This is a two-part question: My friend and I got into an interesting discussion the other day about Halloween and whether Christians should engage or not. Things got heated and we ended angry with each other and frustrated at the conversation. First, can you give some advice on how we might reconcile after the blowup? Second, can you share thoughts about Halloween and how Christians should or should not engage?
Signed, Slightly Spooked.
*This is the second part to a question that was submitted to us. You can read the first part of the article addressing the topic of Halloween here.
In my first post I tackled the thorny topic of Christian participation in Halloween. Allow me now to address the heated disagreement you had with your friend over this topic. Particularly, how might spiritual warfare be at play during your disagreement?
While spiritual forces may not have caused you to become angry with each other, we can be sure demonic forces want to cause disunity among Christian brothers and create a spiritual foothold. Theologian Clint Arnold notes that in Paul’s warning to Christians to be careful not to give the devil a foothold (Eph. 4:27), the Greek word for foothold (topos) can also be translated as opportunity or chance. Thus, Paul’s warning could be translated, “do not give the devil a chance to exert his influence.” What could be an opportunity the devil could manipulate? Paul answers: “Do not let the sun go down on your anger” (Eph. 4:26). Our anger—a quality named as a deed of the flesh—is one way we afford the devil an opportunity to exert influence. “For this reason,” states Arnold, “it is extremely dangerous for believers to harbor bitterness, hold a grudge, or pilfer from their place of employment.” He concludes, “giving into those temptations does not just confirm the weakness of the flesh, it opens up the lives of believers to the control of the devil and his powers.”
While it is certainly natural for friends to have spirited disagreements, or even get angry at each other, we must be on the lookout for two factors. First, are you allowing your disagreement to color your friend in a completely negative light? Thus, you now only focus on what is wrong with your friend, not what is good. Second, have you stopped praying for your friend? For your relationship? If so, it may be that demonic forces are attempting to secure a foothold aimed at separating you as friends and brothers in Christ.
How do you not only reconcile, but dismantle a spiritual foothold? First, you must address your self-talk. Take time today to create a list of all the qualities you admire about your friend before the argument started. Make sure to ask the Spirit to bring to mind specific aspects of your friendship you appreciate. Simply put, if your self-talk toward your friend continues to diminish, then reconciliation will be more difficult. Second, share this list with your friend. In doing so, you’ll create a positive communication climate which will allow you to both affirm each other and talk about your differences. Last, pray for your relationship and protection from the evil one.
 Clint Arnold, Powers of Darkness: Principalities and Powers in Paul’s Letters (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1992), 128.
 Ibid., 129.
Tim Muehlhoff is a professor of communication at Biola University and author of several books, including I Beg to Differ and Marriage Forecasting. His most recent publication, Defending Your Marriage, speaks to spiritual warfare in marriage and how to equip yourself to defend your relationship. For the past 18 years, he and his wife, Noreen, have been frequent speakers at FamilyLife marriage conferences. Muehlhoff regularly writes and speaks for the Biola University Center for Marriage and Relationships. Follow Dr. Muehlhoff on Twitter.