The practice of witchcraft has dramatically increased throughout the world in recent years. One of the expressed goals of this movement is to destroy biblical Christianity. Many Christians are presently suffering some form of attack from those who practice witchcraft. Discerning the nature of these attacks, and knowing how to overcome them, is becoming crucial for all believers.
What is Witchcraft?
Witchcraft is counterfeit spiritual authority; it is using a spirit other than the Holy Spirit to dominate, manipulate, or control others.
In Galatians 5:20, the Apostle Paul named witchcraft, or “sorcery,” as one of the deeds of the flesh. Though witchcraft has its origin in the carnal nature of man, it usually degenerates quickly into demonic power. When we try to use emotional pressure to manipulate others, it is a basic form of witchcraft. When we use hype or soul power to enlist service, even for the work of God, it is witchcraft. When businessmen scheme to find pressure points while pursuing a deal, this, too, can be witchcraft.
Many of the manipulative tactics promoted as sales techniques in marketing are basic forms of witchcraft. The primary defense against counterfeit spiritual authority is to walk in true spiritual authority. Establishing our lives on truth and trusting in the Lord to accomplish what concerns us are essential keys to becoming free from the influence and pressure of witchcraft.
The attacks of witchcraft come in a series of stings. The successive stings are meant to hit the very places where we have been weakened by the previous stings. In this way they build upon each other until the cumulative effect overwhelms the target. The stings of witchcraft usually come in the following order:
- Loss of Vision
This process can happen quickly, as it did with Elijah, but it usually works more slowly, which makes it even more difficult to discern. However, if we know the enemy’s schemes we will not continue to be subject to them. When these symptoms begin to make inroads into our lives, we must resist the enemy until he flees. If we do not resist him, we will be the ones fleeing, just like Elijah.
The source of witchcraft used against us may not be the obvious satanic cults or New Age operatives. It can come from well- meaning, though deceived, Christians who are, in effect, praying against us instead of for us. These misguided prayers have power, because whatever is released on earth is released in heaven, and whatever is bound on earth is bound in heaven. If intercession is motivated by a spirit of control or manipulation, it is witchcraft, and its power is just as real as that of black magic.
Other sources of charismatic witchcraft can be things such as gossip, political maneuvering, and jealousy; and they can have an effect on us whether we allow ourselves to be manipulated by them or not. For example, consider the result if we refuse to be manipulated by someone who has a control spirit, but allow ourselves to become resentful or bitter toward that person. In such a case, the enemy has still caused us to fall, and the discouragement, disorientation, and depression will come upon us just as surely as if we had submitted to the control spirit.
We are defeated by the enemy when he can get us to respond in any spirit other than the Holy Spirit, whose fruit is love, joy, peace, and so forth (see Galatians 5:22-23).
The enemy’s strategy is to cause us to depart from the fruit of the Holy Spirit and try to combat him on his own terms. Satan cannot cast out Satan; resentment will never cast out Jezebel—it will only increase her power.
That is why the basic strategy we must use to begin freeing ourselves from the power of witchcraft is to “bless those who curse us” (see Luke 6:28). This does not mean that we bless their works, but that we pray for them and not against them. If the enemy can get us to retaliate, he will then have us using the same spirit, and we will have multiplied the very evil we were trying to cast out.
We are not warring against flesh and blood, and the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but spiritual. When we begin to pray blessings upon the people who are attacking us, then the evil power of control and manipulation is broken over both them and us. We must not return evil for evil, but we must “overcome evil with good” (see Romans 12:21).
Sting 1: DISCOURAGEMENT
Everyone gets discouraged at times, and it can be for many different reasons, so this is not always the result of witchcraft being used against us. However, if we become subject to increasing discouragement for no apparent reason, witchcraft should be considered as a possible source.
When your difficulties seem insurmountable and you want to give up, even though matters are really not any worse than usual, you are probably coming under spiritual attack. The enemy’s attempt to afflict you with discouragement is meant to weaken you for the next level of attack, which is:
Sting 2: CONFUSION
Again, we must look for a general and increasing “spirit of confusion” for which there is no apparent reason. Here we begin to lose our clarity as to what we have been called to do, which of course will weaken our resolve. This confusion is meant to compound our discouragement, making us even weaker and more vulnerable to further attack, which will usually come in the form of:
Sting 3: DEPRESSION
This is a deeper problem than simple discouragement. It is an unshakable dread that comes as a result of the combined effect of discouragement and confusion, along with a general negligence in spiritual disciplines that have usually slipped in by this time. This will become an increasingly prevalent problem in the last days, and we must gain victory over it. If we do not, it will quickly lead to the next sting:
Sting 4: LOSS OF VISION
This is the goal of the previous stings, and it works to increase their effect. Here we begin to doubt that God has called us to the task in the first place. The only way that we can sail through the storm of confusion is to hold our course, but we cannot hold our course if we do not know where we are going. We will not try to hold our course if we begin to think it was wrong for us to ever pursue our vision in the first place. Such a loss in vision will lead to our drifting in circles at the time when we most need to “make straight paths for your feet” (see Hebrews 12:13). This sets us up for the next level of assault:
Sting 5: DISORIENTATION
The combined result of depression, confusion, and loss of vision is usually disorientation. By this time, not only have we forgotten the course we are supposed to be holding, but we have even lost our ability to read the compass. The Scriptures will no longer speak to us, and it is a struggle to trust the Lord’s voice or receive much encouragement from even the most anointed teaching or preaching. This is the point of spiritual incapacitation, the inability to function, which results in:
Sting 6: WITHDRAWAL
When disorientation sets in, it is tempting to withdraw or retreat from our purpose in the ministry, our fellowship with the rest of the church, and often from our families and others we are close to. Withdrawal will result in:
Sting 7: DESPAIR
Withdrawal from the battle leads quickly to hopelessness and despair. Without hope we can easily be taken out by the enemy, either through temptation, sickness, or death. Science has proven that when hope is removed, even the healthiest person will quickly deteriorate and die. But with hope, men and women have lived long past the point when a normal body should have quit. Despair will always lead to:
Sting 8: DEFEAT
The enemy’s purpose is to weaken us so that we begin to fall further and further behind—then we can be picked off more eas- ily. In Scripture, the Amalekites were typical of Satan and his hordes. It was the practice of the Amalekites to attack the weak and the defenseless. As the camp of Israel crossed the wilderness, the Amalekites picked off the loners or stragglers who fell behind the rest of the camp.
