The Disabling Command as a tool in spiritual warfare against the radical agenda

The Disableing Command as a tool in sp

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This is an especially important tool of spiritual warfare that should be used against the ever-increasing inroads of radicalism in school boards, universities and large corporations that are going Woke.  This posting is taken from my most recent book, America in Danger, Left and Right: Biblical Analysis, Actions and Intercessions for the current Crisis.

  The Disabling Command as a Christian ministry against radicals

 Paul vs. Elymus


The ministry of command disablement as modeled by Paul in Acts 13: 8-12 has not been used much, if at all, by Christians and considered as something done only once. For that reason, I am taking extra space to explain it and show why it may be an effective tool to stop the demonic radicalization of America.

In Acts 13:8-12 we see Paul’s encounter with a sorcerer:


But Elymas the sorcerer (for that is what his name means) opposed them and tried to turn the proconsul from the faith.  Then Saul, who was also called Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked straight at Elymas and said, “You are a child of the devil and an enemy of everything that is right! You are full of all kinds of deceit and trickery. Will you never stop perverting the right ways of the Lord?  Now the hand of the Lord is against you. You are going to be blind for a time, not even able to see the light of the sun.” Immediately mist and darkness came over him, and he groped about, seeking someone to lead him by the hand.  When the proconsul saw what had happened, he believed, for he was amazed at the teaching about the Lord.


This Scripture has major implications for the present situation in the Christian West. In America and Europe, the spiritual hollowness and faithlessness of many mainline churches, and the anti-supernaturalism of the evangelical, cessationist churches, have allowed a rise of a witchcraft and occultism. Further, the demonically laced ideologies of Marxism and post-Modern Theory are allowed in many churches due to the lack of discernment about these movements.

In the incident quoted above, Paul is not being “nice” by contemporary standards. Rather he manifests the wrath of God that is forceful but also makes provision of mercy as the blindness is “for a time.” This is not an aberrant moment for Paul, nor did the Holy Spirit lose control over the formation of Scripture in this incident. Rather, it is consistent with other parts of Scripture both Old and New Testament. To start, we should remember that Paul also consigned a young man in his Corinthian congregation to Satan because he was sleeping with his stepmother. That seems worse than the blindness of Elymas, but Paul intended that the young man’s limited period under Satan’s influence (bodily disease?) would result in his salvation (1 Corinthian 5:5).[1]

In both of Paul’s actions there is a redeeming element to his commands. That is, Elymas will be blind only for a time, and presumably will have time to reconsider his sorcery and rebellion against God. The stepson would presumably also have time and opportunity to repent.  This type of action is critically different to the curses of the Old Testament and therefore not in violation of Jesus command not to curse our enemies, “Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.” (Romans 12:14)

To understand a curse, let us go to the Old Testament. For instance, the curse in Deuteronomy 28 lays out the negative consequences of disobeying God; poverty and illness in unequivocal terms and with no hint of reversal:


 All these curses will come on you. They will pursue you and overtake you until you are destroyed, because you did not obey the Lord your God and observe the commands and decrees he gave you.  They will be a sign and a wonder to you and your descendants forever. (vs. 45-46)


The incident recorded in 2 Kings 5 also shows the curse’s pattern of irreversible negativity. This is the story of the Assyrian commander Naaman’s healing of his leprosy by the prophet Elisha. After his healing, Elisha’s servant Gehazi ran after Naaman and lied to receive gifts for himself. Gehazi then lied to the prophet Elisha about what he had just done.


 But Elisha said to him, “Was not my spirit with you when the man got down from his chariot to meet you? Is this the time to take money or to accept clothes—or olive groves and vineyards, or flocks and herds, or male and female slaves? Naaman’s leprosy will cling to you and to your descendants forever.” Then Gehazi went from Elisha’s presence and his skin was leprous—it had become as white as snow. (vs. 26-28)


The element of mercy is absent in Old Testament curses. Paul’s command disablement is different. Not understanding this, Liberal and apostate theologians cite it as one of those supposed contradictions in Scripture. They claim Paul was supposedly the villain of the true Gospel who distorted and often reversed the message of Jesus. To them, for instance, Jesus was a humble itinerant preacher, but Paul made him into the “Son of God”, etc.

