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w to Be Charismatic Without Being Crazy

How to Be Charismatic Without Being Crazy

A third-generation Pentecostal’s take on staying Spirit-filled without the hype.

My roots in the charismatic-Pentecostal movement go very deep. My grandpa and grandma both became ordained ministers in the Assemblies of God (AG) following radical encounters with God. They dedicated themselves to preaching the gospel and planting churches across rural Oklahoma and Southern California.

My father, Hubert, became a traveling evangelist with the AG while still in high school. He and my mother pastored churches together in Colorado, Missouri and Texas. Dad served as a missionary in India after my mom’s death in 1991. read more

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Receiving the Power of the Spirit

Initimacy with the Holy Spirit will ignite your ministry and change your life forever.

At the start of the 20th century, Wales was known for its music and entertainment, its independent spirit and its rich sports heritage, but something was terribly wrong. The bars flourished while the powerless and passionless churches dried up.

Gambling and greed were beginning to dominate virtually every activity and captivate the nation's middle class. Violent crimes increased so quickly that there were not enough police officers in the entire country to restore order.

According to noted revival historians, as the hunger for personal pleasure began to dominate the culture, Evan Roberts, then a coal miner, would carry his beloved Bible into the mines with him. For 13 months Roberts cried out to heaven in intense prayer and intercession as God birthed a desperate need for revival in his heart. read more

When Ministry Gets Messy

Want to be used by God in supernatural ways? Then be ready and willing to get your hands dirty.

In 1979, I lived in Weaverville, a mountain town of about 3,000 people in the Trinity Alps of Northern California. My wife, Kathy, and I had moved there and bought a Union 76 service station in town. 

One winter day it was snowing like crazy, and our city was about 3 feet deep in snow. The wind was howling, and the snow was falling horizontally. It was so cold that I had closed the bay doors and was running the heater full blast. My crew was working on cars, and I was in the office doing the books.  read more

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The Usual Suspects in Dreams From God

Without the symbolism it would be difficult for you to know if your dreams were just dreams or a dream from God. Below is a guide to interpreting some of the most common objects and symbols in dreams.

To decipher the meaning of objects and symbols in the Bible, a principle of biblical interpretation called the “law of first mention” can be used. It states that the first mention of an object, number, color or symbol in the Bible sets up a pattern of interpretation for it that holds true throughout the rest of Scripture. Listed below are the verses where the symbolic words first appear. The meaning or meanings provided for each symbol are based on the law of first mention. Please understand—these may not be the only meanings.

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Stop Blaming the Devil!


When was the last time you ran a reality check on your perceptions of God's Word? Too many believers embrace popular misunderstandings of what God has said rather than the truth. According to Thayer's Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, understanding God's truth means your perceptions become aligned with God's reality of the thing being perceived. One area in which the perceptions of believers do not line up with the truth relates to our understanding of how we are to deal with the devil. Many Christians believe we should order Satan around with great fervor, frequency and volume.

Satan cooperates with this deception, conceding victories whenever necessary to perpetuate the lie that God's people need to battle him for everything God has promised them. This deception keeps earnest Christians too busy with Satan to focus on humbling and surrendering themselves to God.


 

But God is more concerned about the state of our souls than He is about the devil. He says in His Word, "'If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves [their souls], and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways [of their souls], then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their [souls'] sin and heal their land' " (2 Chr. 7:14, NKJV). The Hebrew word for wicked (ways), ra, includes characteristics of being disagreeable and having an unhappy disposition.

God is telling us that what will bring about the healing of the land is His people's turning away from wrong attitudes and self-centeredness. He does not say anything about warring with Satan to heal the land.

Daniel understood the need for humility and repentance. He prayed and confessed the corporate wrong agreement of God's people when they were in captivity in Babylon: "We have sinned and dealt perversely and done wickedly and have rebelled, turning aside from Your commandments and ordinances...We have not earnestly begged for forgiveness and entreated the favor of the Lord our God, that we might turn from our iniquities and have understanding and become wise in Your truth" (Dan. 9:5,13, The Amplified Bible).

The Israelites had been and still were actively entering into wrong agreements about what God was saying to them through His prophets. These wrong agreements had created "legal" grounds for Satan to establish a territorial dominion over them, controlled by the demonic prince of Persia. Wrong agreement always gives right of access to Satan's workings.

Daniel knew that surrender and obedience were the solutions to the Israelites' bondage. When he sought right agreement with God through confessing the sins of his people and repenting, God swiftly sent the archangels Gabriel and Michael to take out the prince of Persia. Note that God did not say Daniel or the Israelites needed to fight Satan over their bondage.

