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Home : Articles :
The Harlot Church System (part 2)

 

The Harlot Church System (part 2)
By Charles Elliott Newbold, Jr.

Zion vs. Babylon

Chapter 11 - Jezebel

Jesus said to the believers at Thyatira, "I have a few things against you." That should get one's attention. Why did He say that? "Because you have suffered [allowed] that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess, to teach and seduce my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed to idols." Rev. 2:20. Who was "that woman Jezebel" and what did she do that Jesus would have had such contempt toward her?

A SPIRITUAL CONDITION

Jezebel in Thyatira may have been a real person among the called-out-ones there and may have actually been engaging in sexual immorality. She may have been actually drawing others into her ways. Such is not out of the question since adultery goes on in the churches today. It always has. Even so, something far more engaging, far more spiritually significant, for which the Lord showed contempt, was going on there.

The "Jezebel spirit" in Thyatira represented a spiritual condition in the hearts of some of the called-out-ones there. Ahab's Jezebel in the Old Testament defines what this Jezebel spirit is by her life and reputation. She was controlling and manipulative and practiced witchcraft and harlotry.

Spiritual harlotry is seeking anything for Self. It is the flesh hungering to enhance itself. We all have harlot hearts and are easily deceived. When this idolatrous harlotry is brought into our assembly life as the body of Christ, we have the Jezebel spirit in operation. Our idolatry and spiritual harlotry may not be so blatant as hers, but is just as much a hindrance to having an intimate relationship with our Lord.

This Jezebel in Thyatira and this "MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH" (Rev. 17:1-6) represent the same spiritual condition--idolatry and spiritual harlotry (fornication). Jezebel in Thyatira taught and seduced the Lord's servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed to idols. This harlot of Revelation 17 is pictured as the great whore that sat "upon many waters with whom the kings of the earth have committed fornication, and the inhabitants of the earth have been made drunk with the wine of her fornication." She was "drunk with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus."

THE JEZEBEL SPIRIT DEFINED

The Jezebel-harlot spirit is seeking anything for Self. It is the idolatry of Self--self-love. Philippians 2:21 reads, "For all seek their own, not the things which are Jesus Christ's." Whoever seeks his own is into self-love... self-love is idolatry, and all idolatry is spiritual harlotry. Our sin nature is prone to self-love and his condition is made worse by the enticement of demonic spirits.

The harlot spirit is present anytime we try to build something in the flesh for Self. In contrast, the Holy Spirit is present when we set our hearts to build only for Him and by Him. We deceive ourselves when we think that our great church building programs are for Him. They are not. They are for Self. Many well-meaning, but ill-informed Christians try to exploit the Holy Spirit to advance themselves. Many fake the presence of the Holy Spirit to make their church or their services look good. This is wrong. We have not been given the Holy Spirit to make the harlot look good.

The Jezebel spirit is further defined by her deeds.

SHE LEADS GOD'S SERVANTS ASTRAY

The Jezebel spirit leads astray God's bond-servants, those who willingly commit to serving Christ.

The Jezebel of Thyatira led people astray through her doctrine--the things she taught. The Lord said, "But to you I say, and to the rest in Thyatira, as many as have not this doctrine [teaching]..." Rev. 2:24. She was violating their minds and spirituality with false teachings; namely, those teachings that would exalt Self, especially herself that she might have the rule over them. In this, she was causing them to eat things sacrificed to idols. The idols in this case was Self. All idolatry stems from the love of Self.

Through her doctrines she did the same thing Balaam was found guilty of doing. The use of this expression "eating things sacrificed to idols" links her to Balaam. Knowing who Balaam was and what he did explained who the Nicolaitans were and now explains who "that woman Jezebel" was. They all sought something for Self in order to gain dominance over the people.

Eating things sacrificed to idols is what we do when we allow the old, arrogant, self-centered, self-promoting man of flesh and sin to rule rather than allowing the Holy Spirit to rule. It is the lordship of the harlot instead of the lordship of Jesus Christ.

Some at Thyatira were beguiled by the self-seeking, self-promoting "doctrine" advanced by "that woman Jezebel." These doctrines later influenced the rise of the clergy system. It was a system of men's self-seeking traditions based on power, position, pomp, preeminence, riches, and domination.

Those in the churches today who violate God's sheep in order to increase themselves in power, position, and domination are, likewise, causing the sheep to eat things sacrificed to idols--the idols of self-glorification.

SHE INCITES BAAL WORSHIP

It is not coincidental that the woman in Revelation chapter 2 is named Jezebel, or that the woman in Revelation chapter 17 is called MOTHER OF HARLOTS. There could be no more perfect picture of all that is an abomination to God than the Jezebel of 1 Kings 16 who married Ahab, king of Israel. As we investigate her life and practices, we shall surely be convinced that she serves as a symbolic type of the harlot spirit in the church system that was to come.

Jezebel was a Phoenician princess, the daughter of Ethbaal, King of Tyre, of the Sidonians. Ahab, King of Israel, married her. The scriptures reads, "And it came to pass, as if it had been a light thing for him to walk in the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, that he [Ahab] took to wife Jezebel...and went and served Baal, and worshipped him." 1 Kings 16:31. In this, Ahab "did more to provoke the LORD God of Israel to anger than all the kings of Israel that were before him." 1 Kings 16:33. She led Ahab to worship Baal.

Baal means "possessor" and was the god of the increase of flocks, crops, and families. It might be defined in present-day terms as "greed." Baal worship is self-worship and characterized by the love of the world: the lust for power, position, riches, and domination much like what we see throughout the history of the church and its system of clergy.

If the Jezebel spirit can succeed in getting God's bond-servants to worship other gods, to get their eyes off of Jesus and onto themselves, she will have caused them to commit spiritual fornication and to eat things sacrificed to idols. She will have caused them to commit sins that are an abomination to God.

When we lift up this Thing we call church and join people to it, we turn their hearts away from the one who should be their first and only love, Jesus Christ.

SHE CONSULTS THE PROPHETS OF BAAL

The Jezebel spirit consults the prophets of Baal. The prophets of Baal say things that appeal to and entice the desires of the flesh.

Ahab's Jezebel had her own prophets of Baal. She allowed the prophets of Baal to eat at her table. 1 Kings 18:19. They tickled her ears by telling her what she wanted to hear. She wanted to hear whatever she thought might bring an increase of power, control, and grandeur to herself.

Such was the case with Ahab when he joined Jehoshaphat in war against the king of Syria over Ramoth in Gilead. Jehoshaphat pleaded with Ahab to inquire of the Lord before they went to battle. Ahab gathered about four hundred of the prophets of Baal, and they told him to proceed, assuring him that the Lord would deliver him. It was already in his heart to do this thing, so they told him what he wanted to hear. Jehoshaphat asked, "Is there not a prophet of the Lord that we might inquire of him?" No doubt Ahab bristled at this suggestion. Ahab knew the prophet Micaiah but told Jehoshaphat, "I hate him; for he does not prophesy good concerning me, but evil." Nevertheless, Micaiah was consulted and told Ahab the same thing his lying prophets had told him, "Go, and prosper: for the LORD shall deliver it into the hand of the king." Ahab knew he was not speaking the word of the Lord and commanded him to speak the truth. So he did. "I saw all Israel scattered upon the hills, as sheep that have not a shepherd." 2 Chronicles 18:22 adds, "and the LORD has declared disaster against you." Fascinating! Ahab knew Micaiah was not speaking truth, he knew it was not God's will to go to battle, but he did it anyway, bringing about his own destruction. 1 Kings 22.

The "Ahabs" in the churches today surround themselves with "yes" men. They will continue to bow down to their own Baals and consult with their own prophets of Baal as long as they are addicted to bigger, better, and more. Bigger, better, and more of anything. Bigger, better, and more of everything. Bigger church buildings. Better salaries. More members. Greater offerings. Increased honor, recognition, and reputation. Even when they know this is leading to their destruction, their insatiable appetite for increase drives them on. They do it anyway.

SHE KILLS THE PROPHETS OF GOD

The Jezebel spirit kills the prophets of God.

Ahab's Jezebel is noted for having killed the prophets of the Lord. 1 Kings 18:4, 13. The Lord avenged the blood of His servants the prophets and the blood of all the servants of the Lord at the hand of Jezebel (2 Kings 9:7) by anointing Jehu, one of Ahab's captains, to be the King of Israel and instructing him to kill the house of Ahab.

Ahab's Jezebel and THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS shared this reputation: they killed the prophets of God. Revelation 17:6 describes the woman as being "drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus." Revelation 18:24 reads that "in her was found the blood of prophets, and of saints and of all that were slain upon the earth."

Her powers go beyond that of a conniving woman. She was a partner with the powers of darkness--one to shun, one from whom to run. Elijah had sense enough to know this. He had won a mighty victory for the Lord on Mount Carmel. Fire came down from heaven at his petition and consumed the altars of Jezebel's prophets. Then Elijah slew all 450 of her prophets with the sword at the Brook Kishon. 1 Kings 18:20-40. Such bravery! Such confidence in God! Then, when "that woman Jezebel" threatened to do to him what he had done to her prophets, he ran for his life and wisely so. He recognized the depth of evil in her. He fled a day's journey into the wilderness, sat down under a juniper tree, and pleaded with the Lord to take his life. 1 Kings 19:1-4.

This spirit in Jezebel was already scheming in Israel during the time of the Judges when Samson foolishly gave himself to Delilah, a woman in the Valley of Sorek. She enticed him to give away the secret of his strength, which cost him his strength, his freedom, his eyesight, and eventually his life. Judg. 16:4-22.

John the Baptist, the prophet, fell victim to this heinous spirit. Matt. 14:1-12. John had condemned Herod for taking his brother's wife, Herodias. Herod wanted to put John to death, but feared the multitude who considered John to be a prophet. On the occasion of Herod's birthday, the daughter of Herodias danced before his illustrious birthday crowd. Her performance was so pleasing that Herod foolishly offered her anything she wished up to half of his kingdom. Her mother wasted no time prompting her to ask for the head of John. The Bible says that Herod was sorry but had boasted his pledge in the hearing of all present and could not squirm his way out of it. John's head fell, and the Jezebel spirit had claimed the life of another prophet of God.

If Jezebel cannot kill the prophet of God outright, she will try to seduce him into some immoral, illegal, or unscrupulous act in order to derail him. The story of Joseph and Potiphar's wife is the classic, scriptural example of this. Though he had been bought as a slave, Joseph found favor with Potiphar, and God blessed Potiphar because of Joseph's presence in his house. Potiphar entrusted the management of his household and wealth to Joseph. Potiphar's wife was a different matter. She had sexual designs on Joseph and tried to entice him into her bedroom. Joseph, being a man of integrity, refused her enticements. She snared him anyway. She grabbed his garment from him as he fled from her, took the garment to Potiphar, and falsely accused him of trying to have sex with her. Though Potiphar imprisoned him, the Jezebel spirit ultimately failed, for God used Joseph's imprisonment to lead him to his destiny--the seat of high honor and trust in Pharaoh's house. Gen. 39:7-20.

Proverbs 5:1-8 is a warning to the natural man that applies to the spiritual man as well. "My son, attend unto my wisdom, and bow your ear to my understanding: That you may regard discretion, and that your lips may keep knowledge. For the lips of a strange woman drop as an honeycomb, and her mouth is smoother than oil: but her end is bitter as wormwood, sharp as a two-edged sword. Her feet go down to death; her steps take hold on hell. Lest you should ponder the path of life, her ways are moveable, that you cannot know them. Hear me now therefore, O you children, and depart not from the words of my mouth. Remove your way far from her, and come not near the door of her house."

The Jezebel spirit in the churches today is no less a threat to the servants of God. Many true and godly servants of Christ have been spiritually and emotionally damaged and disfellowshipped from the churches because they sought to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit against the interest of their rigid denominational traditions. Additionally, as Bob Hughey points out, "The harlot steals affection, time, energy, financial resources, and seed away from the bride. Jesus will never give His seed to the harlot." Just as the physical seed of humans is the sperm; so is the spiritual seed the word of God. His word is for His bride. We are to receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save our souls. James 1:21b.

SHE DESTROYS THE ROYAL OFFSPRING OF DAVID

This Jezebel spirit is murderous and would try to alter world history. She stops at nothing to destroy God's inheritance, attempting to kill even the royal offspring from King David to King Jesus.

Jezebel and Ahab had a daughter named Athaliah who married Jehoram, king of Judah. After he died, Athaliah's son, Ahaziah, became king in Judah but was killed by Jehu. When Athaliah saw that her son was dead, she arose, began to kill all the royal offspring from the house of Judah, seized the throne for herself, and reigned for six years. She inherited her mother's demon.

Athaliah succeeded in killing all the royal offspring except for Joash. Jehoshabeath, the daughter of king Ahaziah, hid Joash from the other sons who were being killed. Joash was later crowned king of Judah by the congregation of Levites and chief fathers of Israel under the leadership of Jehoiada, a priest.

When Athaliah heard the commotion surrounding the crowning ceremony of Joash, she tore her clothes and shouted, "Treason! Treason!" Johoiada ordered that she be taken outside the Temple and put to death. 2 Kings 8:25-11:20 or 2 Chron. 22-23.

We realize the magnitude of this historical event when we remember that Jesus, the Messiah, was to be a descendent of David. 1 Chron. 17:11-12. Had Joash himself been murdered with the rest of the royal offspring from David, this would have interrupted that divine lineage.

As we come to the end of the age we find Satan, the real influence that empowers the Jezebel spirit, once again attempting to destroy the royal offspring of David. All who are the called, chosen, and faithful (Rev. 17:14) are the malechild of Revelation 12:1-5 who is to rule the nations with a rod of iron, whom the dragon attempts to devour. This malechild is a corporate son, bearing the image of the Son, whom the Holy Spirit will manifest in these last days.

The Jezebel spirit attempts to destroy the spirit of Sonship when it is preached, perverts the revelation when it comes forth, and holds many people hostage to the religious systems of men.

SHE SITS AS QUEEN

The Jezebel spirit seeks to position herself as queen.

Ahab's Jezebel ruled surreptitiously. She was the power behind the throne. The Jezebel spirit historically has been acting in stealth, but the Holy Spirit reveals that she will actually position herself openly upon the throne just as did Athaliah. "How much she has glorified herself...for she says in her heart, 'I sit as a queen.'" Rev. 18:7. It is already coming to pass not only in the church but in all areas of life; she will sit as queen before the end of the age.

The Jezebel spirit despises the authority of the man. She is driven to usurp the headship of her husband--taking over what God has given him to do. She answers for him, makes decisions for him, and manipulates him to get her way. She uses sex, crying, sulking, conniving, self-pity, and threats to achieve what she wants. This is vividly illustrated in the next chapter on Naboth.

The Jezebel spirit wants more than anything to rule in the churches and to rule over God's elect. She targets the leadership when she can. The elders of a small city fellowship would meet, pray, and agree together on the direction they believed the Lord was leading. The next time they met, elder John often had reversed his position. Why? He went home, talked it over with his wife, and if it did not comply with her agenda, she persuaded him to change his mind. She ruled him; thereby, she controlled most of what happened in this fellowship through him. He was an Ahab and she was a Jezebel.

Jezebel is driven by ambition and is characterized by the headship of the woman. The Holy Spirit established God's order for headship through Paul. He wrote, "But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God." 1 Cor. 11:2.

This principle of headship is not a question of citizenship or greatness. It certainly does not call for abusive behavior on the part of the husband nor blind obedience on the part of the wife. It is a matter of jurisdiction. It is a responsibility each man has before his Head, Christ, to properly love and cover his wife. Coach Bill McCartney spoke profoundly on the NBC Today Show, November 19, 1997, saying, "Every man's calling is to bring his wife to splendor." A godly man will be a true shepherd over his household. He will lead, feed, heal, and tend to them.

Women who usurp their coverings of headship open themselves up to deceiving spirits. 1 Cor. 11:10. Women who become the "power behind the throne" or in any sense begin to exercise authority over their husbands open themselves up to a Jezebel spirit. 1 Cor. 2:12-14. The headship of women is out of order and dangerous. It will lead God's bond-servants astray.

Babylonian-based churches are powered by the secret influences of Jezebel spirits, and the Ahabs are pawns in their hands. These spirits will be available and functioning when this harlot church system is in place. This idolatrous system of self-worship attracts demons like flies to a picnic.

SHE IS CAST DOWN IN A DAY

THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS is in contrast to the bride in Revelation 19:7-9. This counterfeit is the mother of the abominations of the earth. She is an abomination to the Lord and will be cast down in a day. Her glory already pales with the rising glory of God's true and holy bride.

A striking similarity exists between Ahab's Jezebel and THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS in how they are terminated.

2 Kings 9:30-33 narrates how Ahab's Jezebel died. Jehu had been anointed to replace Jehoram as the king of Israel and was given the charge to slay the whole house of Ahab, including Jezebel. When Jehu came to Jezreel, he found Jezebel looking through a window. Upon his command, some eunuchs threw her down and some of her blood was sprinkled on the wall and on the horses. Jehu trod her under foot. They later went out to bury her, but the dogs had eaten all of her except her skull, feet, and the palms of her hands just as Elisha had prophesied. 1 Kings 21:23.

Revelation 18:2 records, "Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great!" Verse 8 reads: "For this reason in one day her plagues will come..." Verse 10: "Woe, woe, the great city, Babylon, the strong city! For in one hour your judgment has come." Verse 17: "...for in one hour such great wealth has been laid waste!" Verse 21: "and a strong angel took up a stone like a great millstone and threw it into the sea, saying, 'Thus will Babylon, the great city, be thrown down with violence, and will not be found any longer.'"

The second angel said in Revelation 14:8, "Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city, because she made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication."

Then one of the seven angels in Revelation 17:1-2 said, "Come here, I will show you the judgment of the great whore who sits upon many waters: with whom the kings of the earth have committed fornication, and the inhabitants of the earth have been made drunk with the wine of her fornication."

