I want you to turn with me to Revelation chapter 2. Now, this is a message that the Lord gave me for you tonight. It might seem a little bit strange, but I'm only the postman, I only bring the messages - so, I believe that it's going to be significant to our gathering tonight. We're reading verse 18, and so we're jumping right in to a series of letters that Jesus has given through the Apostle John to seven churches in Asia Minor. So before you get into the whole end time stuff that people are generally obsessed about in the book of Revelation, this important information is given to the church. First of all there is a vision of Jesus Christ in His risen, glorified form - the first thing you see in Revelation is a revelation of Jesus Christ. It's not a revelation of the things that are going to happen in the world, although that comes with it; it's primarily a revelation of the Person of Jesus Christ and how He is going to consummate the end of all things. Isn't it wonderful to know that? We know the end of the story, and it is victory through the Lord Jesus and the kingdom of God. Then these letters to a church, a corporate, global church at that time that is struggling - and we're still struggling.
Here's one of the letters to Thyatira, verse 18: "And to the angel of the church in Thyatira write, 'These things says the Son of God, who has eyes like a flame of fire, and His feet like fine brass'". Now, very briefly, the significance of that is that Jesus has x-ray vision, He can see - flaming fire eyes - right into the depths of your being. He knows you better than you know yourself, He can see the hidden parts nobody else sees, but even that you are not conscious of - He can see. That ought to make us a wee bit uncomfortable, but also make us secure. It's a strange combination, but it's true: because He knows everything about us, and yet He still loves us and He still wants us. These feet of brass speak of purity, judgement. Actually, in the vision that John is given at the very beginning of this book, Jesus is walking as a Priest-Judge, because of the way He is dressed, He is a Priest-Judge walking in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks which represent these seven churches in Asia Minor. So He is judging them - that might be foreign language to some of you, that Jesus should judge the church, but He does. He is the Lord of the church, and He weighs the church in the balances.
So, this church at Thyatira, this is what He says, this is His take on them: "I know your works, love, service, faith, and your patience", or perseverance, "and as for your works, the last are more than the first". Now that ought to be encouraging, shouldn't it? They have got good works, they are loving, they've got faith, they are persevering, and they're doing more now than they have ever done. So the Lord is commending them, but verse 20: "Nevertheless I have a few things against you, because you allow", the word literally means 'you tolerate', "that woman Jezebel", some manuscripts read 'your wife Jezebel', "who calls herself a prophetess, to teach and seduce My servants to commit sexual immorality and eat things sacrificed to idols. And I gave her time to repent of her sexual immorality, and she did not repent". Another manuscript reads 'and she does not want to repent of her sexual immorality'. "Indeed I will cast her into a sickbed, and those who commit adultery with her into great tribulation, unless they repent of their deeds. I will kill her children with death, and all the churches shall know that I am He who searches the minds and hearts. And I will give to each one of you according to your works. Now to you I say, and to the rest in Thyatira, as many as do not have this doctrine, who have not known the depths of Satan", the depths of Satan seems to be what later became call 'Gnosticism', which was a secret knowledge, a dark knowledge. The idea was that, in order to defeat Satan, you had to enter into Satan's stronghold - and you did that by experiencing as much deep evil as you could, that was their idea. So this was being espoused by Jezebel, the depths of Satan. Verse 25: "But hold fast what you have till I come. And he who overcomes", we've heard about that already, "He who overcomes and keeps My works until the end, to him I will give power over the nations; 'He shall rule them with a rod of iron; they shall be dashed to pieces like the potter's vessels'; as I also have received from My Father; and I will give him the morning star. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches". Amen.
Let's pray, and I want you to pray now that God would speak to you. I don't know where you're at, whether you're a Christian or not, whether you're struggling as a Christian or whether you've been on the road for some time. I believe God is going to have something to say tonight. If you're a leader in the church, a leader in this Mission Hall, God has a message - and it's important that we are tuned in to hear it, as Ryan has been saying, that we are in a place where we can hear what the Spirit is saying to us. Let's ask God, just a very simple prayer, just say: 'Lord, would You speak to me now. Would You give me ears to hear what You're saying'.
Father, we thank You and we exalt You that the Lord Jesus Christ, who died for our sins according to the scriptures, and was buried, is risen from the dead according to the scriptures, and He has ascended up on high - led captivity captive, given gifts to men, and given the name which is above every name. We thank You that this book of Revelation tells us about the day when every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that He is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. But Lord, we want to be that remnant of people who now are bowing the knee and confessing Jesus Christ as Lord. We want His Lordship to completely transcend everything else in our lives. Lord, we want that in the church, we want to declare tonight that Jesus Christ is the sole Head of the church - but, Lord, we want that to be a reality in each of our churches and in each of our lives. So we pray that You will come and depose every false ruling spirit in our lives and in the church, to the glory of Jesus Christ we pray, Amen.
