“She has a Jezebel spirit!”
I used to be confused, as I neither knew who Jezebel was, nor how her spirit had invaded this younger lady. But the person talking appeared passionate. Apparently, a younger lady in his church was being an issue—gossiping or some such matter. In fact, I used to be a brand new Christian on the time, visiting the native Pentecostal church to see what it was like. Seems on this occasion, it wasn’t so nice.
As an grownup, I’ve spent lots of time in Pentecostal/charismatic circles, and I’ve heard comparable language. “Let’s ask God for a spirit of peace” or “I sense a spirit of fear,” for instance. My level right here isn’t to adjudicate the reality of those claims, however to evaluate the usefulness of this language. What are we speaking about once we speak concerning the “spirit of” this or that?
Or, put in charismatic parlance, there’s a spirit of confusion afoot right here. Let’s see if we are able to forged it out.
The Bible doesn’t shrink back from speaking about spirits—and never simply the third particular person of the Godhead, although he’s definitely paramount. But there are different makes use of of “spirit” language which will shock us Reformed sorts. Right here’s a number of:
- A spirit of ability: “You shall speak to all the skillful, whom I have filled with a spirit of skill” (Exod. 28:3).
- A spirit of jealousy: “. . . and if the spirit of jealousy comes over him and he is jealous of his wife” (Num. 5:14).
- A spirit of knowledge: “Joshua the son of Nun was full of the spirit of wisdom” (Deut. 34:9)
- A spirit of one other particular person: “Now when the sons of the prophets who were at Jericho saw him opposite them, they said, ‘The spirit of Elijah rests on Elisha’” (2 Kings 2:15)
- A spirit of confusion: “The LORD has mingled within her a spirit of confusion” (Isa. 19:14).
- A spirit of slavery: “For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear” (Rom. 8:15).
- A spirit of affection and gentleness: “What do you wish? Shall I come to you with a rod, or with love in a spirit of gentleness?” (1 Cor. 4:21).
- A spirit of antichrist: “Every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist” (1 John 4:3).
For the reason that Scriptures don’t keep away from “spirit of” language, we shouldn’t be too fast to dismiss those that do. We could also be dismissing knowledge.
Arduous to Outline
All this forces the query: what does the Bible imply when it speaks this manner? The reply is difficult. Generally, “spirit of” language appears to explain a demonic being or Devil himself. Different occasions, it appears to explain an particularly important dose of considered one of God’s communicable attributes (for instance, “a spirit of love” or “the spirit of wisdom”). Nonetheless different occasions, it describes an emotional state related with religious exercise (e.g., “a spirit of jealousy” or “a spirit of confusion”). All different usages describe the spirit of an individual.
We should remind ourselves, first, of the biblical phrases for our English phrase spirit. The foundation phrases (ruach in Hebrew, pneuma in Greek) all level to concepts like breath, wind, or drive. The uniting thought behind all of them is the idea of power. It seems the Bible’s spirit language is as tough to seize because the windy power to which it factors. And but, once we really feel it or see it transfer issues, everyone knows what we’re speaking about.
Second, we should resist the urge to make Scripture communicate univocally a couple of factor when it merely doesn’t. As famous above, “spirit of” language is different in not less than 4 methods (and that’s only a temporary survey). These of us who love tidy theological language balk at what looks like messy verbiage. If we’re not cautious, although, we could also be balking on the Bible.
Is the “spirit of confusion” a supernatural agent or a psychological state of affairs? Arduous to say, given the Bible’s use of the phrases. That is actually the place the rubber meets the highway, nonetheless. As a result of we really feel prefer it should be one or the opposite.
I get it. After we hear a Christian describe somebody’s dangerous perspective as “a spirit of rebellion,” we could also be inclined to right them. It’s not a spirit, you suppose, it’s a nasty perspective. However why are we so fast draw a line between what’s religious and what’s pure when the Spirit’s ebook doesn’t?
To the Hebrew thoughts, the entire world is God’s. There was no sharp line marking off the pure world from the religious or supernatural. That’s our latest, Enlightenment revival of historic Epicureanism. After we blindly collude with Epicureanism, we’re not serving to our mission to make Jesus recognized to the world. We’re taking part in the sport by the incorrect guidelines. God doesn’t like unbiblical packing containers and, it seems, neither does his Phrase.
Ought to We Forged It Out?
Given what we’ve found, how then will we reside? For a few of you studying this text, you’ve by no means thought of something to be a spirit of the rest. Others of you’re extra inclined to overspiritualize every little thing, discovering a crouching demon behind each bad-behavior bush.
Briefly, listed here are 4 sensible steps to navigate the spirit-saturated world we inhabit:
1. Pay attention lovingly. Keep in mind, “Love believes all things” (1 Cor. 13:7). That’s, the center posture of 1 Christian to a different—sure, even Christians with whom you disagree on various points—must be loving belief, believing what they are saying as finest you may.
2. Ask what they imply. Nothing clarifies like a well-placed query. If somebody says one thing you don’t perceive, don’t assume you do perceive by not asking.
3. Ask God. In response to the New Testomony, discernment is a religious present. We must always ask the Lord if the factor we’re seeing is an emotional state or a demon. One wants casting out; the opposite might have counseling.
4. Reply appropriately. If somebody has a spirit of ability, have a good time and reward God. And by all means allow them to create. If somebody has a spirit of antichrist, pray and put together to forged it into the abyss. We received’t know what we’re coping with, nonetheless, if we assume unbiblical classes.
I’m nonetheless unsure if that lady had a Jezebel spirit. Or, extra precisely, I’m unsure what was meant by that remark. However I belief the long run will present us with alternatives to listen to such language biblically, lovingly, discerningly, and responsively. If we do, I’m certain our downside with the spirit of confusion will clear up, and we’ll hear one another as soon as extra.