Finally, in Revelation 19:1-2, John "heard a great voice of much people in heaven, saying, 'Alleluia; Salvation, and glory, and honor, and power, unto the Lord our God: For true and righteous are His judgments: for He has judged the great whore, which corrupted the earth with her fornication...'"

This idolatrous system of men's traditions, bundled in this Thing we call church and typified by the Jezebel spirit is destined to be destroyed. Revelation 2:21-24 tells the rest of the story. "And I gave her [Jezebel] space to repent of her fornication; and she repented not. Behold, I will cast her into a bed, and them that commit adultery with her into great tribulation, except they repent of their deeds. And I will kill her children with death; and all the assemblies of called-out-ones shall know that I am He who searches the minds and hearts: and I will give unto every one of you according to your works. But unto you I say, and unto the rest in Thyatira, as many as have not this doctrine, and which have not known the depths of Satan, as they speak; I will put upon you none other burden."

The rule of the carnal mind in the church is the Babylonian captivity of the church. The Nicolaitans are the doorkeepers and Jezebel rules behind the scenes. She is a black widow spider who weaves her web of seduction and deceit to trap whom she can.

And so it happened to Naboth. He, too, was caught in her snare.

Chapter 12 - Naboth

It was a choice day for Naboth as he strolled through his vineyard tasting his dew-covered grapes in the still of the morning. "A good crop this year," he thought to himself, smiling and nodding his head in agreement. 1 Kings 21 (with a little of my own imagination).

The eastern sun blinded Naboth's view of Ahab, the king of Israel, who was nervously approaching him. Ahab was out early that morning. He had something on his mind. His palace was next door to Naboth's vineyard.

"Oh!" Naboth was startled by Ahab. "I didn't hear you coming."

Ahab wasted no time in making his offer to Naboth. "Give me your vineyard so I can have a vegetable garden next to the palace here. I will give you a better vineyard somewhere else, or if you prefer, I will give you its worth in money."

Naboth took a step back. He could not believe what was being asked of him. He didn't need time to think about it. It blurted right out of his mouth. "The LORD forbid me that I should give the inheritance of my fathers to you." 1 Kings 21:3.

Ahab's countenance fell. His heart was set on getting this piece of property from Naboth. Heart sickened, he went into his house, laid down on his bed, turned his face away, and had a pity-party.

Jezebel found Ahab sulking and asked, "Why are you so down that you can't even eat?"

"Naboth won't give me his vineyard," he whined.

She rose to the occasion and said what any good Jezebel would say in a situation like this. "Are you not the authority over Israel? Get up! Eat! Be merry! I'll take care of this. I will give you Naboth's vineyard."

Ahab did what any good Ahab would do. He did what she told him to do and never questioned how she planned on getting Naboth's vineyard. A friend of mine saw it this way: "He did not wish to know for fear that he might find her plans disagreeable. These Ahabs are not stupid. They often live vicariously through their Jezebels."

She wasted no time. Her disregard for Naboth was obvious. This was her opportunity to gain more power and authority for herself. She achieved her goal by ruling covertly through her husband. She was the voice behind him.

She whisked past the servants outside of Ahab's bedroom, tossed her shawl over her shoulder, marched toward the royal office, pulled out a piece of parchment, and began to write letters to the elders and nobles who lived in the city. She forged Ahab's name on them, poured wax beside his name, and carefully sealed the letters with his signet ring.

"Proclaim a fast," she wrote, "and set Naboth on high among the people: and set two worthless men before him to bear witness against him, saying, 'You blasphemed God and the king.' Then carry him out, and stone him, that he may die."

I wonder! Did the men of the city, those elders and nobles, know that Jezebel was the author of this murderous scheme? Did they pretend not to know? Did they not know the good reputation of Naboth and that this was a fabrication against him? Regardless--being the yes men that they were--they did what the royal palace asked them to do. They held their kangaroo court, sentenced a good man on the word of two scoundrels, and stoned him to death.

Word quickly returned to Jezebel that Naboth was dead. She ran into Ahab's chambers, yanked the covers from off his head, and shouted, "Get up! Take possession of Naboth's vineyard. He is no longer alive, but is dead."

Still, no questions asked. The evil deed was done. Ahab and Jezebel had what they wanted. Or so they thought.

THE SYMBOLS

This story reads like a parable and has striking similarities to the circumstances surrounding the death of Jesus. It continues to speak to the present condition in the church. Reading about Naboth as a parable further exposes the nature, deeds, teachings, and work of the Nicolaitans and the Jezebel spirit. Ahab particularly further defines the Nicolaitan spirit.

Nearly every person, place, and part in this story has symbolic meaning. Naboth's name means "sprout." As such, he is a type of Jesus, the root of Jesse. He lived in Jezreel which means "God sows." Jezreel is a type of the Kingdom of God wherein God sows the good seed of the word to bring forth His vineyard. Naboth's vineyard represents the general assembly of called-out-ones, which is the body of Christ--all those who are born from above by the eternal seed in Christ. Jesus is the true vine, the Father is the vinedresser, and we are the branches. We abide in Him and He abides in us. John 15:1-8. We are the fruit of that vine as well.

We must know that the enemy of our faith seeks to steal, kill, and destroy (John 10:10) doing whatever it takes to claim God's vineyard for himself.

THE INHERITANCE

Naboth was horrified at Ahab's insult. His vineyard was more than a piece of real estate. It was the inheritance of his fathers. "The LORD forbid me that I should give the inheritance of my fathers to you," he told Ahab.

Listen for the double meaning here: "the inheritance of my fathers." What was taken from Naboth was taken from his forefathers as well. If the inheritance I leave for my children is stolen from them, it is stolen from me because it was my inheritance for them. It becomes a personal thing.

We as God's vineyard are His inheritance. Paul prayed for the Ephesians--a prayer to which we can all lay claim--"that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him: that the eyes of your understanding may be enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, and what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints." Eph. 1:18.

Likewise, we have our inheritance in Him. Ephesians 1:11 says that we have obtained an inheritance through Christ. Colossians 1:12 adds that we are partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light. Hebrews 9:15 assures us that we have the promise of the eternal inheritance. 1 Peter 1:3-4 declares that we have been born again from the dead to a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ that leaves us an incorruptible and undefiled inheritance that will not fade away. It is reserved in heaven. Our redemption in Christ Jesus is a wonderful inheritance for us. It is what God wants for us. Likewise, our redemption is an inheritance for God. It is what God wants for Himself. It, too, is a very personal thing with Him.

Israel of old was given an inheritance of land. They were to take it for themselves and for God. Spiritually speaking, we also have been given a land to possess for ourselves and for God. Our land is our souls; that is, our minds, wills, and emotions. We have a spiritual inheritance of righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost; of redemption, sanctification, and glorification; of becoming the sons of God through obedience. For we are the heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ. Rom. 8:17. We get what God wants for us, and God gets what He must have from us. We mutually benefit.

It is little wonder, then, that Satan would pull the strings on his Ahab marionettes to rob us and God of our inheritance. Satan, like Ahab, wants God's vineyard for himself. His primary mission in our lives is to destroy those of us who are heirs and joint-heirs with Christ. False shepherds sneak into the fold as wolves in sheep's clothing to claim God's inheritance for themselves. Pastors refer to congregations as their people. We identify a body of believers as "Brother Bobby's" church. We cannot possess what God owns. We belong to one another in the kingdom of God, but we are never to own one another. We are His sheep and the sheep of His pasture.

Ahab wanted the vineyard for a vegetable garden and not for the grapes and wine it could produce. He wanted to change its character. The Ahabs of today change the character of God's holy vineyard. They clone others to look like themselves to satisfy their own agendas rather than permitting the Holy Spirit to conform others into the image of Jesus. Satan gains control of God's vineyard through the self-aggrandizing personalities of the heavy-handed Ahabs that rule the churches.

THE PROPOSITION

Ahab promised Naboth that he would replace his vineyard with a better one or give him the price in money for it. In a similar way, Satan tried to buy off Jesus when he came to Him in the wilderness, showed him all the kingdoms of the world, and told him that He could have all of them and their glory if He would only bow down and worship him.

Jesus answered the Devil, "Get behind me Satan: for it is written, 'You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only shall you serve.'" Luke 4:5-8. Naboth answered Ahab by saying, "The LORD forbid me that I should give you the inheritance of my fathers." Had Jesus yielded to the temptation to sell out to Satan, there would have been no "inheritance in the saints." Eph. 1:18.

Ahab is a type of the clergy within the harlot church system--those who seek something for Self. Ahab-type ministries today must have a following in order to advance themselves in power, position, riches, and dominance. David Fitzpatrick maintains that the purpose of leadership is "to help train and equip people to work out the call of God that is on their lives...but today's church seems to flow too often in one direction--toward the center, continually gathering everyone's talents and gifts and using them to accomplish the goals of a few." He emphasizes: "I do not believe the life of the people should be consumed in helping a leader accomplish his goals in life." In bold simplicity he asserts, "We must release people, not possess them." 3 {21}

THE PLOT

Jezebel's name means "unhusbanded." This means that she was an uncovered woman. A woman can be unmarried, yet covered; and she can be married, yet uncovered. The difference has to do with her having a submissive heart. Jezebel not only failed to submit to the headship of her husband, but usurped the headship of her husband. She ruled the roost. As such, she is a type of the harlot church system in which people are the heads and not Christ. Their headquarters are in cities rather than in the Kingdom of God. Through these systems the Jezebel spirit plots and schemes to accomplish its personal ambitions and agendas.

This happened to Jesus. Matthew 26:3-4 reads, "Then the chief priests and the elders of the people were gathered together in the court of the high priest, named Caiaphas; and they plotted together to seize Jesus by stealth, and kill him." We can well imagine that Jezebel spirit hovering over the Ahabs/Nicolaitans in Jesus' time, goading them to crucify the Son of the living God. Certainly, it was present.

As in the case of Naboth, there were two worthless men present to testify against Jesus. Matthew 26:59-61 documents it: "Now the chief priests and the whole Council kept trying to obtain false testimony against Jesus, in order that they might put Him to death; and they did not find any, even though many false witnesses came forward. But later on two came forward and said, 'This man stated, I am able to destroy the temple of God and to rebuild it in three days.'"

After they brought Jesus before Pilate, they began to accuse Him of misleading the nation and forbidding to pay taxes to Caesar and of saying that He was the Christ, a King. Luke 23:2. He was Christ and King, but their intent in saying so was evil. And, as in the case of Naboth, they even accused Him of blasphemy. Matt. 26:65.

The Pharisees, Sadducees, rulers, and elders of Judaism at the time of Christ had this political Ahab/Nicolaitan spirit in them. Remember that Nicolaitan means "conqueror of the people." John 11:47-48 bears witness to this. "Therefore the chief priests and the Pharisees convened a council, and were saying, 'What are we doing? For this man is performing many signs. If we let Him go on like this, all men will believe in Him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation.'"

THE EXECUTION

The plot against Naboth was executed as Jezebel scripted. The elders and nobles had surely known Naboth all their lives and had known that the accusations were false. Nevertheless, because of the intimidating influence of the Ahab and Jezebel spirits, they killed him anyway. They took Naboth outside of the city and stoned him to death.

In this same way, the religious leaders, with political endorsements, caused Jesus to be taken outside of the city walls of Jerusalem to a hill called Golgotha (meaning "place of a skull") and ordered that He be nailed onto a Roman cross. Mark 15:22.

The Ahabs and Nicolaitans in the church today still intimidate believers with fear; for example, they may tell them they will be out of God's will if they leave their church.

Hebrews 13:13 charges us saying, "Hence, let us go out to Him outside the camp, bearing His reproach." Going outside of the camp for us today is like coming out of the harlot church system. You cannot live a laid-down, Spirit-led life in it. You will either be controlled by those who rule it or by the Holy Spirit. Church membership is voluntary. If you have voluntarily placed yourself under false leadership such as we have in the harlot church system, you are under false headship. If, on the other hand, you permit yourself to be led by the Holy Spirit and that runs contrary to the agenda of the leadership in your church, you will most likely cause trouble. If those who rule it cannot control you, they will put you out, find ways to silence you, or at best, ignore you.

THE POSSESSION

After Naboth had been stoned, Jezebel aroused Ahab and told him to take possession of Naboth's vineyard. Possessiveness and ownership are main traits of the Nicolaitan and Jezebel spirits.

The takeover of Naboth's vineyard became Ahab and Jezebel's downfall, for God delivered His judgment against them. Likewise, the death of Jesus by the "Ahabs" of His day was their defeat. Jesus made it clear to the disciples that no man could take His life. He had the power to lay it down and to take it up again. John 10:18. Jesus laid down His life for His sheep. John 10:15.

The ancient story of Naboth, Ahab, and Jezebel had been given as a preview performance on the stage of history. Only the names of the characters were changed. 1 Kings 21:15-16 could just as well have read, "And it came about when the Jezebel spirit heard that Jesus and all of the apostles were dead, that it said to the Ahabs/Nicolaitans (clergymen), 'Arise, go down to the called-out-ones, to take possession of them.'" This is exactly what happened, and they have ruled the churches from the second century A.D. until now.

Balaam's strategy remains the same to this day: "If we cannot curse them, we will seduce them into the harlotry of Self." Whatever it takes, the Ahabs and Nicolaitans must possess "their own."

THE ELIJAH SPIRIT

This morning was different than the one when Naboth tasted the freshly ripened grapes from his vineyard. This morning Ahab had risen early to survey the plowed-up fields of Naboth's vineyard while Naboth's death still haunted every furrow of ground. Ahab could not care less. He had what he wanted, so he thought.

In stomped Elijah with the fire of God's anointing in his eyes. He wasted no time nor did he exchange pleasantries. "Have you killed and taken possession? This is what God says to you, 'In the place where dogs licked the blood of Naboth shall dogs lick your blood.'" 1 Kings 21:19.

Stumbling over his own ineptness, Ahab asked Elijah, "Did you find me, O enemy of mine?" The Ahabs will always view the true prophets of God as their enemies, for the true prophets do not say what the Ahabs want to hear.

"I found you," Elijah answered, "because you have sold yourself to work evil in the sight of the LORD." God declared through Elijah, moreover, that He would bring evil upon Ahab, cut off his posterity, and make his house like Jeroboam and Baasha for the way he had provoked the Lord to anger and made Israel to sin. And so it happened just as Elijah prophesied.

The Elijah spirit is being released today in part to speak judgment against the Ahabs and Jezebels who teach and seduce God's servants to commit fornication and to eat things sacrificed to idols. Rev. 2:20. How we give our affections, time, money, energies, children, and the like to these idolatrous church systems we are in!

THE VALIDATION

Jesus told a parable which sounds strangely like the story of Naboth because of the coveting, the murder, and the judgment contained in it.

"There was a certain householder, who planted a vineyard, hedged it round about, dug a winepress in it, built a tower, let it out to husbandmen, and went into a far country.

"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 beat one, and killed another, and stoned another.

"Again, he sent other servants more than the first: and they did to them likewise. But last of all he sent unto them his son, saying, 'They will reverence my son.' But when the husbandmen saw the son, they said among themselves, 'This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and let us seize on his inheritance.' They caught him, cast him out of the vineyard, and slew him.

"When the lord therefore of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those husbandmen? "

They said to Him, "He will miserably destroy those wicked men, and will let out his vineyard to other husbandmen, which shall render him the fruits in their seasons."

Jesus said to them, "Did you never read in the scriptures, 'The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner: this is the Lord's doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes?' Therefore say I to you, the kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof. And whosoever shall fall on this stone shall be broken: but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder."

And when the chief priests and Pharisees had heard his parables, they perceived that he spoke of them. But when they sought to lay hands on him, they feared the multitude, because they took him for a prophet. Matt. 21:33-46.

The householder in this parable is God, the Father. The vineyard is His assembly of called-out-ones, the true heirs of Abraham, heirs by faith. The husbandman was the nation of Israel, who by this time was ruled by the religious and political systems of the Pharisees, Sadducees, scribes, and rulers. The servants whom they killed were the prophets. The Son whom they also killed was Jesus Christ. The nation to whom He gave the care of the vineyard (the Kingdom of God) are the Gentiles.

This parable just as well speaks of the condition of the church system today, and the Nicolaitans in that church system today perpetuate the attitude of the Pharisees, Sadducees, scribes, and rulers. Once again, the Spirit of the Lord testifies that the vineyard (the called-out-ones) will be taken from them and given to those who will nurture the called-out-ones into the fullness of Christ. They will be shepherds who will seek nothing for themselves.

Ahab is a type of Self on the throne. Jezebel is the harlotry of seeking something for Self. When it comes to that Thing we call church, she connives to be on the throne--practicing her witchcraft to possess God's inheritance in the saints.

Chapter 13 - Witchcraft In Everyday Life

Ahab did an abominable thing in the sight of God: he married that woman Jezebel who brought her idolatries and witchcraft into the house of the Lord. Ahab's Jezebel, the Jezebel of Revelation 2:20, and the great whore of Revelation 18 were each known for their witchcraft.

As for Ahab's Jezebel, 2 Kings 9:22 tells us, "It came about, when Joram saw Jehu, that he said, 'Is it peace, Jehu?' And he answered, 'What peace, so long as the harlotries of your mother Jezebel and her witchcraft are so many?'"

As for "that woman Jezebel" in Revelation 2:20, Jesus said that she taught and seduced "...My servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed to idols." The Greek word for seduced has also been translated "beguiled" and "deceived." These terms are associated with witchcraft.

As for the great whore that sits on many waters, Revelation 18:23 mentions that all the nations were deceived by her sorcery.

WITCHCRAFT DEFINED

The practice of witchcraft is a deed of the flesh. Paul writes, "Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God." Gal. 5:19-21 NKJV. The Greek word for sorcery is pharmakeia which refers to a person who prepares and uses magical remedies. The King James Version translates it "witchcraft".

While witchcraft is a deed of the flesh, the spirit of witchcraft can influence our flesh to do all the other deeds of the flesh. It can entice our flesh to commit adultery and fornication. It can manipulate circumstances in our relationships to stir up contentions, jealousies, and outbursts of wrath. It can control all aspects of our flesh to do evil if we allow it to take dominance.

