By Rick Joyner [ reprinted with permission ]
Witchcraft has dramatically increased throughout the world in recent years. One of the expressed goals of this movement is to dilute, subjugate and destroy Biblical Christianity. Many Christians are presently suffering attacks in some form from those who practice witchcraft. Discerning the nature of these attacks and knowing how to overcome them is becoming important for all believers.
We are not to be ignorant of the enemy's schemes ( 2 Corinthians 2:11), but "Let us be on the alert. Our adversary, the devil, prowls about like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Let us resist him, firm in our faith." (1 Peter 5:8-9). Understanding Satan's schemes significantly increases our advantage in the battle. The entire church age has been one of spiritual warfare and it is increasing as we approach the end of it. Satan is now being cast out of the heavenlies and down to the earth where he is coming with great wrath, but we need not fear He who is in us is much greater than he who is in the world. He who is least in the kingdom of God has more power than any antichrist. But just as the greatest military power today is vulnerable if it does not recognize the enemy's attack, we too are vulnerable if we do not recognize Satan's schemes. The only way that he can defeat us is by our own ignorance or complacency. As we maintain our position in Christ, take on the full armor of God and remain vigilant, we will not only stand but prevail against the gates of hell.
What is Witchcraft?
Witchcraft is counterfeit spiritual authority; it is using an unholy spirit to dominate, manipulate or control others.
The apostle Paul named witchcraft (also called "sorcery") as one of the works of the flesh (Galatians 5:20). It does have its origin in the carnal nature though it usually degenerates quickly into demonic power. When we try to use emotional pressure to manipulate others it is a basic form of witchcraft. When we use hype or soul power to enlist service, even for the work of God, it is witchcraft. When the businessmen SCHEME to find pressure points while pursuing a deal, this too can be witchcraft. Many of the manipulative tactics promoted as sales tactics in marketing are basic forms of witchcraft.
The basic defense against counterfeit spiritual authority is to walk in true spiritual authority. Establishing our lives on truth and trust in the lord to accomplish what concerns us is essential if we are going to be free of the influence and pressure of witchcraft.
It is written that Jesus is seated upon the throne of David. This is of course a metaphor, as Jesus does not sit upon the literal throne that David sat on, but David established a position of true spiritual authority that would ultimately issue in the kingdom of God. David did for spiritual authority what Abraham did for faith. How did David establish a seat of true authority? Basically, he simply refused to take authority or seek influence for himself, but utterly trusted in God to establish him in the position that God had ordained for him. David did not lift his own hand to seek recognition or influence, and neither must we if we are going to walk in true spiritual authority and not mere human political power.
Any authority or influence that we gain by our own manipulation or self-promotion will be a stumbling block to us and our ability to receive a true commission and authority from God. If we are going to walk in true spiritual authority, like David, we will have to utterly trust in the Lord to establish us in it and in His time. As Peter exhorted, "Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time." (1 Peter 5:6)
Einstein once made an observation that may be more important than his theory of relativity, though it is utterly simple. He declared that "premature responsibility breeds superficiality." There is possibly nothing more devastating to our calling and our potential for walking in true ministry than to seek influence or authority prematurely.
When the Lord promotes He also supplies grace and wisdom to carry the authority. There is no greater security available than knowing that God knows us and that He has established our ministry. There are few things that can breed insecurity faster than trying to maintain a position that we gained by our own promotion or manipulation, which is the root of most of the territorial preservation and divisions that presently exist in the body of Christ.
Being established in true spiritual authority is a fortress that cannot be penetrated by the enemy. Paul explained that "the God of Peace will soon crush Satan under your feet" (Romans 16:20). When we know that we have been established by God, we have a peace that utterly crushes the enemy. Those who have established themselves in a position of authority or influence have little peace; the more our illegally gained influence increases, the more striving and manipulating it will take to hold it together. Anything that we do through manipulation, hype or soul power, regardless of how noble or spiritual our goals are, is done in the counterfeit spiritual authority of witchcraft and is doomed to ultimate failure.
Therefore, the first principle in being delivered from the influence of witchcraft is to repent of all the ways that we ourselves have used it and to keep it out of out own life and ministry. Satan cannot cast out Satan; witchcraft in even its most evil and diabolical forms will have an open door into our life if we ourselves are using it by manipulating or controlling for the sake of gaining a position. We may be using such devices under the seemingly justifiable reasoning of trying to build the church, but God is not fooled and neither is the enemy. What God is building is not raised up by might or power, but by His Spirit. Whatever we build by other means is an affront to the cross and will ultimately oppose that which the Spirit is doing. The flesh wars against the Spirit, regardless of how good we try to make the flesh look.
USING THE GIFT OF DISCERNMENT
The gift of discernment of spirits is a primary gift of the Holy Spirit enabling us to distinguish the spiritual source of influences in the church. Much of what is called "discernment" today is really SUSPICION rooted more in territorial preservation and self-preservation than in the Holy Spirit. This is because so much of the authority that is exercised in the church today is counterfeit, which causes those who use it to be striving, fearful, and intimated by anyone that they cannot control.
True spiritual discernment is rooted in love that "is kind, patient, not jealous, does not brag, is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly, does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things" (1 Corinthians 13:4-7). Many consider that the readiness to "believe all things, hope all things and endure all things" will lead to more of a naivete than to discernment, but the reverse is actually true. Unless we are seeing through the eyes of God's love, we are not seeing clearly and we will not interpret accurately what we see. True discernment can only operate through God's love. God's love is not to be confused with unsanctified mercy which gives approval to the things that God disapproves of. God's love is utterly pure and easily distinguishes between the pure and the impure, but it always does it for the right reasons. Insecurity, self-preservation, self-promotion, unhealed wounds, unforgiveness, bitterness, etc. will all confuse and neutralize true spiritual discernment.
