A 37-page document, the culmination of an almost year-long Mueller investigation and presented to Congress last week, concluded that the Russian government launched an insidious and successful attack against the United States (US) using two formidable weapons: social media and the internet. This comes as no surprise to Rabbis who see the internet as one of the major battlefields in the War of Gog and Magog. Last year, before the internet was publicly acknowledged as a weapon being wielded by superpowers against one other, Rabbi Shalom Arush, a prominent leader in the Hasidic movement in Israel, said in an interview that “technology and the mass of online abomination [is] spiritually murdering people”. “Gog and Magog are the chatrooms, the texting, the screens and social media that render people zombies, unable to think, communicate or read,” the rabbi said, presaging the alleged Russian incursion into the 2016 US presidential election. (READ MORE)
When considering the seven parts of this short series FOR WHOM THE BAAL TROLLS, it should be frighteningly clear that those who lack discipline in their thought life and troll believers while “playing church” are actually playing with fire. We cannot help but shudder at some of the congregants we have known through the years who similarly surrendered their minds to malevolent religious spirits and afterward left a trail of questions, division, and destruction in their wake. As the reader, perhaps you too at one time observed damage done to a person(s) either online or at a local fellowship before the offending party(s) moved down the road to repeat their mayhem elsewhere, and were confused by what you could or should do about it, if anything. That’s partly why I wrote these seven parts concerning troublesome individuals (trolls) because real Christians are often unsure over what role, if any, spiritual warfare should play with respect to them—especially given that Ephesians 6:12 says “we wrestle not against flesh and blood.” Yet hermeneutically speaking, it is often impossible to discern exactly how “principalities and powers” engage the church in warfare without taking the human element into account—that sometimes people, because of the choices they make, are the problem, or least a part of it. Second Timothy 4:14–15 illustrates that this is not a contradiction of Ephesians 6:12, as the writer of Ephesians himself refers to a man named Alexander the coppersmith, saying that he “did me much evil: the Lord reward him according to his works: Of whom be thou ware also; for he hath greatly withstood our words [the Gospel].” The great commentator Matthew Henry says this text illustrates that “there is as much danger from false brethren, as from open enemies.” Though Paul wrote the book on spiritual warfare, including the phrase, “we wrestle not against flesh and blood,” he did not blame immaterial spirits that may have been operating behind Alexander the coppersmith. He named the man himself as the culprit and warned Timothy to beware the damage he could do to the work of the ministry. The point to be made from this is not one of personal revenge toward a wrongdoer, but that wisdom is needed during spiritual warfare because prayer is most profitable when it is directed with specificity—in this case, recognizing the source of the problem, the conduit, even when it is made of flesh.
Jesus likewise verbalized the difference between people who attend religious services (whether brick-and-mortar facilities or today’s virtual church world) and become tools for evil as opposed to good, and we note with particular interest His genius in using the small yet powerful word “of” to contrast the two for His followers. In John 8:44, He said of the Pharisees, “Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do” (emphasis added), while in Luke 9:51–56, when James and John wanted to call fire down from heaven upon Samaritan villagers, He rebuked them and said, “Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of. For the Son of man is not come to destroy men’s lives; but to save them” (emphasis added).
This amazing yet insightful little term “of” probes beyond temporal human activity to identify whose dominion one belongs to and what spirit holds one’s allegiance and offers one motivation. The Pharisees were “of” their father the devil, while the disciples James and John were still learning the nature of the spirit they were “of.” The Word of God was therefore used by the Pharisees—the ancient “trolls” they were—as a tool for destruction, illustrating what spirit they were “of,” while Jesus and His followers used the same tool to give life to others.