Witchcraft, as a work of the flesh, has two dimensions to it. One is the strict, familiar concept that it ordinarily brings to mind. It conjures up the image of an old, bony-framed woman with a wrinkled face and a shrill voice, hunched over an iron kettle, brewing up a potion of spiders and herbs to cast spells on people. We think about voodoo dolls, ouija boards, tarot cards, crystal balls, palm reading, seances, astrology, meditation, parapsychology, psychic phenomena, and mental telepathy. The most blatant form of witchcraft is Satanic worship where children and animals are sacrificed for the sake of gaining spiritual power. All of these practices are the darker side of witchcraft. Jezebel certainly practiced the darker side of witchcraft and surrounded herself with prophets who did so. The Bible makes it absolutely clear that such practices are an abomination to God. Lev. 19:26; Deut. 18:10.

The other dimension of witchcraft, is broader and more subtle. I define it as anything we do to manipulate other people to do things against their wills in order to achieve our own self-centered desires. Manipulation is an attempt to control someone else. Control and manipulation are the practice of witchcraft. In our day we do not use witch's brew to control other people. Rather, we do such things as play on emotions, withhold affection, provoke fear, provoke guilt, intimidate with anger, lie and deceive, or use self-pity.

The practice of witchcraft in this broader sense of the term abounds in our lives and has devastating effects upon us in our everyday life. If we can see how it works in everyday life, perhaps we can see how widely it is practiced in this Thing we call church. (I will deal with the demons of witchcraft in the following chapter.)

THE WIDESPREAD EFFECTS OF WITCHCRAFT

The practice of witchcraft--trying to get others to do things against their wills--permeates every level of human experience, from politicians who deceive us to get our votes, to advertisers who send us subliminal messages, to merchants who try to hook us on their products, to clergy persons who try to dictate our consciences, to entertainers who play on our emotions. Everyone in the world wants something from us. They mostly want our money, and if they can, will exploit our bodies, souls, minds, time, and talents to get it. Most of us practice witchcraft without having an awareness of it. The practice of witchcraft is so subtle and common we either do not recognize it or have become de-sensitized to it. We just experience the frustration of it.

The practice of witchcraft is the principal cause of trouble in the world. It is the principle cause of trouble in the home between husbands and wives, parents and children, brothers and sisters who try to manipulate one another. It is the cause of strife between friends and nations. It is the major source of conflict in churches.

Guilt feelings, fear, depression, suspicion, mental ruminations and rehearsings, anger and bitterness, fantasies, confusion, jealousy, compulsions, and obsessions may be caused by the fleshly practice of witchcraft. Poverty, crime, sickness, disease, and conflicts in relationships are also among the effects of witchcraft.

Witchcraft influences those behaviors in our lives over which we are powerless--things to which we can be addicted: smoking, drinking, drugs, TV, the Internet, music, food, sports, pornography, sex, relationships, and gambling.

These effects of the practice of witchcraft are so universal that all of us will identify with at least some of these. Almost every one of us at some time or another will experience the frustration and anger that results from manipulation. The presence of witchcraft creates a negative atmosphere that drains life from everyone who is touched by it.

INDICATIONS OF WITCHCRAFT

Here are some of the indications of the subtle practices of witchcraft in everyday life:

Witchcraft is indicated by lying and deceit. Lying is lying whether we think of it as a big black lie or a little white lie. We differentiate between black and white lies to justify ourselves or to lessen the consequences. When we lie, we are hiding some truth in order to make something happen or to prevent a consequence from happening. Truth never has to be twisted, manipulated, forced, or in any way tampered with. Once it is tampered with, it is no longer truth. It has become a lie. God does not have to lie, connive, or contrive to get people to obey Him. He simply sets forth His Word in plain truth and commands that men obey.

Witchcraft is indicated by self-strength. We practice witchcraft when we put our trust in ourselves. We try to make things happen in our own strength, especially those things that should be left to the work of the Holy Spirit. Philippians 3:3 affirms that we as believers "are the circumcision who worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh." Psalm 118:8 confirms: "It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man."

Witchcraft is indicated by one's attempt to unduly control his life and the lives of others. Insecure people try to make their worlds safer by building rigid structures for themselves and for others in their lives. When we are insecure, we think we need to control God, other people, our environment, and every circumstance of our lives. We attempt to control what we feel, think, say, and do.

Witchcraft is indicated by fear, worry, doubt, anxiety, and restlessness. When we are no longer able to control other people nor believe that we can trust God, we panic. However, we no longer need to fear, manipulate, and control other people and circumstances once we know who we are in Christ Jesus. We can "let go and let God..." We can rest in the knowledge that the Lord is God and is sovereign over all.

Witchcraft is indicated by pride. Pride is a form of lying because pride hides. It conceals the insecurity that prideful persons do not want others to see. Pride indicates an over-awareness and preoccupation with Self. It manifests itself in either self-exalted or self-abased egos. Self-abasement is false humility. It is pride in disguise.

Witchcraft is indicated by rebellion. It is the will of the flesh rising up against the will of God. King Saul came back from battle, having disobeyed God. God required Saul to utterly destroy the enemy. He did not do so. Instead, he brought some of the spoils of battle home with him. When questioned about it, he thought he could "con" God with the lame excuse that he had returned with the animals to make a sacrifice to God. The prophet Samuel answered, "Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? 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." 1 Sam. 15:22-23. Consequently, God rejected Saul from being King, not because he sinned--David sinned as much as Saul--but because of the condition of his heart. He was ambitious, deceitful, rebellious, stubborn, and idolatrous. Any ambition for Self is going to lead to the practice of witchcraft. Self will try to use people and coerce them to do things against their own wills.

Witchcraft is indicated by stubbornness. "Stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry." 1 Sam. 15:23. Stubborn people are typically rigid, adamant, unreasonable, uncompromising, unyielding, and unteachable. They cannot concede to being wrong. They try to maintain their position and, thereby in this subtle way, practice witchcraft. People who have their confidence in God are not threatened by the suggestions, corrections, opinions, and actions of other people. They are able and willing to learn from others.

Witchcraft is indicated by cursing. Without realizing it, we often speak curses out of our mouths. We curse others, other things, and even ourselves. James 3:10 teaches us that our tongues bless God and, at the same time, curse men who are made in the image of God. "Out of the same mouth proceeds blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be so." We pronounce curses when we speak evil words, "cuss" words, false judgments, criticisms, or agree with an evil report. Parents speak curses and practice witchcraft over their children when they call them "bad," "ugly," "stupid," "clumsy," or "no account." People, especially children, tend to become what we call them. I believe demons are assigned to try to make good on these curses.

Witchcraft is indicated by talkativeness. Talkative, rambling, interruptive persons are self-absorbed. Figuratively speaking, they have no ears. They dominate the conversation and often interrupt other people before others complete their thoughts. They are preoccupied with their own thoughts and are not really hearing what other people are saying. Consequently, they frequently misunderstand what other people are trying to say. They may use their talking to control and cling to others out of fear of losing them, even though their incessant talking has the reverse effect and drives listeners away. It is difficult to communicate with such persons. "Talkative people also use their wall of words to isolate themselves from real intimacy," observes Valerie McCarley.

Witchcraft is indicated by unforgiveness. We practice witchcraft when we deliberately withhold forgiveness from others in order to manipulate their feelings or actions. We think we are punishing them by withholding forgiveness, but we are mostly punishing ourselves. We can be held hostage by our own unforgiveness of others and by the unforgiveness of others toward us. Ultimately, however, we who refuse to forgive become entangled in the root of bitterness. Bitterness can kill us.

Witchcraft is indicated by impatience. Impatience means we are in a hurry for something to happen. We rush through traffic, get angry at people who get in our way or slow us down, and make impulsive decisions to buy things we do not need. We get impatient with circumstances, other people, ourselves, and God. "Why doesn't He do this or that?" Impatience is pushing for something for Self in disregard for others or for God's timing and will.

Witchcraft is indicated by distrust in God. That is what motivates us to resort to it. It disregards the reality of the lordship of Jesus Christ. When we surrender to His lordship, we enter into a trust relationship with God. We trust that He is absolutely sovereign and that the Holy Spirit is our competent guide. We are secure in knowing who we are in Christ. No one can put fear, guilt, or condemnation upon us, nor can they provoke us to anger. We seek God's will only and not something for Self (which is usually at the expense of others). We will passionately determine to keep other people free of our control and manipulations. When we learn faith in God--that He is sovereign and in control--we come into that promised rest of Hebrews 4:1-11.

The practice of witchcraft is further indicated by domination, intimidation, acts of violence, nagging, contriving, strife, stress, sulking, whining, charm, flattery, seduction, rape, blackmail, bribery, entrapment, jealousy, hypochondria, mind control, rejection and the threat of rejection, the power of suggestion, subliminal advertising, game-playing, and competitiveness. The practices of witchcraft as related to church are addressed in the next chapter.

INDICATIONS OF THE HOLY SPIRIT

In contrast to witchcraft, the Holy Spirit is indicated by the power of God at work in our lives. He produces honesty, truthfulness, straightforwardness, trust, faith, confidence, rest, peace, joy, life, blessings, righteousness, light, power, health and healing, humility, submission, a quiet and gentle spirit, forgiveness, freedom, and liberty.

The Holy Spirit operates when we base our security and faith in Jesus Christ as Lord. Zechariah 4:6b reads, "...not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit, says the Lord of hosts." A life in the Spirit walks in the confidence of Psalms 37:23: "The steps of a good [righteous] man are ordered by the Lord."

James 3:14-18 summarizes this contrast between the Holy Spirit and witchcraft for us: "But if you have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth. This wisdom descends not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish. For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work. But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy. And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace." Note that James used these three words: earthly, sensual, and devilish. These agree with the progression of thought presented here that the flesh (that which is earthly) seeks something for Self (that which is sensual) which invites the demonic (that which is devilish).

Witchcraft is a negative and destructive force of the human flesh and will. Any form or degree of witchcraft is an abomination to God. It is a counterfeit to the Holy Spirit. God's life-giving Holy Spirit will not abide where witchcraft is practiced.

Just as we practice witchcraft in everyday life, we can be sure that it is also being practiced in the churches.

Chapter 13 - Witchcraft In Everyday Life

Ahab did an abominable thing in the sight of God: he married that woman Jezebel who brought her idolatries and witchcraft into the house of the Lord. Ahab's Jezebel, the Jezebel of Revelation 2:20, and the great whore of Revelation 18 were each known for their witchcraft.

As for Ahab's Jezebel, 2 Kings 9:22 tells us, "It came about, when Joram saw Jehu, that he said, 'Is it peace, Jehu?' And he answered, 'What peace, so long as the harlotries of your mother Jezebel and her witchcraft are so many?'"

As for "that woman Jezebel" in Revelation 2:20, Jesus said that she taught and seduced "...My servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed to idols." The Greek word for seduced has also been translated "beguiled" and "deceived." These terms are associated with witchcraft.

As for the great whore that sits on many waters, Revelation 18:23 mentions that all the nations were deceived by her sorcery.

WITCHCRAFT DEFINED

The practice of witchcraft is a deed of the flesh. Paul writes, "Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God." Gal. 5:19-21 NKJV. The Greek word for sorcery is pharmakeia which refers to a person who prepares and uses magical remedies. The King James Version translates it "witchcraft".

While witchcraft is a deed of the flesh, the spirit of witchcraft can influence our flesh to do all the other deeds of the flesh. It can entice our flesh to commit adultery and fornication. It can manipulate circumstances in our relationships to stir up contentions, jealousies, and outbursts of wrath. It can control all aspects of our flesh to do evil if we allow it to take dominance.

Witchcraft, as a work of the flesh, has two dimensions to it. One is the strict, familiar concept that it ordinarily brings to mind. It conjures up the image of an old, bony-framed woman with a wrinkled face and a shrill voice, hunched over an iron kettle, brewing up a potion of spiders and herbs to cast spells on people. We think about voodoo dolls, ouija boards, tarot cards, crystal balls, palm reading, seances, astrology, meditation, parapsychology, psychic phenomena, and mental telepathy. The most blatant form of witchcraft is Satanic worship where children and animals are sacrificed for the sake of gaining spiritual power. All of these practices are the darker side of witchcraft. Jezebel certainly practiced the darker side of witchcraft and surrounded herself with prophets who did so. The Bible makes it absolutely clear that such practices are an abomination to God. Lev. 19:26; Deut. 18:10.

The other dimension of witchcraft, is broader and more subtle. I define it as anything we do to manipulate other people to do things against their wills in order to achieve our own self-centered desires. Manipulation is an attempt to control someone else. Control and manipulation are the practice of witchcraft. In our day we do not use witch's brew to control other people. Rather, we do such things as play on emotions, withhold affection, provoke fear, provoke guilt, intimidate with anger, lie and deceive, or use self-pity.

The practice of witchcraft in this broader sense of the term abounds in our lives and has devastating effects upon us in our everyday life. If we can see how it works in everyday life, perhaps we can see how widely it is practiced in this Thing we call church. (I will deal with the demons of witchcraft in the following chapter.)

THE WIDESPREAD EFFECTS OF WITCHCRAFT

The practice of witchcraft--trying to get others to do things against their wills--permeates every level of human experience, from politicians who deceive us to get our votes, to advertisers who send us subliminal messages, to merchants who try to hook us on their products, to clergy persons who try to dictate our consciences, to entertainers who play on our emotions. Everyone in the world wants something from us. They mostly want our money, and if they can, will exploit our bodies, souls, minds, time, and talents to get it. Most of us practice witchcraft without having an awareness of it. The practice of witchcraft is so subtle and common we either do not recognize it or have become de-sensitized to it. We just experience the frustration of it.

The practice of witchcraft is the principal cause of trouble in the world. It is the principle cause of trouble in the home between husbands and wives, parents and children, brothers and sisters who try to manipulate one another. It is the cause of strife between friends and nations. It is the major source of conflict in churches.

Guilt feelings, fear, depression, suspicion, mental ruminations and rehearsings, anger and bitterness, fantasies, confusion, jealousy, compulsions, and obsessions may be caused by the fleshly practice of witchcraft. Poverty, crime, sickness, disease, and conflicts in relationships are also among the effects of witchcraft.

Witchcraft influences those behaviors in our lives over which we are powerless--things to which we can be addicted: smoking, drinking, drugs, TV, the Internet, music, food, sports, pornography, sex, relationships, and gambling.

These effects of the practice of witchcraft are so universal that all of us will identify with at least some of these. Almost every one of us at some time or another will experience the frustration and anger that results from manipulation. The presence of witchcraft creates a negative atmosphere that drains life from everyone who is touched by it.

INDICATIONS OF WITCHCRAFT

Here are some of the indications of the subtle practices of witchcraft in everyday life:

Witchcraft is indicated by lying and deceit. Lying is lying whether we think of it as a big black lie or a little white lie. We differentiate between black and white lies to justify ourselves or to lessen the consequences. When we lie, we are hiding some truth in order to make something happen or to prevent a consequence from happening. Truth never has to be twisted, manipulated, forced, or in any way tampered with. Once it is tampered with, it is no longer truth. It has become a lie. God does not have to lie, connive, or contrive to get people to obey Him. He simply sets forth His Word in plain truth and commands that men obey.

Witchcraft is indicated by self-strength. We practice witchcraft when we put our trust in ourselves. We try to make things happen in our own strength, especially those things that should be left to the work of the Holy Spirit. Philippians 3:3 affirms that we as believers "are the circumcision who worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh." Psalm 118:8 confirms: "It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man."

Witchcraft is indicated by one's attempt to unduly control his life and the lives of others. Insecure people try to make their worlds safer by building rigid structures for themselves and for others in their lives. When we are insecure, we think we need to control God, other people, our environment, and every circumstance of our lives. We attempt to control what we feel, think, say, and do.

Witchcraft is indicated by fear, worry, doubt, anxiety, and restlessness. When we are no longer able to control other people nor believe that we can trust God, we panic. However, we no longer need to fear, manipulate, and control other people and circumstances once we know who we are in Christ Jesus. We can "let go and let God..." We can rest in the knowledge that the Lord is God and is sovereign over all.

Witchcraft is indicated by pride. Pride is a form of lying because pride hides. It conceals the insecurity that prideful persons do not want others to see. Pride indicates an over-awareness and preoccupation with Self. It manifests itself in either self-exalted or self-abased egos. Self-abasement is false humility. It is pride in disguise.

Witchcraft is indicated by rebellion. It is the will of the flesh rising up against the will of God. King Saul came back from battle, having disobeyed God. God required Saul to utterly destroy the enemy. He did not do so. Instead, he brought some of the spoils of battle home with him. When questioned about it, he thought he could "con" God with the lame excuse that he had returned with the animals to make a sacrifice to God. The prophet Samuel answered, "Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? 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." 1 Sam. 15:22-23. Consequently, God rejected Saul from being King, not because he sinned--David sinned as much as Saul--but because of the condition of his heart. He was ambitious, deceitful, rebellious, stubborn, and idolatrous. Any ambition for Self is going to lead to the practice of witchcraft. Self will try to use people and coerce them to do things against their own wills.

Witchcraft is indicated by stubbornness. "Stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry." 1 Sam. 15:23. Stubborn people are typically rigid, adamant, unreasonable, uncompromising, unyielding, and unteachable. They cannot concede to being wrong. They try to maintain their position and, thereby in this subtle way, practice witchcraft. People who have their confidence in God are not threatened by the suggestions, corrections, opinions, and actions of other people. They are able and willing to learn from others.

Witchcraft is indicated by cursing. Without realizing it, we often speak curses out of our mouths. We curse others, other things, and even ourselves. James 3:10 teaches us that our tongues bless God and, at the same time, curse men who are made in the image of God. "Out of the same mouth proceeds blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be so." We pronounce curses when we speak evil words, "cuss" words, false judgments, criticisms, or agree with an evil report. Parents speak curses and practice witchcraft over their children when they call them "bad," "ugly," "stupid," "clumsy," or "no account." People, especially children, tend to become what we call them. I believe demons are assigned to try to make good on these curses.