Most who are called to ministry endure much rejection and misunderstanding. Learning to overcome rejection just as the Lord did, by praying for the forgiveness of His persecutors, is essential if we are to walk in the Spirit, in true spiritual authority, and a true ministry. If we are to accomplish the purposes of God, we must come to the level of maturity where "the love of Christ controls us" (2 Corinthians 5:14). Love does not take into account he wrongs suffered and is not motivated by rejection, which drives us to retaliation or to try to prove ourselves, which is the first step in a fall from walking in true authority. As the Lord Jesus stated, "He who speaks from himself seeks his own glory [literal "recognition"]; but he who is seeking the glory [recognition] of the One who sent him, he is true and there is no unrighteousness in him "( John 7:18). There is nothing that will more quickly destroy our ability to walk in true spiritual authority than self-seeking, self-promotion or self-preservation. Learning to deal with rejection is mandatory if we are to walk in a true ministry. Rejection is an opportunity to grow in grace and die a little more to ambition, pride and other motives which will so quickly color our revelation. If we embrace rejection as the discipline of the Lord, we will grow in grace and love. If we rebel against this discipline, we may enter into witchcraft.
THE FEAR OF MAN LEADS TO WITCHCRAFT
King Saul is a good example of how one with a true ministry and anointing from God can fall into counterfeit spiritual authority, or witchcraft. When he was commanded to wait for Samuel before offering the sacrifice, he succumbed to the pressure and offered it prematurely, because "I saw that the people were scattering from meand the Philistines were assembling" (1 Samuel 13:11). Most who fall to this depart from the course at the same point. When we begin to fear the people or the circumstances more than we fear God, we will fall from walking in true authority. When we start to fear the people leaving more than we fear God leaving we have departed from true faith.
Because witchcraft is basically rooted in the fear of man, and "the fear of man is a snare "(Proverbs 29:25), those who begin to operate in witchcraft are trapped - fear is the snare. The bigger the project or ministry that we have built with hype, manipulation or control spirits, the more we will fear anything or anyone that we cannot manipulate or control. Those who are caught in this deadly trap will fear those who walk in the true anointing and authority the most, because those who walk in true spiritual authority are the least affected by the manipulation or control spirits. That is why Saul became enraged at David and was consumed with destroying him, even though David was "but a flea" at the time. As the manipulation and control spirits increase their dominion, so will the paranoia of those who are so trapped. They will become irrationally consumed with driving out or destroying anyone who threatens their control.
Those who receive their authority, recognition, or security from men will, like Saul, end up in the witch's house; that is why Samuel warned Saul that "rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft" (1 Samuel 15:23). When one in spiritual authority rebels against the Holy Spirit, the void will be filled by the counterfeit spiritual authority of witchcraft. This may begin as simple reliance on hype and soul power, but without repentance it can end up in the most diabolical forms of presumption and rebellion, as we see in the case of King Saul. Saul killed the true priests, persecuted the ones whose heart were really after the Lord and spent his last night in the house of a witch as the natural conclusion of the direction his life had taken.
Spiritual authority is a dangerous occupation. If we are wise, like David, we will not seek a position of authority, and we will not even take one which is offered until we are certain that the Lord is the One offering it. Satan tempts everyone called by God with the same temptation he offered to Jesus; if we will bow down to him and his ways he will give us authority over kingdoms. God has called us to rule over kingdoms too, but His way leads to the cross and can only be attained if we become servants of all. Satan's temptation is to offer the quick and easy path to what God has in fact called us to attain.
One of the most frequent phrases attributed to David was "he inquired of the Lord".
On the few occasions when David made a major decision without inquiring of the Lord, the consequences were devastating. The higher the position of authority the more dangerous it is, and the more people affected by even the seemingly insignificant decisions. True spiritual authority is not an honor to be sought; it is a burden to be carried. Many who seek authority and influence do not know what they are asking for. Their immaturity can be their doom if it is given to them before the time.
Even though David lived a thousand years before the age of grace, he knew grace possibly as well as anyone who has lived in this age, yet he too made mistakes which cost thousands of lives. It was probably because Solomon had observed his father that the one thing he desired was wisdom to rule over God's people. Anyone called to a position of leadership in the church must be of the same devotion. Even without being in a position of spiritual authority, presumption can kill us; if we are in a position of authority it almost certainly will lead to our fall and can lead to the fall of many others as well.
The gift of a word of knowledge can be an awesome demonstration of power, and does carry a great deal of excitement, but those who are called to walk in spiritual authority would do well to seek the gift of a word of wisdom even more than words of knowledge to accomplish the work of the Lord, but we must have the wisdom to properly apply it.
HUMILITY IS A SAFETY NET
Those who attain prominence before humility will fall. "God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble" (James 4:6). Therefore, if we have wisdom we will seek humility before position. True authority operates on the grace of God, and the more authority
We walk in, the more grace we need. We only have true spiritual authority to the degree that the King lives within us. True spiritual authority is not a position; it is grace. Counterfeit spiritual authority stands on its position instead of grace. The highest spiritual authority, Jesus, used His position to lay down His life. He commanded those who would come after Him to take up their crosses to do the same.
There is a simple distinguishing factor between the false prophet and the true; the false use their gifts and the people for themselves; true prophets use their gifts and themselves for the people. Again, self-seeking, self-promotion and self-preservation are the most destructive forces to true ministry. Even if we have been anointed by God like King Saul was, we too can fall to witchcraft if these gain control over us.
PROTECTION FROM CHARISMATIC WITCHCRAFT
Not only must those in leadership be wary of using witchcraft, they must also be aware that they will be the primary target of those who do. It is an enemy we must watch for from within and without. It is just as subtle when it attacks from without as when it takes ground from within. This form of sorcery is seldom what we call black magic, but is usually a form of "white witchcraft." This includes well meaning people who do not have the confidence to be straightforward and have therefore fallen to subtle forms of manipulation to gain influence.
