Evening everyone. I want you to turn with me in your Bibles to Revelation chapter 2. Now, a wee tester: what did we do in September, if you were here, what did we do in September? If you've got a bookmark, you're not allowed to cheat, OK! Anybody remember? I'm just trying to remember here myself. What? 'Rejection', was it? 'Identity', it was 'Identity', well done! It was 'Who Am I? Finding True Identity', and then the next month was 'Rejection', and last time, December, was 'Freedom from Fear'. Tonight we're looking at 'Escaping Control'. We're going to just read one verse of Scripture - we're going to be looking at several verses of Scripture tonight, but we're going to read one. Let's just pray for a moment, I know Harry has just prayed, but I want you to pray now for yourself. I want you to ask God to really come and speak to you tonight. I believe God is going to do mighty things here this evening, I really do believe that. We really have been seeking and imploring God in a special way today, and we believe, we have faith and expectancy to see great things done. I want you to know that: know that there have been people laying hold of God on your behalf. So if you have come tonight with a bondage on your life, or some kind of control, come in faith now - believing that God will touch you and speak to you. So will you ask Him now: 'Lord, speak to me'?
Father, we come to You as the Almighty God. We want to say that You are the all-sovereign, the omnipotent El-Shaddai. We declare in this place tonight that there is nothing too hard for our God: 'Am not I the God of all flesh, is anything too hard for Me?'. So, Lord, we just want to proclaim Your greatness, Your omnipotence - that the Lord God omnipotent reigns. We want to say, Lord, that You reign in our lives, You reign on this land, You reign in this building, You reign in this atmosphere. We desire, Lord, that You would reign completely, totally and utterly in every area of our lives - that there would be no 'no-go' areas for You, Lord; that every key to every room of our lives would be surrendered to You. We desire that You would pinpoint this evening, Lord, any areas that there is another ruling power of control - whether it's a human being, a spirit, an influence, a habit, whatever it might be - that, Lord, You would break those yolks of bondage that we might go free. It is for freedom that we have been made free, let us stand in that freedom tonight and be no more enslaved in a yoke of bondage. We declare that over ourselves tonight; that that will be the fruition of this message: freedom! So come, Lord Jesus, we pray; we put everything beneath the heel of the Lord Jesus Christ - all foreign powers, we take authority over you in Jesus' name, we nullify every Satanic influence in this place, and we say: 'Lord Jesus, be Lord of all'. Amen.
OK, Revelation chapter 2 verse 20 - alright? Now we're cutting right in here, these are the seven letters to the churches in Asia minor, and Jesus is speaking messages through the Apostle John that are written in a letter. This is coming now to the church at Thyatira, and we're cutting right into the middle, and Jesus says in verse 20: "Nevertheless I have a few things against you, because you allow that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess, to teach and seduce My servants to commit sexual immorality and eat things sacrificed to idols". We will just stop there for the benefit of our considerations tonight.
'Escaping Control' - initially that title might seem a bit nebulous to some, and you're left wondering 'What are we talking about here tonight?'. What does control look like? Well, the best way of defining control is how both Scripture and the Lord Jesus Christ Himself defined it. They did that by using a biblical character who effectively personifies the whole concept of control, and her name is 'Jezebel'. Now I'm sure you've heard that name mentioned - hopefully you've never been called it! When it is mentioned, most people immediately associate that name with seductiveness, lust, and sexual looseness. Now, there is no doubt about it, as we will see tonight, that is part of her character. Indeed - I didn't know this until researching - there is even a modern magazine, I think it's a fashion magazine, a pop culture magazine, called 'Jezebel'. So people even who have no biblical knowledge, totally biblically illiterate, still have a concept of what 'Jezebel' means.
But another significant aspect to the characteristic of Jezebel in the Bible was witchcraft. Again, when you say the word 'witchcraft', people immediately imagine potions and spells - and, yes, those are tools of the trade in witchcraft, but not all witchcraft is occult. Now just store that one in your head for a moment: not all witchcraft is occult. Here's the reason why: essentially witchcraft is ungodly attempts to control another. So whatever that is by - and we will see that illustrated in many ways tonight - it is an unauthorised, ungodly attempt to use power over and above someone's free will to get your way. So it's very much more subtle, and it can often masquerade as love and authority - it's often nothing to do with the occult. We've really got to understand this - and I'm going to go a step further and say, it might even disguise itself as Christianity. Shocking, isn't it?
