The System of Control
There is a system of control in the church that acts as a prison cell for believers. This system has been put in place by the religious spirit and the political spirit. The Jezebel spirit is also in operation in some circumstances through manipulation and control. In other situations, ambition and ministry building are keeping believers imprisoned. Many believers are completely unaware that they are trapped in prison. The purpose of this teaching is to shine light and expose the darkness (Ephesians 5:11-13). Also, "to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound" (Isaiah 61:1).
The Political Spirit
The pastors of some congregations have family or friends in leadership positions. Many times family or friends of the pastor are called to ministry and should be in a key leadership position. And sometimes they are not. They simply have the position because the pastor has put them there. Sometimes the family member or friend is called to a leadership position, but is not spiritually mature enough (not ready) to be in that position. However, because the person has a close relationship with the the pastor or leader; the person gets the position anyway. Another example is when a friend or family member of the pastor is living in sin and needs to be removed from their leadership position in order to go through repentance and restoration. But the pastor or leader will not deal with the situation because of the close ties to that person. These scenarios are signs of the political spirit at work in the church.
Leaders who are under the control of the political spirit will cover up or ignore the sins of their own family or friends just as Eli did. Eli despised the Lord by allowing his sons to continue in ministry while living in unrepentant sin. Therefore Eli was lightly esteemed by God (1 Samuel 2:30).
Pastors who place an immature leader into a seat of authority are actually setting that immature leader up for failure. It will take three times as long for the leader to reach the place of ministry maturity if this occurs. It will also be very damaging to the believers in the congregation. People will get hurt and this is sad. This is especially true when dealing with youth ministry. The younger generation needs a leader who has reached a higher level of maturity. The younger generation needs a spiritual father and mother.
Elders in most congregations do not have the proper authority to stand in that office. This can create major problems and hinder the flow of the Holy Spirit. True elders are apostles, prophets, and teachers. Please see the teaching on "The Apostolic City Church" for the entire explanation.
The Religious Spirit
The religious spirit works hand and hand with the political spirit. When most people think of the religious spirit they think of rejecting the gifts and moving of the Holy Spirit. While this is true, I have experienced a whole other side to the religious spirit. The other side of this spirit is the source of the distorted grace message in the church. This spirit will wage war against the Lord's true disciples. Anyone who chooses holiness is a target.
It is a good and pure thing for disciples of Jesus to be free of a worldly life style. That means fleshy movies that contaminate the soul (98% of movies put out by Hollywood are of Babylon). Worldly TV shows, magazines, music, friends, and a worldly social lifestyle. When worldly things are put into your soul, it becomes dull and worldly. I have witnessed leadership in the church who is bound in these worldly lifestyles by Babylon. Then a religious spirit is controlling them. Therefore, anyone who is carrying their cross and denying the lusts of this world, is a target. Pressure is released against the Lord's disciples in the spirit realm. Disciples are made to feel bad that they are pursing the Lord in holiness. This religious spirit will attack the disciple and accuse them of being religious or having a religious spirit themselves. It's a reverse attack from the usual way the religious spirit operates. The disciple must stand strong in the grace of the Lord against this spirit.
Our course there are many congregations that are under the control of the religious spirit in the usual way. This spirit is in control of the meeting, not the Holy Spirit. The religious spirit's agenda is to keep believers from experiencing the presence of the Lord, and from going deep into intimacy with Him. The Lord is extremely angry with this. He hates his people being held in this bondage. He longs to have intimate relationship with us, and will bring judgment against this spirit in order to set his people free. Of course this will manifest in the natural with ministries either collapsing, or repenting and allowing the Holy Spirit to move.
I have been in meetings where the worship service stops, so a promotional video can be played. I have been in services where they stop and read scriptures during the middle of worship. When these things happen I can feel the intimacy and anointing being sucked out of the room. Of course scriptures can be read during worship, but only at the Holy Spirit's direction. Not by the planning of man. Worship is a time to go so deep into the Lord's presence that you become one with Him. Could you imagine making love to your wife or husband, and someone keeps interrupting you? But this is exactly what the religious spirit does. It keeps believers from getting close to the Lord through the traditions of men.
The religious spirit controls leaders by not allowing the gifts of the spirit to operate in the church. The leader may even say that he believes in the gifts, but if the leader is controlled by the religious spirit; he will not allow them to operate in church. Leaders who are controlled by this spirit will not allow the Holy Spirit to be free and move among the people. They will keep the service in "their" definition of order (not God's definition). They will control the Spirit of God. So most of the time, the Spirit of God will not come and visit that congregation. The Holy Spirit will not be controlled. Sometimes the Holy Spirit desires to come upon His people in such a way that people are shaking (even some on the floor). Sometimes He wishes to come and touch people with so much of His power that they can no longer stand on their feet. The Lord can do whatever He wants to do. Who is man to tell Him, the great King, what He can and can't do. Yet leadership controlled by the religious spirit does exactly that. This is great error and deep pride on the leaders part. The Lord will deal with this in His church.
