Rain upon us, Holy Spirit!
Recently Sam and I visited a small fellowship that was trying to establish itself in a nearby needy neighborhood. We arrived early and as we waited for everyone else to arrive, both of us noticed that the spiritual atmosphere was extremely heavy and slow, like sitting inside a waterfall of thick syrup. We felt so weary we wanted to go home and sleep the sleep of the dead. Exchanging glances, we quietly slipped out. No way was the Holy Spirit going to move in that atmosphere. And we really didn’t want to sit in it.
What was going on? We were discerning the presence of an empowered evil being. This wasn’t our first encounter with this particular creature, although its presence isn’t usually so obvious. It is a commonly found strongman in churches and in the lives of some people.
The Lord had begun to teach me about this particular evil spirit many years ago. I had spent the day interceding for someone who had deeply hurt me. Not because I’m especially good at loving my enemies (I’m not), but because he had been in a horrific car accident and was barely hanging onto life. Church members had called me, begging me to pray for him. So I went to the hospital and spent hours and hours walking the corridors and praying in tongues on his behalf. (He did make it and is doing well).
After returning to my home, I crawled into bed only to begin to be rocked violently back and forth. Suddenly, I was out of my body, flying around my small city. I landed on the roof of the hospital where I had been praying at which point I panicked and was immediately returned to my body.
As I lay there marveling at the experience, a very large upright snake came though my bedroom door, stopped by my side and stared down at me. Still stunned by my out-of-body flight, I demanded the creature tell me its name (I wouldn’t do that now). It replied that it was Leviathan. I then told it that it wasn’t allowed in my bedroom and commanded my angels to beat the thing. As I watched them whacking it with swords, everything slowed down to a crawl and the angels moved as if they were swinging their swords in peanut butter.
I described my experience to a respected prophet who warned me that evil spirits lie, so in all likelihood it wasn’t Leviathan. From the way it affected my perception of time and motion, he suspected it was a spirit called Python. Having no idea what to do with that information or my experience, I put it away.
Then a few years back the Lord again brought up the subject of this evil spirit. He instructed me to visit a local church that is part of a well-established charismatic Pentecostal denomination. When worship started the atmosphere was light. Heaven felt near; the people were joyful, then something shifted. A heaviness fell on the congregation. They slumped in their pews and their faces became sorrowful. As I observed this sudden shift, I discerned a very large snake slithering through the congregation. As it slid by me the Lord spoke, saying that “it” was making its Sunday rounds through all the local churches.
How?!! What?!! Why?!! Why was this thing able to do this??!! I needed to know. Thus, began my search for the answer to why our churches are oppressed to the point that spiritual freedom in worship and the tangible presence of the Holy Spirit is almost extinct.
At the request of the Lord, I contacted the pastors of the new fellowship we had visited and they agreed to meet with Sam and me to discuss how activity in the spirit realm was affecting their gathering. During our meeting they explained that they had given up on developing a fellowship at that location. It was too hard. The people too weary. They had turned their attention to an area outside of the county, equally needy, but suffering more from simple ignorance than empowered spiritual opposition.
I am going somewhere important in this next section, and I beg you not to get in a huff and stop reading.
These pastors are what is called “Spirit-filled.” That is after being born-again (receiving Christ as Lord and Savior) they had an additional experience with the Lord during which He baptized (immersed) them into the Holy Spirit. This is what I mean by Spirit-filled. They had emerged from this experience speaking in tongues. They became deeply aware of and connected with the supernatural. They began having spiritual dreams, visions and encounters. From this immersion into the supernatural they began to develop a profound experiential relationship with God. They didn’t just feel warm and fuzzy occasionally. They didn’t just have the occasional prayer answered. They knew by frequent experience that God was real and interested in them. They lived in the spiritual realm. And it is because of exactly this that the evil spirit targeted their little fellowship, smothering it before it came to life.
And that brings us back to the question of why. Why is this thing able to do this? What is empowering it and how do we counter it?