Some years ago, my wife Nita worked in a state department beneath a woman who was driven by similar thirst for Pharisee-like church authority and who not only made a habit of demeaning those under her but actually seemed to delight in being as hurtful as possible to people she viewed as not having the same level of political influence she did (though later she was disciplined for conspiring against state leaders). Her spirit seemed to especially enjoy using the Bible as a weapon to denigrate and control others. Nita did her best to simply stay out of the woman’s way, but wasn’t always successful. One day, with the woman’s department informational packet scheduled to be mailed and a distressed-looking secretary whose job it was to get them collated looking for assistance, Nita jumped in to help. A few moments later, the woman who could wield the Word like an unholy sword (Proverbs 12:18) came in and began reciting a finely tuned sermon from memory. She was good with words and practiced at sermonizing, and this three-pointer was especially designed to illustrate this fact and to demean anybody not as eloquently instructed as she. When finished, she looked at Nita and said, “So, Nita, where are you in God’s Word, hmm?” The sermon had its intended effect, and for a few moments Nita felt as unworthy to be in that office as the supervisor had probably hoped she would. Who am I, really, to serve in this capacity as state director for a girl’s ministry? she thought to herself. I don’t preach, don’t prophesy, and don’t do miracles. I didn’t even have time for devotions this morning.
As the two-edged swordswoman cocked her head, somehow knowing she had found important organs, Nita answered, “Well, I usually have devotions each day. Right now, I’m using My Utmost for His Highest as an outline with my Bible reading.” Then, for some reason, she added, “But, I didn’t have devotions this morning. Time got away from me, and I had to hurry and hit the road to get here on time.” It was a two-hour drive to the office one way.
“Well, Nita,” swordswoman replied caustically, turning aristocratically to walk away, “We must make sure that we are in God’s Word so that we can be good examples to those under our leadership.”
After helping the secretary finish her work, Nita returned to her office and placed her head in her hands. “Lord, why did you bring me here?” she prayed. “There are so many other women who are much more qualified than I am to lead this department. Women who somehow manage to read the Bible every day, quote Scriptures at the drop of a hat, and rattle off a perfect homiletic.” Nita brooded and cried over the slight for nearly two weeks. Just to think that she had displeased her supervisor, set a poor example for the secretary, such shame. Then, a few days later, still feeling the pain, still asking God if she should resign so that a more worthy person like the supervisor could fill her spot, a profound but still quiet voice whispered to her, “Nita, your qualification to do what I have called you to do is not measured by where you are in my Word. The question is not ‘Where are you in my Word, but where is my Word in you?’ Satan knows my Word and can quote it ad nauseam, but it is not within him to do my will.” In that moment, Nita bowed her head and asked forgiveness for doubting her placement in the state office.
Nita learned a valuable lesson that day. One I hope you will keep in mind whenever you or somebody you know is under attack by demonic trolls. Knowing what spirit one is of and embracing the Word of God accordingly is vitally important, “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any [troll’s] twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart…. Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:12-16).
Blessings, friends, and remember! PLEASE DON’T FEED THE TROLLS!
And he called them unto him, and said unto them in parables, “How can Satan cast out Satan? And if a kingdom be divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand.”
Given the content of the previous entries and the inevitability during the study of spiritual warfare that the thorny (if not polarizing) question will arise concerning whether true Christians can become demon possessed, I’d like to state my personal opinion unequivocally that, although daimonizomai (“to be demonized”) and echon daimonion (“having a demon”) are manifested within institutionalized Christianity, those who are truly born again can never actually be possessed—as in inhabited—by demons. There are numerous reasons for this conclusion, not the least of which is that there are no instances of “possession” of believers anywhere in the Bible. Not a single verse in the Scripture even warns of the possibility, and there are zero examples in the life of Jesus Christ and the early church of demons being cast out of Christians.
What we do find in Scripture regarding the inner space of believers is that our body “is the temple of the Holy Ghost, which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own” (1 Corinthians 6:19). In fact, John writes that “he that is begotten of God, keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not” (1 John 5:18). Therefore, “What communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial. And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, ‘I will dwell in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people’” (2 Corinthians 6:14b–16). These and similar Scriptures verify for those who have the Holy Spirit residing within them that they are positively redeemed and sealed from the torment of diabolical possession. As John also certified, “If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed” (John 8:36).