In the case under discussion, Paul seemingly cursed a person in contradiction to Jesus’s command. But the contradiction is not real. Jesus did command we love, pray for, and not curse our enemies. But Paul did not curse his personal enemy. Rather he disabled a person who opposed the Kingdom of God through sorcery. We should also point out that through the work of the Pharisees, sorcery and witchcraft were banished from Palestine. Thus, Jesus never, to our knowledge, encountered a sorcerer in his ministry and had no occasion to act as Paul did.

In both the Old and New Testaments there are provisions to escape from curses by way of repentance and God’s mercy. In 2 Chronicles 6, King Solomon prays at the dedication of the First Temple. Here, the king petitioned that God remove the curse of any future disobedience, provided that the people repent and return to the Lord. Further in 1 Kings 13 there is an incident that resembles Paul’s command disablement. An unnamed prophet from the Lord proclaims the destruction of one of the altars set up by King Jeroboam. The King was present:


When King Jeroboam heard what the man of God cried out against the altar at Bethel, he stretched out his hand from the altar and said, “Seize him!” But the hand he stretched out toward the man shriveled up, so that he could not pull it back. Also, the altar was split apart and its ashes poured out according to the sign given by the man of God by the word of the Lord. Then the king said to the man of God, “Intercede with the Lord your God and pray for me that my hand may be restored.” So the man of God interceded with the Lord, and the king’s hand was restored and became as it was before. (vs. 4-6)


Example from the Early Church


A Facebook brother brought to my attention the account of a command disablement done by St. Martin of Tours, a bishop in the early Church, and one of the most beloved of French saints. The incident is recorded by Sulpitius Severus, a disciple of St. Martin. The account makes up chapter 12 of Severus’ book, On the Life of St. Martin. I quote it here in its entirety:

Now, it came to pass some time after the above, that while Martin was going a journey, he met the body of a certain heathen, which was being carried to the tomb with superstitious funeral rites. Perceiving from a distance the crowd that was approaching, and being ignorant as to what was going on, he stood still for a little while. For there was a distance of nearly half a mile between him and the crowd, so that it was difficult to discover what the spectacle he beheld really was. Nevertheless, because he saw it was a rustic gathering, and when the linen clothes spread over the body were blown about by the action of the wind, he believed that some profane rites of sacrifice were being performed. This thought occurred to him, because it was the custom of the Gallic rustics in their wretched folly to carry about through the fields the images of demons veiled with a white covering. Lifting up, therefore, the sign of the cross opposite to them, he commanded the crowd not to move from the place in which they were, and to set down the burden. Upon this, the miserable creatures might have been seen at first to become stiff like rocks. Next, as they endeavored, with every possible effort, to move forward, but were not able to take a step farther, they began to whirl themselves about in the most ridiculous fashion, until, not able any longer to sustain the weight, they set down the dead body. Thunderstruck, and gazing in bewilderment at each other as not knowing what had happened to them they remained sunk in silent thought. But when the saintly man discovered that they were simply a band of peasants celebrating funeral rites, and not sacrifices to the gods, again raising his hand, he gave them the power of going away, and of lifting up the body. Thus he both compelled them to stand when he pleased, and permitted them to depart when he thought good.[2]


The contemporary reader may be shocked that the command disablement took hold even though the crowd was not engaged in direct witchcraft. However, they were Pagans and the funeral rites must have included demonic elements, as in food sacrifices to the gods, etc.  That was enough for the command disablement to take hold.


Legacy of inept commentaries


Paul’s use of a command disablement in his confrontation with Elymus, nor St Martin’s encounter wit a pagan funeral party, have not, to my knowledge, been seen as an example for Christians in countering either sorcery or other forms of demonic evil that oppose the Kingdom of God. Commentaries on the biblical incident are scant and largely miss the point. St. Jerome, the famous Bible translator (and one of the most irascible folks ever to slip into officially proclaimed sainthood) confused the understanding of the Paul/Elymus confrontation by saying that Elymus’ blindness was permanent.[3] St. Chrysostom, the gifted preacher and theologian of Byzantium, better understood the passage, but he gave no hint that Paul’s command disablement could be a usable technique against witches and warlocks.[4]

Modern commentators have fared much worse. In a careful search I found few references to this incident except in passing. Evangelical commentators laud Paul’s apostolic power but give no hint of modern relevancy. This would be expected from the cessationist viewpoint that barely recognizes the legitimacy of present-day healing and deliverance prayer.

