Tuesday, May 7, 2013
For some people the name Neil T. Anderson is not a new one. He has been on the Christian writing scene now for over two decades. The genera he writes is very specific, it deals with demonic oppression and activity especially in the lives of believers. He was at one point an astro-scientist before pursuing ministry full-time. He is the founder and president emeritus of Freedom in Christ ministries, he has written or co-written upwards of sixty books and is an international speaker. He also has won numerous awards for his written works.
Anderson’s book The Bondage Breaker is fourteen chapters broken up into three different sections. The first section encourages us to be courageous, the next section wants us to hold fast and stand firm in what we are learning, and finally he takes us through the steps to be free in Christ. Chapter one Anderson starts out by changing the way we understand things because as westerners we dismiss the thought of demonic activity. The first thing we have to let go of is the thought that “Demons were active when Christ was on earth, but their activity has subsided.” For whatever reason the church in the west has dismissed the reality behind the fact that Satan and his minions are real. Anderson makes a good point when he says, “If dark spiritual powers are no longer attacking believers, why would Peter alert us to them and insist that we arm ourselves against them? Surely the armor of God is for the believer, not the unbeliever.” Another common misconception that is perpetuated even by me at times was, “What the early church called demonic activity we now understand to be mental illness.” While it true that we do have mental illnesses, since we have gained a smaller understanding of how the brain works; “to be effective Christian counselors, we have to learn to distinguish between organic or psychological mental illness and a spiritual battle for the mind.”
The next challenge is realizing that some problems are psychological and others are spiritual. Followed by changing our mindset that Christians cannot be affected by demons, and demonic influence is only evident in extreme or violent behavior and gross sin. It is amazing how easy it is to be affected by Satan because he has deceived people to think that demonic influence means the greatest levels of sinful behavior has to be evident. When the greatest problem comes we notice “most deceived Christians lead relatively normal lives while experiencing personal and interpersonal problems for which no cause or solution has been found.” The last aspect that Anderson covers is freedom from spiritual bondage that comes as a result of a power encounter with demonic forces. He argues against power encounters and instead encourages what he calls truth encounters. “But I have learned from the Scriptures that truth is the liberating agent, and this has proven to be the case in every successful counseling session.”
In chapter two Anderson attempts to help us find our way in the world. The way we understand evil and the truth that supernatural things do affect us will ultimately affect how we interact with the world. There can be not true interaction amongst believers with each other or the world without understanding the position that has been granted to people as believers in Christ. Anderson says, “You were not designed to function independent of God, nor was your soul designed to function as a master. “No one can serve two masters” (Matthew 6:24). When you deny yourself, you invite God to take the throne of your life, to occupy what is rightfully His, so that you may function as a person who is spiritually alive in Christ. Denying yourself is essential to spiritual freedom.”
Chapter three Anderson is determined to drive home the point that we have every right to be free. The best way that we can live in this freedom is,
“When we find a promise in the Bible, the only appropriate response is to claim. When we find a commandment in Scripture, we should obey it. But when the Bible tells us the truth about who we already are and what Christ has already done, there is only one appropriate response-- and that is to believe it. I point this out only because the verses in Romans six; one – 10 are not commandments to be obeyed: they are truths to be believed.”
Once it is understood that we must take Scripture and use it and apply it to our lives, then we have “to choose whether you’re going to let your body be used for sin or for righteousness. Satan, who is at the root of all sin, will take advantage of anyone who tries to remain neutral.”
Chapter four drives home that if we are not seeking God we vulnerable to the schemes of Satan. “Don’t think that Satan is no longer interested in manipulating your mind in order to accomplish his purposes. Seconds perpetual aim is to infiltrate your thoughts with his thoughts enter him promote his lie in the face of God’s truth. He knows that if you can control your thoughts, he can control your life.” For whatever reason western (mainly American) believers think to highly or not at all of Satan; and if you give him that kind of control he is surely capable of putting thoughts into your mind.
In the chapters that follow Anderson emphasizes that fact that Satan is not an equal foe to God he does not have the same amount of power. “Second is not an equal power with God; he is a disarmed defeated foe (Colossians 2: 15). But if you can deceive you into believing that he has more power and authority than you do, you will live as if he does!” Chapter 6 helps us to understand that Jesus has already won the battle for us, he also encourages us to get dressed for battle. Very interesting fact that Anderson points out is “the Word of God is the only offensive weapon in the armor of God.”