The controlling behaviour of Jezebel is so extreme and wicked that the Holy Spirit took her name to use as a label for a particular spiritual power. The power worked in Ahab's Royal Court in ancient Israel through his Queen, Jezebel. But it was also, as we look through the Old Testament, it was also the ruling power of ancient Babylon, that great godless empire. In Isaiah 47 we read of a proud Queen, a sensual one, a woman of many sorceries and false prophecies. In fact, we read in the book of Revelation that Jezebel, this spiritual power, will make a big reappearance in the end times. I'm not going to go into that in any detail, but nevertheless we see that here is a spiritual ruling dominion power that has straddled throughout all time, almost. Yet, as we have looked tonight in Revelation 2:20, we see that this Jezebel power was still at work in the first century church, seeking to undermine godly order and authority. Surprise, surprise - guess what? Jezebel is still working in the church today, she's still trying to rule the world and control our lives. You may have been unaware of it until now, but I believe God is going to give you a revelation. Let me say before I go on any further that this power is not female, OK? The personality in the Bible that is used to illustrate this spiritual power is female, but 'Jezebel' can rear its ugly head in male and female, very often male, in male human beings.
Now, I want you to turn to 1 Kings chapter 16, and we're going to be looking at a couple of passages as we consider Jezebel, OK? First Kings 16 verse 31, now I'm going to read this verse in the NIV, it says: 'He', that is, Ahab, 'not only considered it trivial to commit the sins of Jeroboam son of Nebat, but he also married Jezebel daughter of Ethbaal king of the Sidonians, and began to serve Baal and worship him'. So we see control - Jezebel seeks authority in people's lives in order to exercise control. We've got to understand this right away: she wants to exercise power, so she seeks authority. This basically, if you think about it, is the difference between an armed policeman and a criminal, OK? So here you've got an armed policeman and a criminal, and the difference between the two is - well, they've both got guns, that is the same; but the policeman on the left is authorised to use that weapon, whereas the criminal on the right is using the same weapon but in an unauthorised criminal matter. So the police man is rightly authorised to carry the power, that is, the gun; but the criminal is not.
You see, all power belongs to God - you do know that? He created all power, Lucifer's power was originally created by God, demonic power was created by God, the powers that be, principalities and powers, even powers in government are created and ordained by God. But when they are unauthorised, in other words when they are not under the covering of the Lordship of Jesus Christ and God's will, those powers are used in an ungodly way. Jezebel loves that. Just to illustrate it a wee bit more, because this is important for your own understanding: say the policeman was to take his authorised firearm and go out on Saturday to shoot geese with it, right? That is an unauthorised use of his power, he's going out of the remit of what he's authorised to do - do you understand? This whole idea of authority and power is very central to the Kingdom in the New Testament, the word in Greek for 'authority', 'exousia', and the word for 'power', 'dunamis'. We've got to make sure that we've got rightful authority to do things in the power of God. When you think of an illustration in our modern world, and right throughout human history there are dictators, political and military dictators, and of course they are in power - but they're using power in an ungodly way. Jezebel is a bit like that: if there is the correct authority and covering over us, over churches, over countries, Jezebel cannot operate.
Do you remember last time I talked, when we were studying 'Fear', of the real importance of covering, spiritual covering and protection, for authority. So the Lordship of Jesus is so important, that everything in our lives, everything in our churches, and essentially we want to get to the place where things in our community, are surrendered to Jesus Christ - including our relationships. Here we see how wrong spiritual authority opened the door for Jezebel's ungodly control - that verse we read in 1 Kings 16:31. Ahab was not only partaking in Jeroboam's sins (he was a predecessor, one of his forefathers), but we see he married Jezebel. He was marrying a Princess of the Sidonians, so he was outside the nation. She was a Baal-worshipping Sidonian Princess, and she was the daughter of a King called Ethbaal. Do you know what 'Ethbaal' means? 'Towards the idol' - that was his father-in-law! We also read how this spelt great demise in Ahab's life, he also erected an altar to Baal in Samaria - and so opening these doors of disobedience, in other words exposing himself from a godly covering to an ungodly lack of covering, he opened these doors and give way to the authority, the ungodly spirit of control, Jezebel. Jezebel becomes the instrument of the enemy in his life and in the kingdom.
Now listen, I hope you're getting this: where there is not rightful authority in our lives, in our churches, and our nation, a vacuum is created - and Jezebel will gladly step in, OK? Now let me give you some teaching on some things Jezebel's spirit will do when given authority. If you turn to chapter 18 of 1 Kings verse 4, you will see: 'For so it was, while Jezebel massacred the prophets of the LORD, that Obadiah had taken one hundred prophets and hidden them, fifty to a cave, and had fed them with bread and water' - but it says that Jezebel massacred the prophets of the LORD. She killed the Lord's prophets, but she also had her own prophets - we read that she had 450 prophets of Baal, and 400 prophets of Asherah (which was the female corresponding deity of Baal) - we read that in verse 19. So here's something that Jezebel's spirit always wants to do: it wants to gain ungodly authority to get power and control to silence the true voice of God. She or he - the spirit - wants to mislead and misguide God's people, and often it's done through false ministry, false teaching, or false prophecy.