I noticed a citation of a whole chapter dedicated to the incident, and I anticipated reading something useful and enlightening. It was hugely disappointing. The author blended liberal theology with sociological analysis into a mumbo-jumbo that claimed that: (1) the incident is mythological and did not happen (the de-mythologizing hermeneutic) and, (2), Paul’s other actions and prayers, as in Galatians 3:28, indicate him as a practicing Greco-Roman magician by reason of his use of repetitive incantations – awful and blasphemous nonsense. [5]

Such incompetent Biblical commentary has become commonplace among those who adhere to various forms of liberal and de-mythologizing theology, or others who have no experience in, or flatly disbelieve in, the supernatural. Several years ago, the then Presiding Bishop Apostate of the Episcopal Church, Katharine Shori, preached a sermon in which she explained that Paul sinned against feminism by casting out the demon of divination for the slave girl in the incident reported in Acts 16:16-18. To quote precisely, the Presiding Apostate said:


“But Paul is annoyed, perhaps for being put in his place, and he responds by depriving her of her gift of spiritual awareness.  Paul can’t abide something he won’t see as beautiful or holy, so he tries to destroy it.  It gets him thrown in prison.  That’s pretty much where he’s put himself by his own refusal to recognize that she, too, shares in God’s nature, just as much as he does – maybe more so!”[6]


Closer to serious analysis is Henry P. Hamann’s aticle, “The Church that Cannot Curse Cannot Bless Either”[7] The author rightfully makes the point that blessing and cursing are Biblically united, and that cursing evil is a sign of spiritual maturity. The article expends much time on how the church excommunicated and publicly dammed heretics and evil doers in its earlier period. The reader may remember seeing a scene in the 1964 movie Becket. Richard Burton plays Becket, the Bishop of Canterbury. He excommunicates Lord Gilbert, a friend of King Henry II (Peter O’Toole) in a dramatic and historically accurate presentation. But Hamann does not get beyond the theological into the pastoral, with the question, “Should we really do in certain circumstances what Paul did to Elymus?”


Evangelical-cessationist Objections


Some commentators attribute Paul’s command disablement and his relegation of the lustful son in Corinth to Satan to a limited apostolic privilege. That claims that only the original 12 Apostles (plus Paul) had the authority to do such things and that this is no longer possible to anyone in the Church. It is possible to read Acts in this way, as it was intended by Luke to highlight the power and authority of the Apostles and Paul. But note that the Holy Spirit inspired Luke to include a layperson to do the same type of command healing. Ananias of Damascus prayed over Paul to remove his blindness. Paul described that healing in Acts 22:


 “A man named Ananias came to see me. He was a devout observer of the law and highly respected by all the Jews living there.  He stood beside me and said, ‘Brother Saul, receive your sight!’ And at that very moment I was able to see him. (vs. 12-13)


This indicates that the lay believer has the authority to proclaim a command healing as well as any exorcism (Luke 10: 17) – or command disablement. Regardless, the evidence for a command disablement is not often found in Church history. Perhaps someone who is familiar with Butler’s Lives of the Saints, a reliable compendium of Saints’ lives and their miraculous acts, can find examples.[8] Perhaps a detailed search of the literature of the Celtic monks, who often used the gifts of the Spirit in spiritual warfare against the Druids, may reveal some more occurrences of command disablements by monks and others.


Recovering the Authority of the Believer:


One reason to believe that the ordinary Christian has authority to do a command disablement is that in the last century and a half there have been radical breakthroughs in the ministries of laypersons. This has occurred across denominational lines, an indication the Holy Spirit is behind this trend. For example, as a boy raised in pre-Vatican II Catholicism, I never thought that a layperson could or should lay hands on another person for healing or deliverance. These acts are now common in Catholic charismatic circles. Pentecostals led the way (and were often ridiculed for it) for healing and deliverance prayer by non-ordained but Spirit gifted lay persons. This is now accepted in many churches.

