[b]WITCHCRAFT IN THE CHURCH[/b]
[i]by David Wilkerson[/i]
A number of witches are going about the country today, warning that Satanists are infiltrating the church--especially charismatic churches. Some of these former witches have authored books telling of a diabolical plot by evil witches to enter congregations posing as super-spiritual Christians. Their purpose is to deceive and shipwreck pastors and to lead multitudes of naive believers into occult worship.
Many of these evil witches, they say, are already firmly established in numerous churches, controlling both the pastor and congregation and causing great confusion, wickedness, divorce--even death. We have received many letters in our office from people who say they believe their pastor must be under some kind of demonic influence--and I believe many of these letters are very legitimate.
Saints, we in the Body of Christ dare not allow the devil's power to be magnified in the house of God! His power is limited, and he cannot penetrate a Holy Ghost wall of fire. When the disciples were sent out with power to heal the sick and raise the dead, they came back rejoicing: "Lord, even the devils are subject unto us through thy name" (Luke 10:17).
The only pastor who can fall under the control of a witch is one who indulges in secret sin--who is driven by greed or success, or who has betrayed the Lord through unbelief or neglect! A man of God who has mortified the deeds of the flesh and wields the sword of the Lord will know the enemy. He will discern any trap and will stand against the wicked one, as Paul did with the witch at Philippi.
Here's what happened: A slave girl possessed by the devil-- that is, a practicing witch with a spirit of divination--sought to infiltrate Paul's ministry! She followed after Paul and his companions, crying out, "These men are the servants of the most high God, which shew unto us the way of salvation" (Acts 16:17).
But Paul's spirit was disturbed. He discerned that the girl was not converted and that she had no right to touch holy things. He perceived a trap. So he turned and said to the evil spirit in her, "I command thee in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her. And (the demon) came out the same hour" (v.18).
Paul was unmoved by the demon powers. He was led by the Holy Spirit and full of the Word of God. But the Bible tells of one group of supposed ministers that was attacked--literally--and overcome by a demon. These were the seven sons of Sceva. When they tried to cast a demon out of a man, the evil spirit leaped on them, tore off their clothes and sent them running into the street in a panic--all because they didn't know Jesus. They were not full of Christ!
THOSE WHO WALK IN HOLINESS RESIST THE DEVIL
Ministers of the gospel who fall into deep sin don't actually have a demon "leap" upon them; they aren't seduced by a witch. They are just led astray by their own lusts and desires! They have gotten off holy ground and have begun to cruise the devil's territory!
No congregation that walks in holiness and the fear of God can be deceived or controlled by witches or evil spirits. Only pleasure-mad, Bible-and-holiness-rejecting churches are open to Satan's attempts to move in.
Wherever the Word of God is exalted, wherever people separate themselves from wickedness and the world, wherever there is true repentance and obedience to the Holy Ghost--there Jesus will always manifest His presence!
A congregation that is bathed in the presence of Jesus doesn't have to scream commands at wicked powers. The very power of Jesus drives out all that is wicked! Satan and his evil hordes simply cannot coexist with Christ's presence. We resist the devil by being full of Jesus--by living and worshiping in His presence!
Are there really churches and pastors today that are falling under the control of witches and demons? Absolutely, yes!
I know of one large Pentecostal church wholly given over to Satan. The pastor has a lustful, evil spirit. He committed one act of adultery after another, and soon his wife became involved. The pastor and his wife introduced something into the congregation called "connections." They developed an entire doctrine around it.
First they brought ballroom dancing into the sanctuary. The pastor told the people to look into their partner's eyes until the Holy Spirit made a "connection." Pastors, leaders and deacons became involved. They began swapping wives, committing adultery.
Before long, it all became chaotic. Divorce became rampant. Parishioners began having nervous breakdowns. The pastor's son committed suicide. His daughter divorced and ran off with another man. More suicides broke out. One young mother was so distraught over her husband's leaving her that she drowned her baby in the bathtub so the baby's soul would be safe with Jesus!
That church has been utterly destroyed--it is embroiled today in numerous lawsuits--all because of the unbridled lust of a backslidden pastor! That one man, full of Satan, opened up his entire flock to demonic powers!
Beloved, be careful where you go to church! Be careful that you have discernment, because a pastor who has opened himself to Satan can open your heart to demonic powers.
