We are living at the end of the last days. The Bible has a lot to say about what will be happening in the Body of Christ and in the world in this day. At present there is a tremendous amount of spiritual activity and Christians need to be very discerning about this. Most Christians can recognize false, anti-Christian activity by other religions. I am speaking about spiritual activity within from what many people call “the church.”
A whole lot of “false” going on.
The warnings about false activity in our day are overwhelming, but overlooked by many.
Matt. 7:15 Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.
(Matthew 24:3–4, 11, 24 ESV) “As he sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?” And Jesus answered them, “See that no one leads you astray. And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect.”
(2 Corinthians 11:13 ESV) “For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ.”
(2 Peter 2:1 ESV) “But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction.”
(1 John 4:1 ESV) “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world.”
Jesus said that false prophets in the last days will be doing “great signs and wonders.” It’s possible that there may be more false spiritual activity than true spiritual activity, at least in certain areas. I realize that some will not appreciate this comment. While I believe, and am expecting, God to do tremendous things in these last days, let’s not forget that Moses was one man and the magicians of Pharaoh were many. Moses won, and we will too. (2Timothy 3:8-9)
The devil uses people to lead other people astray. To be “led astray” you must first be in the right way, otherwise you are simply lost. Christians are led astray, the people in the world are lost and perishing already. Immature and gullible Christians are the target of false prophets and false apostles. Its sad to say that there is a very large group of these Christians for the deceivers to work with. Peter declares it so:
(2 Peter 2:2–3 KJV) “And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of. And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not.”
Is it God, or is it not?
This is always the question, it’s an important one, and perhaps the question. Here is a situation that may reveal that it took Paul some time to discern what to do.
(Acts 16:16–18 ESV) “As we were going to the place of prayer, we were met by a slave girl who had a spirit of divination and brought her owners much gain by fortune-telling. She followed Paul and us, crying out, “These men are servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to you the way of salvation.” And this she kept doing for many days. Paul, having become greatly annoyed, turned and said to the spirit, “I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.” And it came out that very hour.”
Unless the Bible tells us something specifically we don’t really know for sure how to interpret it. It is not clear as to why Paul allowed this to continue for “many days.”
This girl was possessed with a familiar spirit. Notice that what she was saying was true! There was no error in what she said about Paul and the other men. I believe this is one way the devil draws people in - by presenting something true, at first. Also, notice that the other men with Paul were silent on the matter - what’s up with that?
Some Christians would be impressed if a person prophesied to them that they were “servants of the Most High God” and that they “proclaim to you the way of salvation.” I can see many people being awed and enthralled by a manifestation of this type as I have been in services like this and have seen it myself. I have been in services where a “prophet” spoke unbiblical things that sounded Biblical and I watched all the people emote with excitement. How does this happen?
How do these spirits work?
I am always amazed at how easily these spirits deceive and get onto people - Christians. In the above situation with Paul and the slave girl, it is obvious that telling the truth about something is a means of approach by the familiar spirit. Who can argue with what she said, but who wants the devil advertising for you? The strategy of the familiar spirit is to get a persons attention with something that is true and then to get the person to follow them.
Around twenty years ago there was a female minister that was having “feathers” appear out of her hands as she ministered in the “spirit.” She claimed it was the Holy Spirit in manifestation. Much of what was said was Biblical. Many people, including many ministers, began to follow her. Some ministers came and submitted their ministries to her.
I was told that when Brother Kenneth E. Hagin was questioned about this situation he responded with, “The Holy Spirit is not a bird.” That was too simple and profound for some people. It was later proven that the “feathers” were chicken feathers. The Holy Spirit is not a chicken either. Yet, today there is a very well known minister that claims feathers manifest in his ministry and I have not heard anyone question it. I think they are afraid because of how big and influential he is.
Spirit and soul.
The people I know that have been taken in by familiar spirits all have something in common - they do not know the difference between spirit and soul - but they think they do. Also, these people are usually emotionally immature making them vulnerable to many things. I have watched these people blend spiritual and soulacle things together and call them manifestations of the Holy Spirit. For them, there is nothing better than a “feeling” that ministers to them.
Familiar spirits do not have direct access to the human spirit, so, they must appeal to the emotional person and make it appear as spiritual. Very easily done with an emotionally immature Christian that probably has many unmet needs in their lives.
There are also ministers that are more interested in results than in truth. When they see their people having a good old “flesh and soul” fest, they feel that it must be good - so it must be God. I have been to many church services where it was really just a party. I have had ministers say to me, “What’s the harm, at least it is in church.” Or, some have said, “The people need this occasionally.” Jesus said about the Holy Spirit, “He shall glorify ME” - not human flesh or soul.
I was a guest in a church service in another country where a group of women went to the front alar area and were on their hands and knees screaming, sobbing and convulsing. I got tired of it so I went and stood at the back door until it was over. A man was there that spoke English so I asked him what was going on. He replied, “They are prophesying.” I asked, “What are they saying?” He answered, “I don’t know. I cannot understand them for all the crying.” That was not the Holy Spirit manifesting, it was soulacle women perhaps under the influence of another spirit. However, the entire church was enthralled with it.
There are ministers that are very skilled at working with familiar spirits. I have watched ministers that at a time to minister to the people, they focus on and call out those that are manifesting emotionally. When approached this way, there will certainly be a result and the rest of the crowd will be impressed.
It has been estimated that more than eighty percent of Christians are spiritually immature and carnal. Consequently, they do not understand either spiritual things or carnal things. Our command is to “make disciples” by teaching them (Matthew 28). How did eighty percent of God’s people turn out this way? Either they are being entertained and enticed for attendance or they are not paying attention and are unsubmitted. In our democratic culture, when the majority says something is true, then it is true. Or, if you are a “big” ministry then what you say is true.
Independence - a blessing and a curse.
When the manifestation of the Holy Spirit was rejected by the main line denominations some 30 to 50 years ago or so, ministers went outside of those organizations and started independent churches. Smith Wigglesworth prophesied this would happen long before it did happen. God was moving tremendously and these churches were growing and spreading around the world.
This move also presented a new problem that has never been effectively addressed or solved. There is no accountability or discipline in the church today. If a minister doesn’t like what is said, they just leave and join someone else. If a church member doesn’t want to submit to the Word they just leave and go to another church where they will be received immediately and without question. On the other hand, who can submit to an organization that will not live by the whole Bible?
Another problem with the independent movement is that there are precious few real scholars in our midst. As a result, we have a lot of doctrine accepted as true that has no real authoritative basis other than the stature of the one who declared it. Now, people believe things based upon who said it rather than because it has been proven to them through study of the Word for themselves.
We also have the problem that many leaders of independent ministry organizations do not fully live by the Bible. They are political in nature. A politician, when faced with a difficult situation, will choose to do what makes themselves look good even at the expense of the truth. This keeps them in power. Ministry is very often the same way. Rather than face problems and confront Biblically, decisions are made to avoid the conflict in order to not risk offending someone which will likely result in the downsizing of the organization.
All of these things have developed an environment where various spirits can work themselves into the church and manifest with little resistance. We are in the last of the last days and the false prophets and false apostles are here - in our midst.