This move, from priest/minister only, to lay person ministry, took a step with the Reformation and Luther’s famous doctrine of the “Priesthood of Believers.” That was mostly lip service, as classical Protestantism settled down to become a “less liturgical” Catholicism. Beyond a renewed faith doctrine there was little observable difference in the role of the lay person in exercising any of the spiritual gifts. This was gravely exacerbated with the establishment, right at the origins of Protestantism, of the doctrine of cessationism.

With the exception of a few daring pioneers such as Pastor Blumhardt and Dorothea Trudell, cessationism effectively shut down the healing and deliverance ministry among Protestants until the Faith-Cure Movement of the 1880s and the Pentecostalism of the 1900s. The Faith Cure movement saw the first large scale appearance of lay persons ministering healing with the laying on of hands and spoken impromptu prayers. For instance, Dr. Charles Culles, a homeopathic physician, but not an ordained cleric, often laid hands on hundreds of persons in healing events in the 1880s in what anyone today would now recognize as a “healing line.”[9]

Pentecostalism went a step further and emphasized the release of the gifts of 1 Corinthians 12 and 14 to all believers, and as described in Acts. With the arrival and survival of Pentecostalism, lay manifestations of the gifts of the Spirit became normal within that segment of the Christian Church. This was truly a step in making the “priesthood of believes” into an operational doctrine and not merely a slogan.

John MacMillan’s Authority of the Believer was one of the most important pioneer works on this,[10] as were E W Kenyon’ writings, who directly influenced Kenneth Hagin and the “Word-Faith” movement. In these writers the authority of the believer to heal and cast out demons was affirmed and encouraged. This was passed on to the Charismatic Renewal which broke out in the 1960s and has multiplied all over the world.

A more recent expansion of the believer’s authority as a practical manifestation has occurred in the last decades with the spread of “command healing” as normal by the Pentecostal couple, Charles and Francis Hunter. Their book How to Heal the Sick, and their large international healing campaigns, have shown millions of Christians how to use command prayers to heal the sick and deliver those oppressed by evil spirits.[11]

Our present discomfort with using Paul’s command disablement on the enemies of the Gospel is a result of the longstanding influence and errors of cessationism. That is, not believing that the Scriptures are models for the Church in the 4nd century, in the 12th, in the 18th and today. In a blog posting I pointed out that the Salem witch trials were a disaster because the Church had disabled, via cessationism, the use of the gifts of the Spirit, especially discernment of spirits. And it was beyond the Protestant (and Catholic) imagination to use a Pauline type command disablement upon the real witches of Salem.[12]

My own experiences proclaiming command disablements have been of a pioneer nature, and I hope for comments and shared accounts from some of my readers. My first attempt at a command disablement was triggered by a spam email of the type common several years ago. It informed me that I was the inheritor a large fortune left to me by an English millionaire whom I had briefly encountered but profoundly impressed years ago. I only needed to pay a small legal fee, etc. From my understanding most of these spams originated in Nigeria, where a cottage industry of fleecing naive Americans had arisen. My reply went something like this (I did not save the correspondence, to my regret).


“You are a liar and a thief, preying on the poor, old and mentally incapacitated. I am a man of God, and as such proclaim upon you a spirit of confusion such that UNTIL YOU REPENT, you will know nothing but poverty and want. This will not be lifted until you repent and find honest employment.”


The next day I received an email reply saying “I am sorry. I am a student in Nigeria trying to earn tuition by “sending out a few letters.”  Apparently, my proclamation had done its spiritual good. I answered that he must forsake his scams and seek honest employment. I never heard from him again.

Now the reader may ask, where is the Biblical warrant to place a spirit of confusion on these scamming folks? There is no evidence they were into witchcraft. In my estimation they were evildoers who prey on the weak with consistent malice. It also seemed the most merciful alternative that would be effective. In fact, there is Biblical warrant for wishing a spirit of confusion on one’s enemies. In Psalm 55: 9-11, the seeker asks God:


Lord, confuse the wicked, confound their words,
for I see violence and strife in the city.
Day and night they prowl about on its walls;
malice and abuse are within it.


