How to deal with supernatural manifestations

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Demonic manifestations vs. Holy Spirit manifestations

supernatural manifestationsWe can conclude that a manifestation results from a demonic presence if it begins when a preacher or member of the ministry team starts praying against demonic oppression. However, the opposite is true when the minister or team member prays for a blessing, direction, or endowment of a spiritual gift. Any manifestation under these conditions is probably of the Holy Spirit.

There may be occasions when the circumstances of a particular ministry time do not indicate if a physical manifestation is an effect of the Holy Spirit or if a demon is manifesting. In such cases, observe the following:

If the person through their physical manifestation is physically hurting himself, herself, or anyone else close by or if they attempt to bite or scratch it is clearly a demonic manifestation. Self-flagellation is a clear indication of demonic manifestation.

The physical appearance or semblance of a person can indicate a demonic presence. These signs include bodily or facial contortions, sudden or strange changes of voice; refusal to look the minister in the eye, rolling back of the eyes so that only the white part is visible, yelling, screaming or hostile behavior.

Other things that suggest demonic presence are:

  • Sudden headaches
  • Nausea
  • Sudden violent actions
  • Destructive movements like kicking or breaking furniture
  • Whistling, mocking
  • Scratching or tearing movements
  • Uncharacteristically obscene language

However, if a manifestation appears when you are ministering to a sick person, it could be a sign that the Holy Spirit is working in his or her body. Such manifestations are generally smaller, like feelings of heat, tingling or electricity pulsing through part of the body, fluttering eyelids, falling on the floor or a quiet ceasing of any movement, or sometimes laughter.

In situations where there is any doubt, ask the person whether they are feeling good or bad. If the person feels peace then the Lord is speaking and the Holy Spirit is working. If the person feels afraid and hopeless or under a spiritual attack, or if he does not answer in his normal voice, it is probably a demonic manifestation. The gift of discerning of spirits and the leading of the Holy Spirit are very valuable tools at these times. Pray for the gift and ask the Holy Spirit to come with his direction in your ministry times.

Your personal preparation

1. Above all, this should be a ministry of love

Behind all deliverance, there must be a loving heart from God for suffering souls. Pray daily for grace to manifest more of the love of God that has been poured into your heart and to be a channel of His love for others. When the ministry of the Holy Spirit becomes evident, pray specifically for His love for those to whom you minister. The principal objective of the ministry is not to punish demons, but to help people who God loves.

2. The key to deliverance is to use the authority of the name of Jesus

Demons respect authority. If another person “dilutes” the authority of the leader during the ministry time, assuming any self-authority, he or she will complicate the situation and prevent the leader from effectively dealing with the demon that is involved.

Limitations of a deliverance ministry

It is useless to cast out a demon . . .

  • Against the will of the person who is oppressed
  • If the person isn’t willing to change the lifestyle that caused the oppression
  • When it is contrary to a pact that the person has with Satan, unless he specifically and audibly renounces the specific pact

Under these circumstances, the demon will return, bringing several others with him.

When an unclean spirit goes out of a man, he goes through dry places, seeking rest, and finds none. Then he says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ And when he comes, he finds it empty, swept, and put in order. Then he goes and takes with him seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter and dwell there; and the last state of that man is worse than the first. So shall it also be with this wicked generation. (Matthew 12:43-45)

The minister must keep in mind that a demon cannot oppress anyone unless in some way he gains legal access provided through the person’s lack of forgiveness, hate, abuse, sin, illicit sex, sickness, trauma or other type of circumstance that gives place to evil spirits. We call this type of access “open doors”.

Demons are very legalistic, generally refusing to leave a person unless the victim verbally renounces the demonic access points. There is a double objective in deliverance ministry:

  • Cast out or send the demons away
  • Close all doors of legality to evil spirits to enable the person receiving prayer to maintain his or her deliverance.

When to begin ministering

Ask the Holy Spirit to come and help you before the ministry time. The Holy Spirit takes great pleasure in helping you to minister to people. Ask for his help and wait for his direction during each step of the way. He will help you!

