about us to ourselves.
- Even non-Christians, in the self-help movement, know that you need to tell yourself things; how much more so, should we as Christians tell ourselves what God thinks.
- God told Joshua to have the Law on his lips, to meditate on it day and night, and to do it. The word for “meditate” includes speaking and declaring it, as well as thinking and pondering about it.
- Do battle with the prophetic words you have been given.
- Some prophetic words foretell the future. Meditating on these reminds us of God’s promises and ability to bring them to pass.
- Others forthtell, which actually creates the ability to become the future. Speak these words over yourself.
- Our words can bring life, or they can bring death. So don’t speak the words the enemy is giving you, or you might start believing and embracing them. (Obviously, you need to share them with trusted friends or counselors when you need help)
- Moses was commanded to keep the commandments and the testimonies. Ps 78:9-11 says that Ephraim stayed home from battle because they forgot what God had done—they didn’t keep the testimonies. Remind yourself of what God has done in your life.
Ch. 7: Serious Joy
- Laughter has been shown to be medically beneficial:
- The University of Maryland Medical Center said it was some of the “best medicine” in 2005.
- Norman Cousins got a painful form of arthritis in the spine for which there was no cure. So he checked out of the hospital and started watching hours of Marx Brothers and Candid Camera shows to laugh. He found that ten minutes of belly laughter allowed him two hours of pain-free sleep. He went on to a full recovery.
- Viktor Frankl survived being in a concentration camp partly through laughter.
- Dr. Madan Kataria started a laughing group in India and discovered that laughing for no reason worked just as well, after he ran out of jokes.
- The “holy laughter” from, e.g., the Toronto Vineyard, is a little strange to watch, but ends up with people being transformed and made whole, physically and emotionally.
Ch. 8: The Armor of God
- Paul wrote Ephesians (and three other letters) while in prison around A.D. 62.
- Happiness does not come from our circumstances (which may be not good, although probably not as bad as Paul’s); it comes from being seated in heavenly places with Christ.
- We are citizens of both heaven and earth; the question is which we live from. If we live from earth towards heaven, then we will be defensively reacting to our circumstances. If we live from heaven to earth, we are letting God’s perspective invade our circumstances. Our prayers will be prophetic, not petitionary, offensive, not defensive.
- Paul describes three kinds of seasons in Ephesians:
- Resting: some seasons in our lives God leads us to rest while He does everything; we relax in His love.
- Walking: this is where we partner with God and see lives changed through ministry.
- Standing: when were are demonically attacked, sometimes it is all we can do to simply stand. The goal is to simply stand and not lose ground in this season.
- Belt of truth: the Roman soldier’s wide belt was put on first, and supported his abdominal muscles. “Truth” here does not mean “the Bible” here, but “reality.” The girded with the belt of truth is living from reality; not trying to hide areas of our life, or making ourselves look different than we are.
- Breastplate of righteousness: protects your heart. Note that we protect the righteousness given to us by Christ; we do not make our own righteousness.
- Sandals of peace: Roman sandals had cleats. Rom 16:20: “The God of peace will crush Satan under your feet.”
- Turning the other cheek isn’t pacifism. Jesus is saying that if you react in kind to your enemy, you are letting them dictate the terms of the engagement. If you respond in love, you are breaking the system of evil, and extending the gospel of peace.
- One of the main witches in a coven became a Christian and started coming to Vallotton’s church. So the other witches would come and cast curses and disrupt the service. The prayer team responded by praying and rebuking (standard spiritual warfare). After a few months, Vallotton got tired of this, so whenever they came in, he would go over to them and hug them and tell them how much he loved them. “It freaked them out. They were really fortified against rebukes and curses, but they had no defense for love.” (131) Some of them became Christians and the rest stopped coming after a while.
- Shield of faith: wooden frame covered with thick leather. Often the leather was soaked in water to extinguish burning arrows. It was big enough to crouch behind.