So the Jezebel spirit, whether it's in the nation where there is a dictator, whether it's in ungodly leadership in a church, or in a marriage or relationship; Jezebel wants to bring deception, lies, and propaganda. We read in 2 Timothy 4 that this will be a mark of the last days, verses 3 and 4: 'For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine, instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear; they will turn their ears away from the truth, and turn aside to myths'. This is what Jezebel wants to do, through an ungodly authority to get power in order to silence the true voice of God and spread lies. Now I believe in the gift of prophecy - we haven't got time to define that and talk about how it ought to operate - it's a biblical New Testament gift, but prophecy in charismatic and pentecostal circles has often been abused, sometimes at the behest of a Jezebel spirit: where folk who are operating in some form of prophecy are gaining control over another, trying to strip them of their free will and get them to do something. Never submit to any 'prophetic', so-called, ministry that takes your free will away and demands that you do something - that is control.
Something else I want you to see about the Jezebel spirit, this character, is that there is always intimidation and fear - these are primary ways that Jezebel gains and maintains control. Look at 1 Kings 19 - I know we're dipping in and out of this biography of Jezebel, but we haven't time to do anything else tonight. Look at verse 2: 'Then Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah, saying, 'So let the gods do to me, and more also, if I do not make your life as the life of one of them by tomorrow about this time'. And when he saw that, he arose and ran for his life, and went to Beersheba, which belongs to Judah, and left his servant there'. Now what you've just missed in verse 18 is the great gauntlet that has been thrown down by the prophet Elijah for the prophets of Baal to call upon their god that he might bring fire from heaven - and of course it doesn't happen. But he calls on the Lord, who is God, and God answers by fire and the fire comes from heaven and consumes not just the sacrifice, but the altar and all the water around it in a trough. The prophets of Baal and Asherah are slain, and Jezebel is wanting to take revenge upon Elijah - and she says: 'I'm going to do that to you, I'm going to kill you', and he runs from her! Jezebel is quite explosive, and that spirit will often make us afraid of confronting it. You know the expression that we 'walk on eggshells' around certain people, yes? Or you might hear someone say 'Anything for a quiet life!' - and that often displays that there is a controlling power at work. Jezebel, through intimidation and fear, often causes us to appease her or him because of fear of the consequences. 'It's not worth the hassle!', so we submit. Now that is how not only Jezebel gains control, but maintains control - because we fear, through intimidation, challenging. That's often how dictators gain control: they get the support of an army, and whenever that happens it's all over - isn't that right?
Now, don't misunderstand me, Jezebel can appear very helpful. I'm led to believe that Hitler is said to have been incredibly charming on a personal level - it didn't stop him slaughtering 6 million Jews. Jezebel will often make herself, as a spirit, indispensable. People operating in control and manipulation will be helpful people to a degree, often gifted people, but they will make us feel that we cannot do without them - and therefore we fail to challenge their manipulation. You know, if they are a person that gets the job done - everybody likes that type of person to a degree, and can I say that that is often how people get into leadership in churches. They are gifted in certain areas, maybe they are businessmen, or they are skilled in some way, they have good jobs - so they get position, but they may not have spiritual character.
Look at chapter 21 of 1 Kings, we see that Jezebel would get the job done, wouldn't she? Verse 5: 'Jezebel his wife', Ahab's wife, 'came to him, and said to him, 'Why is your spirit so sullen that you eat no food?'. He said to her, 'Because I spoke to Naboth the Jezreelite, and said to him, 'Give me your vineyard for money; or else, if it pleases you, I will give you another vineyard for it'. And he answered, 'I will not give you my vineyard''. Then Jezebel his wife said to him, 'You now exercise authority'' - see that? - ''over Israel!''. Oh, she was in the position: 'Arise, eat food, and let your heart be cheerful; I will give you the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite'. She had got the position of authority with him, now she was going to wield her power - she would get the job done. She's going to exploit weak points in the leadership of Ahab in order to gain influence. Now please listen to what I'm saying: if you are in church leadership at all, or involved in the work of the Lord, waken up! Jezebel spirit will seek weak points in leadership to get control. Be under no illusion - we're not just dealing with a personality, we do not wrestle with flesh and blood, we're dealing with demonic forces behind these individuals - there is a spirit that operates just like Jezebel, that was operating in her. If you want Scripture for that, look at chapter 9 of 2 Kings verse 22 - you don't really need to know the background here: 'Now it happened, when Joram saw Jehu, that he said, 'Is it peace, Jehu?'' - 'Is there peace?', in other words. 'So he answered, 'What peace, as long as the harlotries of your mother Jezebel and her witchcraft are so many?''. OK, is that explicit enough for you? 'The harlotries and witchcraft of your mother'!
So Jezebel, the Queen, used witchcraft and sorcery to gain control - and that is the essence of witchcraft today: getting what you want, and getting your way. It would amaze you to realise, explicitly in an occult manner - whether it's voodoo, whether it's some kind of spells or potions - there are portions for almost anything, seriously, and spells to get your way, to get somebody to fall in love with you, to get a promotion, to do this that and the other. But do you know the most common way witchcraft is practised today? It's none of those things, it is ungodly control of another's will - we might call it 'manipulation' - and all ages are at it. You do know this, don't you? Now we could talk for ages about this, whether it's using emotional blackmail, or mind control, or guilt trips on people - all of that is witchcraft. Now some of you here tonight have never heard the like of that, you probably think I'm really going off the deep end tonight, but trust me I'm not: it can be the same spirit behind it, an attempt to control others by ungodly means against their will.