Remember that the person that is receiving prayer is probably a hurting person. He or she may have gone through several verbal and physical abuses, traumas, frustrations, conflicts, satanic rituals, or extended sicknesses. The person may cry excessively or may suppress their grief and sadness. Do not hesitate to suspend the 10-step prayer model in order to heal these wounds. You may need to do this several times during the ministry time.

Generally, it is more effective to work with a team of two or three people with one person leading and the others offering prayer support, discerning, note taking, etc. However, to avoid diluting the authority of the leader, generally the others should refrain from speaking directly to or touching the person receiving ministry and should communicate with the leader through written notes or by speaking softly. The leader will then decide what to do with each suggestion of the support team. In a long period of ministry, the ministry team members can take turns leading one after another.

The precaution of not allowing more than one team member to touch the person who is receiving prayer does not apply to periods of prayer ministry for inner healing. On these occasions, the possible dilution of the authority of the leader is not an issue.

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Grow your Christian leadership influence

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JOSHUA’S LEADERSHIP INFLUENCE

leadership-influenceLeadership is influence, nothing more, nothing less. When Joshua was sent to spy out the Promised Land, he was already a leader within his tribe (Ephraim). In the account of the book of Numbers, we see that Moses sent only the heads of each tribe to spy out Canaan (Numbers 13:3). However, Joshua didn’t have much of a significant influence. Perhaps just as Joshua you are also a leader today without much recognition. Let’s analyze Joshua’s case.

Joshua’s leadership in the beginning (Numbers 13:25-33; 14:1-12)

He had no influence – Joshua and Caleb rose up and tried to show the people that they could conquer the land, but nobody believed in them. Maybe you have risen up and have said that it is possible to conquer certain things and that it is possible to multiply your group, but the members of your group choose not to believe in you. Do not be discouraged if your influence is still small.

No one believed in him – Joshua’s report concerning the land was positive, but the people did not believe his words. It is frustrating when the members of a group simply do not believe in the possibility of victory through God’s power.

No one followed him – The other 10 spies were able to convince all the people to follow them, but Joshua was unable to gain even one follower. He didn’t appear to be a very promising leader.

No one respected him – Besides the fact that the people did not recognize him, Joshua didn’t even have their respect, since after hearing him they wanted to stone him (Numbers 14:10). Many leaders feel disrespected, if this is your case, don’t try to defend yourself, let the glory of God raise you up and defend you (verse 10).

How Joshua grew in influence

Recognition comes from consistence. Influence is the result of anointing and character. Joshua was not discouraged by having to walk for 40 years in the desert because of the people’s sin. He could have entered into the land quickly, but he waited and walked with the people for all of those years.

Joshua’s recognition and influence grew because of his relationship with Moses (Deuteronomy 31:1-8; 23) – only an existing leader can constitute another leader. No one can become a leader merely by studying in the classroom; there must be a mentor or discipleship figure that eventually constitutes the new leader.

Recognition grows with time (Joshua 18:1-10) – the words of Joshua in verse three were the same as those in numbers 14, but now his influence and the generation to which he spoke was different. Now he had recognition to lead them ahead. Nothing can substitute time. Joshua and Caleb were the oldest men of the nation when they entered into Canaan (Numbers 26:65).

Recognition comes through character and seeking the Lord (Exodus 33:11) – while Moses would pray, Joshua would not leave the door of his tent. Whoever desires to grow seeks to walk with his discipler. Observe that Joshua is called the servant of Moses. Service reveals character.

So the LORD spoke to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend.
And he would return to the camp, but his servant Joshua the son of Nun, a young man, did not depart from the tabernacle. (Exodus 33:11)

Recognition comes from the transferring of anointing (Deuteronomy 34:9; Numbers 27:18) – after Moses laid his hands on Joshua, he grew in influence and recognition before the congregation.

