Are you building walls of religion or towers of prayer? Your answer could denote the difference between a woe-filled fate and a fulfilled destiny.
Prophets obsessed by the fear of man or unholy desires will not fulfill God’s ultimate plan. We must be careful, then, not to prophesy according to the party line in order to establish and preserve popularity in ministry circuits. If we fall into this trap we find ourselves in danger of perverting the gift of God by building walls of religion.
True prophets are not always the most popular five-fold ministry gift on the block because they are bold enough to release a word of the Lord that deals with sin or that warns the local church of potentially unpleasant circumstances coming down the proverbial pike. In order to properly carry this mantle, genuine prophets must build towers of prayer.
False prophets build walls of religion that lead people astray with fabricated edification, misleading exhortation and counterfeit comfort. “These evil prophets deceive my people saying, ‘All is peaceful!’ when there is no peace at all! It’s as if the people have built a flimsy wall, and these prophets are trying to hold it together by covering it with whitewash! Tell these whitewashers that their wall will soon fall down” (Ezekiel 13:10 NLT).
What do you do when you hear the devil's voice? How do you respond? I received a message from a dear one in Christ who flows in the prophetic. This one experienced a situation during a prayer meeting and needed advice. Let's listen in:
"I've had an experience about a week ago (well actually I've had several lately) that seemed weird. We were in our cell group. I was leading the group in prayer when I felt a resistance and began to pray in tongues louder. Then suddenly I began to hear thoughts. I knew it was thoughts and I said so out loud. I did not repeat what I heard they were negative thoughts. I encouraged everyone to press in. The week after I had such an assault on my mind telling me I've tapped into divination and things of that nature. Last night one of the attendees said they needed to confess and they said the very words I was hearing. Maybe I over analyze and I have to deal with that because it stems from my past. What if I'm not overreacting? It's just that I've seen so much false stuff in the past that subconsiously I did not want anything to do with anything like that. But I do realize I am prophetic like it or not I just do not want to be erroneous."
Praise the Lord for people who will ask questions. I know if this precious one had this experience, others of you out there probably have similar stories. In fact, I've lived through this one myself. I remember when the devil tried to convince me in the early days that I was flowing in a spirit of Baal. I exposed it to a prophetic mentor and learned a lot in the process. So let me respond to this dear one's question. This was my response:
I see the devil is torturing you with his nasty imaginations. First, I don't think you over analyze at all. The mere fact that you are so concerned about falling into error is a strong sign that you are not. I talk with prophets and prophetic people often who have the same concerns because of all the junk they've seen. So...
What about your legacy? Will you stand in the face of fear no matter what form it takes? Or will you allow this wicked spirit to outmaneuver you? We must learn to recognize fear at its onset – and we have to overcome or it will overcome us. Maybe you are like me. Maybe you’ve had some run ins with fear that almost took you out of God’s will. Or maybe you’ve failed to receive God’s promises because fear’s subtle voice caused you to doubt He’d do it for you. Or maybe fear manifests through anger, stress or some other emotion. Make no mistake, fear is at the root of many of our ungodly thoughts and feelings.
So how do we overcome fear? Well, the Bible says God has not given us a spirit of fear, but He has given us three things to combat it. He’s given us power, He has given us His love, and He has given us a sound mind. Here’s what the Lord showed me: We overcome fear with the power of the Holy Ghost. It’s with this power that we resist fear and cause it to flee. Our will power alone is no match for the spirit of fear, but the Spirit of Truth is more than capable throwing fear to the mat and keeping it down for the count. God has given us His power, His authority, His anointing. It’s up to us to use it in the face of fear.
The Bible says: “There is no fear in love [dread does not exist], but full-grown (complete, perfect) love turns fear out of doors and expels every trace of terror! For fear brings with it the thought of punishment, and [so] he who is afraid has not reached the full maturity of love [is not yet grown into love’s complete perfection]” (1 John 4:18 AMP).
Adam and Eve had not grown into love’s perfection or they would have simply confessed their sin and received forgiveness. Do you know what? I believe God would have forgiven their sin and cleansed them from all unrighteousness. But instead of admitting to God what happened and repenting, fear led them into another sin: blame.
Listen to how Adam responded when the Lord asked Adam and Even how they came to eat the forbidden fruit: “And the man said, The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat. And the Lord God said unto the woman, What is this that thou hast done? And the woman said, The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat” (Genesis 3:12-13).
Adam and Eve lost their kingship, were expelled from the garden by the mercy of God, and failed to fulfill God’s master plan for their lives. What was that master plan? To be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth. (Genesis 1:28). In other words, to use that blessing to turn the whole earth into the Garden of Eden.
In our last post, we saw that Eve’s fear of God keeping something good from her caused her to disobey God. Let’s strip out the storytelling and say it this way: Fear leads you into disobedience.
