Most of us know that having pride is a sure way to fall on our big head, but did you know that pride manifest in different ways?
One creature that is used to illustrate pride is the peacock. To be “proud as a peacock” is a saying used to mean a vain or self-centered person.
Vanity is a form of pride that, while seemingly obvious may also be just as subtle. That is vanity may be hiding in a very obvious place!
Most of us know that the proud peacock struts his stuff for all to see. The peacock may not even be lying about his beauty! Peacocks are very beautiful!
The male peacock’s plumage spreads in a big way to attract. Those feathers are pretty awesome!
Pride puffs up. It is pompous, vain, boastful and egotistical! (Romans 11:21, Proverbs 21:4, )
The peacock has a beautiful plumage! God has gifted the peacock with dazzling gifts! The problem with the peacock, however, is that the peacock takes all the glory! It seems to me I have read about another character in the Bible so puffed up with vain glory that he couldn’t see past his beauty! That guy was blinded by his beauty which ended up being his downfall!
I have mentioned the peacock as a thief because this character steals glory from God!
The peacock is so blinded by his gifts that he does not even realize what he is doing! Have you ever seen one of these vain peacocks?
Their pictures are everywhere! It’s all about them! They boast about themselves in a big way! Don’t get me wrong; to market your business or ministry, you have to be out there, but the peacock is way out there! Also, peacocks takes most of the glory for themselves, giving Jesus only a thread.
The problem with the peacock is that the peacock has an exaggerated sense of his own importance. But the peacock is just being himself, you may argue.
Fine feathers, plumage long and sleek! So beautiful! Why shouldn’t the peacock strut his stuff? After all, God has given him those gifts!
True, but that is the problem! God gave those gifts, so God should get the glory!
Vanity is trusting in one’s own importance. God hates vanity because it brings no profit!
Vanity cannot deliver anyone! Vanity is a useless thing to trust in!
And turn ye not aside: for [then should ye go] after vain [things], which cannot profit nor deliver; for they [are] vain. Samuel 1: 12-21
Vanity rejects God’s word, replacing it with their word. Their way of doing things!
Following secular mindsets, patterns of self-image and self-glorification. This is what the world does! The world boasts continually about themselves! The world takes the glory, giving God none or only a tidbit!
And they rejected his statutes, and his covenant that he made with their fathers, and his testimonies which he testified against them; and they followed vanity, and became vain, and went after the heathen that [were] round about them, [concerning] whom the LORD had charged them, that they should not do like them. 2 Kings 17:15
Vanity is one of the seven deadly sins. Vanity is a sure way to end up in the has-been heap!
Remember that the peacock is open game for the predator! Those beautiful feathers strutted about will attract the enemy ! He sees the peacock coming a mile away.
Surely every man walketh in a vain show: surely they are disquieted in vain: he heapeth up [riches], and knoweth not who shall gather them. Psalm 39:6
It is far safer to trust in the Lord, putting our confidence in Him by displaying our gifts in a way that is not so obvious! Not so in your face! A little humility goes a long way!
Jesus is the best example of that! Though he was God in the flesh, he did not feel the need to be showy about it! (Philippians 2: 5-11)
Vanity trusts in one’s own power and ability! After all, those gifts are pretty awesome!
God, however, says, don’t trust in anything (even your gifts) but trust in him alone.
The word ‘vain’ means to be empty. To be worth nothing, having no good purpose.
All the peacock’s beautiful feathers will not do the peacock any good if he ends up on a roasting stick!
Vanity is a form of pride. The peacock likes to look good to others and to themselves.
Vanity is being preoccupied with one’s achievement. Constantly having to prove one’s own worth and success. Vanity is being overly proud of one’s qualities or giftings. Vanity is self-conceit. Vanity is vain, empty, and worthless because pride rejects the giver of the gift.
God tells us to trust in Him. Not in the peacock, no matter how beautiful he looks! (Psalm 118:9)
Humbling ourselves is using our gifts in such a way that Jesus Christ gets the glory! His word is promoted over our word! His glory is seen through us!
Being humble will give us God’s favor.
But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.”
Don’t get side tracked by all the peacocks out there!
Keep your gaze on the one who is fairer than ten thousands! For Jesus Christ is all together lovely!
In our thief series, I would like to draw your attention to another adversary. I’m sure you have heard of this one. SWINE have not been given a bad reputation for nothing!
So much controversy over this creature, and with good reason! Swine are interesting animals. For one thing, they are highly intelligent! They are social animals that use their snouts as sensory receptors. They have good memories, are inquisitive, emotional, playful, and very strategic in their mission!
Why do I mention this? You should realize that Swine are not to be underestimated by any means.
Pigs, like people, have similar digestive systems with similar diets. Both are omnivores who dine on meat, roots, and seeds.
The book of Leviticus tells us that under the law, Swine are to be avoided as edible meats. The reason is both metaphorical and physical. (Leviticus 11:27)
Physically Swine have a similar digestive system as humans. In fact, Swine are very similar to humans in genetics, anatomy, and physiology. 
Swine were considered unclean under the law because rather than eating grass strictly, they ate just about anything else!
Swine are not able to digest cellulose. Swine eat calorie-dense food. Plus, they are not too particular, either. They will even eat human corpses and feces.
Swine carry parasites that, even when cooking, may not be destroyed. Swine meat can carry trichinosis, which will cause sickness and sometimes even death. It is recommended to cook pork very well done! Trichinosis is a health problem worldwide.
Historically speaking, some civilizations have always avoided eating pork. Namely, Mesopotamia, Egypt, and Israel. However, the Romans loved eating pork.  Romans also sacrificed Swine to their gods.
Now we come to the metaphorical aspect of the Swine. In the New Testament, Jesus says to his disciples, ‘Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet and turn and tear you to pieces.” Matthew 7:6
Swine were considered unclean under the law of God, but they also metaphorically meant Gentiles or unbelievers. Since the Gentiles have come to salvation because of the sacrifice of the lamb of God Jesus Christ, we can deduce that Swine today, metaphorically speaking, are the unbelieving or those outside the New Covenant of God or his promises.
By New Covenant, I mean the one that has replaced, and may I emphasize replaced, the Old Covenant. Obedience to the letter of the law has been replaced by life and liberty in the Holy Spirit!
Now I know some Christians believe we are still obligated to obey the law, and some, even today, want to bring the born-again Gentile under obligation to Jewish festivals. These, however, are wrong doctrines.
The Bible says explicitly that the Old Covenant has been replaced by the New Covenant!
But now hath he obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also he is the mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises. For if that first covenant had been faultless, then should no place have been sought for the second. For finding fault with them, he saith, Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah: Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they continued not in my covenant, and I regarded them not, saith the Lord. For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people: And they shall not teach every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest. For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more. In that he saith, A new covenant, he hath made the first old. Now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away. Hebrews 8:6-13
What purpose then does the law serve? It was added because of transgressions, till the Seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was appointed through angels by the hand of a mediator. Galatians 3:9
Therefore, the law was our tutorto bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by FAITH But after faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor. Galatians 3:24,25
For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes. Romans 10:4
Having said that, let’s look at why Swine in reference to the ‘unbelieving’, are adversarial to the Christian.
Swine though intelligent from a secular perspective, have no spiritual understanding. This includes ALL not born again by the Holy Spirit or those not believing God’s word. Like Swine, they cannot digest spiritual food.
Jesus tells us not to cast pearls before Swine. This is significant! Jesus references pearls in his teaching because pearls were one of the most desired gems in the world, particularly in Israel. Since pearls were and are rare and costly, they are considered highly prized items. The Bible uses the pearl as a standard by equating them with spiritual wisdom. Spiritual wisdom is far superior than pearls. 