Now Joshua the son of Nun was full of the spirit of wisdom, for Moses had laid his hands on him; so the children of Israel heeded him, and did as the LORD had commanded Moses. (Deuteronomy 34:9)

And the LORD said to Moses: “Take Joshua the son of Nun with you, a man in whom is the Spirit, and lay your hand on him; (Numbers 27:18)

The power of a recognized leader (Joshua 1:16-18)

So they answered Joshua, saying, “All that you command us we will do, and wherever you send us we will go. Just as we heeded Moses in all things, so we will heed you. Only the LORD your God be with you, as He was with Moses. (Joshua 1:16, 17)

In verse 16, we see three declarations that reveal that the people learned to recognize Joshua’s leadership:

  • All you command us we will do
  • Wherever you send us we will go
  • In all things we will heed your word

HOW TO ADDRESS AUTHORITY

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CONFRONTING AND ADDRESSING AUTHORITY

How to address authorityMany Christians have the idea that to give suggestions or even to make a reasonable complaint is a sign of rebellion. This produces passive churches and crushed the creative potential of the members and consequently the work loses its agility and ability to grow and expand.

As I have already mentioned in other posts, submission does not mean complete annulment of the will and good sense. We can and we must contribute to the ministry of the church and provide input for our leaders so that the work grows and prospers. Sometimes therefore, we will have address authority, give suggestions, give criticism and even confront them. However we must learn how to address authority by take the following precautions;

When addressing authority do not use offensive words

We disrespect authority and offend God when we use overly harsh words. We should never use derogatory adjectives to refer to a leader. However, if we do not use wrong words and are not motivated by rebellion, criticism or suggestions can be given without falling into sin. We see some good examples in the lives of the apostles (Acts 6:1-4) and in Martha (John 11:20-24; Luke 10:38-40).

When addressing authority avoid spreading second-hand comments

Be careful with comments like, “everyone is saying …” Or “pastor everyone is saying …” If someone has something to say they should say it directly to the leaders. These types of comments come from an incorrect attitude, they are unacceptable and reveal a dishonest heart; it is typical of those who have no commitment with the truth or anybody but themselves.

When addressing authority avoid making comments that have no traceable source

Another serious and gravely wrong attitude is to make comments like, “someone told me, but I can’t say who it was”, or “someone told me to tell you, but it’s a secret”. This is unacceptable and disrespectful to authority. Whenever we say something to or about a leader, we must say it in a direct and frank manner.

When addressing authority don’t complain, present solutions

We cannot limit ourselves to complaining; on the contrary, we must present solutions, pertinent, intelligent and valid suggestions, with common sense. Before complaining, we must commit ourselves to making things better and to change. However, if after having taken all of these cautions the leader continues to be indifferent and untreatable, there is nothing more that can be done for him, other than pray and allow the Holy Spirit to do His part (Proverbs 21:1).

The Lord delegates authority, but whoever receives it will never be greater than He. God is seated on His throne high and lifted up, and He himself is in control of His work and His church.

PROBLEMATIC AUTHORITY

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Wrong patterns of Authority

Problematic authorityIt is possible to be a Christian leader and exercise a different authority than the pattern that God has established to be used in the church. On one hand, each member must be submissive to the leadership; on the other hand, the leader must learn how to properly exercise authority. There are various problems caused by extremism or by laxity in the exercise of authority. It is therefore necessary to seek a balance. Below is a list of inherent problems in the exercise of spiritual authority.

Spiritual dictatorship

A type of spiritual dictatorship arises when a Christian leader feels that no one must ever question him in exercising the authority that belongs only to God. Thus they impose a spiritual dictatorship; bringing confusion and conflict, and every suggestion or criticism is seen as rebelliousness. The leader must tolerate disagreements and perceive his limits, since his voice cannot be above the voice of God.

Many pastors and leaders fall into the error of exercising spiritual dictatorship because immature disciples transfer the responsibility to hear God with respect to their personal lives to their leaders. This may appear to be submission but it demonstrates a spiritual sickness the symptom of which is flight from responsibility for one’s own choices.

