The Absalom Spirit
MOver my many years of being a pastor, I have been aware from time to time of the spiritual warfare being waged against the people of God. At times these battles are experienced as an onslaught against an individual and at other times they come as an onslaught against the church through an individual.
While many of the problems faced by churches are a direct result of human sinfulness, spiritual immaturity and people responding to long-standing hurt, the fact is that any church will be targeted by evil spirits from time to time. We need the spiritual gift of discernment of spirits to understand how to respond to pastoral situations in the church.
I don't go looking for demons under every bed, as they say, but I don't ignore the reality of unseen forces either.
Several years ago my church was devastated by a highly destructive Jezebel spirit manifesting through a teenage girl. It was one of the most awful experiences of my life. After the event, in the middle of some deep praying one day, the Lord told me I had won a significant battle against that evil spirit and would not have to fight it again. With a third of my congregation taken away, it did not feel like a victory at the time! Yet I know of pastors and congregations who have been totally destroyed by a Jezebel spirit.
Recently a situation came to light which, although seeming fine on the surface, made me feel very uneasy. During the worship time at church that night, the Lord gave me the phrase "Absalom spirit." I was aware of the term but not really familiar with the details.
The Absalom spirit is named for one of David's sons who ended up in rebellion against his father. The sordid story is told in 2 Samuel 13-15.
At the heart of the Absalom spirit are pride and offence. The person carrying this spirit believes that he is better than the leader of the church and becomes offended that his superior gifts are not being recognised.
In 1 Samuel 15 , we are told that Absalom curried favour with leaders from outside of Jerusalem by suggesting that the King did not have time to hear their disputes but if he was king he would hear the case and settle in their favour. He was a man of charm who "stole the heart of all the people of Israel." The Absalom spirit works by flattering people and gathering a group of supporters to stand with him against the appointed leadership.
Eventually an outright rebellion occurs in which the Absalom group either seeks to remove the pastor or else splits the church and beings a new church that is "more spiritual" or else of a "more pure doctrine." Inevitably God brings judgment against the splinter group because it is birthed in rebellion and attracts disaffected people.
The key to dealing with this spirit is to fight it at the spirit level not at the ground level. To confront the person with the spirit is to stir up the offence and division. A pastor has huge spiritual authority, and can bind that spirit and its accompanying spirits. The unmasking of the Absalom spirit brings a tremendous opportunity to pray for people afflicted by it and to exercise spiritual authority in preventing it from having access to the church.
As a pastor, my heart is to see people set free not alienated, to see them reach their potential in Christ not sent off in anger. So I use my authority to pray against the spirit and for it to release its hold on the person. I pray for the person to gain the revelation of what is over them so that they can repent and get rid of it. I pray for the protection of my church and I bind that spirit in the powerful name of Jesus.
In the end it is prayer and the power of the Holy Spirit which gives christians true authority over evil spirits. We have not yet seen this battle through but we will be fighting it in the heavenlies every day until we have the victory.