by Rick Joyner
The Stronghold of Witchcraft
The practice of witchcraft has dramatically
increased throughout the world in recent
years. One of the expressed goals of this
movement is to destroy biblical Christianity.
Many Christians are presently suffering some
form of attack from those who practice
witchcraft. Discerning the nature of these
attacks, and knowing how to overcome them,
is becoming crucial for all believers.
We are exhorted not to be ignorant of
the enemy’s schemes (see II Corinthians
2:11). Peter warned us, “Be of sober spirit,
be on the alert. Your adversary, the
devil, prowls about like a roaring lion,
seeking someone to devour. But resist
him, firm in your faith” (I Peter 5:8-9).
Understanding Satan’s schemes significantly
increases our advantage in the battle. The
entire church age has been one of spiritual
warfare, which is increasing as we approach
the end of the age. Those who refuse to
acknowledge the reality of this warfare and
fight against it are being quickly overcome.
Satan is now being cast out of the
heavenlies and down to the earth, where
he is coming with great wrath. Even so, we
need not fear—He who is in us is much
greater than he who is in the world (see I
John 4:4). He who is least in the kingdom
of God has more power than any antichrist.
But just as the greatest military power today
is vulnerable if it does not recognize the
enemy’s attack, we, too, are vulnerable if
we do not recognize Satan’s schemes. The
only way that he can defeat us is through
our own ignorance or complacency. As we
maintain our position in Christ, taking on the
full armor of God and remaining vigilant, we
will not only stand but will prevail against
the gates of hell.
What Is Witchcraft?
Witchcraft is counterfeit spiritual
authority; it is using a spirit other than
the Holy Spirit to dominate, manipulate,
or control others.
In Galatians 5:20, the Apostle Paul named
witchcraft, or “sorcery,” as one of the deeds
of the flesh. Though witchcraft has its origin
in the carnal nature of man, it usually degenerates
quickly into demonic power. When we
try to use emotional pressure to manipulate
others, it is a basic form of witchcraft. When
we use hype or soul power to enlist service,
even for the work of God, it is witchcraft.
When businessmen scheme to find pressure
points while pursuing a deal, this, too, can
be witchcraft. Many of the manipulative
tactics promoted as sales techniques in
marketing are basic forms of witchcraft. The
primary defense against counterfeit spiritual
authority is to walk in true spiritual authority.
Establishing our lives on truth and trusting
in the Lord to accomplish what concerns us
are essential keys to becoming free from the
influence and pressure of witchcraft.
It is written that Jesus is seated upon
the throne of David. This is, of course, a
metaphor, for Jesus does not sit upon the
literal throne on which David sat. However,
David established a position of true spiritual
authority that would ultimately be manifested
in the kingdom of God. David did for spiritual
authority what Abraham did for faith. How
did David establish a seat of true authority?
Basically, he refused to take authority or seek
influence for himself, but completely trusted
in God to establish him in the position that
He had ordained for him. David did not lift
his own hand to seek recognition or influence,
and neither should we if we are going
to walk in true spiritual authority rather than
mere human political power.
Any authority or influence that we gain
by our own manipulation or self-promotion
will be a stumbling block to us and will
hinder our ability to receive true authority
from God. If we are going to walk in true
spiritual authority, like David, we will have
to utterly trust in the Lord to establish
us in His time. Peter exhorted, “Humble
yourselves, therefore, under the mighty
hand of God, that He may exalt you at
the proper time” (I Peter 5:6).
Einstein once made an observation that
may be more important than his theory of
relativity, though it is utterly simple. He
declared that, “Premature responsibility
breeds superficiality.” Possibly nothing is
more devastating to our callings and potential
for walking in true ministry than seeking
influence or authority prematurely.
When the Lord promotes, He also supplies
the grace and wisdom to carry the authority.
No greater security is available than knowing
that God is the One who has established our
ministry. Few things can breed insecurity
faster than trying to maintain a position that
we have gained by our own promotion or
manipulation. This is the root of most of
the territorial preservation and division that
exists in the body of Christ.
Being established in true spiritual
authority is a fortress that simply cannot be
penetrated by the enemy. Paul explained
that, “the God of peace will soon crush
Satan under your feet” (see Romans
16:20). When we know that we have been
established by God, we have a peace that
utterly crushes the enemy.
In contrast, when we establish ourselves
in a position of authority, we have little
peace; the more our illegally gained influence
increases, the more striving and manipulating
it will take to hold it together. Anything that
we do through manipulation, hype, or soul
power, regardless of seemingly noble goals,
is doomed to ultimate failure.
Therefore, the first principle in being
delivered from the influence of witchcraft is
to repent of all the ways that we have used
it in our own lives and ministries. Satan
cannot cast out Satan. Witchcraft, in even its
most evil and diabolical forms such as black
magic, will have an open door into our lives
if we are using manipulation for controlling
others or gaining a position. Although we
may try to justify using such devices in order
to build the church, God is not fooled and
neither is the enemy. What God is building
is not raised up by might nor by power,
but by His Spirit. Whatever we build by any
other means is an affront to the cross and
will ultimately oppose that which the Spirit
is doing. The flesh wars against the Spirit,
regardless of how good we try to make the
Using the Gift of Discernment
Discernment of spirits is a primary
gift of the Holy Spirit that enables us to
distinguish the spiritual source of influences
in the church. However, much of what is
considered “discernment” today is really
“suspicion,” rooted more in fear and
selfpreservation than in the Holy Spirit.
