We are going to look at a passage where Jesus rebukes the church for being too tolerant. And I think on that point alone it is a very helpful passage for analyzing the American church as a whole and learning how to better pray for it.
‘But I have this against you, that you tolerate the woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess, and she teaches and leads My bond-servants astray so that they commit acts of immorality and eat things sacrificed to idols. ‘I gave her time to repent, and she does not want to repent of her immorality. ‘Behold, I will throw her on a bed of sickness, and those who commit adultery with her into great tribulation, unless they repent of her deeds. ‘And I will kill her children with pestilence, and all the churches will know that I am He who searches the minds and hearts; and I will give to each one of you according to your deeds. Rev. 2:20-23
What I am going to do is to give you fifteen character traits of modern Christian women who have been afflicted with the demonic spirit of Jezebel and tie those in with the identical characteristics found in the queen of 1 and 2 Kings.
1. Control. And the first word is "control." The first and probably the most central characteristic of a Jezebel is the desire to be in control of her environment and of the people in her life. Now, she may not think of herself as being controlling, but her insecurities drive her to be in control of her environment. It is a very strong drive. Usually it is behind the scenes control, but if given the opportunity, she will push for an ever-increasing say-so and influence in the family, the church, or the government that her husband is connected to.
2. Undermining or attacking authority. But second, if she can't control you, she will either undermine you or directly attack you. So her behavior can go from sweet, charming, and flattering to attacking, dominating, or manipulating. People who know her sweet side have a hard time imagining that she could even have a not-so-sweet side with those people who are harder to control. So everything goes well so long as you do things her way. And the Ahab-type men who are under her influence respect her and depend upon her, whereas the Elijah type men feel frustrated with her and she feels frustrated with them. She could not control Elijah, and when Elijah exposed her sins, she went on the attack and was so effective that even Elijah was intimidated and depressed. In fact, Elijah was so depressed that he was almost suicidal.
3.Deception/lying. The third characteristic is that these Jezebels lie but can never be convinced that they are lying. It seems like they really do believe their lies. The person with this spirit can never see themselves as wrong and they have an amazing ability to prove their "rightness" in various ways, even when people know that she is wrong. But with clever use of words, religious talk, manipulation of other people, pointing out errors in your own life (and by the way, shifting focus off of her own faults by going on the attack is a big characteristic), and through other strategies, the spirit of Jezebel keeps the woman from seeing her wrong. It's like there is a veil of self-deception upon her soul and she in turn convinces others of the same lies. And it is not always outright lies. Many times it is simply misdirection.
4. Rationalization of error/sin. Closely related to this is a rationalization of obvious error and even obvious sin. This passage mentions sexual sins that she has justified somehow, but it can be a rationalization of any sins. There is only one verse in the Old Testament that mentions Jezebel's sexual sins, and that is in the mouth of Jehu. So sexual sin is not actually the dominant description of Jezebel. But these women, while clearly seeing the sins of others, cannot seem to see their own sin. Now, speaking of sexuality, in many of the case studies where this demonic spirit has been present, there was no evidence of adultery. But there was almost always evidence of using sex to get her way with her husband. Sexuality was a tool of control. Now sometimes that tool was used with others by way of flirtation and other devices. But I think we will miss the point if we focus on sexual sins. She rationalizes error and obvious sin - that is the key point.
5. Amazing ability to win an argument. A fifth characteristic is an uncanny ability to win arguments. Some people have characterized these women as being better than the best lawyers out there. You might think that you won the argument resoundingly because the facts are on your side, and before you know it, she has turned everything all around on you. And you analyze it and wonder, "How in the world did she do that? I still know she was wrong, and yet I have ended up apologizing and admitting fault. What happened?" The Ahabs in her life are mystified at how she can always be right. She has an uncanny ability to win an argument. And it was not just when Jezebel used the courts against Naboth. Even her conversations with her husband, Ahab, show an uncanny ability to win arguments even though it was clearly obvious that she was in the wrong. A Jezebel is very convincing, especially if the demonic spirit has gained a stronghold in the woman's life.
6. Usually a woman. A sixth characteristic is that the spirit of Jezebel almost always seems to work through a woman. There are a small minority of case studies where this demonic spirit seems to work through a man rather than through a woman, but the minority of people who are afflicted with the spirit of Jezebel are usually women.
7. Wounded. Seventh, like the Jezebel of the Old Testament, who appears to have grown up in the abusive and hypersexualized environment of her father Ethbaal, these women were often deeply wounded in their youth. So "wounded" is the seventh word. It could be as a result of rejection in their youth, abandonment, abuse, or something else - but she carries the scars of her youth. She cannot seem to get past those scars. And the demon uses those scars to move her to control her environment. Control of everything around her seems to help her to feel more secure. It is not a godly coping mechanism, but it is a coping mechanism - to be in control of the environment, sometimes to the point of perfectionism. And by the way, don't look at one or two of these points as being a Jezebel manifestation - it is when several of these points come together in a package deal. These characteristics are tightly connected to each other. The word "wounded" is connected with a tight line to the word "control."
8. Natural leader. Eighth, these women are natural leaders. Sometimes they lead covertly, and other times they lead very openly - depending on whether it is socially acceptable. But Jezebel usually led through her husband, Ahab. Even the letters she wrote were in his name. So there is a camoflauging of her leadership, but she leads. However, unlike true leaders, Jezebels did not lead as one who was under authority. Quite the opposite - she did not like to be led by others or to have true submission. While a Jezebel may profess to be in total submission to the leadership of a home (in fact, sometimes going overboard in speaking of submission), they are always leading behind the scenes. They wear the pants in the family. And despite their deficits, they manage to have a lot of loyal followers who simply cannot see her faults. They will defend her to the nth degree. And part of that is because Jezebels are natural leaders. Many times they are very gifted. And it is a shame that their gifts are not used in a godly way.