Plans for Satan's Destruction

It is man's desires for power, status and riches that allow evil spirits to harass human souls. These same desires are cunningly promoted by Satan as requirements for "power-Christian" status.

But is "power Christianity"--constant warring with the enemy--God's plan for Satan's ultimate destruction? I don't think so.

In Ephesians 3:9-10 Paul gives us a clue to God's will for the body of Christ on earth: "To make all see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the ages has been hidden in God who created all things through Jesus Christ; to the intent that now the manifold wisdom of God might be made known by the church to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places" (NKJV, emphasis added). The terms "principalities and powers" here mean "demonic forces," as it does in Ephesians 6:12, "For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places."

Considering 2 Chronicles 7:14 and Daniel 9:5,13 along with Ephesians 3:10, we see an interesting truth emerge. God's manifold wisdom (Eph. 3:10) will be made known through the church to principalities, powers and rulers of darkness when the body of Christ comes into alignment with 2 Chronicles 7:14, using Daniel 9:5-13 as a pattern for prayer.

And I believe God's manifold wisdom may be the exact opposite of the charismatic "power-Christianity" being modeled today. Regardless of how contemporary Christian songs portray him as a fool, Satan is quite aware that he will ultimately go down. However, he may not know how he will be brought down.

Perhaps he believes he will be known in eternal history as the only entity with whom God Himself ever had to personally war. But what if God's manifold wisdom is to use His own children, humble lambs with servant-like natures, as conduits of His power to take Satan down? Wouldn't that be the ultimate humiliation--to be defeated by sheeplike believers with no personal strength to match Satan's own destructive powers?

We'd be just God's kids counting on His promises that He would use us to fulfill His great purposes. If Christians could see their lives through the perspective of such a plan, it would help clarify what misunderstandings must be put away in order to be a part.

Surrender and Obey

When we are unaware that our Christian walks are not centered in God's truth, we will often make wrong choices to accommodate our souls' unhealed hurts, unmet needs, fears and doubts. All of us have made wrong choices, as Jonah did when he ran from God, and had to suffer the consequences. But today we're being taught to "rebuke" the consequences of those bad choices.

This is ridiculous. No human being could have rebuked or cast Jonah's whale-sized consequence from him! Yet after Jonah prayed and surrendered his own will, trusting in the mercy of God, God commanded the whale to vomit Jonah onto dry land (see Jon. 2:7-10). What a concept!

There is a catch, however. When God delivers you from a tough consequence He expects you to realize that He is delivering you to put you back on track with His will. Beware of casually walking away from a divine intervention in your circumstances to pursue your life in the manner that led you into the whale's belly in the first place! God has little patience for that.

Many struggling Christians are embracing the wrong idea that they can confess away the consequences of their self-willed choices. They are being taught to rebuke or command Satan's "hindrances" out of their paths, with little understanding that most of the hindrances have been self-created.

Brothers and sisters, you cannot command or rebuke consequences out of your way; you must surrender and obey your way through them. Obedience always brings grace to the one who seeks to avoid getting back into the same circumstances.

If you are stiff-necked and stubborn, God may lift His grace and let consequences ride over you like a herd of elephants. Try confessing, casting or commanding elephants out of your path!

Consequences from choosing to believe wrong teaching will almost always have industrial-strength Velcro all over them, sticking to everything we try to do. If we could just admit, "God, nothing I've tried works!" and ask Him, "Why do I keep doing this to myself, and how can I stop?"

I believe He would answer: "You have wrong ideas and are depending on wrong things. You cannot command your way out of a spiritual mess; you have to obey your way out of it! You're going to have to let your wrong understanding go, and trust Me to teach you the truth that will set you free."

Faith, Fear and Finances

Three areas in which we have embraced misunderstanding rather than the truth of what God has said are faith, fear and finances. Extreme teachings on these topics are setting up many Christians for delusion about the source of their troubles and causing them to doubt in God's faithfulness.

Faith is being taught as a force, a weapon to use against Satan and a means of "spiritual financing" for what the human soul wants. Charismatic teachers often say that faith is a tangible spiritual force with the ability to produce natural substance.

But Paul used the Greek word hypostasis ("substance") in Hebrews 11:1, "Faith is the substance of things hoped for," to mean "a steadfast mind having courage, resolve, confidence and trust in God's goodness" (Thayer's). Nothing in Hebrews 11:1 implies a tangible substance that can be produced by what a human mind conceives and desires.