Chapter seven deals with evil spirits that are out to destroy us; throughout the chapter Anderson breaks down many different levels of demonic activity. He does not just limited chapter to the activity but also personality traits and their cognition. The next several chapters eight through twelve specifically focus on the tactics the devil uses to get us to stray from God.
Evaluation and Critique
Straight out near the beginning of the first chapter Anderson wants to wake believers up to the fact that you could be troubled by a spirit even though you are not experiencing the opposition the way think it would happen. A really good point Anderson makes is “affirming the truth of Christ victory in Satan’s defeat is the primary step to successfully stand against the enemy’s attempts to intimidate you.” The reason this is a good point is because Scripture tells us if we resist the devil he will flee (James 4:7). Something that Anderson said that hit home was “possibly the greatest sign of spiritual maturity is the ability to postpone rewards.” The best question that comes to mind is how long are you supposed to postpone those rewards?
In a day and age when self-help books are some of the most popular, people are constantly looking for ways to improve themselves. However, once you understand like Anderson says, “your attitudes, actions, responses, and reaction to life’s circumstances are greatly affected by what you believe about yourself.”So as long as Satan can pollute a person’s thoughts he has a great amount of authority over them. Far too often many Christians believe, that because they are covered by grace they can do whatever they wish to do without any consequence. Anderson rebuttals that thought when he says, “even as believers we can still be conformed to this world by listening to the wrong programs or reading the wrong material.”
It seems that western believers find it easier to dismiss any supernatural acts apart from our salvation and refuse to acknowledge demonic attacks to our mind either while awake or asleep. I agree with Anderson when he says, “When someone has grotesque nightmares which cannot be traced to something previously seen or heard, then I would say the dream is demonic.” Another great thought has to do with where we place our thoughts are we focusing on God or on our enemy. When Goliath challenged the Israelites all they saw was his size until David arrived and focused on who their God was. “Don’t be demon-centered, be Christ-centered. Don’t be concerned about the enemy and your authority over him; be concerned about who you are, and don’t let the devil set the agenda.”
Something that every believer needs to understand and own is “…deceptive thoughts come first person singular in such a way that we think they’re our own thoughts.” On page ninety-five Anderson encourages his readers by saying, “but if you do come under spiritual attack like this, remember that it is not necessarily because you are doing something wrong. It is not a sin to be under attack. You may be experiencing spiritual opposition because you are doing something right. In fact, if you are not experiencing some spiritual opposition to your ministry, there is a good chance that Satan doesn’t see you as any threat to his plans.” When reading this quote one of the very first things that comes to mind are the apostles in the boat going across the lake when the storm comes. These men were merely doing what they were told by our Lord and a storm arose on the way, but in the middle of the storm the Lord showed up to comfort them.
Anderson provided a clearer understanding when he compared the acts of Christianity to the acts of Satan. “Everything he does is a counterfeit of Christianity: Clairvoyance is a counterfeit of divine revelation; precognition is a counterfeit of prophecy; telepathy is a counterfeit of prayer; psychokinesis is a counterfeit of God’s miracles; and spirit guides counterfeit divine guidance.” Anderson and several other authors have made the declaration that Satan is the god of this world; according to Anderson “Jesus didn’t challenge Satan’s right to offer him the kingdoms of the world and their glory. Since he was the God of this world, and they were his to offer after Adam and Eve have forfeited them.” When hearing of Satan being referred to as the God of this world it stirs up trouble inside of me, because when I think of God think of the all-powerful and all mighty Yahweh. If Satan was truly the God of this world then why did he have to go before the Lord in the book of Job?
A very important distinction that Anderson makes is between the devil’s accusation the Holy Spirit’s conviction. “When you’re feelings of remorse pound you into the ground and drive you from God, you are being accused by Satan. Resist it. But when your sorrow draws you to confront Christ and confession are wrong, you are being convicted by the Spirit. Yield to it through repentance.”
This book has been a very interesting book, it has made me appreciate the struggle for my mind between God and Satan. I will be more vigilant to critique the thoughts that I have and make sure that they are from God and not a counterfeit. From reading this work I understand the importance of protecting every aspect of my life from the possibility of Satan creeping in.