I want to speak to you this evening on 'Jezebel In The Church' - Jezebel in the church. Now, who is Jezebel? It's nobody you know personally, I think, just in case you're going to jump in there! No, there is a biblical character in 1 Kings, the book of 1 Kings, called 'Jezebel'. She is the wife of a king, King Ahab. Jezebel is a devotee, a worshipper of the false god Baal. When Ahab married Jezebel, God regarded that marriage as a horrible sin. Listen to what 1 Kings 16:31 says: 'He did not only consider it trivial to commit the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, but he also married Jezebel the daughter of Ethbaal, king of the Sidonians; and he began to serve Baal and worship him'. In fact, Scripture actually says that when King Ahab married Jezebel, that Jezebel turned or twisted his heart towards Baal and her false gods.
Now Jezebel was a very colourful character. In fact, she actually ordered a hit, if you like, an assassination of an innocent man, a good man by the name of Naboth. Naboth owned a vineyard, and Ahab wanted the vineyard. He went and asked him for it, but he wouldn't give it to him because, he said: 'I'm not going to give you my inheritance'. So Ahab went in a sulk: 'I can't get what I want'. Jezebel said: 'I'll sort that out for you', and so she got Naboth killed, they stole his vineyard and she gave it to Ahab. What a woman! She hated the prophets of Jehovah, so much so that she had many of them slain. On one occasion we read of a man called Obadiah, who had to hide a hundred of the prophets of the Lord, split them into two lots of fifty and hid them in two caves - 1 Kings 18 - because she was after their blood.
Some of you will know the story of 1 Kings 18, the great contest where Elijah - the prophet of the Lord - throws down the gauntlet to the prophets of Baal, and challenges: 'Who is the God who answers by fire?'. But right after that great contest, you will know the story perhaps that she pursued Elijah, to the extent that he ran away, suffering from what we would call depression and thoughts of death - which you might describe as suicidal thoughts. This is the great prophet Elijah, there has never been anybody like him apart from the Lord Jesus Christ, and yet it was this woman who almost caused him to buckle, to quit. So what we're talking about when we speak of the biblical character of Jezebel, is a wicked, manipulative, sexually seductive, devil worshipping murderess. I think you've got the picture.
The second question is: how did she get into the church? Because she's in the church here in verse 20 of Revelation 2: 'Nevertheless I have a few things against you, because you allow', you tolerate, 'that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess, to teach and seduce My servants to commit sexual immorality and eat things sacrificed to idols'. How is Jezebel in the church? I mean, apart from anything else, chronologically how can that be possible? Well, this, of course, is not literally the person Jezebel, it's not the wife of Ahab. Rather it is the spirit of Jezebel, what I mean by that is: an actual spiritual entity, a demonic being and personality who was operative in Queen Jezebel, but still exists right throughout the world. She raised her ugly head in the first century church here, but also is still alive and well in the 21st-century church, even in our land.
So Jezebel is a demonic influence in the world, in society at large, but also in the church. Can I just add to that: Jezebel is not a spirit that affects women, Jezebel affects women and men - often men more at times than women. Now, I know that there is the ascendancy of feminism in the church, there is great gender confusion, and of course headship is often ignored. But what we read here to the church at Thyatira in Revelation 2:20 is not a comment on women's ministry - whatever that is, and whatever your views are - it's got really nothing to do with that at all, but rather the spirit of Jezebel that is in the high seat of the church in Thyatira. She had an influence that she ought not to have had, whether she herself was in leadership, or whether or not it was the wife of a leader. So this spirit of Jezebel, whether it's in the world or the church, it seeks leadership, it desired influence, at times those through whom this spirit works can appear very very spiritual and pious - but I want you to understand, and I believe God is bringing a word here for Loughbrickland but for churches represented in our gathering, that you need to be able to recognise Jezebel in the church. You need to be able to recognise the symptoms of when this spirit is affecting the people of God, and even our individual lives.
So the question is: how do you recognise an attack? I'm going to give you four things tonight - there may be more, but I'll give you these four. First of all: Jezebel displays manipulation and control. Now, usually there is an Ahab where there is a Jezebel - you see, it is Ahabs who give way to Jezebels to operate. You see Ahab, he went into the sulk, and he pouted, and he wanted his vineyard, and he wasn't - as it were - strong enough and aggressive enough to go and do the dirty work himself; but because of that passivity, he allowed an opening for Jezebel to come in. Now I want you to understand that at that moment in Ahab's life, Jezebel seemed very very helpful - 'What a woman I've got! She's going to get what I'm looking for!'. Often Jezebel, when it is working through people in the church, these people can appear very very helpful indeed. They will even make themselves almost indispensable - do you understand? It gets to the point that you're so dependent upon them, that it is as if you cannot survive without them. Sometimes people who are manifesting this spirit in their lives are people who really - you know, we say it in inverted commas, 'They get the job done, they're useful'.