Signs of a dictatorial leader:

  • Fights for position
  • Struggles with greed and ostentation
  • Stimulates competition
  • Plagued by centralization and egocentrism
  • Falls into uncontrolled ambition and disrespect
  • Insults and threatens followers to get his way (Ephesians 6:9)
  • Curses followers and staff instead of leading with an attitude of gratefulness

Conflict between delegated authority and the Bible

This occurs when the leader gives a direction that directly contradicts the clear direction of the bible. In this case, there is an explicit lack of balance of authority since the authority of the Word is above any delegated authority (Acts 23:1-5).

Customs and traditions imposed upon the Bible

Customs and traditions only have value if they are subject to the Word of God (Matthew 15:1-3). If they are anti-biblical, it doesn’t matter how many centuries they have been in place, they must be eliminated or resisted.

The exercise of authority through manipulation and control

The leader must not annul the ability of the disciple to make decisions. The following is a list of subtle forms of manipulation:

  • Mysticism (Colossians 2:18)
  • Prejudice and judgment (Colossians 2:16, 17)
  • False prophecy (Jeremiah 5:30)
  • Debt of gratitude
  • Emotional and financial seduction
  • Acumen

Authoritarianism

The authoritarian leader exercises leadership through his own strength and oppressive temperament. This type of authority doesn’t last very long, since it is based on fear. Such leaders attract insecure and dependent followers and as a result the church becomes weak and repressed.

We must always seek balance, respecting intelligence, space and disagreement, without however tolerating sin and lack of commitment. God Himself teaches us to reason (Isaiah 1:18) so that we can know his motives and obey with a conscious understanding.

Exclusive authority

Exclusive leadership is exercised through intimidation because of a superior ability, gift or intelligence. Such leaders become exclusive and go to the point of prohibiting their followers from learning from other people and seeking out other sources of information. The truth is, despite all of the intellectual ability and talent that they may possess; these people are insecure and want to maintain their followers through ignorance. Exclusiveness produces fragility and not strength as some imagine.

Perfectionistic authority

The basis of this leadership is obsessive demands in insignificant details. In this situation, the leader afflicts his followers with constant feelings of inadequacy and inability and they feel drawn into a bond of dependency to their leader, which always portrays the image of someone who is super-efficient.

Fear and paternalism

Some leaders fear the exercise of authority because they don’t think that they are spiritually apt to exercise it because they were rejected in the past. Noah did not fall into this deception. Even after he had fallen, he exercised discipline over his son Ham, who was rebellious (Genesis 9:21-27).

Others don’t exercise authority because of paternalism. The paternalistic authority figure paralyzes and incapacitates his followers. The paternalistic leader is possessive and overprotective; he does not tolerate confrontation and considers others incapable in this way producing incompetent, fragile and dependent people. Paternalism is not God’s pattern, and not the proper exercise of authority. Paternity is of God; paternalism is of the flesh.

SPHERES OF AUTHORITY

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Three spheres of authority established by God

spheres-of-authority

God is the basis of all authority in the universe. He establishes all human authority and all human authority is representative of His authority. God has established three spheres of authority:

In the world (Romans 13:1; 1 Peter 2:13, 14; Exodus 22:28)

As it is written in Romans, there is no authority that does not proceed from God, and the authorities that exist were instituted by Him. Therefore, whoever submits to them will never be dishonored. The story of David, recorded in 1Samuel, is an example of this. In spite of constant persecution, he was completely submissive and faithful to Saul, always honoring him. He acted in this way because he did not look at the man Saul, but recognized the authority of God upon him. When we reject delegated authority, we reject God himself.

In the church (1Thess. 5:12, 13; 1Timothy 5:17; 1 Peter 5:5; 1Corinthians 16:15, 16)

God commanded that the church membership submit to the elders of each local church – Paul, inspired by the Holy Spirit determined that elders and bishops oversee the house of God, or in other words, that they have the responsibility to teach the Word, minister to the Saints, and that they should be honored through the submission of the membership. If a leader fails, God will deal directly with him, but submission to him by the church will be remembered before God.