New Testament Greek almost always defines "faith" as "having trust and confidence in the goodness, wisdom and power of God." God has a most excellent future for each one of us here on Earth--good works to do, good paths to walk in and good lives to live (see Eph. 2:10, The Amplified Bible). Stepping fully into this excellent future requires obedience and surrender to His will.

My best prayers seek the alignment of my will on Earth with His will in heaven. In the Lord's Prayer Jesus said, "Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven" (Matt. 6:10, NKJV). So, the best prayer I can pray is: "I bind my will to your will, God. Your will be done."

When I live in accordance with this prayer, I don't have to figure out how to save the world, my family, my bank account or my reputation--or how to save myself from the devil. I just need to obey what God has said. True faith is a place of rest and peace because it trusts an omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent God to take care of all of the details. He doesn't need my input to get them right.

Regardless of how much faith we have, disobedience to what God has said allows Satan to get involved in our lives. Let me give you an example. Ephesians 4:26 says we are not to let the sun go down on our anger. If we choose to ignore this command and retire with anger still festering in our hearts, we open the door to bitterness, resentment and other evil works.

And justifying our actions does not absolve us of wrongdoing. How often God must wonder, "What part of Ephesians 4:26 don't they get?" Rationalizing and justifying are the timber and bricks of the strongholds in our souls, and Ephesians 4:27 (The Amplified Bible) tells of their consequence: They give the devil a foothold in us. Satan uses such access to attack believers in spite of their authority, blood covering and righteousness in Christ.

Authority is always hindered, even rendered useless, by the presence of open doors that an enemy can access. Military leaders know their highest levels of authority are useless if they have open doors in their supply sources and communication lines. There isn't a smart enemy alive--including Satan--who won't use such doors to attack, slash and burn.

We have been told exactly what to do to see God heal our land, and we have not done it. We have become too power and authority conscious to humble ourselves as God instructed.

Fear is another subject of extreme teachings today. Many people have been taught that there is a demonic spirit of fear. This teaching is generally based on 2 Timothy 1:7, "God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind" (KJV).

The NIV translation is clearer, "God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline." Thayer's defines pneuma (spirit) as it is used here to mean "being filled with the same spirit as Christ, and by the bond of that spirit to be intimately united to Christ." In other words, regenerated human spirits are not timid, having no room for fear because they are filled with the Spirit of Christ.

Fear is a symptom of an unresolved issue in the soul that keeps churning out emotional confusion, doubt and lack of trust. As long as any such unresolved issue exists and is fiercely guarded by self-constructed strongholds, the enemy can apply pressure in circumstances that mimic those out of which the fear was birthed in the first place.

Fear is not an evil spirit; it is an emotional response to a lack of trust and confidence in the goodness of God. You cannot be delivered of a lack of trust or have stronghold-protected wrong thinking, damaged emotions and unresolved issues cast out of your soul.

And God won't dismantle your strongholds. That would be a violation of your soul's attempts to guard itself. You have to choose to tear them down (see 2 Cor. 10:3-5) and give God voluntary access to heal you.

Finances is another area of extreme teaching today. I have visited several charismatic ministry Web sites and come away concerned regarding advice about finances. One Web site encouraged financially strapped people to confess: "My debt is gone. I have no debt. My bills are paid!"

There is no scriptural basis for such a confession regarding unpaid bills. If God were to deliver some Christians from their debt without teaching them to have a paradigm shift in thinking about money, these Christians would get in debt again. If we do not learn why we are always living in lack, any reprieve from God will be only a stopgap. God could make millionaires out of all of us, but He wisely chooses not to--at least not until we bring our understanding of finances into alignment with His.

God has never said His kingdom work is dependent on human wealth. Rather, it is "dependent" on the condition of the hearts of those who want His will done, even if it requires that their entire financial wealth be surrendered to Him.

I believe that money in itself means very little to God, that He created it only to teach us about our own motives. God is concerned about what money means to the one who wants it. Money is not the answer to our deepest needs. read more

Pray About Everything; Worry About Nothing

Philippians 4:1-23 Most of us are familiar with the phrase that is "batted about" so casually today: "Don't worry, be happy." There is a way you can not worry and be happy no matter what you are facing in this life—pray. The phrase should be revised to say, "Don't worry, Pray!" If we followed this admonition, our lives would be filled with joy (not just a happy "ha-ha" joy, but an inner joy that will strengthen us in all circumstances).