- The demonic will try to do everything to challenge, create doubt in, etc., God’s promises and values, but having faith is our defense.
- Helmet of salvation
- We need to remember that we don’t work for our salvation. “If our salvation was won through our efforts, then it would be up to us to fight to keep it. But we are not fighting for our salvation—we are fighting from our salvation.” (133) Our helmet should be molded from Eph 2:8-9.
- Sword of the Spirit: short, eighteen inch sword use for hand-to-hand combat.
- The “word of God” used here is “rhema” (spoken word) not “logos” (written word). The sword of the Spirit is not the Bible, it is the living word of God (which may come through the Bible).
- Eph 6:17 is “Take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the rhema of God.”
- Heb 4:12 is “For the logos of God is living and active and is sharper than any two-edged sword, dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow.”
- Eph 6:17 is talking about spiritual warfare, Heb 4:17 is talking about the Bible judging our thoughts and intentions.
Ch. 9: Casting Out Demons
- There are all kinds of crazy stories about delivering people from demons, but unless you heal the root issue, they will come back.
- Christians cannot be demon-possessed (controlled) because they have the Holy Spirit in them, but they can be demonized, that is, under the influence of a demon.
- There are two types of demonization, captives and prisoners (Jesus came to set two sets of people free, see Isa 61:1)
- Prisoners: Unforgiveness is the most common way to get demonized, but a lifestyle of sin will do it. The demons are sent to drive you to wanting to forgive (Matt 18:21-35, the forgiven servant who didn’t forgive was sent to prison, and Jesus says that you will be treated the same way if you don’t forgive).
- We need to forgive others, and we need to forgive ourselves (depending). Story of a girl who gave herself away to a man who lied about loving her, then punished herself by giving herself to other men. Vallotton walked her through Jesus blood covering everything, leading her through forgiveness for the first man (asking Jesus how he sees him makes it easier to forgive), then breaking the agreement with the punisher, and forgiving herself.
- To deliver prisoners, they need to repent, and then you can tell the demon to leave, because it no longer has any authority.
- Captives: These are people who have believed lies, not people with sin; “the truth will set them free.” (John 8:32)
- Ex: a woman believed a lie as a girl that she had blasphemed the Holy Spirit, and was seriously demonized. Vallotton asked the Holy Spirit why she was demonized, He said why, and said that she had never blasphemed the Holy Spirit. Vallotton repeated it to the woman, she immediately calmed down and was free in minutes.
- Ex: a well-regarded, wise old saint had had difficulty with her grandchild and had said to herself, “If I were dead, this would all go away.” She never thought of suicide before, but since then had been struggling with suicidal thoughts. Vallotton had her ask forgiveness from Jesus for making the agreement, renounce that agreement, told the demon to leave, and she could tell she was free.
Ch. 10: Generational Curses
- In Joshua’s time, the Israelites made a (hasty) agreement with the Gibeonites, instead of asking God first. Later, Saul kills a number of them in his zeal. Even later, a famine in David’s time was because of Saul’s actions (2 Sam 21:1-2).
- Vallotton asked God how the spirit of death (see Ch. 1) got access to his life. He said that his mother had let a jealous lover read her fortune with tarot cards, and he said that her first husband would die early, she would have two more marriages which would both be troubled. That happened. Even though he had not partnered with it, nonetheless, it had access because of his mother’s partnership. He led her through asking Jesus’ forgiveness for what she did in ignorance and renouncing the agreement.
- If the person over the family, city, or nation who made the agreement is dead or unwilling to repent, you can break the generational curses by identificational repentance. This is repenting on behalf of the people, like Nehemiah did in Neh 1:6-9. Even though he, personally, had not done any of that, he repented of it.
- Demons are lawless and will take advantage of every opportunity to steal, kill, and destroy; part of our job is to be policemen.
- We need to instruct our children how to be spiritual warriors. If terrorists train kids, certainly we should.