Something else about Jezebel: Jezebel can be extremely seductive, not just to gain control but to keep it. Especially - now please note this, and I believe this is a word from God to some of you people tonight - when Jezebel, when that controlling, manipulating influence is challenged, that's when she will become seductive. Look at 2 Kings 9 with me, verse 30, a bit further down: 'Now when Jehu had come to Jezreel, Jezebel heard of it; and she put paint on her eyes' - eye make-up on - 'and adorned her head' - arranged her hair - 'and looked through a window' - or sat at the window. In other words, what you're seeing here is: she dolled herself up, and she sat in the window as if it was a picture frame. She's just about to be challenged, but now she uses her seductive powers. Now listen: sex, sexuality has always been used as a powerful weapon of control. In fact, we read did we not, tonight, from Revelation 2:20 that this Jezebel power that was in the church was causing people to fall into sexual immorality. It is often through sexual soul-ties that people become controlled, and that's why the occult uses sexuality so much. Now I don't want to go into any depth regarding this, but there is ritualistic sexual activity in the occult - and it's not just for the thrill of it, it's because they know, and the enemy knows, the inherent power that there is of control, and the spiritual dimensions of soul-ties that there are in sexual activity.
But it's not just sex, it can be charm as well, Jezebel can be very charming - especially when challenged. By the way, you know where 'charming' comes from, don't you? The whole concept of a charm derived from magic charms! So Jezebel will use seduction and charm to gain and maintain influence. So let's just recap - this is what the Bible and Jesus used as a personification of control and manipulation: a proud, arrogant, rebellious, judgemental, seductive, but destructive power that exploits the absence of godly authority in order to control. You find it in marriages, you find it in families, you find it in churches, business, workplace, government, and whole nations.
So let's get personal tonight: have you experienced control? Maybe you have suffered control? Most people have at some time or another. Or perhaps you have sought control? Ironically, it's often those who have been controlled who, in order to attempt to escape control, actually take control of their own lives lest they ever be controlled again. So if you are a person who has suffered control, it is very likely that because of that wounding you have taken control to yourself. You see, there are many ungodly ways of reacting to control that actually will give in to Jezebel. I find that when I'm ministering to folk, it's often people who have come under a yoke of control that actually are prey to this spirit also. We will see the right way to react to control later on, but let's list some of the common ways, but subtle means of control, that Jezebel has - and we will be as practical as possible.
There are mothers who are smotherers. Maybe you had a mother who was a megalomaniac, she was power hungry. Now listen carefully to what I'm saying here tonight: the commandment is clear to honour your father and your mother, but the problem comes when they treat you as a child when you're 45. I'm going to have this ahead of me too, this is a challenge for all parents - but maybe that's been your source of control, a controlling mother who smothered you. Of course, this can become exacerbated when you get married - whether it is a son who is still on his mother's apron strings or not, or the other way around. The biblical injunction that was also seconded by Jesus was: 'A man shall leave his father and mother, and cleave to his wife' - and some mothers need to really memorise that verse and meditate on it for a while! But this is a real strong source of control and manipulation - we want to bless our parents, but we've got to be real as well.
Of course, parents can be a problem with their children in another way. It expressly tells us in Scripture, we're commanded - fathers and parents - 'Do not provoke your children to anger'. Yes, there has got to be godly submission by children and obedience, Scripture says 'Obey your parents', but this is to be done 'in the Lord'. Whenever this becomes out-of-control, it becomes an opening for the enemy to work. It's the same, whether in the home or a church or in government, when people pull rank - 'You'll do this because I say so', or 'because I'm your father', or 'because I'm your mother' - and I know we've all said that, but there's got to be more to it than that. Whenever we pull rank, we are often invoking this ungodly power.
There is also, of course, in the home, husband's headship, and Christ has a lot to say about that in the New Testament too. But we are to love, husbands, we are to love our wives as Christ loved the church and give Himself for it. In fact, the verses before that in Ephesians chapter 5 say: 'We are to submit to one another in the fear of the Lord'. So there is to be no abusive relationship of control of a husband to a wife, and you certainly are not to sanction it by using Scripture - and that has been done throughout the years to our great shame. Abusive dictators are not godly examples of headship and husbands in the home. Equally so, henpecked husbands, where there have been controlling wives, this is the spirit of Jezebel, this is control and manipulation.
But it can also be bullying in school, it's the same controlling power. Or it can be in the workplace, an aggressive boss. Another way that we often miss this spirit is through passive aggression - do you understand? Where people are actually against you, but they're smiling at you and they appear to be for you in charm. But passive aggression and passive control is when maybe people are doing nothing, but it is actually by doing nothing that they are controlling you. So they could be withholding benefits, they could be withholding money, affection, approval, or help when you need it. Passive control.
