A suffocating spirit was out for destruction as we were contending for revival.
I’ve waited fifteen years to write this article. I implore you to read every word.
As young church planters in one of America’s darkest regions, Amy and I along with our two oldest boys, who were little guys back in 2001, launched Revolution Church. The vision was intense and our passion was for revival that would launch in that strategic city and impact the nations.
Manitou Springs, Colorado is famous for its dark history and present liberal leanings. Rumor has it that Anton Levey wrote at least some of the Satanic Bible from his home there. It’s a quirky town at the base of Pikes Peak near Colorado Springs. We started the church there in a 700 square foot office space and then quickly grew to a core of 25 people. We moved to our second of four ultimate locations, a 2000 square foot storefront right downtown Manitou Springs. It’s there where we met Janet (name changed for the sake of this article).
I’ll never forget the Sunday morning service as the sun shined brightly through the large plate glass windows in our small meeting place at the Arcade in Manitou Springs. Janet was a first-time guest, and she seemed to be attempting to engage during the service. Understand, at the time, Christians in Manitou Springs were few and far between, so it was not common to see Spirit-filled people visiting, unless they drove from Colorado Springs. In fact, I was invited to preach at a Manitou Springs festival the first year we were there. The organizer had no idea what he had done! In the middle of my fiery message, a bold declaration of the power and necessity of the blood of Jesus, a tall man in flowing garments stormed to the front and demanded equal time. This alternate religious, New Age leader was agitated by the anointing. It was uncommon in Manitou Springs and his turf was certainly being threatened.
At the end of the service I invited people to come forward to receive the baptism in the Holy Spirit. Janet sprung from her seat and kneeled at the altar. I quickly realized she was not even saved.
After spending time with her, introducing Jesus to her and ministering to her, she boldly asked a question, “Do you ever pray for people in their homes?”
We agreed to meet at her townhouse that week to pray and encourage her. We had no idea what we were about to get ourselves into.
We arrived one evening, sat on the couch and prayed for Janet and her baby. It was an unusual moment for us as I felt little to no anointing. Something was hindering our prayers. Janet confided in us that she had dabbled in witchcraft and was ready to move on from it. I applauded her courage to break away from what I know is a very strong, seductive spirit. She repented of her involvement and we prayed some more. The breakthrough remained elusive. I asked her if she owned anything inappropriate that she should get rid of. She reluctantly admitted she did and disappeared upstairs to retrieve some items.
She emerged down the stairs with a T-shirt with some occult symbolism on it. She also held the witch’s handbook.
She surrendered these two pieces of occult paraphernalia to us, and we again prayed. I thought it would be easier to pray now that she had removed them from her life. I was wrong. Amy and I didn’t understand why it felt so dead in her home, but we had done all we knew to do. We encouraged her again and prepared to leave. She then asked us, “I’ve heard of anointing homes in oil. Do you do that?” I told her to find some Crisco.
We anointed doorways, windows and anywhere else we could dab some oil. After we finished anointing and praying downstairs, I led the way up the staircase. At the top of the stairs I saw a guest room and a bathroom. I also saw Janet’s room. I was not prepared for what happened next.
I stepped into her room and immediately could not breathe. It felt like I stepped into a swimming pool sideways. I was engulfed with a suffocating, heavy, evil presence. I stepped back outside her room. Relief.
I didn’t share my experience with Amy or Janet, but instead prayed through the guest room and bathroom. I then stepped back into Janet’s room. Crushing suffocation.
I attempted to pray in tongues, but there was absolutely no way I could. Every prayer fell dead to the ground.
I urgently asked Janet if there might be any additional items she should throw in the trash. She slowly, casually looked in her closet and pulled out a couple things and placed them on her bed. That didn’t work. I was gasping for air, but not only air, for the breath of the Holy Spirit! We needed God to move in that place, and quick!
I was very direct with her. I said, “Janet! I will not pray for you and you will not find freedom if you don’t immediately eliminate every single thing from your life that is impure!”
I was standing between her bed and the wall, next to her night stand. She placed several more items on her bed, but it was not helping. One final time, as I was ready to get out of there, I said, “There is something you are holding on to that is much more evil than anything you’ve surrendered so far. What is it? No more delay!”
She reluctantly glanced over to the night stand, inches from where I was, and pointed at something I had not noticed. She said, “Well, that’s where I perform my sacrifices.” I looked at a small altar with ashes all over it. Yes, that was it.
She ran down and grabbed a large, plastic trash bag. We renounced what was happening at that altar and threw it away. Immediately I could pray in the Spirit. The wind of the Spirit was refreshing beyond description. The fire in my prayer was a stark contrast to how debilitated I was previously.
Amy then began to pray with Janet and talk with her. I was praying in tongues and doing my best to hear what God was saying. God instructed me to ask Janet about demons visiting her room. God had given me incredibly precise revelation. I revealed to her that those demons require written documentation about her interactions with them. Her jaw dropped and her eyes spread open. She had never been more stunned at something someone said. I read her mail.
She went to the closet and pulled out a stack of at least 20 spiral notebooks. She said she had much more stored on her computer. She confessed that demons visit her every night and terrorize her. She is forced to write about their visits. That is why she invited us to her home. She wanted the demons to leave.
She put the notebooks and many additional things on her bed. Six trash bags of occult and witchcraft materials were taken to the dumpster.
JANET’S STRUGGLE CONTINUES
After that experience in Janet’s tiny townhouse, you’d imagine she would have gone on toward radical deliverance. Sadly, that didn’t happen, at least as far as we know. She disappeared. We aggressively searched for her and finally, after several weeks, did track her down. She would attend church occasionally, but would manifest demonically at times. She aggressively confronted my wife once and then ultimately vanished again. That was the last time we ever saw Janet, well, sort of. Janet was about to visit some people in their dreams.
HALLOWEEN SEASON IN MANITOU SPRINGS
October in Manitou Springs is always extremely volatile. Witchcraft is rampant and the atmosphere in that town is heavy. Creepy. Threatening. Also, it was my favorite time of the year. We knew we were called to contend against the darkness as we we were advancing toward revival.
Each year in Manitou Springs we’d prayer walk the city as we witnessed small fires in the foothills of the mountains ignite. The flames would dance as thought the mountains were alive. Witches were having their meetings, and we were having ours. We’d never consider hosting a harvest party or other event like that on Halloween. It was all out war, a spiritual war, and we had no option but to be alert, armed in the Spirit and on assignment. It was time for prayer.
The attack during October each year was intense. Three years in a row, precisely on October 31st, our oldest son was admitted to the hospital with a severe asthma attack. The suffocating spirit was assaulting him every October, until God gave us some revelation on how the enemy was assaulting us. We responded and the Halloween attacks on him then ceased.
In 2003, two years after we had planted Revolution Church, and quite some time since we’d seen Janet, Amy was pregnant with our third child. One night, in the middle of October, Amy shot up in bed, frantic, and woke me up.
