Spiritual Warfare - Lesson 1

Introduction to Spiritual Warfare

In this lesson, you will gain insights into Dr. Gerry Breshears' transformation from a rational, science-oriented perspective to a spiritual warfare practitioner. His experiences in the Philippines challenged his belief that biblical references to demons were scientific explanations for psychosis. Dr. Breshears discusses a real case involving a seminary student dealing with anxiety and panic attacks. Through careful assessment, he identifies curses and theological misconceptions as key aspects of spiritual warfare. The lesson also touches on the identification of a demonic voice within the student's inner world. The upcoming course will cover a biblical worldview, biblical theology of the powers, and practical strategies for spiritual warfare, with the goal of facing an evil adversary and remaining loyal to God.

Gerry Breshears
Spiritual Warfare
Lesson 1
Watching Now
Introduction to Spiritual Warfare

I. Introduction to Gerry Breshears

A. Gerry's history with Western Seminary in Portland

B. Initial desire to be a missionary in the Philippines

C. Calling as a pastor of pastors

II. Evolution of Gerry's Worldview

A. Early inclination towards science and mathematics

B. Belief that demons in the Bible were scientific explanations of psychosis

C. Experiences in the Philippines challenging this view

1. Encounters with demon worship

2. Conversations with previously demon-possessed individuals

D. Return to the US and the realization of demonic activity

1. The Satanic Panic of the 1980s and 1990s

III. Understanding Spiritual Warfare

A. Personal stories of spiritual battles

1. Bill's story: Anxiety, fatherly curses, and demonic voices

B. Different types of spiritual warfare

1. Curses from people and demonic sources

2. Lies embedded in beliefs

3. Demonic attachments

C. Overview of exorcism and dealing with demonic attachments

IV. Course Overview

A. Establishing a biblical worldview

B. Understanding a biblical theology of the powers

C. Strategies for spiritual warfare

  • Dr. Gerry Breshears discusses some of the main teachings of the Bible on Spiritual Warfare and then participates in a live question and answer.