Yet this message has to do with a kind of witchcraft that is even more dangerous than that. It is much more subtle.
It is brought into the church not by evil shepherds or by witches--but by multitudes of Christians who don't know that they are under the spell of witchcraft!
The kind of witchcraft I want to expose is present here in Times Square Church--and in every church in America! In fact, it is in every church in the world, to some measure. It may be only a seed--but it is still there.
You ask, "How could the devil possibly deceive God's elect? With occult seductions?" No! That's too obvious. We could easily discern the devices of Satan in that area. No, he comes to us in another way. His attack is so very subtle that few Christians ever recognize it.
REBELLION IS AS THE SIN OF WITCHCRAFT (1 SAMUEL 15:23)
When the Lord showed me the kind of witchcraft present in the church today, it shook my soul. It is revealed in 1 Samuel 15:22- 23: "Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry."
The Bible describes here a witchcraft far more dangerous than the occult. It controls more pastors and congregations that any other kind of demonic influence. It is rebellion against the Word of God!
Don't be quick to sit back and relax, thinking, "Thank God, that can't possibly mean me. I'm not rebellious against God's Word. I love the Word. I'm walking in obedience!"
That's what I thought, too. But then God convicted me of the dangers of falling under the spell of this witchcraft! He showed me the seed of its beginnings--exactly what erupted in the Garden of Eden! We all have the seed of this sin. In fact, you may unknowingly be under the influence of this evil charm.
Jesus gives us a parable that exposes this witchcraft! I've read the parable of the evil husbandmen many times. I've prayed over it. But not until now have I seen in it the witchcraft that Jesus was exposing.
"There was a certain householder, which planted a vineyard, and hedged it round about, and digged a winepress in it, and built a tower, and let it out to husbandmen, and went into a far country: And when the time of the fruit drew near, he sent his servants to the husbandmen, that they might receive the fruits of it. And the husbandmen took his servants, and bear one, and killed another, and stoned another. Again, he sent other servants more than the first: and they did unto them likewise. But last of all he sent unto them his son, saying, They will reverence my son.
"But when the husbandman saw the son, they said among themselves, This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and let us seize on his inheritance. And they caught him, and cast him out of the vineyard, and slew him. When the lord therefore of the vineyard cometh, what will he do unto those husbandmen? They said unto him, He will miserably destroy those wicked men, and will let out his vineyard unto other husbandmen, which shall render him the fruits in their seasons" (Matthew 21:33-41).
This parable is more than a retelling of how the Jews had rejected God's appeal from heaven--and how they would be cast aside and the Gentiles made the husbandmen. It is also about a great supernatural battle over an inheritance. It's about a battle between the power of Jesus Christ and the power of Satan for the souls and allegiance of mankind! It's about who is going to rule and reign in the hearts of God's chosen! And beloved, you're either under the power of Jesus Christ or under the influence of Satan!
You see, this parable is about how a people of God can become bewitched by the devil and end up totally possessed by an anti- Christ spirit. Christ was talking here of a most powerful form of witchcraft--rebellion against the truth!
Here' is the Key to this parable: "This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and let us seize on his inheritance" (v.38). That is the devil speaking! "Let us create rebellion against the Son! Let us crucify Him! We will take control!"
It is true that when the Pharisees heard this parable, "they perceived that he spake of them" (v.45). But Jesus is also speaking to His church! In Hebrews 6:5, we find a people who "have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come...." They have rebelled against that good Word they heard, and as a result, "they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame" (v.6).
Who is crucifying Christ over and over again, putting Him to open shame before the whole world? Are they witches? Satanists? Homosexuals? Murderers? No!
They are those who heard, tasted and partook of the true Word of God--and then allowed a spirit of rebellion to take root! Satan moved in, and they ended up possessed--crucifying Christ!
Believer, I tell you on the authority of God's Word that as long as you have this spirit of rebellion in you, it is impossible for God to revive or renew you! "For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of this Holy Ghost... if they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance" (vs. 4, 6).
I believe this means that repentance has no effect whatsoever in those who are in rebellion against the Word!
Let's look more closely at this form of witchcraft in the church.
THE WITCHCRAFT OF REBELLION BEGINS WITH A LITTLE ROOT OF BITTERNESS
I want to talk to you about being poisoned with the "gall of bitterness." Peter introduced this phrase when he rebuked Simon a new convert who had offered money in exchange for the power of the Holy Ghost to lay hands on people for baptisms and miracles.
