Getting Equipped for Spiritual Warfare – Classic

In this classic episode, Drs. Darrell Bock, Michael Pocock, and Scott Horrell discuss spiritual warfare, focusing on how Christians can be equipped for the daily spiritual battle.

About The Table Podcast

The Table is a weekly podcast on topics related to God, Christianity, and cultural engagement brought to you by the Hendricks Center at Dallas Theological Seminary. The show features interviews with guests who are experts on the chosen topic, and each episode is hosted by a member of The Hendricks Center’s team.

Timecodes
02:42
Pocock’s background and ministry
06:35
Horrell’s background and ministry
09:11
Understanding covert and overt warfare
13:40
How covert and overt warfare merge
15:13
What happens when someone is delivered from a demon?
24:08
Understanding demonic influence, possession, and oppression
27:13
How to respond to demon possession
Resources
Transcript

Darrell Bock:
Welcome to The Table where we discuss issues of God and culture. Our topic for today is spiritual warfare, and I've got two veterans of foreign wars, maybe I don't know to talk with us about this topic, which is often raised, less discussed, and certainly challenging for certain parts of the world where the issue of spiritual warfare is either defined in one particular way or may even be over defined in terms of how it's seen. So, we're going to try and get our hands around the topic. Our guests are Michael Pocock, who is former chair of an Intercultural Ministries Department. They've changed the name of this department so many times now. I don't remember what it was called when you were chair, but you chaired it, and are now retired of the Missions Department is what it was when I was a student. What do they call it now? Or what do they call it when you were running it?

Micheal Pocock:
Well, it Has been a World Missions and Intercultural Studies, MIS, and now it's MIM, but it only just changed to that. And that's the first time in about 25 years, we actually have changed.

Darrell Bock:
Okay. Well, I've been around for three changes, so I think it was just World Missions when I was a student. So yeah.

Scott Horrell:
That's a pretty straightforward.

Darrell Bock:
Yeah. Very good and then Scott Horrell, who teaches in our Systematic Theology department. Scott, how many years have you been at the seminary now?

Scott Horrell:
Well, I'm wrapping up 24 here Darrell, so-

Darrell Bock:
Almost a quarter.

Scott Horrell:
[crosstalk 00:02:02] senior citizens too.

Darrell Bock:
Yeah, yeah. I hit 40 next year. So yeah, I mean, my kids just shake their heads. Anyway, so I try not to say that too much in public. Because some people say, "that was before I was born" and that's just embarrassing. So anyway, so let's dive in Mike. I'll start with you. The question we always ask at the beginning of The Table is how did a nice guy, like you get into a gig like this? What in the world inspired your interest in thinking about spiritual warfare?

Micheal Pocock:
Okay, well like Scott, he and I worked in neighboring countries for many years, so Scott in Brazil and my wife and I in Venezuela. And so after working in Venezuela, a relatively brief time, only about four years actually living there, and then another 16 years working with the Evangelical Alliance mission, and at that point, it became an issue of ministering a lot of different countries where the organization worked. So I became much more aware of what people were facing, what both missionaries and what lay people were facing in a lot of different contexts besides Venezuela.

Micheal Pocock:
But I'd say that, I think a lot of people figure, okay, so if one of you is from Brazil and the other from Venezuela, I expect there to be spiritual warfare issues there, but probably not so much if you're in America or in the West. But I tell you, most of the most serious issues I've faced have been right here in North America and right here in Dallas for that matter, too. So, well, one should remember is that spiritual warfare is not something that you only need to be concerned about if you're going to some other country in the majority or developing world.

Micheal Pocock:
So what happened to me was that -- that changed me, or that brought me into this -- I was being asked by a local pastor in Wheaton, Illinois, who had been a fellow student when I went to Trinity divinity school, and he said, he called up and said, "Mike, what do you know about demons and satanic oppression and things?" I said, "I don't know. All I know is what I read in Merrill Unger's Biblical Demonology." Well, he said, "I got a guy here that came to know Christ about a few weeks ago. And it was, oh, he has to become a believer. He is manifesting some very strange behavior that looks like it's demonic to us. And I wonder if you could help us."