  • Discover Dr. Breshears' journey from science to spiritual warfare, debunking scientific explanations for demons. Unveil a seminary student's anxiety battle, uncover curses, theological misconceptions, and inner demonic voices. Prepare for a course on spiritual warfare and staying loyal to God.
  • Gain insights into worldviews within Christianity, including polytheism, American monotheism, and Christian monotheism. Explore the nature of spiritual beings and idols.
  • Gain insight into powerful spiritual beings tied to nations in the Bible. Warning against intermarriage and foreign gods emphasized.
  • You'll gain insight into spiritual warfare through Genesis 11, where human defiance led to the scattering of nations and involvement of angelic beings.
  • You will gain insight into a distinct biblical interpretation that views the universe's creation as an act of shaping Eden within a pre-existing cosmic war, and the role of humans in this ongoing battle by cultivating goodness and order to combat evil and chaos.
  • In this lesson, the story of Adam and Eve is analyzed within the context of spiritual warfare, highlighting the serpent's strategy to question God's goodness and encourage independence, while God responds with a call to confession and hints at a future Messiah's role in redemption.
  • This lesson offers an insightful interpretation of Genesis 6:1-4, presenting the "Sons of God" as angelic beings who sinned by marrying humans, leading to the Nephilim, linking this perspective to New Testament passages and the symbolism of baptism as a victory declaration against evil forces, deepening your understanding of the nuanced interpretation of these biblical passages and their importance in Christianity.
  • The passages reviewed in this lesson reveal a unique portrayal of God's actions, using unconventional methods. Challenge common interpretations, caution against single-verse doctrines. Embrace the mystery of God's ways, avoiding rigid interpretations when context is unclear.
  • This lesson reviews a passage in Colossians, offering insights into spiritual warfare and the dichotomy between the kingdoms of light and darkness, emphasizing believers' rescue from darkness into the kingdom of the Son of God, forgiveness of sins, and the essential elements of faith, all of which are vital for confronting demonic accusations and oppression.
  • Learn the core of Ephesians: spiritual warfare, dedication to God vs. Satan, moral maturity, and becoming Christ's partner. Emphasizes unity, living in light, using God's Word, and the power of prayer in this battle.
  • Learn to resist the temptations of the world and the devil by humbling yourself, casting anxiety on God, being self-controlled, alert, and standing firm in faith as taught in James and 1 Peter, emphasizing the importance of using your strengths for God's kingdom and opposing pressures and distortions from the enemy to avoid being devoured.
  • This lesson highlights the significance of facing spiritual forces in Jesus' name, stressing that authority alone isn't enough. Faith, confidence, and prayer-driven competence are vital for effective spiritual warfare. It inspires you to confront spiritual battles like Jesus did, with authority and unwavering faith.
  • This lesson delves into a biblical narrative highlighting Jesus' authority over evil spirits. It emphasizes the transformative power of His deliverance and the profound change it can bring to those tormented by demonic influence.
  • This lesson provides deep insights into Satan's fall in the Bible, covering Old Testament passages (Isaiah 14, Ezekiel 28) linked to it, addressing their ambiguity. It also discusses withholding Satan's name due to his evil nature and how Jesus broke his authority in the New Testament, though he remains a threat to believers.
  • This lesson delves into the intricate dynamics between believers, demons, and the world in the biblical context. You'll uncover Satan's mysterious role in Judas's betrayal of Jesus, posing questions about the motivations and divine alignment in this pivotal event.
  • This lesson equips you with the knowledge of how Jesus confronted temptation and spiritual warfare, emphasizing three essential steps: quoting Scripture to the devil, commanding the devil to leave in Jesus' name, and shifting your focus from demonic attack to Jesus' provision.
  • This lesson explores 3 Deliverance Ministry models: 1) Classic - resist Satan's temptations, 2) Power Encounter - deal with sin before casting out demons, 3) Truth Encounter - dispel lies, reclaim identity in Christ. Dr. Breshears prefers the Truth Encounter model while allowing for diverse biblical approaches.
  • This lesson provides comprehensive insights on dealing with the demonic from a biblical perspective, emphasizing the triumph of Jesus over Satan, the ongoing spiritual battles, the importance of faith in the midst of adversity, and the need to follow biblical patterns while avoiding unnecessary fascination with evil and excessive fearfulness.
  • This lesson explores demons and Satan's impact on believers, emphasizing that even righteous individuals can face their influence. It reveals how deception, curses, and accusations can create strongholds in belief systems, perpetuated by Satan. Demons exploit weaknesses, desires, and ignorance, leading to destructive behaviors. The lesson ends with the assurance that believers are never abandoned by the Holy Spirit.
  • From this lesson, you will gain insight into the Dr. Breshear's approach to identifying potential demonic influence in people's lives, focusing on areas like accusing voices, oppressive presence, and occult involvement. He emphasizes the importance of assessing these influences when individuals face issues like anxiety, addiction, or persistent problems. By probing into their experiences and thoughts, the goal is to recognize and address these negative influences, ultimately seeking to remove them from the person's life.
  • This lesson provides insights into assessing potential demonic influence in individuals' lives, offering strategies to distinguish personal issues from demonic influences and empower individuals to confront and overcome such challenges with the authority of Jesus Christ.
  • From this lesson, you will gain insight into the controversial topic of demonic influence and possession within Christianity. The lesson explores the various meanings of "possessed" and the debate surrounding whether a Christian can be dominated or influenced by a demon. It emphasizes that while ownership by a demon is generally denied, the extent of demonic influence remains debated.
  • You will learn a comprehensive approach to address demons in a pastoral setting, emphasizing individual empowerment, cooperation, and the transformative potential of confronting these malevolent forces to achieve freedom and healing.
  • This lesson delves into spiritual warfare, discussing curses, demonic attacks, and their real-life impact. It highlights curses arising from disobedience, similar to God's curse in the Bible. Instances like a cursed object in Africa demonstrate their harm. The lesson promotes rejecting curses and dedicating spaces to God while emphasizing that curses have power only when received, suggesting turning to Jesus for protection and deliverance.
  • This lesson explores demon nature, influence, and approach. It dispels the myth of immunity in the US, highlighting demons' subtle tactics. Demons' origin is unclear, and prayer and fasting aren't mandatory. Living as children of light and invoking Jesus' name is key. Mind-reading by demons is uncertain, but they exploit confessed sin. Whether they can inhabit believers is unanswered, but they influence through deception. Demons may dwell in specific places and require confronting with Jesus' authority. Believers engage in spiritual warfare to deliver the oppressed, empowered by Jesus.

There is an ongoing battle between the kingdom of light and the kingdom of darkness. Followers of Jesus, who are in the kingdom of light, have been given authority by God to command demons. By studying Jesus' life and other passages in scripture, we can gain insights into how to respond to the influence of demons effectively.