Leaders need to be given their place, we are very clear on that: 'Servants obey masters'. We are meant to respect leaders in the church and honour them, but Scripture is also very clear of elders: you're not to lord it over the brothers and sisters, you're not to throw your weight around. How many times have people been hurt in church scenarios through ungodly control through leadership? I saw this one, it was a good one: 'When I say 'jump', you ask 'How high?', Pastor' - that's often the way churches are run, through control! Yet what Scripture sets out for us is a servant-leadership model that we see exemplified in our Lord Jesus Christ. Of course, He also castigated the Pharisees in Matthew 23 verse 4, He said: 'They tie up heavy, cumbersome loads, put them on other people's shoulders; but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them' - that is a sign of ungodly authority and power in leadership, when people have burdens put on them and they are crushed. That can often come in religious circles, but indeed in any sphere, through fear of disapproval - where you fear letting someone down, that's control. I don't have time to expand on this, but the sheep need to know what true submission is and what spiritual abuse is - and there is an awful lot of spiritual abuse going on in all our churches. I could take a series on this subject alone, it's massive.
We need to consider tonight, and we want to be as practical as possible in the time that remains, how to escape control. The sad thing is: some people who have been controlled - often it's them - spend all of their day trying to control circumstances and people, and they are absolutely exhausted. 'Control freaks' we might call them. Fleshly control is the exact opposite of Galatians 5:23, one of the fruit of the spirit which is 'self-control'. Fleshly control is the opposite! Religion is the epitome of fleshly self-control. Let me explain what I mean: religion is an attempt to control your bad side. Remember we saw this with Jacob last year? We try to do good things, but in the flesh. We are conditioned by this even as children, you know: 'Be a good little boy, be a good little girl' - and often we grow up and get religious, and this becomes a counterfeit holiness where, by the power of the flesh, we seek to better ourselves, to suppress and put down the flesh, the ungodly nature, and try to be better and pull our socks up; when really that is the antithesis of the Gospel message. The Gospel message is the cross of Jesus, that David Legge died on the cross in Jesus, the good and the bad of David Legge was put to death on the cross so that, through the resurrection of Christ, I can actually have the life of Jesus in me, living out of me by His Spirit - that is the Gospel that you need to believe in! What have you got? A lot of professing Christians here in our land have got the religion, whether it's Protestant or Catholic makes no difference, it's all the same flavour. We fight over which side it is, it's so stupid! It's all the same! All the same! In fact, all the religions of the world - they have different gods, they have different philosophies of how to be saved, and how to get near God, and what we are to do and all the rest - but essentially they're all the same, they are all fleshly ways of dealing with the bad self and trying to get better yourself. That is not the fruit of self-control.
Isaiah 58 verses 5 and 6, Isaiah 58 is a wonderful passage of Scripture - but listen to what is God's chosen fast, the fast that He wants - 'Is this not the fast which I have chosen: To loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, to let the oppressed go free, and that you break every yoke?'. This is what comes through the power of the cross of Jesus: that yokes should be broken, that any bondage that we are in of any ungodly control - whether it's sinful habits or religious behaviour or pressure - they ought to be broken at the foot of the cross. I pray that you will come to the foot of the cross tonight, because that's where shackles come off, that's where bondages are set free.
I want to give you, and I'll be as brief as I can, eight ways to escape ungodly control. The first is obvious, and this is a prayer that we do almost every night that we are here at some stage in the meeting: we need to surrender to the Lordship of Jesus. That's obvious, isn't it? We need to relinquish control ourselves. Now please understand: a lot of people who have been controlled in the past through whatever means find this step very difficult, because any time that they have released control to another they have been abused or misused - and so they have protected themselves, and there are issues of mistrust. But you've got to understand, and listen carefully to what I'm going to say: this is a safe surrender, there is nothing dangerous about this. You've got to understand who you're surrendering to: it's your Abba Father, it's your True God Father in heaven. He's not going to harm you, He's not going to misuse your trust.
I remember talking to a lady a number of years ago - and you've heard me say, I'm sure, that sometimes people can't get through to Father God because they had bad earthly fathers, and that image of a bad earthly father has been superimposed on God and so they need a lot of healing for that, they need to forgive their earthly father, but they need to learn what Father God is really like. But I met a woman who, she really was afraid of the Holy Spirit - now she's not uncommon there - a Christian lady; but the reason why she was afraid of the Holy Spirit was: when preachers were talking about the Holy Spirit, they often said 'You need to come under the control of the Holy Spirit'. She had had a very controlling mother - her problem wasn't with her father, but a controlling mother - and she had within her this attitude, and it was unconscious: 'I will not allow myself ever again to be controlled by another', and that actually hindered her surrendering to the Holy Spirit's power, because she thought the Holy Spirit - like many people do - He's going to take you over and you become like a robot, and you will be going places that you don't want to go, and stepping on planes and going to far-flung corners of the earth as missionaries, and you'll have no control. That's not the control, Galatians 5, the fruit of the Spirit is self-control. This is what God does: when we surrender to Him, He makes everything new, and He gives us back into our lap correct godly self-control, so that we correctly make volitional decisions in line with the plumbline of His truth. He frees us up in order to make the right decisions, but for ourselves.
