[Editor’s Note: This article series is an adaptation from the book, Exposing the Dangers of Martial Arts, by Vito Rallo, a former five-time USA National Karate Champion. See the end of this article for more about the book.]
Over the course of the last three to four decades, martial arts have pervaded both the world and the church realm at an alarming rate. During that span, the enemy has been hard at work instituting his insidious plan to spiritually weaken and wreak spiritual destruction in the lives of individuals, as well as even whole segments of the church at large, by means of injection of the expansive package of deceptions comprising the martial arts.
Let us be clear, all forms of martial arts (and yoga), without exception, are rooted in false religions and the occult, and can in no way be sanitized or Christianized. Many individual believers and entire church-groups have been deceived into believing they can be. Such theories and beliefs are total deception from a practical standpoint, and from a theological standpoint would be labeled heresy! Yet, such false beliefs about these ancient religious practices and false claims of their being harmonious and congruous with Biblical Christianity have seemingly inundated the modern church like a tsunami! And at present there appears no indication of this “wave” of false doctrine receding at any time in the foreseeable future (cf., Eph. 4:14).
The bottom line is this: The spirit behind martial arts is antichrist! By that I mean it is contrary to everything we know about who Christ and Christianity is! How can we think that an antichrist spirit is in any way compatible or harmonious with the Spirit of Christ? They are not friends or friendly with each other! We cannot make them be friends or friendly with each other! I have seen people fall away from their faith in God who were once strong in the Lord because of this antichrist activity. The people of God—Christians, Christian churches—have been deceived in regard to the martial arts and just how diabolical they in fact are! It is time to acknowledge that deception and do something about it.
Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness? Or what harmony has Christ with Belial, or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever? Or what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; just as God said, “I will dwell in them and walk among them; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. “Therefore, come out from their midst and be separate,” says the Lord. “And do not touch what is unclean; And I will welcome you. “And I will be a father to you, And you shall be sons and daughters to Me,” Says the Lord Almighty. (2 Cor. 6:14-18; emphasis added)
Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them; (Eph. 5:11; emphasis added)
It is not enough to just identify the enemy and his works in our midst. It is not enough just to teach about the dangers of martial arts and all the reasons why it is not Christlike or a Christian practice. Frankly, it is not enough to merely read a book like this one dissecting martial arts, revealing its beginnings, and demonstrating its far-reaching harmful effects. Beyond all of that, the evil spirits (demons) that have been loosed into the body of Christ relative to martial arts must actually be driven out—both from the individuals into whose lives they’ve made incursion, as well as the whole groups they’ve invaded. In the Great Commission (Mk. 16:17ff), Jesus commanded all genuine believers in Him to cast out demons on His behalf and in the authority of His name. Though the Great Commission has unfortunately become “The Great Omission” in most segments of those claiming to be part of the “church,” it stands today as Jesus’ statement of His expectations for the true Church that He is building, which is that the Head of the Church expects genuine believers to actually BE the Body of Christ—not just in principle only, but in actuality—and begin to do the things He is wanting His Body to do! In this case, what that is, is CAST OUT DEMONS!
The Head of the Body of Christ has ascended into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God. He is no longer on the earth in the flesh; believers are His hands and feet and Body—in the flesh—here on earth now. So, if we don’t do it, it won’t be done. If we don’t do it, it will be a case of the Body rebelling against and refusing to cooperate with the Head and carry out the commands the Head (Commander-in-Chief) is telling it to do! In medical terms that is known as “paralysis!” The Body of Christ, to a great degree, has been guilty of spiritual paralysis, yet the effect of that spiritual paralysis is not just spiritual, but physical, in that the results (or lack of results) plays out in the natural, physical realm. In other words, the proliferation of martial arts and similar deceptions is an indictment upon the Body of Christ, for refusing to carry out the commands of our Head, Jesus Christ! We all, as a group, are guilty! The failure is not with Christ, the Head, but with US, the Body! We have allowed the deceptions into our churches, to a great extent, unchallenged, and with only sporadic resistance here and there by a literal few.
