Victims of a Spiritual Legal System

The problem for those who adapt the pagan, warfare worldview is that they are dealing with an unseen world and they are doing it using an illegal tool chest. The spirits have been doing their wicked dealings in that realm for many millennia and they know their way around it. Pagans fear these beings because they know that the spirits exist, and they know spirits can bring much harm. That is why pagans develop a class of shamans whose job it is to understand the unseen world. Shamans claim pragmatic results. But how do they know that the shamans themselves are not being used by spirits? Pagans believe that good and bad spirits exist, and that the good ones can be used to their benefit—a “benefit” determined on the basis of a pragmatic outcome.

For example, Jose Silva taught people how to contact spirit guides by using his Silva Mind Control program. When Christians asked how he knew these spirits are “good” ones, he answered “They solve problems.”8 (Of course he never considered that the spirits might solve temporal problems to keep people listening to them and not the gospel.) Deception is the spirits stock in trade. The shamans are as deceived by them as their clients are. And both are on a path to hell.

Nevertheless, those who adopt the warfare worldview are convinced they must find a means to do battle in the spirit world. Christians who claim such abilities assert that learning the “legal system” or “rules of engagement” of the spirit world is the key to having success in that realm. Since God is not sovereignly in charge of His own universe in that worldview, they instead suppose that God has set up a legal system that the spirits have to follow. Humans who learn the secrets of that legal system (they reason) have some hope of using it to control the spirits.

Famous exorcist Bob Larson explains, “Curses are exacting, legal arrangements of the spirit world. Just like human contracts contain fine print and carefully crafted language, satanic curses are often filled with minutia that required detailed voiding.”9 Do we know the details of this “legal” system? No! God has not taught us the details of such a system. This is how the warfare worldview takes us away from sola scriptura into the pagan world of the shamans. A special class of people is created (in this case deliverance counselors) who perform for the church what the shaman does for the pagans. Think of the burden these people have: if they miss something in the “fine print,” this error could derail the process. Bob Larson admits, “In some cases, I’ve discovered that leaving out one phrase or one word can make all the difference. Satan will exploit the smallest thing to keep the curse in effect.” 10 Fine print is problematic in legal documents in the real world, but how hopeless is it in a world that we cannot even see and in which there is no documentation?

C. Peter Wagner agrees with the idea of legalities in the spirit world:

One of the more curious aspects of my pilgrimage into the field of spiritual warfare during the past few years has been the discovery that those who had been talking about it did not agree among themselves about the nature of strongholds. They agreed that strongholds provide the forces of darkness as a legal basis for doing their evil deeds both in individual people on the ground level and in cities or nations on the strategic level. Almost all of them, however, had their own opinions about the nature or identity of these strongholds.11

Of course they cannot agree because they cannot know! They are dealing in the realm of spiritual information that God has not revealed. Unless God speaks, we are left to guess at the causes, effects and workings of the spiritual world. This “disagreement” by those lacking special revelation is the basis for the arguments, such as what occurred between Job and his friends as they vainly sought for answers. Until God spoke, each had to guess as to the cause and nature of his afflictions—and they guessed wrong. These things are in the realm of “secret things” that belong only to God (Deuteronomy 29:29 which we will turn to later). To try to understand unrevealed, spiritual, legal systems is to put us back into the realm of the pagans who have been doing the same for millennia. The “Christian” curse breaker is hardly different than the pagan one.

Watchman Nee, an early innovator in this “Christian paganism,” also asserted an unrevealed, spiritual legal system that if not discovered, will give evil spirits access to Christians:

For each and every thing God has created there is a law. . . . Hence evil spirits also operate according to definite laws, one of which is that certain causes will produce certain effects. Now should anyone fulfill the conditions for the working of evil spirits (whether he fulfills them willingly, such as the witch, the medium or the sorcerer—or unwillingly, such as the Christian), then he has definitely given ground to them to work on him.12

One thing these teachers have in common is that they deny that Christians have escaped from the wicked powers of the universe.13 The means of escape that they propose are knowledge and techniques that the Bible does not reveal.

These teachers often select phrases in the Bible and extrapolate them to create a system whose inner workings must be discovered through some extrabiblical means. For example, Nee uses the term “place” from Ephesians 4:27 to prove the existence of this legal system and the need to learn it.14 Nee says, “It pays no heed to whether one is a Christian or not; once the conditions are met, the evil spirits do not fail to act.”15 One of these conditions that Nee has in mind is “passivity of the will.”16 According to this thinking, any person who lacks strong willpower will become a prey of evil spirits. Any known or unknown sin of activity or omission also turns the spirits loose on the Christian.17 It is hard to imagine that any Christian who believes this teaching could think himself to be free from curses and spirits.

While Nee is concerned with personal sin and spirits, Wagner is interested in territorial spirits that afflict large groups of people:

One of the reasons evil spirits succeed in returning is that strongholds on which they had based their legal rights to control that area and its people have not been thoroughly removed. We know a great deal more about this than we did previously, largely through our understanding that a crucial part of much strategic-level spiritual warfare should be through identificational repentance. Through accurate and sensitive spiritual mapping we can identify strongholds rooted in unremitted sins of past generations and we now understand the ways and means of dealing with those sins of the past in our own generation.18

Notice that Wagner claims spirits have “legal rights” conferred upon them by human actions in past generations. This is in keeping with the warfare worldview asserting that people are in bad situations because demons and other spirit beings have gained legal access to them by the actions of humans—some of whom no longer are alive—in a hidden cause/effect. But notice also that we consistently end up with the need for secret information. How else can we do “spiritual mapping.” The Bible provides no such map and doesn’t describe how to build a system of spiritual guidance.

For instance, a demon commended Bob Larson for his knowledge of the secret rules of the spirit world.

Demon: “Who taught you the rules?”
Larson: “What do you mean by that?”
Demon: “The spiritual rules that determine what we can and can’t do. Someone from our side must have taught you.”19

This underscores a major problem with the warfare worldview. The hidden “rules of engagement” for spiritual battles are seen as the key to victory; even if this were true the evil spirits live in this reality and we have to fish around with various means, guessing to gain even a partial, possibly wrong knowledge of them. In fact, we are forced to become like pagans and create a class of shamans who are better than most at gaining secret information. The church becomes dependent on unrevealed, forbidden, spiritual knowledge and the class of people that reveals it. Once that happens, the church has been paganized.