She was shaking. She said she just had a horrifying, vivid dream of Janet wielding a large knife. She drove it into my wife’s stomach and killed our baby.
After praying we went back to sleep, shaken but confident that God was in control. The next morning we awoke and prepared for a scheduled church staff meeting at our home. At the beginning of the meeting, I asked our staff for prayer and started to mention Amy’s dream. I was interrupted by one of our staff members. She said, “Amy, I had a dream about you too last night. It was disturbing. I saw Janet with a knife. She stabbed you in your stomach and killed the baby.”
We were speechless. Another staff member was beside herself. She said, “I didn’t have a dream, but I had an vision about the exact scenario you both described!”
Later that day, a friend of Amy’s who had never met Janet or known anything about her called. She was upset. She didn’t want to scare Amy, but she had to share about a dream she had. “Amy, there was this girl (she went on to describe Janet’s unique appearance precisely), and I saw a large knife in her hand. She attacked you, stabbed you in the stomach and killed the baby!”
Amy and I proceeded to do literally everything we could. We prayed, of course. We stood in our authority. We had a powerful deliverance minister and his team conduct a spiritual house cleaning in our home. They reported it was the cleanest house they had ever been in.
A CHRISTMAS EVE TO FORGET
A couple of months passed, and we had shaken off the disturbances that October visited on our family. In fact, we were excited about a special doctor’s appointment on Christmas Eve. We were going to hopefully discover the sex of our baby!
I will never, for the rest of my life, forget what happened in the waiting room. Amy, our two sons and Amy’s parents were there as we waited our turn to meet with the sonographer. Our appointment was the last of the day and doctors, nurses and receptionists were scurrying around, closing up shop and preparing to head out to various holiday festivities. Joy was in the house!
Suddenly, I felt an extremely heavy, holy blanket of grace descend upon me. My emotional strength suddenly tripled at least. I was spiritually tuned in, sensitive, wondering why God had decided to strengthen me in that manner. I was about to find out.
“Amy Burton,” called the nurse. It was our turn.
Amy and her mom joined me in the ultrasound room. Amy laid back as we were all excited about seeing our wonderful, new baby. The sonographer placed the instrument on Amy’s belly, and instantly removed it.
She said, “Wait here. I need to see if I can find a doctor before they all leave for the day.”
The next two minutes were spent in silence. Joy and gladness gave way to nerves.
The doctor finally arrived, took a quick look, and said, “I’m so sorry, your baby has died.”
WITCHCRAFT KILLED OUR CHILD
The next day was Christmas morning. We did all we could to make sure it was a wonderful one for our boys. We unwrapped gifts as we sat around the tree. Literally every single present I got for Amy was either maternity clothing or a gift for the baby. She carefully unwrapped each as her turn came and placed them in a pile to return to the store.
The following day we were in a hospital room, waiting for Amy to deliver Elizabeth Hope Burton.
As the labor inducement was quite a ways from taking effect, Amy said I could go to a late-night prayer meeting a few blocks away. My phone was kept on and I remained ready to rush back to the hospital at any moment. At that prayer meeting, God again strengthened me. Shortly after returning to the hospital at around midnight, we both met Elizabeth.
The doctor was shocked at the cause of death. It was a cord accident. Cord accidents aren’t unusual, but this particular one was. He said he’d never seen a cord wrapped five times around a baby’s neck. Elizabeth was suffocated to death. Witchcraft killed Elizabeth.
WE WRESTLE NOT AGAINST FLESH AND BLOOD
Amy and I bless Janet. We pray for her, wherever she may be. We don’t hold her accountable in any way. She was a hurting, lost young lady. She didn’t kill Elizabeth. Extremely vile, destructive, evil entities did. At the time, we did all we knew to do to help Janet. We also did all we knew to do to cancel the curse and to wage war against hateful, murderous evil spirits. We failed. We learned.
We lost six more babies after we lost Elizabeth, but we are so blessed to have three wonderful boys and two precious girls in the Burton family.
Amy has been a champion. She has ministered to those who have lost babies to stillbirth or miscarriage. She has cried with them, grieved with them, prayed with them and stood with them.
While our faith was hit, it was not shattered. We have learned over the years to war, to wrestle with the enemy and to contend with faith and passion. Life isn’t about some set of rules that Satan has to obey. He cheats. He hates. He does all he can to rip us to shreds, and he wastes no time finding just the best way to do that.
I know many of you who are reading this are already thinking about theological issues with my story. You might think Christians can’t be touched by witchcraft. You’d be wrong.
The slightest open door or lazy approach to intercession, or pride or even ignorance can give the enemy access. He doesn’t fight fair. He knows our weaknesses. In fact, some of you may be considering Job. He was upright, yet struck.
Understand, the blood of Jesus doesn’t grant us immunity. It grants us authority. We need to enroll in the school of the Spirit and learn how to battle. If we don’t fight, the fight will come to us. If we don’t engage, we will be hit.
I held off for fifteen years in writing this article because it’s not a happy story. But, I realized that so much of today’s church has become inauthentic by only highlighting that which makes us happy.
In order to win battles, and ultimately the war, we have to learn from struggles. We must understand the ferocity of the enemy. We need to be in the Word, in prayer and free from even the slightest sin or compromise.
The lesson we learned was not that we were steeped in sin. We weren’t. We were living holy lives as young though immature Jesus lovers. The lesson is that we must clearly understand that the enemy is ready to pounce, and that we must be ready.
HALLOWEEN IS EVIL—AND NO CHRISTIAN SHOULD PARTICIPATE AT ANY LEVEL
Witchcraft is permeating the atmosphere this and every October. It’s time to war, not party. Pastors, call solemn assemblies instead of holding harvest parties. This is an all hands on deck season.
I’ll leave you with some short bullet points that I posted to Facebook earlier today about Halloween. If you didn’t understand before why I so vehemently renounce this unholy day, you now should.
Consecrate a fast; call a solemn assembly. Gather the elders and all the inhabitants of the land to the house of the LORD your God, and cry out to the LORD. Joel 1:14
Eleven reasons Christians celebrate Halloween
- They don't believe witchcraft is a big deal.
- They wrongly think the way they celebrate doesn't involve witchcraft.
- They incorrectly assume Christians are immune to curses and the power of witchcraft.
- They can't imagine the thought of their kids missing out.
- They celebrated Halloween as children and conclude it didn't have any negative impact on them.
- They wrongly equate it with Christmas, which “also has pagan roots” yet is universally embraced by Christians.
- They believe it can be sanitized and Christianized.
- They believe it's a great opportunity to evangelize, but without exposing the darkness or revealing how wicked the holiday is.
- They have fallen for false-grace deception that allows them to be free and have fun no matter what.
- They haven't experienced the wonder and terror of the spirit realm.
- They lack discernment.
Today’s Christian generation in this nation at least is becoming quite the expert at right versus wrong. The fruit from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil has been bit into, and not only does it taste great but it’s being shared among friends. Eve knew she needed Adam to taste and see that the tree was definitely good to make one wise—and the serpent was very pleased.