- Vallotton’s granddaughter has seen angels since she could speak, and would play with them. One night she started waking up in the middle of the night screaming that the angels were scaring her. After a few weeks, Vallotton asked her what color they were, and she said they were black. He figured they were probably demons, and suggested that she tell them to leave, which she did. The second night they came back, and she woke up her parents with her shouting at them to leave. After that they very rarely came back.
- The enemy is trying to destroy our children: the widespread abortions are proof.
- “... I am convinced that demons are more afraid of children than they are of adults. There is something about childlike faith and innocence that God protects in an extraordinary way!” (167)
Ch. 11: On-the-Job Training
- Practical tips
- Never deliver someone from demons if they do not know the Lord, otherwise they will come back with seven other, worse, demons (Matt 12:43-45)
- If you find someone with demons who does not know the Lord, lead them to the Lord, and baptize them in the Holy Spirit. Often the demon will leave when they are saved, but if not, lead them through the steps in Ch. 9.
- If the demon hasn’t left after going through the steps in Ch. 9, ask the Holy Spirit what other reasons are causing it. Continue until you see that they are free.
- Let the person know that you also think they are free (this is helpful for their assurance).
- Tell the person to expect the demon(s) to try to come back over the next month, but that this is normal and is not a sign that that they did anything wrong to invite the demon(s) back. Satan is the accuser of the brethren; tell them to keep their minds on the Lord when that happens or they think that.
- Have them memorize Rom 8:37 - 39 (“I am convinced that nothing ... can separate us from the love of Christ.”)
- You can often tell what kind of demon it is by the way it manifests.
- You can also tell by the gift of discerning of spirits (which is freely available to all believers).
- This usually works by you feeling what the person whose spiritual authority (metron) you are under is feeling. When you walk into a store, you may feel different. Or when you sit next to someone, or touch them, you may feel what they are feeling. You are sensing the spirit they are operating in. (Could be demonic, could be angelic)
- Some people with this gift think they are bipolar because their moods are frequently changing.
- If you are counseling, you can hold hands with the person while praying to sense if they have any demons. If you feel nothing, the problem is a human problem. If you feel something different, then you need to solve the human problem but also get rid of the demon.
- Suspicion is the gift of discernment being used by the spirit of fear. Keep away! It wrecked Saul (see 1 Sam 18:9).
- All spiritual gifts are to be used to build people up. If you feel a strong negative discerning, verify it, and even if it is true, do not expose the person.
- Don’t bother asking demons their name; it is not necessary, it just makes a show, and chances are they will lie to you anyway.
- Be confident. Demons sense fear and won’t leave.
- Speak in a normal voice. It’s the demons that are loud, not us. [GDP: You can also tell the demons to be quiet in Jesus name, like Jesus: “be quiet and come out”]
- Principalities and Powers
- These are not ordinary demons, but rule over cities and regions. They are not dethroned by praying against them, but so much as they are from simply delivering people. In Luke 10, the disciples cast demons out of people, but Jesus saw Satan fall like lightning; nobody prayed against him.
- Jesus never rebuked a principality, yet Satan fell like lightning.
- If someone is demonized by a principality, it will require much more persistance, patience, and vigilance than ordinary demons.
- The demonic principalities are there because Christians have not occupied that spiritual authority. If the principality falls, you need to fill the void, otherwise another one will come.
- The US overthrew Saddam Hussein in 37 days, but the power vacuum has not been filled in years.
Ch. 12: For the Love of God
- Vallotton’s grandfather showed him lots of love. He relates several stories where he did some stupid things and destroyed some of his grandfather’s farm equipment, but his grandfather never punished him (usually turned it into a learning opportunity for repairing it).
- Perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment. “That is why the entire Gospel can be boiled down to loving God and loving each other.” (198)
- Sacrifice is no guarantee that you have love (1 Cor 13:3); in fact, sacrifice is the most common imitation of love.