The LORD has accomplished His wrath, He has poured out His fierce anger; And HE has kindled a fire in Zion Which has consumed its foundations. The kings of the earth did not believe, Nor did any of the inhabitants of the world, That the adversary and the enemy COULD enter the gates of Jerusalem. Because of the sins of her prophets And the iniquities of her priests, Who have shed in her midst The blood of the righteous; They wandered, blind, in the streets; They were defiled with blood So that no one could touch their garments. (Lam. 4:11-14; emphasis added)
The very foundations of Christianity are being destroyed, oftentimes from the inside out, because we have allowed the enemy to enter our gates! Our complacency and refusal to obey the Lord has produced the plethora of problems that exist in our churches today as a result of our foundations having been consumed and the enemy entering our gates—not just concerning martial arts, but many other issues as well. Yet, no matter what I say, I realize there will still be some who try to justify martial arts (and yoga) as compatible with Christianity. I have come in contact with individuals that I have tried to reason with to no avail, so I want to address some of the reasons people have given me that are simply not justifiable in the eyes of God.
Use of Old Testament Proof Texts
There are some who have cited certain passages of Scripture from the Old Testament as so-called proof text for their justification for the practice of martial arts by Christians, passages such as Psalm 144:1. Allow me to explain why that is not justifiable. Under the Old Covenant the Israelites had to fight physical battles to defeat and remove their enemies and that is what King David was referring to in this Scripture when he said, “Blessed be the Lord my Rock who trains my hands for war.” As King of Israel and the Commander-in-Chief of Israel’s military, David led the nation in many battles. Of course, all this warfare during the history of the nation of Israel transpired under the auspices of the Old Covenant, God’s special covenant exclusively with the nation of Israel, a covenant consisting of types and shadows of what would transpire under the New Covenant that was subsequently enacted by and through Christ Jesus.
The massive spiritual shift that was enacted under the New Covenant stands in stark contrast to the Old Covenant, of course, and is entirely too extensive to even begin to address here, but one of the most profound and succinct summaries of it in Scripture was given by the Apostle John in his gospel: “For of His fullness we have all received, and grace upon grace. For the Law was given through Moses; grace and truth were realized through Christ Jesus” (Jn. 1:16-17; emphasis added).
God intended for the history of Israel contained in the Old Testament to be spiritual lessons or teachings or “instruction” to us as New Covenant believers, according to 1 Cor. 10:11. These were communicated through the means of types and shadows that were previews of the New Covenant that would follow and supersede the previous Covenant. The Old Covenant was made obsolete by Jesus’ appearing as the long-awaited Messiah of Israel and His complete fulfillment of every jot and tittle of the Old Covenant and its requisites. He was and is the Kinsmen Redeemer prophesied of by the Old Testament prophets.
The main issue inherent in this all-encompassing theological change from the Old to New Covenant relative to our topic here is that the Old Covenant that God initiated only with the nation of Israel was based entirely on the Mosaic Law as summarized in the so-called “Ten Commandments.” The objective and purpose of this covenant was to convict and convince the Hebrews of their utter unrighteousness and condemnation before the Almighty and perfectly Holy God of Israel on the basis of their own merit, thereby demonstrating their need for a savior—a Kinsmen Redeemer—precisely who Christ Jesus was and is! This Old Covenant, as stated previously, consisted of types and shadows that were divine previews of the New Covenant that would follow and subsequently supersede the previous Covenant.
At that pivotal point in history when the Messiah came, the application of the entire Old Testament writings shifted from the natural (physical) realm into the spiritual realm. This means that all the historical accounts of the warfare of Israel against foreign nations, for example—the issue we’re addressing here—shifted to being spiritual instruction concerning spiritual warfare against spiritual adversaries under the New Covenant, rather than the physical warfare of the Israelites against their physical enemies under the Old Covenant—the enemies which God had specifically instructed them to physically defeat via military warfare.
