I had been on the mission field in one-hundred-degree weather in a nation known for its false gospel for more than a week—and battling principalities and powers every step of the way.
Laboring to take the Good News to a nation where the spirit of Jezebel wields an especially wicked influence brings an onslaught against your mind and sometimes even unpleasant manifestations in your body. I was not wrestling against flesh and blood, but it sure felt as though I had been in a heavyweight boxing match at the end of some days.
Granted, I was unprepared for the level of spiritual warfare I would encounter in a nation where the effects of witchcraft regularly make headlines. And I was not yet acquainted with the way the religious spirit impels us into morphing the image of Jesus from One who delivers to One who demands super-human performance to find His favor.
Indeed, I had no idea how Jezebel, the spirit of religion and witchcraft—what I now call Satan's deadly trio—work together to put us in bondage, strip us of our God-given identity and derail our kingdom purpose. But I would soon get a firsthand lesson that I will never forget.
Spiritual witchcraft is real and I've written plenty about it in recent weeks because the spiritual climate tightens in the midst of demonic fall celebrations like Halloween. But there's another type of witchcraft that is ugly in its own right. It's not altogether demonic—but it's certainly carnal—and it still wreaks havoc on the lives of Christians who receive it.
I offered up this post on my Facebook page last week after noticing how much carnal witchcraft is in the church:
"Did you know the silent treatment (which is the stubborn refusal to talk to someone, especially after a recent argument or disagreement) is a form of witchcraft? Witchcraft is sometimes a spiritual force, but it's also a work of the flesh listed in Galatians. Intimidation is a form of fleshly witchcraft. Purposely ignoring people to 'teach them a lesson' can be a form of fleshly witchcraft. Manipulation tactics, like pouting and crying to get people to do what you want or make them feel guilty, are forms of fleshly witchcraft. I can tell you this, folks won't get far with Spirit-led Christians playing those sorts of flesh-driven games. We'll pray for you but we won't bow to manipulation. 1 Samuel 15:23 ... Rebellion to God's Word is as the sin of witchcraft. Trying to punish people with manipulation is rebellion. Can somebody say amen?"
Yeah, I know. What a headline! This may never happen to you, but I got a good laugh this week when some unbeliever—or perhaps someone who has been hurt deeply by the church—launched a miniature Twitter campaign trying to stir up witches against me.
Needless to say, it didn't work.
The flurry of Twitter posts was a response to an article I wrote last week called Wrestling Wicked Witchcraft—and Winning. In the article, I mentioned how the demonic activity that rises during this season can cause people to experience feelings of oppression, fatigue, strong spiritual warfare against the mind that makes them feel like quitting, and even physical manifestations for which doctors can't find a reason.
It always intrigues me how far beyond mainstream Christianity—or Christianity at all—is The Huffington Post's Christianity section. I consistently see articles that mock, contradict and otherwise distort the Christian faith—all in the name of Christianity.
The latest is a piece called "The Evangelical War on Halloween" by Phil Zuckerman, a professor of sociology and secular studies at Pitzer College in Claremont, Calif. I have no idea if Zuckerman is a professing Christian or not—and I won't judge his salvation—but at least some of his views are way off the Christian mark.
As Zuckerman tells the story, when he was 5 years old he was a wizard for Halloween. Ever since then, Halloween has been his favorite "holiday" and his "spirit is tingled" by the scary lawn decorations. He loves the haunted houses, spooky stories, witches and the laughter of Vincent Price.
Pat Robertson is taking flak for his bold stance on—or should I say against—Halloween. The Huffington Post is making a big deal about Robertson's words on The 700 Club Thursday.
What did he say that got the liberal media so up in arms?
"Halloween is a festival for demonic spirits. The whole idea of trick o' treating ... the Druids would go to somebody's [house] and ask for money and if they didn't get any money they would kill their sheep. That was the trick ... and it was serious stuff," Robertson says.
"All this business about goblins and jack-o'-lanterns all comes out of demonic rituals of the Druids and the people who lived in England at that particular time. I think churches can have Halloween parties. You can bob for apples ... and turn it into a Christian festival, and that's what we ought to do. We need to redeem these days, but that day was given over to Satanic things."
