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 NIV
I've been praying for Mel Gibson recently. These crazy phone recordings of he and his ex-girlfriend that have surfaced on the Internet are just heartbreaking. He sounds like a man on the edge; cursing, ranting and threatening… tormented by his choices, lack of friends, possibly alcohol or medication and—most certainly—satan.
Why wouldn't he be attacked by satan? Even without his failings and bad choices (some possibly even criminal), he makes a delicious target for the enemy. Mel's masterpiece, The Passion of the Christ, must have had a major effect in the spiritual realm. It was a proclamation to satan that his time is short, a vehicle for millions of believers to grow closer to their God and non-believers to be exposed to the gospel, and a major attack against the stronghold of evil in the arts.
Mel was the main human force who made it happen. He was aware that there would be spiritual attacks when making the film in 2003 and said, "Imagine: There's a huge war raging, and it's over us! … For some reason, we're important in this thing. I don't understand it. We're a bunch of [expletives] and idiots and failures and creeps. But we're called to the divine; we're called to be better than our nature would have us be. And those big realms that are warring and battling are going to manifest themselves very clearly, seemingly without reason, here—a realm that we can see. And you stick your head up and you get knocked" (The New Yorker, 10/15/03). And later, "There is a spiritual dark force that didn't want us to make the film. It's so completely palpable while your doing it" (EWTN, 1/24/04).
Steve Turner talks eloquently about spiritual warfare in the arts in his excellent book, Imagine:
"I'm convinced that the world of the arts, media, and entertainment, because of its access to the imaginations of so many millions, is a place of great interest to the spiritual forces of evil. As a movie director recently observed, 'L.A. is the town that controls world storytelling for both children and adults.' Artists have no special protection. In fact, because of their tendency to be curious about all forms of experience and their need to avoid rigid forms of thinking, they are probably more vulnerable to temptation. The standard protection kit offered to all Christians is the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the shoes of readiness, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, the sword of the Spirit and prayer (Ephesians 6). We can't survive with the T-Shirt of Sunday school memories and the baseball cap of personal vision."
For some of us, talk of having to deal with spiritual warfare is overwhelming or frightening. But remember, regardless of what the horror movies say, God is exponentially greater than the devil. Satan is only a finite, created being; God is the infinite, uncreated, multiple "omni" being. And His power living in us enables us to stand against the enemy.
As Christians, when we step into the destiny God has prepared for us we can be assured that:
- Spiritual attacks WILL come and,
- God WILL provide everything we need to be victorious.
God doesn't expect us to fight the battle on our own power; He gives us protection and weapons that we can become adept with. Many Christians know little about appropriating the armor of God in their lives. I often actually go through the motions of putting the armor on in order to bring it to life for me. It may look goofy, but it works.
Also, in fighting the spiritual battle, it is essential to reach out to other believers for support. Satan will try to isolate us and trick us into believing we are self-sufficient, especially if we've had some spiritual success. I've spoken and written about spiritual warfare many times, yet the effects of it still sneak up on me when I lose sight of the facts in Ephesians 6:12. I have to get my nose back in God's word and find other believers to stand with in the battle. And it's important, especially if you are moving in an area like the arts, to partner with others in prayer. Here is a journal entry included in my book Finding Divine Inspiration:
"September 1999: I was struggling with heavy spiritual attacks after writing sessions (for this book); feeling worthless, depressed, having crazy thoughts. This caused me to slowly become discouraged and back off from the project. One night I felt the Holy Spirit nudging me to turn on a Christian TV channel. The host was preaching about attacks from the enemy. His encouragement shined a light on the subtle lies I had bought into and caused me to realize that attacks were to be expected and that, in the power to God's Spirit, I could and should push through. I began asking some people to pray with me before I wrote. Some time later, as I was praying, I felt the Father saying I must see myself as a warrior, that I must walk into battle or be prepared to meet and vanquish the enemy and that I can't do it alone; I must work with other warriors. The realization came that I needed a regular prayer support team."
Since then, I often feel their prayers very strongly when I alert them to what I'm going through.
Yes, Mel Gibson had an affair, got a divorce, got his girlfriend pregnant, possibly hit her and spewed profanity and racial slurs onto a secretly recorded tape. There is no excuse for much of this behavior. His choices have undoubtedly led to the sad state of his life, and we can all learn from that. But I'm certain that satan and his minions have been there every step, egging Mel on, setting up circumstances for him to fail, working to discredit an artist who created a powerful work of art for God's glory. I'm also convinced that the Father and His angels have been there as well, calling him back, providing him what he needs in order to overcome, and making a way out of temptation for him. And God will continue to do that for Mel, and for us. We are in the middle of similar spiritual battle.
So, resist the enemy and he will flee from you, drawn near to God and He will drawn near to you (James 4:7-8). Make putting on the spiritual armor a regular part of your routine, get into Christian community where you can be real and get and give support, and ask God to bring others who could support you in prayer. These are steps to victory in the inevitable spiritual struggle that occurs as we take our true place in the world and God's kingdom. It is worth it, and in the middle of it we often find our real identity and destiny, our authentic selves, the reasons for our talents and abilities, and the source of real joy.
And having done all you can, simply stand strong.
And remember to pray for Mel.
J. Scott McElroy is the founder of The New Renaissance Rising and author of Finding Divine Inspiration: Working With the Holy Spirit in Your Creativity (2008, Destiny Image). He is a writer, voiceover artist, visual artist, and award-winning radio producer who is passionate about redeeming the arts through collaborating with the Holy Spirit. As a voiceover artist, he hosted the Animal Planet TV series "Wildlife Journal" from 2004-2007. His voice is heard on national TV commercials, video games, websites and more. He lives in Indianapolis, Indiana with his wife Danielle daughter Hailee and son Kaia.
Publication date: August 10, 2010