“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 3:6)
My recent article posted to Charisma Media on the debacle with David Dao and United Airlines and various related Facebook posts resulted in some disturbing retorts.
Time and again professing Christians were speaking as supposed experts in right versus wrong, and many eagerly supported the rebellious behavior of David Dao. They were proud of him for standing up for his ‘rights’ and sticking it to United Airlines. The point that David may or may not be a Christian doesn’t matter. It’s not his behavior I’m addressing, it’s the response from Christians that is disturbing. The behavior of United Airlines or the airport police are non-factors as well, at least in regard to the appropriate reaction we should be supporting. No matter how badly we are treated, we must respond rightly, biblically.
I’m glad Jesus didn’t stand up for his rights when he was wrongly convicted and then slaughtered on a cross. He didn’t have to prove his innocence. He didn’t have to plot revenge. He didn’t have a “how dare they” attitude. He wasn’t analyzing right versus wrong.
His famous words would be well repeated by all of us: Father forgive them, they don’t know what they are doing.
If we support violating Scripture in our attempt to right wrongs we are utilizing a demonic anointing of rebellion and witchcraft to do so. It’s that serious.
There’s an unholy spirit of protest that’s gaining strength in our nation in recent years, and much of the church is cheerleading that spirit from the pews and from the streets. Is there a way to deal with improprieties? Of course, but it involves the fruits of the Spirit. When we advance strategically against the enemy, we can never adopt his own strategies and anointing. The fruits of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control must be evident.
The unhealthy spirit of protest actually plays out every day in churches around the world. People who don’t get what they want, and who are offended by pastors and leaders, do all they can to prove they were violated—while plotting revenge through gossip, complaining, accusation, slander or other devious means.
STOP USING LEADERS TO GAIN WHAT YOU WANT
It’s a spirit of religion that’s driving so much of the angst and anger that’s directed at those who stand in our way.
My definition of religion is: man’s attempt to use God to get what he wants.
Further, when we use other people to selfishly advance in our own lives, especially as it relates to spiritual matters, we can know it’s a demonic spirit of religion that’s driving us. In fact, it was Eve’s desire for spiritual advance that caused her to eat the fruit. It’s appropriate to desire to advance but it’s improper to walk it out by using people and disobeying the Word of God.
In my nearly three decades of ministry my heart is grieved at how often people live defeated and then blame leaders, pastors, parents and others for their misfortune.
I love this Tweet by @IHOPKC:
We can do the will of God in our life without relying on others to open doors or be our source of promotion.
We don’t have to fight with pastors, bosses, airlines, the police or other supposed oppressors. We don’t have to blame them for misfortune. There’s a better way.
I come alive when I see people growing and stepping into their ministries. When they take their callings seriously and give themselves to the process of promotion, God takes notice, and it’s God, not man who will ensure our ministries are fulfilled.
FROM MY BOOK SIX ENEMIES: ENEMY NUMBER SIX—RELIANCE ON MAN
A foundational component of God’s government (His way of delegating and administering) on the Earth is the facilitation of ministry through mankind. God uses people in a variety of very important manners in order for Kingdom life to function well. In this divine and diverse system God has established a system of interdependence. I need you and you need me.
Added to this key truth is the very important principle of submission. We must submit to one another, and we must most certainly submit to our authorities. I address this topic more comprehensively in my book Covens in the Church. We are not called to be anarchists who embrace a non-Biblical methodology of self-governance. God’s government demands humble submission to others in our lives.
It’s from this position and attitude of service where God can more effectively trust His children to become holy dreamers. God can entrust divine missions to us when He knows that our heart is bent on loving others well and preferring them above ourselves.
The problem comes when healthy interdependence gives way to burdensome co–dependence. All sorts of issues arise when we find ourselves being frustrated and held back in ministry and attaching blame to other people. If we align ourselves with this enemy, we’ll be fooled into thinking that the fulfillment of our ministry is fully dependent on our pastor or leader.
Does God use others to help facilitate our ministry? Yes. Are we to take it upon ourselves to determine how others are to facilitate our ministry? No. God has called us to serve. True ministry is actually service. So, as servants, we humbly avail ourselves to others and do our best to help them in their ministry.
Luke 14:8-11 (NKJV)“When you are invited by anyone to a wedding feast, do not sit down in the best place, lest one more honorable than you be invited by him; and he who invited you and him come and say to you, ‘Give place to this man,’ and then you begin with shame to take the lowest place. But when you are invited, go and sit down in the lowest place, so that when he who invited you comes he may say to you, ‘Friend, go up higher.’ Then you will have glory in the presence of those who sit at the table with you. For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”
As we truly embrace the principle of preferring others above ourselves, it will actually feel unusual to expect others to make a place for us and our ministry. Instead of becoming frustrated when a place isn’t made for us, we’ll be at peace knowing that God is fully in charge of our destiny. We can serve well, expect nothing, be fearless of rejection and allow the process of biblical promotion to naturally take place.
When that issue is resolved, you can focus on the journey of personal development and preparation for the ministry that God has called you to. If a call to preach has been burned in your heart, then in due time you will most certainly preach, but not before you are ready. God may use others to create a divine delay in your ministry. Don’t blame others for this speed bump. You aren’t to be reliant on others, but you are to avail yourself to others. Serve them well.
Luke 14:11 (NKJV) For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”
Your promotion isn’t dependent on others noticing your greatness, but rather is on the revelation of your weakness! When humility becomes the driving force in our lives, God gets very excited about the powerful ministry that will eventually flow through us.
John 13:2-5 (NKJV) And supper being ended, the devil having already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray Him, Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He had come from God and was going to God, rose from supper and laid aside His garments, took a towel and girded Himself. After that, He poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded.
Jesus was about to experience mankind enforcing their rule over him. However, no matter how resistant other people were to the ministry of Jesus, God would not be denied! Pontius Pilate couldn’t stop the earthshaking ministry of Jesus. Judas couldn’t. The guards couldn’t. Jesus prevailed.
This act of humility, as Jesus washed the feet of His disciples, was a visible revelation of the condition of His heart and character. Our call to humility is the same. No man can stop what God desires to do through our lives as we surrender in complete humility.
Our destiny will be facilitated in many ways through God’s government on Earth; however no man can stand in the way of our fulfilled destiny. Our reliance is on God, not man.
Often, people will leave churches because their ministry isn’t received. It’s hindered or even rejected. For example, someone may feel a calling to sing on the worship team. The worship team leadership, however, may not feel that this particular person is a good fit for the team. It can be very easy for the individual to allow offense to take root in their heart. Their thought is that the worship leader is standing in the way of God and is stifling the Holy Spirit. This person can easily embrace a divisive spirit, bitterness and anger. So, in frustration they just leave in hopes of finding a more enlightened leader who will allow them to minister.
This scenario tragically occurs every day in churches around the world. Rebellion to authority is embraced along with a heart of accusation as they take their immaturity to the next church on their unhealthy journey to personal affirmation.
