Article: THE ARTS & SPIRITUAL WARFARE
by Colin Harbinson
Spiritual warfare is a subject of great interest and discussion amongst
Christians today. Some would have us believe that because Jesus defeated
Satan at Calvary, we need no longer concern ourselves with spiritual warfare
- Jesus did it all! Others act as though they believe that the Cross had
little or no effect on the powers of darkness, and that it has been largely
left to us to defeat Satan!
A hallmark of truth is its universal application. We can perceive truth in a particular theological or practical framework and fail to make the "connection" with other areas of reality.Like Elisha's servant we need to have our eyes opened, to see beyond physical observation to spiritual reality and practical application. Nowhere is the truth of spiritual warfare more needed or so little understood as in the area of the arts. This sad fact has left artists open to the attacks of the enemy, resulting in many unnecessary casualties. As artists, we struggle with very specific issues in our lives, yet often fail to realize that "our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in heavenly places."In over twenty-five years of involvement in the Arts, the most vital understanding I have gained is of the nature and significance of spiritual warfare, as it relates both to the arts and the artist.
A number of years ago, the leadership of the Academy of Performing Arts
received a very powerful picture from the Lord which has undergirded and
guided all that we have been involved in ever since. We saw fortified
cities on which were written the names of various art forms. Over each
city there were principalities and powers, among which were idolatry,
pride, independence and impurity. We believe the Lord spoke to us that
the arts were His good gifts to be expressed for beauty and glory. We
were to pull down these strongholds and see the arts reconciled to God.
With this mandate came a warning. We were to make sure that the strongholds
over the arts were not strongholds of the enemy in our own lives.
The discerning of spiritual strongholds is of primary importance. Different
locations, cities and nations have their own specific spiritual oppression.
As our performing troupes have traveled internationally, they have found
themselves facing specific struggles in certain locations. That is the
nature of the operation of "spiritual forces of wickedness in heavenly
places!" In one city they will face attacks in the area of impurity,
in another situation find themselves rising up in pride and arrogance.
Instead of passive sightseeing, in new locales, we need to walk the streets
in active intercession, asking God to show us the principalities and powers
over the city or nation. As God shows us, we can take our authority in
the Lord. Biblical battles were won in the spiritual realm before they
were won in the natural. Knowing where the enemy will attack, we can prepare
ourselves for defensive and offensive action. This principle applies to
theatres and performance areas. If Shinto priests are flown from Japan
to Broadway prior to the opening of a show, to cleanse the theatre of
"negative" influences, how much more we need to be aware of
this principle in the realm of our spiritual warfare as artists.
Secondly, we need to understand the nature of our spiritual authority.
Victory is not assured by just resisting the enemy. Many try to resist
but get nowhere! The reason for failure is that we ignore the full counsel
of scripture. Resisting is proceeded by submitting. "Submit yourself
to God, resist the devil and he will flee from you." If our lives
are not submitted to God, we have no authority whatsoever. We have no
power at all. Authority comes out of submission. This principle applies
to the God-given accountability structures in our lives. I am not referring
to ungodly control, but to Godly accountability. As artists, our biggest
need is to be spiritually discipled and have those who love us enough
to speak into our lives. We need relationships where we can be open about
our struggles and received prayer and encouragement in the Lord.
Walking in the opposite spirit to strongholds in the arts both defines
our lifestyles and releases spiritual authority. As artists we need to
have a lifestyle of worship, walking in humility and dependence, having
"presented our members as instruments of righteous
If I have been strong in the statements I have made, it is only because I love the arts and desire that as artists we truly glorify God in the expression of our gifts. The charge of scripture to "walk in a manner worthy of our calling," must ring loudly in our ears. We need not wallow in our struggles and use the excuse that we walk a difficult path. We are open to specific attacks and temptations, but we do not have to succumb. As artists we are not just called to maintain the status quo, we are called to a much higher task. As we pursue our gifts and calling in God, we will be agents of reconciliation in the arts. As we face the reality of spiritual warfare, we must remind ourselves that "the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the pulling down of strongholds."
Note from the author: