JOHN WESLEY AND SPIRITUAL WARFARE (1)
We have been looking at spiritual warfare in the church through the centuries since Jesus was on earth. The further from the time of Jesus it was, the further from God’s Word man moved. Superstition, rituals and many strange and harmful practices became the common way to deliver a person from demons. During the reformation period (1500-1700 AD) the new Protestant church went back to the Bible looking for answers about how to have victory over Satan.
Those outside the church were following the new emphasis of the Entitlement period (1700-1800 AD). The Enlightenment was a movement of the eighteenth century in which reason was further exalted as the solution to all man’s problems. It was also marked by skepticism of anything that the mind of man could not understand. This belief has grown and spread until it finds far-reaching acceptance even today. But God had His own movement during the Enlightment period, springing from the Church of England through the ministries of the Wesley’s, which came to be known as the Methodist movement. This revival was marked by spontaneous demonstrations of the power of God.
John Wesley (AD 1703 – 1791) lived at a time when the laws against witchcraft were being repealed. In 1768 he publicly opposed such changes, stating that to give up the prosecution of witchcraft was like giving up the Bible. During the powerful revival meetings of the Wesley’s, miracles of healings and of spiritual deliverance occurred spontaneously. Thus John Wesley held that the age of miracles had not entirely come to an end. He debated this issue with literary opponents, challenging them to prove either by scripture or by reason that such an age was over.
Wesley had enemies who opposed him and his movement, most of whom were Catholics. But as it happened, several of these became demonized as they spoke out against him. This is an example of God allowing a person to be demonized as a judgment of God. They opened the door by rejecting God’s truth and attacking God’s people. When it came to the casting out of spirits, Wesley agreed with Luther in using only prayer, avoiding rituals and ritualized commands.
In letter in November, 1762, John Wesley speaks of this policy: “The short of the case is this. Two young women were tormented of the devil in an uncommon manner. Several serious persons desired my brother and me to pray with them. We, with many others did; and they were delivered. But where meantime were ‘the exorcisms in form, according to the Roman fashion’? I never used them; I never saw them; I know nothing about them.” That is good advice for us to follow as well – stay away from anyone or anything that is not focused in Jesus and grounded n His Word.