Jezebel will always exploit weakness in leadership to get its way. Some people like this make their way into leadership, and they operate through fear and intimidation. Have you ever known people, and you have to walk around them on eggshells, in leadership or in positions of authority? It's through fear and intimidation that they are wielding their power. If they are not in power, some people who want to and aspire to this, they will challenge godly leadership. You find this throughout the Old Testament. Take one example for instance, you've got Korah, Dathan and Abiram, in Numbers chapter 16. They challenged the leadership of Moses, and they basically say: 'You're setting yourself over the people, and you're taking on too much responsibility for yourself. Who do you think you are?'.
Let me just make a couple of comments about leadership. First of all: true, godly leadership is God-appointed. Did you hear what I said? True godly leadership is God-appointed. It's not appointed by any church body, by any group of men - now that might be a vehicle by which things might happen, but true authority and leadership comes from God. When you look at Numbers chapter 16, that whole incident where Aaron and Moses' leadership is challenged, you go to chapter 17 of Numbers and you find the incident where God says to take the almond branches, and the one that budded, the one that blossomed would be the one the leader whom God had chosen. It was Aaron's rod that budded - God was saying: 'He's My man, and Moses is My man'. So we've got to acknowledge that in everything that I'm saying tonight, we're not despising leadership. Scripture is very clear that we are to obey those who have the ruler over us - but we've also to be very aware how this spirit of Jezebel can operate through the roles of leadership to the detriment of the church and to all of our lives. But there is such a thing as God-appointed leadership. Now, how do you know it?
Well, the second thing I want to say about leadership is: true leadership is recognised, you recognise it. There is no concept in the New Testament, or the Old for that matter, of appointing someone and saying: 'Put them in the position and they will grow into it'. You don't find that anywhere, in fact, what you find is: the leadership qualities are recognised in the individual before they are appointed. People see them, they are like leading lights, literally - the way a ship coming into the harbour looks for the lights, or looks for the buoys. They are already being looked to for direction.
The third thing is that true leadership is character driven. It's not only God-appointed, it's not only recognised, but it is character driven. Now this is vital, and please, I want you to grasp this, especially if you're in a position of leadership tonight. The way the world works is they pull rank - do you understand? 'Look, I'm your boss, I'm above you, you do what I say' - and, sadly, the church operates often like that: 'I'm the pastor', or 'We're the elders', or 'We're deacons', or whatever the authority structure is in your particular church, and we pull rank; or we even, God forbid, we use force, 'You do it because I say you do it, remember who is telling you'. But that's not authority in the Bible - do you know how authority comes, spiritual authority, true authority? Listen carefully: it comes through character, this is the way it works, through godly character you stand out. When you stand out, other people recognise that godly character, and they start to follow your example - that's the way it works.
Matthew 20, you might want to turn there and keep a marker in Revelation 2, if you go to Matthew 20 - this is a fascinating incident, it's quite humorous in a way. Verse 20: 'Then the mother of Zebedee's sons', that's James and John, their Mummy comes to Jesus and says: 'Could you get my boys a job? In the future, You know, when You're in Your kingdom and Your reigning on the earth - and I want the top job for them, one at Your right hand, and one at Your left'. Jesus said, basically: 'That's not My gift to give', He lets her down gently. But look at verse 24: 'When the ten heard it, they were greatly displeased with the two brothers'. Why do you think they were displeased with the two brothers? Do you think it was because they were more spiritual, or do you think they wanted the slot? I think it was that they wanted the slot, because if you know the Gospels, you will know that there are times they are arguing among themselves who is the greatest. But look what Jesus says: 'Jesus called them to Himself', verse 25, 'and said, 'You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those who are great exercise authority over them. Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant''. Do you see that? This is the way the world works, pulling rank, position, using force, throwing your weight around - 'That's not the way My people work, we serve one another'. In fact, in 1 Peter chapter 5 verse 3 - you don't need to turn to it - Peter says that the shepherds are not to be lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock - there it is! Don't lord it over them, but be examples to the flock!
Jezebel displays manipulation and control, but listen: Jezebel is not just manifested in those who are shepherding the flock, it can also be manifested in the sheep. People can throw their weight around, those in the church. Do you do that? 'If you don't do what I say, I'm withdrawing my support', or 'I'm not going to do that ministry', or 'I'll withdraw my money if you don't do it the way I want it'. Now listen, leaders, especially if there is Jezebel operating, leaders have to be challenged and there has to be accountability, but it has to be done biblically - not through a Jezebel spirit of control and manipulation. I'm not going to go into this in much more depth, except to say: Jezebel, this particular flavour of Jezebel, is everywhere in the church - everywhere, from the top right down! I was asked to go around with a team to pray around a particular church recently, and there were things that needed to be dealt with in the church. One of the things that I was astounded with in the inside body of the building were the plaques dedicated to people right throughout the church. Now I'm not joking, OK? There were plaques for everything, absolutely everything! The carpet was dedicated in the memory of somebody - you know what that means? You can't lift the carpet! It can be threadbare, but you can't lift that carpet because it was in memory of someone. The clocks, a wee plaque on the clock; the coat hooks, the rack for the coats, a plaque. Even in the vestry, the sink that the minister washed his hands in, there was a wee plaque above the sink - it's a wonder there wasn't one above the soap as well, only it had to be changed too often!