Though in recent years “Christian deliverance ministries” have suggested otherwise, claiming that daimonizomai and echon daimonion infer the Lord’s body can actually be inhabited by demons, it is usually a matter of semantics. Confusion over the meaning of the terms “possession” and “demonization” is somewhat understandable from an exegetical standpoint, especially given how daimonizomai is used in Scripture to refer to a variety of problems and demonic manifestations. But because it is dangerous to promote precise definitions where none exist in Scripture, it should be noted that the actual phrase “demon possession” does not even appear in the Bible (Josephus coined this phrase near the end of the first century), and what some teachers classify as “possession” is actually demonization—a spirit from an external posture gains control or influence over a person. As such, literal possession is different than demonization, and ample evidence exists in the New Testament to conclude that whereas believers may never be “possessed,” they most certainly can be tempted, influenced, oppressed, and even demonized by evil supernaturalism. To this end, the apostle Paul warned the Christians at Ephesus (Ephesians 4:25–31) not to give “place” (Greek: topos) to the devil, meaning a foothold, opportunity, power, occasion for acting, or doorway into one’s personal space through which demonic strongholds can be established. Paul even listed particular behaviors that could lead to this fiendish union—lying, anger, wrath, stealing, bitterness, clamor, evil speaking (Greek blasphēmia: “to blaspheme, gossip, slander others”), and malice, which goes without saying constitutes most Internet trolling. Elsewhere in the Bible, we learn that doorways for agents of Satan to enter a believer’s life can also include encumbrances like fear, such as the fear that led Peter to deny Christ in Luke chapter 22 and that Jesus made clear was an effort by Satan to cause Peter to stumble (v. 31), and greed—as illustrated in the story of Ananias and Sapphira in Acts chapter 5, where “Satan” (v. 3) filled the couple’s hearts to lie and to hold back a portion of money. Demonization of a Christian through these and similar weaknesses is usually gradual, where small decisions are made over an extended period of time during which the individual gives in to temptation, followed by ongoing and progressive surrender of territory within the mind and finally the flesh. Such steps to demonization may be summarized accordingly:
Temptation: The enemy discovers a weakness and appeals to it.
Influence: The individual entertains the idea and finally gives in to temptation. A foothold is established in the person’s life, making it harder to resist the same or related activity in the future.
Obsession: The activity eventually becomes an unhealthy preoccupation and irresistible impulse leading to critical degrees of control over the individual. The power to resist is practically gone.
Demonization: Control over the individual by external power becomes substantial. What at one time was considered sinful and to be avoided is now an addiction. The person may no longer even recognize the tendency as immoral, and little or no fortitude to cease participating in the activity remains.
Possession: This can occur if the individual turns his or her back on God so as to fully embrace carnality, surrendering the body and mind to Satan’s control. The desire to resist invasion by discarnate supernaturalism is vacated.
What immediately stands out in these steps and doorways to demonization is how central the mind of man is to the functioning battleground where spiritual warfare takes place. Whether it is lying, anger, wrath, stealing, bitterness, clamor, evil speaking, malice, fear, greed, or another human frailty, the battle begins in our thought life where we are tempted to give in to sin. “That’s where Satan can manipulate people toward his ends discreetly and invisibly,” writes Chip Ingram in The Invisible War. “If he can distort our thoughts, our emotions, and our knowledge, then our behaviors and relationships will fall the way he wants them to. And even if he doesn’t manage to turn us to overt evil, a little bit of distorted thinking can neutralize us and render us practically ineffective.”[i] In other words, if Satan cannot possess or demonize an individual, he will settle for what he can get, influencing the mind and spirit to whatever extent he can, keeping people ineffective or causing them to become a problem for their families, their communities, or their churches.