Micheal Pocock:
Right now, I'm exactly in a position where most people are. By the way, most people are missionaries or have been there in this. They actually don't know what to do. That's serious. People are writing to the seminary here. This is why we have a spiritual warfare course, is that they're writing and saying, "How come you didn't get me ready for what's really happening out here?"

Scott Horrell:
Wow.

Micheal Pocock:
And so, Dr. Campbell called me up and said he was getting those letters. I had to. And so he said, "Would you teach a course on spiritual warfare?" I said, "I'll give it a go, yeah." But anyway, that case back in Wheaton, Illinois, the way that turned out was that I said, "Look, I don't really know exactly what to do, but we've got a gentleman coming in from Trinidad, another one of our missionaries in North America. And God's given him a considerable ministry of evangelism and deliverance, a deliverance ministry because demonic, possession and oppression, is very common in Trinidad."

Micheal Pocock:
So anyway, he arrived in town and we got one week, we got a call saying, "Could that man come? Because we need you guys." So, okay. So, it was in the middle of the night. We went. And that was my first time, outside of Venezuela, of meeting a person who manifested all of the symptoms that you could think of of being demon possessed.

Darrell Bock:
We'll come back to that, Scott same question, what is a nice guy like you doing in a gig like this?

Scott Horrell:
I think we're always aware of spiritual warfare as you grew up in the church. You know something's going on. That's a rather exotic phrase in itself: spiritual warfare sounds like specialized ministry. But I too was in Switzerland after college, L'Abri. One of my roommates, from Wheaton no less, had married a witch and was being attacked. At that point he would talk about hands around his throat and so forth.

Scott Horrell:
At the same time, Os Guinness was writing a book called, The Dust of Death, at least two chapters on the occult and so forth. And he would talk about things falling off his shelves and things of that nature. But yeah, that certainly alerts you to it all.

Scott Horrell:
I suppose then later on going down to Brazil as we were in church planting, first of all, in the far south, really the more European south there, there were in front of our house, once in a while, what would be called, obitus, that is a dish with candles and a sacrificed chicken, or other offerings, right in front of our house, which is a sign that they're throwing a curse on you. And of course, at that point I had little girls who were afraid of the dark. And so you become more acutely aware of direct attacks on you as a Christian worker.

Scott Horrell:
Well, we moved to Sao Paulo. I began teaching at a couple of schools, and one of the first things that struck me was a student who had grown up in a spiritist's home. They were grooming him to be a spiritist leader, when he asked his leader, father-of-saints as they call him, the Father Saint said, in all his teaching, "Stay away from evangelicals. You don't have any power over them." And it's like, what? Well, why is that? So, he was one of my students, and I delighted to evangelize spiritists.

Scott Horrell:
There were times we began to teach larger groups, not necessarily that person, 500 would go down to Santos and what's called, The Big Beach, Praia Grande, in Brazil, where a million spiritists and more would convene on New Year's Eve, and, there seances all along, all along the beach. They would take about 500 evangelicals, largely youth, [and would] go down and evangelize in the middle of all that. And some of the stories were just fairly astonishing. So that's a kind of a start a Darrell as we put our feet into this subject.

Darrell Bock:
Okay. So, let me kind of divide this into two parts because I think when most people hear spiritual warfare, they'll think about two very different things.

Darrell Bock:
One is what I'll call, "incognito warfare." And the reason I say that is, in the West, where you have many people who even wonder if there is a spiritual world at all, et cetera, just the challenge of thinking about the fact that there is a transcendent world, is a part of the "warfare," if you want to put it in quotes, that exists as people think about the reality around them and how they perceive it. So that might be one dimension of a spiritual battle that we're engaged in. And when the argument comes up, "Spiritual warfare is prevalent everywhere," that certainly is a part of that prevalence. The fact that a reality exists, that many people either don't believe exists or are very, very slow to acknowledge.

Darrell Bock:
Then the second way of thinking about spiritual warfare is kind of what you both have been describing, what I would call the more overt, direct encounter with demons, spiritual challenges, spiritism, those kinds of things. And I guess what I'm asking in making this distinction is: is that a fair way to think about spiritual warfare, to think about it in primarily those two realms and with those two kinds of angles on it? And Michael, I'll start with you. Is that a helpful way, or does one confuse the other?