Manipulation and Control
Where manipulation and control are found among leadership, it is possible that the Jezebel spirit is behind it. The same spirit that controlled the original Jezebel (during the time of Elijah), is still in operation today. I have noticed that confusion and misunderstandings are prevalent in a congregation where the leadership is operating in control and manipulation. This kind of leadership can never trust the people, and therefore secrets are often kept. Believers might "mess things up," so they are treated more like slaves than sons. Leaders who are under the influence of Jezebel hardly ever empower anyone else (with the exception of their own family). They simply keep a tight hold on their position, so that no one will take it from them. They fear losing their influence. They fear someone else who is called to ministry, will rise in influence and steal "their" sheep. These leaders may talk about equipping and empowering believers, but talk is all they do. Oftentimes they operate in pride, thinking no one else can do ministry as good as them. Others, if given an opportunity to lead, would simply mess things up. These are the ministries who have the exact same leadership posted on their website year after year. Nothing changes. No movement. No freedom. No empowering and releasing. Only stagnation.
Controlling ministries like these will use manipulation to keep believers in "their" church. If someone does leave their congregation, they will create an atmosphere of shame so that other believers will feel bad about leaving. Leadership will portray people that leave their ministry as "unfaithful." Controlling leadership will also brand people who leave as "not submissive the authority" and "only wanting to do their own thing." These leaders will have "visions" or "prophetic words" that are manipulative in nature. Such as, "I saw people leaving the church. Right after some people left, the Lord started to move in healings and power. The Holy Spirit was poured out. We don't want to miss what the Lord is going to do." Essentially "their revelation" manipulates people who are thinking of leaving, in to staying at their church. Any revelation that is manipulative in nature is not of the Lord. The leader who received the revelation may think it's from the Lord, but really it is from the spirit that is controlling him. Because the leader's heart is not pure, the revelation they receive is distorted.
Controlling leaders will also make believers feel bad for not coming to church or a certain meeting. They will write and say things that condemn a believer for not showing up. This kind of treatment is very manipulative and can be extremely damaging to the believer. These leaders are not really leaders, or they are immature leaders at best. Jesus didn't use manipulation to get people to come to His meetings. He was so full of the presence and power of the Holy Spirit that thousands just came. Maybe if these controlling leaders spent more time in the presence of the Lord for the sake of relationship, they wouldn't have to resort to shallow tactics of manipulation.
Ambition and Ministry Building
Jesus demonstrated excellent leadership when He said, "And whoever of you desires to be first shall be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:44-45 NKJV)
Jesus gave time, revelation, power, authority, and His own platform to the 12 apostles; and the 70 disciples. He poured Himself out to empower and release others. He did all that he could do to propel people into their destiny. Jesus served. Some leaders in the evangelical and charismatic church have seemingly forgotten this. These leaders seek to build their ministry and increase their influence. Instead of releasing others to plant and pastor churches, they themselves lead a new church from a distance through technological means. Instead of releasing other leaders to start their own ministry, these leaders only add to their ministry. Each new church plant is named after their own ministry. This enables their ministry to become large and successful in the eyes of the American church. Then the leader begins to get connected with other well known leaders in the American church. Now they have recognition. Their ministry continues to grow, and they have attained to success.
This, however, is success according to the pride of life; not the kingdom of God. Let us look at how the Lord views leadership success: And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: (Ephesians 4:11-12 KJV)
Jesus measures a leaders success on a number of things. We will address two of those things here. First, did the leader use his ministry office to bring the saints to a level of perfection? Did the believer become mature sitting under the leaders ministry? Second, was the believer made ready for the work of ministry that that particular believer was called to do? The primary focus of leadership in the church should be bringing believers to maturity, and empowering believers to fulfill their callings. Leaders who focus on building their own ministry will suffer great loss on the day of judgment.
I have seen some very sad things in the church in regards to ministry building. I have heard a leader tell the congregation that "some people don't serve in the church because they are lazy." These types of leaders are always putting the focus on people serving their ministry. Thus the ministry is being built for the leader. The leader's focus is never on himself serving, maturity, empowering, and releasing people into their callings. The leader's focus is on himself and his ministry. The leaders self-life has never been crucified in the wilderness. This kind of leadership will keep believers blinded and in bondage.
This system of control is holding many believers back from the Lord's perfect will for their lives. Many believers have died being trapped in this system, and never went on to fullness. These believers will occupy a lower place in Heaven, because they did not have the relationship with the Lord that they should have had. This grieves the Lord deeply. He hates this system. One of the mandates of this ministry is to see this system of control burn with fire. Our mission is for this system to be removed, so people will know the Lord and walk intimately with Him. The Lord is about ready to judge this entire system. It would be best if leaders who are controlled by this system, humble themselves and repent. The alternative to that is not a good option. The Lord will set His people free, for He has heard their groaning (Exodus 2:24). The Lord's deliverers and reformers are being released.
I would encourage every believer who is apart of a congregation that is under the control of this system; to come out of the prison cell. You will never reach your potential if you stay in the prison. In fact, you will die there (spiritually). There are safe places for you to go and the Holy Spirit will direct you. Don't allow control, manipulation, or fear to keep you in that congregation or ministry. The enemy will come against you and tell you that you are not loyal. But you must abide in the strength and courage of the Lord; and break out!
In a final word, I must write that sometimes the Lord allows believers to remain in the system of control for a time. He can use the system to train and mature the believer. Therefore, always follow the leading and timing of the Holy Spirit. Obey Him, not man. It is a huge step simply to understand the kind of ministry you are sitting under.