Jesus tells us in his parable that the kingdom of God is more desirable than pearls.
Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls, who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went, and sold all that he had and bought it. Matthew 13:45-46
As you can see, valuable pearls should not be thrown at Swine, who will trample all over them! Not only that but Swine, not valuing pearls, will also attack the one throwing the pearls at them!
Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces. Matthew 7:6
Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation. 1 Peter 3:3,4
This admonition covers unbelievers as in the unsaved, but it also covers those who don’t believe all of the Bible within its proper context. These “believers” do not believe the Bible says what it says. Now keep in mind there are inferences in the Bible not specifically stated that can be interpreted according to one’s limited understanding. However, attacking someone who does not have the same revelation in the word of God that we have is a sin. Bottom line.
Correcting wrong doctrine has scriptural application BUT we are never to attack the person on a personal basis. Many of us have believed error in one way or another over our lives, but God did not condemn us. He corrected us in his love. Keeping this in mind, let us pray for the one we perceive is in error. If they are open, we can bring correction to the error. If not, we should not continue fellowship as it may produce strife and all kind of demonic attacks in our lives.
From personal experience, I have been on both ends of the stick on this one! Let me share with you what I learned.
Being in error about certain scriptural doctrines, I limited myself because I did not (because I was not open) receive the blessings of that spiritual application. I suffered for many years because of it. Paul made reference to coming behind in a gift.
Therefore you do not lack any spiritual gift as you eagerly await the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ. 1 Corinthians 1:7
We will not receive those blessings if we are closed to certain scripturally stated premises.
For example, many believe that speaking in tongues is not for today. The scriptures they give to support this belief are out of context and inferred by denominational interpretation, not explicitly stated scripture. Actually, some scriptures specifically say that tongues benefit the believer.
I mention this topic because it is a highly controversial one.
That being said, the non-tongue speaker will not receive from the blessing of praying in the Holy Ghost! Is this a big deal? It is if you want to use one of the weapons of our warfare to battle the powers of darkness. You can do a scripture study yourself on this topic.
A genuinely open person searching for truth ALWAYS looks at both sides of an argument. To ignore one side is to bias which means, as the scriptures confirm, one wants to believe a lie because it benefits them in some way.
Let me give you another argument. Some Christians do not believe in divine healing, while others believe in divine healing, but don’t believe its for everyone. They believe God picks and chooses who he heals and who he does not. I was one of them until I had a Holy Spirit encounter and revelation of the word of God.
According to God’s word, it is God’s will to save, deliver, and heal everyone. Are all saved? Are all delivered? Are all healed? No!
Why is that? If you study the scriptures, you will find that the fault always lies with the person. Reasons are given in the Bible why a person does not receive from God. The number one reason is UNBELIEF. (To find out more, check out my blog link)
I have actually met people who do not want to be healed! They will not say this outright, but their actions reveal it. One person I was sharing scripture with on healing had a particular disease. This lady headed up a support group for those suffering in this area. She loved her leadership role and had a close-knit friendship with the women in her group. She rejected the scriptures I gave because (I perceived by the Spirit) she did not want to give up her position in that support group.
Some people want to continue being sick because they get a financial benefit from their sickness.
I have met others who like their sickness because it gives them attention. Everyone at church fawns all over them. They get catered to and receive many benefits! One person I met would go so far as to attack people preaching healing because they did not want their lie exposed.
In my Holy Spirit encounter, which I will share with you, the Lord spoke to me loud in my spirit two things. He asked me a question. Are you ready to deal with things? I instinctively knew this was the condition of my heart. I said, “Yes, Lord.”
Then he gave me a command. He said, “Take up your bed and walk!”
I was becoming sick with a disease and was seeking the Lord about it. I did not want the sickness at all! In obedience to God I rejected the devil’s lie. I began trusting God for my healing. (another topic)
I learned a lot of things from that experience.
Doctors don’t have all the answers. They often prescribe drugs that, while beneficial in one way, may give you a lot of terrible side effects. If you don’t believe me, check out your meds’ labels!
God does use doctors, don’t get me wrong, but they are not the end all to be all.
We need to be personally led by the Holy Spirit in our healing journey. I was healed progressively in order to teach others that you don’t have to give up hope. God is there to answer your problems when you diligently seek him!
Sin and unbelief will hinder healing! Not always, but many times this is the case!
I was unaware of all the junk in my heart until the Holy Spirit started revealing things to me little by little. Our junk hinders God’s blessing in our lives. Including healing.
My healing was and is progressive. Again, this is used to help others receive their healing. God does do miracles immediately, but not always.
My faith was increased in the area of healing. Now I teach others about healing and pray for them to be healed.
Now back to the swine adversarial topic. If we try to minister in an area where people are not open, many times, we will get attacked. If any person wants to be ignorant, scriptures tell us to let them be ignorant. (1 Corinthians 14:38) We should remove ourselves as best we can from the adversarial situation, continuing to pray.
Swine prefer to wallow in mire rather than admire God’s pearls. Swine are humans with ungodly attitudes. When we have a revelation from the word of God, we need to pray for wisdom in ministering that revelation to others. Persecution comes because of the word’s sake. (Mark 4:17) Casting pearls before Swine will only end up causing us unnecessary pain.
Ask the Lord for open hearts to share the word of God ! This way, you will cast pearls before those who value their great price!
In this next blog, I want to expose another tactic of the enemy that he uses to kill, steal, and destroy. This is the bewitching spirit.
We hear about this spirit in the book of Galatians. Paul asks these new converts in Galatia, ‘who has bewitched you?”
Before we get into this demonic culprit, let’s do some background context.
Galatia was a major region of north-central Turkey. The name Galatia came from the Gaul inhabitants who settled in the region in 278 B.C. The Gauls were a Celtic people who invaded Greece in the 3rd century B.C. Two centuries later, in 25 B.C., the area became a Roman province.
Paul’s missionary work resulted in the conversion of some of these Galatians (Gauls)from polytheistic paganism.
The Judaizers Paul refers to were both ethnic Jews and Gentile converts, who continued to observe Jewish customs and laws. These sought to persuade Christians that one had to adhere to Jewish customs and laws to be saved.
Not only did these Judaizers bring in their religious practices to mix with Christianity, but they also brought in their elitist attitude. In other words, they thought their ways were better than the gospel of grace given by the Holy Spirit. Better than God’s method for salvation, which is grace through faith in Jesus Christ APART FROM works or deeds of the law.
For by grace, you have been saved through faith, and this is not from you; it is the gift of God; it is not from works, so no one may boast. Ephesians 2:8,9
Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; Titus 3:5
In the book of Galatians, Paul addresses the problem of adding works to salvation. He exposes these false teachers. Warning against adding anything cultural or social to the gospel for justification before God.
How does he do this? By asking them a question, ‘Who has bewitched you?”
This is significant. Paul is making a correlation here between witchcraft and adding works to the gospel. To understand precisely what he is talking about, we must know what witchcraft is!
While it is true that blatant practitioners of the dark side use witchcraft, it is also true that witchcraft is used by regular people and carnal Christians. That might be a new concept to some of you reading this blog, but if you understand witchcraft, you will know what I mean.
The Bible defines witchcraft as a work of the flesh. That means it is a sinful behavior not necessarily equated with blatant sorcery, although it can be.
Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. Galatians 5:19-21
Witchcraft, according to the scriptures, is a work of the flesh. Paul tells the Galatians that they are being bewitched by the Judaizers because they are being removed from the true gospel of grace into another false or perverted gospel. (Galatians 1:6)
Paul says that even if an angel came down from heaven and preached another gospel to them, don’t believe it! Paul tells the Galatians that he received the gospel of Jesus Christ through the revelation of the Holy Spirit, not from men. He said those who preach a false gospel will be eternally cursed or lost. (Galatians 1:7-9)
I would like to point out that the scriptures tell us that adding works of the law to our salvation is a false gospel.
Therefore, we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law. Romans 3:28
While most Christians don’t adhere to Jewish customs and laws, some may still add works of the law to their salvation. To understand this fully, we must define what ‘law’ is.
According to Hugh Evander Willis, Indiana university of law, the definition of law (which I will paraphrase) is a rule of action prescribed by some superior that the inferior is bound to obey. Civil law he defined as “a rule of civil conduct prescribed by the supreme power in a state, commanding what is right and prohibiting what is wrong. These have two main concepts: (1) the concept of a “superior” and (2) the concept of command. The law according to Hugh Evander Willis is a scheme of social control.
The law of God was given by Moses for much the same thing. For social control of the sinful nature through rules and regulations to have a society operating justly. Since this was not a perfect system, God also set up animal sacrifices as temporal atonement for the sins of the people.
But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterward be revealed. Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after that faith has come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster. Galatians 3: 23-25
Falling from grace is when the law is added to salvation as a justification rather than faith in Jesus Christ alone.
This brings us to the thief culprit. The bewitcher who operates in witchcraft.
To bewitch means to attract or interest someone by manipulating them through influence in order to have power and control over them. That’s the definition of ‘bewitching’ in a nutshell.
This is a method used by many in the church to control others. Witchcraft is a carnal act. It is a sin.
To manipulate in order to control another person for our own benefit or to keep them under our thumb in any way is to practice witchcraft. Whether a bully club or a honey pot is used to do it, does not matter!
Formal witchcraft uses these methods! According to the formal operation of witchcraft, Elemental magic or Elemental manipulation is a craft using demonic influence to control. Whether it’s to control the natural elements or a person or persons.
In much the same way, people not formally practicing witchcraft are, in fact, witchcraft practitioners if they are using manipulation to control another person(s).
The term witchcraft comes from Old English wiccecraeft.Wicca (masculine) or wicce (feminine). It denotes one who practices sorcery or charming. That’s where we get the word, charm from. (the power or attribute of delighting or arousing admiration.)
The bewitcher had developed the art or skill of manipulation, charm, indoctrination, groupthink, mind control, and enchantment over others through manipulation.
Paul calls this art of witchcraft a work of the flesh. In other words, it is a sin in which carnal Christians participate. To manipulate or control through artful means for one’s advantage at the detriment of another is the art of witchcraft.
Using control through condemnation, guilt, intimidation, fear, charm, or other manipulative means is practicing witchcraft. To bewitch is to charm through deceit in order to sway a person’s thinking.
The Judaizers were adding Jewish customs and practices to the gospel of Jesus Christ to control others. Paul says Gentiles DO NOT have to observe Jewish holidays or cultural practices to be saved. (Romans 2:12-29)
However, other forms of social control are used in the church to control others. When someone, even preachers influence by the flesh in order to get someone to do something they want rather than allowing Holy Spirit to do his job, (which is to teach, counsel, draw, influence, and control), then they are operating in a spirit of witchcraft.
Does that mean that God does not use people? No, it does not. God uses people to administer his gifts, but the Holy Spirit is the controller of another person, period! The teacher or preacher’s job is to instruct in scriptures, then leave the rest to God. Using scriptures out of context to manipulate, dominate, and control other people is a sin. It does not matter, even if it’s for a good cause!
How can you know if you are being bewitched? By the fruit that results in your life!
Bewitching through manipulation, domination and control causes condemnation, guilt, an inferiority complex, feeling not good enough, you don’t measure up, powerlessness, defeatism, fear, and other negative emotions. There is a difference between Holy Spirit conviction and condemnation.
Holy Spirit convicts through love. He tells you your problem then gives you a solution, like a Father correcting his child. He does not use a big stick to tell you to measure up or else!
But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy. And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace. James 3:17-18
There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. Romans 8:1,2
Spiritual abusers use witchcraft to manipulate, dominate and control others. They tell you that if you do not adhere to such and such, then you are not good enough. They give you guilt trips and condemnation in order to make a person feel inferior. It’s their craft! A form of control. Some even use honey sticks. ‘If you do this, we will do that for you’!
Let me give you some examples.
When I was a young Christian, I began attending this church. Lo and behold, I found myself in the middle of a split! One side wanted to do things one way, and the other side wanted to do things another way. I hardly knew anybody because I was new to the congregation. As it turns out, the leader of one side wanted to secure my vote. (Why I could vote anyway was beyond me) This leader told me that if I voted for their side, I would be given my own bible study. I didn’t have to be a mature believer to know that was wrong, so I found another church, getting out of that mess!
If you have been saved as long as I have, you probably remember the days of the prosperity preachers. Today some still do the same practices. In those days, preachers would use all kinds of ways or gimics to get your money! Manipulation was rampant! Thank God I stayed out of that stuff! The Bible clarifies that giving to the Lord is a free-will offering that should be delivered from a cheerful heart, not because of necessity or because you have to or don’t measure up.
God does not need our money. He owns cattle on a thousand hills. The scriptures tell us how to give and how to receive. Each is to be led by the Lord in their giving. Using manipulative methods to get someone’s money is a form of witchcraft.
Offering special privileges if you do something is a form of witchcraft. Brow beating from the pulpit by using scriptures taken out of context to make one feel inferior or manipulate them to perform something is witchcraft.
Playing someone through manipulation to do something or buy something is witchcraft. Jesus said to let our conversation be yes or no. In other words be straight up! Many marketing methods used by Christians today are witchcraft. They use misleading click bate, sensationalism, and downright deception for gain. A good product will sell based on its worth. Just tell the truth about what you are offering! Then leave the rest to the Lord.
One last example (there are others) is the use of condemnation. This is also rampant in the church. To make disciples for themselves, some teachers, preachers, and church leaders bewitch others to see themselves always in perpetual need. Constantly feeding spiritual baby food, keeping the people ignorant, constantly having prayer lines, constant inferiority blasted at the sheep from the pulpits. It’s just horrible.
Jesus said…go and make disciples for him, not for yourself! The teaching ministry exists to train, instruct in righteousness, and mature God’s sheep, so they don’t need your services anymore! Making disciples means letting the sheep go when it’s time. Letting go when they are ready, when they get itchy feet to leave home. Helping the lambs mature so they can go out and do the work of the ministry! You wouldn’t let your young adult son or daughter stay home forever, would you? It is the same with sheep or those we mentor or disciple. The objective is to train them in the ways of the Lord then let them go!
Paul gives a remedy for the Galatians who have been bewitched. He tells them that they have been justified and made righteous before God by faith in Jesus Christ without the deeds of the law.
To be justified means that a person has a reasonable and acceptable basis for something. In common law, this is a type of defense. This defense exempts the defendant from liability because the defendant’s actions were justified.
In other words, the defendant will not suffer the usual penalty for their actions in a court of law because they had a valid justification. The defendant could not have been asked to act any differently in this situation. (Cornell law school legal information institute)
It is the same with God’s law. The shedding of the blood of Jesus Christ is our justification for the penalty of sin. (Hebrew Chapter 9)
For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law. Romans 3:28
Paul tells the Galatians that he is now dead to the law (It’s an old method) so that he can live for God by faith in Jesus Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit that dwells in him!