Witchcraft is indicated by talkativeness. Talkative, rambling, interruptive persons are self-absorbed. Figuratively speaking, they have no ears. They dominate the conversation and often interrupt other people before others complete their thoughts. They are preoccupied with their own thoughts and are not really hearing what other people are saying. Consequently, they frequently misunderstand what other people are trying to say. They may use their talking to control and cling to others out of fear of losing them, even though their incessant talking has the reverse effect and drives listeners away. It is difficult to communicate with such persons. "Talkative people also use their wall of words to isolate themselves from real intimacy," observes Valerie McCarley.

Witchcraft is indicated by unforgiveness. We practice witchcraft when we deliberately withhold forgiveness from others in order to manipulate their feelings or actions. We think we are punishing them by withholding forgiveness, but we are mostly punishing ourselves. We can be held hostage by our own unforgiveness of others and by the unforgiveness of others toward us. Ultimately, however, we who refuse to forgive become entangled in the root of bitterness. Bitterness can kill us.

Witchcraft is indicated by impatience. Impatience means we are in a hurry for something to happen. We rush through traffic, get angry at people who get in our way or slow us down, and make impulsive decisions to buy things we do not need. We get impatient with circumstances, other people, ourselves, and God. "Why doesn't He do this or that?" Impatience is pushing for something for Self in disregard for others or for God's timing and will.

Witchcraft is indicated by distrust in God. That is what motivates us to resort to it. It disregards the reality of the lordship of Jesus Christ. When we surrender to His lordship, we enter into a trust relationship with God. We trust that He is absolutely sovereign and that the Holy Spirit is our competent guide. We are secure in knowing who we are in Christ. No one can put fear, guilt, or condemnation upon us, nor can they provoke us to anger. We seek God's will only and not something for Self (which is usually at the expense of others). We will passionately determine to keep other people free of our control and manipulations. When we learn faith in God--that He is sovereign and in control--we come into that promised rest of Hebrews 4:1-11.

The practice of witchcraft is further indicated by domination, intimidation, acts of violence, nagging, contriving, strife, stress, sulking, whining, charm, flattery, seduction, rape, blackmail, bribery, entrapment, jealousy, hypochondria, mind control, rejection and the threat of rejection, the power of suggestion, subliminal advertising, game-playing, and competitiveness. The practices of witchcraft as related to church are addressed in the next chapter.

INDICATIONS OF THE HOLY SPIRIT

In contrast to witchcraft, the Holy Spirit is indicated by the power of God at work in our lives. He produces honesty, truthfulness, straightforwardness, trust, faith, confidence, rest, peace, joy, life, blessings, righteousness, light, power, health and healing, humility, submission, a quiet and gentle spirit, forgiveness, freedom, and liberty.

The Holy Spirit operates when we base our security and faith in Jesus Christ as Lord. Zechariah 4:6b reads, "...not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit, says the Lord of hosts." A life in the Spirit walks in the confidence of Psalms 37:23: "The steps of a good [righteous] man are ordered by the Lord."

James 3:14-18 summarizes this contrast between the Holy Spirit and witchcraft for us: "But if you have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth. This wisdom descends not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish. For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work. But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy. And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace." Note that James used these three words: earthly, sensual, and devilish. These agree with the progression of thought presented here that the flesh (that which is earthly) seeks something for Self (that which is sensual) which invites the demonic (that which is devilish).

Witchcraft is a negative and destructive force of the human flesh and will. Any form or degree of witchcraft is an abomination to God. It is a counterfeit to the Holy Spirit. God's life-giving Holy Spirit will not abide where witchcraft is practiced.

Just as we practice witchcraft in everyday life, we can be sure that it is also being practiced in the churches.

Chapter 14 - Witchcraft In The Church

What could the practice of witchcraft possibly have to do with the church? Much in many different ways. William's experience is one example.

William had been called by the church officials to pastor their little independent fellowship. After much prayer and consultation, he and his wife agreed. They left their home community to face the challenges of this new work. He tells about it this way:

I knew from the beginning that Stella was in control of this church, I guess I ignored the red flags. This little group of people had unanimously decided it was God's will for me to be their pastor and after much prayer, I accepted. It was deceiving at first, because my initial contacts were with her husband and another man. Then it happened. One incident after another. She came against everything I did. She resisted my preaching. She controlled the finances and the Christian school the church ran. She did it all through her husband. He was her voice.

Then the church officials called a meeting with me. I could tell something was wrong when I walked in. They said they wanted me to be at the church every morning by six o'clock to handle the daycare when the children came in.

"I thought you wanted me to pastor the church--to spend time in prayer, study, and ministry. The daycare was never mentioned," I replied.

They answered back, "There's not any men down here. We need somebody down here if light bulbs need to be changed."

"Wait a minute," I said, "I didn't come here to change light bulbs." I knew then they didn't want me around anymore. So I asked them if they believed God had sent me here. I challenged them to think about it before they answered. I asked each one in turn and they each replied, "No." "Then we don't need to carry this meeting on any further," I told them.

Stella's husband said, "Well I'm sure we can work out something."

"Brother," I answered, "you just told me that you didn't think God sent me here. If you don't think God sent me here, then why would you want to work things out?" This was the demise of that relationship. We were fired just one month after we had moved on the field.

Stella wanted William to pastor her church as long as she could control and manipulate him to do what she wanted done. Trouble broke out between them, however, anytime he did anything or said anything that threatened her hold on things.

She operated in the Jezebel spirit and her husband perfectly played out the Ahab role. When they brought their manipulations and control issues into the life and affairs of the church, they practiced witchcraft in the church--witchcraft being: anything we do to manipulate other people to do things against their wills in order to achieve our own self-centered desires. Wherever it is practiced, or however slightly it is practiced, witchcraft is still witchcraft.

WITCHCRAFT IN THE CHURCH

People practice witchcraft in the church as thoughtlessly as they do in everyday life. It is an abomination to God when it is practiced in any arena, but more especially when we practice it among one another in the family of God.

Jesus is the head of His body, the called-out-ones. The Holy Spirit is His administrator. Those who follow Jesus are obedient to His Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit establishes the Kingdom of God. It can never be established by the hand of self-strength and the practice of witchcraft.

When men assume headship over Christ's body and people submit to that false headship, the flesh rather than the Spirit of Jesus is operating. The fact that such terms as ambition, impatience, competition, success, promotion, contention, contrariness, argumentativeness, divisiveness, and unyieldedness are commonplace among those who rule the churches and abide in them is evidence enough that they are operating in the flesh.

The flesh nature of man is controlling and manipulative--thus, it engages in the practice of witchcraft. When what you have is headed by man (or woman), it will always be under the rule of witchcraft--men building their own kingdoms under the pretext of being the Kingdom of God.

The structures of denominations and institutionalized churches are headed by man; therefore, they are out of scriptural order. Those who rule the churches may say that Christ is the head of their church, but He is not. He cannot be the head of many different bodies. He is the head of His body. There is only one body of Christ. If Jesus were in charge of these man-ruled organizations, there would be no need for men and women to politic for positions. If He were the head of the churches, there would only be one church because there is only one body of Christ. On the contrary, the churches are divided one against the other.

It is an alarming thing to realize that this Thing we call church is not ruled by the Holy Spirit, but by witchcraft. In the street-savvy words of Bob Hughey, "Everything that is called Christian and Holy Spirit, ain't. Be warned."

SELF-AGGRANDIZEMENT

Self-seeking people who rule the churches are typically fueled by the need to increase themselves in power, position, riches, and domination. They are Nicolaitans who are prodded by the Jezebel spirit.

They garner large sums of unrighteously gained tithes and offerings to build elaborate edifices for themselves rather than beautifying the Lord of glory and His bride. They seduce others to join them rather than joining others to Jesus Christ. They devise schemes, programs, and marketing plans complete with logos and slogans to entice people to join them. They inspire loyalty and commitment to themselves and their vision rather than to Jesus and His vision for the bride.

They bind people to their own laws and phony doctrines. They guilt-provoke people to sign pledge cards, causing them to make oaths that God has not asked them to make. They build their identities around their names, positions, clerical collars, titles, denominations, traditions, doctrines, and heritage. They deceive people into thinking that busyness is godliness. They use their power to endow other people with power, that they might ally those other people to themselves. They give the more honored seats to the persons who come in wearing the gold rings and costly apparel. James 2:2. People, their money, and their talents are rungs on the ladder they use to climb to the heights of their own ambitions which are fueled by their imaginations.

PERSONAL HIDDEN AGENDA

Self-seeking people who rule the churches have personal agendas. Self-seeking personal agendas conflict with God's agenda. Their agendas are often hidden. Different people have different agendas. Bishop Pete built a new sanctuary out of his need for identity. Father David entered the ministry to please his dad. Reverend Dan earned a doctoral degree to receive recognition and better positions. Dr. Anthony was committed to writing a new book every year just to maintain his popularity.

People with hidden agendas need supporters to carry out their plans. They may want increased church memberships, newer and bigger buildings, inflated reputations, or better salaries. They need noses and nickels to achieve their desired high standings. They know that "bigness" impresses people. They have taught each other that. So the bigger they get, the more impressive they think they will become. The more popular many ministers become, the more riches people lavish upon them.

Their agendas must be kept hidden from their supporters, for the truth would result in a loss of support; therefore, they seek to gain loyalty and support by provoking fear, condemnation, guilt, emotionalism, and by falsifying reports.

APPEALS FOR MONEY

Self-seeking people who rule the churches depend upon other people to make themselves and their churches successful. Naive and unsuspecting "partners" or members are deceived into believing that giving to these ministries or churches ruled by people with personal agendas are "as unto the Lord." These ministries often make people feel guilty if they do not give as much as they might freely choose to give. They extract tithes and offerings from their constituency, deceiving them into believing that they are "seeding" into the Kingdom of God when, in fact, they are empowering the kingdoms of men.

They appeal to their supporters' emotions in order to persuade them to give to their ministry or church. If they are TV personalities, they may promise to send their supporters a free gift for their donation: books, tapes, prayer cloths, anointing oil from Israel, or some other token. Their mail-outs are carefully, professionally designed to tug on the heartstrings of donors, manipulating them into giving money.

They falsely teach that their churches are the storehouses for those members who "belong" to them. Many of them accumulate wealth and lavish it back upon themselves in the building, maintenance, and preservation of their organizations and institutions while the poor around the world go without food, clothing, shelter, and the gospel of the Kingdom of God. Jesus never even slightly suggested that, "Inasmuch as you build your buildings and preserve your institutions, you have done it unto Me." Rather He said that inasmuch as we feed the hungry, give a drink to a stranger, clothe the naked, visit the sick and imprisoned, we are doing these things to Him. Matt. 25:35-40.

ANGER AND RAGE

Some of those self-seeking people who rule the churches may be insecure control addicts who need to maintain a sense of order in their lives to feel safe. They may be perfectionists who impose their standard of perfection upon others. When others fail to meet their standards, they become frustrated and rageful. Rage is part of their arsenal of weapons to manipulate others into conformity. Pastor Daniel was such a one.

Pastor Daniel's church--and I emphasize that it was "his" church--served as a showcase for his drive to perform. He was an accomplished orator, avid reader, and had a winning personality. His setting was exquisite and his staging was professional. He attracted crowds and multiplied members, but he could not keep them. "Why do people go out the back door as quickly as they come in the front?" he asked.

He did not want to hear the truth. He wanted it to be "their" fault, not his. People left because of his misuse of authority. He was spiritually and emotionally abusive. It was, after all, "his" church and no one was permitted to do anything unless invited to do so. His church was his theater, his pulpit was his stage, and he was the show. Those who had the slightest thought of contradicting him, especially if they had been given a place of leadership, became suspect. They had to be dealt with, usually tongue-lashed.

Leaving his church was not a pleasant option. Those who tried were often threatened by the suggestion that they would be out of God's will and bad things would happen to them. The loyalty of many within his membership was based on fear and intimidation.

His Jezebel wife fueled his feverish manipulations with her own. She ruled surreptitiously behind his throne. Most everyone knew that, but no one dared to speak a word. "Hush" was the operative rule in this extended dysfunctional family he called a church.

FLATTERY

Self-seeking people who rule the churches often flatter their prospects in order to win them in. "You two have so much to offer. It's a shame you aren't involved in a church somewhere." That one has been used on my wife and me a few times. We were said to be the poster couple for one church we attended. I think it was meant to flatter us, but it did not.

Flattery is enticing, seductive, and deceitful. When we fail to see what is happening to us, we are taken in by it. It has the deceitful motive of complimenting us in order to win favor from us. A true compliment does not have an ulterior motive, but those who flatter are putting on the charm in order to get something from us for themselves. They are like the adulterous woman in Proverbs 7:4-5 who preys upon believers who lack discernment: "Say to wisdom, You are my sister; and call understanding your kinswoman: that they may keep you from the strange [adulterous] woman, from the stranger who flatters with her words."

Flattery is an appeal to the flesh for greatness, grandeur, sensual pleasure, success, and riches--all having to do with things in the world.

POSSESSIVENESS AND OWNERSHIP

Self-seeking people who rule the churches are typically possessive and claim ownership over their constituency. If they own you, they can control you. If they cannot control you, they will disown you.

Membership in the churches is a claim of ownership that the churches have over a set number of people. All churches and denominations do it. Pick any. In 1997, the Southern Baptist Convention reported 15,891,514 members and 40,887 churches. 3 {22} Why do we need to know how many people belong to us? Why do we need to know how many people were in Sunday School and worship services? Why is it important to compare this figure with "this time last year"? Who are we counting for? We count because we measure our success with numbers.

I was in a meeting as a new believer and decided to count the attendance. A still, small voice in my spirit interrupted and said, "Don't count. You don't know who counts." I found out in time, as people came and went, how right that was. Besides, are we not counting the tares along with the wheat? Jesus told us that the wheat and the tares grow up together. Matt. 13:24-30. We do not always know who they are. If we need to count noses and know that we are including tares in that number, then we need to know that we are not counting as God counts. We are counting something for Self.

Perhaps we count to determine how strong we are. The Bible records three times when a census was taken of Israel. The first two times, God ordered it. God commanded Moses to take a census of all the congregation of the children of Israel from twenty years and older, numbering their armies. Num. 1. The second time, the LORD told Moses and Eleazar to take the sum (census) of "all the congregation of the children of Israel, from twenty years old and upward, throughout their fathers' house, all that are able to go to war in Israel." Num. 26.

The third time is when King David ordered a census on his own. 1 Chronicles 21 tells how Satan stood up against Israel and provoked David to number Israel. 2 Samuel 24:1 reports this story saying, "the anger of the LORD was kindled against Israel, and He moved David against them to say, 'Go, number Israel and Judah.'" The key to what is going on here is found in verse two of both passages. David ordered the census saying, "that I may know the number of people." God was greatly displeased with David and sent a plague upon Israel killing seventy thousand men. David's desire to count his increase resulted in great losses. He put his confidence in the strength of numbers, rather than in God. It was good for God to count Israel. Israel belonged to Him. It was not good for David to count Israel. Israel did not belong to him. David sought ownership of the citizenry for himself. It was something Satan put in his heart to do.

We are fascinated by numbers. We build our significance upon how big we perceive ourselves to be. Size is a matter of opinion. In order to determine how big we are, we have to compare ourselves with others. Comparing ourselves with others is a prideful and competitive spirit which has no place in the Kingdom of God. Church rulers relate to "their" church members as extensions of themselves. They validate themselves by their statistics. They feel they must possess people in order to keep them.

Sonny was at the ball park with his kids one steamy, summer night and saw Pastor Gene. Sonny asked, "Do you have someone here?" "All of mine are here," he answered. Sonny was puzzled by his answer. Sonny knew Pastor Gene did not have children of his own playing ball that night. Pastor Gene explained, "If they are a member of my church, they belong to me." Sonny regretted later that he had not asked him at the time, "Do you really want that responsibility? They are not your sheep. They belong to Jesus."

Taking possession and claiming ownership of God's sheep is a very grievous thing to God.

HYPE

Self-seeking people who rule the churches often hype things up to make themselves look good. Hype in this context is trying to make the Holy Spirit "happen" in self-strength. Hype is what leaders do to pretend the presence of God. These leaders have to make their services look like God is moving in their midst whether He is or not. He is not, so they substitute hype for Spirit. They try to make things happen that are not happening, or try to make it look like things are happening when they are not.

Hype is the practice of witchcraft. We see and hear it in many "charismatic" church services, conferences, and meetings when the praise and worship leader prolongs the energized music for an hour or so, pretending that the Holy Spirit is present or hoping to invoke His presence. When the Holy Spirit chooses not to manifest Himself, the congregation may be brow-beaten for not singing loud enough, clapping their hands long enough, praying hard enough, or dancing in the Spirit wildly enough. "Put your hands together and give the Lord a clap offering." "Somebody give me an amen!" We are manipulated to do and say things that we do not want to do and say--things that are not in our hearts to do and say. We fake it anyway because we do not want to stand out in the crowd, to be thought of as rebellious, or to be accused of quenching the Spirit. When we fake something, that makes us a fake--Pharisees.

Those who practice hype, such as we often witness on so-called "Christian TV", falsely measure the Holy Spirit's presence by the loudness of the music, the emotional fervor of the audience, the fancy footwork of the preacher, the religious prompting of amens from the crowd, or the number of persons slain in the Spirit--"doing carpet time" as they say. Some ministries look to these things to validate themselves.

PERFORMANCE MENTALITY

Many self-seeking people who rule the churches have turned their churches and ministries into entertainment centers and seek ministers who are crowd-pleasing showmen. Their theater-designed church auditoriums and "entertain-me" hungry congregations demand this performance mentality.