There is a way which seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death. Proverbs 14:12
This spirit masquerades as the Holy Spirit. That is why I call it the anti-Holy Spirit spirit. It deceives by hiding behind what seems to be good. For example, Paul and Silas encountered just such a spirit living within a fortune-telling slave girl. They were in Philippi when she began following them, shouting out “These men are servants of the Most High God and are proclaiming to you the way of salvation!” (See Acts 16). Sounds good, right? It wasn’t. Although the word was accurate, the source was wrong.
Now think about it. Here was free advertising for the gospel. Paul might have been rapidly promoted to a place of prominence in that city and reached a lot of people quickly. Isn’t that what he wanted? What the Lord wanted? Paul cast out of the girl the spirit behind the words. And in doing so, proclaimed that the devil doesn’t get to be a fake Holy Spirit, no matter the perceived benefit.
I have seen ministries rise very rapidly into preeminence, then fall even more quickly into disgrace. It makes me wonder just what spirit is behind such meteoric rises that result in such disastrous falls. Many Christians are not as wise as Paul. They are deceived when the enemy offers them a benefit that looks good and may even seem godly. When they go for the bait, they always lose what is really important.
Big Lies That Opened the Door to the Masquerader
Going Along to Get Along
In the late 70s and early 80s pastor groups began to form across America. These groups were spearheaded by Spirit-filled leaders who were seeking to form alliances. Unity was their goal and that’s a good one. But unity cannot be achieved by human effort. Only by the power of the Holy Spirit and by His direction can we hope to achieve godly unity.
These leaders were soon approached by pastors of churches that had rejected the filling of the Holy Spirit, (claiming they received all there was to receive when they accepted Christ). They did not speak in tongues, nor did they want too. They avoided the spiritual realm and questioned the possibility of a supernatural relationship with God. All well and good, because most simply didn’t know any better.
But for those who did know better, God expected them to share ALL the truth and not cave in to peer pressure. You cannot diminish the truth and expect good things to happen, because the Holy Spirit IS the Spirit of Truth.
But instead, those who knew better agreed to “park their lesser theologies” at the door in order to embrace a form of unity, which is at best only conformity. They dishonored the Holy Spirit by jettisoning any expression or experience that caused disagreement. All for the sake of getting along.
Today, in my city and all across America, most church leaders belong to a pastoral unity group. AND most churches are pretty much carbon copies of one another. The worship is short, to the point, and barely gets off the ground. The congregation is tired, discouraged and spiritually hungry. The messages are mostly about being a good person and serving others. There is little to no expectation that the Holy Spirit will show up and show off at any of these meetings.
And so, we have become one with each other, but only if uniformity is unity. We are not one with the Spirit, which is the precursor to true unity, because the Spirit has been made unwelcome. After all, He might expect us to dance as David danced in total humility before the ark. He might expect us to prophesy or surrender our tongues by speaking in tongues. He might require that we abandon our comfort zones in order to fully embrace Him.
… holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; Avoid such men as these. 2 Timothy 3:5
And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they began speaking with tongues and prophesying. Acts 19:6
Now I wish that you all spoke in tongues … 1 Corinthians 14:5
A Compromised Truth
At about the same time that church leaders were parking at the door their “lesser theologies” in exchange for human unity, C. Peter Wagner published a book called Finding Your Spiritual Gifts. It became a best seller. Wagner, himself a Spirit-filled believer, wrote the book in an effort to make tongues more acceptable to the traditional church establishment and, thus, produce greater unity between the charismatic and the non-charismatic.
Wagner took four lists found in the New Testament (Romans 12:4-8; 1 Corinthians 12:4-11; 1 Peter 4:9-11; Ephesians 4:11) and lumped them together, claiming that everyone had one gift from the pile. This meant any manifestation of the Holy Spirit listed in 1 Corinthians 12 was no longer the choice of the Holy Spirit at a particular time during a gathering of believers. It was a gift that belonged to an individual.