Spiritual Warfare
Dr. Gerry Breshears
Introduction to Spiritual Warfare
Lesson Transcript


Well, my name is Gerry Breshears. I've been teaching at Western Seminary here in Portland for more than 40 years, if you could believe that. I mean, it's just crazy since I absolutely did not want to come to this place at all. I wanted to be a missionary in the Philippines. Sharon and I had taught there at Faith Academy in 1969 and 1972. I went to seminaries, headed back to being missionary in the Philippines, and God said, "Don't go west young man. Go north young man." And I said, "Absolutely not. I know about that funny place up in Portland, Oregon. I want nothing to do with it." Well, we're not a funny place anymore, and I've been here over 40 years. So here we go. It's just craziness to see what God can do. So my calling is being pastor of pastors, and I get to do a lot of that.

And one of the things that God brought me into is this whole area of spiritual warfare, which is crazy. Why would a hardened pacifist want to do spiritual warfare, and what does that mean anyway? Well, the reason I do it is because God drug me into that too kind of backward. I mean, I grew up being a math major, science-oriented kind of guy, committed to the idea that I would be doing teaching. My vision was to be a math prophet, a university and sponsor of like a university or crew club on campus, because I'd seen the power of that sort of thing. And I had an absolute commitment to the idea that the demons in the Bible are pre-scientific explanations of psychosis. And that worked fine for me until God drug me to the Philippines, and I saw people who were seriously doing demon worship and stuff was happening, and demons were more than just pre-scientific explanation of psychosis.

I got the chance to talk to a demon possessed guy, Ernie Blaze, who was the manager of the Conservative Baptist Bookstore in Quezon City, Philippines. Now to be clear, he wasn't even possessed when he was a bookstore manager, but he had been, and he told me stuff that happened when he was using the demonic spears to get power back when he was in high school and college. And I mean, it was scary to hear what was happening. I saw fire circles up above the Faith Academy school site where there'd been demon worship going on. When Faith Academy moved up there, the demons moved away or at least abandoned that particular site. But the students took me up and I saw it, fire circle and all the stuff around it, where they'd been doing demonic sacrifices there on the hill just east of Manila. And then I came back to the United States and was very, very, very glad that demons may live in the Philippines but they don't live in the United States.

So we're back in the scientific land. Went through college, went through seminary, went through doctoral program, didn't have to do anything with demonic kind of stuff. Then came up here to Portland and discovered that demons were alive, got involved with some people that were taking it seriously. And that was what began like in the eighties and nineties for you old folks. Remember what we now call the Satanic panic? Satanic Ritual abuse was on the front page of major news magazines and it was a thing that was literally overcoming all kinds of resistance. And it was a fascination with people taking children into basements of schools and torturing them to sacrifice to Satan. And there's a reality there. There's also a lot of sensationalism there. And so in a backward kind of way, I got involved in this, but the biggest thing was I started taking the Bible seriously.

And what it says in passage like Ephesians chapter six, is that we are at war with principalities and powers, high level demonic powers. And we didn't choose the war. We're in the war. The only question is what side we'll fight for and how wisely we will do it. So I thought about what is this and why should be talking about it here? Well, let me tell you a story, and I'm going to use the names Bill and Mary through our class, and those are just generic names, no associates with anybody you might know. And the stories I'm going to tell are all real stories, laundered a little bit just to take out any identifying details, but they're real. 

So here a while back, in my pastor role, one of my students actually came in to talk to me. And as we got to talking in a more pastoral kind of way, he was talking about the anxiety he was running into in being a seminary student, being a husband and father, and looking for just life in the big world. And he was dealing with major anxieties. And in my pastor role, I said, "Gosh, let's talk about this." So we arranged for some time to talk and I just... "Tell me about what's going on." And he described how when he'd get in certain situations that he would have what we would call a panic attack. He would just lose control. He would start sweating. He couldn't think, he couldn't talk and he'd be shaking. And he had some medication to help him calm down on those kinds of stuff. I said, "Man, that is gnarly."

And then what happened, in my pastor role, I began to think, okay, what's going on here? And I started asking questions to get behind the curtain and see what was going on in his mind and in his spirit and his heart as I was doing that. And I'll talk more about how I do this assessment later in the class, but as I dug in and began talking about stuff, I discovered that there was a major curse in his life. Now, this was not a demonic curse, this was a father curse. He had grown up in a very high functioning home. His dad was a powerful businessman, very demanding. And this father had, on a number of different key occasions, tried to get his son to be with him doing some things around the house. And the son, I mean, he was a kid, he didn't do it right, and the dad would scream at him. "Can't you do anything right?"