Now listen, I'm not in any way despising the memory of people that are held dear by folk, but a lot of this - especially in this particular church - it just so smacked of ownership, control, manipulation: 'This is my church, and I'm going to have a say and an investment in it, and I'm going to control through this'. It's often done through money. There are people who don't darken the door of churches, and they are paying in; and because they are paying in they can be on the vestry, they can be on the committee or whatever you want to call it. When there is godly direction that is needed for a church, and starts moving in that way, they step in because they are paying - that's Jezebel. I thank God I'm on nobody's payroll only heaven's - that's one blessing. I can say what I like (well, not what I like, I can't say what I like), but I can say what God tells me. I could say what I like as well and not get into trouble, but I can say anything and I don't have to worry about there not being enough money to put food on the table or clothes on the children's backs. That's a blessing, and I don't think it was ever meant to be any other way, to be quite honest with you.
Let me ask you: who runs the church? Who runs the church? If you look at chapter 1 of Revelation, verses 4 and 5, it says: 'John, to the seven churches which are in Asia: Grace to you and peace from Him who is and who was and who is to come', that's God, 'and from the seven Spirits who are before His throne', that's the Holy Spirit represented in seven, the number of perfection, completion, 'and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler over the kings of the earth. To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood'. Now listen: there is a throne, and God is on it, and Jesus Christ His Son too at His right hand, and there are seven Spirits before the throne. Now in the ancient mind, anybody that stood before the throne were administrators or courtiers of the rule of the King in the kingdom. What this is saying is that the seven Spirits of God, they administer the rule of Christ on the earth in His church - that's the Holy Spirit! The Holy Spirit is the Vicar of Christ on earth, the Representative of Christ on earth. He is the one who is meant to bring the Headship of Jesus into the church down here, so that means that He is meant to be running the church - not human wisdom, not human wisdom! The natural man perceives not the things of the Spirit, they are foolishness to him, because they are spiritually discerned.
So no matter how useful you are - this is the way it works sometimes: you're an accountant, or you're a lawyer, or you're a doctor, or you're a businessman in the town, and you get put in a position of authority because you're useful, you can add a few figures together, or you can pull strings in the community to get things done cheap. That's human wisdom, that's not the wisdom of God. The church isn't meant to be run that way, and the church is not meant to be run through tradition either: 'We did it this way, we've always done it this way, we're this 'ism', or that 'ism', or the other 'ism' - and this is the way we do it, we've always done it'. It is not to be run through experience, listen: it is meant to be run through the ministry of the Holy Spirit - that's why we need to have ears to hear what the Spirit says to the church, because the Spirit is saying (just the way the Spirit was saying something different to all these seven churches in one particular period of time), He's saying something different to us in the 21st-century than He said to the church last century or the century before it. That's why human wisdom won't do, that's why tradition won't do, that's why experience won't do - we've got to have ears to hear what the Spirit is saying, because what the Spirit is saying is what Jesus wants!
Well, who is running our churches? Jezebel is running a lot of our churches. We could write 'The Church of Jezebel' over some of our buildings, because there is manipulation and control in leadership. Some people who I have ministered to personally for abuse, rejection, and all sorts of problems, received it at the hands of leaders in the church. But secondly, here's how you recognise Jezebel again: idolatry, idolatry in the church. Jezebel was the daughter of Ethbaal, and Ethbaal literally means - he was the King of the Sidonians - do you know what his name means? 'Towards the idol', 'Towards the idol Baal' - so he was a great worshipper of Baal. We know that this spirit of Jezebel was actually a ruling spirit in Babylon, ancient Babylon. Don't turn to it now, but in Isaiah 47 it describes a proud Queen, a sensual one, a woman of many sorceries and false prophecy. In Jeremiah's day, Jeremiah 7:18, even God's people were starting to fall into the worship of 'the Queen of heaven' that the pagan nations around them and in Babylon worshipped - the Queen of heaven who was the abomination of the earth.
Idolatry is a sure sign that Jezebel is at work. What we're talking about here is false religion, alright? It can manifest and display itself through superstitions, through idol worship - but I want to be very careful in what I say. This is prevalent right throughout all of Christendom, all of Christendom. During the Reformation time the reformers pointed primarily at the Roman Catholic system, and they found fault there. Listen: if you look in Roman Catholic circles today, you will still see idol worship, you will see veneration of Mary, and those are anathema in the sight of God - you've got to understand that, that is wrong. But wait till I tell you: anybody that calls himself a Protestant here tonight, don't you dare be criticising in the Roman Catholic camp and ignoring your own camp - I did that for long enough - because there is idolatry in Protestantism! Serious idolatry! To name a couple of things: there is worship of denomination, there is Freemasonry - not just on the floor of the churches, but in leadership in churches - which is a false religion that is, at the very top, Lucifer worship. You go a wee bit further down and you find Baal there as well. And there are other secret societies coming out of the family of Freemasonry, and do you know what the whole lesson is - and I could talk for long enough - but the whole lesson is that Jezebel is in the church! Idolatry!