The Apostle Paul revealed this critical revelation to understanding the purpose and role of the Old Testament and its types and shadows: “Now these things (the events in Israel’s history) happened to them as an example, and they were written for our (N.T. believers’) instruction, upon whom the ends of the ages have come” (1 Cor. 10:11; emphasis added); “For whatever was written in earlier times (O.T.) was written for our instruction…” (Rom. 15:4). He was saying that all the historical accounts comprising the Old Testament were written by the scribes who authored them for the spiritual instruction of not the Hebrews ultimately, but another “race,” another “nation,” another “people,” that would come into being thousands and hundreds of years later, the “Chosen Race,” the “Holy Nation” of the Redeemed:
But you are a chosen RACE, A royal PRIESTHOOD, a holy NATION, a PEOPLE for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; (1 Pet. 2:9; emphasis added).
Spiritual Warfare Under the New Covenant
Such revelation and instruction was what was behind Paul’s many exhortations to believers in his writings (two-thirds of the New Testament) to engage in spiritual warfare against spiritual foes—the devil and his minions—such as his exhortation in his second letter to the Corinthians concerning the believers’ warfare under the New Covenant:
For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. We are destroying (lit., demolishing, defeating, annihilating) speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking (lit., capturing as in warfare) every thought captive to the obedience of Christ. (2 Cor. 10:3-5; emphasis and italics added)
The Apostle Peter unequivocally identified the believer’s real adversary as the devil, Satan: “Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, THE DEVIL, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (1 Pet. 5:8). Until a believer realigns his/her thinking to the truth God reveals in His Word—on whatever matter or subject—he/she will be able to do very little and make only minor advancements toward defeating the real spiritual enemy in his/her life.
Any well-trained soldier will tell you that one of the most basic and yet critical elements of successful warfare is to properly identify the enemy and his objectives and strategies. And, what makes the warfare that is being engaged against believers as lethal as it is, is that it is spiritual guerilla warfare being conducted in the unseen spiritual realm by an unseen, but nevertheless, real and ruthless enemy who is hell bent on people’s literal destruction and annihilation. In this realm of warfare, neutralization is tantamount to defeat.
Indeed, if our adversary, the devil, can keep us blinded to the true severity and seriousness of his ultimate objectives, and thereby cause us to be content to merely play patty-cakes with him and his evil forces, then the result is for all intents and purposes neutralization, which, as stated, is tantamount to victory for him, especially contrasted to the alternative of what happens when believers begin to utilize all the spiritual weaponry available to them to offensively engage the enemy with the intent of utterly defeating and annihilating him in their own lives. That attitude and aim is precisely what Peter was speaking about in the passage quoted earlier with the prefatory phrase: “Be of sober spirit.”
That is the only way that we can defeat him in our lives, in the same way that the children of Israel were told to “wipe out” their enemies; yet under the New Covenant we must take the battle from the natural realm to the spiritual realm. We can and should use all the spiritual weapons available to us to offensively engage the enemy with the determination and intent to utterly and completely defeat him. That victory was already secured for us at the cross by our Lord, but we must enforce that victory in our individual lives (if we want to walk in it) by first coming out of agreement with the lies and deception of the enemy, and then coming into full agreement with the Lord. We cannot have it both ways. If we try to have it both ways, we’ll be double-minded and have a divided heart, not to mention continue reaping destruction in our lives due to our spiritual passivity and lack of resolve.
Believers must not think the enemy’s operations in their lives can be counteracted with Christian activities such as Bible reading, prayer, or church attendance while they continue to engage in such demonic practices as martial arts and yoga. Rather, the goal of defeating the enemy’s strategies against us, can only be achieved through obedience to the divine mandate of extracting the profane from the holy (cf., Lev. 20:3; 21:6,7; 22:2,15,32; Eze. 22:26; 44:23; Amos 2:7), and refraining from “profan(ing) the holiness of the LORD” (Mal. 2:11) with such unbiblical and antichrist activities. As the Apostle Paul said: “You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons (simultaneously); you cannot partake of the Lord’s table and of the table of demons (simultaneously)” (1 Cor. 10:21; italicized explanation added). It’s really just that simple.