One prominent form of white witchcraft which is common in the church is "charismatic witchcraft". This has possibly done more damage to the body of Christ than any other single factor, without yet being fully understood or combated. This is a pseudo-spirituality used to gain influence or control by using a super-spiritual mask. This is a source of false prophecies, dreams and visions which ultimately destroy or neutralize the work, or bring the leadership to the point where they overreact so as to despise prophecy altogether. The person using this form of witchcraft will almost always think that he has the mind of the Lord and that the leadership is in rebellion.
Those in spiritual leadership are not only in danger of substituting witchcraft for true authority, but they will also be the main target of those who do practice it. One of the prominent examples of witchcraft in Scripture is Jezebel. She was the wife of Ahab, the king of Israel, during the time of Elijah the prophet. She used her power to control her husband who was the authority over Israel. She was also able to bring such depression upon one of the greatest prophets in Israel's history that he sought death over life after his greatest spiritual victory. There is great power in this evil; those who are ignorant of it, or who presumptuously disregard its potential to affect them, are very often brought down by it, usually without ever knowing what hit them.
Ahab may have been reduced to one but Elijah was certainly no wimp. He had just single-handedly confronted and destroyed over 800 false prophets. This was one of the greatest demonstrations of God's power over evil in all of history, yet after this, one woman in the power of witchcraft was able to send the great prophet fleeing in discouragement. How could this happen? Compared tot he power of God, all of the power of the evil one would not even register on the scale! As was earlier stated, the newest babe in Christ has more power dwelling in him than all of the anti-Christs put together. How is it that we are still overcome by evil? It is because Satan does not confront God's people with power; he seduces them with deception.
Compared to the 800 false prophets, who was this one woman to challenge Elijah? Certainly he could have destroyed her even more easily than he did them. It was not rational for Elijah to have become so discouraged because of Jezebel's threat, but that is precisely the point; this attack did not come through reasoning; it was a spiritual attack; Reasoning usually has little to do with the power of witchcraft.
Jezebel slammed Elijah immediately after his greatest victory and he was overpowered. We will be most vulnerable to this attack after a great victory because it is then that we often drop our guard. The night of our Lord's betrayal, Peter had single-handedly charged a Roman cohort, which consisted of 800 men! Peter was no coward, yet before morning a little servant girl had intimidated him into denying his lord, when just the night before, he had risked his life for Him. Peter had boasted that he would never deny the Lord even if all of the others did. Pride comes before the fall because "God resists the proud" and no one can stand before His resistance. If we stand at all, it is only by grace. "Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall" (1 Corinthians 10:12). It is after the great victories that we will be the most vulnerable to this attack because it is then that we can be most subject to pride. .
Let us understand, God did not make Peter fall all He did was remove the grace by which he was standing. The removal of God's grace in any of our lives would result in our quick collapse too. Because "God gives His grace to the humble," humility is the foundation upon which the grace of God is built in our life. Pride erodes that foundation and will ultimately result in the collapse of all that is built. So our first defense against the attacks of the enemy through witchcraft or any other tactic, is to maintain the humility of knowing that we are only standing and only able to labor by God's grace. Pride leaves a breech in our armor that the enemy will be able to hit us through.
The attacks of witchcraft come in a series of stings. The successive stings are meant to hit the very place that we have been weakened by the previous stings. In this way they build upon each other until the composite result overwhelms the target. The stings of witchcraft usually come in the following order
Loss of Vision
This process can happen quickly, as it did with Elijah, but it usually works more slowly, which makes it even harder to discern. But if we are not ignorant of the enemy's schemes, we will not continue to be subject to them. When these symptoms begin to make inroads into our lives, we must resist the enemy until he flees. If we do not resist him, we will be the one fleeing, just like Elijah did.
The source of witchcraft against us may not be the obvious satanic cults or New Age operatives. It can come from well-meaning, though deceived Christians who are in fact praying against us instead of for us. There is power in this because whatever is released on earth is released in heaven, and whatever is bound on earth is bound in heaven. If intercession is motivated buy a spirit of control or manipulation, it is witchcraft, and its power is just as real as that of black magic.
Other sources of charismatic witchcraft can be gossip, political maneuvering, jealousy, etc., and they can have an effect on us whether we allow ourselves to be manipulated by them or not. For example, if we refuse to be manipulated by someone with a control spirit, but do become resentful or bitter towards that person, then the enemy has still caused us to fall and the discouragement, disorientation, depression, etc. will come upon us just as surely as it would if we had submitted to the control spirit. We are defeated by the enemy when he can get us to respond in any spirit other than the Holy Spirit, whose fruit is love, joy, peace, etc. The enemy's strategy is to get us to depart from the Holy Spirit and living by the fruit of the Spirit to try to combat him on his own terms. Satan cannot cast out Satan; resentment will never cast out Jezebel in fact it will even increase her power.
That is why the basic strategy we must use to begin freeing ourselves form the power of witchcraft is to bless those who curse us. This does not mean bless their works, but that we pray for them and not against them. If the enemy can get us to retaliate, he will then have
us using the same spirit, and we will have multiplied the very evil we are trying to cast out. We are not warring against flesh and blood and the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but spiritual. When we begin to pray blessing upon the people who are attacking us, then the evil power of control and manipulation is broken over them and us. We must not return evil for evil, but overcome evil with good.
In the following parts of the study, we will elaborate more on both the nature and characteristics of witchcraft and the Biblical strategy for overcoming it.
PART II Understanding and Combating New Age Witchcraft
The New Age Movement is basically a combination of witchcraft and Hinduism disguised to make it acceptable to white collar professionals. There is an important reason why this form of spiritualism is targeting this group. For almost 5,800 years of the earth's 6,000 year recorded history, nearly 95% of all workers were agricultural. In just a little over a century that statistic has been reversed so that now less than 5% of the workers in the West are agricultural. This change is the result of technological advances. The 5% who work in agriculture now produce more than the 95% could in the last century. In the mid 1950's white collar workers exceeded the number of blue collar workers in the West. Since that time this majority has grown until it is now estimated that blue collar workers will go the way of agricultural workers in the near future, composing only a very small fraction of society. When the Lord predicted that "knowledge will increase," few understood the degree to which this would happen. Now information is the most valuable commodity in the world, and the job of accumulating, interpreting, packaging and transferring knowledge is the largest industry on earth.