This is because so much of the authority that is
exercised in the church today is counterfeit,
which causes those who use it to strive, be
fearful, and intimidated by anyone that they
True spiritual discernment is rooted
Love is patient, love is kind and
is not jealous; love does not brag,
and is not arrogant,
does not act unbecomingly; it
does not seek its own, is not provoked,
does not take into account
a wrong suffered,
does not rejoice in unrighteousness,
but rejoices with the truth;
bears all things, believes all
things, hopes all things, endures
all things (I Corinthians 13:4-7).
Although we may be concerned that the
readiness to bear, believe, hope, and endure
all things will lead to naiveté rather than
to discernment, the reverse is actually true.
Unless we are seeing through the eyes of
God’s love, we are not seeing clearly, and we
will not accurately interpret what we see.
True discernment can only operate
through God’s love. This love is not to be
confused with unsanctified mercy, which
gives approval to the things of which God
disapproves. Even though God’s love is
utterly pure and easily distinguishes between
the pure and the impure, it does so for the
right reasons. Insecurity, self-preservation,
self-promotion, unhealed wounds, unforgiveness,
bitterness, and so forth will confuse and
neutralize true spiritual discernment.
Almost everyone in ministry must endure
considerable rejection and misunderstanding.
Learning to overcome rejection by forgiving
and praying for our persecutors, just as the
Lord did, is essential if we are to walk in the
Spirit and exercise true spiritual authority. If
we are to accomplish the purposes of God,
we must come to the level of maturity where
“the love of Christ controls us” (see II
Corinthians 5:14). Love does not take into
account the wrongs we have suffered and is
not motivated by rejection, which drives us
to retaliate, or to try and prove ourselves.
Such reactions are the first steps in a fall from
true authority. The Lord Jesus stated,
“He who speaks from himself
seeks his own glory [literally
recognition]; but He who is seeking
the glory [recognition] of the one
who sent Him, He is true, and
there is no unrighteousness in
Him” (John 7:18).
Few things will more quickly destroy
our ability to walk in true spiritual authority
than self-seeking, self-promotion, or selfpreservation.
Learning to deal with rejection
is mandatory if we are to walk in true
ministry. Rejection provides an opportunity
for us to grow in grace and die a little
more to ambition, pride, and other motives
which so quickly color our revelation. If we
embrace rejection as the discipline of the
Lord, we will grow in grace and love. If we
rebel against this discipline, we may enter
The Fear of Man Leads to Witchcraft
King Saul is a good example of how a man
with a true commission from God can fall
into this counterfeit spiritual authority. When
Saul was commanded to wait for Samuel
before offering the sacrifice, he succumbed to
pressure and offered it prematurely, saying,
“I saw that the people were scattering
from me . . . and that the Philistines were
assembling” (see I Samuel 13:11). This is
the same point where most that fall from true
authority do so—when they begin to fear the
people or the circumstances more than they
fear God. When we start to fear the people
leaving more than we fear God leaving, we
have departed from true faith.
Because witchcraft is basically rooted in
the fear of man, and “the fear of man brings
a snare” (see Proverbs 29:25), those who
begin to operate in witchcraft are trapped
because fear has snared them. The bigger
the project or ministry that we have built
with hype, manipulation, or control spirits,
the more we will fear anyone or anything
that we cannot manipulate or control.
Those who are caught in this deadly trap will fear
those who walk in the true anointing and
authority. That is because those who walk in
true spiritual authority are the least affected
by the manipulation or spirit of control. Saul
became enraged at David and was consumed
with destroying him, even though
David was at the time but “a single flea”
(see I Samuel 24:14). As the manipulation
and control spirits increase their dominion,
so will the paranoia of those who are
trapped in their grasp. Such people will
become irrationally consumed by an attempt
to drive out or destroy anyone who threatens
Those who receive their authority,
recognition, or security from men will, like
Saul, end up in the witch’s house, which is
why Samuel warned Saul that “rebellion is
as the sin of witchcraft” (see I Samuel
15:23 NKJV). When one in spiritual authority
rebels against the Holy Spirit, the void
will be filled by the counterfeit spiritual
authority of witchcraft. This may begin as a
simple reliance upon hype and soul power,
but without repentance it can end up in the
most diabolical forms of presumption and
rebellion, as we see in the case of King Saul.
Persecuting those who were faithful to the
Lord, Saul killed the true priests and spent
one of his last nights in the house of a witch
as the natural conclusion to the direction his
life had taken.
Spiritual authority is a dangerous occupation.
If we are wise, like David, we will not seek a
position of authority, and we will not even
take one which is offered until we are
certain that the Lord is the One giving it.