"Christian" entertainment is big business today. The self-seeking, secular-owned executives within the so-called "Christian" music industry are driven by the corporate bottom line. If that which we call "Christian" can become an industry, it is not the real thing. Christian "artists" (the big ones are called "stars") are the product of this profit-driven industry and are themselves often driven by the need for popularity, money, and possibly winning the coveted Dove award. I suppose this award is considered Christian because of the dove which symbolizes the Holy Spirit. Why do so-called Christian entertainers even want a trophy? Who are they performing for? Do they have a special cabinet at home in which to display them? Is their motivation to gain fame and fortune the same as those in the world? Or is it a sacrifice of praise to the Lord without regard for personal gain?

Authors, Bible teachers, TV personalities, evangelists: Are your efforts entirely to serve the Lord, or to serve Self? If for the Lord, then they are Holy Spirit inspired. If for Self, then they are driven by witchcraft.

FALSE ASSURANCE OF SALVATION

Self-seeking people who rule the churches dispense a false assurance of salvation.

In spite of the fact that Christians own the churches, many who belong to them are Christian in name only. They have only a religious relationship with God. Their real relationship is with their religion and their church. God is distant to them. They go to these things we call church because it makes them feel righteous. They have performed their religious duty. This gives them a false assurance of salvation. Church leaders foster this sense of false assurance of salvation by making people feel they are okay because they attend and support their church. People are made to feel guilty when they do not.

Dennis Loewen wrote me:

Years ago I heard a tape by Leonard Ravenhill. He told of having lunch with a pastor who was one of the recognized national leaders of the American church. He asked the question, "When will the church start ministering the salvation found in Jesus Christ?" The pastor replied, "We are ministering salvation!" Ravenhill disagreed, "No, you are ministering the assurance of salvation."

Ravenhill had it right. "Assurance" is being dispensed weekly for an hour's attendance and a few dollars in the collection plate. This, by far, is the main product being sold by the present-day church. This is their bread and butter, and nobody better mess with it.

Had Jesus only cleansed the Temple of the selling of merchandise (our present-day Jesus junk, the equivalent), it would have made them mad. However, His ministry threatened to take away their main and most profitable product--that the people had to achieve rightness with God by coming to the Temple.

Jesus capsulated this message to the woman at the well. John 4:20-24. He told her that the hour comes when men will no longer have to go to Jerusalem to worship the Father. We have all seen the ugly jealousy of the modern churches in guarding their self-proclaimed commission as the modern Temple where people have to come to be "right." When the Jews saw and heard Jesus, they knew their scheme was over, so they had to kill Him.

So it is with this message. If we speak against the lesser physical and materialistic implications of the modern shameless merchandising of the gospel, we'll make some enemies and maybe even a few friends. But, if we speak to the spiritual root, look out, because most churches are dispensing assurance, and teaching that their organization is the place to receive it.

Jesus promised we would be hated and despised for the sake of the gospel. He knew the world would not be the main threat any more than it was for Him, but that our enemies would kill us thinking they are doing God a service.

American Christianity is no less apostate than the Babylonian (Talmud) mess Jesus encountered in Jerusalem. It's undeniable. Churches are doing a brisk business in the souls of men dispensing the assurance of salvation and making the process so easy that nobody has a chance to become poor in spirit or mourn for their sins. Paul said, "It is with much tribulation we enter" (Acts 14:22) and "without controversy, great is the mystery of godliness." 1 Tim. 3:16.

When we get into their faces and tell them they can no longer deceive the people with this false assurance of salvation, all of the promises of Jesus about being a persecuted disciple will be made manifest.

Of all of these ways in which we practice witchcraft in the churches--self-aggrandizement, hidden agendas, appeals for money, rage, flattery, possessiveness, hype, performance, and false assurance of salvation--legalism is by far the more cunning enemy to the body of Christ.

Chapter 15 - Legalism

Those who rule the churches are typically legalistic.

Technically, legalism is the literal, strict, and excessive conformity to a law or religious order. Bob Hughey says, "Legalism is the system by which we do things to try to get to God." It is putting confidence in the flesh in an attempt to find acceptance with God.

Paul wrote the Philippian believers regarding this and told them to beware of the circumcision party [also called Judaizers] who taught that "unless you are circumcised after the manner of Moses, you cannot be saved." Acts 15:1. They made circumcision a precondition to being a Christian. Paul clarified the issue with the Galatians saying, "We are the circumcision, who worship God in the Spirit, rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh." Phil. 3:2-3. The circumcision party was putting confidence in the flesh to find acceptance with God.

We can be thankful for this controversy Paul had with the Judaizers because it inspired him to draw a clear line of difference between grace and legalism. Unfortunately, though, those who put confidence in the flesh are still very much among us. For the most part they rule the churches. Thus, this line between grace and legalism still needs to be drawn.

Of all the deceptions perpetuated in the church system, legalism is the most frightening because it looks so right, but is so terribly wrong. The works of the law--or in present-day terms, church laws and church work--are presented as "the way" to salvation rather than the work of God's grace through Christ Jesus. These works become substitutes for Jesus.

LEGALISM REQUIRES SOMETHING MORE

Legalistic people require more of us than God has required. We live near some Mennonites. Though their houses are scattered throughout the larger community, they are a community to themselves. They wear distinctive clothes, live by certain codes, and worship together in a church building they have named after themselves. I greatly respect these people. The simplicity and modesty of their lifestyle is something to be desired. Yet I must ask, "Do I have to be a Mennonite in order to be a Christian?" If not, then why would I want to become one? Isn't being a baptized believer in Jesus Christ enough? Peter said to those present on the day of Pentecost, "Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost." Acts 2:38. No other requirement was put upon them to have what the twelve had. If I cannot be a Christian without being a Mennonite, then what must I do to be a Mennonite? Do I have to wear the clothes, behave the code, attend every meeting? At what point am I considered a full-fledged Mennonite?

From observation, it would appear that I would have to do more to be a Mennonite than to be a Roman Catholic, Episcopalian, Lutheran, Methodist, Presbyterian, Baptist, Pentecostal, charismatic, member of the Church of Christ, or some independent church. Yet, in each of these groups, I still have to "do" something in addition to believing in Jesus in order to be one of these--at the very least, I would have to join their church. I would be expected to join something Jesus never required me to join, something that did not even exist in New Testament days--church. So, what is it they want me to join? Is this not the circumcision party in disguise?

LEGALISM IS THE OUTWARD DOING OF THINGS

Legalistic people are those who concentrate on the outward doing of things to attain favor with God. Any attempt to earn our salvation is called works-righteousness. However, Paul wrote the Roman believers asserting that no flesh can be justified by the deeds [works] of the law. Rather, we are justified freely by the grace of Jesus Christ through the redemption that is in Him. Therefore, Paul concluded that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law. Rom. 3:20, 24, 28.

Legalism is based on performance. It implies that we are rewarded for what we do and are chastised for what we do not do. It is based on works. This is precisely why the churches are dead. Paul wrote, "Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; you are fallen from grace." Gal. 5:4. Whenever we go back under law, whether it is Old Testament law or modern day church law, we fall from grace.

Law is doing. Grace is being. Law has to do with what we "should" do, but cannot. Grace has to do with what God has already done for us. (We call a people to be like Mary, to sit at the feet of Jesus, but we love to have the Marthas around. Most of the activities in the churches depend upon the Marthas. Luke 10:38-42.)

If I try to legislate what you must do to act like a good Christian, then I am under the law and putting you under the law. If, on the other hand, I introduce you to Jesus, who is the perfect law of God, and He legislates His law from within you by changing your nature, then I bring you to the grace of God. Grace is the power of God at work within you to perform His word within you. Faith actively pursues the grace of God. Faith will never pursue law.

The writer of Hebrews told how the Israelites failed to enter into God's promised rest. If God promised it, then there must be a people who will enter into it. His promised rest is rest from dead works. "For he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His." Heb 4:10.

LEGALISM ATTEMPTS TO PERFECT BY THE FLESH

Legalistic people are those who attempt to perfect themselves and one another by the flesh. Paul wrote, "O foolish Galatians.This only would I learn of you, did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? Are you so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are you now made perfect by the flesh?" Gal. 3:1-3.

We think we know what God expects of us mentally, physically, spiritually, and morally, and we try to legislate that in our own and one another's lives. We invent codes of dress and behavior that we think exemplify holiness. Unless a change of nature has taken place on the inside of us, however, the changes on the outside are in vain. We are phony. The inside of us always has a way of shining through that thin, transparent, gilded exterior we exhibit to others.

God is the only one who can change us on the inside. Ezek. 36:25-27. He made a promise to Israel through Jeremiah: "This is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after that time," declares the Lord. "I will put My law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be My people." Jer. 31:33. This was accomplished by Jesus Christ who was and is the "word made flesh." John 1:14. That word of God is engrafted in all who believe in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. "Receive with meekness the engrafted [implanted] word, which is able to save your souls." James 1:21.

The law of God has been deposited within our human spirits and we have been transformed by it. Therefore, we no longer live according to the outward working of the law, but by the inward working of God's law. That's grace!

LEGALISM IS DIVISIVE

Legalistic people tend to be divisive. They may not intend to be divisive, but their legalistic ways cause division. The more legalistic they are, the more they tend to splinter over little, non-essential things.

I was told the story of two sectarian Christian groups, living in distant communities from each other, who tried to work out a plan for their young people to marry outside of their home communities. The leaders of these two groups were unable to come into agreement with such a plan because of a religious issue. One group believed that the men should have five pins on their coats and the other group believed in only four.

Two Churches of Christ exist in a small Tennessee town where, according to their own doctrine, only one should have existed. One group believed it was okay to have a kitchen in their church building and the other did not. So they split.

Silly and petty rules in the churches often cause divisions and deep hurts which sometimes lead to rejection of individuals by their own families. Churches of every kind have divided over non-essential issues. Churches by their very nature are programmed to splinter.

Paul explained to the Corinthians, "We being many are one bread, and one body: for we are all partakers of that one bread." 1 Cor. 10:17. Later he wrote, "For as the body is one, and has many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ. For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit..But now are they many members, yet one body..That there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another." 1 Cor. 12:12-13, 20, 25.

Paul appealed to the Ephesians to forebear one another in all lowliness, meekness, long-suffering, love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace because of one inescapable truth: "There is one body, and one Spirit, even as you are called in one hope of your calling, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all." Eph. 4: 2-6.

There is only one body. This one body of Christ is not and cannot be many bodies. Therefore, if that which you are in can be divided, it is not the real thing.

LEGALISM LEADS TO ISOLATIONISM

Legalistic leaders in extreme situations tend to isolate themselves and those who follow after them. Fear controls their behavior. These leaders fear that those under their influence might leave them. The more protective they feel they have to be, the more restrictive they become. They restrict the questions their followers are allowed to ask, the people they are allowed to know, the literature they are allowed to read, and the things they are allowed to listen to. They must protect those under their thumb from outside influences that would cause them to doubt--or worse yet, leave the fold. Violators are made to feel blasphemous.

We are to be holy, sanctified. Holiness and sanctification are from the same Greek word that means separation. Hebrews 12:14 reads, "Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord." We are to separate ourselves from sin and the world unto God, but this kind of separation is not isolation. We are to be in the world as light and salt, but not of the world. We cannot be the body of Christ in isolation. We are a body, His body, sent to accomplish His work in the world. We cannot accomplish His work as His body if we isolate one from the other. In spite of modern ecumenism (churches attempting cooperation while maintaining their differences), churches by their very nature cut themselves off one from the other.

LEGALISM IS EMPTY, MECHANICAL RITUAL

Legalistic people do works out of a joyless sense of duty, thinking that God will be pleased with their performance or that He might grant them "merited" favor. It is empty ritual.

So it is with foot washing. Some traditions believe that foot washing is an ordinance like water baptism and the Lord's supper. They may set aside arbitrary times once a month, every three months, or once a year to wash one another's feet. When the Holy Spirit leads someone to wash another's feet, it can prove to be powerful and meaningful and usually conveys a message of spiritual significance; but to impose foot washing as a requirement for being saved, for being right, or for being spiritual is to turn it into legalistic dead works. The same can be said for any act of worship or service. When things are done mechanically, they are generally meaningless works of the flesh.

The scribes and Pharisees were quite given to mechanical, ritualistic observation of days, and seasons, and laws--most of which were outgrowths of their own traditions. In one of His many scathing remarks to them, Jesus quoted Isaiah saying, "This people draws near unto Me with their mouth, and honors Me with their lips; but their hearts are far from Me. But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men." Matt. 15:8-9.

LEGALISM IS JUDGMENTAL

Legalistic people tend to make critical judgments against other people. Perhaps you know Bob, or Jane, or Suzy, or Tom. By any other name, they are the same. They are those who have forgotten who they were before they were converted. They have forgotten that they, too, were once lost, rebellious, stubborn, self-centered, and self-willed persons of flesh and sin. Some never knew that they were lost, rebellious, stubborn, self-centered, and self-willed. They who once needed compassion and mercy lack compassion and mercy for others. They "got saved" and for some strange reason hardened their hearts toward others who are not yet saved. In severe cases, they will have nothing to do with "the sinner" or with anyone whose belief system is different from theirs. Judgmental persons make critical evaluations of others and want to impose their idea of righteousness on others.

What we judge is different from how we judge. If we judge with malice and contempt in our hearts, we become judgmental and thereby enter into sin. Judgmentalism judges others out of the intolerance of one's flesh. It ministers condemnation to those who are judged. We forget that we shall all be judged by the Lord one day. "But why do you judge your brother? or why do you set at nought your brother? for we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ." Rom. 14:10. It is one thing to call a brother to repentance out of love and compassion for his soul and quite another to assign him to hell with contempt in our hearts. We must be careful therefore how we judge.

This entire book is a judgment against that Thing we call church. We are to discern what God is saying. We then speak those God-given revelations, visions, dreams, and understandings given to us in order, if need be, to call one another to repentance. We call sin, sin. We judge what God judges, but when we bring our own agendas, opinions, or feelings into the situation, we turn righteous judging into critical, legalistic judgmentalism.

As for this harlot system of men's traditions we call church, it has already been judged by God. Revelation 17:1 reads, "And there came one of the seven angels which had the seven vials, and talked with me, saying unto me, Come here; I will show unto you the judgment of the great whore that sits upon many waters." And Revelation 18:10: "Standing afar off for the fear of her torment, saying, Alas, alas, that great city Babylon, that mighty city! for in one hour is your judgment come." I am compelled by the Holy Spirit of God to "show the house to the house." not to sit in judgment of others, but to call to repentance those whose hearts are given to their idolatries rather than to the Lord.

LEGALISM IS BONDAGE

Legalistic people put others in bondage to their works. Paul exhorted the Galatians, "Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ has made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage." Gal. 5:1.

Legalism puts us in bondage to the law itself. Grace gives us the power of God within to obey the Law-giver. James Ryle has essentially defined grace as the empowering presence of God that enables us to be what He has called us to be and to do what He has called us to do in Christ. The essence of grace requires that our relationship with God and our works of obedience be based upon what God has done and not upon what we could ever do.

Though the bride of Christ has been set free by the grace of God, she is, for the most part, still in the churches and is held captive by church laws. When we are in the flesh, in unbelief, under law, or into doing works that God has not ordained, we will be in bondage to these things--flesh, unbelief, law, and works. When we are in the Spirit, in faith, in grace, and in rest, we will be free of these things--flesh, unbelief, law, and works.

The bondage of legalism occurs when our laws, rules, and regulations put God in a box and then we try to fit everyone else into those same boxes. If they do not fit into the box, they are considered outsiders and even infidels.

LEGALISM CONDEMNS US

Legalistic people put others under condemnation. When we are put under man-made laws that we are not able to fulfill, we feel guilty, ashamed, and condemned. The law condemns us. Paul wrote, "For by the law is the knowledge of sin." Rom. 3:20.

Grace, on the other hand, acquits us. The law of God tells us what is required of us, but has no power to make us obedient. Grace is that power of God. The law condemns; grace empowers. Romans 8:1 reads, "There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit."

The Lord dealt with Larry about using doctors. Larry had come to a place of confidence in the Lord that all things were under His control. It was no longer a question of healing with Larry; it was a question of God's will being done. Larry had faith. It was not his faith, but the Lord's faith in him to endure whatever sickness and infirmity that came upon him without subjecting himself to medical treatment. Larry was careful not to make this a rule for everyone. Had He said, "The Lord has shown me it is wrong to go to doctors and therefore it is wrong for anyone to go doctors," he would have moved from grace to legalism. If we make going to doctors or not going to doctors a rule for everyone, we are legalistic. Those laws soon become impossible requirements for salvation.

LEGALISM IS FEAR-BASED

Legalistic people motivate with fear. Terrible consequences are implied if we fail to abide by those laws.

"I was born, baptized, and received instruction in the Catholic Church," Lillie said. "All of us were taught to follow the directions of the priests. We received the sacraments frequently, Holy Communion and Confession. At that time the Catholic church did not encourage its members to read the Bible. That was left to the priests. It wasn't until I was married and had five children that I felt a hunger to know God in a more personal way. I couldn't tell you anything about the Old or New Testament. My husband and I started attending a non-denominational church where they taught about the Bible. I truly sensed the presence of the Holy Spirit there. Yet, I could not break away from the hold the Catholic Church had on me. We would go to mass early on Sunday, then slip away to this other church afterwards. We did this for about three years. The fear of not receiving the Eucharist and losing its graces, possibly losing our salvation, kept us tied to the Catholic church. Slowly, we were delivered from that fear as we received more understanding from the scriptures."

Paul wrote, "For you have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but you have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father." Rom. 8:15. "For God has not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind." 2 Tim. 1:7. We are to fear God; not men nor the made-up religious laws, rules, and regulations imposed by men.

LEGALISM KILLS US

Legalistic people deprive others of the life of God with their works. Paul wrote the Corinthians explaining, God "also has made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter kills, but the spirit gives life." 2 Cor. 3:6.

The Galatians were still observing religious days, months, seasons, and years over which Paul anguished, "I am afraid for you, lest I have labored for you in vain." Gal. 4:8-11 NKJV.