 For a list of his awards and other info visit this link: http://harvesthousepublishers.com/authors/neil-t-anderson/?page=2&author=neil-t-anderson&sort=-Release_Dt
 Neil T.Anderson, The Bondage Breaker. (Eugene: Harvest House, 2000)19.
 Ibid., 19.
 Ibid., 21.
 Ibid., 22.
 Ibid., 22.
 Ibid., 39.
 Ibid., 50.
 Ibid., 52.
 Ibid., 61.
 Ibid., 63.
 Ibid., 80.
 Ibid., 100.
 Ibid., 41.
 Ibid., 60.
 Ibid., 68.
 Ibid., 77.
 Ibid., 63.
 Ibid. 95.
 Ibid., 125.
 Ibid., 158.
Posted by Paul Horne at 1:04 PM
Friday, May 3, 2013
For some figuring out which of these topics fits our personal life or ministry is going to be easier than for others (like me). As I read through Anderson’s book there was a ton of material that stood out to me and my best effort would have to be ironically in choosing to be from chapter nine tempted to do it my way. I often have moments where some decisions are very spontaneous and others are long and drown out. The truth that lies behind both of them is the fact that I want to be the one in control of the outcome. According to Anderson “every temptation is an enticement to live independently of God.” With that being said there is truth to behind it because we often think we can take better care of ourselves than God.
The best way to change that is to live in a deep understanding of what Paul wrote, “All things are lawful for me but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be mastered by anything. (1 Cor. 6:12). After gaining that understanding and knowing that while in Christ we have liberty we also need to know how to moderate things so that the devil cannot get a foothold. Because, “he’s watching you too, looking for soft spots of vulnerability in your physical appetites for food, rest, comfort, and sex. Temptation is greatest when hunger, fatigue, and loneliness are acute.” So once we take care of covering our front, back and sides, we eliminate the chance to give up to our lusts.
It is easy to deceive ourselves or to even be deceived by Satan, when we take what should be a good thing and elevate it to a place of power in our lives. When we continually choose to serve ourselves and not seek God and the plan He has in store for us we actually are giving ground to the enemy, because if he can get us to stop pursing God, he is almost as happy as if he got us to sin. Anderson proclaims, “You may think you are serving yourself, but whenever you stop worshipping and serving God you are in reality worshipping and serving Satan—which is what he wants more than anything else.” So as long as we can keep our focus continually on God and truly do things that are in service to Him, we do not allow ourselves to become victims of idolatry.
Posted by Paul Horne at 11:21 PM
Friday, April 26, 2013
I think like with any type of battle you cannot go in with one mode of attack. Look at our country (USA) we have Marines, the Navy, the Army, Air Force, Coast Guard, and I am probably missing someone, but we have multiple styles of combat covered so why should our spiritual warfare be any different. There may be times we have to pray continually seeking God and asking for His involvement like the widow with the judge (Luke 18), not to say God is unjust but the need to constantly seek Him. We are also told by Paul as he is giving instructions for living to the Thessalonians that they are to “pray without ceasing,” (1 Thes 5:17) There will be other times that we will have to take strength that is not our own and confront things that are trying to hinder us and the plans of God. For example when Peter thought he was doing the right thing and Jesus rebuked him saying “Get behind me Satan!” (Matt 16:23)
Now a truth encounter is not so easily explained. It depends upon your understanding of who Christ is and whether or not Satan has any power over the individual believer. As far as unbelievers are concerned when they are possessed and meet Jesus that is the ultimate truth encounter and the demons possessing them have no option but to flee. “And he said to them, “Go.” So they came out and went into the pigs, and behold, the whole herd rushed down the steep bank into the sea and drowned in the waters.” (Matthew 8:32 ESV).While Anderson’s book is full of great material I personally did not find anything that resonated with this material in particular, while the Bible does offer many different examples of the uses of each type of warfare, and there are many more I did not include. There are no personal experiences that come to mind to clearly support these things.