Unfortunately in Christendom, it is within this same mind-domain battleground where vulnerable people can be controlled by satanic forces to cripple the effectiveness of the ministry. God only knows how many resources of time, energy, and money have been exhausted over the centuries as a result of “Christians” like those Jesus warned of when He said, “Many will say to me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?’ And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity” (Matthew 7:22–23). In the parable of the tares and wheat, Jesus compared these types to weeds that germinate among devout believers (the wheat), choking their outgrowth until the day that He returns to judge them, while in the metaphor of the sheep and the goats, He described how, during this judgment, these “cursed” ones will be separated from the true believers and “shall go away into everlasting punishment.” Matthew records this future event, saying:
AT HIS COMING, JESUS WILL SEPARATE REAL CHRISTIANS (THE SHEEP) FROM THOSE WHO FALSELY CLAIMED TO BE (THE GOATS)
When the Son of man shall come in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then shall He sit upon the throne of His glory: And before Him shall be gathered all nations: and He shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: And He shall set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left. Then shall the King say unto them on His right hand, “Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:” For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, “Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?” And the King shall answer and say unto them, “Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” Then shall He say also unto them on the left hand, “Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not.” Then shall they also answer him, saying, “Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee?” Then shall He answer them, saying, “Verily I say unto you, ‘Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me.’ And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal. (Matthew 25:31–46)
During the decades my wife and I served the institutionalized church as pastors and later as executives, we (like most ministry leaders obviously would be) were certainly aware of “trolls” even before the modern usage of that term was defined. We witnessed the two types of “believers” the Bible calls the “wheat and the tares,” and have strong memories of the spiritual differences between the two. Before our house burned down in 2011, while searching for a particular document we had placed in an old photo album some time ago for safekeeping, we took an unexpected stroll down memory lane in this regard. We had gone through at least a dozen books of images and old newspaper clippings, seeing members of churches we had pastored and records of events frozen in time from nearly thirty years inside the organization. Finally, between dusty storage bins and spiderwebs, we found what we were looking for. We placed the coveted item among the research notes for a future book, then returned everything else to the closets.
That should have been that, but for the next week, the old memories in those boxes kept calling to us about things and friends from the past—people who represented the true mission of the church and were wonderful examples of what it really means to be a Christian. Their names would not be recognized by most today—dedicated believers like O. R. Cross, Henrietta Stewart, Lorraine Morgan, Wyoming Rosebud Dollar, C. K. Barnes, Eugene and Evelyn Fuller, Annie Walton, Eugene Stockhoff, and numerous others of the New Testament clan.
And then there was another group hiding in plain sight among the believers, sometimes even leading them—the ones the Bible calls “clouds without water, carried about of winds; trees whose fruit withereth, without fruit, twice dead, plucked up by the roots” (Jude 1:12).
Among this second class were—and still are—some fantastic heretics we have known.
Take our old friend Carlton Pearson, for instance. When we were pastoring near Portland, Oregon, during the eighties, our church was the host for TBN’s West Coast broadcasts and special events in which some of America’s top evangelists—including Carlton—appeared almost nightly for a while. In those days, the church was in flux. The Great Generation with its faith of the fathers was getting older, and errant doctrines made delicious by these nasty end-time agents known as daimonions were finding more and more willing hearts who were having the time of their lives abandoning solid theology in exchange for such teachings as the “Doctrine of Inclusion” (in which nobody goes to hell), eventually branding such false prophets as heretics (including Carlton Pearson) among thoughtful evangelicals. We can tell you that Carlton didn’t start out that way. He was a sweet man with a heart of gold who unfortunately lost his way and embraced delusion. God only knows how many he has since led astray.
Old newspaper clipping from 1988—featuring a week of speakers at the church where Thomas and Nita Horn pastored—includes Carlton Pearson
Then there were those who adopted things far worse than “Inclusion”—for instance, “Kingdom Age” theology (also known as Reconstructionism, Kingdom Now Theology, Theonomy, Dominion Theology, and most recently, Dominionism), which singularly has wrought some of the most far-reaching destruction within the body of Christ this century.
Given the upcoming 2016 US Presidential election, Dominionism is something Christians need to understand for the type of hyper-Calvinism (though supported by both reconstructionists and nonreconstructionists) it is, which ultimately seeks to establish the Kingdom of God on earth through the union of politics and religion. Though we as American believers have opportunity (and one could even argue, responsibility) to vote for and support moral leadership, we need to balance that temporal concern with the more important eternal knowledge that our true “kingdom” is not of this world, and that combining religious faith with politics as a legislative system of governance such as Dominionism would do hearkens the formula upon which Antichrist will come to power! Note how in the book of Revelation, chapter 13, the political figure of Antichrist derives ultranational dominance from the world’s religious faithful through the influence of an ecclesiastical leader known as the False Prophet (BTW—this could be concerning given how the current US President wants to lead the UN after his present term expires, and Pope Francis is looking for a global political leader to join him in 2016 to push their mutual agendas . . . but that is a subject Cris Putnam and I will take up later this year). Similar political enthusiasm exists among revived Dominionists going into 2016, despite the fact that neither Jesus nor His disciples (who turned the world upside down through preaching the gospel of Christ, the true “power of God,” according to Paul) ever imagined the goal of changing the world through supplanting secular government with an authoritarian theocracy. In fact, Jesus made it clear that His followers would not fight earthly authorities purely because His kingdom was “not of this world” (John 18:36). So while every modern citizen—religious and nonreligious—has responsibility to lobby for moral good, that should NOT be the MAJOR focus of believers. I would go even further and suggest that, combining the mission of the church with political aspirations is not only unprecedented in New Testament theology—including the life of Christ and the pattern of the New Testament church in the Book of Acts—but often a tragic scheme concocted by sinister forces that seek to defer the church from its true power while enriching insincere bureaucrats.