Most Christians are bound by what their church system says is proper Christian practice. In some traditions, individuals have little to say about how they dress, where they go, what they do, what they believe, and how they are to behave. These things are dictated to them, and they do them by rote. They rarely know why these things are required of them. Church systems have no life to give. Moreover, they quench the Spirit with their carnal meetings, formalities, traditions, rituals, dogmas, rules, programs, and regulations.

We tend to make religious laws and systems out of the truths of God and follow them instead of following God. The Kingdom of God has to do with the living reality of Jesus Christ and the power of His Holy Spirit who is at work within us to bring about God's ultimate intentions. Jesus could never be squeezed into the systems and formulas we concoct out of our carnal minds. Watch out for them! They are killers.

Those who gather only in the name of Jesus as appointed by the Holy Spirit are more likely to express the spontaneous life of Jesus in their midst. When the Spirit of Jesus is present, so will be the fruit of the Holy Spirit. The bride of Christ is characterized by liberty, love, praise, the word, fruit, ministry, gifts of the Holy Spirit, fellowship, blessing, edification, and service.

LEGALISM IS A CURSE

Legalistic people put others under the curse of the law. Paul stated, "For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one who continues not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them." Gal. 3:10. The law was given to show us the perfect will of God. We are required to keep the whole law of God if we are to be righteous in the sight of God. Since it is impossible for us to keep the whole law, it becomes a curse to us. Rather than giving life, it kills us. Rom. 7:7. Paul argues that the more we try to obey the law outwardly in the flesh, the more we are bound to do the very thing we do not wish to do. Rom. 7:21.

At best, the laws that are put on us by religious people in the church systems can only be observed outwardly. No change of nature has taken place. Therefore, any requirement for us to adhere to a belief system, join and regularly attend church, dress a certain way, perform certain rituals, or abide by certain laws, rules, and regulations puts us under a curse. We are trying to make ourselves righteous by laws we cannot keep in our hearts.

Those who impose the law upon others not only put a curse upon others, but are themselves accursed. Paul warned the Galatians that if "we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed." Gal. 1:8. He meant business and repeated himself. "As we said before, so say I now again, if any man preach any other gospel unto you than that you have received, let him be accursed." Gal. 1:9.

Thank God "Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one who hangs on a tree." Gal. 3:13. Grace blesses.

LEGALISM IS BEWITCHING

Legalistic people bewitch others by persuasion and intimidation. Paul exhorted, "O foolish Galatians, who has bewitched you, that you should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ has been evidently set forth, crucified among you?" Gal. 3:1. It was as though a spell had been cast upon the Galatians by the circumcision party as they fell prey to their false teaching. Seducing spirits often accompany false teachings, leading them away from obeying the truth.

Our teachings (doctrines) often become the gospel we preach. An acquaintance of mine once said of himself, "I preach faith." Then he declared, "It works." However, the apostle Paul proclaimed that he preached Christ and Him crucified. Jesus is what works and Jesus is not an it. How astonishing that faith, the appropriate solution to the law, could be so skillfully turned back into law. Many well-meaning and God-seeking believers have been mesmerized by that false teaching.

Some denominations have made water baptism and membership into their church the way of salvation. Consequently, people are being inadvertently baptized into the name of that church rather than into the name of Jesus. What an affront to Jesus who plainly said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No man comes unto the Father but by Me." John 14:6.

Any practice, teaching, doctrine, ritual, program, rule, regulation, system, organization, association, or church government that binds and oppresses people rather than setting them free in Christ is not of God. It is legalism. Legalism is fleshly. Flesh is manipulative. Manipulation is the practice of witchcraft--manipulating others to do things against their will. We can be certain that wherever witchcraft is practiced, the demons of witchcraft colonize.

Chapter 16 - The Demons Of Witchcraft

Milton Green rightly observed that, in every situation there is either a Holy Spirit atmosphere or a demon atmosphere.

Whenever we have one of these Things we call church, it is a work of flesh. If flesh, then it is idolatrous. If idolatrous, then it is demon infested. If demon infested, then it is going to be driven by manipulation and control which is the practice of witchcraft in the broad and more subtle definition of the term. If it is the practice of witchcraft, then the demons of witchcraft will be swarming. Though they come in various degrees of strengths--every one of these Things will most likely have some demonic power or principality assigned to rule over it. The stench of flesh attracts the demons of witchcraft.

THE SPIRIT OF BABYLON

Spiritual Babylon takes on tangible form in this Thing we call church. Church is idolatrous. In the Bible, demons are associated with idolatry. The Lord spoke to Moses in Leviticus 17:7 regarding the Israelites saying, "They shall no more offer their sacrifices unto devils, after whom they have gone a whoring." So, too, this Thing we call church is possessed with demons--all the demons of spiritual Babylon.

I believe that the foremost of the demons of spiritual Babylon is the spirit of Babylon itself. (During the time of the Persian rule over Babylon, Daniel identified the prince of the Kingdom of Persia. Daniel 10:13. This "prince" is understood by the scriptural context to be a demonic stronghold over Persia.) I cannot say if there is one spirit of Babylon overall or if there are multitudes. I can say it is a very real presence in the churches.

The spirit of Babylon works in concert with the spirit of witchcraft and is monstrous in nature and in size. I was born and raised in spiritual Babylon as were many in the church. It was all I knew. It was in me, and I was in it. As a minister in that system, I found identity, significance, validation, power, support, and hope. It was a major stronghold in my life.

Even after my conversion and separation from the system, I experienced times when I would be overcome by this spirit of Babylon. I wanted to go back into the system--the very thing that had spiritually bankrupted me before. The pull was so compelling at times that I was certain it was the voice of God calling me. The call contradicted the revelations and understandings I had been given about the church system, but I could not see the truth while under its veil of deception. After a while, that veil would lift and I would come to my senses.

Afterwards, I would feel guilty for having succumbed to that spirit. I thought to myself, "I must be awful." The Holy Spirit graciously gave me understanding. He showed me that this spirit of Babylon that came upon me was huge, and I was being overcome by it. It took years for me to be delivered from it. Even then, hoping to find me in a moment of weakness, its diminishing, seductive voice would call, "Come home."

THE UNHOLY TRINITY

When this Babylonian spirit is further exposed, I believe three other main demonic influences are seen working in concert with each other to take rule over carnal churches. They are a matriarchal spirit, a Jezebel spirit, and a spirit of witchcraft. These spirits operate as three in one to form the "unholy trinity" in opposition to the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Matriarchal spirit. The matriarchal spirit is a counterfeit to Father-God. According to Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary/Thesaurus, a matriarch is "a female who rules or dominates a family...the mother who is the head and ruler of her family and descendants." Revelation 17:5-6 reveals that this "MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT," is called, "THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS." This mother in Revelation is a matriarchal spirit. She is without a husband, has offspring, and rules over those offspring. Her offspring are called harlots. She has many of them.

The matriarchal spirit is most noted by this: she takes over. She dominates her house. She takes over the rule of everyone in her grasp. She takes over decision-making. She takes over conversations. She answers for other people. She takes over other people's lives. Those under her thumb are diminished, suffocated, and lose their identity into her. She mothers; she smothers. This domination occurs everywhere--in society, in the home, and particularly in the church. It is grossly out of divine order wherever it happens, but is especially grievous to God when it takes place among the household of God who build for themselves these Things we call church.

The matriarchal spirit usurps the role of the patriarch so she can make the household her own. She gains control over her house by means of the Jezebel spirit.

Jezebel. The Jezebel (harlot) spirit is a counterfeit to the Son, Jesus. The Jezebel spirit uses any means possible to entangle us in her web of bondage. She spins her witchcraft to accomplish this.

Witchcraft. The spirit of witchcraft is a counterfeit to the Holy Spirit. Witchcraft is, among many other things, seductive, enticing, deceptive, pushy, fear-arousing, shaming, manipulative, controlling, guilt-provoking, and hurtful.

Given time, this unholy trinity will take dominion in every harlot church system situation.

EMPOWERING THE MATRIARCHAL SPIRIT

These three manifestations work together as one. They have different functions, but work to achieve the same ultimate goal--to give dominion of the household over to the matriarchal spirit.

They counterfeit the functions of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Just as the Holy Spirit's function is to glorify the Son, witchcraft's function is to help Jezebel achieve her goals. Just as Jesus came to glorify the Father, Jezebel's function is to ultimately empower/glorify the matriarchal spirit. Jezebel practices gendercide upon men (the masculine) in order to eliminate the patriarchs, leaving the rule of the house in the grip of the matriarchal spirit alone.

These three--the matriarch, Jezebel, and witchcraft--are so enmeshed that when the Jezebel spirit comes of age, so to speak, it turns into the matriarch. This happened to Bob and Sharon. Bob was called to serve the body of Christ full-time, but from the first day of their marriage onward, this matriarchal-Jezebel-witchcraft spirit, working through Sharon, opposed him on nearly every decision he tried to make. This spirit tried to dictate his life and ministry for him. It could not allow him to take the lead in their marriage though he was quite capable of doing so. As the years passed, it wore him down spiritually, emotionally, mentally, and physically. It became easier for him to give into it just to keep the peace than to repeatedly stand against it. Its need to dominate was the Jezebel in her. The way it came against him was the witchcraft in her. By the time they reached their sixties, witchcraft had worn him down, Jezebel had cut him off, and the matriarchal had taken him over. The Jezebel spirit within her transformed into the matriarch.

What happened to Bob and Sharon portrays what often takes place in the church system. For example: The pastor who wants domination over "his" sheep suppresses their gifts and ministries that he might have the rule over them. He wants--that's Jezebel; he suppresses--that witchcraft; he rules--that's the matriarch. This unholy trinity is gender-non-specific. It operates through male or female to secure its domination over its house. The true Patriarch over the ekklesia of God is Father-God. Anytime His people submit to any other spiritual authority for headship, the matriarch takes over whether the leadership is male or female.

The church system as a whole is structured for this unrighteous domination of a few people over many people. Phil Perry says regarding the harlot church system that "it will either make you domineering or keep you weak." Witchcraft and Jezebel in these Things we call church scheme to empower some people with ungodly authority and imprison others under that ungodly authority.

THE WOMAN IN THE BASKET

The passage in Zechariah 5:5-11 concerning the "woman in the basket" is a picture of this unholy trinity.

An angel showed Zechariah a basket (ephah which is a dry measure vessel), and Zechariah observed that the appearance of the basket went forth throughout the whole earth.

The basket is like the church system which indeed has gone forth throughout the whole earth.

The angel lifted a lid of lead off of the basket, allowing Zechariah to see a woman in it. The angel identified the woman as "Wickedness."

This Wickedness is like the matriarchal spirit that seeks to rule the churches. She is the personification of wickedness, the carnal mind, the abomination that makes the holy place (us) desolate, standing where it ought not. Mark 13:14.

The angel cast a lid of lead upon the mouth of the basket to hide her away. (Lead is heavy and is like the heaviness that is felt whenever the matriarchal spirit is present.) The angel thereby shut her up for a period of time.

The matriarchal spirit in the churches has been hidden until now, but will soon be revealed when she seats herself upon the throne in her own house.

Then Zechariah saw two women coming with the wind in their wings. Their wings were like those of a stork.

The two women are like the Jezebel and witchcraft spirits that work in concert with the matriarchal spirit.

These two women lifted up the basket with the woman, Wickedness, in it and took it to Shinar which is Babylon.

Shinar is like the Babylonian captivity of the church; namely, the harlot church system.

The two women took the basket to Shinar to build a house for Wickedness. It will be her own house, and it will be established. Once it is established, she will be put on her own pedestal (base, resting place, foundation). She will be the head of it.

The Jezebel and witchcraft spirits took this woman to Shinar, the place of the harlot church system, to build a house for her. Her house is a counterfeit to the temple of the Holy Spirit--all true believers--over which Christ is the head. When this house was prepared, Wickedness, the matriarchal spirit, would be set on her pedestal, apparently to receive all things to herself that she might be all in all. This counterfeits the destiny of Jesus who, when all things have been subjected to Him, shall also be subjected to God that God may be all in all. 1 Cor. 15:28.

This plot by the unholy trinity is being carried out to fulfillment in the harlot church system today: the Jezebel spirit is being transformed into the matriarch.

DRONES OF WITCHCRAFT

These three main demonic strongholds sit like queen bees with a swarm of drones to do their bidding. The angel in Revelation 18:2 "cried mightily with a strong voice, saying, 'Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and is become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird.'" The foul spirit and the unclean and hateful bird speak of demons.

Paul wrote, "Now the Spirit speaks expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and the doctrines of devils." 1 Tim. 4:1. He later added that "the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears. And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned to fables." 2 Tim. 4:3-4. Demons whisper into our itching ears, and we succumb to their deceits when we have not settled the issue of utter surrender to the lordship of Jesus Christ. We still lust for Self and do not love the truth.

Remember, the Lord was talking to the assemblies of the called-out-ones in Asia when He mentioned the doctrine of Balaam in Revelation 2:14, the doctrine of the Nicolaitans in Revelation 2:15, and the doctrine of Jezebel in Revelation 2:24. These were false teachings that threatened the simplicity and purity of the devotion of the saints to Jesus.

These church demons are very real and work in concert with each other to create havoc within the body of Christ. These unseen puppeteers manipulate our strings to create deception, confusion, division, bigotry, and hatred.

Church demons lie and deceive us to the point that we can become bound to these Things we call church. Even though we know we are in bondage to these spiritually dead Things, we and demons can come up with the most elaborate justifications for staying in them. "But who will preach my funeral?" "My children have friends here." "I was born, baptized, and married in here." "Granddaddy helped to build this church."

THE NAMES OF DEMONS

"Abolish Sunday School!" And so I did. The decision to do so was not easy, nor was it without consequences. It cost me my job in the small, rural church where I had just begun to preach. I had no idea in the beginning that demons would be unearthed in such a decision, but I soon found out. The Lord exposed a golden calf in the hearts of some of the people. Through these three simple words, "abolish Sunday School," the Lord exposed a few people who were joined to a tradition of men, who by their own confessions and choices showed that they loved the institution of Sunday School too much to "test the Spirit" in the matter.

In this process, God exposed numerous deeds of the flesh among the core dissenters. Each deed of the flesh italicized below had a corresponding demonic spirit that went with it. Demons are named according to their activities.

Their doctrines and governmental policies were restrictive, disallowing the Holy Spirit to do a new thing among them. Any thought or action that did not fit into the narrow corridor of their church polity was rejected. Anyone who dared to test those boundaries was thought to be an adversary to the faith. Thus, demons of restriction were present.

They were possessive in their attempt to own the property, the pulpit, the program, and the people. Thus, demons of possessiveness were present.

Their possessiveness made them manipulative and controlling which was the practice of witchcraft. Demons of manipulation, control, and witchcraft were present.

Two of the elders were deceptive when they went in stealth without my knowledge to the higher authorities in an attempt to oust me. Demons of deception were present.

They were rebellious against hearing a word of the Lord. They did not pretend to be speaking for the Lord, but were standing on their tradition. Consequently, they were stubborn, stiff-necked, and unyielding. Change was not an option. Their stubbornness was prideful and arrogant. Stiff-necked demons and demons of rebellion, pride, and arrogance were present.

They were idolatrous in that they loved their church and tradition more than their willingness to trust and obey the Holy Spirit. Their identities were wrapped up in their church. Demons of idolatry were present.

They were legalistic, political, clannish, unforgiving, suspicious, jealous, impudent, slanderous, petty, spiteful, and contentious. All of those demons were present as well.

If we are sectarian, there will be spirits of sectarianism; if we are divisive, there will be spirits of division; if we are legalistic, there will be spirits of legalism; if we are religious, there will be spirits of religion; if we are seductive, there will spirits of seduction; if we are jealous, there will be spirits of jealousy; if we are unforgiving, there will be spirits of unforgiveness; if we are hateful, there will be spirits of hate; if we lust, there will be spirits of lust; if we are power hungry, there will be spirits of intimidation and domination; if we have malice and murder in our hearts, there will be spirits of malice and murder.

Murder!? A murderous spirit in the church!? It can be in the heart. Pastor Henry had lost favor with many of his parishioners. They called for a vote to fire him and he won by a narrow margin. To the surprise of his congregation the following Sunday, he confessed from the pulpit that he would have killed everyone who voted against him had he a gun. The Catholic Inquisition in the 1500's is one among many historical examples of how horrifying this spirit of murder can be in the name of "Christianity." Church officials held secret trials and turned condemned heretics over to secular governments to be burned. Jesus was tried, convicted, and executed by the murderous religious leaders of His day. (They killed Him only because He willingly laid down His life.) If we are seeking something for Self, we will despise those who threaten us. Some would kill if they could.

The demons in the churches are many and vicious. Many churches have become more of the battlefield for injury than a triage center for healing.

DEMONS AND PEOPLE

Demons can only work through willing people. Evil spirits have legal access to those who commit sin. The practice of control and manipulation is sin and opens the door to spirits of witchcraft.

Those who rule within these Things we call church may be few in number, perhaps only one. It may be the pastor, but not necessarily. In most denominations, pastors move around from church to church, limiting their ability to get much of a stronghold over their congregations. Those pastors who gain such a stronghold in their church are generally those who stay there a lifetime or those who actually chartered a church in their own name.

Quite often, those in control are "lay" persons who not only rule the church, but control the pastors as well. They may be male or female. The matriarchal influence may be in Miss Neesie whose ancestors founded the church, and nothing is ever done there without her approval. The Jezebel influence may be in Jennifer who seduced Pastor John into having an affair with her, or it may be in Pastor John who seduced Jennifer into having an affair with him. The witchcraft influence may be in deacon Will who controls the purse strings, or it may be in self-appointed prophetess Charlotte who manipulates people's lives through false prophecies. Many times rulers in the churches are those who have money and position in the community and thereby intimidate others who unduly revere them.

One pastor friend of mine told me years ago that when he went to a new church situation, his first task was to discover who the "chief" was in order to find a way to work with him or her.

WITCHCRAFT AND THE HOLY SPIRIT

One way to discern this counterfeit spirit of witchcraft is to see it in contrast to the nature and work of the Holy Spirit.