Need another witness? Fear caused Saul to disobey God’s established priestly authority. King Saul’s fall occurred just before what looked to be a fierce battle between the Israelites and their archenemy, the Philistines. The Philistines gathered themselves to fight with Israel, with 30,000 chariots, 6,000 horsemen, and people as the sand which is on the sea shore in multitude (1 Samuel 13: 5). The Bible says the Israelites were distressed and even trembling with fear.
Saul had his orders. The Prophet Samuel had instructed him to wait there for seven days. Samuel was going to fulfill the priestly duty of sacrificing to God before the battle. Seven days came and went and Samuel didn’t show up at Gilgal. Saul’s army began to give into the fear and scatter. That’s when fear led Saul into disobedience. Instead of waiting for Samuel to show up, Saul took matters into his own hands and offered the burnt offering himself.
In the last post, we looked at Saul’s fearful disobedience. That leads me to the next strategy of fear: irresponsibility. The same fear that tempted us to disobey will also try to convince us to blame the disobedience on another person or on circumstances. In that way, fear attempts to keep us from repenting so that we continue to walk in darkness instead of seeing the light. Fear, then, continues to have its way. And fear’s way is torment.
Let me show you this pattern in the Word. We see it with Adam, Eve and Saul. Let’s begin at the beginning with Adam. Shortly after eating the forbidden fruit, Adam and Eve had new knowledge alright, but it wasn’t the pleasant experience they may have expected. The first revelation they had was that they were naked, and they were ashamed. They sewed fig leaves together and made themselves clothes. Suddenly, they heard the voice of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day. Adam and Eve hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God amongst the trees of the garden.
Why did they hide? That’s what God wanted to know. “And the Lord God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou? And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself” (Genesis 3:10).
How to defeat the devil. It’s something we’d all like to know how to do, right? Well, the truth is Jesus already defeated the devil for us. So the issue isn’t really defeating the devil, it’s resisting him and overcoming his temptations that lead us into sin where we are fair game for his attacks.
We can both resist and overcome the devil by employing the same strategy Jesus used to defeat that old serpent in the first place: dying.
When Jesus died on the cross, He died with the sin of the world upon Him. But to get that far Jesus had to humble Himself. The Bible says He became obedient to the point of death, even the death on a cross (Philippians 2:8). Let me put it another way. Long before Jesus hung on the tree, and even while He was hanging there awaiting the ultimate pain of separation from His Father, He died to self.
Jesus was compelled to get off that cross by religious spirits and mockers. But He resisted and overcame because long before He died for the sin of the world, He died to His own will. His cry to the Father just hours before that fateful scene on Calvary echoes, “Not my will but yours be done” (Luke 22:42).
The Bible says if we resist the devil, he will flee. But right before that it says submit yourself to God (James 4:7). Submitting ourselves to God requires dying to self in whatever area the devil is tempting us. We can’t successfully resist and overcome until we put down our own will and seek to please the Father more than our flesh, another person or the kingdoms of this world.
Satan’s existence is the provocative topic of ABC News “Nightline’s” third Face-Off airing tomorrow, Thursday, March 26th at 11:35pm ET/PT. The “Nightline Face Off” series, launched two years ago, brings hot topics to the table for discussion and debate among prominent voices in their field.
This face off features Dr. Deepak Chapra and Bishop Carlton Pearson debating Pastor Mark Driscoll of Mars Hill Church. In my opinion, this is a ridiculous display, one that is allowing the secular media to essentially poke fun at the Church. This may do nothing more than offer a platform to the devil to try to convince the world he doesn’t exist so he can continue to lead souls into hell.
Let us pray that Pastor Driscoll will offer some convincing insights about our Lord Jesus Christ. I’m sure he’s feeling the spiritual warfare. You can see a commercial for the segment here. Seems like he’s taken on the job of defending the name of Christ against two new agers. God bless him.
I received a disturbing e-mail today from a duo in Europe. The authors described their e-mail as a diamond among the spam and hoped I was worthy of receiving it.
The authors also claimed to be bishops and apostles who by “personal intuition” have been studying the secrets of the mystical world for more than a decade. They invited me to a web site that would prove mysticism’s truths. I never visited the web site. It’s a waste of time. My time is better spent exposing this darkness.
I don’t know if you get these sort of e-mails. It’s grievous that those who dabble in this spiritual junk would take on the titles of bishop and apostle. These are not true bishops and apostles. Did the Apostle Paul push mysticism? A resounding no.
In case others of you are receiving this deceptive gobbledygook, I thought it expedient to offer a few Scriptures that will help you guard your hearts and minds from the claims.
1 John 4:1 “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world.”
Why do we have to test the spirits to see if they are from God? Because there are false prophets (and bishops and apostles) that have gone out into the world with spiritually perverted messages.
1 Timothy 4:1 “Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons…”
These are the latter days, and this Scripture is being fulfilled. Some are leaving the church, building communities of seekers, mixing New Age with Bible, and other grievous acts. Let’s read a couple of more Scriptures.
Colossians 2:8 “See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ.”