Worry is a sin. Worry is negative meditation. When we meditate, we roll over and over again in our minds the same thing. When we worry, we keep thinking over and over again the same negative thought. Both my mother and mother-in-law were worriers. I think since they both went through the Great Depression a little worry bug was implanted deep within them, and it was hard to shake it off. Most of the things they worried about never came to pass. read more

The Forgiveness Habit


Our relationships become healthier when we remember the message of the cross.

In our relationships, it is important for us to remember that mutual love and respect are to be accomplished out of reverence to Christ. To the degree that each of us is subject to Jesus Christ, the Lord enables us to relate to each other lovingly and respectfully.

The reverse corollary is also true. To the degree that we are not subject to Jesus Christ, He will not rule our hearts, and forgiveness will not be built into us as a moment-by-moment daily practice. When we do not submit our wills to Him, we will be subject to one another, but to one another's selfish control rather than to blessing.

Good, bad or indifferent, each of us does relate to every person with whom we come in contact. We affect others in some way. In that sense, we cannot avoid being subject to on another.

Without the presence of Jesus in our lives, we will relate to others only according to the flesh and not by the Spirit. Only when the cross is present is the redeeming grace of Jesus Christ able to transform our relationships to produce blessing rather than harm.

Our distance from the cross of Christ, practically, in daily living, is the reason we have so many broken relationships and divorces today. People are paying lip service to Jesus, but they don't know how to walk with Him moment by moment. They can't maintain long-term relationships because the fire of unforgiveness burns within them.

When a man and woman enter the marriage relationship, the husband and wife often tend to counterbalance each other. For example, if one tends to talk too much, the other is likely to remain silent. If one is a strong disciplinarian, the other probably will be more lax.

When this tendency to counterbalance one another occurs, tensions develop between partners because one or the other is pressed to lean uncomfortably toward behavior contrary to his or her normal temperament or beliefs. This counterbalancing dynamic is also active among siblings, friends and business associates.

The key to overcoming this dynamic is in sensitive applications of the cross and forgiveness. We must evaluate what is happening in all our relationships and put our own ego in proper perspective.

Jesus said, " 'If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me'" (Matt.16:24, NKJV). We can take the practices of our relationships to the cross through forgiveness so that through the power of Jesus Christ our selfishness can be put to death and our wounded feelings healed. read more

Unlocking the Gift of Tongues

Find out a few things speaking in tongues empowers a believer to do.

Our spirit language enables us to have spirit-to-Spirit communication with God. Speaking in tongues helps us fulfill the Scriptures that instruct us to be filled with the Spirit, led of the Spirit, walk in the Spirit, live in the Spirit, and worship the Father in Spirit and in truth.

Our spirit language builds up our spirit man. Praying in tongues charges our spirits like a battery charger powers a battery. Jude 1:20 declares that we build ourselves up in the faith by praying in the Spirit. The apostle Paul also declared in Romans 5:5 that the love of God is poured into our hearts by praying in our spirit language.

Our spirit language is a catalyst that produces all the manifestations of the Spirit of God. Speaking in tongues empowers us to become more Christ-like, produce the fruit of the Spirit and manifest the supernatural gifts of God (see Gal. 5:22; 1 Cor. 12:7-11). First Corinthians 14:4 says, “He who speaks in a tongue edifies himself.” Edify means “to build up, enable, empower and charge.”

The gift of the Holy Spirit places a power-producing plant within us that generates the power of God like the Hoover Dam pumps electricity. The dam’s water gate is like our mouths, while the turbine inside the gate is like our tongues. The dynamo in the heart of the dam is like the Holy Spirit within our spirits. 

The fast twirling of the turbine’s blades is what causes the rotation of the great dynamo in the heart of the dam. The dynamo is what generates the power, but it’s the turning of the turbine that starts and keeps the dynamo going.

This is what happens when we are filled with the Spirit, open the water gate of our mouths and allow those rivers of living water to flow. As the turbine of our tongues begins to churn out the language of the Spirit, it starts a dynamo activity in our spirits that generates the power of God within us.

From this illustration we understand more what Jesus had in mind when He said, “You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you” (Acts 1:8, NKJV). You shall receive power after the Holy Spirit enables you to generate the power of God by praying in tongues. The reservoir is filled with good evangelical water for cleansing, baptizing and fishing for new converts, but it does not produce any power until it flows through the water gate and turns the turbine.