Those involved in the knowledge industry are not only the most numerous, but are the most wealthy and most powerful as well they are also the group that the church has become increasingly unsuccessful in reaching. This has helped to feed the proliferation of the New Age and other cults. Man was created to have fellowship with God who is Spirit; because of this, there is a spiritual void in man that creates a spiritual hunger for the supernatural. The day of supernatural neutrality is over; those who do not know the true supernatural power of God will become increasingly subject to the evil and counterfeit supernatural powers of the enemy. Those whose fears or doctrines have led them to avoid the supernatural power of God will find themselves, and especially their children, easy prey to evil supernatural power.
Paul explained, "For the kingdom of God does not consist in words, but in POWER" (I Corinthians 4:20). Satan knows this and is quite content to fight the battle on the level of words (doctrines, etc.). Regardless of how true or how well we can argue about our doctrines, Satan has little problem conquering those who do not know the power of God, because these do not really know the kingdom of God the kingdom does not consist of words, but power. Those who really believe the Bible will walk in power. Righteousness is the result of believing in our heart, not our minds, and those who do not know the power of God only believe in Him in their minds.
In light of the foolishness of the pentecostal, charismatic, full gospel and the third wave movements, who have all known the power of God, it is easy to understand why many would shy away from the gifts of the Spirit. But this, too, is one of the tests that separate the true believers from those who just know creeds or doctrines God has called the foolish things of the world to confound the wise. Only the humble will come to what He is doing, and He will only give His grace to them.
Churches which have rejected the supernatural power of God today have become increasingly irrelevant and unable to reach the world in an increasingly supernatural conflict. The more secularized society becomes, the more it actually magnifies the hunger in man for fellowship with the supernatural. That is why atheists tend to be drawn to the most vase forms of witchcraft and the black arts, which they are deceived into thinking are powers that are resident within man, but are actually demonic. The denominations and movements within the church which have rejected the supernatural power of God are almost all shrinking as they have become irrelevant and boring even to their own people, with little or no power to attract converts.
Many of those churches and denominations that have rejected the power of God have already succumbed to influences from the New Age Movement. Others are succumbing to the spirit of the age in other forms, not only tolerating the perverted and unbelievers as members, but actually ordaining them as pastors and leaders. Contrary to this, the denominations and movements that preach and walk in the supernatural power of God are not only growing, but are by far the fastest growing religious movements in the world when measured as a single group.
Paul the apostle declared, "My message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstrations of the Spirit and power, that your faith should not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God" (1 Corinthians 2:4-5). The conflict between the kingdom of God and the kingdom of evil is not just a conflict between truth and error (though it is that too), but it is a supernatural power confrontation, both sides of which are seeking to fill the spiritual void in man created by the fall.
The entire history of God's dealings with men have been demonstrations of supernatural power. It is a contradiction to claim to be a Biblical people if we do not walk in the supernatural power of God. True Christianity is not just words but a demonstration of God's love and power to save, heal and deliver. Jesus stated that as the Father had sent Him into the world, He has sent us into the world (John 17:18). Jesus did not just talk about God's power to heal and save, He demonstrated it. If we are going to preach the gospel, we are to preach it as He did, demonstrating God's love and power. When He sent out His disciples, it was to heal the sick and cast out demons as they preached the kingdom. He does not change, and He has not changed the way He sends His true messengers.
Many of the Biblical prophecies concerning the end of the age address the supernatural nature of the times. The church that does not walk in power will become increasingly inadequate for dealing with the times and confronting the powers that come against them. To overcome the increasing power of the enemy we must "earnestly desire spiritual gifts, especially that you may prophesy" (1 Corinthians 14:1). "God is Spirit and those who worship Him must worship Him in spirit and truth." The first defense against the deceptive supernatural power of the enemy is to know the true power of God.
Most believers now desire spiritual gifts, but we must "earnestly "desire them if we are going to receive them. Even though most of the church is now "open" for God to use them in a demonstration of His power, He has decreed that one must ask, seek and knock in order to receive. Those who are just "open" for the Lord to use them almost never are used. Being "open" is usually a copout for those who are either too fearful or too prideful to risk failure. It takes faith and seeking if we are to receive.
It is often repeated that we are to seek the Giver and not the gifts. That sounds pious, but it is not Biblical. Certainly we are to seek the Giver more than the gifts, but we are commanded to seek the gifts also: they are not mutually exclusive. Seeking to walk in the gifts of the Spirit is one form of seeking God, and even more important, it is being obedient. Many such glib statements of apparent wisdom are rooted in the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil that has so poisoned us that we cannot eat of the Tree of Life they can actually keep us from the will of God.
Our God is supernatural and one cannot truly desire fellowship with Him without desiring fellowship with the supernatural. Even those who have been hardened by doctrines that try to justify their powerlessness with the excuse that God no longer moves supernaturally, long in their hearts for the supernatural. We were all created for fellowship in the Spirit, which is supernatural or it would not be spiritual.
Recently, some of the world's most brilliant theologians and apologists for why God no longer moves supernaturally have been won over and are now walking in power themselves, after witnessing just one genuine miracle. "Genuine" is the key here, as those who love and seek to walk in the true power of God are turned off by the fakery and hype often associated with the ministry of those who really do not yet have power.
True Christianity is the true word of God verified by the true power of God. Jesus went about to "do and teach" (Acts 1:1). He would perform miracles before He taught; He knew that people who had an undeniable encounter with God would be far more open to what He would say to them. The power Jesus and His evangelists demonstrated was used to confirm and illuminate their teaching. The same is still true; the demonstrations of God's power transform intellectual concepts into a true faith in the teachings of the Lord. It takes both the word and the power of God to change the inner man. Without both, we may change our outward behavior but our hearts remain untouched. The spiritual void in the heart must be filled by a true fellowship with God if we are going to be free of the spiritual influence and power of the enemy.