From that, I learned that I should clarify when I talk about the Holy Spirit controlling you - and it's probably better for people like that to talk about 'the Holy Spirit's influence'. Maybe you're that person, and you need to be set free and understand that there is nothing to be afraid of in surrendering to God, and you certainly don't need to be afraid of the Holy Spirit. But you do need to surrender to the Lord, if you want healing and you want release from the power of control, you need to relinquish your own self - ungodly self-control - and you need to surrender to the only authorised power that there is in the whole universe, Jesus Christ.
The second thing you need to do is repent of wrong responses to others' control of you. Wrong responses - we could go on forever - wrong responses could be you trying to control others as a result of their control over you; or indeed it could also be trying to control your circumstances. Often with eating disorders, such as bulimia and anorexia, people are trying to control something - their diet, their looks - because there have been areas of their life that have been out of their control, so 'At least this is something I can have my say in'. There are various other applications of that as well, but we need to repent - even if someone did something to us to control us or manipulate us, it may not be all our fault by any means - but ways we have reacted that are not godly, wrong responses to that control.
Thirdly, we need to confess submitting to ungodly control - that's important, because even the things that aren't our fault essentially, the ways others have tried to manipulate us, there is a sense in which maybe we didn't have much choice, but when we have had a choice and have submitted to that control we need to repent. It can be people, but it may not be people, it may be substances: alcohol, drugs, or it may be some other ungodly habit like pornography or sexual promiscuity or something else. We need to confess how we have submitted to this ungodly control, whatever it might be.
Fourthly, we need to forgive controlling people, controllers. Now please don't misunderstand what I'm saying tonight: it doesn't mean that you allow them to continue their behaviour in your life - far from it! We will see this in a moment or two. But you do need to forgive them, release them to God. You know, you've been here before, you know what forgiveness is - it's not forgetting, it's not your emotions, you don't have to feel like forgiving them, it's an act of your will. If you waited until you felt like it, you would never do it. It's not saying what they did is admissible or OK. It's taking them off your hook, where you want your pound of flesh, and it's putting them on God's hook. It's getting out of the way and letting God be God, and releasing to God all resentment and bitterness that might be in your heart, and asking Him to heal your damaged emotions. That is forgiveness, it's more for you, essentially, that it is for them - but you need to forgive for the controlling behaviour. Even if it's continuing, you need to keep on forgiving. 'How many times do you forgive?', Peter asked Jesus, 'Seven times?'; Jesus said 'Seven times seventy' - what's that? 490 - in other words, Peter, stop counting and keep on forgiving. It insinuates to me, at least, that there was a situation in Peter's life where he was continually being offended. You need to keep on forgiving.
Fifthly, we need to ask God to break the yoke, the yoke of control and bondage - whatever it might be. Now that yoke, if it was a sexual relationship, will be a soul-tie, and that needs to be broken in the spiritual. Even if the relationship is over, there needs to be a breaking of the power of that control over you. But that yoke may not necessarily be sexual, it could be a friendship, it could be a domination by a bully, it could be a controlling boss or church leader, it could be all sorts of different scenarios - but essentially you've got an unequal yoke. Second Corinthians 6 and verse 14 is clear about this: 'Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness?'. You know what this yoke is - two animals - and you will have a hard time with an unequal yoke, there will be spiritual oppression and attack that will come to you, and that yoke needs to be broken.
Sixth: you need to renounce the Jezebel spirit, and indeed you need to renounce all associated spirits with the Jezebel spirit. There are other spirits that work with Jezebel. Jezebel is essentially control, but it can be ungodly self-control, it can be manipulation, witchcraft; often working along with Jezebel is fear, intimidation - that's how she maintains her power. There can be also guilt or rebellion, because you could rebel against that control, and so rebellion is there is well. There can be a whole myriad of possible spiritual powers that can come and afflict you when you are affected by this - renounce the Jezebel spirit.
Seventh, and this is vital and would be easily overlooked: you need to ask for healing, complete and deep healing of spirit, soul and body. Now listen: if you're a person who seeks control - and hopefully, by the Holy Spirit's illumination tonight, you have been open and honest enough to admit that and see it in yourself - but if you are seeking control, it's a sign of a deep inner wounding, a lack of a sense of being. That's why many people are attracted into witchcraft, because they have felt powerless in their life. Now I haven't read any of the Harry Potter novels, but I'm led to believe that apparently it's the story of this boy who escapes his world of insignificance through magic powers by which he is able to control others and his circumstances. That's just typical of why people go into the occult - but it's also the same reason why some people go into the ministry! People desire significance, and when it's not born of the Spirit, it will be in the flesh. A lot of people, whether it's in the Sunday School, the choir, or the pulpit, are seeking a power-base.