Micheal Pocock:
No, I think that's a helpful way. And I think that it follows some of the thinking say of C.S. Lewis when he says, that in some cultures where there's an open belief in the spirit world, Satan appears in one way, but in the intellectually advanced, if you want to call it that, in a context, he shows himself in a different way, much more of a wizard of intelligence, so to speak.

Micheal Pocock:
So, yeah, I mean, obviously if Satan is able to persuade us that he actually doesn't exist, or that demons don't, now he can work as you say, "incognito." People have problems. They have difficulties. They have challenges, but they don't even think about, "Could this be from Satan?" Or, "Could this be demonic?" So yeah, I do think that those two big factors are work all the time.

Micheal Pocock:
The other thing is that thinking of spiritual warfare as only dealing, as you say, let's say with hyper dramatic issues of possession, and I know I'm sure Scott thinks this as well, that actually a satanic affect, or spiritual warfare, really involves everything that has to do with my struggle with my flesh: me. I'm my own worst enemy. So, before we talk about Satan and demons, we got to talk about me. And usually, we do talk about that in a seminary. We talk about how the flesh is a difficulty for us.

Micheal Pocock:
Okay, the other thing is the world's system that Paul, I think, is really talking about with principalities and powers and a number of those kind of bureaucratic words that he uses. And so that's another level. But the Apostle Paul says at one point, he tells the Thessalonians, "I tried to come and see you, time and again, and Satan stopped me." And you're saying, "Really? Apostles? Stopped you?" So, a), Paul is not sending, and therefore, affected by Satan. He's intent on doing God's will. He hasn't given Satan an opportunity in his life that we know about or that he knows about. He's just being opposed. So, he's not possessed. He's simply being opposed. And so you can sort of graduate on a scale, the kinds of influence or difficulties that are possible in spiritual warfare.

Darrell Bock:
Scott, anything you want to add to that, those two categories?

Scott Horrell:
I do, I think the two extremes are really merging today. I mean, Darrell, you and I were around and Mike too, in the rocker days, you had Mick Jagger and his "Satanic Majesty's Request" and "Beggars Banquet," and all this. I hung out with a no-name rock group in Europe, and they said they couldn't get into anything because they weren't into Satanism. And of course, it goes in cycles. So now we have what? Billie Eilish and "All [the] Good Girls Go To Hell," and other musicals like that. Is this just, are they just playing with this, or is it really feeding an obsession? It ebbs and flows.

Scott Horrell:
My students going to Europe from Brazil would say they'd be surrounded sometimes by university students saying, "Tell us about Umbanda. Tell us about Macumba, Candomblé." They wanted something more than atheism, which gave no power, no meaning. They wanted to tap into power. So, I kind of think given our movies and all the rest, we have everything, but I think a broader realm of merging those two is certainly on the horizon, if not already with us.

Darrell Bock:
So if I'm hearing you correctly, it's better to think of this rather than two distinct categories is almost a spectrum of involvement moving from one end of the spectrum, to the other, from a non-recognition of something that exists, to a recognition, and even a playing with some of this, and then, of course, the impact and the effects that are on the other end of it.

Darrell Bock:
Okay. This is a good way in, so let's, Mike, I'm going to go back to your example of the more overt forms of spiritual warfare, where you're encountering someone who you suspect may really be possessed, or some variation of that. Talk about that a little bit. You said this person called you and said, "We're suspicious that something's going on." What creates the suspicion?

Micheal Pocock:
Well, just a second. In this case, this individual was renting a room in a home, which quite a few residents open their homes to students and others, on a room basis, but he's not a student. So this pastor had led this man to Christ, and he made a confession to Christ, which he felt was genuine. But sometimes he would sort of breakout with a different voice or a different tone, and become quite abusive verbally, and especially in regard to God and spiritual things. So it was like, "Golly, what's going on here?" And so eventually though, this young man had confessed that he had been a part of a satanic cult in Chicago. And later on, we did establish that very clearly in dealing with him. So, he would become loud and uncontrollable.