Posted by Paul Horne at 1:24 PM
Thursday, April 25, 2013
The problem of evil has multiple possible solutions but Erickson offers us three which are finitism (the rejection of omnipotence), then the modification of the idea of God’s goodness, and lastly is the denial of evil. While these three are options none of them are sufficient at solving the problem of evil, they either deny the immense power of God, make God the author of evil even though they would argue they do not, or say that there is no real evil just perceived evil. Erickson observes that
Feinberg has well observed that the problem of evil must be considered within the context of a given theology and what such concepts as evil, good, and freedom mean within that system. It is quite unfair for example to criticize a given theodicy for not accounting for evil as understood by some other school of thought unless a proof is advanced that all schools of thought must necessarily regard the concept of evil in this fashion.
This pretty much is telling us that it is unfair to criticize one way of thinking because we may be playing chess and they are playing checkers. As human beings we misunderstand what good and evil are because we often equate them with our personal response. “Good is to be defined in relationship to the will and being of God. Good is what glorifies him, fulfills his will, conforms to his nature.” It is common for us to look at stories in the Bible like that of Joseph and his brothers and say while it was evil in human understanding, but it was really good, that is not the best way to understand these things. “Good consequences may indicate that these actions have promoted the plan of God, and hence should be regarded as good; but good consequences do not make these actions good. What makes the actions good is that God has willed them.”
Often time’s humans think of evil only as it affects us and rarely do we consider the effects it has on God. Evil hurts us, our understanding of the world and touches everything around us. One of the greatest encouragements we could ever be offered is knowing “that God took sin and its evil effects on himself …to be the solution of the problem of evil.”
Posted by Paul Horne at 7:11 PM
Monday, April 22, 2013
For the average person outside of the Southern Baptist Convention, the name Dr. Jerry A Rankin probably does not mean much. However, for those in that denomination and involved with international missions he is a big deal. Jerry Rankin was born on March 16, 1942 in Tupelo, Mississippi; he would later earn his bachelor’s degree from Mississippi College, in Clinton. He also holds an MDiv from Southwestern Baptist Seminary and two honorary doctorates. He is married to his long time sweetheart Bobbye and they have two children; who either have been or are currently missionaries. He has authored or co-authored up to seven books in his tenure and is currently president emeritus of the International Mission Board for the SBC.
Rankin’s book is not one that is extremely long or hard to read, it is written in a very conversational style. It weighs in at ten chapters which fill 281 pages. In those ten chapters he covers a vast range of aspects concerning spiritual warfare, he starts chapter one by giving us examples of the reality of spiritual warfare. As “rational” Christians we do not always believe the truth of spiritual warfare because we have become desensitized to it and have written it off as myth. Rankin tells us that “it wasn’t long until we began to learn that where the gospel has not been proclaimed in Jesus is not known, Satan has considerable dominion and power. Demon possession is not uncommon in such places; and we had, indeed, ventured into Satan’s territory.” Like many of us, before entering the mission field Rankin’s spiritual sensitivity was low; however, after some time it developed in leaps and bounds. According to Rankin his understanding of spiritual warfare or lack thereof was evident in his preaching. He says, “my understanding of the struggle with sin, even as expressed in my preaching, had more to do with personal resolve and human effort than a battle that was going on in the spiritual realm of life.”
Often when spiritual warfare is spoken of the primary focus is placed upon Satan. Rankin believes that that’s not the case however, he says, “in fact, we have a Trinitarian enemy. The devil is opposing us. The world around us is distracting us. The flesh – that all, sinful nature – is within us, seeking to defile us. They are all conspiring to defeat us, collaborating and working together to rob God of His glory in our life.” Without a proper understanding of who seem truly is and what he is capable of, it is easy to attribute things to him that were beyond his reach. According to Rankin, “we are often deceived even in our distorted understanding of the warfare. Persuaded that Satan has a power that, in fact, he does not have, we readily gave into our selfish nature, and inclination to sin and embrace Carnal, worldly values. That Satan has such a power is an illusion fade by his deception.”
Rankin spends chapters two and three discussing the nature of our enemy. Ultimately what God wants from us is to glorify him and to advance his kingdom; “however, it seems that Satan has another strategy to oppose the advancement of God’s kingdom and his being glorified among the nations. This may be the most effective of all-- convincing Christians that missions is optional.” Christian should understand that missions are not optional because the last thing Christ told his disciples to do was to go into all the nations and make disciples (Matt 28:19). Just as Romans 8:28 comforts a believer that all things will be used for good, God allow evil and suffering to be perpetrated against Job because of the greater glory that would accrue from his faithfulness. Something this author did not know that Rankin defines is the word devil it come from the Greek word diabolos, which means “to oppose.”
