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When a friend like Tom, with 42 years in the ministry, says that he has come across something new, I stop and listen. As our meeting was breaking up, I asked him how I could pray for his church. He paused and sat back down.

"I've never encountered this before," he said. "Five of our people have come to me recently without knowledge of each other to report that for the last year there seems to be a terrible heaviness in their spirits whenever they enter the church. One described it as a dark cloud descending on her. It was even mentioned once by visitors who didn't return. Could this be an enemy attack?"

As I walked to my car later, Tom's question remained with me. I thought about times when an undefined mood had enveloped me and others around me in ministry. I realized that these moments came at spiritually critical times in the church's life.

I began to recall hearing from other churches in crisis situations: "It's like a blanket of suspicion settled down over us, and we couldn't understand why suddenly no one trusted each other." Or, "There just seems to be an atmosphere of despair. Our church has always been up for anything, but now we're starting to hear, 'Nothing will work.'"

Some common threads appeared. A vague and indefinable mood would begin to affect an individual involved in significant ministry. Sometimes it affected multiple people, who would comment on it independently. Commonly you'd hear, "I have never felt this way before" or "He just doesn't seem like himself!"

Frequently, no cause could be found for what was being felt. But it would halt ministry. Strong Christians found themselves behaving irritably or trudging dispiritedly through ministry, which normally would have energized them. It was a sudden atmospheric change. A mood swing by an entire group. I had always seen temptation as an attack against our thought lives. But why should Satan attack just our thoughts and not our moods? Moods motivate or demotivate. Our unseen enemy tries to deceive, to twist our thinking into false doctrines. It appears a malevolent spirit may also manipulate feelings to produce wrong actions.

When Jesus taught the disciples that "This kind (of demon) comes out only by prayer and fasting," he indicated that there is more than one kind of demon and more than one kind of attack, which must be repulsed in more than one kind of way.

Scriptural examples abound. When King Saul was no longer under God's favor, an evil spirit accelerated his decline. The spirit's attacks involved a dark mood that would come over Saul and cause him to lash out in murderous rage.

Jesus warned Peter that Satan desired to sift them as wheat. But no one believes that Peter denied Jesus because he had been led into false doctrine, concluding that Jesus was not the Messiah. No, Peter had fallen prey to a different sort of attack—a spasm ...

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From Issue:Spiritual Warfare, Spring 2012 | Posted: July 2, 2012

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Displaying 1–3 of 3 comments

Wallace

July 10, 2012  7:48am

Reality - we all need to face the total reality of the Christian life for victory.

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ls

July 09, 2012  4:24pm

how true this is! because of difficulties experienced, i suspected a malevolent spirit, and then it manifested itself. in two separate Sunday services, i saw the glittering yellow eyes of a spirit of mockery, as it turned out. the first service it was in the eyes of every congregant; the second time in one particular individual. as part of the prayer in my heart/mind, as the pastor, i said to it, "O, there you are. Finally out where I can see you." i prayed right at this time and went to my DS and he prayed; three folks left the church and the spirit left with them. the larger congregation was unaware of it's presence, although many were cognizant of the trouble in their midst. within a few short weeks of this, the congregation breathed a sigh of relief and visibly relaxed. we have been in a healthy place since. be assured, evil/malevolent spirits are alive and well in our mainline denominations. but they cannot stand against the name of Jesus! thank Him for that! ls

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Kerry

July 04, 2012  12:27pm

This is a real everyday situation that can affect individuals, families, homes, churches. We call it spiritual warfare when it intensifies and catches our attention, but it's always part of our earthly environment. The world system/culture, our sinful Flesh nature, satan (in reality: demons)are at work in our daily lives and environment. We must choose daily to walk in the Spirit of Christ,crucify the flesh and take our stand against the world system and the demonic realm. See Galations 5&6 for an overview - a little yeast works thru the whole batch. When the individual(s), the family, church, etc. allows and ignores the acts of the sinful nature to work in them, the result is an open door to demons - see 5:13-26! Adultery, gossip, slander, theft,conflicts/factions, unforgiveness, occult, masonry, false doctrine, grieving the Holy Spirit, etc. opens the door to oppression - you can feel it and taste the fruit! Clean House! Repent! Ask the Holy Spirit to convict and correct!

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