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High Alert: A New Season of Spiritual Warfare

Wallace Henley | (By CP Cartoonist Rod Anderson)

It's time to take seriously Simon Peter's Holy Spirit-given words: "Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour." (1 Peter 5:8)

It's time to understand that the Revelation is not a comic book. It is the "Apocalypse," the lifting of the veil between the material and spiritual dimensions so we can see what is really going on in the chaos that was once a cosmos.

Behind the veil we learn that there is "war in heaven," but the forces of the evil one are not powerful enough to defeat the angelic armies led by the archangel, Michael. Thus the "great dragon" has been "thrown down to the earth," his fallen angels with him. (Revelation 12)

The evidences of the battle have been seen across history. There are levels of evil so incomprehensible that even skeptics wonder at the source. Herod's slaughter of the infants and the continuing infanticide of a sex-without-consequences culture... the enslavement that turned—and still does—humans into chattel through slavery, the modern form in the "civilized" West being sex trafficking... the atrocities of the Holocaust, and the horrors of those now who use creative skills to bring new levels of suffering... a world of Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot, Kim Jong Un...

But now we know that the adversary has been working subtly, below the radar sweep of these big targets. Exposed are preachers whose Sunday gatherings and conferences were packed with believing, expectant people. We grieve as we learn of priests in the hundreds who consecrate the sacraments, but who we know now to be themselves unconsecrated in lifestyle and behavior. We learn that they are sexual adventurers and exploiters who make a mockery of all they profess to be in the dark spirit of the worst of the Renaissance curia.

Centuries ago, Ezekiel was sitting with the elders of Judah when the Lord pulled back the curtain so he could see what was going on in the inner sancta of the Temple. "Go in and see the wicked abominations they are committing here," said God to his prophet, speaking of Temple leaders. Ezekiel saw seventy elders engaged in abominations in the dark chambers. (Ezekiel 8)

Have we come to this? Are we living in an era of the fulfillment of abominations in the temple of God?

What has happened should not surprise us. The two primary targets of the powers of darkness are the Home and the Church. These are at the core of societal stability because they are the major institutions for the ministry of the Kingdom of God and its cosmos-order of righteousness-justice, peace, and joy in the hell-twisted world. (Romans 14:17)

No wonder there is an all-out assault on fathers in the family and in the church.

We look at the landscape littered with the wreckage of ministers and their ministries, be they Protestant, Catholic, Orthodox, Pentecostal, Evangelical, Charismatic—whatever—and we ask: How could it happen?

As an 18-year old college student I asked that about the evangelist who led me to Christ four years earlier, and then, later, was headlined for his marital infidelity. The wise professor to whom I addressed the question answered simply: "It happened because he believed it could not happen to him."

Satan relishes our hubris. Whether we hold the sacramental chalice or the souls of a congregation, the beginning of destruction lies in the hubristic heart.

The Apostle Paul tells us how it works: "Be ye angry, and sin not; let not the sun go down on your wrath: Neither give place to the devil." (Ephesians 4:26-27)

The target within us is our spirit, but the enemy launches his assault on the soul, the seat of thought, emotion, and volition. Anger is but one example of how he is able to establish a beachhead within us. Galatians 5 lists more ground in our souls vulnerable to demonic assault: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, and carousing. (Galatians 5:19-21)

Hubris blinds us to the possibilities of our personal corruption, and we forget that we each have particular temptations that will easily "beset" us. (Hebrews 12:1) We need the humility of acknowledging to the Lord and ourselves where we are the most vulnerable.

We must not outrun the holy angels assigned to minister to us by going where they will not accompany us. (Hebrews 1:14)

It's time to go on high alert.

Wallace Henley is senior associate pastor at Houston's Second Baptist Church, and Chair of Belhaven University's Master of Ministry Leadership degree. He is a former White House and Congressional aide, and co-author of "God and Churchill", with Winston Churchill's great-grandson, Jonathan Sandys.

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