Micheal Pocock:
Now, I think if you were a psychologist listening to this conversation right now, you'd say, "Are you kidding? This guy is someplace between a paranoid schizophrenia, and/or he is multiple personality disorder, or otherwise known as dissociative identity disorder." And coming to the point where you can distinguish between those things is a question.

Micheal Pocock:
All right. So now we do go down to meet with this young man and with the owner of the house. And we meet him in the basement, and my friend who's from Trinidad, he, on the way over there in the middle of the night, he just rehearsed for me; he said, "here's, what's probably going to happen." And boy, what he said was going to happen, was what happened. And I was amazed at his ability, without saying, "I know somewhere in the Bible that says this or that." This guy knew what the Bible said about the issues that he raised.

Micheal Pocock:
And the first things that he said were, "Who are you guys?" He says to the owner of the house, "I trusted you. You have brought the whole US army in here." And so, he's getting abusive towards us. And then he said, "You come in here. You come in with the Bible. You think it's got power. Now you think you're talking about the word of God, about Jesus. I'll show you a word that's got power." And he just tears his shirt open, and he's got Lucifer tattooed right across the chest. Rolls up his sleeve. He's got a pentagram on one, ram's head on the other. And so he's very oppositional to anything.

Micheal Pocock:
And my friend, I'm learning something at night, okay, I'm not doing. I'm learning, and I'm praying. And a big part of my concern, which I think would be for anyone encountering stuff like that is: "Now, wait a minute. I got to get my theology in order. Or how does this fit with what I understand? I thought you said that he was a believer. My basic understanding is believers can't be possessed. So here we've got a person who made a genuine confession, seemed that he did. And yet he is manifesting possession behavior." And if you're there, you're not there to have a theological discussion with him. Now you're talking, not in this case, his name was David. You're not talking to David anymore. You're talking to somebody else.

Micheal Pocock:
And so he's saying, we're saying, "David, you've believed in Christ. This other person doesn't have anything to do with you. They're not able to take you back." And, he comes back and "No, that I didn't make a decision. He's not yours. He's mine." And the argument was like that.

Micheal Pocock:
So this continued on for maybe a couple of hours before my friend is saying, "Look, we're commanding you in Jesus' name to leave David. David obviously wants to trust in Jesus as his savior. He needs to do that for his eternal salvation and for any peace of mind in his life right now, and a sense of forgiveness. That's what he needs to do. And he has done it and tried to do that. Now he's trying to leave you. You can't stop it and I'm commanding you in Jesus' name, leave." "No, no, no, I'm not going to leave." That type of thing. So, but finally he just, I was sitting on the bottom steps of the basement. He jumped over my head and ran out into the streets of Wheaton. And so now it's dead quiet, raining outside.

Micheal Pocock:
We go call him back. David, just you, come on back. Well, he didn't. So we went to his room and looked around in the room and he had a chest of drawers where the first draw had very neatly, folded robes, silken robes. The next one was full of very grizzly looking masks. The next one was filled with potions of various kinds. And the bottom one was all magic books.

Micheal Pocock:
So he said, "Hey." Oh, and in the middle of this, he walked back in. He said, "Hey guys, what's going on?" Like, we're now back in touch with David. And we said, "Well, David, we've been having a pretty big struggle here tonight." And he says, "well, oh, okay. But why are you in my room?" "Because we're just checking to see since you trusted Jesus as your savior, do you know that you can't surround yourself with stuff like this and grow in your walk with Christ. Did you really trust the Lord?"

Micheal Pocock:
"Yeah, I did. You know that I did. We've already, the pastor can tell you, we burned my stuff out on the prairie path. We had a little bonfire, and we burned my stuff." "So what's all this?" "This is what belongs to the group. If I destroyed this, they'd kill me."

Micheal Pocock:
So we said, "Well, look, you don't want to be living with this in your bedroom. So let's get some boxes and pack it all up. You give us an address; we'll send it to them. And that way it's out of your possession, but they're not mad at you because you destroyed it. How about that?" "Okay. Yeah." So, that was that night. And by the way, he was followed up, and I checked up on him, every week or so for about six weeks, I was talking to him, and he was growing.