So let’s say that I didn’t particularly like public speaking. Now, thanks to Mr. Wagner’s book, I didn’t have to obey the Holy Spirit if and when He expected me to prophesy because I could claim that prophesying wasn’t my gift! I could pick another gift off the list – say hospitality – because I was more comfortable with that one. So now, obeying the Holy Spirit by speaking in tongues or prophesying has become optional.
Comfort Above Submission
Perhaps the greatest lie that opens the door to the anti-Holy Spirit spirit is when we choose our personal comfort over obedience to the Lord. Remember that this particular spirit is a fake Holy Spirit that deceives by mimicking the Holy Spirit. So it offers false comfort and false rest by helping us to never embrace change or ever question the status quo. It makes the struggle seem too hard. Essentially, it puts believers into a trancelike sleep that never refreshes.
When the leaders of the church embraced a unity that compromised the truth about the Holy Spirit and when they embraced Wagner’s ill-conceived teaching about spiritual gifts, they opened the door to a corporate manifestation of this anti-Holy Spirit spirit. This wicked spirit seeps into all the spaces left by the absence of the Holy Spirit. It makes us comfortable in the mire of our unbelief and disobedience. It keeps us “safe” from a Holy Spirit that might embarrass or challenge us by expecting us to embrace a supernatural existence. It puts us to sleep and drains our life so that we won’t have the energy to pursue spiritual truth. AND we have given it permission to do so, because we are afraid that the Holy Spirit might manifest His presence through us in ways that make us look foolish in the eyes of the world.
So to answer the question of what is empowering this evil entity … we are empowering it with our fear of the Holy Spirit and our concern about how we look in the eyes of the world; that is, our pride.
Should we marvel at the spiritual drought in the Church? We want signs and wonders, but we don’t want the Holy Spirit to move with freedom in and through us. We tell Him how He is allowed, and not allowed, to manifest. Then we bemoan the fact that there is no manifest presence of the Holy Spirit in our meetings or in our lives. When someone tries to raise up a work of the Lord – someone dedicated to maintaining the truth of the Holy Spirit in all its scary glory – the anti-Holy Spirit spirit wipes them out and we are glad, because we don’t want that kind of thing in our community. It’s embarrassing.
Because we believe that anything is better than the horror of being embarrassed, we are giving these evil beings our tacit permission to destroy nascent works of God. “But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise” (1 Corinthians 1:27).
if even salt has become tasteless, with what will it be seasoned? It is useless … it is thrown out. He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” Luke 14:34-35
What to Do
The first step is to recognize when this spirit is moving. Usually the atmosphere feels thick, heavy and sad when this spirit manifests. Pay attention to how the atmosphere feels particularly during worship and ministry. It is easiest to discern the atmosphere during corporate worship. Notice if it is light or heavy. Does it shift from one to the other? Is the Spirit of God allowed to move in worship as long as He wishes? Or is it highly controlled?
When in ministry or prayer, this spirit makes you feel like the situation is hopeless, too hard or too exhausting. It feels easier to give up, play a game or take a nap.
While you are working on learning to identify this spirit, ask the Lord what you have done (knowingly or unknowingly) that empowers it. Repent for yourself and for your ancestors as a representative of your family line. You don’t need all the details. Just repent for anything you and your people have done that empowers this spirit.
Then ask the Lord to open up heaven over you and around you. Just you, not your church or your region. Remember that this spirit is empowered because people have chosen what it offers over what the Holy Spirit offers. So don’t go trying to pull the entity down. It won’t work. I know. Instead ask the Lord to establish a zone around you that is safe from any intrusion by the anti-Holy Spirit spirit. Then pray that He will expand that safe zone as you follow Him. When you feel the effects of the anti-Holy Spirit spirit in the atmosphere, remind it that it is not allowed to interfere with you, then command your angels to punish it.
It is my prayer as more of us turn away from our fear and pride, becoming willing to be fools in the eyes of the world as we embrace the fullness of the Holy Spirit that these open heavens will grow and merge together until the rain of God once again falls upon His church.
Be blessed. I write this to you in love,
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