Turn with me to 2 Corinthians chapter 6 verse 14: 'Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness?'. Now what is the context of this? The context was Christians who were eating meat dedicated in sacrifice to idols, but they were eating it in the temple of the idols - OK? Verse 15: 'And what accord has Christ with Belial?', or Baal, 'Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said: 'I will dwell in them and walk among them. I will be their God, and they shall be My people'. Therefore 'Come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, and I will receive you. I will be a Father to you, and you shall be My sons and daughters, says the LORD Almighty''.
Now, what is this Scripture saying? We need to come out of the temple of idols, that's what it's saying. We need to come out of the temple of idols, but we need to put all idols out of the church - that's what it's saying. Not that we need to get out of the church, but we need to put all temple idols out of the church. Now, if you can't get them out of the church, it might be that you have to come out yourself. But listen - I feel like Paul here now, I'm not speaking the word of the Lord here, I'm just speaking my own opinion - OK? I think the last thing our land needs is another church, I really do - a denomination, I mean. I think what God wants to do in Protestants and Roman Catholics is bring them to a true knowledge of Jesus Christ and Him crucified, a true knowledge of the Bible faith, to bring them out of idolatry - whatever that might mean - out to Jesus Christ, without the camp if it necessarily be.
Here's what you need to know: right throughout Scripture, from the very beginning to the very end of the book of Revelation, there are two women. There are more than two women, but there are two women I'm concentrating on now. There is a bride and there is a harlot. Do you know what a harlot is? A woman that prostitutes herself for money, prostitutes herself for anything. I want to ask you tonight: what will you be a part of? What do you want to be a part of? The bride that has made herself ready - I believe Jesus is coming for a pure bride, I believe that. Whatever you believe about end times, that the church is going to go to hell in a hand cart and all the rest, things are going to wax worse and worse - and that's right, there's going to be an apostatisation, that's right, there's going to be a world religion, that's right, there will be Christendom that is apostatised. But there will be a church that will have made herself ready for Jesus coming! But we need to get rid of idolatry in the church! 'Little children, keep yourselves from idols', the last verse in 1 John.
Thirdly: you recognise Jezebel not just through manipulation, control, and idolatry, but through immorality or seduction. When Jezebel was challenged, you might want to look at this in 2 Kings 9, this is a few years later when Jezebel was challenged. Verse 30 of 2 Kings 9, and Jehu, the anointed, comes to Jezreel, it says in verse 30: 'Jezebel heard of it; and she put paint on her eyes and adorned her head', arranged her hair, 'and looked through a window'. Basically what was happening here was, Jezebel's control and manipulation, her witchcraft, her idolatry was being challenged by the anointed of God - and what did she use? Seduction. You see, Jezebel uses this not just to gain control - that's often the case - but Jezebel will use this to keep control. When you go back to Revelation chapter 2, you see that the Lord Himself says that 'Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess', verse 20, 'is teaching and seducing My servants'. She uses seduction.
Now I don't want to be too graphic here this evening, but it's necessary to a certain degree. Baal worship and Asherah worship - and Asherah or Asheroth was Baal's female consort, a male and a female god. They were fertility gods in a fertility rite, sex gods. They were understood to bless the land and bring harvest, and they were worshipped through sexual immorality that was seen as religious devotion that would actually stimulate the heavens and the earth to make them fertile. So when sexual fornication took place in the worship of them, Baal and Asherah were meant to copulate, and the fruit of the copulation would be the rain and the crops - do you understand? This was Canaanite religion. The spirit of Baal and Asherah are alive and well here with us today, and they are alive and well in the church.
I read an article just today by Matt Barber, listen to what he says - it was quoted in Charisma magazine: 'Ritualistic Baal worship, in sum, looked a little like this: Adults would gather around the altar of Baal. Infants would then be burned alive as a sacrificial offering to the deity. Amid horrific screams and the stench of charred human flesh, congregants - men and women alike - would engage in bisexual orgies. The ritual of convenience was intended to produce economic prosperity by prompting Baal to bring rain for the fertility of 'mother earth'. The natural consequences of such behaviour - pregnancy and childbirth - and the associated financial burdens of 'unplanned parenthood' were easily offset. One could either choose to engage in homosexual conduct or - with child sacrifice available on demand - could simply take part in another fertility ceremony to 'terminate' the unwanted child'. He comments: 'Modern liberalism deviates little from its ancient predecessor. While its macabre rituals have been sanitized with flowery and euphemistic terms of art, its core tenets and practices remain eerily similar'. In other words, we are worshipping sex today, but we don't want the consequences of childbirth, so we terminate the children or we engage in homosexual behaviour.