Because witchcraft is basically counterfeit spiritual authority, we will only be completely free from the power of witchcraft when we are completely submitted to the power and authority of God. If the spiritual void that is in us is not filled with the real power and real authority of God we will become increasingly subject to witchcraft in some form as we draw closer to the end of the age. The Battle of Armageddon is fought in the "valley of decision;" that day, everyone on earth will be brought to the place of making a decision. It is a power confrontation, and the choice is being made over power and authority. We will choose the power and authority of God or the power and authority of the evil one .
Each of the gifts of the Spirit that are available to the church are presently counterfeited by the enemy. Those whose lack of faith causes them to avoid spiritual gifts in order to keep from being deceived, are certain to be deceived. We must walk by faith, not fear, if we are going to stay on the path that leads to life. Fear will lead us to deception if we follow it; it takes a faith like Abraham's that will risk leaving everything we know behind in order to seek that which God is building, if we are going to find that which God is doing.
The "gates of hell" are the enemy's access doors into our lives, our congregations, movements, theology, etc. Fear is the primary gate that he uses, just as faith is used as the door for God to have access into our lives. If we are going to walk in the power of God we have got to have more faith in God to lead us into all truth than we do in the enemy to deceive us. Faith is the door to fellowship with God, because it takes faith to reach beyond the natural realm to the supernatural so that we can "see Him who is unseen."
As we walk in faith, that which we begin to see with the eyes of our heart starts to become more real to us than what we are seeing with our natural eyes. Then we start living more for the eternal than for the temporal. Those who walk in true faith are naturally going to appear foolish to those who live according to wisdom of this world, or those who are of a "natural mind." We take a major step in being delivered from the power of witchcraft when we start to see the Lord so clearly that we serve and respect Him more than anything else; then we are no longer subject to the influence, manipulation and control of those who are still earthly minded, or who move in the power of witchcraft.
Those who give themselves to study and become authorities on the nature of evil almost always become darkened and evil in nature themselves. There have been many "cult watchers" who have released a more foul spirit in the church than the cults they were watching the paranoia they have promulgated has done more to bring division and damage to the church than any cult has been able to do. These have often become the "fault finders" that Jude talked about, printing and distributing slander and gossip as if it were researched fact. As Jude warned, these are being reserved for the "black darkness" (see Jude 10-16), in which many of them have already begun to live.
We do not need to study the darkness as much as we need to study the light. Light is more powerful than darkness. When we open our shades at night darkness does not come in; light shines out into the darkness. Light will always overpower darkness. If we walk in the light we will cast out the darkness. If we walk in the true supernatural power of God we will overpower the evil supernatural power as surely as Moses confounded the sorcerers of Egypt. But Moses would not have been successful had he gone to Egypt with no power, and neither will we as we try to set men free. It will take God's power to confront and drive out the increasing power of the enemy.
Most of the cults and New Age groups are no blatantly attacking Christianity and focusing on the church as the main target of their sorcery. Not only are they infiltrating the church, but they are using most of their power to cast spells and curse those in ministry. What was described in the book The Harvest about cult members entering church meetings and performing lewd acts to intimidate and humiliate the church has already begun to happen with alarming frequency. Those groups discern the weak and powerless churches to assault in this way. The answer for these churches is simple they must seek to know and walk in God's authority and power. He who is in us is much greater than he who is in the world. As the church grows in true spiritual authority the cults are going to start fearing us far more than we do them.
Sorcerers will usually avoid direct confrontation with those who have true spiritual authority because the demons that operate through them rightly fear being humiliated and overcome themselves. But these will secretly attack those who are growing in true spiritual authority and are bearing fruit for the kingdom of God. They do this indirectly by sacrificing and cursing according to their black arts. There is power in satanic sacrifices that we must recognize if we are going to resist it. In 2 Kings 3:27, the king of Moab offered his oldest son as a burnt offering to his demon gods and it says "great wrath came against Israel and they departed" (from attacking Moab). It is not Biblical for a Christian to fear the enemy, but if we do not understand and properly respect his power, we will be vulnerable to it.
In Christ church, New Zealand there is a man called the Wizard who comes to Cathedral Square every day at the same time to claim the city for Satan and preach his evil message. He has become a national celebrity and is even shown on promotional films distributed by the Ministry of Tourism. When Francis Frangipane and I were ministering at a conference there, we went to the Square to claim the city for the Lord. Seeing the evil in the square and being provoked, we marched around it and asked the Lord to send light to that square to cast out the darkness. Later I challenged the spiritual leadership of that city that they did not have to put up with that Wizard, but that whatever they loosed in heaven would be loosed on earth. The next day a group of these leaders went to the square at the time the Wizard was to appear. He could not come that day so he sent another man to read his message. The Christians began to pray quietly as they stood by to watch. The Wizard's emissary became so confused that he could not read, finally departing, declaring that he had lost his voice.
This was a great encouragement to the believers in the Christchurch and has stirred many of them to rise up against the darkness overcoming their city. This Wizard had been confronted by Christians many times, and they would usually get in a shouting match, which the Wizard would win. At least once, the Christians ended up in a fistfight among themselves! When combating evil powers we cannot come with carnal weapons or mere human power; neither can we fight on his terms. His first strategy in a confrontation is to get us out of the Spirit and into a spirit of retaliation. We cannot overcome evil with evil; Satan cannot cast out Satan. Jesus said, "If I cast out demons by the Spirit of God then the Kingdom of God has come upon you." (Matthew 12:28) God's highest purpose is not to humiliate the Wizard, but to convert him to Jesus. God loves all men and desires for them to be saved, including the Wizards. That is why Jesus commanded us to "Bless those who curse you" (Luke 6:28) This is not to bless what they are doing, but to bless them, pray for them and for their souls, not against them. Blessings are more powerful than any curse and will quickly overcome them.