The unfortunate fact is that a high percentage of purporting Christians spend most of their lives reeling in a drunken stupor as a result of being drugged by the wiles and deceptions of the enemy regarding the all-out spiritual assault he is incessantly waging against them in the unseen spiritual realm. Many who claim to be Christians have no clue as to what is really going on in the enemy’s invisible domain. Even more tragic, many don’t want to know! Consequently, many of those people have been duped into accepting the old adage: “What you don’t know can’t hurt you.” But I’m here to tell you that what you don’t know and can’t see CAN hurt you!
It is not a time to bury our heads in the sand. Our ignorance of or denial of Satan’s schemes of aggression and destruction he is constantly waging against us does nothing but give him a decided advantage over us, as Paul pointed out: “…so that no advantage would be taken of us by Satan, for we are not ignorant of his schemes” (2 Cor. 2:11). Contrary to the old saying, “Ignorance is bliss,” ignorance is not bliss, rather it is dumb and deadly! “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge” (Hos. 4:6). “Lack of knowledge” is what ignorance is, and God is declaring here that HIS people—He’s not referring to the people of the world, the unsaved, the lost, agnostics and atheists, but rather SAVED, church-going, purporting Christians—are spiritually and naturally (in their natural, physical lives) destroyed, living lives of devastation and defeat, due to their lack of knowledge! That’s what GOD says, and that’s serious business!
All this to say that under the New Covenant, we must become alert (wake-up) and recognize the schemes and ploys of the enemy, and then employ the spiritual weapons of warfare, not physical weapons, to fight the battles that inevitably occur in each of our lives. Ultimately, though people rarely understand this principal, every battle that takes place in a person’s life is a spiritual battle; meaning there is a spiritual foe (demons) behind it, and the ultimate objective is spiritual in nature. Jesus Himself succinctly summarized that fact in His statement in which he compared the essence of Satan’s coming to His own, “‘The thief (Satan) comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly'” (Jn. 10:10; italics added).
The best scenario in response to John 10:10 would be for all of us to continually live that abundant life that Jesus came to give us, and not ever fall under the influence of the one who comes to destroy. It would be best if we as believers were able to always recognize the wiles (schemes) of the enemy at the onset and “head him off at the pass,” as I often say. But if we suddenly wake up one day and find that we have been duped (we have come heavily under the enemy’s influence) then it is incumbent upon us to quickly come to the knowledge and understanding that we must train our spiritual weapons upon the real foe—Satan—and not attempt to fight our battles using fleshly or physical weapons to fight what is really a spiritual battle waged by a spiritual enemy on the spiritual battleground of our flesh.
Satan is even able to cause people to twist Scripture at times to try and justify martial arts (according to 2 Pet. 3:16). For example, there are many who have tried to use Luke 22:36-38—the passage where the disciples said they had “two swords” and Jesus said, “It is enough”—as a proof text that Jesus condoned martial arts. But notice that Jesus Himself said to Peter when he tried to defend Jesus in Matthew 26:52, “Put your sword back into its place, for all those who take up the sword shall perish by the sword.” The inference we can draw from what Jesus said, is that the sword, or physical weapons used in the natural in physical and natural warfare, has “its place,” though that is another matter entirely that is beyond the scope of this book. But the believer who is submitted to God, walking by faith, and trusting in Christ will fight using “the weapons of our warfare,” which are spiritual weapons to vanquish a spiritual enemy on the battleground in the (invisible) spirit realm, for “the LORD does not deliver by sword or by spear; for the battle is the LORD’S and He will give (the enemy) into our hands” (1 Sam. 17:47).