What makes the devil so crafty is that his oppression is not always blatant, it can be very subtle. Rankin informs us, “Those who are lost are blind. They cannot see and understand the truth of the gospel in spite of frequent and clear communication. That doesn’t just happen. Satan, the god of this world, is blinding their understanding.” This author on multiple occasions and in diverse ways has presented the gospel to certain people to see no reaction what so ever, further driving the truth of this statement home.
Not only does Satan blind them but he also lies and distorts the truth of the gospel, by speaking to their minds using cultural and social barriers to keep them from accepting Christ and bringing glory to God. While life is not easy God wants to use those difficult situations to draw us closer to Him, even using painful experiences, criticism and opposition, as a opportunities to experience His grace. How often do people try to say “the devil made me do it?” Probably more often than what is true, according to Rankin, “Although Satan is behind every temptation, blaming him does not absolve us of any responsibility for sin and doing that which is contrary to God’s will. In Christ we have been given power over sin, and Satan cannot make us do anything we do not choose to do!”
One reason it is so easy for Satan to take advantage of people is because they are not in fellowship with God and sensitive to His leadings. Rankin emphasizes that, “…if one is locked into obedience to God’s Word, Satan cannot readily deceive and lead one astray.” But if one can be lead astray are there any specific areas it can take place in? According to Rankin, “the Bible reveals three basic categories of temptation…the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride in one’s lifestyle….” Once a person is able to understand the categories of temptation does that make it easier to resist? Rankin’s answer to this question is not easily categorized as a yes or no; he says, “resisting temptation is not a passive exercise; we must be on the alert to recognize Satan’s temptations, praying for God’s intervention and strength, for only in His grace in power do we avoid indulging in that which is evil and contrary to God’s will.”
In chapter four Rankin begins to describe the struggle Christians will face against the world. As Christians, we understand that we have certain liberties and freedoms. However, Rankin believes “to think that we can feed our minds to all of the garbage and filth of the world and believe it doesn’t affect us, our attitudes, and our thinking is as foolish as the Hindu pilgrims who think the Ganges River cannot be polluted. It demonstrates the effectiveness of Satan’s deception.” Satan is constantly at work seeking to make us more and more worldly, by appealing to our selfish gratifications and depriving God of His holiness in our lives.
Chapter five is one that every believer should grapple with and take to heart because it deals with the battle between the flesh and the spirit. Rankin points out, “the Bible has a lot to say about the battle between the flesh and the Spirit. Every reference affirms the victory we have already been given, but Satan distorts our understanding of God’s Word, causing us to see the struggle as futile and embrace defeat.” It is amazing how powerful the human mind is and Satan know that, he knows that “when we truly believe something, it’s amazing how it becomes a reality. Doubt is one of Satan’s favorite fiery darts. He erodes our faith through constant failure so that we become skeptical about what God has said because that’s not the pattern of our experience.”
Rankin moves from the battle between the flesh and the spirit to the suffering a believer encounters from denying the flesh. A common mistake is to assume that the flesh is just the body, “but the flesh is not just our natural, physical body; it is also our ego, our self-centered nature.” It is going to be difficult to avoid temptations and at times it may even be painful, because “when temptation comes, it grows in intensity until a person yields.” Chapter seven list Satan’s favorite fiery darts: of unforgiveness, anger, doubt, pride, unholy living, and creating dissention. Chapter eight talks of Satan’s most effective weapon: Adversity. No one wants to suffer, that would be pure insanity if they did, but, “…when people see us suffering and experiencing adversity, when they see us with a debilitating illness or reacting to the loss of a loved one, it is an opportunity for them to see the reality of our faith and the victory we have in Jesus Christ.” For some people they are able to handle the big challenges extremely well with much grace and poise, Rankin points out that “…it is not necessarily the major catastrophes that defeat us. Rather the constant trials, disappointments, infirmities, and conflicts seems to defeat us.” The last two chapters discuss how we lay the foundations for victory and the gain the ultimate victory for God’s glory.