But while great heresies like Dominionism and Inclusion are, or should be, self-evident, other contenders for the most spectacular doctrines of devils in the church today would have to include Ecumenical Environmentalism and Dual Covenant (wherein Jews do not need to accept Jesus as Messiah), which has been aggressively espoused by the Vatican under Pope Francis and Emeritus Pope Benedict as well as allegedly some surprisingly well-known modern evangelical preachers. Yet those aged voices that called out to us recently from our fading boxes of memories also reminded that while it’s easy today to get an “amen” while condemning the big lies of Dominionism, Ecumenical Environmentalism and Dual Covenant, the most insidious doctrines are those “smaller lucifers” that are often harder to perceive. For instance, how easy it is (and was) to see through the glaring examples of self-serving and lavish lifestyles that some of our old televangelist friends sought support for, while overlooking or even excusing Luciferianism (selfishness) that is measured in the tiniest of portions, minute amounts so cleverly concealed within subtle and popular doctrines today that they are nearly impossible to detect.
Ask any evangelist who has tried to take the gospel outside the four doors of the local assembly what we mean by this and hear them repeat stories of how quickly certain church members arose to resist the plan and grumble over the resources that could otherwise be used to benefit them. This is the cancer that decades of Prosperity Preaching, inward focusing, and entitlement “me-ism” have produced. Of course, most of these anti-evangelists wrap their Luciferianism in nifty religious phrases—like Judas Iscariot did when he pretended to care for the poor but secretly wanted to steal the value of the oil that was used to anoint the feet of Jesus (John 12:1–6). These types resemble Judas in another way as well: They don’t even know how they are thus being used as fleshy gloves, the earthen hands of that invisible spirit, the master of waterless clouds operating within or behind them that hates true fishers of men. But for those with eyes to see, the father of lies (and his trolls) always gives himself away through his envy of others, seeking what he can gain from—not what he can give to—believers and religion, then pretending something is wrong with those he cannot control, those who get things done like Jesus did, disparaging them while he himself accomplishes nothing but division, diversion, and destruction.
Perhaps you have seen this spirit in the actions or heard it in the mouths of people you thought were your partners. When once you (or somebody you knew) had nothing more to give them, they turned away from you—or worse, against you—and revealed the awful truth: Their religious spirit had only ever come for what it could get, gain, and absorb, and when there was nothing left to take, it turned to do what it had always planned, “to kill and to destroy” (John 10:10a). This is because, as Jesus Himself put it, such are the children of murder: “[They] are of [their] father the devil, and the lusts of [their] father [they] will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it” (John 8:44).
I saw the Lord sitting upon his throne, and all the host of heaven standing on his right hand and on his left. And the Lord said, “Who shall entice Ahab king of Israel, that he may go up and fall at Ramothgilead?” And one spake after this manner, and another saying after that manner. Then there came out a spirit, and stood before the Lord, and said, “I will entice him.” And the Lord said unto him, “Wherewith?” And he said, “I will go out, and be a lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets.”
—2 Chronicles 18:18b–21a
While the pages of nearly all books on spiritual warfare abound with examples of people becoming possessed or demonized by entities as a result of deviant perversion, drug use, violence, occultism, or other depravations of immoral behavior, including infidelity and witchcraft, the most powerful instruments of satanic bondage by far witnessed during my decades of executive ministry were connected to something much more dangerous than personal failings. The superior enemies to which I refer are demons of religion that infest institutional Christianity.
