We are in a spiritual war. The war has technically already been won; but as with any war, we still need to battle insurgents who refuse to bow to the victorious King. Two of these insurgents have gained significant influence; and we, the Church, are being called to rise up in response. These two spirits have capitalized on two favorite vices of the world-culture. Specifically: abortion and gluttony. I believe the Lord has revealed how we are to respond, but first we need to be clear about the enemy we’re facing.
The Apostle Paul wrote that the enemies we struggle against are purely spiritual. He also specified that the spiritual beings within the opposing army have varying levels of influence and authority.
Ephesians 6:12—For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. (NIV)
Since the war was already won by Christ, these demons have no real authority—only what we grant them. For example, I could be the chief of police in a city; but if I’m buying from the local drug-lords to feed my own addictions, then I’m not able to effectively exercise my authority over them. Instead, I have given them free-reign in my city regardless of the actual legality. In the same way, evil spirits do not have legal authority in this world. Jesus said in Matthew 28:18, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.” Nevertheless, we can easily grant false authority to evil spirits by willfully bowing to their schemes. The more people who bow to the influence of a particular spirit, the more apparent authority it has. When a large population knowingly or unknowingly bows to such a demon, we have what many Christian teachers have called a “territorial spirit.”
The Lord revealed to me two significant territorial spirits who have gained influence over a huge portion of the World population—especially where I live, in the United States. Second Corinthians 2:11 says that we are not ignorant of the devil’s schemes, but I have noticed that this often requires that someone sound the alarm. In an effort to call the Church to action, I want to expose these two spirits for what they truly are and suggest some practical steps toward victory.
The Spirit of Abortion
First is the Spirit of Abortion. When the Lord showed me this demon, He said, “My children have rightly taken notice of this spirit’s assault on the unborn; but the enemy has used the gross evil of infant-abortion to blind the Church’s eyes to the more subtle ways this demon works. Tell My people what you see.”
He then went on to show me the strongholds of abortion that fill our nation. All kinds of Americans—regardless of demographic—are aborting their dreams; aborting their commitments; aborting their marriages; aborting their jobs. Even many Christians are affected: aborting accountability; aborting churches; aborting ministry; aborting visions the Lord has given them; and worst of all, aborting faith. We see this spirit’s influence even in many of our young people: aborting their families; aborting morals; aborting society; and aborting their schools. And people of all ages are aborting their own lives through suicide, euthanasia, drug abuse, and reckless living.
We justify all this by pointing out how the “abortion” makes us happy and comfortable. We’re faced with a difficult situation, and instead of dealing with it, we just abort. This same principle is seen in a woman’s so-called “right to choose” whether or not her baby is an inconvenience who should be murdered. The spirit of abortion has infested the United States and many other nations, prompting people to abort good, God-given things for the sake of our perceived convenience and false comfort.
The spirit of abortion is attacking more than just the unborn. I believe this spirit is ultimately behind the culture and mindset of denominationalism (not denominations themselves, but rather the underlying principle), which states that you and I cannot have unity unless we agree about everything. As soon as a disagreement makes us uncomfortable, we abort fellowship and go start a new church.
This same mindset causes us to shop for churches with a consumer mindset—settling in an organization where we find ourselves most comfortable—rather than going where the Holy Spirit leads us. It works great—that is, until a disagreement at the new church makes us uncomfortable. Thus we bounce from one feeble “commitment” to the next, starting over in every place and never really settling into a family where spiritual momentum can be built.
The influence of this spirit is ultimately behind the divorce rate and broken families, high unemployment levels, a faltering stock market, and more. We, the Church, rightly desire to bring an end to these things in the name of Jesus, but I sense the Lord saying that too many of us have bowed to this spirit in other ways: aborting all manner of “difficult” responsibilities and blessings. In a dark twist of irony, our lack of overall success has even prompted many of us to abort the battle itself—allowing the Spirit of Abortion to carry on unchecked.
This mindset in our world-culture has granted authority to the Spirit of Abortion to spread its evil seed throughout the land. As the church rightly focuses on the tragedy of abortion (regarding the unborn), we have largely missed the greater influence of this spirit. Like the police chief who bows to the drug-lords, we cannot take authority over a spirit while simultaneously bowing to it. Christians will never succeed in changing national laws regarding the unborn until we can start living in victory over other forms of abortion in our own personal lives. We must stop aborting dreams, aborting churches, aborting fellowship, aborting persistent prayer, aborting evangelism, and so forth. We must instead press in for breakthrough in our own lives and refuse to bow to the Spirit of Abortion.
Personal transformation precedes regional transformation. We must seek the Lord in repentance and allow Him to root out every stronghold.
The Spirit of Gluttony
The Spirit of Abortion is only one part of the equation. This spirit works in conjunction with another that the Lord has revealed: the Spirit of Gluttony. This second spirit doesn’t have as much to do with food as you might think. Rather, the Spirit of Gluttony has more to do with the indulgence of self.