There is also Scripture that shows that a spirit can originate from the Lord to bring confusion that is pertinent to this discussion. In 1 Kings 22 we have the story of the alliance between Ahab, king of Israel and Jehoshaphat, king of Judah. They agree to go to war together, but Jehoshaphat wanted prophetic affirmation that they will have victory. The court prophets prophesy success. However, Micaiah prophesies defeat (which in fact occurred).  Micaiah explains why the court prophets were deceived:

Therefore hear the word of the Lord: I saw the Lord sitting on his throne with all the multitudes of heaven standing around him on his right and on his left. And the Lord said, ‘Who will entice Ahab into attacking Ramoth Gilead and going to his death there?’ “One suggested this, and another that.  Finally, a spirit came forward, stood before the Lord and said, ‘I will entice him.’ “‘By what means?’ the Lord asked. “‘I will go out and be a deceiving spirit in the mouths of all his prophets,’ he said. “‘You will succeed in enticing him,’ said the Lord. ‘Go and do it.’ (vs. 19-22)

My original blog posting on the command disablement has been out for several years, and I received multiple positive comments, and a few negative ones. One lady described an incident when she was alone with her child at home and a mean-looking, knife wielding intruder entered. She began praying in tongues, and immediately he manifested a look of confusion, and meandered out of the house — a command disablement via praying in tongues.  Here is another comment I received:


Thank you, Dr. William De Arteaga
God in his mercy equips the gospel preacher with faith boldness and authority. I had a similar experience last year with a notorious heckler, a drug dealer and a violent man. He and his crew had attacked my first effort months before. As I began to preach, he came right up to put his body on me (a common tactic). I took authority in love that nothing would hinder the gospel preaching and that Christ name be heard in the streets. I bound up all rebellion and put down every evil in Jesus’ name, pointing at his feet. He stood there with his eyes closed and his hands raised in surrender to God for over a half hour. He didn’t move an inch, frozen. When I said my amen [at the end of the sermon] he “came to” and quietly walked off. The next week he was telling everyone no cussing and leave the preacher alone. It was quite unusual, and some were taking pictures which I resisted as it was the Lord’s doing.


I believe Churches and individuals should utilize command disablement prayers like Paul’s against the persons advocating and planning violence and bringing forward the various Marxist and PM Theory activities in the universities, private companies or elsewhere. The demonic component of Marxist ideology, PM and Theory makes these equivalent to witchcraft and all are opposed to the Gospel of Jesus. Below are several hypothetical situations that might occur in the immediate future, and how a command disablement prayer could checkmate the demonic and further the Kingdom of God.

In an American city there is another white on black police shooting. The policeman has been dismissed and a grand jury is looking into the case, but demonstrations are already forming. The chief of police calls his pastor friend and asks for prayers of wisdom and peace in the city. He shares with the pastor that he has received intelligence that a group of anarchists, led by a certain Joe Smith is planning to infiltrate the demonstration and provoke the police and fire-bomb the city center. The pastor quickly convenes his congregation that evening for emergency prayer and invites his ministry friends to bring members of their congregation to the prayer event. At the prayer meeting the pastor explains what a command disablement prayer is and then prays:

Father, in Jesus’ name, we come before your throne and with the authority you have given us, and we speak against any violence in the coming demonstrations. We ask they be conducted peacefully without harm to property, police or anyone else. We ask special protection for our police and law enforcement officers coming to keep order.

Further, in Jesus’ name we place a spirit of confusion on Joe Smith and his group, and all persons that plan violence during these demonstrations, so that their plans will not bear fruit. They will not be able to make their way to our city. We bless Joe Smith further ask for his salvation as you give him the grace to see his evil ways, and the other persons planning violence as well. Further, in Jesus’ name we place a spirit of confusion on any of the radical students in our local colleges who may want to join this demonstration to do violent acts. Thank you also for their conversion also.