Staggering, isn't it? It was reported in the Christian media over the last number of weeks that the Temple of Baal, which up until recently stood in Palmyra, Syria - and was destroyed by ISIS - alright? Do you remember seeing that on the news? They went through and destroyed a whole lot of historic artefacts, and they destroyed the ancient Temple of Baal. Horrified by that, Western scholars decided that they would re-erect the Temple of Baal - wait for it - in the city of New York in Times Square, and in Trafalgar Square, London. Now, just this week I read an article that that is not happening - it's not going to happen in New York, and in Trafalgar Square they are not going to erect the Temple of Baal, or this arch as it was, but they are going to erect the Arc de Triomphe, which represents something else ancient that was destroyed in Palmyra. Thank God for that. Maybe it was the intervention of Christian media, or maybe it really wasn't going to be a serious as that - but I'll tell you this: there is no doubt about it that there is a push in our society for the elevation of all things Baal, all things Asherah.
Do you know that Newsweek, an American periodical, did a survey and they found that 30% of Christian ministers interviewed had committed adultery at some stage - 30%! Is Jezebel not in the church? Is she not seducing Christ's servants? I haven't got time to talk to you tonight about the statistics about Internet pornography and addiction among Christians - I haven't got time, there are too many, there are just too many! Except to say that it is at epidemic proportions, it is crazy - crazy! Do you know how many outlets of hardcore pornography there are in America? What I'm talking about is actual stores in America? There are somewhere around 25,000. Do you know how many McDonald's restaurants are in America? Approximately 9000.
Now I want to say here tonight: most men, including this one, struggle with the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye, the pride of life as well - but particularly those two. I'm not saying I'm 6 foot above temptation, far from it, or from falling - I know my weakness very well. But friends, we've got to be serious, we got to be ruthless, we got to be prepared to do what's needed as Jesus said: 'Pluck out the eye, cut off the hand' - because Jezebel has got into the church, and we are in denial of it. Do you know how many churches in America have actual programs to help people who are addicted to pornography? 7%. Now, I know what the problem is, because if you have a problem tonight - you know - and it's announced: 'Oh, on Wednesday night were coming together to have a rehabilitation for those addicted to porn'. 'Oh, I would love to go to that, and everybody knows I got a problem, and we can sip coffee and eat biscuits' - I know, it's not very accessible, I know that it's difficult; but I'm telling you that most men in the church have got a problem, and many women as well.
Now, I know that's staggering for some of you older folk, because maybe you're not very techy and computer literate and you don't realise this - but at the touch of a button, a touch of a button, not just now on the laptop or the PC, but on your phone, anywhere, everywhere, there is available every type of sexual deviance that you could ever imagine at the touch of a button. We are the first generation where our children will not experience a sexual awakening from what they hear from their friends, or from encountering it with another human, or from being told - the way it should be - from Mummy and Daddy; but they will experience it through seeing a plethora of illicit sexual graphic material, probably around 14. If they don't look it up themselves, somebody else will show it to them. We're not ready. What's worse, I think I said it a while ago when I was preaching here, we are actually empowering the spirits that are ruling these things, we are empowering what we are opposing (presumably). We oppose same-sex marriage, we oppose abortion, we oppose cohabitation, we oppose premarital sexual activity - but the fact of the matter is, by our own immorality we are feeding those spirits and strengthening them, that's why they are on the ascendancy! Don't blame David Cameron, don't blame The Rainbow Coalition - look at the church! Look at your heart! I'm looking at mine. Listen, don't you think I'm taking this lightly, I am in constant consultation with my Lord to keep away from temptation daily, daily, daily, daily.
We've got to be real. We read together 2 Corinthians 6, 2 Corinthians 7:1 says: 'Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of the Lord'. That's what we need to do: to flee sexual immorality, not to pander with it, not to flirt with it. The fact is that sexual sin now is considered common in the church, divorce is common, these things are normal! Don't misunderstand me: if you're affected by any of these, it's not condemnation that I'm wanting you to hear tonight, far from it! We've got to heal the brokenhearted in Jesus' name, we've got to find a place for folk who are struggling and all the rest - but what I'm talking about is those of us who are in denial, and secretly hiding these things and not dealing with them. Do you know that Ahab erected an altar to Baal in Samaria, and he opened the door, he opened a portal if you like, to Baal worship right across the kingdom. Do you know, if you are engaging in pornographic addictive behaviour, you're opening a portal to the demonic? You're sliming your wife, you're bringing generational curse, potentially, on your children, and you're allowing Jezebel an opening into the church. It's serious stuff, this is what I keep before me every day. If I ever should deviate down that road this is what will happen.
