Another Encounter With an Intimidating, Controlling Spirit

Another time I was asked to preach at a retreat overseas where almost a thousand people were registered. Two meetings were held each day and one in the evening. The first two services were very strong. I preached on holiness and repentance. Yet, in each service I could sense resistance in the atmosphere. After the second service I spent the entire afternoon in my room fighting heaviness and discouragement. I knew it was an intimidating, controlling spirit, but again no one had said anything contrary to me. But I had learned by this time that I wasn't wrestling with flesh and blood, but against evil spirits.

Believers need to learn to live in the spirit. The Spirit of God will reveal what you are up against. Without discernment we will focus our attention on the side effects. If I hadn't recognized what I was dealing with, I would have begun to wonder, Why am I fighting depression? Was I supposed to come? Why have I left my wife and children? Have I missed my calling? Should I stop traveling? If I had continued along these lines of thinking I would not have been fit to minister, and that was exactly what that intimidating, controlling spirit wanted. My focus would be on me, not on what God had for those people.

I struggled the entire afternoon. When I was picked up for the service that night I mentioned to my interpreter that I had battled intimidation all afternoon. My interpreter yelled, "Me too!" We discovered we had fought the same symptoms. That night I preached on the spirit of intimidation, and many were set free.

The next morning as I came to the pulpit, there was no anointing. God seemed silent. I stood on the platform for several minutes waiting to hear the word of the Lord. I prayed and had the people pray, but there was still no leading, unction or impression to do anything. Deep in my heart I knew I was in a battle. I realized the total focus of this attack was against me. I knew I had to break the words that had been spoken directly against me. God's Word says:

No weapon formed against you shall prosper, and every tongue which rises against you in judgment you shall condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and their righteousness is from Me, says the Lord (Is. 54:17).

I began to break this attack of intimidation. I commanded every word spoken against me to be condemned. I did not care what the people thought. I have learned it is best to listen to my heart, where the Spirit speaks. Immediately, the word of the Lord came to me like a machine gun. God told me exactly what to have the people do. The power of God fell within two to three minutes. People were getting so filled with the Holy Spirit that they began to laugh uncontrollably. The move of God's Spirit was so strong that I didn't even preach. There were reports of people still in the auditorium at three in the afternoon. It was a great breakthrough, and my heart rejoiced. Had I not confronted that spirit it wouldn't have happened.

Later I learned from the interpreter that there was a female minister in the meetings who, after the schedule was set, came to the leader of the retreat and said, "Why should the people have to listen to John Bevere preach all the services of the retreat? We need other ministers to preach." She wanted to minister.

I had heard other unusual reports about this woman. She used unscriptural practices to minister "deliverance," such as administering eyedrops and rubbing wine on the skin. She had never been confronted. In fact, the leader permitted her to minister in a limited capacity during the retreat. Sad to say, leaders often choose to compromise rather than confront because they think it will be easier. But compromise is never easy - and is often costly.

After the meetings I spoke with the leader. I asked him if the reports I'd heard about this woman were true. He said they were. I shared my concern that she would question his choice of speakers after he had already determined God's direction for the retreat. I told him it showed she wanted to control him. (She was not a leader nor a member of his church.)

I asked him, "Why did you allow this woman to minister in the retreat?"

He said, "John, I told her she could not use those practices."

I explained, "You can stop her from using unscriptural practices, but the spirit behind them is still there. The condition of her heart is no different. As the leader you wanted to maintain peace and consequently, you put a person with a controlling, intimidating spirit into a position of ministry and authority. That gave an intimidating spirit the legal right to fight against me and anyone else who did not agree with what it wanted."

To help him see what had happened, I shared an incident from my life. On one particular night when I was a college and career pastor, we had just experienced a powerful time of praise and worship. Tears flowed down the faces of many young people. God's peace and presence filled the room. We had been in worship for almost forty minutes. At that moment all were silent, with the exception of those crying softly.

All of a sudden a young man I'd never seen before spoke out in an unknown tongue. When he did, a disturbing, weird sensation hung over the room. Then the young woman next to him, whom I also had never seen before, came out with a strange interpretation. Caught off guard because I had been enjoying the presence of the Lord from our praise and worship time, I did not say anything.

When she was finished, the atmosphere was different. The presence of the Lord was totally gone. I figured it was too late to say anything. The damage had already been done. So I asked everyone to sit down, made the weekly announcements and took the offering. Then I began to preach.

As I preached I thought, Where's the life? Where am I going? Why did I just say that? There was no anointing to preach, and I felt as if something were fighting me. I didn't understand why the gift of God was dormant, so I asked all the people to pray. The Lord spoke, "I want you to confront that man and woman."

I thought, It has already been twenty minutes. I can't do that. So I put aside what God had spoken and thought, I'll just pray a little longer. We kept praying and coming against spiritual opposition.

Several minutes later, in desperation, I said, "God, what is going on?"

I heard again in my spirit, "I want you to confront them."

Now it had been even longer. I thought, No way. People are going to think I am strange. We prayed ten more minutes, and there was no change. Discouraged, I dismissed the service.

I went home that night with a heavy heart. I did not even want to ask God about what happened. I just went to bed. The next morning I woke up feeling even heavier in my spirit. I went out to pray.

"God, what happened last night?" I asked.

He answered, "John, I told you to confront the man and woman." He went on, "When I put you into a position of leadership over a service [or anything else], you are responsible to maintain order and authority over that service. I will not do it, because I have entrusted it to you.

"When I put Adam in the garden, I told him to guard it. When the devil came to destroy, though I knew the severe consequence not only for Adam but the entire human race, I did not come down and knock the fruit out of his hand! I do not take back what I have given, and I had given him that responsibility. The man and woman I told you to confront had a rebellious spirit. When you did not confront them, that spirit was allowed to preside over the service. When this happened, My Spirit lifted because you gave your authority away."

I immediately repented, determining never to allow this to happen again.

After I told this story to this foreign pastor, he understood why he needed to confront the rebellious minister. His face lit up as the light of God's understanding entered his heart. I encouraged him, "As the shepherd of these people, you are not only called to feed them but also to protect them. Protection will mean confrontation."

I asked him, "Do you find yourself in situations where people ask something of you, and you know in your heart you should say no, but to maintain peace you say yes?" He responded, "Yes, John, I do that." He then thought a moment and looked at me pensively. "That is hypocrisy, isn't it?"

I agreed. "You said that right, and this hypocrisy or compromise is born out of intimidation," I said.

He repented of having a timid spirit and left immediately to straighten things out with those he had been intimidated by. The next time I saw him there was a big smile on his face as he exclaimed, "I'm free!"

Realize that these examples of uncomfortable confrontation represent a few extreme situations. I have preached literally hundreds of services in which there was no resistance, but great liberty. Liberty is the norm; resistance, the exception. But I felt it necessary to present a few examples in great detail for your benefit.

Though these incidents deal with ministry, the principles apply to every area of life. Intimidation is a spirit and must be dealt with accordingly. If we try to fight spiritual battles with fleshly weapons, we will at best be frustrated, and at worst, wounded and defeated.

For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ (2 Cor. 10:3-5).

The enemy of intimidation attacks our soul. It is not defeated through psychology or positive thinking. Our weapon against intimidation is the sword of the Spirit - standing firm on God's Word (Eph. 6:17)!

Used with Permission. Bevere, John. Breaking Intidimation. Lake Mary: Charisma House, 1995, p. 88-94.

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