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Jerry Rankin’s book, In Spiritual Warfare: The Battle for God’s Glory, has ten chapters. The author discusses a wide range of topics that concern spiritual warfare. Rankin begins chapter one by giving examples of the realities of spiritual warfare by narrating his encounters as a missioner in the mission field.
The author begins by challenging the readers to acknowledge that demonic possession goes beyond the physical body. Spiritual warfare is always a well-orchestrated battle that is disguised as a physical possession. According to Rankin, Christians fail to discern spiritual warfare sometimes because they have brushed it off as a myth.
The author states that before going into missions, his spiritual sensitivity like that of many other Christians was low. However, after being in the field for a while and interacting with people who did not know Jesus, his spiritual sensitivity increased. He states that every Christian must know that demonic possession is very common in places where the gospel is yet to be preached.
In this chapter, Rankin urges Christians to work on their spiritual sensitivity. Spiritual warfare goes beyond the primary focus, viz. Satan. Rankin argues that spiritual warfare has three dimensions, viz. Satan, the world, and the flesh. These three are always conspiring daily to defeat Christians and they work closely to ensure that they rob God of His glory.
A proper understanding of who God is in the lives of Christians is important if they are to understand the spiritual warfare and its proponents. Rankin states that the distorted perception of God, Satan, and spiritual warfare convinces people that Satan has power over them. However, in reality, he does not have such power, and thus Christians end up giving in to fleshly desires without resistance.
In the next three chapters, the author capitalizes on the nature of the devil. He begins by noting that the term ‘devil’ in Greek is Diabolos, which means to oppose. Rankin notes that the ultimate goal of God is for Christians to glorify Him and ensure the growth of His kingdom.
The devil comes in at this point with a completely new strategy in opposition to the goal of God. The strategy is to convince that doing missions is an option. According to Rankin, Jesus tasked His disciples to traverse all nations making disciples, and thus Christians should understand that missions are not an option. Rankin states that what makes it easier for the devil to convince Christians is the fact that his lies and oppressions are not blatant, but disguised.
According to Rankin, Satan has blinded those who do not believe in the gospel so that they are unable to understand it. He affirms this assertion by stating that in his various missions, he has interacted with people who react to the gospel with such fierce hostility. Rankin notes that it is very important for Christians to abide in fellowship with God.
Apparently, the devil does not get opposition when manipulating believers because they do not know the truth. He emphasizes that if Christians had a healthy relationship with God, it would not be easy for Satan to manipulate them. The author goes ahead to note that the Bible reveals three categories of temptations, which include “lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and pride in one’s lifestyle” (Rankin 2009, 301).
Satan uses these tools to manipulate Christians. Rankin also looks at the struggles that Christians face in their walk of faith and how they can overcome them, with the most important way being to deny the flesh its privations. In the next two chapters of the book, the author looks at the battle between the flesh and spirit, which is the third tool used by the enemy in spiritual warfare.
The Bible affirms that the flesh naturally seeks gratification through sin, and thus the desires of the flesh will always be contrary to those of the spirit. The flesh seeks to oppose the will of God at all times. However, the death of Jesus Christ has redeemed believers from the bondage of sin. Any Christian seeking to overcome the flesh should be aware of the truth that the spirit has overcome the body.
In chapters seven and eight, Rankin gives some of the methods used by Satan to deter Christians. Some of these methods include adversity, living in the flesh, bitterness and unforgiveness, lack of faith, haughtiness, pride, arrogance, and dissension. Rankin dwells adversity as the major tool used by Satan to dissuade Christians from believing in God. He states that Christians must work on their faith in God always especially in adversity.
In the last two chapters, Rankin focuses on the strategies that Christians should embrace in a bid to combat the enemy. He states that Christians should work on their faith and commitment to God and the denial of the flesh by renewing of their minds perpetually. Rankin builds on these important tools in the final chapters of the book by encouraging Christians to pray without ceasing, observe Sabbaths, and uphold the love of Christ.
The inclusion of Rankin’s experience in the mission field has made the book a persuasive read. These narrations relate to the biblical stories about warfare with the enemy. The inclusion of these stories shows that although the enemy was defeated at the cross, he has not ceased working.
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These stories are important as they engage the readers from the beginning and they are a revelation to the Christians who intend to join missions. However, the weakness in these stories is that they are drawn from foreign missionaries. This specification may cause any reader to presume that such warfare only happens in foreign missions.