This is not a daring statement.
And while until now I have focused mostly on the single lonely individuals that sit in their homes receiving demonic pleasure by trolling for misery of others, those detestable activities are only part of the problem—the “spirit of the trolls” exists among some church leaders too. Just as a lying spirit filled the mouths of the prophets in 2 Chronicles 18, and just as Jesus confronted unclean spirits inside the synagogue (Mark 1:23) and connected some of the priestly leaders of the Temple to the strongest power of Satan on earth (John 8:44; Matthew 13:38 and 23:15), robust echon daimonion exists today from the lowest to the highest levels of denominational establishment among institutional members who are possessed (whether they perceive it as such or not) by luciferian ambition. This will come as no surprise to truly born-again and seasoned spiritual warriors, as it is the result of a common military strategy. The church represents the single establishment on earth capable of undoing Satan’s plans, and is therefore the natural enemy of the kingdom of darkness and the epicenter against which all spiritual wickedness must ultimately be focused. The church, through its hierarchies and institutional constructs, is therefore the primary target for infiltra tion by agents of darkness wherever human weakness allows for penetration by daimonions. Among others, the apostle Paul recognized this specific danger, warning the church in Corinth that “false apostles” were masquerading among them as ministers of Christ. “And no marvel,” he revealed, “for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness” (2 Corinthians 11:13–15).
Consistent with this phenomenon, Father Gabriele Amorth, a renowned exorcist in Rome whose book, Memoirs of an Exorcist: My Life Fighting against Satan, was released in 2010, admits to the existence of “satanic sects in the Vatican where participation reaches all the way to the College of Cardinals.” When asked if the Pope was aware of this situation, he replied, “Of course.”[i] Similarly, before he was tragically killed in an automobile accident in 2011, Rev. David Wilkerson reported daimonion activity within evangelical institutions as well:
A number of [former] witches are warning that Satanists are infiltrating the church—especially charismatic churches. Some of these [are] telling of a diabolical plot by evil witches to enter congregations posing as super-spiritual Christians. Many of these evil witches, they say, are already firmly established in numerous churches, controlling both the pastor and congregation and causing great confusion, wickedness, divorce—even death. We have received many letters in our office from people who say they believe their pastor must be under some kind of demonic influence—and I believe many of these letters are very legitimate.[ii]
Wilkerson, who at one time was a member of the same organization we served, was correct in asserting that some of those who pose as super-spiritual Christians (including Internet troll “theology cops”), department leaders, pastors, and even state office holders and denominational headquarters executives are in fact instruments of evil. Thankfully, there are other church members, pastors, and leaders who, as sincere believers, have become increasingly aware of this sinister invasion into organizations by daimonions and in recent years have made special efforts to teach their congregations how to identify the differences between “religious spirits” and true Christianity.
Sometimes “identifying” the misdeeds of “religious spirits” is not really that hard to do.
For example, just about every solid Bible expositor I know has been tirelessly harassed online the last few years by fake defenders of the faith. Yet, not once have these self-proclaimed “guardians of the truth” (including one TV preacher who dedicated an entire edition of his “Ministry” magazine last year to slanderously vilifying all of today’s most popular prophecy preachers as apostates [all but himself, of course!]) actually followed the Bible’s mandates themselves, directives that very specifically outline how believers are to deal with error in the church. The New Testament books of Matthew, Galatians, Thessalonians, Romans, and others provide guidelines for dealing with differences between true believers. These verses teach us that if we perceive a brother or sister as falling into error, we are to:
Go to him or her PRIVATELY in a spirit of humility and redemption.
If those we approach will not receive our advice, we go to the elders of the church PRIVATELY and share our concern.
If the elders believe the issue is legitimate, they go to the person PRIVATELY in hopes of restoring him or her.
If the person still refuses council, the church is to have nothing more to do with him or her.
