Some have misinterpreted and misapplied this text as if it spoke of cosmic level spiritual warfare (i.e., territorial demons). “Strongholds” and every “lofty thing” (NASB) have been taken as referring to demonic spirits who have been assigned by Satan to specific territorial or geographic regions. We then, according to this view, are called to identify, engage, and, as it were, pull them down (ostensibly through prayer, fasting, proclamation, etc.). But the enemies in view are ideas and arguments and philosophies and excuses that are antithetical to the kingdom and glory of God. This isn’t to pass judgment on whether there are territorial spirits, but simply to point out that this isn’t what Paul had in mind when he penned this passage.
The enemy does not expect you to be joyful. After all, this is war. And the enemy does not know how to combat joy in a person. He can’t lay hold of anything. A joyful person is buoyant, even merry, laughing when the circumstances would seem to dictate crying.
Satan stays active, keeping pace wth God, cunning aiming to spoil God’s work and to thwart His plans to do good for his people and bring praise to his name. So teh church must be at war with Satan, since Satan is always at war with it – with us who believe
In his book,Territorial Spirits and World Evangelization? (Mentor/OMF, 199),Chuck Lowe concludes that the strategic-level spiritual warfare advocated by the likes of C. Peter Wagner is unbiblical and the claims associated with it are unfounded. He points the way forward by exploring the experience of James Fraser, a pioneer missionary among the Lisu people in the far-western Chinese province of Yunnan in the early twentieth century. Fraser perceived spiritual warfare taking place through:
1)Attacks on new converts. The Lisu were bound to demon worship through fear of physical illness. When the family members of new converts fell ill there was strong pressure to return to demonic worship.
2)Public demonstrations of occult power in rituals.
3) Human opposition to the message,
4) Attacks on the missionaries (illness, fatigue, doubt, depression).
It is all if and when. I believer the devil is fond of those conjunctions… The Lord bids us work, watch and pray: but Satan suggests, wait until a good opportunity for working, watching and praying presents itself – and needless to say, this opportunity is always in the future. (Cited 134)
Lowe himself comments: ‘A small temptation, perhaps, but laziness leads progressively to life-long failure and was to be opposed earnestly in disciplined prayer.’ (134)
There are two equal and opposite errors into which our race can fall about the devils. One is to disbelieve in their existence. The other is to believe, and to feel an excessive and unhealthy interest in them. They themselves are equally pleased with both errors and hail a materialist or a magician with the same delight. C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters, p. ix.