I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. Galatians 2:20
Returning to old methods by adding works of any kind for our justification is slavery, according to Paul. Bewitchers want to make slaves to be under their control. (Galatians 4)
Bewitchers want to bring you under their laws, customs and forms. They seek to bind you to a custom, practice, or rule of conduct in order to control you! Witchcraft is the manipulation of the flesh. It is a skillful art used by bewitchers to control others.
God’s Holy Spirit brings the fruit of righteousness; Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against this fruit, there is NO LAW! (Galatians 5:22-23)
Jesus relays a parable in the book of Matthew explaining what happens when we are ‘sleeping’ rather than watching in prayer.
But be sure that if the head of the house had known at what time of the night the thief was coming, he would have been on the alert and would not have allowed his house to be broken into. Matthew 24:43
Watchful is a term for being alert concerning spiritual matters, being attentively observant, and exercising care or restraint.
That being said, I want to draw your attention to another type of thief that comes in when we sleep, both corporately as a body and as individual Christians.
This thief comes along, and plants tares after the word of God is sown.
Another parable He put forth to them, saying: “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field; but while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat and went his way. Matthew 13:24
This is a kingdom principle. When the seed, God’s word, is sown on the earth, the enemy comes along immediately to sow tares. You can know you are sleeping and not being watchful if you have yet to consider this spiritual principle.
The seed is the word of God. Those by the way side are they that hear; then cometh the devil, and taketh away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved. Luke 8:11,12
“So is the kingdom of God, as if a man should cast seed into the ground; And should sleep, and rise night and day, and the seed should spring and grow up, he knoweth not how. For the earth bringeth forth fruit of herself; first the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear. But when the fruit is brought forth, immediately he putteth in the sickle, because the harvest is come.” Mark 4: 26-29
Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. LUKE 8:11
Having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever, 1 PETER 1:23
The enemy sows tares. The enemy, the devil, is a thief. He comes to kill, steal, and destroy. He does this by coming along after the seed is sown to sow his tares.
What is interesting is the interpretation of the word tares. It is the Greek word zizanion. This isa type of Darnel that resembles wheat. Darnel, known as Lolium temulentum is a false grain. It is an annual plant of the Lolium, Poaceae family. Which are types of grass.
Darnel grows in the same areas as wheat. In fact, it looks so much like wheat that it is often mistaken as wheat. Darnel however is a toxic grass.
Eaten in enough of a dose, Darnel can actually kill a person. Darnel seeds will make a person drunk. It was used at one time to make beer.
The Latin word for Darnel is L. temulentum. It means ‘to get drunk’.
Darnel looks similar to wheat until the ear appears.
Farmers have to separate Darnel from the true harvest. Darnel today is removed by sorting machinery that separates it from wheat.
On closer observance, wheat can be distinguished from Darnel. Darnel has thinner spikes than wheat. However, if Darnel is plucked out too soon, the true wheat will be damaged.
At harvest time, the Darnel and wheat can be more easily distinguished.
Watching in prayer is making sure the seed that is planted is indeed wheat. We do this by observation or discernment in the Spirit.
Seeds can be separated before planting, but sometimes this process is difficult, so Jesus tells us to wait until harvest time. Then, it will become clear which is wheat and which is not.
Sometimes people look and act like real Christians, or a ministry may seem to be of the Lord, or the message preached may seem sound, but after careful observance, we find that it is really Darnel, not wheat.
Also, sometimes wheat and Darnel grow together. There is a mix, and we need to be able to separate.
It is easier to spot a blatant false way than one that seems right but is slightly off. Since a little leaven will eventually grow, it’s best to separate ourselves from false wheat before we get choked out!
One way to discern false wheat from true wheat is by comparing what the word of God says to what is being put forth. This is not so easy. Sometimes one must dig deeper to find false wheat. What looks true may be outright false or have some false attributes.
All of us have been duped at one time or another by false wheat. That is because false wheat looks almost like true wheat. How can we know for sure what is true and what is false?
By doing what Jesus said, ‘watching and observing’. We must look closely to see if something is off. The Bible gives us guidelines on what to look for in this regard. I am not addressing in this blog blatant doctrinal error or cultish behaviors, (although that is part of the Darnell problem); I am talking more about distinguishing what is Biblically true from what is almost true.
Paul tells us that false teachers or false messages put people in bondage. Even if the word being presented has some truth in it, if that message is imposed upon another person, it becomes a work of law rather than an act of grace.
Paul tells us not to impose our views or our conscience upon others. While some have a clear conscience about eating meat, others do not. Some may feel that wearing makeup, jewelry, tattoos, what one eats, or how one worships is wrong. If a view is imposed on another person, then it becomes to them a form of law. Even if that view is grace to us. (Romans 14:1-23)
Christians should always operate in a graceful spirit. That does not mean we give license to sinful behavior, it means being respectful and graceful in our operation toward others. Even if we do not agree with them or practice our relationship with the Lord in the same way.
Let me give some examples.
Some Christians feel to get up and pray every day at 5 o’clock in the morning. Nothing wrong with that, but if they impose it on others, then it becomes a form of spiritual abuse. Law is imposed rather than grace being exercised.
That makes it, Darnell. False wheat. Why? Because everything, if it is not done in love with the objective of perfecting the saints for their spiritual growth, is law.
The law brings death because no one can keep all of its stringent requirements! My grace may be someone else’s law!
Paul tells us that whatever bothers our conscience is a sin! We don’t know another person’s issues, culture or life journey. To impose our lifestyle on other people becomes a sin! It does not matter if it’s a good thing or not!
This Darnell I’m addressing is the Darnel of the law instead of grace. It can cover a whole bunch of things. The point is that grace is loving another person who does not live up to our standards!
Now the guy who gets up and prays every day from 5 am until 6 am, then goes to work all day, and then gets up at 5 am the next day and does the same thing has a pattern of prayer that works for him. However, the retired grandma who spends all day in prayer has a different schedule.
She gets up and works in the garden, praying and worshipping. Then she prays as she cooks dinner, prays while she shops, prays after dinner in her rocker, and prays before bed.
Shall Grandma impose that on all the people who have to work all day?
What about the biker or gang member who gets saved and has tattoos all over them? Should we condemn that guy for having tattoos before he was saved? Impose our law or grace on him?
What about the new believer addict in recovery? Should we impose a strict law-based schedule on that guy who doesn’t even know how to live straight, let alone adhere to a bunch of religious requirements?
Do you see the point? Spiritual adherence without love is the law. It is a form of Darnell.
The Pharisees tried imposing their stuff on Jesus all the time. He called it obeying jots and tittles.
Paul calls it ‘touch not, eat not, handle not’. (Colossians 2:21)
Legalism is Darnell disguised as wheat.
Jesus tells us that the greatest commandment after loving God is loving others.
Paul said that if we have faith to move mountains but don’t have love, then we are nothing.
Love is the greatest pursuit. God’s love is revealed through his grace. (1 Corinthians 13:13)
God’s grace teaches us to live godly. Living godly is being an example to others, not imposing our way of doing things on others.
Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity. 1 Timothy 4:12
In conclusion, Darnell is fake wheat. It is poisonous. It can even kill.
The law kills, but grace through Jesus Christ brings life. This is the true wheat. God’s word in the flesh! The word of Grace!
The next culprit the Bible talks about for the Christian to be aware of is the scorpion.
Scriptures tell us that the Christian is given power over serpents and scorpions, but did you ever wonder what scorpions mean?
Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents, scorpions, and over all the enemy’s power, and nothing shall hurt you. Luke 10:19
Scorpions are lobster-shaped insects about 2 or 3 inches long. These give a venomous sting through their tails from a gland at the end of their tail. When a scorpion stings, it secretes a poisonous fluid into the wound or a prick on the skin within one or two minutes.
