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What is spiritual mapping?

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Spiritual mapping is a relatively new technique to try to identify where demons are at work and then attack them. Spiritual mapping assumes the existence of “territorial spirits,” the concept of certain demons ruling over certain geographical areas. Once a territorial spirit has been identified, its territory is mapped out, and then the spirit is engaged in battle. For example, some Christians attempt to do battle with the “spirit of greed” that rules over a casino-rich city or the “spirit of lust” that holds power over a city’s red-light district.

Some promoters of spiritual mapping identify three levels of warfare: “ground-level” warfare, which involves casting demons out of individuals; “occult-level” warfare, which tackles more organized spiritual wickedness; and “strategic-level” warfare, which directly battles the “territorial spirits” over a broader geographical area. Territorial spirits are thought to answer directly to Satan and are responsible for coordinating all demonic activities within their purview. Sometimes, these high-level territorial spirits are called the “strongman” of an area, and the goal of spiritual mappers is to “bind the strong man.”

The Bible does not teach anything about spiritual mapping. Anyone who teaches the necessity of spiritual mapping is doing so without biblical warrant. The Bible never instructs Christians to seek out demons to engage them in battle, and it never categorizes demons as spirits “of lust” or “of greed,” etc. The idea of “binding the strong man” comes from a misapplication of Jesus’ parable in Mark 3:27 (according to the parable, Jesus is the One who does the “binding,” not us).

Spiritual mapping is usually practiced among those who are involved in “apostolic ministry” and who claim that apostolic gifts and roles are being restored to the church today. Scripture is clear, however, that the apostles’ role was to lay the foundation of the church (Ephesians 2:19–20), and foundations only need to be laid once. There are no apostles today. Spiritual mapping is also associated with dominion theology or Christian reconstructionism, which seeks to usher in the fullness of God’s kingdom worldwide.

Christians are told to resist the devil and he will flee (James 4:7) and to stand firm against the schemes of the devil by using the armor of God (Ephesians 6:10–18). Our weapons of warfare are the Word of God and prayer (Ephesians 6:17–18). The battle belongs to the Lord (Proverbs 21:31), and He has already defeated Satan and the evil rulers of this world (John 12:31). The Body of Christ is secure, and we need not fear demons. Neither do we need to name them, talk to them, or map them.

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This page last updated: January 4, 2022