Micheal Pocock:
So coming to the point where you understand, "Is there some kind of a process of salvation where a person is not simply saved the moment they say, "Save me, Jesus,"? But they are in a process of coming into Christ, at which they may have said, "Lord, Jesus, I want you to save me. I know I'm a sinner." So they said that, but actually this is a Holy Spirit drawing them out of a kingdom of darkness and inserting them into the kingdom of light. That's what's going on, just like Colossians 1:12 says.

Darrell Bock:
You would argue that, and I need a brief answer to this because I want to go to Scott, you'd argue that this was a case of possession, and the person was in the process of coming to the Lord, and it really was, it almost sounds like, he was totally unaware of what had taken place earlier in the room that night.

Micheal Pocock:
Yeah, pretty much. So, this was a fight to stop him. In other words, entities that had previously controlled him are trying to stop his movement into Christ or his progress in Christ. It's an active opposition. So, that's what's going on.

Darrell Bock:
Interesting. So, Scott, sometimes the discussion comes up. I'll ask you a theological question. Since you're in the theology department of a distinction between demonic influence and demonic possession, which this particular illustration, could perhaps engender that conversation in one way or another. What's your take on kind of that space in this conversation?

Scott Horrell:
Well, you're the New Testament expert, but I believe that the term, occasionally used, is "daimonízomai" which what does a spirit presence, whether possession entirely or whether it is an oppression from the outside. And so I would want to say that once regenerated by the Holy Spirit, one cannot be possessed. But even Merrill Unger changed his mind on that idea, like Mike is saying there, as he wrote one book in 1960s, early sixties, and then another one, 10 years later, after he traveled the world.

Scott Horrell:
So I think there's mysteries there, but I like, I think of Jesus healing, the woman who was with that flow of blood bound by Satan, this daughter of Abraham, as he puts it, for 18 years. And I think, well, there's certainly then effects of demonic power over, it would seem believers' lives when particularly we allow sin in, but not always for that reason. So I see a kind of sliding scale. There's certainly utter possession. Mike, that's an interesting one you're talking about, where it seems like there still is a very real palpable presence in one who's now claiming to be a believer. But I take it as a sliding scale that when we come to Christ, then that becomes oppression. The spirit himself or itself no longer has controlling power, typically over the person, now, regenerate, by Holy Spirit that is there.

Micheal Pocock:
Demonic interference in your life, thank you for using that term "daimonízomai," which usually now we say in English demonized or demonized nation, and demonization now refers to everything from let's call it the less dramatic and less serious or less profound influence, all the way over to various severe consequences. And so, people are going to experience satanic opposition at a number of different levels.

Darrell Bock:
So we're eventually going to turn our attention, but we're probably going to do this in the second segment to the way this operates globally. Let me ask you one final question. We have time for in this go around and Scott, I'll start with you. How do you, when you face the more overt forms of warfare, what do you recommend?

Scott Horrell:
Well, if a person is in the presence of what appears to be demon possession or strong spiritual presence, I particularly want to say immediate, I first of all will want to ask, "Lord, cleanse me with your blood. Make me a pure vessel of your power," as sometimes, confrontation is immediate. And I believe we've been given that authority by our Savior. But it's much wiser, if possible, to then meet with other believers. Pray together. I think fasting is even helpful. Pray together, and be prepared as you then go, as Mike and his Trinidadian friend, to confront a spirit. I think a major step in this is commanding the spirit in Jesus' name, under His authority, to not hurt the person he's in to speak the truth, because all spirits are lying spirits, to obey the power of God. Now we don't have to have a conversation necessarily, but you're confronting a power that's beyond that person.

Scott Horrell:
So, yeah. And then in the name of Christ, often we are singing hymns or quoting scriptures that are speaking of Christ's absolute authority and victory over Satan through the cross, but then commanding the spirit to leave. And sometimes there's more than one spirit. And sometimes they will, as Mike was saying, sink back into the person. And I remember in the case I was involved in, "Why are you doing this? Why am I here? I want to go home." And then you command the spirit again to speak, sometimes multiple spirits, and it's right back there. But then commanding that spirit, in the authority of Christ, to leave and never come back. It is amazing what happens. Some spirits stay hidden. They don't want to come out either, but that people really are delivered, is just astonishing. The power and the authority of Christ is as one put it, "Nothing will increase your faith like casting out a demon."