Scorpions live in tropical climates. In the Bible, these creatures lived in the wilderness of Sinai.
It is interesting to note that unless you happen upon the scorpion’s territory, you probably won’t meet one, but if you do enter their territory, you must be watchful in prayer, so you don’t get stung by one!
Scorpions are usually found in dry and dark places. They may be hiding under stones or in the ruins of a building.
Most of us will avoid places where scorpions live, but if you have a ministry to reach those living in darkness, you may meet up with a scorpion, maybe more than one! This is why Jesus says that he gives us authority over scorpions.
Scorpions attack in a very threatening way when they are not hidden. If a scorpion sees you on its territory, it may move towards you threateningly with its tail up, ready to strike!
However, most of the time, scorpions are hiding. For those who live in the desert or are walking in the desert, these scorpions might be hiding in the crevices of walls in a house, under stones in the yard, or in empty containers. Even in dung heaps!
In Deuteronomy 8:15, Moses tells the people that God led them out of the wilderness with its fiery serpents and scorpions.
The wilderness experience is an uncomfortable place to be. It represents a time of testing, refining, and temptation. There are many scorpions that live in the wilderness!
Scorpions dwell in dry places where there is very little rain. The Lord likens the place of scorpions to a place where there is no life of the Spirit. A religious or secular place. A place where the rebellious dwell.
And you, son of man, do not be afraid of them nor be afraid of their words, though (briers and thorns are with you and you dwell among scorpions; do not be afraid of their words or dismayed by their looks, (though they are a rebellious house.) Ezekiel 2:6.
God sets the solitary in families; He brings out those who are bound into prosperity; But the rebellious dwell in a dry land. Psalms 68:6
Even though the sting of a scorpion is rarely fatal, it is a very painful experience. God likens the words and body language of the rebellious who dwell in a dry land to be extremely painful. They are filled with bitterness, anger, scoffing, rejection, and ridicule.
I Kings 12: 11 tells us that the scourge of scorpions is synonymous with being scourged with whips with bits of metal.
The same type of whipping that Jesus received from the Romans after being given over by the religious leaders. (the world and religion)
Then Pilate, therefore, took Jesus and scourged him. John 19:19
Receiving tongue lashings from others is like getting a scorpion bite! Words hurt. The Bible tells us that slander and backbiting are like the sting of a scorpion.
A slanderer or backbiter is a false accuser. One who defames others. They bring an evil report against someone. The motive is usually to undermine someone’s character. The root cause is always envy.
Backbiting is defaming others. To speak against them with a motive to ruin their reputation. (2 Cor. 12:20)
When the religious leaders handed over Jesus to the government of the day, their motive was envy.
For he knew that they had handed Him over because of envy. Matthew 27:18
To be envious is to feel discontented or resentful because of someone else’s possessions or qualities.
When a person slanders, they are trying to undermine. In this way, the slanderer raises themselves in a higher position because pointing out others’ faults undermines any good qualities.
The religious people did this to Jesus. They found fault with him. Jesus healed on the Sabbath, ate with unclean hands, and sat with sinners. All the while, though, they were envious of him. This was because of their pride.
Being religious, the religious people of Jesus’ day studied the law. Every jot and tittle of it! Then here comes this upstart with great wisdom and healing powers showing them up!
The religious people rejected Jesus because he upset their way of doing things! We don’t do that in our church! Who told you to do this? Where are your credentials? How many years of Bible school do you have?
The Bible tells us that slanderers are foolish because they do not fear God. They do not fear the consequences of their words or actions against others. (Proverbs 10: 18)
However, the Lord tells us not to fear the sting of scorpions or slander because he has given us authority over them. We are called to tread on snakes and on scorpions. To tread is to walk on or set our foot on. How do we do this?
We tread on scorpions with our gospel boots. Wherever we go we go in the fullness of the blessings of the Gospel of Jesus Christ! (Romans 15:29)
By presenting the truth of the word of God wherever we go, we tread on the slander of others. Those words will lose their power. Others will see our fruit. They will see because God will show them that he has called us.
Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you. Luke 10:19
This is God’s strategy for dealing with scorpions. Whether they be secular or religious. We present the Gospel wherever we go, and God will defend our reputation.
Jesus tells us that when we ask for the power of his Holy Spirit, we will never receive a rebuke or tongue-lashing.
Or if he shall ask an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? Luke 11: 12
When we go to the Lord, he always gives us bread to eat. Manna from heaven. It doesn’t matter how many degrees we have or don’t have. Holy Spirit gives wisdom to the simple. Child-like faith receives more of God’s grace than any kind of education.
Not that education (religious or secular)is bad in and of itself because the Lord can use it if it’s yielded to him BUT never does man-made education replace Holy Spirit wisdom, knowledge, and power!
If you envy other people’s gifts and callings, how about seeking the Lord in Spirit and truth? Dwelling in a dry land is very disheartening. It will keep you from experiencing the rain of the Spirit. God has a special call tailor-made just for you! Unique gifts only you can impart to others! You will find them as you dwell in the secret place with Jesus!
Who shall dwell in the Lord’s temple? He who does not backbite with his tongue. Psalms 15:3
In part 3 of the thief series, I would like to talk about foxes. Scriptures use the analogy of the fox to depict certain characteristics which are dangerous to the Christian. Things to look for so that we can stay safe in Jesus.
A fox is a nighttime predator. One who works undercover in darkness. Foxes are focused on what they do and are very cunning.
In Nehemiah 4:3 we are told that the fox climbs up the wall of the temple in order to burrow through any gap or unstable area.
Nehemiah was building the Lord’s temple, but the naysayers said the temple would not be strong enough to keep a fox out. Since we are now the temple of the Holy Spirit, our temple must be secure. If not then it is possible for a fox to get in and cause damage.
Neither give place to the devil. Ephesians 4:27
What kind of damage does a fox do? Foxes spoil the fruit. They tread all over the fruit growing on the vine. S of S 2:15
Our fruit is the fruit of the Holy Spirit. Foxes want to spoil our fruit. That is they want to trample on it, destroy it, cause havoc in our lives, and undermine our fruit.
In order to understand how this is done, we must understand what the Bible refers to as the fox.
Jesus referred to Herod (the ruler of Israel at that time) as ‘that fox.’
Herod was not appointed by God. He was put in his position by secular authority. Herod was hated by the people but worked alongside the religious order of the day. In other words, Herod was a religious and secular institutional enterprise.
In addressing Herod Jesus called him a fox. One who spoils the Lord’s Vineyard. The religious institution of Jesus’ day was in agreement with this secular appointment. Notice the message Jesus gave to Herod!
“Go tell that fox behold I cast out devils, I do cures, (heal the sick), today and tomorrow and the third day I shall be perfected.” Luke 13:32
Jesus was declaring his Kingdom policies to the religious secular institution. The power of the Holy Spirit with signs following are evidence of God’s Kingdom. The kingdom of God is not a secular religious institution.
Little foxes come into the vineyard to spoil the vine (Jesus Christ and his kingdom) in order to trample on the fruit. The secular religious institution is a man-made system. It rejects the power of God! These institutions have a few earmarks to look for.
These secular religious institutions claim to be followers of Jesus Christ, but they deny the power of the Holy Spirit! They have instead aligned themselves with the secular realm! How you may ask? Several ways. Taking government money, relying on for provision, parroting man-made secular policies and ideas, and using secular protocols with world views instead of the scriptures.
Such are the foxes who have burrowed into the walls of the church. God’s Holy temple!
Here is another indicator that a fox is burrowed into God’s house. Prayerlessness!