Those Christians who are well equipped and knowledgeable regarding how to use our powerful spiritual weapons in spiritual warfare, can “walk by faith” (2 Cor. 5:7) with a firm reliance on Christ rather than physical weapons and fighting skills such as those taught in martial arts to protect and preserve them!
The Principle of Emulation of Christ
Jesus is the prototype of the sons or children of God—”the firstborn of many brethren” (Rom. 8:29; cf., Luke 2:7,23; Rom. 8:29; Col. 1:15,18; Heb. 1:6; 11:28; 12:23; Rev. 1:5). The Greek word rendered “firstborn” in the New Testament, prototokos, literally means “prototype.” Jesus is indeed the prototype of the spiritual Sons of God—the firstborn from the dead! Hallelujah! Jesus is the supreme and ultimate example or paragon of Christianity and all it is and represents. The term “Christian” means literally, “Little Christ.” Genuine Christians are to be “little Christs” in the sense of how one lives, how one conducts his/her life, how one behaves.
That being established, couple that truth with the fact that there is no biblical record whatsoever of Jesus being a practitioner or advocate of anything even remotely resembling the practice or advocacy of martial arts during his fleshly life and ministry. Nothing! In fact, His entire life, according to the record provided to us in the four Gospels was just the opposite. He was a paragon of meekness (not weakness; meekness is not weakness) and gentility. The only record we have of Him so much as raising His voice was when in extreme justified righteous indignation He drove the money-changers from Solomon’s Temple, in His agony of Gethsemane, when on the Cross at the moment of His momentary spiritual separation from His Father, He cried out in unspeakable agony, “My God, My God, Why hast Thou forsaken me?, and when with His final dying breath, He forced out the words, “It is finished!” Certainly, no karate-like shrieks and death-yells ever came forth through the real Master!
The notion that martial arts and demonstrations thereof of by so-called “masters” and various belt-level achievers provides a platform by which to reach people with the message of Christ is a complete deception, and completely undermines the genuine message of Christ rather than undergird it. To purport such is to demonstrate a complete ignorance of the true essence of the Gospel of Christ, which is self-death, self-denial, and self-subjection to the salvation of the only Savior of mankind, Jesus Christ. Demonstrations of martial arts, strongman stunts, various supposed self-defense methods, body-building, and the like, send a message that is the polar opposite of the message of Christ.
The message of the Gospel of Christ is the message of total surrender to the ultimate Savior, and trust in Him for the salvation and preservation of our lives—both spiritually and physically. The message of martial arts, body-building, self-defense methods, and the like, is about a message of self-reliance, self-preservation, and self-salvation, rooted in vanity, ego, arrogance, and in some cases, narcissism.
The message of the Gospel of Christ is of total peace and rest through faith in Christ. The message of martial arts and these other practices is ever-increasing paranoia, fear, anxiety, and unrest arising from faith in self and one’s own ability to protect and preserve oneself. It is difficult for martial arts practitioners to have faith in Christ because of the doubt and unbelief it produces due to their roots in false religions. Indeed, the writer of Hebrews informs us straight out that it is impossible to enter into God’s rest if our heart is filled with unbelief:
Take care, brethren, that there not be in any one of you an evil, unbelieving heart that falls away from the living God. (Heb. 3:12; italics added)
And to whom did He swear that they would not enter His rest, but to those who were disobedient? So we see that they were not able to enter because of unbelief. (Heb. 3:18-19; italics added)
The message of the Gospel of Christ is all about being conformed into the Image of Christ (Rom. 8:29). The message of martial arts and these other practices is all about being conformed into someone’s fictional and contrived notion of super-humanness, or a grandiose idea of somehow exceeding the abilities or capacities of the average human.
The message of the Gospel of Christ is all about preparation to rule and reign with Christ when He returns to assume dominion over the earth, universe, and cosmos of which He is the Creator. The message of martial arts and these other practices is all about the “vapor” that we call life (Jas. 4:14) on this planet as occupants of a human body.
