For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh… (2 Corinthians 10:3)
I remember ever so clearly the reasons that I gave to my mother, as a young man of only fourteen years of age, for my great desire to train in the martial arts. Like so many youth and Christian parents of today, I had been sold on the idea that in training in these mystical arts, I would learn to develop traits of character such as “honor,” “self-discipline,” “self-defense,” “self-confidence,” “self-control,” and “self-esteem.” But little did I realize that in turning my focus inward to “self,” my eyes would be led away from the only true Source of strength, righteousness and freedom: Jesus Christ.
Seeking to conquer my own failures, weaknesses, and sins, I began training my body and mind through the disciple of the flesh—searching in vain for a power to deliver me from the forces of darkness, doubt, rejection, and the fears within. Years later, as I look back at my struggles, I realize now that which I should have already known:
[For] we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world; against spiritual wickedness [wicked spirits] in the heavens […Even] the prince of the powers of the air; yea, the spirits that now worketh in the children of disobedience. (Ephesians 6:12 & 2:2; see also 2 Corinthians 4:3-4)
To most people who have seen the practice of the martial arts—arts such as Karate, Kung-fu, Kodokan Judo, Aikido, or Filipino Kali—the training appears as something purely physical. But to one who has watched a disciple or master’s demonstration, he knows that there must be something greater working behind the scenes.
It is this that we desire to examine more closely in the light of God’s Word, as well as the testimonies of the masters, grandmasters, and founders of the Eastern arts, for according to their own words, the powers which strengthen them are spiritual, and not mere flesh and blood.
When an old man is able to defeat many attackers, how could it be due to his strength? (Wang Chung Yueh, 18th-century master of Tai-chi Chuan)
Any man will be able, after sufficient practice, to accomplish remarkable feats of strength, but he may go only so far and no farther. There is a limit to human physical strength that no one can exceed […] spiritual development is paramount; technical skills are merely means to the end… (Gichin Funakoshi, Karate-Do: My Way of Life)
Always more vital to karate than techniques or strength is the spiritual element that lets you move and act with complete freedom… (Mas Oyama, 10th dan, founder of Kyokushinkai Karate, emphasis added)
The question must then be asked, what exactly is this “spiritual element” that the masters speak of, and from where does it originate? Listen as Forest E. Morgan, a Major in the United States Air Force, a military advisor, and 3rd dan in Okinawan Karate, openly reveals the spiritual nature of Karate, “self-defense,” and the Asian combative arts.
The true Budo aspirant devotes himself to a system of physical, mental, and spiritual discipline through which he attempts to elevate himself in search of perfection […] Martial arts are legendary for the seemingly mystical powers they teach. You’ll learn what forces warriors really command, and more importantly, you’ll learn how to develop them yourself. (Forest E. Morgan, Living the Martial Way, emphasis added)
Here are some additional references from martial arts experts:
Karate is not something that one does, it is something that one becomes […] and though the external mask of training might be readily seen in the lighted arena, the essence of Karate-do is ever […] the veiled “presence” of being… (Thomas M. White, 10th dan, emphasis added)
You may train for a long time, but if you merely move your hands and feet and jump up and down like a puppet, learning Karate is not very different from learning a dance […] You will never have reached the heart of the matter; you will have failed to grasp the Quintessence of karate-do. (Gichin Funakoshi, 10th dan, emphasis added)
Although the words chosen by the masters to describe this mystical power may differ (elements, force, essence, veiled presence of being), when one looks closely at its nature and attributes, the source of this becomes very clear.
The 5th and highest “element” in ancient and medieval philosophy, that is said to permeate all nature, and is the substance composing all celestial bodies. In physics, it is a hypothetical form of “dark energy;” the 5th fundamental force […] the 5th element. By the ancient Greeks it was this Force which was thought to fill the universe and hold all things together. (Webster’s Colligate Dictionary on “quintessence,” emphasis added)
I will never forget the day when the grandmaster I was training under revealed to me the real nature of this mystical “energy,” or Force, which we were taught to channel and “tap into” for true martial power. He explained that “to the beginner, Chi is said to be internal strength; while to the initiate, Chi (Ki or Prana) is said to be breath […] But to the disciple and master of the arts, Chi is finally revealed to be spirit.”