Lamentations 5:18 Because of the mountain of Zion which is desolate,(Prayerlessness) foxes walk on it. ( religious secular institutions hyjack)
Ezek 13:4 False prophets are like Foxes in the desert. (chorbâh desolate, destruction, destroy)
Without a life dedicated to prayer and seeking the Lord, foxes will come in and spoil the vine. These foxes are both predators, preying on God’s people and scavengers. They eat what food is left out for them to get into.
Unless you close that gap, foxes will burrow into your life!
What do the scriptures tell us to do when we think we have a fox trying to burrow into our temple? (That can be individually and corporately.)
Simply get out of that situation! Stay away from those who deny the power of the Holy Spirit with signs following! Those foxes will bad mouth the things of the Spirit, stomp all over the vine, causing destruction in the lives of others, and in the end be removed.
I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit. John 15:2
Having a form of godliness but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. 2 Timothy 3:5
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever! He is not dry religion filled with dead man’s bones! Your temple (if you are born again) is filled with the Spirit of the living God! The river of life is in your belly! The same Spirit that rose Jesus from the dead! The Spirit of faith, the Spirit of prayer, the Spirit of love, the Spirit of soundness, and the Spirit of miraculous power!
And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover. Mark 16:17-18
Stay far away from the little foxes that spoil the vine!
Walk in the power of the Holy Spirit!
Jesus Christ is the head of the church. He has all power and authority. He has entrusted that power to his true church!
In our next part of the series on the thief, I would like to share with you what Jesus called the wolf or wolves. Jesus often used metaphors to explain spiritual concepts. For a few reasons. One was that he did not want his enemies to pounce on him before his time, so he could not speak openly about spiritual things. Jesus said that those with eyes would see but not see, and those with ears would hear but not hear. In other words, the enemy would not understand what he was saying because he used code. Also, Jesus used parables because some things in the natural are parallels to some things in the spiritual realm.
Another reason that the Lord uses parables is that he does not give his wisdom and knowledge to just anybody. To not cast his pearls before swine, he speaks in signs and symbols to his prophets for the most part. In this way, a prophet or one of his followers will seek out a matter. That is, they will search the scriptures diligently and pray for insight. Those faithful in applying and giving out his treasures to others will be given more treasure from him. In this way, the Lord separates the true disciple from one who is not in for the long run.
In the same way, if you gave your child everything they wanted then they may become lazy, ungrateful, and develop a privileged mindset. I don’t think I have to say more for most parents to get what I’m saying.
Using the metaphor of the wolf or wolves, Jesus reveals to us another way the enemy operates. Satan is a wolf, and his demons are wolves. They come to steal, kill, and destroy. (John 10) Jesus said he was the Good Shepherd, the door to the sheep. The sheep are protected by him.
In John 10, Jesus says that those who came before him claiming to be the sheep’s Shepherd, their door, protector, and provider, were thieves. His true sheep did not hear them because they knew the sound of the true Shepherd’s voice.
Then the Lord gives us a critical point in John 10 in discerning the difference between his voice and the false shepherd’s.
“I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.”
So, the first key in discerning if someone represents the Good Shepherd or is a hireling is whether or not they give their lives for the sheep. Look for this sign right away, (regardless of what a person says with their silver tongue, because Satan’s cronies can quote scripture) does the person give to the sheep with their very lives? Do they pour forth themselves for the sheep’s benefit, or do they take from or fleece the sheep for their benefit?
A faithful Shepherd, Jesus said, warns the sheep when the wolf is coming. When disaster comes, does the Shepherd warn the sheep, or does the Shepherd abandon the sheep?
This is another key indicator. Warning the sheep when trouble is coming indicates a true shepherd. If danger is coming and the sheep are not warned, then the sheep are susceptible to being ravaged by the wolf!
A true Shepherd cares about the sheep, so when trouble is coming in their direction, the true Shepherd warns the sheep. The hireling does not care about the sheep. They care more about themselves.
The objective of the thief is to steal, kill and destroy. The wolf analogy reveals how this thief operates.
In Jeremiah 5:6, the wolf is called a destroyer.
Genesis 49:27 says the wolf is ravenous and devours the prey,
Ezekiel 22:27 gives a clear description.
Her princes within her are like wolves tearing the prey by shedding blood and destroying lives to get dishonest gain.
Jesus said that false prophets are wolves. They pretend to be sheep but are inwardly ravenous wolves. (Matthew 7:15)
Jesus also said that he was sending his disciples out among wolves. So be as wise as a serpent in discerning who these wolves are and be innocent as a dove. In other words, don’t be like them!
Paul warns in Acts 20:29 that after he went home to be with the Lord, savage wolves will come into the church, not sparing the flock.
Here are other indicators to look for in a hireling or wolf in sheep’s clothing. They are false prophets speaking words not given to them by God. This includes scripture because Satan loves to quote the Bible. Giving truth with just enough error to lead the sheep astray. This is to get dishonest gain. (Ezekiel 22:27)
Many today are preaching the gospel for personal profit. That is dishonest gain because the tithes and offerings belong to the Lord. They are to be used for the furtherance of the kingdom of God. That does not mean the shepherd cannot get provision, but it does mean having responsible stewardship with finances. We may not know all the ins and outs of what a minister does with God’s money because doing our works in secret is a part of our walk with God, but discerning other factors in the lives of ministers will give us indicators of character.
Let us examine the wolf parable to see what character traits to look for in discerning a false Shepherd. Most of the time, wolves hunt in packs. Their pack consists of family members. You can see this in the lives of false Shepherds, teachers, and prophets. They have a network of family and friends working on their team. They hire in rather than source out to qualified individuals. Why is this? Accountability. If the ministry team are family members, the less likely to expose or call out a family member for mismanagement.
This is why the hirelings go undetected for years sometimes. It is good to have a few nonfamily members on your ministry team. Keeps you watching your life and ministry like scripture exhorts us to!
Wolves are expert hunters. They assess their prey carefully, looking for weakness, the right conditions, things in their favor, right timing. Wolves use whatever they find to their advantage to cease their prey.
In the same way, false shepherds, false teachers, and false prophets prey on the weak. Those needy, sick, and infirmed. They give them false promises, false hope, and constant attention. Now that sounds harsh, you may think because the weak need those things. However, let me point this out. Hirelings don’t really want the sheep to get well. They keep the sheep returning for more false words because their motive is to fleece the sheep to death!
When Jesus was here, he taught the sheep how to pray, grow in the faith, abide in the vine, and search the scriptures to learn about him. Paul did the same thing! The purpose of the Shepherd is to feed the sheep. This is another indicator to look for. Are you getting fed? Being taught to mature in the Lord, or are you constantly being fed baby food where you stay where you are forever?
In hunting for sheep to take down, wolves do what is called herding. They will dart back and forth to cause confusion and prevent escape. This happens when a sheep tries to escape a pack of wolves. Most of us have heard the testimonies of those who have experienced spiritual abuse. They are made to feel like they are the perpetrator instead of the victim, made to feel shame and confusion.
When this happens, sometimes the weak sheep are taken out. They leave the fold, never to return, and some who have been hurt go into revenge mode. Trying to bring the wolf down by themselves! A wounded sheep can be dangerous. The persecuted will often become the persecutor.
Wolves do not attack a sheep quickly and directly. If they did, the sheep would die of shock or be damaged goods. Not suitable for eating. To bring a sheep down, the wolves seize the sheep from behind or by the nose. In the same way, a false shepherd or false prophet will not attack directly. They come up from a blind side or by leading the sheep astray.
The false shepherd or false prophet knows the weakness of their prey. They don’t come right out and tell you what they really believe. They wait until they have led the sheep by the nose a bit. When they have made some new friends, become a part of the group, and are made to feel needed and that they belong. Then they move in for the kill.