Ministry is service. If a church doesn’t need our particular gifting to be expressed, then that’s OK. We serve another way. If God needs us to sing, to preach or to work in a particular function He will make sure that no man can stand in our way. Ministry, though personally fulfilling, isn’t about personal fulfillment. It’s about service.
Check out Paul’s description of ministry:
2 Corinthians 6:3-10 (NIV) We put no stumbling block in anyone’s path, so that our ministry will not be discredited. Rather, as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: in great endurance; in troubles, hardships and distresses; in beatings, imprisonments and riots; in hard work, sleepless nights and hunger; in purity, understanding, patience and kindness; in the Holy Spirit and in sincere love; in truthful speech and in the power of God; with weapons of righteousness in the right hand and in the left; through glory and dishonor, bad report and good report; genuine, yet regarded as impostors; known, yet regarded as unknown; dying, and yet we live on; beaten, and yet not killed; sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, and yet possessing everything.
Are you sure you want to minister? Though the question is sobering and thought-provoking, the answer for all of us must remain “Yes.” We are called to minister, however true ministry as defined in Scripture may be something quite different than many think. It’s a call to wash feet and to die at the hands of others. It’s a tragic yet precious calling.
1 Thessalonians 2:6 (NIV) We were not looking for praise from men, not from you or anyone else. As apostles of Christ we could have been a burden to you …
2 Corinthians 4:8-12 (NIV) We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may be revealed in our mortal body. So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.
If our destiny is to minister (it is!), then we must grab hold of the amazing example of Paul and other biblical leaders. In these two passages alone we discover:
- We are not to seek praise (affirmation, promotion, etc.) from man.
- We are not to be a burden.
- Though hard pressed we are not to be crushed.
Truly, our destiny, as Paul emphasized, is to die. The very people that we wanted our promotion to come through may actually be those that disappoint us and cause our flesh to die. God values the process of killing pride, selfish ambition and other obstacles to pure ministry. We must understand this if we are to come out of this healthy and invigorated! God is calling us to minister with power, and this reality should take us well beyond our own personal fulfillment when we are able to minister according to our own giftings and desires.
Our destiny will not be held back by pastors, leaders, friends, parents or anybody else, but God will use these people to facilitate the process of brokenness that is so necessary in our lives.
As we allow this process to happen, and refuse to indict others, a humble and burning man or woman of God will emerge as a powerful weapon in the hands of the living God!
1 Corinthians 1:26-31 (NIV) Brothers, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things–and the things that are not–to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him. It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God–that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. Therefore, as it is written: “Let him who boasts boast in the Lord.”
It’s from a humble, vulnerable place where we can allow God to flow through our weaknesses. God receives the glory and we boast in Him alone. It’s our reflection of the glory of God that will most quickly result in fulfilled destiny. As we shine Jesus, the world will crave what we have to impart.
Ephesians 4:1-3 (NIV) As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.
So, the message of humility should be quite obvious at this point. The very simple conclusion for us as we pursue a fulfilled destiny and ministry is this: Rely on God and trust His process. God will use people to both encourage us and discipline us. They will be used to refine us and promote us. They are instruments in God’s hands. Don’t get upset at the instruments if they don’t recognize you. Serve them well and trust God to make you ready for the ministry that He has called you to.
Donald Trump revealed some issues that demand discussion.
There is a spirit of euphoria spreading through much of the church thanks to the overwhelming and unprecedented election results. As many of you know, I was one who wasn’t sold on the idea of a Donald Trump presidency, but as it stands now, we must all honor him as the soon to be inaugurated President of our nation. Many are saying he was God’s choice. I don’t know that any of us can know that for certain, but what we do know is that God has established him, just as he does with all leaders, be they good or evil.
That being said, we must contend for God’s purposes as Donald leads us from one national experience into another. We have to pray that his steps are ordered and refuse to complain no matter how vexing his leadership may be.
Then all the congregation raised a loud cry, and the people wept that night. And all the people of Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron. The whole congregation said to them, “Would that we had died in the land of Egypt! Or would that we had died in this wilderness! Why is the LORD bringing us into this land, to fall by the sword? Our wives and our little ones will become a prey. Would it not be better for us to go back to Egypt?” And they said to one another, “Let us choose a leader and go back to Egypt.” Numbers 14:1-4 (ESV)
We do not want to go back to Egypt. And, no, at this point, we absolutely do not want a new leader.
No more cries, no more tears, no more grumbling.
Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. Romans 13:1-2 (ESV)
Donald Trump is our authority and he has been instituted, established, by God. Resisting and complaining can only result in judgment. It’s time to serve, honor, love and contend for revival in America, and we must do so with Donald Trump at the helm of our nation’s government.
And the men whom Moses sent to spy out the land, who returned and made all the congregation grumble against him by bringing up a bad report about the land— the men who brought up a bad report of the land—died by plague before the LORD. Of those men who went to spy out the land, only Joshua the son of Nun and Caleb the son of Jephunneh remained alive. Numbers 14:36-38 (ESV)
Joshua and Caleb determined they could advance under the leadership of Moses into very threatening territory. The others? They grumbled and died on the wrong side of promise. This same scenario is before us today. How will we respond? We need people who will spy out the land, who will view into our prosperous future with Donald Trump in leadership, and bring back a good, confident report. We need pioneers, apostles, warriors who will advance in the face of any enemy, without excuse, without fear.
Now, before you accuse me of equating Donald Trump to Moses, please bear with me. We all know that Donald has some serious personal issues that must be dealt with, but we must also serve him in intercession and by refusing to speak evil of him. We must be his advocates.
That’s my clear message of how we must respond to Donald Trump’s Presidency. Now, at this point I must switch gears. Having an appropriate attitude towards Donald Trump is but the beginning. There are some very real issues to be discussed. There is an issue with the church that must be addressed.
You see, Moses and Joshua were not only focused on taking new territory. They also called for the consecration of the people. Success depended not only on the leader and on the support of the people but also the consecration and continual refining of the people. This is where we must now focus. Attention now shifts from Donald Trump to you and me—the church of America. Repentance and consecration must come. Our tomorrow depends on it.
Then Joshua said to the people, “Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the LORD will do wonders among you.” Joshua 3:5 (ESV)
TROUBLING ISSUES THE CHURCH MUST DEAL WITH AFTER THE ELECTION OF DONALD TRUMP
The reason I was disturbed with the wholesale support of Donald Trump by many Spirit-filled Christians was not because I didn’t believe God could eventually move through his Presidency. The trouble in my spirit, which is still there today, has to do with violations by the church that put our nation at risk regardless of who the President is. In fact, Donald Trump could have a Damascus Road encounter and become a revivalist in the White House overnight, but that wouldn’t resolve the national issues that have been created by American Christians this election season. The enemy is not those who didn’t support Donald Trump. The enemy is a segment of the American church that dipped into corruption in its efforts to elect the President of their choice.
