The African and Christian worldview often stand in stark contrast to one another. Conversion often requires a painful wrenching from the African worldview, upbringing and experiences, which can result in spiritual insecurity for the new convert. Here are four biblical pillars that every African Christian can use to help them stand firm against spiritual fear and doubt.
1. Gospel Over Culture
Firstly, the Bible urges believers of all cultures to examine every tradition and thought through the lens of the gospel and God’s word. Christians from Greek, Roman, Jewish, African, European and every other background are required to put human traditions under the authority of Christ’s lordship. The only antidote to spiritual insecurity and fear is the victory of Jesus Christ who died, rose again and ascended into heaven, and who is seated now at the right hand of Almighty God in heaven.
The only antidote to spiritual insecurity and fear is the victory of Jesus Christ.
This means that no spirits, ancestors, charms or witchcraft can harm those who are hidden in Christ. The only true assurance, safety and security is in Jesus. Salvation is not only about heaven, but encompasses victorious Christian living now. It is victorious in the sense that It releases believers from their fears and insecurities, no matter what the source of these fears. Jesus Christ has disarmed the spiritual powers of darkness through his death and resurrection (Colossians 2:14).
2. We’re in a Lifelong Struggle
Secondly, believers in Christ are not exempted from fighting spiritual forces in this world. Ephesians 6 makes it clear that the battle faced by every believer is not against flesh and blood, but against powers of darkness and spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.
The Holy Spirit is far greater than any evil spirit.
The antidote to spiritual insecurity is to put on the full armour of God so that when the day of evil comes, we may stand our ground, praying in the Spirit, always alert. The Holy Spirit is far greater than any evil spirit and we have been provided with weapons for warfare.
3. The Dead Cannot Touch the Living
Thirdly the Bible is clear that the spirits of deceased people and ancestors have no influence in the events of this world since “the living know that they will die, but the dead know nothing, and they have no more reward, for the memory of them is forgotten. Their love and their hate and their envy have already perished, and forever they have no more share in all that is done under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 9:5-6). Therefore, veneration of the ancestors or appeasement of spirits has no place in the life of a Christian.
Veneration of the ancestors or appeasement of spirits has no place in the life of a Christian.
4. Beware the Demonic
Fourthly, Old Testament believers shared many similarities with African Christians, as their pagan neighbours consulted with spiritual mediums, offered sacrifices to gods and practised divination and witchcraft. God unequivocally condemned these practices as evil acts which are highly offensive to him and which incurred serious consequences (Deuteronomy 18:9-14; 1 Samuel 28:3; Exodus 22:18).
In 1 Chronicles 10, Saul’s death was a consequence of consulting the spirit of Samuel through a witch doctor. Evil forces and spirits have real existence in scripture, but they are classified as demons or fallen angels who have rebelled against God. This implies that those who consult with ancestral spirits are dabbling in the demonic and may be inviting spiritual powers (in the form of demons) to negatively influence their lives.
Cling to Christ
As Christians, we may not always have answers, certainty not answers about everything. But one thing we know for sure is that we are involved in a war until the day we die. This is not a political war but a spiritual battle against powerful forces of darkness that seek to blind and obstruct African men and women from knowing Christ as their Saviour. The enemy blocks the way Jesus has provided into the presence of God. African Christians should not be fearful or insecure, but rather mindful of the fact that we are Christ’s disciples and foreigners who are travelling through this world for a short time (John 17:16; 1 Peter 2:11; Philippians 3:20).
African Christians should not be fearful or insecure, but rather mindful of the fact that we are Christ’s disciples.
Believers need to support one another in practical ways to deal with suffering and the harsh realities of life. We need to encourage and counsel one another not to lose heart in uncertain times, but to struggle with our spiritual insecurities and stand firm in the faith, focusing our eyes on the now-but-not-yet fully realised victory in Jesus Christ. The truth is that our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs our present situations (2 Corinthians 4:17).