Wolves work as a team. Their hunt is masterfully coordinated! They know how to defend themselves, being well aware of the danger if they are found out. The hireling gets the sheep in deep. Too deep to fight back for the most part.
Another type of wolf that is dangerous to the sheep is the lone wolf. This wolf is independent and strong-willed. When the lone wolf leaves the pack to strike out on its own, it has to become highly cunning to survive. The lone wolf looks for new territory. Some place or someone where there are no other wolf packs. The lone wolf looks for another wolf. Someone to partner with to form a new pack. Then the cycle repeats itself. The new guy who comes to town should be thoroughly vetted.
I experienced this scenario once. A new guy came to the church I was in, claiming to be a prophet with a message for that church. Soon he was in their ministry having meetings. That guy browbeat so many people that many left that church, never to return. He was pointing out everyone’s sins without love and compassion, but he could not see the pride and arrogance in his own life!
Long story short, there was a conflict, and the guy left, BUT he left a trail of disaster. That’s what the thief does; he destroys like a ravaging wolf. Since then, that church has had turnovers, splits, and scandals. It is good policy to not let in a lone wolf knocking at your door!
In conclusion, the thief in this blog is the wolf who comes to kill, steal, and destroy. Taking heed to what our Lord Jesus has taught us from his word about this thief, we can look for the signs. When we see the wolf coming in our direction, we should high tail it out of there! Also, we must warn the other sheep.
Jesus said the thief comes to steal, kill, and destroy. By definition, a thief steals another person’s property. In the world, there are different kinds of thieves. There are professional robbers and petty thieves. A petty thief steals things not highly valued. That is, the value attached to the property is not worth much monetarily. However, your property may have a higher value to you than what is legally determined.
A professional thief steals as a business. This thief plans carefully and is very skilled at what he does. The professional thief’s objective is to steal valuable property. Something that is prized for its monetary value and rarity.
Jesus warned us in the scriptures about the thief. He told us to carefully watch our property because the thief comes to steal. Not only does the thief Jesus was talking about steal, but he also kills and destroys! That makes that thief not only a robber of property but a murderer and one who damages property.
Let’s take a look at this thief and how he operates. We see him in the book of Genesis.
Now the serpent was more subtle than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. Genesis 3:1
From the beginning, the thief was called a serpent. Metaphorically this is significant. The serpent is cunning. It waits patiently to catch its pray and at the right moment it strikes.
Throughout history, the snake has been seen as a symbol of evil, power, chaos, fertility, life, healing, and rebirth.
The serpent thief is a usurper. One who steals dominion, throne, and rulership. The serpent in the garden of Eden steals God’s property through deception. He then takes over the joint!
This thief in the garden was sly. He had cased the situation for a long time. That is what a professional thief does. He plans very strategically. Sometimes for many years before making a move. He watches, takes note of who goes in and out, and looks for potential weaknesses. Then, when the time is right, the thief comes in to steal. In this particular situation, the thief steals through deception.
He uses something forbidden and looking good as bait!
To deceive somebody, there has to be a predisposed preponderance towards a particular vise. The serpent watched for a long time his victim. He had to have noticed her weakness to deposit doubt in the woman’s mind. First of all, he asked her a question. Did God say that you could eat of every tree of the garden?
In Genesis chapter 1, verse 17, God told this to Adam before he created Eve. That would mean that Eve received the command not to eat the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil from Adam. Making this second-hand information. Adam received the commandment straight from God’s mouth. Obviously, the serpent knew this. That made the woman an easier victim than the man. Therefore, he approached her with the challenge of God’s command.
The thief uses this same tactic today. Did God really say? Well, you know it is second-hand information, after all. That book could have been changed, altered somehow. How do you know for sure God said it?
The woman obviously needed to be more trusting. She could have said, My husband, told me that God told him. I have a good and reliable source so take a hike, serpent!
When we do not have a trusting relationship with God, we are susceptible to deception. The serpent can come along and challenge what we believe to be true. Did God really say?
Notice the following way in which the thief deceived the woman. But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil. Genesis 3:4,5
The serpent basically told the woman that God was lying to her. Withholding something good. Not wanting her to be in the know. As you can see, from observation, the serpent knew that the woman was weaker in her faith than her husband.
The woman had trust issues. Somehow through observation, the serpent knew this. Notice then how the serpent appealed to the woman’s vanity.
So, when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. Genesis 3:7
Trust issues many times are a result of rejection. The Bible does not explain why the woman felt rejected or left out. We can only speculate. We know that trust issues can cause us to doubt the sincerity of others. When we have trust issues with God, we doubt his word. We cannot believe that the Lord has his best interests in store for us. We somehow think God doesn’t care or that he loves others more than he loves us. When we think along those lines, we are a prime target for the serpent’s wiles.
The thief comes to steal. That is his objective. The serpent example tells us that if we don’t trust God’s word, the thief will bring something along to entice us into walking away from the Lord. He will bring something our way that looks good to our flesh. Something that appeals to our vanity and desire to be noticed.
What is a remedy for our rejection and trust issues? How can we guard against his deception?
Recognizing we have a weakness in that area for one thing but also to run to our Father in heaven! Cry out to him to shower us with his love and affection. He has promised to do that.
Draw near to me and I will draw near to you!
Seek his face. Confess your weakness. Make the Lord your refuge! Ask him to heal your insecurity!
I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore, I have continued my faithfulness to you.Jeremiah 31:3
The word of God is so powerful that it can set captives free, make the blind see, and give understanding to the simple. In my neck of the woods is a coffee shop where many people with developmental disabilities hang out. I like to sit with them and enjoy their fellowship when I go there. I get the opportunity to share Jesus and be their friend. One particular guy I call the “Bible man” always carries a Bible with him. He quotes scripture about everything! One day we were sharing about the word of God when he looked at me and said, “It’s not all intellectualism, is it, Kim?”
The Holy Spirit is all over this guy all the time! It’s wonderful! I knew immediately that Holy Spirit had just spoken to me out of that guy’s mouth! I pondered the statement and discussed it with the Lord afterward. He revealed that his word is so powerful that it bypasses human reason. That man considered slow by human standards has more Holy Spirit power in his life than most Christians! Why? Because he is full of the word of God!
For every situation, this guy has a scripture. That’s all he talks about! If someone is struggling, he will give a scripture. If anyone has a need, he gives a scripture. Only some people receive what this guy has to say, though. I heard complaints once. “Oh, all he talks about is the Bible! That’s too much!”
I replied, “Well, that’s why he has the power of God in his life!”
They all became silent. No one disputed it!
Jesus told us that faith in his word could move mountains! He said his word had the power to heal, set free, and deliver. Jesus would often ask a person a question before he laid hands on them for healing. He would say, “Do you believe I can do this?”
The key to receiving our miracle from God is to believe his word! If we do not believe God’s word, we will not receive what the Lord has for us.
“For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it.” Hebrews 4:2
The ‘Bible man,’ full of the word of God and Holy Spirit power, sits among people all the time, but many remain oppressed and defeated. Why? Because they look at the natural. They have their eyes on material things. How could a simple man help them?
How can a simple carpenter heal the sick and do many mighty miracles? We need to see things the way God sees them. Even in the mouth of a donkey, the word of God is a powerful force of miraculous power. Take, for example, the prophet who wanted to curse the Hebrew children. The Lord gave the donkey speech to bring forth his word. (Numbers 22:21-38)
Paul told us not to regard any person by the flesh but by the Spirit because those born of the incorruptible word of God are temples of the Holy Spirit. (2 Corinthians 5:16)
Often, the flesh is weak, and we may not understand or even like the vessel born of God, our brother or sister. That’s alright. We are all a work in progress! However, we need to remember that God uses imperfect people. No one will be 100% to our liking until we go home to glory! But if we look to Holy Spirit inside that person, we can receive from their gift.