Satan tempts every one called by God with
the same temptation he offered to Jesus—if
we will bow down to him and his ways, he
will give us authority over kingdoms. God
has called us to rule over kingdoms too, but
His way leads to the cross. The authority He
offers us can only be attained if we become
servants of all. Satan’s temptation is to offer
the quick and easy path to the same place
that God has in fact called us.
One of the most frequent phrases attributed
to David’s life was, “David inquired
of the Lord” (see I Samuel 30:8). On the
few occasions when David made a major
decision without inquiring of the Lord, the
consequences were devastating. The higher
the position of authority, the more dangerous
it is and the more people are affected by
even seemingly insignificant decisions. True
spiritual authority is not an honor to be
sought; it is a burden to be carried. Many
who seek authority and influence do not
know what they are asking for. Immaturity
can be our doom if authority is given to us
before our time.
Even though David lived a thousand
years before the age of grace, he knew the
Lord’s grace and lived by it. Yet he still made
mistakes which cost thousands of lives. It was
probably because Solomon had observed this
in his father that the one thing he desired
was wisdom to rule over God’s people.
Anyone called to a position of leadership
in the church must have the same devotion.
Even if we are not in a position of spiritual
authority, presumption can kill us. If we are
in a position of authority, presumption will
almost certainly lead to our fall and to the
fall of many others as well.
The gift of a word of knowledge can be
an awesome demonstration of power, but
those who are called to walk in spiritual
authority would do well to seek words of
wisdom even more than words of knowledge.
We need demonstrations of power and
words of knowledge to accomplish the work
of the Lord, but it is essential that we also
have the wisdom to use them properly.
Humility Is a Safety Net
Those who attain prominence before
humility will almost certainly fall. Therefore,
if we have wisdom, we will seek humility
before position. True authority operates on
the grace of God, and the more authority we
walk in, the more grace we will need. We only
have true spiritual authority to
the degree that the King lives within us.
True spiritual authority is not position; it is
grace. Counterfeit spiritual authority stands
on its position instead of grace. Jesus is
the highest spiritual authority, and He used
His position to lay down His life. He commanded
those who would come after Him
to take up their crosses and do the same
(see Matthew 16:24).
A simple distinguishing factor between
the false prophets and the true is false
prophets use their gifts and the people for
themselves, and true prophets use their
gifts and give themselves for the people.
Again, self-seeking, self-promotion, and
self-preservation are the most destructive
forces to true ministry. Like King Saul, even
if we have been anointed by God, we can
fall to witchcraft if these forces gain control
Protection from Charismatic Witchcraft
Not only must those in leadership be
wary of using witchcraft, they must also be
aware that they will be the primary target
of those who do. Therefore, witchcraft is an
enemy we must guard against from within
and without. It is just as subtle when it attacks
from without as when it takes ground
from within. This form of sorcery is seldom
what we call “black magic” but is usually a
form of “white witchcraft.” Those who practice
it are often well-meaning people who do not
have the confidence to be straightforward,
and have therefore fallen to subtle forms of
manipulation to gain influence.
One prominent form of white witchcraft,
which is common in the church, can be
described as “charismatic witchcraft.” This is
a pseudo-spirituality used to gain influence
or control by wearing a super-spiritual mask.
This is a source of false prophecies, dreams,
and visions which ultimately destroy or
neutralize a church, or bring the leadership
to the point where they overreact so as to
despise prophecy altogether. Those using
this form of witchcraft will almost always
think that they have the mind of the Lord,
and therefore conclude that the leadership
are the ones in rebellion.
Jezebel, who is one of the archetypes of
witchcraft in Scripture, used her power to
control her husband, who had the authority
over Israel. She was also able to bring such
depression upon Elijah that he sought death
over life, even after his greatest spiritual victory.
Great power is in this evil. Those who
are ignorant of it, or who presumptuously
disregard its potential to affect them, are very
often brought down by it, usually without
ever knowing what hit them.
Ahab may have easily been overpowered,
but Elijah was certainly no wimp. He had just
single-handedly confronted and destroyed
more than eight hundred false prophets.
This was one of the greatest demonstrations
of God’s power over evil in all of history.
Yet after this, one woman operating in the
power of witchcraft was able to send the
great prophet fleeing in discouragement.
How could this happen? Compared to
the power of God, all the power of the evil
one would not even register on the scale!
The newest babe in Christ has more power
dwelling in him than all of the antichrists put
together. How is it that we are still overcome
by evil? It is because Satan does not confront
God’s people with power; he seduces them
Compared to the eight hundred false
prophets, who was this one woman to
challenge Elijah? Certainly he could have
destroyed her power even more easily
than he had destroyed the power of
the false prophets. It was not rational for
Elijah to have become so discouraged
because of Jezebel’s threat, but that is
precisely the point: This attack did not come
through reasoning; it was a spiritual attack.
Reasoning usually has little to do with the
power of witchcraft.
Jezebel slammed Elijah immediately after
his greatest victory, and he was overpowered.
We will often be most vulnerable to this
attack after a great victory, because it is
then that we tend to drop our guard and
be the most open to pride. So, our first
defense against the attacks of the enemy
through witchcraft, or any other tactic, is to
maintain the humility of knowing that we are
standing only by God’s grace. Pride leaves
a breach in our armor that the enemy can
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