This is what the enemy seeks to do through witchcraft. He seeks to weaken believers so that they will begin to fall behind the rest of the camp and become easy prey. This is why Israel was told that there would be perpetual war with the Amalekites. When Israel’s kings were commanded to fight them, they were also commanded to utterly destroy them and not take any spoil. We have a perpetual war against Satan, and we cannot take any prisoners. Neither can we use that which is his in the service of God.
King Saul disobeyed this command. He kept Agag alive, king of the Amalekites, and kept some of the spoil “to sacrifice it to the Lord” (see I Samuel 15:15). This represented a failure of the most foolish kind for one called to lead God’s people. In those days, keeping a rival king alive after a battle was only done for one of two reasons: to make him an ally or a slave. Saul foolishly thought that he could make the one who personified Satan himself into an ally or a slave.
It was no accident that it was an Amalekite who killed Saul and carried the news of Saul’s death to David. This Amalekite thought that the news would be pleasing to David, but David was discerning and had him killed (see II Samuel 1:1-16).
If we do not obey the Lord and utterly destroy the enemy we battle, he will end up finishing us off. There can be no alliance with the enemy; he and his hordes must be utterly destroyed. Neither let us be foolish enough to think that we can use the enemy as our slave; in his guile he will quickly turn the tables.
Witchcraft is being used against the church. Many who have failed to recognize it have been defeated—losing their vision, their ministry, their families, and even their lives. This is not sensationalism; it is fact. Paul said that we do not wrestle against flesh and blood but against principalities and powers (see Ephesians 6:12). Wrestling is the closest form of combat.
The enemy is going to fight, and he is going to wrestle with us. If we decide we are just not going to fight, we will get pinned!
As Christians, we have no option as to whether or not we are going to do spiritual warfare—if we want to survive, we must fight. How do we combat this witchcraft? We must first look at the basic principle of spiritual warfare required for every victory.
The Road to Victory
In Revelation 12:11, we see that the saints overcome Satan:
- By the blood of the Lamb,
- by the word of their testimony, and
- by loving not their lives even unto death.
We overcome by the blood of the Lamb as we take our stand on what He has already accomplished for us through the cross. The victory has already been won, and there is no way we can lose, if we abide in Him.
The word of our testimony is the Scriptures. Every time the enemy challenged Jesus, He simply responded with Scripture, countering the enemy’s temptation with God’s truth. The Word of God is “the sword of the Spirit” (see Ephesians 6:17). With the sword, we can deflect the blows from his deceptive words, as well as attack him. Of all the pieces of armor we are commanded to use, the sword is the only offensive weapon (see Ephesians 6:10-18).
That they “did not love their lives to the death” (see Revelation 12:11 NKJV), is the utter commitment to follow Him regardless of the price. We are called to take up our crosses daily, to do all things for the sake of the gospel, and to no longer live for ourselves but for Him.
To the degree that we remain in self-centeredness, we will be vulnerable to the enemy’s attack. When we have reckoned ourselves dead to this world, as crucified with Christ, then the enemy no longer has any access to us because he has no more access to Him. What can be done to a dead person? It is impossible for the dead to be offended, tempted, fearful, depressed, or to be continually looking for the easy way out, since they have already paid the ultimate price.
All of these—the blood of the Lamb, the word of our testimony, and a commitment to lay down our lives, are required for spiritual victory. Anything less will fail to bring a complete victory. We may make occasional, halting advances, but we will sooner or later be pushed back.
However, it is clear that at the end of the age an army of believers will be raised up who will not settle for occasional advances—they have committed themselves to the fight and will not stop until there is the total victory. “The earth is the Lord’s, and all it contains” (see Psalm 24:1). Until the earth has been completely recovered from the domain of Satan, our fight is not over.
No one will fight to win if they do not believe victory is possible. Many teachings have been promulgated that declare the church’s defeat before Christ’s return. Yet the whole prophetic testimony of Scripture is that the Lord, the church, and the truth are going to prevail. Satan is indeed being cast down to the earth, bringing with him a time of trouble like the world has never known before—but we will still win!
Isaiah 14:16-17 says that when we see Satan, we are going to marvel at the pitiful nature of the one who caused so much trouble! The Lord, who lives within the very least of the saints, is much greater than the combined power of all antichrists. These times are not to be feared—this will be our finest hour! As Isaiah 60:1-2 declares, when darkness is covering the earth, the glory of the Lord will be appearing on His people.
The darkness will just make His glory upon us appear that much brighter. We must start fighting in order to win, giving no more ground to the enemy, and taking back what he has usurped. To effectively combat witchcraft, we must determine that we are going to resist Satan until he flees from us. Our goal is more than just driving the enemy out of our own lives; we then must pursue him until he is driven out of others in whom he has established a stronghold.
Adapted from Overcoming Witchcraft, Combating Spiritual Strongholds Series, Rick Joyner © copyright 1996, 2010, published by Morning Star Publications
Image Credit: Heavens Call