"And when Simon saw that through the laying on of the apostles' hands the Holy Ghost was given, he offered them money, saying, Give me also this power, that on whomsoever I lay hands, he may receive the Holy Ghost.
"But Peter said unto him, Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money. Thou hast neither part nor lot in this matter: for thy heart is not right in the sight of God. Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee. For I perceive that thou art in the gall of bitterness, and in the bond of iniquity" (Acts 8:18-23).
"Gall" here means envy--a dangerous poison. And Simon was infected with it! I believe he also had a heart to help people, which helped disguise his condition. Verse 13 says he believed, was baptized and "continued with Philip, and wondered, beholding the miracles and signs which were done."
Something deadly lay underneath! All the while Simon was saying to himself, "I can do that, too! I'm gifted. I feel for people. Give me a chance!"
Simon had a dangerous mixture in his heart. It was a desire to be used by God--mixed with a desire for preeminence! He truly wanted God to use him, but he also needed recognition. He wanted power and place, without paying the right price! He wanted a shortcut.
So it is in the work of God today. Many are trying to take shortcuts to get to a place of power and usefulness. We offer our talents and abilities to the Lord--but if you have the talent and don't have a servant's heart, God can't use you!
In his third epistle, John tells of a man named Diotrephes who "loved to have the preeminence among them" (3 John 9). When things did not go his way, he began "prating against" the brethren with malicious words.
A "prater" is one who babbles over trifles. Diotrephes was offended by John's message, and he began to gossip. His vanity had been pricked, his pride wounded. So he went about telling a story of being wounded by other servants of God. He disrupted the peace of the brethren and won many to his side.
This wasn't gross sin; it wasn't doctrinal error. It was the sin of impatience! He couldn't wait for God to do the work. He wanted preeminence--and he probably sounded so right!
A WOUNDED SPIRIT IS FERTILE GROUND FOR A ROOT OF BITTERNESS
"A wounded spirit who can bear?" (Proverbs 18:14). How could the Israelites of Isaiah's time have become so fallen, so backslidden, so depressed in such a short time? Isaiah explains it: "From the sole of the foot even unto the head there is no soundness in it; but wounds, and bruises, and putrefying sores:: They have not been closed, neither bound up, neither mollified with ointment" (Isaiah 1:6).
The prophet went on to warn the people of God who had open wounds, sores and bruises. He said as long as they went on bleeding, with blood on their hands, God could not hear them in such a condition: "And when ye spread forth your hands, I will hide mine eyes from you: yea, when ye make many prayers, I will not hear: your hands are full of blood" (v.15).
Whose blood is the Lord talking about? Your own! You're bleeding from an open wound in your heart! It's oozing blood! You need healing! You need your wound softened with the oil of the Holy Ghost!
Yet many of you don't run to the Master for healing. You don't realize that Satan is trying to get you into this witchcraft of rebellion. You see, God won't listen to a voice that cries out but won't accept His deliverance!
Let me show you how dangerous rebellion is, and why God calls it witchcraft: The husbandmen of the parable were God's children. They were engaged in religious work. How could an upright Pharisee--who paid tithes on every mint leaf in his garden, loved his children, traveled the whole world just to make a single convert, faithfully spend sabbaths poring over the law--turn into such a vicious person? How could these husbandmen eventually kill and steal and crucify?
They were enraged! They had murder in their hearts. That's not from the flesh--that's demonic! They stoned the messengers of the Law! They knew what was demanded of them--but once they rebelled against the Word of God, bitterness took root in their hearts.
Beloved, bitterness blinds! You lose your spiritual vision in proportion to the growth of your bitterness. The more your bitterness grows, the more your blindness grows. Let a root of bitterness fester--let the wound turn to a gangrene, --let the sore spread its poison all through your soul--and you will end up just like these violent Pharisees, so blind they finally crucified the Son of God!
If you continue in the gall of bitterness, you will end up with other bitter souls, prating; throwing stones at God's holy servants, playing the part of a poor, misunderstood martyr. You will end up at the gall-gatherings, where others share your rebellion.
