We all have had a lot of teaching concerning spiritual warfare. Much has been useful and much has little bearing on things. The spiritual realm is real and the warfare and activity in that realm heavily affects the earth realm and more specifically the hearts, attitudes, thoughts and longings of men.
We all battle things in our regions and yet it seems at times, we don’t know if we are gaining ground or losing it. We also don’t know exactly what we should be pursuing in a practical way to confront demonic forces. First, let me say demonic forces work through openings in men by way of influences, misdirection, partial truth, lies and a host of subtle voices. These forces are real and the outcome of their actions is felt by culture.
I have taught about all the demonic strongholds, how to do deliverance ministry in depth in our many different schools of ministry. I have had to confront witches in other nations, stared a witchdoctor down to stop human sacrifice, and broke curses off of people that in the American Church we won’t even agree could exist. I recently put together the two main spirits almost everyone is dealing with over regions and territories. I taught this in our night of intercession for our state and this blog will be the first time it will be public.
The obvious main spirit we all know is the religious spirit. It could also be called the spirit of anti-Christ, yet many spirits qualify for this title as the word ‘anti’ means ‘in place of’. Many things are taking the place of Christ but the religious spirit is an organized spirit to replace relationship with obligations, grace with law, and replace freedom with bondages to man-made doctrines. Most of us can see a religious spirit a long way off. We have combatted this spirit for some time as Kingdom focused apostolic people, yet it seems we still struggle. The reason is this spirit is only the holding bin for those held captive by a different named spirit that captures peoples desire for spirituality.
This second spirit is also at work and it is the spirit of Nicolaitan that Jesus spoke of in Rev. 2:15. Now not many know of this spirit, but it works in partnership with the religious spirit and is the one feeding converts to religious systems. You see this spirit can be traced back to Acts 6:5 “and Nicolas a proselyte of Antioch”. He was a pagan then converted to Judaism, then finally to Christianity. But the mixture of belief he carried is the same mixture of a Nicolaitan spirit. It is a blend of paganism, being under law and worldliness that does not have an absolute belief system of truth. In other words, truth is not the driving force but more likely past experiences, and a more open interpretation of scripture shape the follower. It holds no sanctification process, no finished holiness , nor a emphasis of change required. In other words, nothing is really expected or demanded of those participating. It breeds a noncommitment and an attitude that I’m fine the way I am and the way culture is. Yet the meaning of the name Nicolaitan means “to conquer or overcome the people.” It creates a ruling class of leaders who form a hierarchy over people instead of being equal to them.
Jesus spoke to the church of Ephesus. A church that is not growing but only sustained. (More on this in a few paragraphs). They despised the false apostles emerging and could discern them as false. (Rev.2:2) They had patience and labored faithfully holding fast. (Vs. 3) But they were rebuked for not doing the first works. (Vs. 5) But in verse 6, Jesus stated they hated the deeds of the Nicolaitans. The word ‘deeds’ speaks of the works and the word “deeds” is associated many times concerning things that make for weak faith. It is doing things on your own strength and ability and not by the spirit of God. I think these things describes much of the apostolic church today.
In Rev. 2:12-17, He addresses the church that is a heretic. Specifically, in verse 15, He told them they hold fast to the doctrine of the Nicolaitans. They refuse to be corrected or even consider the possibility of their mixture with the world. In other words, this was the source of the deeds talked about a few verses prior. Now its time to begin to connect things up.
First, let me say the spirit of religion reinforces the Nicolaitan spirit as that’s where the converts come from. The Nicolaitan spirit points to the religious spirit to help hold the converts. The religious spirit is spiritually dead, holding captive. The Nicolaitan spirit captures those seeking spiritual understanding and holds them captive. The Nicolaitan spirit creates the religious spirit. The religious spirit brings the law and traditions to a more advance stage. Without addressing the Nicolaitan spirit, we will never conquer the religious spirit. So how do we do that?
There are six areas the Nicolaitan spirit operates through and are easily seen working in the souls of men daily. Here are the six problems associated with the Nicolaitan spirit and what it works through. Sin, lack of Disciplines, dead works, church decline, the natural mind and false spirituality. These all work at capturing the totality of a person’s spiritual being and desires. Paul saw the problems the Church would have to face and wrote specific letters to address each problem and brought forth answers. He left a way of stopping the religious spirit by stopping the source, the spirit of Nicolaitans.
Here are the six letters (books) addressing the six problems:
- The letter to the Romans is the answer to the problem of sin.
- The two Corinthian letters are the answer to lack of disciplines.
- Galatians provides the answer to dead works.
- Ephesians is the answer to church decline.
- Philippians is the answer to the natural mind.
- Colossians is the answer to false spirituality.
We probably look at the list and know people who fit some of these to a tee. Combating the spirit of Nicolaitan is addressing these six issues in people’s lives. The answers for these six problems are found in each of these corresponding books. Now this is becoming a key to a practical way of preaching, teaching and confronting. These six areas are both capturing people and eventually holding them captive. Simply find which of the six problems are going on in a person life, read the book associated and minister the answers! Still not convinced? Let’s look at one more place.
Look at the seven churches in Revelation; we can easily see six of the churches had issues that were addressed. Each had come to the full and a decision point moment. Each was confronted to repent. All six had different issues and was presented as unable to continue a healthy path until an issue was resolved. They were examples of these 6 problems become mature in a body and how because of certain things being done people felt they were in right standing with God. That’s the spirit of Nicolaitan for sure. So, looking at a couple we see the church of Ephesus fits to a tee. That’s the church in decline losing first love and not doing first works. The church with Jezebel teaching in it and having a platform, fits false spirituality. I’m not going to give you the entire list laid out, but challenge you to do your own study and see how each fit. John, like Paul saw the outcome of the spirit of Nicolaitans working on the churches and saw the opportunity for repentance before the religious spirit could hold a grip. This gives hope to all gatherings of the body of Christ that they are not in a hopeless place but can shift and change. Examine your own life first. Examine your own minsitry second. Then begin to minister to people with understanding and save them from the Nicolaitan spirit and let’s defeat the religious spirit. It’s time we begin to fight, not as one beating the air, but in a strategic and practical manner.