In another hypothetical incident the employees of a large company learn they will have to attend a seminar on Critical Race Theory that is taught by a noted radical. A Christian employee organizes other Christians in his company to meet together before the seminar and pray against it.  An employee explains command disablement and leads the prayer:


Father, in Jesus’ Name we place a spirit of confusion on the staff and presenters of the coming CRT seminar. Their presentation will be so confused and irrational that no one will take it seriously, or be influenced by its exaggerated teachings, and many complaints will be filed on why our company wasted money of the presentation. Further we ask that the presenters repent of their slanderous and divisive  doctrines, receive Jesus as their savior and strive for racial reconciliation.


Lastly, a psychology professor teaches about autism (as cited in chapter 6) and includes therapies that can be helpful to the situation. A student comes to the professor and says he was offended and demands the professor to apologize for teaching that autistic persons may be helped and thus deprived of their “heroic victim” status. Further he says he will issue a complaint to the diversity panel of the university.

The professor, who is a Christian, looks at the student straight in the eye and says, “No you won’t, and I won’t apologize for suggesting help for autistic persons. Further, in Jesus’ name, I place a spirit of total confusion and ineffectiveness on you that will not lift until you repent and cease all such threats.”

In summary, America is in grave danger from the decades-old buildup of demonically laced PM Theory and Marxist teaching in the universities, and which has now filtered into many businesses, NGOs and even primary schools.[13] There is a need to awaken to the problem and begin focused, systematic and effective prayer against this ongoing evil, which include deliverance ministry and command disablements. Although the task seems impossible in the natural, in the authority and power that Jesus gave to His Church, prayers are more than adequate for the task.


[1] See also Gen 19:11.

[2] Sulpitius Severus, On the Life of St. Martin. In: Philip Shaff (ed) Nicene and Post Nicene Fatherss. Series II, Vol. 11. Available in Christian Classic Ethereal Library.


[3] Letter #109 to Riparius.


[4] Homily #28 on the Acts of the Apostles.


[5] Clark A Waltz: “The Cursing Paul: Magical Contents in Acts 13 and the New Testament Apocrypha,” In: Paul Hertig, Robert L Gallagher, eds., Mission in Acts (Maryknoll: Orbis Books, 2004)


[6] George Conger, “Diversity, Not Jesus says Presiding Bishop.” The Layman, Posted 20 May 13. 2013


[7] Lutheran Theological Journal 12 #2 (1978), 63-75. This journal is published in Australia.

[8] Alban Butler, Butler’s Lives of Saints, 4 vols., Rev. and edited by Herbert Thruston and Donald Atwater (Westminster: Christian Classics, 1981). I have not had the time to read its three volumes.


[9] See my discussion of the Faith Cure Movement in my work Quenching the Spirit, chapters 9-10


[10]John MacMillan, Authority of the Believer (Christian Publication, 1920).


[11] Charles Hunter and Frances Hunter, How to Heal the Sick. (Kingwood: Hunter Books, 1981), Charles Hunter, and Frances Hunter, If Charles and Frances Can Do It, You Can Do It, Too! (Kingwood: Hunter Books, 1997) See my blog on the Hunters: “The Happy Hunters’ Revolution in Healing Ministry,” Pentecostal Theology. Posted Oct. 12, 2019. Recovered from the posting removed by Blogger. /


[12]William De Arteaga, “Puritanism, A great heritage – ridiculed,” Pentecostal Theology, Posted Oct. 15, 2019.


[13] Israel Vargas, “How did American “wokeness” jump from elite schools to everyday life?” The Economist (Sept. 4, 2021).


William DeArteaga

William L. De Arteaga, Ph.D., is known internationally as a Christian historian and expert on revivals and the rebirth and renewal of the Christian healing movement. His major works include, Quenching the Spirit (Creation House, 1992, 1996), Forgotten Power: The Significance of the Lord’s Supper in Revival (Zondervan, 2002), and Agnes Sanford and Her Companions: The Assault on Cessationism and the Coming of the Charismatic Renewal (Wipf & Stock, 2015). Bill pastored two Hispanic Anglican congregations in the Marietta, Georgia area, and is semi-retired. He and his wife Carolyn continue in their healing, teaching and writing ministries. He is the state chaplain of the Order of St. Luke, encouraging the ministry of healing in all Christian denominations.

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