It is these spirits, those fallen ones cast down from heaven over 6000 years ago, who are now working subtly behind the scenes, seeking for opportunities to influence every man, woman, and child who has been purchased by the blood of Christ, and to lead them into the path to destruction.
The master’s very definition was but a subtle counterfeit to the promise of the Word of God, as our Lord has assured every one of us who believes that we are “…strengthened with all might according to His glorious power” (Colossians 1:11).
In addition, the apostle Paul prays “that God would grant unto you, according to the abundant riches of His glory, that you might be strengthened with might by His Spirit in the inner man. That Christ might dwell and reign in your heart by faith [knowing that He verily does, not because we feel it, but because God hath promised, and He verily cannot lie, nor can His Word return unto Him void]” (Ephesians 3:16-17a, emphasis added; see also Numbers 23:19 & Isaiah 55:8-11).
As I listened that day to Sijo’s (the grandmaster’s) teaching, I could hear the alarms sounding in my mind—the voice of God and the words of my Bible, warning me that I was standing on enchanted ground. I should have listened to my Savior’s call, but pride and my own selfish desires stood in the way before me.
According to the late Erle Montaigue, an Australian master and teacher of the Chinese Internal arts,
Some call this the power of God, others call it Universal power, and many a genius has talked about the illusive other 90 percent of the brain that we never use. [But] it is my belief and experience that “the power” comes from other sources; from around the body but very close to it, and attached to it […] In TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine), this is called the “Shen,” or spirit. And this is the power that we are able to tap into, to change our physical circumstances, [to] stop others from attacking us, [to] cause others to do what you wish them to do, just as long as it is positive and good. (Erle Montaigue, master of Chinese Internal Arts, emphasis added)
It is this same pantheistic spiritual power which is being used by many of the writers, directors, and actors of Hollywood to influence this final generation to unite—in faith and practice—before the eminent return of the Son of Almighty God in the clouds of heaven.
My ally is “the Force;” life breeds it, makes it grow […] Its energy surrounds us, and binds us, luminous beings we are, not this crude matter […] you must feel the Force around you Luke, between you and me, the tree, the rock, the ship… (Star Wars Episode V)
The faith of which George Lucas speaks is a religion whose god is pantheistic in nature—a universal god, thus readily accepted by every creed and culture, be they pagan, Christian, or atheistic in profession. In his interview with TIME Magazine, Lucas stated: “I remember when I was 10 years old, I asked my mother […] ‘If there’s only one God, why are there so many religions?’ I’ve been pondering that question ever since, and the conclusion I’ve come to is that all the religions are true.”
Bill Moyers then asked, “Is one religion as good as another?” to which Lucas replied, “I would say so…” The creator of Lucas Films Ltd. and the Star Wars film franchise went on to say,
I put the Force into the movie in order to try to awaken a certain kind of spirituality in young people—more a belief in God than a belief in any particular religious system. I wanted to make it so that young people would begin to ask questions about the mystery… (George Lucas, TIME Magazine interview with Bill Moyers, Monday, April 26, 1999, emphasis added)
Two Mysteries Revealed
Within the pages of Holy Scripture, two mysteries are revealed. Under the inspiration of the Spirit of God, the apostle Paul writes and assures each of us, saying, “…without controversy great is the mystery of godliness (God-likeness): for God was manifest in the flesh, but justified by the Spirit…” (I Timothy 3:16; see also Romans 8:2-4).
To be justified means to be “cleansed, made right, rendered/declared innocent, holy, righteous, perfect.”