SHRUGGING OFF IMMORALITY
I wish it was possible for me to express to you my thoughts and emotions every time I witnessed Christians shrugging off immoral behavior by Donald Trump. While I didn’t engage with as many Hillary Clinton supporters, the same confusion would have resulted had I heard people defend her indefensible immorality.
The immediate, almost scripted and prepared statement I heard time and again from legitimate, God-loving, Spirit-driven Christians was, “That was in the past,” or “It was only locker room talk,” or other similar verbal and written shrugs of the shoulders. Others often argued that nobody is perfect and therefore we couldn’t hold them to any standards whatsoever. I was stunned!
Further, it was determined that anybody who didn’t sin greater than King David was approved for leadership. This extreme biblical illiteracy is shocking. When a corrupt, indecent politician writes some psalms revealing the cry of their heart for intimacy with God, I’ll listen to you.
Many were defending Donald Trump by reminding us that he’s a baby Christian and that he needs time to grow. The problem? Nobody actually knows if he’s truly converted or not. At the time of the election, the fruit hadn’t started to show. My argument is not that Donald is not saved. It’s that we don’t know if he will or will not continue in the extreme immoral behavior that he has exhibited his whole life. It’s an immature, desperate person who will ignore warning signs in the hope that all is well. We simply cannot minimize immoral behavior. I don’t believe politicians must be Christians, but I do believe they must adhere to a moral code.
Remember, I’m not talking about our new President now. I’m talking about the failures of the church to support righteousness.
When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice; But when a wicked man rules, the people groan. Proverbs 29:2 (NKJV)
I was legitimately concerned that we were risking four years of national groaning by closing our eyes to indiscretions. But, cries for righteousness in our leadership fell on many deaf ears. That is an indictment on the church, not on Donald Trump.
For the life of me I couldn’t find many who would honestly acknowledge how serious the violations and accusations of racism, hatred, sexual indiscretion and other behaviors were. I’ll admit, it was strange. The reaction felt like a well rehearsed political script. The church’s extreme support of a man has, in my opinion, resulted in opening the door to conditional morality and an increase in sexual deviance in our nation. I’m not saying we can’t fight against that tide, but it’s a situation we should not have initiated. If those who supported Donald Trump would have at least admitted the controversy exists, and that they are grieved about his demeanor and behavior, whether its past or present, righteousness could have prevailed.
In 1988 I was at the epicenter of a global, spiritual moral crisis in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. I was near the front of the auditorium at Family Worship Center as I, along with countless news reporters and thousands of other people, watched Jimmy Swaggart famously repent for his sexual sin. The world lost trust in Christianity, and especially in popular evangelists and ministers, that day. The moral code was violated and it should not have been shrugged off. It was devastating.
Years later I had the privilege of leading regional prayer meetings with Ted Haggard in Colorado Springs. Ted also preached in my church twice and, like Jimmy Swaggart, I experienced his tangible, powerful anointing. Like Jimmy, Ted was a true general in the faith. I also felt the impact of failure when Ted gave in to sexual sin. Again, people were shocked, in tears and grieved. They had a right to be.
I also had the opportunity to meet personally with Todd Bentley in Lakeland, Florida during the outpouring. I experienced the power of God on his life too. Then, his failure became known and it rocked many. The outpouring was suddenly over as people lost trust in Todd.
Years and decades later there are many Christians who refuse to support these men of God or even watch them on television. Many of these same Christians were lining up to vote for a man who probably violated the moral code exponentially more than Jimmy, Ted and Todd combined.
Please remember, I’m not talking about whether Donald is forgiven or not. I’m not pointing my finger at him. This segment of the article is aimed at the church.
I’m calling out a permissive, passive church that was so afraid of one leader in Hillary Clinton that they were willing to sell their birthright for another.
No, Donald Trump isn’t a pastor or a spiritual leader. I’ve heard that excuse too. It seemed that people were looking for any loophole to excuse immorality. The argument has resulted in a new standard: give us what we want and we will overlook crimes, lies, sexual deviancy, hatred and anything else necessary.
I’ve asked the question more than once, “What must a candidate do in terms of morality that would make him or her impossible to vote for?” Believe it or not, I never received an answer! What if both candidates in the next election are pro-abortion, but one would limit it to the first trimester while the other supports partial-birth termination? Would situational ethics give us license to vote for a pro-abortion candidate if they were the lesser of the two evils? Truthfully, I believe many Christians would actually cast a vote for a murderer—the lesser of two murderers.
This is what happens when biblical truth and core values are placed on a sliding scale. Those values have been constantly moving in this election and we must repent and react to the new immorality that was introduced as nothing more than locker room talk this year.
Haughty eyes and a proud heart, the lamp of the wicked, are sin. Proverbs 21:4 (ESV)
Pride and arrogance reared their ugly heads during the election season, and much of it in the name of prophecy. “God said to vote for Donald Trump so I’ll assault you until you see it my way.”
Do not speak evil against one another, brothers… James 4:11 (ESV)
I value prophecy highly. I teach on it and one of my signature teachings is on living a prophetic life. We need more prophecy, more people activated in the prophetic, not less. I also value many of today’s prophetic leaders who live in the prayer closet and do their best to communicate the heart of God.
That being said, I’m almost embarrassed to call myself a prophetic Believer today. The rate at which mature Christians are dismissing biblical truth in favor of the apparent word of God of the hour is appalling. We must have a reformation in the prophetic culture of the church if we hope to give true leadership in the trying days to come. The Bible must return to center stage. Logos must be given priority over Rhema. It must again become the plumb line.
I’ll tell you this. The Bible demands that we love one another, but I experienced such nasty behavior from mature Believers just because their candidate was opposed. Shaming, accusations, arrogance and a ridiculous presumption that they were hearing God perfectly, and others were missing God completely filled social media. Friends were lost. Pride drove many of those who were supposedly promoting God’s prophetic word about Donald Trump.
If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 1 Corinthians 13:1-2 (ESV)
We must honor those who didn’t hear God the way we did. We must also promote the Scriptures ahead of prophetic revelation, and value people who are doing their best to rightly divide the Word.
During this election season it was non-negotiable that I give my energy to hearing God through the Word, which also resulted in supporting Rhema revelation. What I mean by that is I believe it’s important, actually critical, that we start with the Bible when making key decisions and then allow the prophetic to bring clarity and to highlight specifics. Instead, many, many people that I talked to were relying solely on dreams, the revelation of other prophetic people, inner senses and other insight instead of hearing what the Word says about the matter. Biblical truth was regularly discounted by many or ignored at any point their prophetic revelation was threatened.
Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people. Proverbs 14:34 (ESV)
This verse was commonly ignored almost every time I shared it. Ears were shut and eyes were closed out of fear that something in the Word would create a conflict in their support of their favorite candidate. My passion is to see righteousness reign in the church even if that means a less desirable leader is in office. Time and again the response I heard was simply that “God said Donald Trump is his man. He’s a Cyrus. God will deal with his heart later.” I’m trusting that God will do that too. But, again, I’m not dealing with Donald in this portion of the article. I’m talking about the many Christian’s exuberance in dismissing clear, biblical truth in favor of pipe dreams in the name of prophecy.