Although Rankin attempts to address this misconception at the beginning of the book, he fails to carry on the defense in the entire book. Therefore, this aspect limits the spiritual warfare narrated in the book to missionaries in foreign fields only. The author begins by describing the enemy to his readers.
In addition, he outlines a strategy of attacking the enemy. He goes ahead to narrate stories from his experience in missions that describe to the readers what exactly is spiritual warfare. He backs up these stories by biblical references, which validates his arguments. As such, the book is limited to scholars and the elites as it shuts out the common audience. Therefore, the book has little appeal to the common audience
Throughout his book, Rankin constantly refers to The Screwtape Letters, which is a fictional book by C.S. Lewis. Rankin uses the book as an authority that tells the tactics used by Satan in his attack against Christians. The regard of this book in high esteem by Rankin could mislead the readers into regarding the fictional book by Lewis as an actual authority on the nature and works of Satan.
In my opinion, Rankin did not have to use the book because he already had strong points from the Bible and his personal experience to convince the readers. The author also argues that the busyness of people’s daily demands is a form of spiritual warfare. According to the author, this assertion holds because the daily demands divert people’s attention from God’s will and His purpose in their lives.
While it is true that as Christians every aspect of life is supposed to be grounded in prayer, the controversial question that arises from this argument is whether the daily household chores like the dropping and picking kids from school and the shopping for groceries among other tasks are battlegrounds for spiritual warfare. Rankin further illustrates his point by saying that people fulfill these tasks for those they love in an attempt not to disappoint them, thus diverting their attention from God.
While to some extent this assertion could be true, I believe it would be reasonable if Christians do not spiritualize everything and attend to every chore as a spiritual battle they are fighting.
However, Rankin has raised points and arguments that are very relevant to all Christians in their walk of faith. The book is an important read for Christians who are serious about working on their spiritual life by understanding how the spiritual realm operates. The author has provided insightful statements such as the need for Christians to understand that victory is not automatic just because they have received Christ.
He addresses all the misconceptions that Christians have in their walk of faith that later lead to frustrations. Rankin has covered adequately the concerns of all his audience about the spiritual realm and the spiritual walk by all Christians.
The book by Jerry Rankin is not like any other spiritual book. The book reveals to Christians the tactics and schemes used by the enemy to affect their spiritual life. It also equips Christians with strategies to overcome the traps and schemes of the enemy. The book has taught me to look at life from a spiritual perspective.
As a Christian, I can only fight some battles successfully by understanding their cause. The book has helped me realize that in life, I am in a constant warfare as a Christian albeit not physical and I need to be always ready because the enemy is constantly scheming. As a Christian, my defense should always be ready and this goal can only be achieved by cultivating a prayer life and working on my relationship with God.
The book has helped me realize that Satan has no power over me, but he uses deception to convince Christians that he has power over their lives. Am no longer worried about Satan and what he is capable of doing in my life. The book has helped me understand that by the death of Christ on the cross, I received victory and I only need to activate it by cultivating a healthy relationship with God and understanding my place in the kingdom.
The book has enlightened me about the importance of living a victorious life as a Christian. It has also helped me realize that only I can surrender myself to the missions. In relation to missions, the book has helped me realize that as a Christian, I am tasked with spreading the gospel in all spheres of the world. As Rankin puts it, mission work is not an option that I can overlook.
The book has also helped me realize that one of the important elements of a serious missioner is spiritual sensitivity. This aspect helps one to discern what is happening in the spiritual realm coupled with helping them to get ready for any spiritual warfare. A missioner should be spiritually prepared because the enemy is constantly scheming against the workers who are out in the field gathering the harvest.
The book has reaffirmed the importance of love. As Rankin puts it, if we as Christians focus our lives on others in love, it is not easy for Satan to use our selfish fleshly desires to sabotage us in our Christian walk. Rankin has also emphasized the point that true love for a Christian involves sacrifice, which in turn demands giving up oneself in service to others.
In chapter six, Rankin emphasizes the need for fasting as a prerequisite for victorious living as a Christian. Rankin has helped me realize that fasting is not a legal commitment between God and man, but a desire by human beings to connect with God and understand the heart of God.
As a Christian, I have realized that I cannot have a healthy relationship with God without sacrificing my fleshly desires. Denying myself and spending time with God shows a yearning and love for God that only Him can satisfy. Rankin has helped me realize that fasting is not a form of bribery to God so that He can sort my troubles, but it is a time to bond and strengthen our relationship.
Rankin, Jerry. 2009. Spiritual Warfare: The Battle for God’s Glory. Nashville: B &H Publishing Group.