This spirit has germinated a culture of self-centeredness in our nation and throughout many parts of the world. We see it in our pursuit of wealth and prosperity at the expense of other nations who are struggling to make ends meet. While much of the world lives on less than two dollars a day, we go about our lives paying more than that for our morning coffee—thinking nothing of the hungry family on the other side of the world who could live for a week on the money we just spent on luxury. Never mind our thirty-dollar trips to the movies and forty-dollar cable TV bills.
These things aren’t wrong in themselves—for one thing, we have a higher cost of living in the westernized world. The evil is found in the mindset behind why we do the things we do. Rather than loving others, we often love ourselves. Rather than seeking the betterment of others, we tend to do what we can to make ourselves comfortable.
This relates to the Spirit of Abortion in a huge way. When we’re uncomfortable in a situation—be it a job, a marriage, a church, or anything else—we do one of two things: Either we strive to perform in such a way as to fix it ourselves, or we run away from it. Either way, we’re not living according to the relational principles of faith, hope, and love.
This culture of “self”—fueled by the spirits of Abortion and Gluttony—has infiltrated many of our churches with ill-focused prosperity teaching and what I would call ungodly magic: “If you do this, God will do that.” All the while our focus is on “what we do” and “what we get” rather than on knowing God and participating with Him in loving and transforming the world. Any teaching that focuses on “do this and receive that” is focused on law rather than grace—unless the “do this” statement is simply to “have a relationship with the Lord.” Grace allows us to be blessed as sons regardless of our obedience, whereas law makes us slaves to performance. Gluttony loves to receive but hates to sacrifice for others; in this way, it is utterly divorced from faith, hope, love, and ultimately grace.
Thus many of us go about our lives living in slavery to an inner drive to perform. We focus on the principle of law, which states that “everything that happens and everything God does is somehow connected to my own actions.” We rob Him of His joyful sovereignty and loving nature. We reduce everything to a spiritual law of cause and effect: we’re sick because we disobeyed; we’re healed because we did the right thing; we’re in poverty because we didn’t tithe; we’re wealthy because we did. Before we know it, everything becomes a matter of “sowing and reaping” until all we have is faith in karma rather than in Jesus Christ. Jesus died so that we would no longer reap what we have sown. Instead, we reap from what He has sown. We must learn to truly know Him. The law is a cheap imitation. We serve a loving God who transcends what we deserve—whether good or bad. He doesn’t bless us because we deserve it; He blesses us because He simply wants to.
Baal and Molech
The spirits of Abortion and Gluttony are not exclusive to our country or generation. Their influence is worldwide. And they’re nothing new; they’ve been around since the early days of the world.
From the time Israel was nothing more than a band of tribes fleeing Egypt, these spirits were already at work attacking God’s people. The spirit of gluttony was worshipped as the god “Baal,” and the spirit of abortion made headlines as the god “Molech.”
In Chapter 3 of Purifying the Prophetic, Pastor R. Loren Sandford talks about the Baal spirit throughout world history and even now in America. He writes of how the Canaanites worked the Promised Land prior to the Israelites with great success. Their culture, and thus their religion, formed out of their prosperity. The practice of their religion served the purpose of ensuring favor from their god, Baal. Pastor Loren explained the tension of serving a relational God and how this contrasted in the Israelites’ view with Baal—who “seemed to offer predictability and control.” It didn’t take long before their service to Baal had so intermingled with their belief in the true God that it became nearly impossible to sort out who was truly the Lord of Israel.
I believe the same syncretism with Baal that Israel entered into has also taken place in much of the Church. That’s why we see so many Christians who are more concerned with selfish prosperity and blessing than the cross and sacrifice. We must have both. Prosperity and blessing outside the context of the cross and sacrifice are actually destructive.
God told Abraham that he was blessed in order to be a blessing. How? Through sacrifice in love! God does indeed want to bless and prosper His people—but we’re doing the world a disservice by presenting a false gospel of blind optimism instead of the truth about the joy of suffering and the glory of self-sacrifice for the sake of our Lord and our brothers and sisters.
I was once stricken by Paul’s words in Philippians, chapter 1. In paraphrase: “Whether I die or live, it’s all good. To live is Christ, and to die is gain. It’s better by far for me to die and be with the Lord, but I’ll stay living for your sake.” Paul said it a lot more profoundly, but I was stirred by the sobriety with which he wrote those words. Paul had previously seen into the third heaven—he had tasted the glory that awaited him after death. He knew the unspeakable joy, peace, and blessing that were found in the Father’s presence. But instead of giving up his spirit and accepting physical death to go to that wonderful place, he chose the path of sacrificial love and gladly endured torture and imprisonment for the sake of his brothers and sisters.
In this sense, Paul was not only resisting the temptation of Baal (to be self-centered and “bless-me” focused), but he was also resisting the temptation of Molech (to abort something good for the sake of personal convenience).