Witchcraft is characterized by deceit; the Holy Spirit is characterized by honesty, truthfulness, and straightforwardness. God is Truth.

Witchcraft is ambitious; therefore, it is impatient and pushy. It has its own agenda and is not content to wait upon the Lord. The whole idea of waiting is threatening to the practice of witchcraft. If we cannot wait on God to bring a thing about, we are wanting something God has not ordained. If God ordained it, we should be able to wait for Him to bring it about in His timing. His timing is perfect. The nature of the Holy Spirit in us is to rest, wait, listen, and then act only when it is time to act. The Holy Sprit is patient, gentle, kind, and long-suffering.

Witchcraft deals in fear, anxiety, and restlessness. The Holy Spirit offers trust, faith, confidence, and rest in God.

Witchcraft creates an atmosphere that is negative and destructive. The Holy Spirit creates an atmosphere that is positive and uplifting.

Witchcraft bears the fruit of strife, poverty, and death. The Holy Spirit bears the fruit of peace, blessing, and life.

Witchcraft is characterized by one's attempt to control people and circumstances by speaking curses. The Holy Spirit calls forth that which is good by speaking blessings. With the tongue we can bless God or curse men. James 3:9.

Witchcraft is intrusive. The Holy Spirit is gentle.

Witchcraft is wicked. The Holy Spirit is righteous.

THE ROYAL LAW OF LIBERTY

James 1:25 refers to the perfect law of liberty. We have to let people be free. We have to let them be free to be who they are and where they are at any given point and time in their lives.

Any act of control that creates bondage for another person is the subtle practice of witchcraft. Jesus Christ is Truth. He is the way, the truth, and the life. John 14:6. "You shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free." John 8:32. "Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty." 2 Cor. 3:17. "It was for freedom, Christ set us free." Gal. 5:1.

The flesh nature of man is naturally prone to manipulation and control which is the practice of witchcraft. Therefore, it is under the influence of the demons of witchcraft. When witchcraft is present, the Jezebel demon is present. When the Jezebel demon is present, the Ahab (Nicolaitan) demon is present. When these demons are in operation within the carnal church, we have what Jesus called in Revelation "the deep things of Satan."

Chapter 17 - The Deep Things Of Satan

"How are you fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning? How are you cut down to the ground...For you have said in your heart, 'I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God, I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north. I will ascend above the heights of the clouds. I will be like the most High.'" Isa. 14:12-13.

THE DWELLING PLACE OF SATAN

Several things of interest are revealed to us in the above verses of scripture from Isaiah. First, we note that this reference to Lucifer, whom I believe is Satan, is in the context of the prophecy of the fall of the king of Babylon and of the destruction of Babylon. Isa. 14:3-11, 22-23. If we remove the subheadings and the chapters and verses that have arbitrarily been given to these verses, they read as one continuous passage, thus linking Lucifer with Babylon as the king of Babylon.

Secondly, we note that Lucifer made five boasts, five "I wills." He seeks to usurp the place of God in heaven, to exalt his throne above the stars, to sit upon the mount of the congregation in the sides of the north, to ascend above the heights of the clouds, and to be like the most High. This is what Babylon is about--the exaltation of Self. It is all that the carnal mind devises.

Thirdly and most particularly, Lucifer said he would sit also upon the mount of the congregation in the sides of the north. Psalms 48:2 lets us know that "the sides of the north" refers to Mount Zion: "Beautiful for situation, the joy of the whole earth, is Mount Zion, on the sides of the north, the city of the great King." The "great King" in this verse refers to Yahweh who is Jesus. Psalms 2:6 declares, "Yet have I set My king upon My holy hill of Zion." Zion is God's dwelling place (Ps. 9:11) and is "the city of the great king." Zion is also a type of God's holy remnant. "Remember Your congregation who You have purchased of old, the rod of Your inheritance who You have redeemed, this Mount Zion, wherein You dwell." Ps. 74:2. Also we read, "They who trust in the Lord shall be as Mount Zion." Ps. 125.1. Lucifer intended from the beginning of time to seat himself as the head of the congregation of God's people.

Israel was the congregation of God's people, as are all true believers in Christ to this day. Lucifer sought to be the head of Israel then, just as he seeks to be the head of the body of Christ to this day. Luke 4:13 reads, "And when the devil had ended all the temptation, he departed from Him [Jesus] for a season." But only for a season--Satan wasted no time to deceive, if possible, the elect of God. Matt. 24:24. His takeover of the churches should be no surprise to us.

We read in the book of Revelation how involved Satan was in three of the assemblies of called-out-ones that are mentioned there. He, not Jesus, was ruling their hearts. Jesus was standing and knocking outside of the door, spiritually speaking, of the ekklesia in Laodicea saying, "...if any man hear My voice and opens the door, I will come into to him and will sup with him, and he with Me." Rev. 2:20.

SATAN'S SEAT

The Lord Jesus instructed the apostle John to write to the called-out-ones in Pergamos saying, "He who has the sharp sword with two-edges, I know your works and where you dwell, where Satan's seat is." Rev. 2:13. The interpretation of this phrase, where Satan's seat is, is not clear. Is Satan's seat [throne] in the middle of this assembly of called-out-ones? Does he have his throne in the same city where they are? Or, are there simply people in the assembly at Pergamos who represent Satan's actions? It says that his seat is there and then says that he dwells there. This agrees with Satan's own aspiration to seat himself also upon "the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north." Whichever is the case, he stirred up persecution among them. Jesus commended those who upheld His name and did not deny the faith. Nevertheless, He held a few things against them because they had some among them who followed the teachings of Balaam and the Nicolaitans.

Satan was in the middle of all of this. It would be naive to think that Satan could be elsewhere. His mission has always been to wage war against Jesus Christ, the Son of the living God, and His assembly of called-out-ones. Whatever else he does in the world, he does it in order to try to embarrass, usurp, or dethrone Jesus or to rob Him of His inheritance in the saints. Eph. 1:18. Satan will not set up his throne outside of the encampments of God's people unless he must. Unfortunately, because of people's fleshly ways and harlot hearts, he has been given free room and board to camp within. He positions himself as close to the center of God's people as he can.

THE DEEP THINGS OF SATAN

Jesus began His message through John to the called-out-ones in Thyatira by recognizing their works, love, service, faith, patience, and that their last works were more than the first. Then He said He was against them for tolerating that woman Jezebel who called herself a prophetess. She taught and seduced His servants to commit fornication and to eat things sacrificed to idols. Jesus had even given her time to repent, but she did not. Consequently, He said He would cast her into a sickbed and would cast those who committed adultery with her into great tribulation; that is, unless they repented of their deeds. Moreover, Jesus said He would kill Jezebel's children with death so that all of the called-out-ones would know that He is the one who searches the inner hearts of men and gives to everyone according to their works. Jezebel's spiritual children are those who follow her in deception and idolatry. Jesus made a distinction here between Jezebel's children and His own called-out-ones. Then Jesus said He would put no other burden upon the rest of them in Thyatira, "as many as have not this doctrine [teaching] and who have not known the deep things of Satan." Rev. 2:18-29.

That there were those in the assembly of called-out-ones in Thyatira who did not know the deep things of Satan suggests that there were those in the assembly who did know. These were those who allowed themselves to be seduced by Jezebel to commit fornication and to eat things sacrificed to idols.

Jesus charged those who had not known these deep things of Satan to hold fast to what they had until He came. Why would He have told them to hold fast to what they had? Because that which they had could be easily taken from them by deception. This Jezebel spirit is very seductive and deceiving.

Jezebel was in the assembly of called-out-ones in Thyatira and had followers. She was teaching things that Jesus called "the deep things of Satan." Nothing could be clearer. If these Things we call church are idolatrous extensions of self-worship--flesh--then those who rule over them practice witchcraft and are under the control of the spirits of witchcraft; and if under witchcraft, then they too are involved in the deep things of Satan.

SYNAGOGUES OF SATAN

When Jesus charged John to write the assemblies in Smyrna and Philadelphia, He mentioned those who blasphemed by calling themselves Jews, whom Jesus clarified were not Jews but were the synagogue of Satan. Rev. 2:8-9; 3:7-9. Jesus could have been referring to some Judaizers who might have penetrated the ranks of the believers there, but it is more likely that He was referring to unconverted Jews who slandered the believers in these cities.

Jesus said those who falsely called themselves Jews were the synagogue of Satan. Just as believers are the temple of the Holy Spirit, they were the synagogue [gathering place] of Satan--not their buildings, beliefs, or activities. He said that they blasphemed by calling themselves Jews.

Paul taught that the true Jews are followers of Jesus. "For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, neither is that circumcision which is outward in the flesh. But he is a Jew who is one inwardly, and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter, whose praise is not of men, but of God." Rom. 2:28-29.

They were synagogues of Satan because they opposed and persecuted the followers Jesus. They had already determined in the synagogues that any man who confessed that Jesus was of Christ should be put out of the synagogue. John 9:22. So much stress was put on belonging to the synagogue that it was shameful to be put out of it. Guilt and shame were applied as a means of manipulating, controlling, dominating, and possessing the constituents of the synagogue, just as it is done in churches today. It is a hard saying, but whoever allows the flesh to rule rather than the Holy Spirit, they, too, are the synagogue of Satan.

THE TRUE PATTERN

Most everyone agrees that the church system from its inception after the first century A.D. has been patterned after the synagogue system of the Jewish religion. The word synagogue literally means a bringing together. It was the place the Jews gathered to read and explain the sacred scriptures and pray, but it became more than a gathering place. It became both a building and an institution just as it is with church today. Some similarities between the synagogue and church systems are footnoted below with personal comments. 3 {23}

The Pharisees were an inseparable part of the synagogue system by the time of Jesus and were distinguished by their legalism; their lust for power, position, recognition, and dominance; their stiff-necked attitudes; their self-righteousness and hypocrisy; their self-seeking lifestyle; and their murderous intentions.

What are we to say of those clergy persons in present-day Christendom who are likewise legalistic; who lust for power, position, recognition, and dominance; who are stiff-necked, self-righteous, hypocritical, and self-seeking; and who have murderous intentions in their hearts? Might they be modern-day Pharisees in the churches!?

Make this connection with me. If the leaders of that Thing you are in that you call church have the marks of the Pharisees, they are in the flesh and seeking something for themselves. They are the synagogue of Satan. If you participate in, share in, and have your fellowship with them in that idolatrous system, it is most likely because the system is in your heart as well. If that is the case, you are the synagogue of Satan with them. Satan has his synagogue and Jesus has His assembly of called-out-ones. We are the called-out-ones for assembly into Him. He formed a people. He is building His temple and it is made up of lively stones. We are to be joined only to Him. Bill Shipman observes, "If we are joined, submitted, committed, or covenanted to anyone or anything other than to the Lord Jesus Christ, we are committing spiritual adultery."

Much of what Jesus taught was in contradiction to what the Pharisees stood for. He figuratively pointed a finger at the Pharisees, declaring to His disciples, "See them? What they say and do is not it. Look at Me! I am the way and the truth and the life." We have patterned that which we call church after the synagogue system of men. The true assembly of called-out-ones can never be patterned after a Thing. The bride of Christ can never be defined by systems, institutions, buildings, governmental orders, programs, formulas, creeds, doctrines, rituals, and litanies. The assembly of called-out-ones is a people who are patterned after the person, Jesus Christ. He alone is the governor and the government of the Kingdom of God. Isa. 9:6.

When it comes to this Thing we call church, in most cases, Satan has positioned himself and his throne in the middle of it. We must see that! His deception is so great that we do not even know we may be serving him amidst our service to Christ. "For Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light." 2 Cor. 11:14. He is false light who is full of deception and deep darkness. This Thing we call church veils the eyes of those who remain a party to it. People are so deceived by this darkness that they have innocently become the dispensers of it. Church, in all of its darkness, is the counterfeit harlot to the true bride.

The harlot church system springs forth from those who have spiritual Babylon in their hearts. This Babylon is the great whore that sits on many waters. "Many waters" includes all peoples of all nations in all denominations and non-denominational churches who practice the harlotry of church.

OUTSIDE THE CAMP

The harlot church system cannot be fixed. It can never be redeemed. It is flesh and all flesh is under the domain of Satan. God's people--we who are called by His name and who do not allow ourselves to be called by any other name--must come out of Babylon. We are redeemed by the blood of the Lamb, joined to Him only, baptized into His death, and raised in His resurrection. We are immersed in and led by His Holy Sprit. He alone is the Lord of our lives. We are submitted one to another in the spirit of humility and love.

Bob Hughey writes, "God is looking for a people, not a place. His building program is made up of living stones, not concrete blocks, lumber, and nails. He is looking for and raising up a people of faith, not some theological meeting to come up with a statement of faith. He is not starting a new non-profit organization, He is bringing to life a living organism with true apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers, and with everyone in the body a minister. He is not looking for a people known by their doctrine, pastor's name, location, but is raising up a people known by their love for Him and for one another. He is not looking for a people bound by traditions, but is raising up a people free in Jesus and being led by His Holy Spirit." 3 {24}

"Wherefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people with His own blood, suffered outside the gate. Let us go forth therefore unto Him outside the camp, bearing His reproach." Heb. 13:12-13.

Footnotes

{23} Factual sources below were abstracted from Harper's Bible Dictionary and Nelson's New Illustrated Bible Dictionary, s.v. "synagogue".
Origin. The origin of the synagogue as an institution is not certain. Though synagogues are not specifically mentioned in the Old Testament, they came into existence sometime after Judah was taken into Babylonian captivity in the 6th century B.C. Babylon was a likely place for them to have begun.
By New Testament times, synagogues had become numerous and were playing a larger role in community life. They were social centers for Jewish activities and schools for their children. They might have been used as local courts and for scourging. At least Jesus predicted that they would do such things in their synagogues against those that He would send. Matt. 10:17; 23:34.
As far as scriptural evidence goes, there is no mention of God instituting synagogues, just as Jesus did not institute church as we know of it today. Both the synagogue and church, for whatever good intentions they may serve, are still the institutions of men and the outgrowth of men's traditions.
Buildings. The Jews may have first "synagogued" in homes, but evidence shows that they erected buildings for themselves early on. The remains of one has been identified in Alexandria, Egypt, which is thought to date back to around 230 B.C. Jewish synagogues were well established throughout the Roman Empire and were in Jerusalem by the time of Jesus. The earliest type of architecture was the basilica. The basilica has a central nave (the main part) with semicircular apse (a projection of the building), two or four side aisles, a narthex (vestibule or entry area), and a clerestory (high walls with windows over the nave). The Torah was placed in an ark (cabinet) on a platform where there were also lamps and a lectern.
Many churches are still patterned after the basilica style of architecture. The only buildings God commissioned were the Tabernacle of Moses which was a movable tent with articles in it and Solomon's temple. Exod. 25:8-9 and 1 Chron. 28. Christians did not build their own places of worship until Emperor Constantine was converted around 325 A.D. and Christianized the entire Roman empire.
Seating. The younger people sat in the back while the best seats up front were reserved for the elders. Jesus condemned this prideful lust for prominence in Matthew 23:6. Referring to the scribes and Pharisees, He said that they loved the chief seats in the synagogues. Clergy still love the chief seats in their congregations. Those platform chairs are typically large, elaborate, and upholstered for royalty.
Officials. A synagogue could not be formed unless there were at least en Jewish men in the community. Jesus said that where two or more are gathered in His name, there He would be in the midst of them. Matt. 18:20. The synagogues had a board of devoted and respected elders who regulated the policies of the synagogue. One or more men were elected by the elders to be the ruler(s) of the synagogue. The rulers took care of the building and planned the services. A minister was in charge of the sacred scrolls, attended the lamps, kept the building clean, did the prescribed scourging, and taught the children during the week. The ruler appointed a delegate of the congregation to read the Scripture lesson, to lead in prayer, and to preach or comment on the scripture. The Torah was written in ancient Hebrew so an interpreter was often needed. Two or three almoners (one who distributes charity) took up money or other necessities for the poor.
The fact that Jesus habitually went to the synagogue, read from the scroll, and taught is not an endorsement of the synagogue system. Luke 4:16-20 records that Jesus was even driven out of the synagogue. In Matthew 10:17 and 13:54, Jesus and Matthew referred to them as their synagogues.
Different traditions of Christian churches have variations of these officers. In the Presbyterian system, the board of elders rule along with the pastors. They are equivalent to the minister in the synagogue. Deacons or ushers are selected to receive and count the offerings. They are the equivalent to the almoners. The ruling officers may be called deacons as in the Baptist tradition or may be priests as in the Episcopal tradition.
Paul recognized that God gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some shepherds (who are the elder-overseers), and some teachers. The King James Version used the term "office" when it generally should have been translated service. Rom. 11:13; 12:4; 1 Tim. 3:1; 3:10; and 3:13. The idea of ministry being an office a position is foreign to New Testament thought. It is not a New Testament term or distinction. These are functions--acts of servanthood--in the body of Christ. No such "positions" exist in the Kingdom of God, only in the kingdoms of men.
Order of worship. Before the service, the minister would place the Torah on the lectern and scroll it to the reading for the day. The service began with the Shema--the passage in Deuteronomy 6:4-9. The speaker for the day led in prayer--facing Jerusalem with hands extended--after which the people said, "Amen." He stood up to read the lesson for the day and sat down to sermonize upon it. Luke 4:20. Afterwards, if a priest were present, he would pronounce the benediction to which the people said, "Amen." If no priest were present, someone offered a closing prayer. The scriptures are still read and sermons are still preached in the churches today much as they were in the synagogues, following prescribed lectionaries for the week.
This format is in stark contradiction to the spirit-led, believer's meeting which the New Testament followers had, going from house to house. The Corinthians' meeting are pictured in 1 Corinthians 14:26: "How is it then, brothers? When you come together, everyone of you has a psalm, has a doctrine, has a tongue, has a revelation, has an interpretation." New Testament assemblies were characterized by the existence of the equipping gift ministries of apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors (elders) and teachers; by the plurality of elders; by the operation of all of the gifts of the Holy Spirit; and by mutual recognition of one another's contribution to the body of Christ. Jesus said the Father was seeking those who would worship Him in Spirit and in truth (John 4:23-24), not according to a bulletin or dead ritual.
I am convinced beyond doubt that if Jesus were to walk into most of the churches today, He would be treated much the same as He was in the synagogues in His day. The difference between what He called us to and what we have in church today is striking.
 