If you continue in the gall of bitterness, you will open up your very heart and soul to demon possession! You will end up a mouthpiece of the devil. Your tongue will become a spear that pierces the side of Christ. You will hang Him in open shame before all who know you. And you will shut out the voices of all preachers and prophets.
The work of God will go on, with other husbandmen willing to obey. God will say to you what Peter said to Simon: "Thou hast neither part nor lot in this matter: for they heart is not right in the sight of God" (Acts 8:21).
Has someone in the house of God wounded you? Do you have a root of bitterness? I beg you: Run to the Healer of all wounds and ask Him to pluck it out by the roots!
"Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice" (Ephesians 4:31). Stop it -- now!
THE WITCHCRAFT OF REBELLION ENDS IN A LACK OF REVERENCE FOR JESUS!
"But last of all he sent unto them his son, saying, They will reverence my son" (Matthew 21:37).
The immediate application of this parable was to the Pharisees and religious leaders Jesus was addressing. They had shut their ears to the prophets and watchmen God had sent to them so often. "Behold, I send unto you prophets... some of them ye shall kill and crucify; and some of them shall ye scourge in your synagogues, and persecute them from city to city" (Matthew 23:34).
Jesus was speaking this parable to expose the plan of Satan. He was trying to show that a satanic plot was behind their lack of reverence for Him--and their shutting out His truth!
Christ had told them their rebellion had turned them into children of Satan: "Why do you not understand my speech? Even because ye cannot hear my word. Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do.... And because I tell you the truth, ye believe me not" (John 8:43-45).
This was the message: "You became bitter, rebellious! You opened your soul to the devil. He filled you with wounds, bruises, putrefying sores--and now you are full of death. Violence is in your heart. You can't hear a word I say.
"No prophet can reach you now, no watchman! Not even I can touch you. You are giving my inheritance to Satan! You were to be my people, but you would not. You sold yourself to the enemy. You despised my authority!"
These husbandmen did not reverence Him. They rebelled and killed Him. But Satan did not get the inheritance--a resurrected Christ gave it to others.
Looking at those Pharisees, you have to wonder: Why did they show such disrespect to Him? Why no reverence? Why could they not hear or understand His words? Why such blindness?
Many in God's house today suffer an even greater blindness. They Holy Ghost comes to us, willing to show us the meaning of all that Jesus said to us. He convicts us of our sin. We have been translated out of darkness, into His light. So why, then, do so many in the church still go about under this spell of witchcraft-- still prating, bitter and wounded--still holding onto this spirit of rebellion?
Some have already gone too far, as did these Pharisees. "He will miserably destroy those wicked men" (Matthew 21:41). Others are falling deeper and deeper into the devil's snare, and only a thunderbolt from heaven can wake them up to the danger!
You simply cannot go on with the roots of bitterness. You cannot go on green with envy and jealousy. You cannot go on wounded and hurt, blaming others. You cannot go on disregarding the clear hand of God--UNLESS YOU HAVE LOST YOUR REVERENCE FOR JESUS!
Jesus is standing at your heart's door even now. He is saying, "The Father sent Me. Show me your fruit--your obedience! You were planted in good soil; you have had time to grow. What kind of harvest do you have for Me?"
Reverence for Jesus is not a feeling; it is not words. Respect and reverence mean doing what He said! It means obeying His Word, laying aside all the hurt and putting yourself completely in His hands.
If you put down this message still clinging to your wounds, holding onto your grudges, justifying your bitterness--you not only disrespect Christ, but you are also putting Him to open shame and crucifixion once again.
THERE IS HOPE FOR THE REBELLIOUS!
Beloved, I could not deliver this message if God had not given me a word of encouragement for those who long to be free of their rebellion. It's found in Psalm 107:9-14.
"For he satisfieth the longing soul, and filleth the hungry soul with goodness. Such as sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, being bound in affliction and iron; because they rebelled against the words of God, and condemned the counsel of the most High: Therefore he brought down their heart with labour; they fell down, and there was none to help.
"Then they cried unto the Lord in their trouble, and he saved them out of their distress. He brought them out of the darkness and the shadow of death, and brake their bands in sunder."
Have you been "brought down" by your rebellion, your bitterness? Cry out to the Lord of Hosts for divine deliverance! Let Him break the demonic bands around your heart--and bring you out of the shadow of death and into His marvelous light!
SI Moderator - Greg Gordon