The spirit language is the activator of the gifts of the Spirit. In short, speaking in tongues grows the fruit of faith, which is the procurer of all God’s promises. read more

I Burn For You

I Burn For You

How God—that all-consuming, living flame of love—shows His unrelenting desire for people.

God’s love is an intimidating topic to grasp because it is the very subject of God Himself. He is love, and everything He is and does is love. He is a vast, shoreless ocean of love, and we have only heard the mere whisper of His passion. As a student of His love I feel too small to even begin to try and describe Him. But on one aspect, I’ll try. 

As I began to study God’s love I found one of the characteristics that motivates me the most is His unrelenting love. His pursuit of my heart and His burning desire for me has changed my life entirely. I remember when I first began to see the God of burning desire—it was revolutionary. I was in a Bible school class in Kansas City in which Mike Bickle taught on the Song of Solomon. I’d never heard God described as one who had burning desire or a ravished heart for people. I had never heard love defined like that.  read more

The Secret Blessing of Generosity

In Genesis 13 (Read Genesis 13), Lot chose selfishly and moved his family to the choicest land—near the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, whose inhabitants sinned greatly. Abram, Lot’s uncle, generously let him go; and for his generosity, God blessed Abram and allowed him to settle his family in a safe area. 

Later, God used Abram to rescue Lot from the evil cities before He destroyed them. Abram learned the blessings of being generous and following God’s plan. read more

Take Up Your Cross

Jesus called us to live as if we are already dead. Have you discovered the freedom of the crucified life?

 
One of the primary marks of Christ's life was His continual declaration that He was born to die. He taught His disciples that the avenue to greatness was always found in the willingness to forfeit one's own desires and serve those who are the nearest and often the least in the world's eyes.

The call to partnership in His kingdom was initiated by an invitation to "deny [yourself], and take up [your] cross [an instrument of death], and follow Me" (Mark 8:34-35, NKJV). Such an offer is quite a bit different from the man-centered, need-oriented invitations that permeate the landscape of modern church culture today. read more

Learning How To Heal

Divine healing is a gift from God, an act of His mercy and grace. Our part is to listen to Him and carry out His Word.·

The most fundamental skill required for healing is openness to the Holy Spirit, emptying oneself and receiving His leading and power. Frequently I encounter people who want a method for healing, a formula they can follow that guarantees them automatic healings. But divine healing is neither automatic nor dependent on our right actions; it is rooted in a relationship with God and the power of His Spirit. Divine healing is a gift from God, an act of His mercy and grace. Our part is to listen to Him and carry out His Word. When I speak of listening to God's voice, I mean developing a practice of communion with the Father in which we are constantly asking, "Lord, what do You want me to do now? How do You want to use me? How should I pray? Whom do You want me to evangelize? Is there someone You want to heal?"


Sometimes the Holy Spirit gives me specific insights about people for whom I am praying. These come as impressions—specific words, pictures in my mind's eye, or physical sensations in my body that correspond to problems in their bodies. These impressions help me know who and what to pray for as well as how to pray. I do not imply that I have an infallible "hotline" to God, and that I always hear His voice and follow His leading. But I am open to God, listening to Him, confident that He wants to lead us to minister to others. read more

Why Fast?


During the years that Jesus walked this earth, He devoted time to teaching His disciples the principles of the kingdom of God, principles that conflict with those of this world. In the Beatitudes, specifically in Matthew 6, Jesus provided the pattern by which each of us is to live as a child of God. That pattern addressed three specific duties of a Christian: giving, praying and fasting.

Jesus said, "When you give" and "When you pray" and "When you fast." He made it clear that fasting, like giving and praying, was a normal part of Christian life. As much attention should be given to fasting as is devoted to giving and to praying. read more

What Are Your Kingdom Priorities?

When your priorities are out of order your life is filled with confusion.

My first word of counsel to every leader is drawn from biblical wisdom—"seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you" (Matt. 6:33). When a person's priorities are out of order, his life will be filled with confusion and God's given purpose will not be fulfilled.

Confirm your status as a citizen of the kingdom of God by acknowledging His authority over your time, talents, opportunities and treasures. When seeking the kingdom of God and His righteousness is top priority, you will be able to experience faithfulness as a steward of God's blessings.

Second, "trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths" (Prov. 3:5-6). It is essential for servant leaders in the kingdom to maintain an ongoing, intimate relationship of trust and obedience to God. Challenging situations tempt us to lean upon our own understanding. Always remember that God has promised to be with us at all times and that He delights in our acknowledging and trusting in Him. The kingdom is His kingdom, and we belong to Him; we are God's responsibility.