Fourthly and finally: not only do we recognise Jezebel through manipulation and control, idolatry, immorality, and seduction - but through witchcraft. She was a witch. She was into sorcery and witchcraft - but we're not just talking about that. When we talk about witchcraft, some people conjure up in their mind the idea of spells and incantations and occult behaviour, devil worship - and that's all included in that - but witchcraft in its essence is ungodly control of another. You're trying to control somebody else, and you can do that through mind control - you allow that to happen when you're hypnotised - but you can do it through guilt, you can do it through emotional or any other form of blackmail, you can go on the Internet and order any kind of spell that you like. If you want somebody to fall in love with you, you can even do that! Or you can send curses against people, and you can get these wee dolls, you know, voodoo dolls, and you can stab them, if you name them for somebody that you don't like - that's all available, hoodoo and voodoo and all the rest. You can curse people. But wait till I tell you: witchcraft is in the church, it's in the church, it's in the church through many ways. All the aforementioned things I have mentioned: idolatry, Freemasonry, all those types of things, tradition, worshipping idols, all the rest - but it's also in the church through soulish prayers. We are in the flesh, and we're praying, wanting our way - did you know that? Did you know the devil can take our prayers and use them against people, if they are not in the spirit but they're in the flesh? Did you know that? James said: open 'Out of the same mouth comes blessing and cursing'. It ought not to be so, but it is.
Did you ever hear anybody praying in the prayer meeting, and they are praying horizontally against somebody? I'll never forget being in a prayer meeting and there was a boy a couple of rows in front - I know you shouldn't criticise prayer, but you couldn't help criticising this one. This boy was praying against a wee girl, I don't know whether she had a short skirt on, I think she had a pair of torn jeans on or something - it would be better the torn jeans than the short skirt, I'll tell you that much! Modesty, it's what the Bible teaches - it's not what you wear, it's modesty, and that you don't look like the other sex, that's what the Bible teaches. But anyway, he prayed in his whole prayer against that girl - it was horrendous! Everybody knew, and he wasn't a bit ashamed - that's soulish praying. I wouldn't be surprised if that girl walked out with a huge complex, probably never came back again - dear knows, maybe didn't go to a church ever in her life again. I hope not.
There is soulish praying. There are pronouncements that we can make. I remember praying with someone, and they had left a church for whatever reason, they had left the church and the minister told them: 'You will never prosper as a Christian if you leave our church'. Do you know what that is? That's a curse. Now, he didn't mean it like that, but that's what that is - and they believed that, and it had to be broken over their lives. That's witchcraft. I'll tell you another thing - and you know me well enough now to know what I believe about the Person, the work, and the gifts of the Holy Spirit - but in a lot of churches the gift of prophecy is used like witchcraft. Now I don't mean that God can reveal things that nobody else knows, and that is witchcraft - that's not witchcraft, God can do that. If you're going to let the devil do it, please let God be able to do those things - would you allow Him to do those things? I'm not talking about that, I'm talking about somebody who comes along and says: 'God told me that you have to do this or this is going to happen in your life'. That person - you've got to be very careful - usually when God is speaking through prophecy, it's confirming something that He has already told you or is about to tell you, but there is never control forced or manipulation in anything coming from a prophet or a prophetess if they are truly moving in the Spirit.
There might be some people here tonight, and you need broken off you certain things that so-called prophets have said to you. Jezebel silenced the prophets of God, she slew many of them because she couldn't stand hearing God's voice, so she got rid of them! Do you know how much witchcraft is in the church? You wouldn't believe if I told you the things. You would not believe it. You wouldn't believe if I told you I know of people doing outreach outside a town hall not too far away from here, and there was a seance going on - that medium that goes round the whole country a couple of times a year, she was there. This person giving out Gospel literature saw Sunday School teachers going into that seance. I preached on charms not that long ago - you know charms, charms for warts and all that. That's not the power of God, that's not God. There was a Christian in the meeting who held position in a church, that's all I'll say, and they came to me at the front and said: 'I do charms, they come to me from all over the country' - in an evangelical Bible believing church.
Witchcraft is in the church. I spoke to an individual on one occasion who has people in Gospel ministry and family - that's all I will say - and they had a lot of physical problems in their life, and they had been advised by Christians to go to alternative therapies; you know, acupuncture and all these things that really derive from Eastern mysticism. They said: 'I'm not sure whether I should do that, but these Christians are telling me'. I just put my lip, I didn't say too much, trying to be guided by the Holy Spirit. I listened for quite a while, and then I said after a moment or two: 'Would you ever think of going for prayer for the problems that you have?'. Do you know what they said to me? Well, God would have to speak to me about that first. It's tragic, this is the bondage we are in.
Is Jezebel not in the church? Isaiah 2 verse 6 in the NIV reads this about God's ancient people: 'They are full of superstitions from the East, they practice divination like the Philistines, they embrace pagan customs'. Is that not where we are at? Jezebel! I could talk to you - and I have to finish - but I could talk to you about Jezebel in each of our lives, Jezebel in our families, Jezebel in the relationship between you and your mother, or you and your children, or you and your husband or your wife, or you and your boss or whatever. That control and manipulation can be everywhere - but what God wants to say tonight is: we need to get out from under Jezebelic control in the church of Jesus Christ once and for all.