It started a little later than usual, but spiritual witchcraft is rising—and rising rapidly—in South Florida this October. My community is home to a large population of witches, pagans, Wiccans and other heathens who practice one form of witchcraft or another. Your community may not have palm trees and beaches, but it's likely got a few witches, pagans, Wiccans and heathens practicing witchcraft.
A quick scan of the latest news reveals that reports of witchcraft-related child abuse are on the rise in London; two children were tortured and dumped on the streets over witchcraft in Akwa Ibom; a pastor who runs several churches in Kiambu and Meru was found practicing witchcraft; authorities have tied Texas drug smugglers to witchcraft, cartels and a house explosion; and seven people accused of witchcraft were burned to death in Tanzania.
When I first moved to South Florida, I battled Jezebel and her witchcrafts (see 2 Kings 9:22) with limited success for at least a year before I learned to discern the attack of this spiritual enemy at its onset, submit myself to God's Word, resist the devil and command it to flee in the name of Jesus (see James 4:7, AMP). Now, I am much quicker to sense witchcraft operating in the spirit, but sometimes witchcraft attacks in your sleep.
What do these three things have in common? I'm discussing all of them on my latest radio broadcast with Pastor Greg Young. Click the headline to get to the broadcast link.
The python spirit is in the cross-hairs of many spiritual warriors, and practical revelation about how this demon operates has surfaced in recent years. Still, there are many who aren't aware of this enemy's devices. I wrote a column called What the Python Spirit Really Wants last week to open the eyes of those who may not realize this coiling spirit could be working to squeeze out the breathe of life (the Holy Spirit) and cut off your lifeline to God (prayer).
Before we go any further, let's do a quick review of last week's column so you can see this spirit at work in the Bible. You'll find it in Acts 16:16 when Paul encounters a girl possessed with a spirit of divination. The word divination in this verse comes from the Greek word for puthon, which translates in English as "python." That's why many call this evil force the python spirit. Here's the Scripture in context:
"Now it happened, as we went to prayer, that a certain slave girl possessed with a spirit of divination met us, who brought her masters much profit by fortune-telling. This girl followed Paul and us, and cried out, saying, 'These men are the servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to us the way of salvation.' And this she did for many days" (Acts 16:16-17).
The prayer-hating python spirit drew attention to Paul and Silas in a hostile land, distracted them from their apostolic mission, and ultimately persecuted them sorely, even putting them in literal bondage. But Paul and Silas didn't stay there. They prayed and praised their way through—and so can you. But not just any type of prayer will root this spirit out of your midst.
Some claim ISIS, or the Islamic State, is God's judgment on the nations, including America. I don't believe that. I believe our nation is under discipline and that God has removed some of His hedge of protection, but it is absolutely not God's will for Christians to be totally eradicated from cities in the Middle East and if ISIS reaches our soil it won't be His perfect will either. We have authority over this behemoth spirit and we need to fight this battle on our knees. Click the headline to access the interview.
I didn't realize how strong is the spirit of python's chokehold on my region until I started to personally experience the effects of its presence. One of the only named spirits in the Bible, the python spirit is a coiling spirit that works to squeeze out the breathe of life (the Holy Spirit) and cut off your lifeline to God (prayer).
To accomplish its deadly agenda, this spirit will remind you of wounds from your past, surround you with ungodly influences that tempt you to compromise the Word of God—or just barrage you with circumstances that knock the wind out of you.
Symptoms of a python attack may include weariness, a loss of passion to worship and pray, feeling pressured, overwhelmed, helpless and even hopeless. The severity of those symptoms depends on how long this enemy has been coiling itself around you and how much pressure it has applied.
Let me show you this spirit in the Bible. You'll find it in Acts 16:16 when Paul encounters a girl possessed with a spirit of divination. The word divination in this verse comes from the Greek word for puthon, which translates in English as "python." Vine's Dictionary explains how Greek mythology believed the Pythian serpent guarded the oracle of Delphi until Apollo slew it (and then took on the name Pythian). The word was later applied to diviners or soothsayers, inspired by Apollo.