Evaluation and Critique
In all honesty there was not much written in this book that this author found as points of contention. In chapter one Rankin makes a statement that most Christians either never learn or easily forget when he says, “Too often we think of becoming a Christian as just being saved from sin. But God’s ultimate purpose is to conform us to the image of His Son; He has to redeem us from sin in order for that to happen. God’s desire in your life—every day, all the time, in every behavior and attitude – is to be glorified. And that is His purpose in al that he does and allows to happen to us.”
In chapter two, Rankin says
The Scripture also defines Satan as a deceiver and a liar. He is clever and can convince us that wrong is right and right is wrong. The Bible describes him as being disguised as an angel or messenger of light. As such, he can deceive us into justifying sinful, carnal attitudes and actions, thinking they are acceptable behavior. He can influence us to criticize and attack others, to create dissension and conflict, under the guise of serving God. He delights in getting us busy doing good things that actually divert us from God’s will. He can also cause us to waste hours and days in carnal entertainment and activity without a word of thankfulness and praise. He plants unclean thoughts in our minds and makes us believe they are of no consequence since we are under grace.
The question that comes to mind for this author is “Don’t we have to give him access to our minds?” And what about God, doesn’t he have to go before God for permission? One thing this author truly enjoyed about this work was the emphasis Rankin placed on the absolute sovereignty of God in all things.
Rankin does make a comment that I am not sure whether or not I fully agree with at this point, he says, “We never think of the busyness of daily demands as spiritual warfare, but anything that hinders us and diverts us from God’s will and what we should be doing for His glory is an aspect of the battle.” While understanding that every aspect of life should be undergirded with prayer, are the mundane tasks of chores around the house battlegrounds of spiritual warfare? At this point I am not sure. Rankin counters that understanding with, “If we recognized it was Satan, we would readily repel his efforts, so he allows us to see it as just the normal, demanding circumstances of life.” While no one would want to admit it, believers allow “those closest to us are the ones Satan uses to hinder us from doing God’s will.” Because we love them and care about how they feel and do not want to hurt them and Satan will use that to manipulate people.
A good point that he makes is that we need to value love, “focusing our life on others in love makes it difficult for Satan to appeal to our self-centered fleshly nature.” To truly love another person involves sacrifice so therefore a person is not able to think about themselves and love others. In chapter six Rankin covers an area some people do not venture into which is fasting and he handles it with a wisdom that is sometimes lacking. He exclaims “Fasting is not a legalistic commitment; that’s not what brings spiritual results but simply having a heart for God more than a desire for food. It is a matter of having a heartfelt desire for God and following Him in what He leads you to do.” This is important to understand because there are some who may teach fasting like and ATM you do this and God will do that and that understanding is wrong.
At first this seemed like just another book on prayer, but as I delved into it it turned out to be so much more. Not only does it emphasize prayer like many other books, but it teaches you more about the attributes of Satan and his schemes. I will look at life in a more spiritual manner. Life is not just mundane anymore, but is in a constant state of warfare. The second I let down my defenses I offer Satan the opportunity to attack me and those I love and have charge over.
Satan wants me to think he has more power than he actually does, and to live a life of defeat when in reality I have already received the victory in the death of Christ on the cross. I am not defeated but victorious and the only way I can lose is to surrender myself to the enemy.
 All of this information and more can be located on his website : http://therankinfile.com/about-the-rankins/dr-jerry-a-rankin/
 Jerry Rankin, Spiritual Warfare: The Battle for God's Glory. (Nashville: B&H Publishing, 2009)3.
 Ibid., 4.
 Ibid., 27.
 Ibid., 32.
 Ibid., 37.
 Ibid., 42.
 Ibid., 54.
 Ibid., 57.
 Ibid., 53.
 Ibid., 58.
 Ibid., 61.
 Ibid., 83.
 Ibid., 90-91.
 Ibid., 108-109.
 Ibid., 127.
 Ibid., 143.
 Ibid., 146.
 Ibid., 202.
 Ibid., 206.
 Ibid., 9.
 Ibid., 75.
 Ibid., 76.
 Ibid., 130.
 Ibid., 161.
Posted by Paul Horne at 12:45 AM