Please understand, I’m not saying that God can’t use Donald as a Cyrus. He absolutely can. Those prophecies may prove to be true. What I am saying is that we were too quick to ignore the Bible in favor of prophecy.
Prophecy is conditional. We see in part. The Bible is unconditional. We absolutely must move in great humility, admitting that we may not be hearing clearly and ensuring we remain teachable and flexible, ready to admit we were wrong at any time.
In a recent Charisma Magazine article I expressed the need for a pastor as President now more than ever. I wrote that when many were using yet another excuse for immorality by saying that we weren’t electing a pastor. Many Christians were laughing at that idea, declaring that we are electing a secular business man, a leader, and not someone who has righteousness as a mandate. Again, I was grieved. Apparently the prophecies trumped (yeah, a pun) the biblical call for righteousness.
Stands for holiness and calls for righteousness actually resulted in attack after attack by Christians who were guarding their prophetic revelation. Prophetic assaults were constant. I’ve heard from many who can attest to this fact.
Add to the unloving, prophetic assaults the increasingly bizarre “prophecies” that people are putting God’s name on, not only in the election but in the Charismatic experience in general, and you have a very strange, contentious situation indeed. Too many in the prophetic community are reaching for little more than coincidences and slapping God’s name on them. This is truly quite dangerous. It’s taking God’s name in vain.
I’d encourage you to read my article titled: Stop the Madness! A Prophetic Reformation is Needed. We must simply put an end to the strange prophecy that isn’t from God, but from the soul. The witchcraft that’s behind that is stronger than we may understand.
PUTTING TOO MUCH TRUST IN MAN
I value leadership and I acknowledge that we want the right leaders in position, whether they are pastors, bosses or politicians.
What we experienced in this election season, however, is trust in man going way too far.
It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in man. It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in princes. Psalm 118:8-9 (ESV)
As I write this, protests and riots are taking place all over America simply because Donald Trump was elected. People were crying, angry, fearful and vengeful after he was voted in. Others were euphoric, rejoicing and overly celebratory. Both sides are putting way too much trust in a mere human being.
When those who lost are attacking and hateful toward those who won, that is evidence that God does not have the supreme place in their lives. The same is true on the other side. Too much relief, happiness and an elevated sense of victory can be evidence that they are putting too much trust in a human being. I’ve seen this result in a nose up attitude that creates division. Pride and arrogance seem to be leading the way for many.
Further, I’m still disturbed at those who were so angry and abrasive toward people who decided they couldn’t support either candidate.
I’m hoping Americans will truly respect the freedom to vote next election by honoring those who search their hearts, pray and decide to vote third party. There has been so much ungodly shaming, attacks and disrespect this election season toward those who exercised their right to vote for whoever they felt God instructed them to. That couldn't be more un-American or un-Christian.
My wife posted this on Facebook:
I certainly agree that we must be obedient to the Lord when deciding for whom to vote, which is the reason I felt I couldn't vote for Trump. I have been called selfish, proud, rebellious. I've been told I don't care about my country, that I can't hear God simply because I felt I needed to stand for righteousness in this matter according to the Word. My liberal friends have treated me better than some of my evangelical friends and that is truly sad. I voted, but not for Trump, Hillary, Johnson or Stein. I shouldn't have gotten flack from Christians for trying to vote as the Bible would prompt me.
I understand why some felt they had no choice (but to vote for Trump). Many times, I almost decided to vote for Trump for the reasons (many have) stated, but in the end it just didn't feel right to me. I was told I was sinning for following my conscious. How did that even make sense?
God fearing Christians were actually more afraid of Hillary being in office. The judgments and criticism was at historic levels, and towards true Christians who were doing all they could to vote according to biblical values.
IT’S TIME FOR REPENTANCE
This election brought out the worst in the church. Is it possible the prophetic revelation that Donald is a Cyrus, that he was God’s choice, is true? It absolutely is possible. However, this message isn’t focusing on that. I’m bringing attention the the ugliness that the church exhibited for all the world to see. From immature prophetic people assaulting anyone who departs from their point of view to minimizing immorality to nearly idolizing a human leader, the church should be licking it wounds. It definitely should be repenting.
We must have a prophetic reformation. We need a movement of holiness. We have to trust God like never before.
With that in mind, let’s join together to display the love of Jesus, pray for God’s established leader of America and contend for reformation in a spirit of repentance.
Our nation’s future depends on it.
First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. 1 Timothy 2:1-2 (ESV)
ESV (Election Season Version)
If my people who are called by my name will be stubborn and debate and seek their favorite candidate for office and ignore their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and overlook their sin and give the land to the lesser of two evils. ~2 Chronicles 7:14 ESV (Election Season Version)
A simple principle found in Scripture is the answer we need for the Black Lives Matter vs. the police tragedy in America.
Anger and fear are erupting in the streets of our nation, and the crisis demands a solution that transcends human common sense. We need God to step in and provide a solution. The ancient wisdom that we need is found in the book of Romans, chapter twelve.
Before we explore that passage, I want to address what I believe to be a calculated strategy of Satan in these last days. I’ve watched him execute his plan via the homosexual activism that has emerged in recent years in addition to other social movements of our day.
While it’s true that many professing Christians need to be rebuked for their heartless dealings with people who associate with certain unrighteous cultural movements, such as the homosexual community, we have to look at how the enemy is manipulating that reality. True, compassionate, loving Christians have been forced into a position of faux sympathy. Instead of standing for the timeless, non-negotiable revelation found in Scripture regarding homosexuality, we have lost our prophetic voice. Most are remaining silent instead of confronting the spirit and dogma of the age, whether it’s through homosexual activism, Black Lives Matter, abortion or other counter-biblical movements. Some are actually surrendering to this spirit and aligning with those who are deviant. Why is this? Fear.
The accusation of the enemy is that we have lost our love for homosexuals (or abortionists or other groups who oppose the truth we embrace) and we have no option but to repent and “prove” our love for these people by affirming (or at least ignoring) their positions, desires, identities and supposed freedoms. Fear is even causing people to avoid saying “Blue Lives Matter,” or “All Lives Matter,” because of accusations that such comments are bigoted.
The devil is forcing Christians to reject biblical principals and to accept his theology of universal affirmation.
Satan himself is calling for a movement of repentance! The demand is to apologize for adhering to timeless Christian truth instead of embracing his more “compassionate” religion (that positions him as god). He is calling the church to abdicate our position of Godly love in favor of a demonic affinity, affirmation and agreement with what is unholy. The enemy is forcing us into a sympathetic position.