With that in mind, the next time you are online reading some troll’s diatribe about Carl Gallups, Chuck Missler, Gary Stearman, Steve Quayle, L. A. Marzulli, Cris Putnam, Jonathan Cahn, Josh Peck, Gonz Shimura, Joel Richardson, yours truly, or any of the other current favorite targets, ask yourself if the hatchet people attacking them ever bothered to obey Scripture and go to the person PRIVATELY with their concerns in a loving spirit of restoration (they haven’t), and then “be careful little eyes what you read,” because these scripture-guideline-stomping destructive forces seek to contaminate your mind and spirit (see Prov. 4:23–27) in order to draw YOU TOO over to the dark side.
Be absolutely clear about this, as well: NOTHING in Scripture allows for setting up websites, blogs, or other mediums to PUBLICALLY and routinely lambast believers with accusations—that is the job of Satan and his followers!He is the father of lies and the “accuser of our brethren…which accused them before our God day and night” (John 8:44; Rev. 12:10).
For all the value the Internet has given believers, it also has “unlocked something dark in humanity,” says acclaimed author Anthony Horowitz in a newspaper interview.[iii] Horowitz, a best-selling children’s fiction writer in the UK, was speaking at the Oxford Literary Festival when he described how Internet trolls are “foul, disgusting and cruel” and that “evil is getting the upper hand.”[iv] His passionate comments came on the heels of relentless and vicious online feedback he received following a television appearance. Mr. Horowitz is certainly not alone in this experience, as any notable writer can attest—especially Christians who pen edgy, newsworthy, or prophetic material.
And yes, that includes me and people like me. In fact, every leader with whom I am associated in news, print, television, and social media has been under growing attack the last few years, and not from those you would expect. Religious “Christians”, not atheists or unbelievers per se, form the largest part of the swelling ranks of warfare aimed at criticizing true Bible-based works. Because such discontents cannot stop people from hearing God’s prophets, they (and the spirit they allow to channel through them) at a minimum seek to divide and confuse ungrounded babes in Christ who, while seeking a deeper relationship with Jesus, end up online. Those who would destabilize these believers have always existed, of course. I witnessed ingrates in every town where I pastored throughout the 1970s–1990s. But today the Internet has given malcontents a place to hive and to hide behind screens while using spiritual-sounding titles and websites to voice their ungraciousness. And while their audiences are very tiny at this time, their contaminated spirits threaten to take root and could explode under the coming legions that will fuel the empire of the Son of Perdition. Simply put, the words of Jesus that “ye shall know them by their fruits” (Matt. 7:15–16) have never been more important. These instructions of Christ should serve as a warning to all believers to monitor their motives, to examine their hearts, if truly they are altruistic or if in fact they are energized by selfish ambition, because the latter is the Lucifer-effect that Antichrist will use to energize the coming war between Christian vs. Christian, a time when it will be eternally important to know you are on the right side.
[i] “Spanish Exorcist Addresses Claims of Satanic Influence in Vatican,” Catholic News Agency, http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/spanish_exorcist_addresses_claims_of_satanic_influence_in_vatican/.
[ii] David Wilkerson, “Witchcraft in the Church,” Believers Web, http://www.believersweb.org/view.cfm?ID=735.
[iii] Rebecca Evans, “The Internet Unlocked Something Dark in Humanity,” March 24, 2013, http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2298600/The-internet-unlocked-dark-humanity-Top-author-Anthony-Horowitz-uses-speech-make-claims.html.
There is no neutral ground in the universe; every square inch, every split second, is claimed by God and counter-claimed by Satan.
—C. S. Lewis
During our formative years in ministry, few people more profoundly influenced our theology and practical Christianity than pastor and theologian Dr. Robert Cornwall. Bob—or simply “Cornwall,” as his friends knew him—had a photographic memory, and in order to pay his way through Bible College as a young man, he had gotten a job proofreading books for a publisher of scholarly works. As a result of maintaining this job for years and having an uncanny propensity for recalling facts, Cornwall retained the majority of material he read and became one of the most well informed and brilliant thinkers we ever had the privilege of knowing or being mentored under. Cornwall was also a great storyteller and could thrill audiences at churches and in conferences by weaving details of true-life events with deep theological propositions. A particular story that raised profound spiritual-warfare implications (and eyebrows at the time) revolved around one of the first churches he pastored as a young minister in a sleepy little town near the Oregon coast. As described by Cornwall himself at Redwood Family Camp meeting in the 1970s, he had barely settled into leadership at the church when strange things began to happen for which he had no explanation. Objects in the building seemed to move around on their own, especially overnight when the building was supposed to be unoccupied. He would hear the piano playing and go into the sanctuary to find nobody there. Doors would slam, pews would be discovered positioned backward against the wall, and his notes would disappear—then reappear. Members of the church reported similar phenomena, and Cornwall eventually learned that the activity had been going on for years.