Eighth, we need to create healthy boundaries. I hinted at this in relation to forgiving controllers - it doesn't mean that you become vulnerable to them, far from it. Creating a boundary is simply this: you need to know when your responsibility ends and when another's responsibility begins. There are some people, and they've got a saviour complex - they think they are the Salvation Army! All the burdens of the world come on their shoulders, because they see a need - they are need-driven. Now, we ought to be compassionate and responsive to the needs of others - but you cannot fix all the needs of all the people in all the world. So we've got to understand what our remits are, and our godly responsibilities, and when my responsibility ends and someone else's begins. You need to create healthy boundaries in your life, especially when it comes to controlling people. You need to put boundaries in! You need to put boundaries in! For some of you, that means you need to learn to say 'No'. Do you know that 'No' is a complete sentence? It does not require justification or explanation. Are you like me? Whenever somebody rings me and says: 'Can you do a meeting on such and such a night in such and such a week?', and I look at the diary and I'm free that night, but I'm not free any other night, and that's the only night I'm free that week or something like that. I feel I have to say to them: 'No, I can't do that meeting because... x-y-x... and I need to spend time with my family, and I need some rest, and blah blah blah' - and I should just say 'No, I can't do that meeting, I'm sorry' - end-of. Why do you have to explain? Why do you have to justify yourself? Because of control, that's often the thing.
Josh Billings, who was an American humourist, said: 'Half of the troubles of this life can be traced to saying 'Yes' too quickly and not saying 'No' soon enough'. There is no doubt about that, some of us need to learn to say 'No' to the pastor! This is going to go down well, by the way, if any pastors hear about this tomorrow at church, you know, because they need the Sunday School filled, they need somebody to put the chairs out - but if everyone was in their God-given, Spirit-directed calling, we wouldn't have these problems. I had to talk to a mechanic this week - and he is a believer - and he was working on my car. He was telling me how overwhelmed he was with jobs and so on, and I was telling about Jesus when He said in Matthew 11: 'My yoke is easy, and my burden is light'. I have learned this over the years - I'm not saying I've perfected it - but I have learned that whenever I am crushed under a yoke, it didn't come from God: I have taken something on me that He didn't ask me. Listen, here is a tip: chuck it all out, everything that He didn't ask you to take on, no matter who else asked you to take it on - bin it! Only take what He asks you. I'm not saying everything is always easy, and hard work needs to be done - we're not to be lazy, and sometimes we will be tired - but we're never ever to be crushed under yokes and burdens that God never asked us to take upon ourselves.
So you see this - let me go over it again for you in case you missed anything: surrender to the Lordship of Jesus; repent of wrong responses; confess submitting to ungodly control; forgive controllers; ask God to break the yoke, the tie; renounce Jezebel spirit and all other spirits; ask for healing of your spirit, your soul, and your body from the effects upon you of that control; and create healthy boundaries. So what do you do? How do you escape control? Two ways really: neither appease it, nor allow it to operate through you.
Now I hope you know from tonight, from this teaching, the danger of wrong control and the benefits of right control. Let me illustrate it to you finally: there is a pilot in the cockpit, OK, he is authorised to fly this plane, and you trust him to fly the plane, don't you? He is an authorised pilot with power and ability to do it, and you will benefit from it. But here is unauthorised, wrongful control - a hijacker, and he is now controlling, and the crew and passengers are all in danger. Now I want to ask you tonight: have you got a hijacker on board? Have you got a person, have you got a place, have you got a practice, have you got a habit, have you got a religious tie, a relationship, have you got a lack of boundaries or an attitude of messiah-complex where control is gripping your life and taking you off the divine trajectory of the destiny that God has for your life?
John 8:36: 'So if the Son set you free, you will be free indeed'. As I quoted in my prayer at the very beginning: it is for freedom that Christ has set you free, therefore stand fast in that freedom and do not be ever again enslaved in a yoke of bondage. Do you know what control is? You do now. You know how it affects you, and you know how to escape it. The question is: are you going to draw a line tonight, and are you going to say 'Thus far and no farther. There is only going to be one ruling power in my life, there is only one Lord, there is only one faith, there is only one voice I'm going to listen to'? Once and for all tonight will you come to the foot of the cross, and will you submit to His divine Lordship, and will you renounce all other control?
Now, I'm going to put prayers up on the screen tonight, and I'm going to lead you - as I have done on previous nights. Now you don't have to pray this, no obligation, but I hope you can all see this. I want to explain it, and go through it first, and then we will pray it together, and I believe God is going to do divine surgery in this place. I believe He is going to break yokes, cut ties, and free people in our midst - OK? So get however comfortable you need to be to focus on this spiritually, and whatever God has put His finger on tonight you bring that up to the Lord.