Molech was the name of a large idol worshipped by the pagan nations, but it was no ordinary statue. As I understand it, the structure had two big metal arms that stretched forward and a furnace in its torso. As the fire in its body was stoked, the arms would glow red-hot. And in an effort to achieve some form of personal gain, a family would sacrifice one of their children by laying them on the cherry red arms of Molech. God sternly warned the Israelites not to offer their children to the arms of Molech. Children are a blessing! Yet in the same way, we too often sacrifice good, God-given blessings in exchange for temporary comfort and selfish prosperity.
Both Baal and Molech seek to destroy the true blessings of God. Baal tempts people to focus only on personal blessing rather than the greater blessings found in knowing Jesus Christ; and Molech tempts us to sacrifice the blessings we have for the sake of what seems convenient at the time. Neither of these represent the “abundant life” that Jesus came to give us.
This issue of self-centeredness has infiltrated our society. People lie, cheat, and steal to fight their way to the top of the ladder. We’ll do anything for a buck. We run up our credit cards on frivolous luxuries. And all the while our next-door neighbor is careening into a pit of depression and contemplating suicide. Where’s the justice? As Baal prompts us to chase after materialism and as Molech prods us to abort blessing for the sake of comfort, Jesus is calling us to follow His example. It is time to see that sacrifice for the sake of others is of vital importance if we are to bring transformation in this world.
Freedom from Baal and Molech
I once heard international evangelist Reinhard Bonnke question whether or not we are so occupied fighting off territorial spirits in the heavenly realms that we forget to guard our own heart’s door. I agree. Prayer and spiritual warfare are important parts of the believer’s life; but without the armor of God, we’re sitting ducks. The only way we will ever have victory over the darkness is if we live radically contrary lives. We must penetrate the darkness.
Roman 13:11b-14—…The hour has come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy. Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature. (NIV)
Victory over darkness comes as we clothe ourselves in light. We dismantle the grip of territorial spirits by undermining their authority. This happens when we live contrary to the influence of those spirits. If you want to be free from slavery to the spirits of Abortion and Gluttony, then you need to apply the sacrificial blood of Jesus to the infected areas of your life through prayer and live according to the resurrection life of the Holy Spirit.
A territorial spirit cannot usurp your free will. The old adage, “The devil made me do it,” is completely bogus. The devil can’t make you do anything! However, when we are living according to the patterns of this world, we often find ourselves paddling upstream in our Christian walk—struggling against forces that are encouraging us toward the opposite direction. The problem is not that we need to paddle harder. The problem is that we’re paddling in the wrong stream! We must not conform to the patterns of this world. Rather, we must be continually transformed into Christ’s likeness—living according to the culture of His Kingdom rather than the culture of the enemy.
Abandon the world culture. “But shouldn’t we ‘become all things to all men’?” you ask. Absolutely, but realize that you cannot “become” something unless you start as something else. Do not conform to the world culture. Rather, lead it. Blaze trails of kingdom culture while being salt, light, and yeast intermingled with the world as catalysts of the Christ-nature.
It’s really simple. First ask the Holy Spirit to show you what areas of your life still need to come to death at the cross of Christ. Then, expect Him to answer! As you discover areas of your life that are submitted to the spirits of Abortion and Gluttony, confess them, repent, and ask for the Holy Spirit to bring resurrection life into that area.
I am convinced that as we, the Church, corporately overcome the influence of these evil spirits in our personal lives, we will find them losing their grip in society around us. When we find freedom from Baal and Molech within the Church, we’ll be better equipped to bring freedom from Baal and Molech in our nations. That’s how you pierce the darkness! The Lord Jesus is calling us to be living torches who will carry the fire of His presence with boldness and purity. Just as the burning bush was a spectacle and a sign to Moses, we will become spectacles and signs to the world. He is calling us to pierce the darkness “like stars in the universe.” (See Philippians 2:15.)
To put it bluntly, this lifestyle will be an inconvenience to us. It isn’t comfortable to endure hardship—abortion is much easier. And it isn’t convenient to love a relational God when the cause-and-effect principles of the law are so much easier to manipulate. But I tell you the truth: the more you choose to sacrifice your own comfort, the more comfortable it will become to be uncomfortable! Sacrifice becomes a joy when it is born of love rather than obligation.
In the name of Jesus Christ, lead the way in repentance from the Spirit of Abortion and the Spirit of Gluttony. Lead the way, because personal change precedes corporate change. As you allow the fire of God to engulf your life with passion, purity, and love, you will begin to be a living “wake-up call” to the world around you. Just as the first rays of sun in the morning make it easier to wake up physically, so your light will break forth like the dawn and reveal the glory of God to a slumbering generation.
Isaiah 60:2-3—See, darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the peoples, but the LORD rises upon you and his glory appears over you. Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn. (NIV)