I learned over time as a Christian that God’s word is powerful no matter who speaks it! If it’s pure and unadulterated! I have learned that a vessel may be used by God for our benefit if we are open to looking past the flesh.
I don’t always get along with my husband. We have different ways of doing things, but I know he has a healing anointing. If the devil tries to put sickness on me many times, I go to him for prayer because I believe in God’s word. I get healed every time!
God’s word is so powerful that it can change any circumstance! All we have to do is believe it! Will we get tested by Mr. Devil? Yes, for sure, but if we trust in the Lord’s word above every other word, he will honor his word in his way and in his time!
God’s word is yes, and amen! God can’t lie! I tell the devil that all the time! “You are a liar, devil! God told me, and he cannot lie! Get away!”
Do you want to prosper and be in health? Do you want to walk in Holy Spirit’s power? This is the instruction I got from the Lord. Obey what he says, and you will find your life transformed!
Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the Lord; andin his law doth he meditate day and night. And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper. Psalm 1:1-3
Scriptures tell us that without faith, it is impossible to please God. (Hebrews 11:6)
Since this is true, it is important to understand faith and how it works.
According to scriptures (Hebrews 11:1), FAITH (trust in God, truth, reliance, belief) is the substance or confident assurance of things HOPED FOR or expected, the EVIDENCE or proof of things (material objects, business, things that work, matter) not (none, nothing, without, never) seen. (behold, sight, take hold, look, perceive)
In other words, Faith believes God’s word and trusts in it with confident assurance, without any material evidence or proof of things visibly seen or perceived with the mind.
To please God, you must have faith in his word and what it says above anything you see, hear, or feel in the material world, expecting what he says in his word to occur or be materialized.
Now that we know what faith is, we need to understand how faith works. According to the scriptures, Faith without works is dead, being alone. In other words, if I say I have faith but do not act or work on what I believe, my faith will be inoperative.
James gives us a classic example. He says what profit or gain do I get if my actions are contrary to my faith. Notice that James tells us that if I SAY or speak that I have faith in God but do not act on my faith, my faith is dead or void.
James is talking about salvation or our Christian witness in this context, but if you read the gospels or Paul’s account in the book of Hebrews about faith, you can see faith in action within a broader sense. Faith in God can be used for salvation and other means, such as provision, healing, and deliverance.
James gives the example of applying work to feeding and clothing the poor to demonstrate our faith in action. This same principle is to be applied in all aspects of faith. Let’s take a nonmaterial example.
When Jesus entered Capernaum, a centurion came to him, asking for help. He said, Lord, “my servant lies at home paralyzed. He is suffering terribly.”
Jesus said to him, “Shall I come and heal him?”
The centurion replied, “Lord, I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. But just say the word, and my servant will be healed.” Matthew 8:5-8
Jesus was pleased with this answer because it demonstrated his faith in God’s word without needing evidence or material representation.
Another example is the woman in a crowd following Jesus, who had suffered for many years with constant bleeding. She had gone to many doctors over the years, spending everything she had to pay them, but she got no better. She heard about Jesus healing the sick, so the woman came up behind him through the crowd and touched his robe. She told herself that if she could touch the robe of Jesus, she would be healed.
Notice that this woman had faith or trust in the Lord’s healing power and was willing to push through the crowd to touch his robe. In other words, this woman was putting action to her faith.
Immediately the woman’s bleeding stopped, and she was healed. When Jesus realized that healing power had gone out from him, he turned around and asked who had touched him.
When the woman told Jesus it was her, he said. “Your faith has made you well. Go in peace. Your suffering is over.”
This woman was healed because she trusted the Lord’s healing ability. She did not even need his attention or any demonstration from him. She simply believed.
I had a similar experience that I will share with you. When I was pregnant with my 4th child, I began to bleed. I thought I might lose my baby. I went up for prayer at a church meeting, and when the speaker laid hands on me, I felt the healing anointing go into my body. But as I walked away, I began to bleed profusely. I cried to the Lord, What happened? I felt your healing power but now this. The Lord taught me a valuable lesson. His Holy Spirit spoke to me and said, “What will you believe? What I just did in manifesting my healing power or this situation?”
I replied, “I’m going to believe you, Lord.”
As soon as I said that, my bleeding stopped, and I went on to deliver my son.
This example taught me that if I had come in agreement with the material world and the evidence of the material world instead of God’s word, my child would not have been born. Our prayers will get aborted if we don’t trust the Lord but look to the material world instead.
There are some things doctors cannot do. The woman with an issue of blood went to all the doctors. They couldn’t help her. But Jesus could.
Now that you know what faith is and how it works, I will show you what faith isn’t.
Faith is not presumption. Faith is not getting your way and your will. Faith is not to be used for greed, selfishness, or pride. Unfortunately, unscrupulous people, used by the devil, have infiltrated the church and tried to discredit faith in God. Many people have been hurt by this infiltration.
A spiritual principle in this life is that when God sows his seed, Satan sows his. If you remember this, you won’t get upset when the devil tries to come into the church to discredit God’s work. Instead, you will pray and take authority over him, so he gets the boot out!
Jesus said, if you ask anything in my name, I will do it, but he mentioned in another scripture that it must be according to God’s will. Is it God’s will to heal everybody? Yes, because sickness is demonic. It is not from God. However, we don’t know all the circumstances concerning an individual and their personal walk with God. Many things will hinder healing, such as unbelief, unforgiveness, generational sins, etc.
Since we don’t know all the circumstances, and we are not the healer, we pray and leave the results to God. For personal healing, we can seek God and examine our hearts, repenting of anything he shows us that may hinder us from receiving. Jesus did not go around healing everybody, if you notice in the scriptures. He healed only those with faith in his healing ability. They came to him for healing or he went to a specific person.
It is the same with anything else we need, like salvation, provision, deliverance, or a miracle.
Faith must be in God’s word and line up with all the context of God’s word. Many have used the faith message to get rich. Do you know that Satan can make you rich? He will answer your prayers if it’s your obsession! That way he will take you to hell for idolatry!
God answers our prayers if they align with his word and will for us. God does make some people rich because they have a ministry of giving into the kingdom of God. Jesus does not make people rich to show off and live like movie stars!
God wants us to have faith in his word, to do his work in the kingdom of God, and bring him glory! We must have pure motives.
There are many work principles in scripture for our needs. If you need provision, give to a need. Giving is the spiritual principle for receiving.
When I was a young mom, we were living in the ’80s in Canada. In America, they were doing well but in my country, jobs were scarce. My husband had a hard time finding work. One time we got really low on food. I prayed then I gave my last 2 dollars in the offering plate on Sunday.
After service, a widow lady gave me an envelope. She told me that the Lord told her to give it to me. It was 100 dollars! I could tell you many such stories about God providing for us!
Sometimes you cannot do much but just pray and trust the Lord, but at other times you can do something!
I will give you one last example. When I was pregnant with my first child, my neighbor friend, a Christian, had been trying to have a baby for many years, but she had not gotten pregnant. The Lord gave me a word for her. “Fix that baby room, paint, buy everything you need, and trust God!” I told her.
She did just that and very shortly got pregnant. She gave birth to a beautiful little girl!
It is important to get God’s mind in a situation. Then when we have his word, we stand on it, pray it forth and wait for him to bring it to pass in his way and in his time!
Trust in the Lord, and do good, so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed. Psalm 37:3