Spiritual Warfare and Sanctification3 min read

“Perhaps the most controversial question to be raised is, ‘Can a true believer be demonized’? Note that I am not speaking of demon possession, but of demonization. Possession implies ownership and total control. Christians, even disobedient ones, belong to God, not to Satan. Thus, Satan cannot control them totally. Demonization is a different matter, however. By demonization I mean that Satan, through his demons, exercises partial control over an area or areas of the life of a Christian or a non-Christian. Can that really happen to Christians? According to Scripture and Christian experience it can.”– Ed Murphy, The Handbook for Spiritual Warfare, Second Edition, p. xii

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When Luther suggests that we are at war with the world, the devil and our human flesh, he suggests that a good part of spiritual warfare goes on in the life of the believer. When Paul encourages us to put on the whole armor of God, he proposes getting in shape and having the proper equipment for life’s battles. When Peter names the enemy as a roaring lion, he gives shape to where the evil lies and the dangers of such evil.

  • Is there a devil? If so, what is the demonic strategy? What are the devil’s attacks?
  • Will ignorance of Satan’s tactics and purposes be dangerous for Christians?
  • Can Christians, watered in Baptism and fed in the Eucharist, still be influenced by Satan?
  • What does it mean, and what are the dangers, that Satan stalks the earth seeking whom he may devour?
  • Is it possible for Christians to be of two minds that are at an internal war inside the same person?
  • When Christians sing, “Onward Christian soldiers, marching as to war,” where is the war to which they are to march?
  • What strategies and tactics can Christians develop (will you develop!) to engage this spiritual war?

When we move into a discussion of “spiritual warfare,” these are some of the questions that could come up. They will be some of the questions that will be addressed in Life in the Spirit: Watered, Fed, And Armed at the 2015 Michigan District Theological Conference held March 21 at Holy Cross, Jenison and simulcast sites.

Dr. Leo A. Sanchez of Concordia Seminary, Saint Louis, will provide three models of life in the Holy Spirit.  Dr. Bruce M. Hartung, also of Concordia Seminary, Saint Louis, will expand on one of Dr. Sanchez’ models, “Armed: Sanctification as Battle in the Desert” as he unpacks some of the dynamics of spiritual warfare.

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In this section of the conference, focusing on spiritual warfare, we will take time to discuss these things, for these are foundational to a life of sanctification. Because the Christian is baptized and made a child of God and placed into the Body of Christ (the fellowship of the believers), this is not a question of salvation. That has been won for the Christian by the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. But we Christians live in the “now but not yet” of this fallen world, and continue to be, as Luther reminds us, both saints and sinners. What does it mean to fight in spiritual warfare in this world? This is the question of sanctification. It does take prayerful and thoughtful planning on the Christian’s part. Exploration of strategies and tactics will be considered.

Register now for the final conference at Holy Cross, Jenison and simulcast sites: Trinity, Gaylord; Redeemer, Jackson; Grace, Monroe; and Trinity, Newberry.

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About the Author

Rev. Dr. Bruce M. Hartung is a professor of Practical Theology at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, Mo.

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