Now the chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowd to ask for Barabbas and destroy Jesus. The governor again said to them, “Which of the two do you want me to release for you?” And they said, “Barabbas.” Pilate said to them, “Then what shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ?” They all said, “Let him be crucified!” And he said, “Why, what evil has he done?” But they shouted all the more, “Let him be crucified!” Matthew 27:20-23 (ESV)
The demonic, religious demand was to affirm and release back into society what is unholy, represented by Barabbas, while calling for the eradication of righteous standards, of holiness, represented by the Holy One himself, Jesus. The crowds responded en masse.
Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter! Isaiah 5:20 (ESV)
The demand is to affirm evil and to reject good. Those who refuse, those who stand as true holy soldiers in opposition to the demands of the enemy are threatened and identified as haters. In fact, many Christians will lose their lives in the Tribulation because of this very situation. We will be marked as haters, as being in opposition to what is right and just, and will be martyred.
Today, anytime a Believer stands opposed to homosexuality, we are convincingly accused of hatred. If we oppose abortion, we are anti-woman and anti-freedom. Similarly, if we stand opposed to the rebellion that’s manifesting through the Black Lives Matter movement, we are labeled as racists who are fueled by radical hatred of African Americans.
The results are stunning. Entire Christian (actually, former Christian) denominations are now gay-affirming. They have surrendered to the enemy’s demand to “repent” and to prove their love and sympathy for those who choose to live as homosexuals. Many pastors and churches affirm the woman’s right to choose to end the life of their children. And most recently, Christians are forsaking biblical truth in favor of vengeance and anger toward our nation’s police force.
Satan, though evil through and through, is brilliant. He is duping Christians to submit to his demands for a sympathetic response of affirmation. It’s false love.
How can something so demonic and evil be embraced as loving, compassionate and true?
Satan has been masquerading as God since the beginning.
But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For 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 (ESV)
The highest (or lowest) form of demonic deception results in people being convinced his wisdom is actually good, godly and superior.
Then Herod summoned the wise men secretly and ascertained from them what time the star had appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child, and when you have found him, bring me word, that I too may come and worship him.” Matthew 2:7-8 (ESV)
Satan and those who are advancing his cause want us to believe that they are in union with God. The true motive, obviously, is not to worship God or advance his causes. Their plan is destruction and coerced allegiance to the enemy.
And Jesus answered them, “See that no one leads you astray. For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and they will lead many astray. Matthew 24:4-5 (ESV)
Similarly many will advance deviant cultural norms and promote them as godly when in reality they will lead many astray.
Currently, police shootings and the resulting uprising of the Black Lives Matter movement have the nation’s attention.
Scripture gives us a clear, simple blueprint. Is it possible for our nation to reject the demonic deception and anger that’s ripping our land to shreds in favor of true love?
We don’t have to oppose our nation’s law enforcement officers to prove our love of African Americans. We shouldn’t denounce African Americans who are feeling very real pain to prove our support of law and order. There’s a more godly, effective way.
Here’s the simple, powerful biblical protocol found in the Book of Romans that must prevail:
BLACK LIVES MATTER:
Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Romans 12:14 (ESV)
THE POLICE AND SOCIETY:
Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Romans 12:15 (ESV)
Live in harmony with one another… Romans 12:16 (ESV)
ONGOING TRUTH FOR ALL:
…Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. Romans 12:16-21 (ESV)
God is love. God is judge. There is no conflict and we can expect him to manifest according to his true nature.
I was first introduced to the concept that God only moves and functions positively when I was planting my first church in Manitou Springs, Colorado. What I was hearing was a strange doctrine that didn’t set well in my spirit, but I endeavored to allow God to change my theology if I was unbalanced or incorrect even slightly. Was it possible that God was more relaxed and carefree than I understood him to be? Was his method of Kingdom advance simply a revelation of how good he his?
I noticed quickly that those who were buying into this philosophy were living without a contending spirit. If the unction for prayer was there it was mostly to enjoy God’s presence (which I highly value, of course) but not to interceded with passion and fire. Desire for experience was there, but fervency in mission was lacking.
The second time I dealt with this fast growing doctrine that exclusively promotes God’s happy nature was in Detroit. After a season of truly amazing encounters in the glory of God I was stricken by the Lord with a severe, weighty message—that season needed to give way to a focus on the blood, the cross, brokenness and repentance. Those who were sold out to a culture of positivity found themselves outside of the “happy sauce” they so enjoyed as they were being called into the depths of God’s heart. Those depths include clearer revelations of God’s mission, of his response to the infection of evil in the land, the cost of his Son’s brutal slaughter on the cross, the horror of Hell and the disease of apathy in the church. The reaction of many was to pull back and dream of the good old days as if God had somehow left the room. He never left. He actually intensified and the way he manifested changed. He was inviting us into the deep realities of the age. He was looking for a remnant army to carry this light but troubling burden.
While I always want to grow in understanding of God’s more positive characteristics, I can’t allow myself to stop my learning at that point. I crave to understand God as he is—in fullness—whether it’s positive, negative, encouraging or troubling. Further, I can’t presume he will only move on the earth in a positive fashion. Honestly, you have to be quite lacking in biblical knowledge to presume that he would be restricted to functioning in that manner. God always has, and still does, move in both revival and judgment. They aren’t competing ideas. They are intentionally intertwined. They go together.
7 But the LORD sits enthroned forever; he has established his throne for justice, 8 and he judges the world with righteousness; he judges the peoples with uprightness. Psalm 9:7-8 (ESV)
WE SHOULD BE PRAYING FOR JUDGMENT
33 Then shall the trees of the forest sing for joy before the LORD, for he comes to judge the earth. 34 Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever! 1 Chronicles 16:33-34 (ESV)
We should be singing for joy regarding his judgment!
Let me make something clear right up front—judgment isn’t the result of an evil God doing evil things. Judgment is a vehicle used by a loving God to positively impact those who will respond (though the impact will certainly be negative for the rebellious). Judgment is an act of deep love. It has to be as God is love just as he is judge. He doesn’t lay down love when he moves in judgment and he doesn’t forsake justice when he pours out his love.
We as end-time Christians should be ardent supporters of God’s judgment, of his act of love.
In America, we have a justice system. It’s a good one. I can’t imagine anybody reading this wanting to eliminate it in favor of anarchy. When someone murders, that person should be tried and judged—not because we hate that person but because we want them restored and because we love the others who are in harm’s way if they were to go free. We agree with the judge’s verdict of guilty and with the sentence of prison for the sake of both the murderer and the general public.
If we can trust our nation’s justice system, even with all of its inadequacies, we certainly can trust the judgment of a perfect, loving God, right?
People need to know this! It’s critical that we preach about Jesus as the judge. We can’t eliminate that from the gospel message!
42 And he commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one appointed by God to be judge of the living and the dead. Acts 10:42 (ESV)
I often pray that God will judge me. I actually crave it! I trust him. He loves me and I know that. He’s not evil. He’s not out to destroy me. I need his judgment in my life so any and every issue of my heart is dealt with. I can’t let it fester. It needs to be addressed so I can repent and shift into a life of greater consecration. I know a life that’s compromised by sin can do great damage to me and others. God’s loving judgment in my life will resolve that.