In a nutshell, the message of the Gospel of Christ is all about selfless service to others. The message of martial arts and these other practices is all about SELF—self-enrichment, self-improvement, and self-attainment.
Again, all polar opposite messages.
Different Roots, Origins, and Objectives
A thorough study of their roots or origins produces the unequivocal and undeniable conclusion that all forms of martial arts are derived from and are inextricably interrelated with false religions and the occult, and specific tenets and practices of same. To state it another way, martial arts are composed of and derive from false religions and the occult, and therefore, intrinsically amount to same.
The New Age influence has been steadily making substantial advances into the Christian church, and martial arts as well as yoga are two (among many) methods that the enemy has been using to promote that particular facet of his evil agenda. The core difference between all false religions and genuine, Biblical Christianity is that the former pursues a goal of obtaining God-likeness, or more accurately, “God-ness,” through various and sundry means and pathways of self-effort or personal “works,” supposing they have no need for repentance, no Cross of Christ, and no soul-transformation. The latter (Christians) obtain genuine God-likeness and godliness (Sonship) and all the innumerable benefits of same through surrender to and an ongoing/eternal relationship with the only begotten Son of God, the Savior who very much desires that all mankind be saved (1 Tim. 2:4).
The point is that the disparities, dissimilarities, and disharmony between the false religions that the martial arts are rooted in and the relationship with God that is the basis of genuine Christianity are so profound and undeniable that any and all attempts to purport harmony or congruity between the two is utterly absurd. To even attempt to make such an argument is to demonstrate gross ignorance of the substance and end objectives of the genuine Gospel message. Trying to mix the two is like the proverbial attempt to mix oil and water. You can put them in the same container, shake or stir them together, but when they settle, they will remain two separate elements.
Also, Jesus talked about the fact that the nature of something or someone can always be accurately identified by its genus, or what it originated from, and its genus can always be identified by the fruit it bears.
“Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will know (identify) them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they? So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. So then, you will know them by their fruits.” (Mat. 7:15-20; emphasis added)
“Either make the tree GOOD and its fruit GOOD, or make the tree BAD and its fruit BAD; for the TREE is known by its FRUIT.” (Mat. 12:33; emphasis added)
“For there is no good TREE which produces bad FRUIT, nor, on the other hand, a bad TREE which produces good FRUIT. For each TREE is known by its own FRUIT. For men do not gather figs from thorns, nor do they pick grapes from a briar bush.” (Lk. 6:43-44; emphasis added)
Considering the genus, or origins, and roots of martial arts and yoga, there just is no possibility whatsoever that they could be good trees that produce good fruit. A bad tree cannot produce good fruit. Period. Figs are not gathered from thorn bushes. Martial arts and yoga produce fruit alright, but it is the wrong kind of fruit (as pointed out in various places in this volume)! They are incapable of bearing good (Godly, Kingdom) fruit because they are “bad trees!”###
CLICK HERE to read Part 2 of this Series
This article series is an adaptation from the book, Exposing the Dangers of Martial Arts, by Vito Rallo, published by Real Truth Publications. The publisher/editor of Spirit Life Magazine, Dr. Steven Lambert, was the contributing editor of the book, and authored this portion of the book. To learn more about the book click on the book cover image below.
Dr. Vito Rallo is an evangelist gifted in the ministry of healing, deliverance, and the prophetic. He is a former five-time USA National Karate Champion, who several years after becoming a Born Again Christian, withdrew from all involvement in Martial Arts and destroyed all his medals, belts and uniforms. In 1983, he founded Free Indeed Ministries, a ministry committed to winning souls and bringing deliverance to those who are bound and burdened. He and his wife, Pat, travel the U.S. and world, conducting spiritual warfare seminars and demonstrating the truths set forth in the ever-growing number of books they have written and published. They now reside in western North Carolina.
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