Now, how do you do it? One: you surrender to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. He is Lord of all, one faith, one Lord, one baptism, one Head, one Mediator, one God and Saviour, and Jesus Christ His Son. No potentate, no president, no Pope over God - no position, no Cardinal, no Archbishop, no minister, no pastor, no Bible teacher, no theologian! Jesus Christ and Him alone. Secondly: we need to confess control if we have been a controller or have submitted to ungodly control. We need to confess that. We need to confess ungodly responses to when people have tried to control us, and maybe we have reacted in a wrong way - through control, that's often what happens: 'You're not going to control me, so I'll control myself, or I'll control you and keep you at a distance'. So we need to repent ourselves and confess.
Thirdly: we need to forgive controllers in our lives, whoever they have been, they must be forgiven that they will have no hold on us. Fourthly: we need to break those yokes of bondage, those ties that we might have to those controllers, or systems, whatever they might be. We need to renounce Jezebel, just in case that spirit has encroached in our own heart. Do you know what you need to do? As a Christian, you need to pray for leadership. Not talk about them and slander them and backbite them, you need to pray for them! You need to pray for servant leadership within the church of Jesus Christ.
Finally: you need to put boundaries in. You need to put boundaries in! Do you know what Jezebel goes crackers about? When she is challenged, or he is challenged, goes nuts - goes nuts! If you come in the opposite spirit, you don't play her own game, you come in the opposite spirit graciously and lovingly, but you put a boundary in. Listen: if you've got any problems with immorality tonight, you need to put a boundary in. You need help. Maybe this is going to be a place where people who need help can come. Maybe a programme could be run here for people who won't go to their church because they're embarrassed. Who knows.
But as I close, let me remind you of what happened in 1 Kings 18. Elijah said - the prophets of Baal, God's people following them for all their sensual practices - and Elijah, the prophet of God, he thought he was the only man left. He says: 'How long will you falter between two opinions? If the Lord is God follow Him, if Baal, follow him'. But the people answered him not a word, they didn't know what to do. They had one foot with Baal, and one foot with Jehovah, Yahweh. Then Elijah cried: 'The God who answers by fire, He is God', and God came with fire, and God demonstrated. I'm going to tell you what I believe: I believe God is going to demonstrate His power in a greater way than He has done for many many years, and I would encourage you to be on the Lord's side.
Now listen: if you're not saved, you need to be. I know we're not preaching the Gospel every night, and I hope that doesn't offend anybody - I'm sure it does, but I can't preach the Gospel if the Lord tells me to do what I've just done. I can't do that, that's disobedience - no matter what you think, I'm sorry. But I'll tell you this much, I know the power of God enough to know that if God is in the house, if God is going to save people, they will be saved. God is in the house. If you're not saved, you get saved, you get saved now. Just say: 'Lord, save me. I'm in the bondage of sexual sin, I'm in idolatry, I'm in a dead religion. Lord, save me tonight. You died for me, save me tonight' - and He will do it, just like that, that's easy for Him. No problem.
Now while heads are bowed - and I honestly mean this - please keep your eyes closed and your head bowed, OK? Is there anybody, and God has spoken to you tonight about any of the issues - and you're a Bible believing Christian, you're seeking to walk with God, but you know you're in bondage. Would you acknowledge your need tonight, right now? Put your hand up and down again. OK. Be honest with God now, whatever that bondage is - you can put your hand down. Anybody else struggling there? Oh, there is a struggle on, I will tell you - my both hands are up, both hands are up. Well, you pray to the Lord now and ask Him to break that bondage over your life, say: 'Lord, I confess', whatever it is, whether it's manipulation and control, or having been controlled; whether it's idolatry of any kind, or immorality; or witchcraft, or dabbling in stuff you shouldn't have. Maybe someone did it on your behalf, your mother or father, or another ancestor, and you've come into the curse of it. Well, ask the Lord to forgive you for your part, and you forgive them for anything they have done. Do that now, and ask the Lord to break the bondage that you are in tonight and set you free.
Lord, I pray that You will bless those who are really engaging with You tonight. I thank You for the honest people here. I thank You, Lord, for the people who are being real. Lord, You don't require us to be polite, You don't even require us to be ordered as we come to You, but You do require us to be truthful and honest and real. I thank You for the real people here tonight. There is nobody who will overcome without being real, nobody will overcome without being real. Real about their weaknesses, their Achilles heel, real about their sins that so easily beset them. Lord, I pray that there will be a great overcoming tonight, that the devil will be hit a smack in the mouth tonight, that he would be put down - that his goods will be taken away, what he has thieved, what he has stolen, what he has sought to destroy in us; and that purity will come through the blood of Jesus, and that power will come, and victory. Lord, let it happen tonight. Heal, restore, deliver tonight, we pray - for the glory of Jesus. Amen.
Preach The Word.
This sermon was delivered at Loughbrickland Mission Hall in N. Ireland, by David Legge. It was transcribed from the recording titled "Jezebel In The Church" - Transcribed by Preach The Word.
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