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Are we all at war?

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Ephesians 6.12

My experience on the military front-line convinced me that the spiritual front-line is wherever people are. That implies that existing as a human being involves conflict, which occasionally finds expression in bombs and bullets but is otherwise "spiritual". What do I mean by that? Perhaps a better word would be metaphysical because I am not sure that all of it is waged on a spiritual plane. The distinction may sound trivial yet it is anything but.

Tremendous damage is done through incorrect diagnosis. This applies to our bodies and can result in irreversible damage, sometimes tragedy. Similar is true when mental injury or illness is confused with demon possession and elaborate and sometimes terrifying rituals are entered into, which compounds the problem and can lead to a lifetime of torment.

Jesus practised a ministry of total healing: he raised dead people, restored epileptics and cast out demons. He began his earthly ministry by resisting the Devil and he ended it by defeating him completely and overcoming death, which is the ultimate consequence of the Devil's leading people into sin. That means we are engaged in a mopping up operation and not a war, resisting the Devil's residual opposition until Jesus returns to finish the job.

In the meantime medical and theological research is providing ever more penetrating insights into the reality of our situation and the conditions we suffer. Whether or not its practitioners realise and accept it, we believe that the skills and insights come from God and therefore we should all pay attention and learn. God gave us his Word which is living and not static.

This argues for nuanced understanding and thoughtful application of what we believe, especially where it involves the health - mental, physical, spiritual - of a fellow human being. Jesus always left those who came to him for healing feeling better. For that to be the case with would-be healers in the church, we need to be trained in the tools of our trade and conversant with the environment in which we operate.



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