Pre-eminence depends on physical age – there are however indications that spiritual age is more important than physical age (1Corinthians 16:15, 16).

Can women govern or oversee a church? According to the Bible, the answer is no (1Corinthians 11:3). Women can and must serve in a variety of ways through their spiritual gifts, but the man must give direction and carry the pressure that bears on the governing leadership over the church. God has ordained this order and His Word has no expiration date; it is applicable at any time in history.

According to Jude, those who do not submit themselves to authority are dreamers that defile the flesh, reject authority and speak evil of dignitaries. Yet Michael the Archangel, in contending with the devil, when he disputed about the body of Moses, dared not bring against him a reviling accusation, but said, “the Lord rebuke you!” (Jude 1:8). Among the angels, there is also authority and Jude shows the contrast between the attitude of Michael and rebellious men.

In the family (Ephesians 5:22-24; 6:1-3; Colossians 3:18; 20, 22; 1 Corinthians 11:3)

God has established a chain of authority in the family beginning with the father, afterwards the mother and finally the children, among them the oldest having the preeminence. Parents must fear the authority that God has given them because they represent the Lord. Husbands must love their wives, who in turn, must be submissive to their husbands; the children must honor their parents, and servants as well as their owners or employers.

Whoever receives much, much will be required of them. We must learn to submit ourselves to and exercise authority. We must use authority to serve; and exercise it with love, lovingly delivering our own lives as did Jesus, our greatest model of authority.

LIMITS OF OBEDIENCE TO AUTHORITY

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SPHERES OF AUTHORITY AND ITS LIMITS

limits of authoritySubmission is a matter of the attitude of the heart, but obedience is a matter of conduct. Obedience addresses behavior but submission deals with the state of the heart. Disobedience inappropriately touches the holiness of God while rebellion inappropriately touches the throne and the authority of God.

We must always submit ourselves to various levels of human authority, but we don’t always have to obey them. Only God is the object of unlimited obedience. Obedience to men is always limited. If the representative authority gives a clear command against God’s commands, we must not obey it. That is why Jesus said that He came to bring a sword, and that whoever loves his father or mother more than Him is not worthy of Him (Matthew 10:34-37). For we must obey God rather than men (Acts 5:29). In order to do this, sometimes we must displease men.

God has established a hierarchy of authority that is organized in the following order:

•     The sovereign authority of God

•     The authority of the Bible

•     The authority of our conscience

•     Delegated authority

Any delegated authority must be submissive to the three higher levels of authority, besides being limited to its own area of responsibility. Whether it is in the family, in the church, in the government or at work, we must not obey any authority that commands us to sin against God, the Bible or our conscience. We must also observe the following points:

All delegated authority has its limits

An employer can only give orders within the sphere of work. Pastors, leaders or any other authority are limited to the sphere for which they were delegated. No human authority can decide with whom I should marry or interfere in my professional or domestic life.

Not all authority is permanent

Some authorities are temporary and we need only submit to them for a limited amount of time depending on the circumstances.

Traditions and customs imply some real authority

Within the parameters of the Word of God, we must submit ourselves to the customs and traditions of society or the church wherever we are.

Some types of authority are basically functional

•   Authority based on natural aptitude

•   Authority based on instruction

•   Authority based on experience

•   Authority based on the anointing of God

THE 7 LEVELS OF AUTHORITY

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UNTANGLING TWISTED VIEWS OF SPIRITUAL AUTHORITY

spiritual-authorityOnly those who submit to authority can exercise it. Unbiblical practices of authority and submission taught by some people and abuses practiced by others cause many wounds among the people of God. Biblical truths can be taken to extremes and when this happens, lives can be destroyed. God did not call leaders to manipulate the sheep or control their lives. Jesus, our model and ultimate authority never controlled or manipulated anyone. He served, He gave, and He was gracious and generous. We need to exercise authority with love and within the limits establish by God. In order for this to happen, it is necessary to understand the existing levels of authority. The Word of God mentions seven levels of authority. The first three levels are exclusively God’s prerogatives; His ministers can operate in the other four levels.