{24} James Nesbit, A Lifestyle of Light, 2nd ed. (Liberty, TN: Highey and Nesbit, 1999), 350.
 

Chapter 18 - Who Shall Ascend?

I called upon the name of the Lord, "Who, Lord, shall ascend to the high mountain of our God and King?"

He answered, "He who has a broken and contrite heart. He who humbles himself in My presence. He is the one who shall ascend unto My holy hill." And I called again and I asked, "Lord, how does one humble himself? Man is so full of pride."

And He said, "He who humbles himself is he who recognizes his pride and breaks before Me. I will see him. I will come to him. I will break his heart. He will weep and mourn for he will know that he is a man of unclean lips. I will see him and I will lift him up. But if he lifts himself up, I will let him fall again."

I asked again, "Lord, where do we go from here?"

And He answered, "Where do you want to go? Whatever is in your heart, that is where you will go. If it is in your heart to follow after Me, then we will walk together and abide in deeper and richer things. We will go from glory to glory, from faith to faith. Yes, we will ascend and ascend, every round going higher and higher. This, My son, is a place in Me. I am Mount Zion. I am My holy hill. When I say come unto Me, I am calling you up to My high hill.

"If, on the other hand, it is in your heart to go down to Babylon or back to Egypt, then you shall go there. The rewards of Babylon will be there and the jewels of Egypt will be yours. Only do not trust in them for they cannot save you, and in that hour when I come in all My glory, do not try to ransom your soul with them. They are vile to Me. I shall cast them away from you. I shall strip you naked and leave you in your shame.

"There is glory in Babylon and there are riches in Egypt, but they will go down to the pit. For from the pit have they ascended. They are flesh and appeal to the flesh. Do not touch them. Do not go after them, for surely they shall be yours if you like."

"Lord," I inquired, "this is a great deception isn't it--Babylon and Egypt?"

"There has never been a greater deception than this," He answered.

I shuddered at the thought of this.

"So great is this deception," He explained, "that men go down to Babylon, adorn themselves in religion and piety, and truly believe that they have come unto Me. They are shaken to anger at the suggestion that this, their Babylon, is not of Me, that I am not there.

"And Egypt, what can I say of My son, Egypt? He, too, is beautiful and rich and dwells in houses and owns land and buys and trades and sells in the marketplace. The prosperity abounds and so does the deception. For in their riches they live and move and have their being. But where will their riches get them, and what will it buy them when I come? I will look the poor man in the eye and see from whence came his hunger. I will look the rich man in the eye and ask from whence came his satisfaction, and he will be lifted up in his heart, and he will show Me all the things in his barns and say, 'My Lord, from all that is mine.' I will turn again to the poor man, and I will ask from whence came your poverty, and he will point to the rich man's barn and say, 'My Lord, from all that is his.' From whence comes your satisfaction? The poor man will bow and say, 'Ah, my Lord, from You; from You, my Lord, from You.'"

I said, "Lord, speak plainly to us. What is Babylon and what is Egypt?"

He answered, "Babylon is all that the carnal mind devises. It is the pride and arrogance and the haughtiness of man who exalts his own knowledge above the knowledge of God.

"As for Egypt, this is the flesh and all the lust thereof.

"Can you not see, My son, how the carnal mind has devised his own plan with all its traditions and labeled it church? For generations men thought this was of Me and for Me, but it is not so. This is the harlot, the woman who sits on many waters, who pretends allegiance to Me, but she is widowed. She is not My bride. Her deception is great. She has attained for herself the riches of this world. She has lavished herself with fine buildings and calls them temples and cathedrals and synagogues and churches. She has dressed herself in royal robes which she wove by her own hands. The linen I give is righteousness which has been purchased by My blood. She has accrued great riches with bank accounts and investments and have men bound to her by these things. She has purchased these things by the blood of martyrs.

"Everywhere you look, you can see the harlot. She is everywhere in men's hearts. Men go after her, and she loves it so. She is not married, but has taken unto herself many lovers. She is defiled and those who sleep with her are defiled.

"Mercy and peace are with those who have eyes to see and ears to hear when the trumpets sound and the call goes forth, 'Come out of her, My people, come out!'

"The road to Zion is paved with humility."

"Lord," I cried, "it's so hard to say. Why is it so hard for me to say it plainly? Why is it so hard for you to say it plainly?"

He answered, "Because the deception is so great.

"Christianity is a religion, and religious men are caught in its web. Who can hear Me," said the Lord, "or who can hear My prophets when it is said of Christianity that it, as a religious system, is a false religion? Who can understand when I declare that all religion is false? The greatest deception of all is for men to come to it in My name, thinking they have come to Me. I am not an "it." I am not a religion. I am the living and true God. I require that men come unto Me and renounce all religion, but who can hear?

"Religion has boundaries. I am boundless. It has its laws and rules and regulations. I offer grace and love and peace. Religion binds men; I free them. Religion suppresses men; I call them to ascend into the heavenlies. Religion restrains and controls; I release. Religion requires obedience to it; I require obedience to Me. Yes, obedience is far better than sacrifices. I loathe religion and religious men. They are dangerous and spread the deception to innocent hearts."

"Lord, you have spoken plainly. So where shall they go who come out of Babylon?"

And He answered simply, "To Jesus."

"Ascend, My holy ones, ascend into the heavenlies. Sit at My right hand and at My left. I will show you mysteries. I will show you great and glorious things.

"You are My witnesses--My two witnesses--one on My left and the other on My right. On My left is grace and mercy and peace. And on My right is righteousness, justice, and wrath. I am a two-edged sword. My sword goes forth out of My mouth. It divides the righteous from the unrighteous. It is sharp and quick and sure.

"Behold, I am dividing right from wrong. I am making straight the path. I am exalting valleys. I am moving mountains. The high will be made low, and the low will be made high.

"If he cannot understand this (the man of sin), let him go down into his house, shut his door and weep and mourn, for surely pity shall come upon his house."

"How shall they come out of Babylon?" I asked the Lord.

"They shall come out by coming unto Me. Simply leave. The door is opened. The way is made clear. The prophets have gone before. Do not look back. Do not go back. Simply leave.

"And when they criticize you and call you blasphemous names, let your head be as flint; be silent; be at peace; love them; turn the other cheek, for they so persecuted your fathers before you.

"Do not look back. Do not do anything. Do not say anything. Simply leave. Say in your heart, 'I have left Babylon and have ascended the high hill of my God. I have come to Mount Zion, to Jesus, the author and finisher of My faith.'

"You cannot take Zion down to Babylon. You have to come out of her. You cannot sing Zion's songs in Babylon. They can only be sung in Zion.

"Zion is a place in the Spirit where Jesus is the only thing there is."

"Lord," my questions seemed endless, "this kind of freedom, this independence, this liberty--will it not be a great threat to those who lead in Babylon?"

"Oh yes, My son, they will take great offense at My holy ones. They will say you are deceived. They will slander, accuse, and defame you. They would plot to kill you if they could. For you, My holy ones, have become what they cannot, because they cannot let go of what they have. Yet, it shall all very soon be taken from them anyway."

"Tell me, Lord, in view of all of this, have we really heard the gospel yet? What is the gospel? Speak plainly to us."

"The gospel has been twisted and perverted to fit the molds of traditions and religions--so uniquely so, that men confuse the Christ with their systems and join converts to them rather than to Him.

"But the truth of the gospel is this: that I, the Lord God of Israel, came in human flesh, fulfilled the Law and Prophets, shed My blood of righteousness, arose from the grave, ascended into heaven where I now sit at the right hand of God the Father, where I intercede on behalf of the saints, and through faith am gathering unto Myself My assembly of holy ones. They are gathered into Me. They are My general assembly of the first-born. I have birthed them by My Spirit. I have filled them with My Spirit. I lead them by My Spirit. They are one in faith, hope, spirit, and love. They are everywhere and worship Me in spirit and truth. In obedience they serve Me where they are, out of who they are in Me. And none of this has anything to do with that Thing men call church. They are My body, My temple, My holy ones, a royal priesthood, a holy nation. They are above institutionalism--beyond doctrines, creeds, and rituals. They are not religious. They are sanctified.

"This is the good news: that Jesus Christ is Lord. And whosoever shall call upon His name shall be saved."

"Lord, I know of young pastors, Spirit-filled, who love you and want to go on with you. What shall they do once they see these things?"

"No man having put his hands to the plow and looking back is fit for the kingdom of heaven."

"Again, I plead with you, my Lord, speak plainly."

And He said, "He who sees these things and obeys My word will simply come out. He will leave home and family and friends and come out. It is a hard word, who can hear?

"These are they who follow the Lamb wherever He goes." Rev. 14:4.

"Lord, what shall I do with this word?"

"Shout it from the housetops. Proclaim it to the nations. What has been revealed to you in secret, proclaim it in the open. Be bold! Be forthright! Be strong! Speak it boldly. Shock the nations. Rattle their doors. Shake their foundations. If they cannot stand, they are not of Me. If it can be shut down and closed up, it is not of Me. If it can be tossed by the wind, it is not of Me. If it produces anger and violence and malicious gossip and slanderings and lies from those who hear it, they are not of Me, for such things do not come out of Me.

"Behold, I have laid My foundation. I have built My walls. And now I am dropping My plumb line. My word of truth goes forth. That which does not align with My word will be torn down and cast into the sea. I am sending My prophets again. They go out in the spirit of Elijah, preaching the kingdom of God and calling men everywhere to repent and be immersed into Jesus. They are My "John the Baptists." They go forth to prepare the way of the Lord.

"Shall I return to wed a harlot? Oh, how repulsive that is to Me. Nor shall I take unto Myself those who are joined to her. Search your hearts, My people. Babylon is in the heart. Come out of her and she will come out of you. Zion, likewise, is in the heart. Come unto Me and I will become your only love.

"Arise. Shine. Come unto Me."

"Lord," I prayed, "forgive me for the fear and the intimidation I feel when I think about speaking these things out."

"You shall know the harlot by this as well, that she has such a powerful control over the hearts and minds of men that they are laden with fear to dare come out of her, let alone speak against her. She is the epitome of idolatry and full of idolatry, and all those joined to her are idolaters. Now you must realize, My son, that a thing is an idol when men have put their trust and love in it. And idolaters do not want their idols touched. It is a dangerous thing to touch another man's idol. As you speak these things, you will be pulling down strongholds and shattering idols--and you will be hated by many for My name's sake.

"Now the harlot, the mother of harlots, is the spirit of Satan himself. He has hidden behind her skirt and deceived the nations. He is last of all willing for her to be exposed. He is, indeed, the great dragon and will try to consume My bond-servants, those I am sending forth in My name to proclaim the gospel of the kingdom and to expose the harlot and her counterfeits.

"A fierce war has begun in the heavenlies. All hell is loosed to destroy My bond-servants if they could, but they cannot even so much as touch them because they are dead and hidden in Me. This is why the fear is so compelling. It is real. Nevertheless, My bond-servants will, indeed, follow Me wherever I go at all cost to their own lives."

"Why is it so hard to leave Babylon? Why can't Christian people just walk away from it?"

"The spirits of Babylon are numerous and very compelling. At the head of the system is the mother of harlots, Jezebel. She is disguised as the bride and, thereby, has deceived the best of hearts. Yet, she is an enticing spirit. Her seductive ways appeal to the flesh of men and their desire for power, position, and riches. Working under her are all the Ahabs: the kings and rulers in the churches, spirits operating through prideful men. The Ahabs are the Nicolaitans--the conquerors of the people. They are the clergy system that elevates itself above the people. Working for them are such other demons as pride, haughtiness, control, position, authority, power, possessiveness, domination, ownership, jealousy.

"These spirits rule the churches, the systems, and the people under them. They rule through spirits of fear and intimidation. Cooperating with these are spirits of tradition, dogmatism, sectarianism, doctrine, sentimentalism, denominationalism; the warring spirits are confusion, hatred, division, divisiveness, bitterness, and the like. These have holds on men and are strongholds in the minds of men. But at the root of them all are the despicable spirits of religion.

"For men to come out, they must first understand these things. Then they must repent of them and come unto Me with a pure heart. I will deliver them. I will separate them and cleanse their defiled hearts. I will dress them in readiness and prepare them for My banqueting table. I will feed them the good fodder of My word instead of the indigestible twigs of men's mind. Who can digest the human intellect? Who can swallow its lies and deceits? The answer is everyone. For man is stupid and devoid of knowledge. But he who has My Spirit will hunger and thirst after Me, and I will reveal My nature to him. He will come unto Me, and I will sup with him and he with Me. He is the one who can come out of the harlot.

"He is the one who will come out of the harlot, for I shall lose not one whom the Father has given to Me--none, except the son of perdition.

"The harlot is everywhere. She is in the ministry, seeking to promote herself in power, position, and riches. She is in the ministers--the Ahabs, the Nicolaitans. She plays politics to promote herself. She lies, cheats, defrauds; she will do anything to get ahead. She is full of ambition and selfish desires. She is an abomination to Me, the very opposite of My nature and of the nature of My bride.

"This, My son, is why I say a woman is to be quiet and gentle and submissive, for she bears the joy of the bride in her heart. She loves her lover. The harlot loves herself. The bride gives of herself. The harlot takes unto herself. The bride hides herself in hiddenness. The harlot exposes herself--even in her doorway. She advertises herself and entices men to come into her, be joined to her for the pleasures of the flesh. Self is flesh. Anything for Self is flesh. This is why it is the abomination that makes desolate My holy place. My holy place is the spirit of men. When that spirit is defiled by the flesh, that is an abomination to Me.

"The harlot is the flesh nature of man that has taken its rule in the churches--self-aggrandizement, men seeking to increase themselves in flocks. They count numbers and glory in them. They own their own sheep and call them Mine. They lie, for they are not My sheep. They make disciples unto themselves, of themselves, and for themselves. They fleece their flocks for their own sordid gain. These are not My ministers. They are hirelings and Nicolaitans.

"The harlot is ugly and hides her ugliness in gaudy garments and decorates her face in lavishing colors. She hides behind these things. She is ashamed of her sin. Yet, she will not repent. She cannot repent. She is evil from within."

"What about the harlot, Lord? Who or what is the harlot spirit? How can we know when she is operating?"

"The harlot spirit, My son, is anything for Self. She is the abomination that makes desolate My holy place. My bride, My holy bride is robed in righteousness. She has eyes only for Me. She is given wholly to Me. She is pure and undefiled and seeks nothing for herself. She is the laid-down life. She denies herself of Self, takes up her cross, and follows Me daily. My bride is beautiful and shines in the innocence of her holiness. She is separated unto Me. She is joined to Me. I am her husband and she is My only true love. I have birthed her. I have given her sup. I have adorned her in righteousness, beauty, and holiness. My bride is hard to see in the world because she is quiet, unassuming, gentle, meek--she is hidden in Me.

"But the harlot--she is loud and boisterous. She seeks herself. She wishes to expand her own bosom with the wealth of the nations. She seeks Self in everything, and everything she does is for Self. She has painted her face with all manner of atrocities. She loathes the bride. For she has no husband. She is a harlot. She takes anyone or anything into her bosom if it brings about an increase to her. She is an abomination to Me because she is full of boasting. She is deceitful. She is carnal. She is a harlot. A harlot is untrue. She is the counterfeit.

"Men come to her seeking Self--self-aggrandizement, self-reliance, self-pity, self-strength, self-anything. Self, Self, Self. This, My son, is how you can know if the harlot is at work: Ask yourself, 'Is what I am about to do, or is what I am discerning have to do with Self? Am I seeking Self? Or am I seeking the good of others?' If it is Self, it is the harlot every time. If it is from Me," says the Lord, "it will be for others; it will be the laid-down life of agape.

"She is a deceiver. She holds out all sorts of promises. She promises life and joy and prosperity and peace; and, in return, she charges a price. She cannot offer these things; for, in fact, those who go into her go down into Sheol--they go down into death, into poverty, into despair, into bondage and anguish.

"Ah, she cannot offer these things. Only I can offer life and joy and peace and blessing and happiness. These are found in Me. She says, take unto yourself what is yours. I say, lay it down. She says to live, drink, and be merry. I say, weep and mourn. She says, I will give you pleasure and great delight. But I say, I will give you life everlasting. Ah, she cannot offer you peace. She cannot offer you these things. They are not hers. She entices her lovers into thinking she holds these things, but she does not.

"The harlot is Self--anything for Self. You play the harlot when your heart goes after any substitute for Jesus.

"Remember this, My son, and guard your heart. Empty yourself of Self. Stay humble, broken, empty before Me. I will fill you up. I will be your joy, your satisfaction, your everything.

"Beware of the harlot. She is everywhere--in every window, every door, every street corner. She is in the voice of everyone who speaks. She is boasting, bragging, enticing, flattering, and seductive. Beware! Beware!

"The harlot is in the bosom of every man. She rises up and says I want this or that, or I want to do this or that, or I want to be this or that. At all times and in every way she seeks herself. Can you see her in the church? Can you see her in the ministry? Can you see her on the boards and committees, in places of high leadership? Can you see her in the pew? Can you see her in the choir? Everywhere she lifts her skirt to dance her own dance to the tune she has written in her own invention. And when she has finished, she takes her bows and receives her accolades, her applause, her plaques and trophies; she decks her walls with them. She is the harlot, the counterfeit to My bride who is simply hidden in Me."

"For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for My sake and the gospel's, the same shall save it." Mark 8:35.

The trumpet call is sounding: "Come out of her, My people!" "Let us go out to Him outside the camp, bearing His reproach." Heb. 13:13.

Dare we face our idols, cleanse the temple, and return to the God of our salvation?

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