One night, hours after he had gone home to bed, Cornwall’s telephone rang and the police chief was on the other end of the line. He wanted to know what kind of party Cornwall was sponsoring at the church.
“What do you mean, a party?” Cornwall asked.
“Neighbors are calling. They say it’s so loud they can’t sleep. We thought maybe the youth group was having an overnight event that was getting out of hand.”
Assuring the officer that nobody was supposed to be in the building, Cornwall agreed to meet him at the church. On arrival, they noticed the lights inside the auditorium were going off and on, the piano was banging loudly, and what sounded like shouting of some kind could be heard throughout the edifice. The officer drew his sidearm while Cornwall unlocked the front door. As they pushed the entrance open, all activity inside the facility abruptly ceased. The lights were still on, but the noises had suddenly gone silent. Cornwall moved through the building with the officer and found every entryway locked, with no signs of break in. This experience was documented in the police report—which, at the time, Cornwall was happy to let us confirm with the chief along with other unexplained events.
Together with his board members and ministry leaders, Cornwall began a series of special prayers over the building in what today some might call a “cleansing” ceremony to purge the house of worship of malevolent spirits mimicking trickster ghosts or poltergeists (German poltern, “to rumble or make a noise,” and geist, meaning “spirit”—invisible entities that manifest by creating noises or by moving objects around). But the results of these prayers were mixed, and Cornwall could not understand why. Whenever members of the church were inside the building and prayed, the phenomenon stopped. As soon as they would leave the facility, it would start up again. This went on sporadically for some time, until one day the chief—now a member of the church—called Cornwall and asked if he could meet him downtown at the police department, saying he had found something important and wanted the pastor to see it. Arriving on schedule, Cornwall was handed an envelope that contained a copy of the original deed to the church property and other interesting documents. One of these records was very enlightening. It revealed that the structure—which was nearly one hundred years old and had been boarded up for over a decade before the organization Cornwall was a member of purchased it and turned it into a church—had originally been constructed by an occult group as a meeting place for their “order.” It had been dedicated as a residence “for spirits of Lucifer as they move to and fro upon the earth.”
Cornwall was shocked. Legalese existing within the building’s first title and deed provided lodging for satanic spirits. Equally disturbing, the experiences at the church suggested demons were operating under some legal claim to be there.
As soon as possible, a new church was erected across the street from the old one, and subsequently the original building was torn down and an asphalt parking lot was poured over the plot of land on which it had sat for nearly a century. From that day forward, all paranormal activity on the property ceased, and a powerful and important theological proposition was born in Cornwall’s mind—that under certain conditions, Satan and his spirits have legal rights to property and people.
While some may step back at this point and ask what comparable authority over earth Satan continues to hold following the redemptive work of Christ, most scholars agree that until the Second Coming of Jesus and the final judgment of men and angels, this planet remains under limited jurisdiction of Satan as “the god of this world” (2 Corinthians 4:4) and under the influence of “the rulers of the darkness of this world” (Ephesians 6:12). During this time, contracts and covenants with such spirits allowing access or entry into one’s property or life do not have to be officially recorded as in the story of Cornwall’s church above. They can be oral or assumed agreements, not to mention “adverse possession,” or what laymen call “squatter’s rights.” In the physical world, this is when a person openly uses somebody else’s property without contractual permission over such a long period that eventually the “squatter” gains legal claim to the land, due to the original owner not taking legal action against him or her. These are ancient statutory principles that pertain equally to material and spiritual dynamics. They imply that wherever activity favorable to malevolent spirits occurs by consent, is tolerated, or action is not taken to force the “squatter” to cease and desist, footholds and even personal rights can be surrendered to hostile forces over people and locations. This is similar to the contract some Internet trolls are making with dark forces.