Even so, we do need to recognize when we are being cursed with witchcraft so that we can defend ourselves against it and shine light into the darkness. As mentioned, witchcraft operates like hornets who sting their victim over and over until they are killed or driven out. The following is an elaboration of the list of stings in the sequence they often come.
Discerning and Resisting the Stings of Witchcraft
Sting 1 Discouragement
Everyone gets discouraged at times, and it can be for many different reasons, so this is not always the result of witchcraft being used against us. But if we become subject to increasing discouragement for no apparent reason, witchcraft should be considered a possible source. When everything seems to go wrong, the difficulties begin to seem insurmountable, and you start to think it is just too hard to go on, even though matters are really not any worse than usual, you are probably coming under spiritual attack. The enemy's main strategy for afflicting you with discouragement is to weaken you for the next level of attack which is.
Sting 2 Confusion
Again, we must look for a general and increasing "spirit of confusion" for which there is no apparent reason. Here we begin to lose our clarity as to just what we have been called to do, which of course will weaken our resolve. This confusion is meant to compound the discouragement, making us even weaker and more vulnerable to further attack, which will usually come in the form of:
Sting 3 Depression
This is a deeper problem than simple discouragement; it is an unshakable dread that is the result of both the discouragement and confusion combined, along with a general negligence in spiritual disciplines that has usually slipped in by this time.
Sting 4 Loss of Vision
This is the goal of the previous stings and works to increase the effect of all of them. Here we begin to doubt that God has called us to the task in the first place. The only way that we can sail through the storm of confusion is to hold our course. We cannot hold our course if we do not know where we are going. We will not try to hold our course if we begin to think it was wrong for us to go in the first place. This will lead to our drifting in circles at the time when we most need to "make straight paths for our feet." This sets us up for the next level of assault:
Sting 5 Disorientation
This is the combined result of depression, confusion and loss of vision. At this level we have not just forgotten the course we are supposed to be holding, we have even lost our ability to read the compass. The Scriptures will no longer speak to us, we will not trust the Lord's voice, and even the most anointed teaching and preaching will seem irrelevant. This is the point of spiritual incapacitation, the inability to function, which results in:
Sting 6 Withdrawal
This comes when we begin to withdraw or retreat from our purpose in the ministry, fellowship with the rest of the church, and often from our families and others we are close to.
Withdrawal will result in despair.
Sting 7 DESPAIR
Withdrawal from the battle leads quickly to hopelessness and without hope we can easily be taken out by the enemy, either through temptation, sickness or death. Even science has proven that when hope is removed, often the most healthy person will quickly deteriorate and die. With hope, men and women have lived long past the point when a normal body would have quit. DESPAIR will always lead to DEFEAT.
In this strategy we can see that the enemy's purpose is to weaken us so that we begin to fall behind; then we can more easily be picked off. In Scripture, the Amalekites were typical of Satan and his hoards. It was the practice of the Amalekites to attack the weak and /or defenseless. As the camp of Israel crossed the wilderness, the Amalekites picked off those who fell behind the rest of the camp. That is why Israel was told there would be perpetual war with the Amalekites. When Israel's kings were commanded to fight them, they were also commanded to utterly destroy them and not to take any spoil. We have a perpetual war against Satan and we cannot take any prisoners. Neither can we use that which is his in the service of God.
When King Saul disobeyed and kept alive Agag, king of the Amalekites, and kept some of the spoil "in order to sacrifice it to the Lord," it represented a failure of the most foolish kind for one called to lead God's people. In those days, keeping a rival king alive after a battle was only done for two reasons: to make him an ally or slave. Saul foolishly thought that he could make the one who personified Satan himself either an ally or a slave. It was no accident that it was an Amalekite who killed Saul and that carried the news of Saul's death to David. This Amalekite thought that the news would be pleasing to David, but David was discerning and had him killed (see 2 Samuel 1:1-16). If we do not obey the Lord and utterly destroy the enemy we battle, he will end up finishing us off. There can be no alliance with the enemy; he and his hoards must be utterly destroyed. Neither let us be foolish enough to think that we can use the enemy as our slave; in his guile he will quickly turn the tables.
Witchcraft is being used against the church. Many who have failed to recognize it have been defeated, lost their vision, their ministry, their families, and even their lives. This is not sensationalism; it is fact. Paul said that we do not wrestle with flesh and blood, but with principalities and powers (Ephesians 6:12) Wrestling is the closest form of combat. The enemy is going to fight; he is going to wrestle with us; if we decide that we just are not going to fight we will get pinned! A Christian has no option as to whether or not he is going to do spiritual warfare if he wants to survive. But how do we combat this witchcraft? We must first look at the basic principle of spiritual warfare required for every victory.
In Revelation 12:11 we see that the saints overcome Satan by:
1) the blood of the Lamb
2) the word of their testimony, and
3) loving not their lives even to death.
We overcome by the blood of the Lamb as we take our stand on what He has already accomplished for us by the cross. The victory has already been won an there is no way that we can lose; as long as we abide in Him.
The word of our testimony is the Scriptures. Every time the enemy challenged Jesus He simply responded with Scripture, countering the enemy's temptation with God's truth. The Word of God is "the sword of the Spirit;" with it we can ward off the blows from his deceptive words, as well as attack him. Of all the pieces of armor we are commanded to put on ( see Ephesians 6:10-18), the sword is the only offensive weapon.
That they "loved not their lives even unto death," is the utter commitment to follow Him regardless of the price. We are called to take up our crosses daily, to do all things for the sake of the gospel, to no longer live for ourselves but for Him. To the degree that we remain in self-centeredness we will be vulnerable to the enemy's attack. When we have reckoned ourselves dead to this world, as crucified with Christ, then the enemy no longer has any access to us because he has no more access to Him. If we are dead to his world, what can be done to a dead man? It is impossible for the dead to be offended, to be tempted, to fear, or to be continually looking for the easy way out since they have already paid the ultimate price.