13 The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. 14 For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil. Ecclesiastes 12:13-14 (ESV)
The whole duty of man is to:
- Fear God
- Keep his commandments
Do we understand how critical both fear of the Lord and obedience are?
8 in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. 9 They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might, 2 Thessalonians 1:8-9 (ESV)
If we don’t obey, judgment will come to us. God will deal with our nation in similar fashion, and we should embrace that—because the judgment that comes after we leave the earth is permanent. Our fate is sealed.
27 And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment, Hebrews 9:27 (ESV)
This should result in the fear of the Lord returning in full force to the church!
28 And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Matthew 10:28 (ESV)
The Bible tells us that judgment begins in the house of God. This is good, not bad—though the results can be quite terrible if repentance isn’t the result. If we plan on continuing in sin, I can understand why we’d be anti-judgment. That makes sense. However, whether you are opposed to judgment or not makes no difference—it will come to you if you don’t repent.
Those in the church are most definitely at great risk if repentance doesn’t come. Hell is their future.
26 For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, 27 but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries. Hebrews 10:26-27 (ESV)
Are you starting to see why judgment now is so glorious? It’s a part of God’s divine plan of redemption. In fact, we as Christians are called to enact judgment in certain situations.
2 Or do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world is to be judged by you, are you incompetent to try trivial cases? 3 Do you not know that we are to judge angels? How much more, then, matters pertaining to this life! 1 Corinthians 6:2-3 (ESV)
For example, if someone continues in sexual sin the church leadership is to turn them over to Satan for the destruction of their flesh! When is the last time you saw this happen in a church? Why is such harsh judgment necessary? The Bible tells us its so their spirits might be saved.
1 It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that is not tolerated even among pagans, for a man has his father’s wife. 2 And you are arrogant! Ought you not rather to mourn? Let him who has done this be removed from among you. 3 For though absent in body, I am present in spirit; and as if present, I have already pronounced judgment on the one who did such a thing. 4 When you are assembled in the name of the Lord Jesus and my spirit is present, with the power of our Lord Jesus, 5 you are to deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord. 1 Corinthians 5:1-5 (ESV)
Additionally, we can’t even eat with supposed Christians who are sexually immoral. That type of judgment is mandated. We have no option but to exercise it.
11 But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one. 12 For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? 1 Corinthians 5:11-12 (ESV)
Again, the reason we do this is not because we hate people—but because we love them! Judgment now is restorative. The final judgment is not. Judgment now should be celebrated and welcomed as a way to avoid eternal judgment in the end.
49 So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come out and separate the evil from the righteous 50 and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Matthew 13:49-50 (ESV)
EVIL MUST BE ADDRESSED
When revival comes, that will be the first invitation to the world to surrender their lives fully to Jesus. Those who reject that call will be visited by more direct, negative, persuasive measures—judgment. Again, this is an act of love that will encourage the greatest number of people to respond to God as possible.
Completely different from judgment, however, is God’s wrath. This is what we should be trembling about. When we understand the potential of God’s wrath, and that those who are not in Christ are living under threat of the outpouring of his wrath every second of their lives, judgment will actually be cried out for! We need God’s wise justice to deal with every situation on the planet so his wrath hits as few people as possible.
36 Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him. John 3:36 (ESV)
12 His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor and gather his wheat into the barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.” Matthew 3:12 (ESV)
14 And if anyone will not receive you or listen to your words, shake off the dust from your feet when you leave that house or town. 15 Truly, I say to you, it will be more bearable on the day of judgment for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah than for that town. Matthew 10:14-15 (ESV)
God is much more severe than we often realize! We must address the evil in the land and trusting both revival and God’s judgment are necessary. If judgment doesn’t come, more people will go to hell and evil will overtake the earth. It’s as simple as that.
We can’t fall in love with a God who manifests positively and reject him when he manifests in judgment or wrath.
5 But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed. Romans 2:5 (ESV)
In fact, I believe the rejection of God’s negative traits, of his judgment and wrath, is setting up millions for destruction. How many current Christians will reject God when they see him destroying a fourth and then a third of the earth? How many cursed God when he brought the floods of death to the entire world, save 8?
7 When he opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature say, “Come!” 8 And I looked, and behold, a pale horse! And its rider’s name was Death, and Hades followed him. And they were given authority over a fourth of the earth, to kill with sword and with famine and with pestilence and by wild beasts of the earth. Revelation 6:7-8 (ESV)
18 By these three plagues a third of mankind was killed, by the fire and smoke and sulfur coming out of their mouths. Revelation 9:18 (ESV)
13 And God said to Noah, “I have determined to make an end of all flesh, for the earth is filled with violence through them. Behold, I will destroy them with the earth. Genesis 6:13 (ESV)
How will you react when a holy and just God moves in severe and fearful ways? When God moves negatively, will you presume it’s actually Satan doing it? Or, will fear of the Lord result? This is a critical question!
10 Immediately she fell down at his feet and breathed her last. When the young men came in they found her dead, and they carried her out and buried her beside her husband. 11 And great fear came upon the whole church and upon all who heard of these things. Acts 5:10-11 (ESV)
Will you commit the sin of blasphemy of the Holy Spirit by attributing an act of God to Satan or will true fear of the Lord come upon you?
29 but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin”— 30 for they were saying, “He has an unclean spirit.” Mark 3:29-30 (ESV)
WHERE DOES THIS LEAVE US?
Christian friend, we should be sober, but we can be at peace!
If we are obedient and serving God in love, the Bible is clear—we are in a very good place!
13 By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. 14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. 15 Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. 16 So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. 17 By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. 18 There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. 19 We love because he first loved us. 20 If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. 1 John 4:13-20 (ESV)
There is no fear of eternal judgment if we are in the love of God.
However, please take note of the warning that follows in that passage:
20 If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. 21 And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother. 1 John 4:20-21 (ESV)
Your theology doesn’t save you. Your surrender to Jesus and obedience to him does. We can attempt to rest on the encouragement in the passage shared above in 1 John 4, but actually be unsaved, unprotected from final judgment, if we are haters and liars. If we say we love God but hate another we can’t presume to be exempt from judgment—temporal or eternal.
This is why we must live our lives consecrated and surrendered, fueled by the supernatural grace, the power, of God. If we do, God is well able to keep us.
24 Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, 25 to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen. Jude 1:24-25 (ESV)
Jesus is coming soon as King and Judge. His Spirit is moving on the earth now. Judgment is here and wrath is coming. Love will win and our eternities hang in the balance. I encourage you to trust God’s judgment in your life. Your eternity hangs in the balance.
12 “Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense with me, to repay each one for what he has done. 13 I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.” 14 Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life and that they may enter the city by the gates. 15 Outside are the dogs and sorcerers and the sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices falsehood. 16 “I, Jesus, have sent my angel to testify to you about these things for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star.” 17 The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price. Revelation 22:12-17 (ESV)