Darrell Bock:
Wow. Well, believe it or not our time, at least for this go around is up. We're going to do a second piece and talk about kind of the global experience cause the experiences that we talked about here are mostly within our own context, because I think that also opens up an aspect of this conversation that's worth following.

Darrell Bock:
So we thank you for being a part of The Table today and hope you'll join us again. Soon. If you're interested in part two of this conversation, it's a part of what we're calling DTS plus, and The Table plus, which is part of a subscription service that we have for specialized topics. And when we kind of take another step and dig a level deeper into the things that we discuss in the general Table podcasts that we've been doing now for quite some time. So, you're more than welcome to join us there on, on The Table plus and on DTS plus. In the meantime, we thank you for being a part of the table and we hope you'll join us again soon.

Darrell L. Bock
Dr. Bock has earned recognition as a Humboldt Scholar (Tübingen University in Germany), is the author of over 40 books, including well-regarded commentaries on Luke and Acts and studies of the historical Jesus, and work in cultural engagement as host of the seminary's Table Podcasts. He was president of the Evangelical Theological Society (ETS) for 2000–2001, writes for the Christianity Today's Places and Space series, and serves on the boards of Wheaton College, Chosen People Ministries, the Institute for Global Engagement, and Christians in Public Service (CIPS). His articles appear in leading publications. He is often an expert for the media on NT issues. Dr. Bock has been a New York Times best-selling author in nonfiction and is elder emeritus at Trinity Fellowship Church in Dallas. When traveling overseas, he will tune into the current game involving his favorite teams from Houston—live—even in the wee hours of the morning. Married for over 40 years to Sally, he is a proud father of two daughters and a son and is also a grandfather.
J. Scott Horrell
Dr. Scott Horrell is professor of Theological Studies at Dallas Theological Seminary and adjunct professor at the Seminário Teológico Centroamericano (SETECA) in Guatemala, the Jordan Evangelical Theological Seminary in Amman, Jordan, and the Center for Theological Development in Maputo, Mozambique. He is a graduate of Seattle Pacific University and Dallas Seminary, and for several months was a visiting scholar at Tyndale House, Cambridge (UK). About half of his ministry years have been outside the US and centered on theological education and pastoral training especially in basic doctrines of the faith. While teaching at several schools in Brazil, he was chair of theology and coordinator of graduate studies at the Baptist Theological Seminary in São Paulo, and co-founder/editor of Vox Scripturae, which became at that time the largest Protestant journal in Latin America. Coming to Dallas Seminary in 1997, his focus has been Trinitarianism, Angelology, Humanity, Sin, Soteriology, World Religions, and Global Christian Theology. He has written or contributed to various books and written multiple articles in Portuguese and English. His wife Ruth, their two daughters (Rachel and Krystal) and son-in-laws (both DTS grads), and eight grandchildren currently reside in Dallas and Houston.
Michael Pocock
A native of England who spent his formative years in the United States, Dr. Pocock always has subscribed to an intercultural approach to the gospel. Before joining Dallas Seminary’s World Missions faculty in 1987, he pastored a culturally diverse church in Chicago. He also ministered for 16 years with The Evangelical Alliance Mission, first in Venezuela and later as mobilization director in Wheaton, Illinois. He continues to travel extensively in order to participate in missions ministries and conferences. Over the past several years Dr. Pocock has researched and written on the development of multicultural churches in America (2002) and the impact of globalization on missions (2005). He currently is researching human migration in Scripture and the implications for ministry worldwide. Dr. Pocock has been a visiting professor at Christian colleges and seminaries around the world, and in 2008 he began serving as chairman of the board for Evergreen Family Friendship Services/China.
Contributors
Darrell L. Bock
J. Scott Horrell
Michael Pocock
Details
October 18, 2022
church, deliverance, prayer, victory
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