Sovereign authority

The highest level of authority is sovereign authority. This level must never be questioned or challenged, it is absolute and infallible. This authority belongs only to God and never can be exercised by any man. To assume authority that is not meant for man is rebelliousness. Sovereign authority belongs exclusively to God.

Christ received sovereign authority. This was Lucifer’s ambition (Isaiah 14:12-14), but it was Jesus who received it (Ephesians 1:16-22).

Be careful with those who try to take Christ’s place. Any person who places his anointing on an unquestionable and infallible level is assuming the position of antichrist. To be an antichrist does not mean being against Christ but to try to take His place (Matthew 24:5). In this manner, such leaders constrain people to obey them without questioning, making them think that if they question the leader they will be confronting the Lord Himself and rebelling against Him. Asking God or any person for an explanation is not an act of rebellion. No authority exists in the church to which Christians must submit an unquestionable obedience other than that of God. Humility before God and His leaders is an essential characteristic of the Christian leader.

The authority of the truth

The authority of the truth is that authority which concerns everything that is as true, absolute and unquestionable as God himself (2Corinthians 13:8).

God himself is truth (John 14:6; 1:17; 5:6) – God is truth, the Son is the truth and the Spirit also is the truth. There are not three gods, just one.

The truth is everything that God says (2 Thessalonians 2:12; Numbers 23:19; Psalm 89:34) God Himself is the truth just as His words and His promises are true.

The Bible is the truth (2 Timothy 3:16; Galatians 1:8) – the Bible was inspired by the Holy Spirit of God and therefore is the absolute and infallible truth.

The authority of conscience

We call the conscience the capacity that every man has to distinguish between what is right and what is wrong. Even unbelievers are able to make such a distinction, applying a basic principle: we should not do to others that which we would not want them to do to us.

We must not violate the conscience of others (1 Corinthians 8:12; Romans 14:23) – no man has the right to demand anything from any other man that violates his conscience.

We must submit to it (Romans 14:5, 6; 13) – the Word of God says that we sin when we act contrary to our conscience, since it is the testimony of the truth within us.

From these three types of authority we can conclude that no man whether from the church or the state has the right to force anyone to disobey God, the Bible and his own conscience. Only God may exercise these first three levels of authority. The next four can be exercised by man.

Delegated authority

Wherever the kingdom of God has been established (His government and authority), there is justice, peace and joy in the spirit (Romans 14:17). In other words, when delegated authority is exercised correctly, these are the results that are obtained.

The leaders of the church possess delegated authority – Church leaders merely exercise the authority that Christ delegated to them (2 Corinthians 5:20). However, it is important to remember that such authority belongs to God and He delegated it to us to aid in the governing of the church. We must not exercise this authority by dominating the flock, but with the attitude of Christ: to give our life for the sheep (John 10:11; 1 Peter 5:2, 3).

Delegated authority proceeds from responsibility. Whoever has responsibility and exercises it gains authority. Therefore, I cannot exercise authority over people for whom I am not responsible.

Delegated authority never goes beyond responsibility; the limit of authority is therefore responsibility. Never go beyond responsibility. The opposite is also true: whenever we cease to assume responsibility, we lose authority.

Functional authority

Functional authority is often the basis upon which we establish delegated authority. It comes from ability, competence, experience and training. There is no problem at all in a delegated authority submitting to functional authority.

Customary authority

The authority of customs and traditions is established when these have proved themselves over the years as providing a consensus of well-being for everyone concerned. Some customs and traditions are good, even though they have no Biblical basis. The use of a veil is one of them. Paul appealed to the authority of customs when he spoke about the matter of the veil in the church of Corinth, where using a veil was a sign of submission to God (1 Corinthians 11:16). No church or leadership can ignore local or community customs if such customs do not contradict the Bible.

Contractual authority

Contractual authority implies the authority of the law. This authority governs a society and rules in legal contracts and agreements. Although it is something natural, its origin is divine. Paul said that this authority also was constituted by God and proceeds from Him (Romans 13:1-6).

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