All of these are required for every spiritual victory. Anything less will result in less than a victory; we may make occasional, halting advances, but we will sooner or later be pushed back. But it is clear that at the end of the age there will be an army of God raised up that will not settle for occasional advances they have committed themselves to the fight and will not stop until there is the complete victory over the enemy that is promised. It is understood that the total victory will not be accomplished without the personal return of the Lord, but we must fight until He comes, and fight to take every bit of ground that we can, until His appearing when He takes us up to return with Him and finish the fight. "The earth is the Lord's and all it contains" (Psalm 24:1). Until the earth has been completely recovered from the domain of Satan our fight is not over.
No one will fight to win if they do not believe that victory is possible. Many teachings have been promulgated in the body of Christ that declare the church's defeat at the end. The whole prophetic testimony of Scripture is that the Lord, the church and the truth are going to prevail. Satan is being cast down to the earth and will come with great wrath. There is going to be a time of trouble like the world has never known before but we will win! Isaiah 14:16-17 says that when we see Satan, we are going to marvel at the pitiful nature of the one who caused so much trouble! He who is the very least of the saints is much greater than the power of all antichrists combined. These times are not to be feared this is our chance! As Isaiah 60:1-2 declares, when darkness is covering the earth, the glory of the Lord is appearing on His people. The darkness will just make His glory upon us appear that much brighter. We must start fighting in order to win, giving no more ground to the enemy, and taking back what he's got.
To effectively combat witchcraft we must determine that we are going to resist Satan until he flees from us. Our goal is more than just driving the enemy out of out own lives; we then want to pursue him until he is driven out of everyone else in whom he has established a stronghold. The following are some of the ways that we can combat the seven specific areas of Satan's attack through witchcraft.
Discouragement never comes from God. He is the author of faith and the hope which never disappoints. He does discipline us when we need it, but he never does this by afflicting us with discouragement. "The wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy." (James 3:17) Discouragement is nowhere named as the wisdom that comes from above and it is not a fruit of the Spirit. We must learn to quickly and instinctively reject discouragement and give it no place in our thoughts resist it; it is not from God. We will be led by what we think or feel; we must take every thought captive and make them obedient to Christ; we must not ever allow discouragement to dictate our course. FAITH is the fruit of the Spirit and the shield of our armor that counters discouragement. If we begin to get discouraged it is because we have dropped our shield. Pick it back up!
Remember that "God is not the author of confusion" and what you are being hit with is not coming from God. In the military, one of the primary elements of battle that a soldier is trained to handle is confusion. There will rarely be a battle when there is not confusion; nothing will ever go exactly as planned; the same is true in spiritual warfare. The disciplined soldier who understands this aspect of warfare learns to use the confusion to his own advantage; he does not let it increase his discouragement but begins to anticipate and look for an opportunity to gain an advantage over the enemy. We must learn that confusion is part of the battle and not to be surprised or affected by it. Our resolve to stand and fight will quickly dispel this aspect of the attack.
God gave to Cain the most effective remedy for depression. Then the Lord said to Cain, "Why are you angry?" And why has your countenance fallen [the ancient expression for depression]? If you do right, will not your countenance be lifted up? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door; and its desire is for you, but you must master it." (Genesis 4:6-7) Because depression is usually the result of allowing discouragement and confusion to cause us to drift from even our basic spiritual disciplines, such as reading the word, praying, fellowshipping, etc, picking them up again with resolve will almost always start to reverse the downward spiral.
4) Loss of Vision
The attack can also be turned to our advantage and used as an opportunity. When you begin to lose your vision, commit yourself to strengthening you vision- sink your roots deeper and establish your purpose even more firmly upon the word of God. When God begins to lead us into a purpose we should record how he speaks to us. Review all of the ways that He has led you and search the Scriptures to even more firmly establish His leading.
Above all, hold your course! Do not change your course until you can clearly see the new course. In World War 1 one of the most effective tactics of the enemy was to lay a smoke screen in front of allied convoys. As the convoy entered the smoke and lost their vision they would start turning at any perceived sound or whim, with the resulting collisions singing more ships than torpedoes. The allies finally developed a simple strategy when in the smoke every ship was to hold its previous course without deviation. They would soon all sail out the other side into clear air. The same strategy will enable us to more quickly get out of what is clouding our vision. When you lose your vision just hold your course and keep going forward.
As an instrument flight instructor, the first thing I had to teach a pilot was that, when flying on instruments with restricted visibility, his feelings cannot be trusted and must be disregarded. If a pilot tries to fly by his feelings when in instrument conditions he will quickly lose control of the plane. When in the clouds you can be flying perfectly straight and level but begin to feel like you're turning. If you react to this feeling, you will begin to turn, going off course or maybe even turning the plane upside down.
In a test conducted by the FAA, a group of pilots that were flown into instrument conditions without instrument training ALL lost control of their planes because they tried to rely on their feelings for guidance. I believe that the same is true of Christians who enter spiritual conditions of reduced visibility or "spiritual clouds," and try to rely on their feelings for guidance they will lose control. The "instruments" we have been given to walk by are found in the Bible. We do not walk by feelings but by faith in the sure testimony of the word of God. The word of God will keep us oriented and on course if we put our trust in it even though our feelings may be telling us to do otherwise.
In the recent Persian Gulf War, Desert Storm, the majority of casualties were either reserves or civilians. The safest place to be in the war was on the front line. This has been true in most modern wars, and it is true in spiritual warfare.
When you're being pressed in battle, you cannot call a timeout. On the front line, you cannot ask the enemy to stop the battle because you have a headache or want to take a coffee break. On the front line, you know the dangers and you do not let your guard down. Every Christian is on the front line every day, whether he likes it or not. Satan will not observe a timeout. It is when we start to consider ourselves a "civilian," or not a soldier, that we will be the most vulnerable to his attack. Neither is a Christian ever in the reserves. Seldom do battles rage along the entire front for the entire time; there are times of reprieve from conflict, but when you know that you are on the front, even your breaks are taken with vigilance, knowing that a fresh attack can come at anytime. Christians must never take off their spiritual armor and must never lose their vigilance.