God's call to ministry is a call to preparation. It is not a call to success, but a call to faithfulness.

Bishop George McKinney is pastor of St. Stephen's Cathedral Church of God in Christ in San Diego and a member of the denomination's 12-member General Board.

 

 

Read other tips for effective spiritual leadership here. read more

Baptism 2.0 Basics

Baptism 2.0 Basics

Answering the most frequently asked questions about the baptism of the Holy Spirit.

My life is filled with amazing people. Recently, a widow I know pointed to a midnight intruder and boldly commanded him to leave her house. He did! Another friend refused to panic when her teenage daughter ran away. As she was calling the police, the Holy Spirit revealed the girl’s exact location to her. Another woman—a shy single mom—overcame a 12-year battle with bulimia. Today she teaches a weekly Bible study to women with addictions. Are these people superheroes? No, they’re just ordinary Christians who have received the extraordinary baptism of the Holy Spirit. 

When people are baptized in the Holy Spirit, they are filled with God’s ability. Natural people do supernatural things. Lives of chaos find serenity and purpose. Shy people become bold, and selfish people experience radical changes in their priorities. Sadly, many Christians today don’t seek the baptism of the Holy Spirit because they don’t understand it. They don’t know what they’re missing! Here are some of the questions I hear most frequently. read more

Help! I Think I’m Possessed!

Help! I Think I’m Possessed!

Demons are real—and Christians aren’t immune from their influence. But thanks to Christ’s work on the cross, we are guaranteed victory over Satan and his minions.

 

One of the most popular television series in recent years is Survivor. A group of people are left in a desolate location and must survive on what is at hand. As part of the intrigue, only one can win the large cash prize when the contest ends. As the show progresses, the contestants never know their friends from their enemies.

We live in a beautiful world, yet to survive we, too, must know our enemies. Our worst adversaries are not people but invisible forces of darkness. These forces carry out the orders of a former ally who turned against God. Satan and his evil minions are very near and ready to take out God’s soldiers. Yet God has given us the resources to survive and thrive.

To defeat our enemy, we must know him and be fully aware of the weapons at our disposal. Revelation 12:9 reaches back before time: “So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast out to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him” (NKJV). These fallen angels are given several different names in Scripture—demons, principalities, powers, ruler(s) of darkness, wicked spirits, unclean spirits, among other descriptions—and there are many of them. According to Revelation 12:4, one-third of the innumerable hosts of angels fell. The “stars of heaven” refer symbolically to the angels.

Jesus Christ regularly confronted demons as an integral part of His ministry. Luke 4:18 records how He launched His public ministry by quoting Isaiah 61:1-2: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor ... to set at liberty those who are oppressed.” Obviously Jesus knew His purpose was to rescue humanity from the bondage and oppression of the enemy.

Jesus confronts demons at least nine times in the New Testament, notably in Luke 8:26-39 when He cast a legion of demons out of a man and into a herd of pigs. The demons had the power to torment and create mental disorders. Yet the glorious truth is that they had to obey the commands of Jesus Christ.

Can people still be demon-possessed? The short answer is yes. The Greek word describing the condition of a person affected by a demon is “daimonizomai,” which was translated as “demon-possessed” in the King James Version. According to Bible scholars, the word is in present tense with an active voice and a passive ending. A person in this condition can be described as in “a demon-controlled passivity.” He or she is being controlled to the a point of passivity by a demon.

Because Christians have the Holy Spirit living in them, the degree of demonization is limited in believers. A Christian can be controlled by the enemy, but not owned. This is important to remember because one of Satan’s great strategies is to get Christians to believe that they are immune to demonic influence. A Spirit-filled believer walking in obedience to Christ is absolutely protected from the enemy. However, while a disobedient Christian’s spirit is protected from the enemy, his mind and body can be subject to attack.

A Christian can “give place to the devil” (Eph. 4:27). When a Christian lives with unconfessed, habitual sin the enemy moves in to that place in the believer’s life. The enemy constructs a thought pattern around that sin or attitude. Second Corinthians 10:4-5 describes that house of thoughts as a stronghold. Demons can take up residence in that stronghold in the believer’s life. These demons don’t possess the Christian anymore than a cockroach can possess a house. Cockroaches are dirty and troublesome, but they don’t own the house. In the same way, demons can harass, oppress and depress the believer, but they can’t damn him or her.