Following this counsel, Paul admonishes every child of God concerning one of the most subtle deception ever to face mankind—the deceitfulness of sin:
What? know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves as servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness [and Life]? (Romans 6:16, emphasis added)
It is not safe for us to linger to contemplate the advantages to be reaped through yielding to Satan’s suggestions. Sin means dishonor and disaster to every soul that indulges in it; [for] it is blinding and deceiving in its nature, and it will entice us with flattering presentations. If we venture on Satan’s ground we have no assurance of protection from his power. So far as in us lies, we should close every avenue by which the tempter may find access to us. (Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing, pg.118)
The perils of the last days are upon us, and in our work we are to warn the people of the danger they are in. All need wisdom carefully to search out the mystery of iniquity that figures so largely in the winding up of this earth’s history […] In the very time in which we live, the Lord has called His people and has given them a message to bear. He has called them to expose the wickedness of the man of sin… (Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, pg.117-118, emphasis added)
Today there are coming into educational institutions and into the churches everywhere spiritualistic teachings that undermine faith in God and in His Word. The theory that God is an “essence” pervading all nature is received by many who profess to believe the Scriptures; but, however beautifully clothed, this theory is a most dangerous deception. It misrepresents God and is a dishonor to His greatness and majesty. And it surely tends not only to mislead, but to debase men. Darkness is its element, sensuality its sphere. The result of accepting it is separation from God. And to fallen human nature this means ruin […]
The spiritualistic theories concerning God make His grace [Divine Influence, Spirit] of no effect. If God is an essence pervading all nature, then He dwells in all men; and in order to attain holiness, man has only to develop the power within him [self]. These theories, followed to their logical conclusion, sweep away the whole Christian economy [plan of Salvation]. They do away with the necessity for the atonement and make man his own savior. These theories regarding God make His Word of no effect (John 6:63), and those who accept them are in great danger of being led finally to look upon the whole Bible as a fiction. (Ministry of Healing pg. 428-429, emphasis added)
Our condition through sin is unnatural, and the power that restores us must be Supernatural, else it has no value. There is but One Power that can break the hold of evil from the hearts of men, and that is the power of God [Theos – Deity, divinity] in Jesus Christ. Only through the blood [Life – Romans 6:10] of the Crucified One is there cleansing from sin. His grace alone can enable us to resist and subdue the tendencies of our fallen nature.
Many may regard virtue as better than vice; but […] having shut out God from His rightful position of Sovereignty (Luke 6:46), they place their dependence upon human power, which, without God, is worthless. The unaided human will has no real power to resist and overcome evil. The defenses of the soul are broken down. Man has no barrier against sin. When once the restraints of God’s Word and His Spirit (John 6:63) are rejected, we know not to what depths one may sink. (Ministry of Healing pg. 429-430, emphasis added)
When Satan has undermined faith in the Bible, he directs men to other sources for light and power. Thus he insinuates himself. Those who turn from the plain teaching of Scripture and the convicting power of God’s Holy Spirit are inviting the control of demons. Criticism and speculation concerning the Scriptures have opened the way for Spiritism and Theosophy – those modernized forms of ancient heathenism—to gain a foothold even in the professed churches of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Side by side with the preaching of the gospel, agencies are at work which are but the medium of lying spirits. Many a man tampers with these merely from curiosity, but seeing evidence of the working of a more than human power, he is lured on and on, until he is controlled by a will stronger than his own. He cannot escape from its mysterious power. (Desire of Ages, pg. 258)
I know the truth of these words from personal experience; for week after week, I sat silently with my mother in a pew of our church, longing desperately to hear one word of Life, of comfort, and hope. At fourteen years old, it seemed that few knew the battles being waged each day within my soul, nor did they seem to notice my silent cries for help. Even fewer knew how the victory promised to us could be won.
For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal [weak, fleshly], but they are mighty through God […] to the pulling down of strongholds. Casting down imaginations, and every high [aerial] thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge [knowing – John 17:3] of God […] and bringing into captivity every thought to the perfect obedience of Christ. (2 Corinthians 10:4-5)
As a result, I turned my eyes to other sources, searching for something, anything, that appeared to offer strength and assurance, not realizing that in so doing, I was opening a door to powers which I would one day regret seeking after.