And that sort of thing happened. And he received that curse, that judgment from his father. And he believed deeply that he couldn't do anything right. That's part of spiritual warfare, is going against curses like that, that can come from a father, a parent, a friend, a wife, child, or things could come from the demonic side too. Another piece of spiritual warfare in his life was that he had physical, I mean hormonal kind of stuff, and he needed to be on medication. And in his view, he had been told that if you trust God, you'll not have any worries in your life. Let not heart be troubled. Trust in God, trust also in me, John 14:1 was deeply embedded in his spirit and for him to take any kind of medication was to not trust God. 

And that was deeply embedded in him as a lie, because he had believed... It's a theological error that the person is basically spiritual and the body is a tool, instead of interacting duality where the body and spirit work together to make the person, so that he had to take medication and had to keep taking medication for anxiety issues, to prove that he was not spiritual, and he could never be a good pastor. That's spiritual warfare of a different kind.

And then as we got to talking, and I'm just investigating and trying to listen carefully to his story, because every story is unique. And he got to more trusting to me and started telling me things. I'm just saying, "What's going on in your mind? When this stuff starts happening, what's happening up in your head? What are you feeling? What are you thinking? What are you seeing?" And that kind of stuff. And as we were talking about this sort of thing, and he's just describing what it's like to go into one of these panic attacks, and I'm doing my very level best to just keep encouraging him to say more, I heard him say something to the effect, "And I just hear, 'You're a complete failure, you'll never amount to anything.'" 

And I looked at it and I... ding, and I listened to that. And a little bit later I circled back to that and I said, "Man, that voice from your dad is really gnarly. Is that what you're hearing there?" He said, "What do you mean?" I said, "Well, we all have an internal self-talk, sometimes your own stuff, sometimes your dad talking to you, sometimes other things. Why don't we just take a look at that thing you talked about that said you'll never amount to anything by the power of the Holy Spirit." "Okay."

So we did that, laid some prayer foundation, and then I just, by the power of the spirit walking with Jesus, go into his inner world and look at that voice and tell me what you see. And this is a strong Christian guy. And when he went inside in his own inner, imaginative thought world and looked at that voice in the name of Jesus, he said, "That's not me. That voice is not my dad." I said, "Well, what do you think it is?" "I don't know." I said, "Look at it in the name of Jesus." And as he did, he recognized that it was actually a demonic voice in his inner world.

Now that was what we call an accusing voice, but it was very real. It hated him and it was trying to destroy him. Like Genesis, four, where it talks about sin is crouching, is out to destroy you. That's what he was facing. And it wasn't just his dad's voice, though, that was there as well. It was a literally demonic voice that somehow he'd gotten attached to his own life. 

So at that point, we did what we could call exorcism, or getting rid of the demonic attachment, breaking that and commanding it to get away. And what we'll talk about in this course is how we do that sort of a thing. These are challenging kinds of things. They're actually not that hard at the basics. And the goal I have for this short course is to go through, first of all, kind of a biblical worldview. The first part of it will be just what is the worldview that the Bible... because, see, I had a scientific worldview that said the laws of nature are fundamental reality, and everything is really explainable by random application of presently operating natural law. So demonic in the Bible with just a pre-scientific explanation of psychosis, like I said, that's a worldview issue. And I want to talk about a biblical worldview, because it's different than our American worldview, or worldviews in most places.

Then I want to take a section talking about just a biblical theology of the powers. And in the final section of this, what we're going to do is come back into the, okay, how do you do this kind of stuff? How do you win at spiritual warfare? So those are the parts of the course as I look ahead to it. And what I'd like to suggest to you is you don't have to do this in sequential order. I'm going to develop the way it makes sense to me. But it may be that you want to kind of run to the end and look at the how to before you look at the biblical theology. I don't really suggest that, but I give you the freedom to do it if you want to. Just by the time you get done, look at it all, but the order of it I want you to develop in a way to make most sense to you.

So we're going to look first at the biblical worldview, which we would call creation monotheism, or we could call it divine counsel. Who are the authorities and powers in Bible? Then we'll look at a biblical theology of how this works out, Old and New Testament. And then finally just practical stuff on how do you deal with this in real life kind of stuff. The different dimensions of a spiritual warfare. How do we win in this place where we're facing an evil enemy who wants to have us be fearful, incompetent, and disloyal to God? So that's where we're going, and I hope you make the journey with me.