Symptoms of a Bound Life

After spending a decade doing hand-to-hand combat with satanic forces, I have discovered several symptoms of demonic operation. Some of these indicators can be signs of mental illness, which isn’t always the result of demonic attack. But when good psychological care from Christian professionals doesn’t result in a cure, it is often possible that the person’s symptoms could point to demonic operation.

Drawn from the account of the demoniac of Gadara in Mark 5, the first six symptoms are extreme. The man in that passage was controlled by a legion of demons and had been chained in a cemetery because of his erratic and violent behavior. Other signs of demonic activity may be subtler, but they are no less dangerous and shouldn’t be ignored.

1. Incapacity for normal living (see Mark 5:1-5). The actions of legion made him unsuitable for normal social interaction with friends and family. An unusual desire for solitude, accompanied by a deep loneliness, will often set in. The person will often become very passive with no desire to change.

2. Extreme behavior (see Mark 5:4). An explosive temper and extreme uncontrollable anger could be signs of demonic activity. These are dangerous behaviors that control the individual and affect surrounding loved ones.

3. Personality changes (see Mark 5:9,12). Changes in personality, extreme or mild, may be evidence of demonic activity. And though all cases of multiple personality may not be demonic, in most cases demon activity is involved.

4. Restlessness and insomnia (see Mark 5:5). The demoniac cried in the tombs “night and day.” He couldn’t sleep. Insomnia can be a sign of a physical or spiritual problem. God has gifted His children with sleep (see Ps. 127:2). So when you can’t sleep night after night and there is no medical reason, the devil may be tormenting you.

5. A terrible inner anguish (see Mark 5:5). Grief and anguish are normal emotions. Yet persistent unresolved anguish that won’t leave after normal therapies of counseling, encouragement and prayer could well be demonic.

6. Self-inflicted injury and suicide. In Mark 5:5, the demonized man was cutting himself. And in Mark 9:14-29, a man’s son was both deaf and mute because of a demon, and the evil spirit would often throw the boy into fire and water to destroy him. Demons can cause people to injure themselves and even incite suicide.

7. Unexplained illness. When medical testing produces no physical cause for an illness, then we should look to the mind and spirit for answers. Sometimes illnesses are psychological, and good counseling can result in a cure. Other times the battle is with demons. Luke 13:11-16 tells the story of a “daughter of Abraham” who was afflicted by a “spirit of infirmity.” Although she was a child of God, she was tormented by illnesses caused by this class of demons.

8. Addictive behavior. Addiction to alcohol, drugs, sex, food, gambling and other things opens the door to demonic influence and control. I’m not saying demons cause all of these problems. But anything that causes one to be out of control opens that person to infernal control.

9. Abnormal sexual behavior. The spirit of harlotry is mentioned several times in Ezekiel 16:20-51. This spirit infected the nation of Israel with the sins of Sodom and even motivated the people to sacrifice their own children. Homosexuality, adultery, fornication and even infanticide were all inspired by the spirit of harlotry (see Hos. 4:12). And nations and families are sold into spiritual bondage by the witchcraft of this spirit (see Nah. 3:4). When we play around with sexual sin, we open ourselves to this demonic spirit. We must battle this principality that dominates our nation.

10. Defeat, failure and depression in the Christian life. It is Satan’s purpose to rob us of the victorious life that is ours in Christ (see 2 Cor. 2:10-14). This symptom is often manifested by an inability to praise and worship, which is a weapon of warfare. In Psalm 106:47, David asks God for salvation so he could “triumph in [God’s] praise.”

11. Occult involvement and behavior. Occult involvement is clearly a symptom of demonic control. Deuteronomy 18:9-12 catalogs the works of the occult, including child sacrifice, fortune-telling, sorcery and calling up the dead.

12. Speech difficulties. In Matthew 9:32-33, Jesus rebuked a demon, and the mute man was able to speak. Speech difficulties may be physical, emotional or mental, but in some cases they are demonic. Extreme language and cursing also may be prompted by the enemy.

13. Doctrinal error. First Timothy 4:1 warns that in the last days deceiving spirits will teach the doctrines of demons. Today religious cults and charlatans abound. The reason these deceivers draw many people is the power of the demonic that teaches them.

14. Religious legalism. In Galatians 3, the church at Galatia had forsaken a faith ministry that resulted in the miraculous for a law ministry of rules and regulations. Paul classified this error as witchcraft. Some deeply religious people are under the bondage of tradition, man-made rules and outward appearances. Demons thrive in this kind of environment, especially demons of control. Whenever something is substituted for faith in the finished work of Christ, it is a doctrine of demons.