There are times and occasions in warfare for strategic retreats. There are times when we overcommit ourselves spiritually and must draw back, but that is not the same as withdrawal from the battle. Even when we have over committed ourselves, retreat should be a last resort an army in retreat is in its most vulnerable condition. If at all possible we should try to at least hold our ground until our position can be strengthened.
We are told to "give thanks to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ" (1 Corinthians 15:57) "in all things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us" (Romans 8:37), and that He "always leads us in His triumph in Christ" (II Corinthians 2:14). Defeat is not an option in Christ. We will gain the victory in that which He has led us to do. The only way that we can be defeated is to quit.
Even when we discover that we have acted presumptuously, without being commissioned by God, we do not quit, we repent. There is a difference between quitting and stopping because of repentance one is a defeat; the other is an adjustment that will always result in further victories. Repentance comes because of the truth that sets us free; defeat will result in a spiritual bondage to the power of the enemy.
One of the first things that the Lord said was that it was not good for man to be alone. We Are social creatures, and when we withdraw from fellowship, we will usually sink into the deepest pits of hopelessness despair. At this point in the downward spiral, we must return to fellowship and get help in reversing the slide or we will be defeated.
Witchcraft is basically the practice of cursing others. This cursing does not just come through cults or black magic arts, but can even come through those who love us, have good intentions and are trying to bless us, but are doing it by trying to manipulate us. Witchcraft is the manipulation or control spirit, regardless of who it comes through.
The mother who manipulates her son or daughter into marrying her choice has done it through witchcraft, and such relationships usually have to be held together through manipulation and control. The prayer group that uses prayers to expose others is gossiping for the sake of manipulation; this is not prayer it is witchcraft. Much of what is written in the name of Christian journalism as an attempt to keep the church informed is gossip, used for illegal influence or manipulation -this too is witchcraft. Spiritual leaders who use manipulation, hype or control to build their church or ministry are operating in a counterfeit spiritual authority equivalent to witchcraft. Much of what is taught in business schools is a form of manipulation or control that is witchcraft. Many of the strategies the church has borrowed from secular journalism and the business world have brought witchcraft into the camp, and it must be removed if we are to be free to accomplish our purpose for this hour.
Many of the yokes and human expectations have some power of manipulation and witchcraft attached to them that the enemy has established as a stronghold to conflict with the calling of God in our life. This is not a license to disregard the expectations of our parents, teachers, employers, etc. We were known by the Lord before we were born, and He has placed many of the influences in our lives to help steer us toward our purpose in Him. But some of the yokes and expectations that the well intentioned parent, teacher or coach puts on us must sometimes be cast off. The yokes that are placed on us which are NOT from the Lord will become clear as we come to know our calling and purpose in Him the truth will set us free.
The only yoke that we must take is the Lord's yoke. His yoke is easy and His burden is light; when we take it, we actually find rest and refreshment instead of pressure and discouragement. These forms of "white" witchcraft can have just as much power as that which comes through black magic arts. The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil has two sides. "White witchcraft" is usually rooted in good intentions but it is the good side of the Tree of Knowledge, whose fruit is just as poison as that which comes from the evil side of this tree. White and black witchcraft may be different branches, but they have the same root and the same deadly poison.
Those who are unstable will often distort this in order to rebel against God's ordained authority over their lives, receiving the just retribution. King Saul is a personification of one who is ordained by God but fell from his place of true spiritual authority to operate in counterfeit spiritual authority. King David is a personification of true spiritual authority. How did David react to Saul? He was willing to serve the house of Saul until Saul chased him away. Even then he never retaliated, rebelled or tried to undermine Saul's authority, but honored him as " the Lord's anointed." Even though David was called to take Saul's place, he never lifted his hand against Saul, but determined that if God had really called him, then He would have to establish him he demonstrated the exact opposite of the manipulative or control spirit and by that overcame the evil with good. Had David manipulated his way into the kingdom, he would have almost certainly fallen to witchcraft just like Saul. But David was of a different spirit.
Those who are the target of any form of witchcraft will usually feel the stings through the sequence of attacks listed above. If we react to the attack properly we can not only be free of its influence ourselves, but we can also help to free those who use witchcraft. The manipulation and control spirits gains entrance through FEAR. It is the fearful and insecure who become so obsessed with controlling others that they use evil influence, and it will take a demonstration of perfect love to cast out these fears. Jesus commanded us to "bless those who curse you" (Luke 6:28). Paul said that we were not to return evil for evil, but to overcome evil with good.
When we discover that we are the target of witchcraft, the very thing that the enemy would have us to do is to retaliate. This multiplies the very evil we are trying to cast out Satan will not cast out Satan; witchcraft will not cast out witchcraft. We must pray for those who are praying against us and bless those who are cursing us. This is not to bless what they are doing, but praying for them to be delivered of the fears that make them do what they are doing. Pray for your attackers to have a revelation of the perfect love of God. Our greatest victory is to win those who are in the enemy's grip, not just afflict them back.
There is another source of witchcraft that can be one of the most unexpected sources of our discouragement, confusion, depression, loss of vision, disorientation and despair ourselves! When we use manipulation, hype or control on others we open ourselves to the consequences. Before we look at others to find the source, we should first look at ourselves. Again, Satan cannot cast out Satan; we will not be able to cast witchcraft out of others if we are ourselves using it. Most who have been subject to witchcraft have tried to combat it in the flesh, actually using the same spirit. When we do that, it does gain a foothold in our own life that must be broken before we will have the authority to deliver others.
It is the Father's intent to bring down every form and manifestation of witchcraft operating in the church. It is a serious offense and will not continue to be tolerated. But after we have been freed from this terrible evil, we will also be free to walk in the unprecedented power that can only be entrusted to those who walk in true spiritual authority.
Article used by permission
Copyright 1992 by MorningStar Publications & Ministries
The Morning Star Journal, Vol. 2.2, Overcoming Witchcraft, by Rick Joyner
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