9. Jealousy. Jealousy is the ninth characteristic. And the jealousy can sometimes be irrational. It's hard to understand. They can be jealous of compliments paid to their husbands, or they can be jealous if someone else in the church has been given more favor by a given leader. But anything that might even remotely undermine her control or influence is jealously guarded against. She is jealous of anyone (like Elijah) who might exert a degree of control over the people she is controlling. That bothers her a great deal. I'm sure Ahab got some backlash after the Mount Carmel incident without dealing with Elijah, but certainly Elijah did. The influence that Elijah exerted at Mount Carmel over Ahab was unforgiveable in her eyes.
10. Knows God's will/often clairvoyant. Tenth, just as Jezebel thought of herself as a prophetess, these modern women often think they hear clearly from God. In fact, they are so certain of what they think they have heard from God that even clear refutation from the Bible does not convince them. They know they are right even when they are wrong. Sometimes their hearing from God is clairvoyant. In other words, demons give them premonitions, dreams, and revelations that come true. And it reinforces their sense of leading from God and using "God's leading" to control. But they definitely think they know God's will for the family, church, or whatever given situation that they are involved in. It all sounds very spiritual, but a "word from the Lord" can be a tool of manipulation. "The Lord has guided me" can be a tool of manipulation. And Jezebels use it with flaire.
11. Needs Ahabs. Eleventh, they need Ahabs to affirm them. It takes an Ahab to let a Jezebel be effective, and an Ahab needs to repent of his enabling role before a Jezebel can be delivered from the demonic stronghold. Without the Ahab's repentance, they reinforce each other. What astonished me in one case study is the way all the male leaders followed her without even realizing they were following her. They could be going in direction a, but if she graciously argued direction b, they were soon on board even if the reasons were not that persuasive. Now, as a result of this phenomenon, you might assume that Ahab was not a leader. Nothing could be further from the truth. Both the text of Scripture and the secular archeology show that Ahab was an incredibly powerful and gifted leader. And modern Ahabs show themselves to be very active leaders when they are not around her, but to be passive followers in her presence. Of course, they will carry out her will through their leadership. Sometimes they even hate themselves that they keep doing that, but they keep doing it anyway. Why? Because there is a demonic influence, and they have never been taught the principles of spiritual warfare that the second half of our passage teaches.
12. A religious spirit. Twelfth, everyone who has dealt with the Jezebel spirit says that it is always a religious spirit that can operate quite easily under the cover of Christianity (or any other religion for that matter). They need to feel spiritual. 1 Kings 18:19 says that 850 prophets ate at Jezebel's table and were supported by her. She loved supporting "the ministry." Now here's the thing - if you had suggested to her that she was controlling those prophets, she would likely have felt horribly misrepresented - "I'm serving them. All I ever do is serve and give of myself, and you have the audacity of saying that I am controlling?! No way. I am sacrificing myself." These Jezebels are very religious. They may claim to pray more, give more, serve more, study the bible more, or know more about worship, or hearing from God than others. But it is clearly a religious spirit. It has all the ear marks of a religious spirit. And I gave an extended sermon in 2 Samuel on the characteristics of a religious spirit and will not have the time to repeat that today. But it is important to realize that these demons are totally comfortable in a Christian environment - that is, until they are exposed, and then things get ugly.
13. Narcissistic. Thirteenth, they tend to be narcissistic and have a hard time seeing things from their victim's perspective. Everything seems to revolve around them, though their rhetoric is that of service. But I think every case study shows narcissism to be present. The world revolves around them. The husband's schedule revolves around their schedule. And they get frustrated when things don't go their way. And if you point out that their behavior is unreasonable, they just cannot see it. To them it is the most obvious thing in the world that the husband needs to be available for their questions all day long.
14. Plays victim card. Fourteenth, though they manipulate others, they often play the victim. And in the process, the true victim of their games gets hurt even more. And sometimes they seem to really think that they are the victim who is being controlled even though they are the controllers who victimize others. So there is a projection of their own motives onto others. It's a very odd phenomenon.
15. Family out of order. And Fifteenth, their families are often out of order, while appearing to be very ordered and controlled. But the control is often at the expense of the father's leadership. He may say that he is leading, but the actual control in the home is one that is at least orchestrated by her. The children grow up eventually taking sides with the mom and having some of the same insecurities that she does, with some of the same confident bluster to cover the insecurities. And since the children have been controlled and manipulated all their lives, they tend to control and manipulate others themselves. So Jezebels produce more Jezebels, just like Jezebel produced Athaliah in the Old Testament. Athaliah, Jezebel's daughter, was another woman who had the spirit of Jezebel, which means that she had either the same demon or a similar demon to Jezebel's. But she had the same manifestations.
The church of Thyatira describes to a "t" many churches that I am familiar with in America.
As I have done research on the hundreds of case studies of the Jezebel spirit in Evangelical churches of today (it is one of the three biggest demonic strongholds facing the Evangelical church), it has given me a little sympathy for the church of Thyatira. I used to be very down on Thyatira - not as much any more. And the reason is that it is much harder than you might think to expose and to discipline such a woman. She floats so easily among godly pastors and members and serves their needs so well, that her worst sides are sometimes hidden for a long time. And she certainly has a lot of defenders.
- Phillip Kayser