The Liberating Truth

Ignoring the truth about demonic forces is frivolous and perilous, but at the heart of spiritual warfare is this truth: The battle has already been won! Satan and the forces of hell are on a short leash because of what Christ did at Calvary. We are not fighting for victory, but rather from victory. The powers of darkness were conquered at the cross. Colossians 2:15 says, “Having disarmed principalities and powers, [Christ] made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it.”

The blood of Jesus wiped out our sin and left Satan powerless. Every blow that drove the nails into His holy hands was also a nail in the coffin of Satan. The glorious truth is that you and I can enforce that victory. We can see Satan in rapid retreat, and the steps to victory are simple.

Submit to the authority of Christ. Before a believer can effectively put Satan to flight, he must be under authority himself. James 4:6 says, “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” The word proud in that verse describes a self-sufficient person who runs his own life. The word resist means “to arrange an army against.” God has placed an army against the self-sufficient.

A rebellious, sinning Christian cannot put Satan to flight. The Christian who lives in obedience under God-given authority can send the enemy fleeing. The secret to Jesus’ power was that He lived under the will of the Father. He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death (see Phil. 2:8). After His submission came His exaltation. Philippians 2:10 declares that every realm is now under Christ’s authority—the spiritual realm, the natural realm and the demonic realm. Before we can stand in authority, we must submit ourselves to God completely.

Resist Satan. James 4:7 says: “Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” We must learn that we can’t hide from Satan. We can’t outrun him, and we can’t get away from him on this planet. How, then, do we resist the enemy?

 

  •  
    • Live, under authority, an obedient and clean life.
    • Stand against Satan in the authority of Christ.
    • Remain steadfast in faith, believing God for the victory.
    • Verbally attack Satan with the Word of God and the work of Christ.
    • Give no place to Satan; give up no ground whatever.
    • Demand in the authority of Christ that he leave.
    • Give thanks and praise to God and watch the devil run.

 

When believers are set free from bondage, it releases the flow of God’s life into the church. The dry places are where demons live, according to Luke 11:24. When believers experience the liberating power of the truth of the good news of Christ, then the power of God is released through them. God promises revival and a harvest to those who come home from bondage.

Satan and his minions are defeated foes. The victory has been won at the cross. The battle rages on earth, but we don’t have to live in bondage and defeat. We can know the joy of victory and release. 


Ron Phillips is pastor of Abba’s House in Hixson, Tenn., and author of Everyone’s Guide to Demons and Spiritual Warfare, which releases in September.


Find out how to recognize and defeat the seven demons that attack the church at warfare.charismamag.com  read more



The Cycle of Love

Sometimes my ministry has good cycles in which it goes well, and sometimes it has bad cycles when I cannot sense the anointing of God's presence and the people seem bored. Sometimes my circumstances have cycles of blessing, and sometimes I have life cycles where I can hardly see any blessing at all. Sometimes my health is very good, and sometimes it has been assaulted. Sometimes my most important relationships are healthy; sometimes they are being undermined. But none of these circumstances ever change the fact, the bedrock of truth, that I am loved and that I am a lover. When pressures come in all areas of life, the confession that brings me comfort, the confession that brings me out of despair, is this: I am loved. I am a lover. Therefore, I am successful.

 

Your love, O Lord, reaches to the heavens, your faithfulness to the skies. Your righteousness is like the mighty mountains, your justice like the great deep. —Psalm 36:5-6

{ PRAYER STARTER }

Father, nothing compares in life to the fact that You utterly and unconditionally love me! As long as I remember Your love, I know that I will be successful before You. read more

Why You're Not Satisfied

People who are born again do not automatically have a sense of the nearness of God.

Intimacy with Jesus is the context in which the deep longing in our hearts for more of Him is progressively satisfied. People who are born again do not automatically have a sense of the nearness of God. Effective ministry produces a satisfaction that comes through helping others and being useful in God's kingdom, but it is not the same as the satisfaction that comes from encountering God in our inner man. The Holy Spirit may give spiritual gifts to believers and release His power through us, but these things do not ultimately satisfy the desire in our hearts for more of God. When our spiritual hunger is not being satisfied, we will experience frustrating spiritual boredom and restlessness.

{ PRAYER STARTER }

You alone can satisfy the longing of my heart, Jesus. All I want is more of You. Let me live my life in intimacy with You.

Nothing but an intimate relationship with Jesus
will satisfy this inner cry birthed
by the Holy Spirit. read more

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