The first aspect of the prayer is a prayer of surrender: 'Lord Jesus, I surrender completely to You, spirit, soul, and body - all that I am and have. I relinquish all ungodly personal control that I have taken away from You, Lord'. So whether that is that you have sought to control others, or you have sought in response to the control of others to control yourself, or out of fear and intimidation or whatever - you need to relinquish control. 'I confess and repent of any sinful responses to others attempts to control me, such as: submitting to a wrong authority or controlling habit; obeying fear and intimidation; rebellion; self-protection; attempting to control others or circumstances. I freely choose to forgive all who have ever tried to control or manipulate me by whatever ungodly means, specifically I forgive...' - and you name the people there who are the controlling influences in your life. 'Lord please break the yoke and ungodly tie between', so and so, that person or persons, 'and I' - but it could be an organisation. Can I just say there are Orders in our land, and organisations like the Freemasons, and there is an ungodly control in those organisations, ungodly control. If you have ever submitted to any of the ritual you need to renounce that, because it's not godly, it's not a godly authority. It could be a religious organisation, it could be a so-called 'Christian group', but you have submitted to an ungodly authority, and you have come under its control with cultlike attitudes and movement. It could be a thing, it could be an object - I've known people tied idolatrously to an object. Whatever it is bringing control, ask the Lord to break the yoke between you and it. 'Separate me, spirit, soul, and body, from the effects of this ungodly tie. I renounce the spirit of Jezebel, witchcraft, control, fear, rebellion', and there are several other things that hopefully I will remember as we get through.
The final aspect of the prayer: 'Lord Jesus, I ask You to please heal me from all the effects of control, but also of any brokenness causing me to seek control. Fill the emptiness of my heart with Your holy being so that I may be satisfied by You. Lord, I ask You for wisdom to establish godly boundaries in my life, and that You might give me the fruit of godly self-control by the power of Your Holy Spirit filling me'. Are you ready to pray that? OK, let's pray together and mean it - let's go together:
'Lord Jesus, I surrender completely to You, spirit, soul, and body - all that I am and have. I relinquish all ungodly personal control that I have taken away from You, Lord. I confess and repent of any sinful responses to others attempts to control me, such as: submitting to a wrong authority or controlling habit; obeying fear and intimidation; rebellion; self-protection; attempting to control others or circumstances. I freely choose to forgive all who have ever tried to control or manipulate me by whatever ungodly means, specifically I forgive' - now you just take a moment and name the people, or the group of people that you're forgiving. Before God it would be good to take it on your lips, people around you don't need to hear it, but just take it on your lips, whisper it to the Lord. 'Lord please break the yoke and ungodly tie between' - name those people - 'and I' - a person, an organisation, a thing bringing you under control, an influence, a group, a movement, an organisation, an object, if it's attached to a habit. It could be your own career, OK? Ask God to break the yoke of control, ready: 'Separate me, spirit, soul, and body, from the effects of this ungodly tie'. Are you ready, now this is important, spiritual renunciation: 'I renounce the spirit of Jezebel, witchcraft, control, fear, rebellion, lust. Lord Jesus, I ask You to please heal me from all the effects of control, but also of any brokenness causing me to seek control. Fill the emptiness of my heart with Your holy being so that I may be satisfied by You'. That is very important - all wrong spiritual desire and behaviour is coming from an emptiness in our hearts. Are you ready for the final aspect of this prayer? 'Lord, I ask You for wisdom to establish godly boundaries in my life, and that You might give me the fruit of godly self-control by the power of Your Holy Spirit filling me'.
Now let's all pray, and I'm going to pray over you right now, let's all pray: Father, we come to You in the mighty name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and we declare and proclaim that Jesus Christ is Lord - there is no other. The highest place that heaven affords is His by sovereign right. He is the only authorised ruling power in this world or this universe. All power belongs unto God. We acknowledge that at the very beginning in the Garden, that we as mankind took our dominion that was given to us by God and gave it into the hands of Satan - but we thank You that on the cross Satan was divested of all that authority by the Lord Jesus Christ who spoiled principalities and powers, and made a show of them openly, triumphing over them in the cross. We thank You that You have put all principalities and powers beneath His feet, and Jesus Christ is Lord of all. Lord, we declare that tonight, and we - some of us anyway - want that over our lives, and over every aspect of our lives, over every area of our being: spirit, soul, and body. I just pray right now for those who have truly engaged with You in humility, repentance and faith - that You will now deliver them from the yoke of bondage. We give You all the glory, we give You all the praise for being set free. Oh Lord, let Your kingdom power completely submerge us, and let us go on in the freedom for which You have set us free - for Christ's name we pray, Amen.
Preach The Word.
This sermon was delivered at The Stables in Enniskillen by David Legge. It was transcribed from the fourth recording in his 'Deeper Healing' series, entitled "Escaping Control" - Transcribed by Andrew Watkins, Preach The Word.
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