In giving Laura a well deserved break, I (Dave) have decided to write this week’s blog.
There has been a lot of buzz in some circles of the body of Christ about the Jezebel spirit. Many books have been written about it, and messages preached on it. It is a very serious thing.
But I believe that in our fervency to make sure we don’t “tolerate that woman Jezebel” (Rev. 2:20) the enemy has used Christian leaders to falsely accuse people in the body of Christ of this (mostly woman), causing them to be deeply wounded in their spirit, if not lose their faith over it. That is simply wrong, and a blemish we need to remove from our garments.
Many have defined the spirit of Jezebel as a strong controlling spirit. Others believe it is an unsubmissive wife. It is crucial we look at what the scripture says about this, so we fight the right fight and avoid wrongfully accusing our brothers and sisters of such a horrific thing.
First off, nowhere in scripture will you find the term “spirit of Jezebel.” Scripture tells us of all sorts of types of spirits such as a “spirit of stupor” (Rom. 11:8), “an impure spirit” (Matt.12:43) “You deaf and mute spirit” (Mark 9:25) and others. Now I am no Bible scholar, but what I find curious, is that the only place I’ve ever found where Jesus told a spirit to name itself was when He encountered the demon possessed man that lived among the tombs in the eastern coastal area of the Sea of Galilee in Mark 5:1-20. Verse 9 says, “Then Jesus asked him, ‘What is your name?’ ‘My name is Legion,’ he replied, ‘for we are many.’” So, other than this example, as far as I can tell, naming of spirits is something man came up with, not a scriptural practice. I’m not saying it’s wrong, I’m just making an observation that it may be subject to error, since it is man’s idea. (I also find it interesting that when the term spirit is used in the Bible, it is overwhelmingly referring to the Holy Spirit or an attribute of the Spirit of God.)
So where does this “spirit of Jezebel” get its name? Let’s look at when Jesus told John to write to the church of Thyatira in Rev. 2:18-29. Verse 20 “Nevertheless, I have this against you: You tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess. By her teaching she misleads my servants into sexual immorality and the eating of food sacrificed to idols.”
To better understand this, we need to understand the culture the church of Thyatira found itself in. As a city in the Roman Empire, it was a center of trade and the home of worship of the Greek pagan god, Apollo. Trade guilds ruled the economy and you had to be a member of a guild to practice your trade. These guilds were intertwined in the culture and had constant meetings where members worshiped Apollo, sacrificed animals to him and had banquets serving meat sacrificed to him. Worship also included having sex with the priestess. Since you were required to be in a guild for employment, it was demanded that you take part in these daily rituals. You can see the struggle the church had. But unlike the counter cultural church in Smyrna that would endure persecution rather than worship another God, the church in Thyatira accommodated it.
Back to what Jesus said in Revelation, first, notice that this woman named Jezebel calls herself a prophetess. That should be an immediate red flag to anyone, especially church leaders.
Second, she was placed in a position of leadership in the church and taught that it was fine to give into these cultural requirements for employment. The leaders allowed her to “mislead my servants in to sexual immorality and the eating of food sacrificed to idols.”
This was actually in direct defiance of the only requirements placed on the church (other than the two commandments of loving God and our Christian brothers and sisters) found in Acts 15.
The early church had a very divisive issue come up regarding the gentiles who were getting saved; they were not circumcised. Some in the church were saying if the gentiles were not circumcised, they were not saved. So the apostles met to discuss this issue, and determined that it was not of God to force circumcision and other requirements of the law on the Gentile believers. They sent the church in Antioch a letter saying “It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us not to burden you with anything beyond the following requirements: You are to abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from the meat of strangled animals and from sexual immorality. You will do well to avoid these things.” (Acts 15:28-29)
Compare that to what we read Jesus told the church in Thyatira “Now I say to the rest of you in Thyatira, to you who do not hold to her teaching and have not learned Satan’s so-called deep secrets, ‘I will not impose any other burden on you, except to hold on to what you have until I come.’”. Did you notice that? The same words are used both by the early church leaders and Jesus: They both stated they will not impose or lay any other burden on the believers, and they both said the main issues were abstaining from sexual immorality and do not eat food sacrificed to idols.
This is the “spirit” of Jezebel directly described by our savior! The trait the woman named Jezebel in Revelation had in common with Jezebel in the Old Testament was seducing His people into accepting sexual immorality and idol worship in the teachings and practice of His people. This was in direct defiance to the exact two things the early church was instructed not to do.
So before “discerning” a Jezebel spirit in someone, if that person is not seducing others into sexual immorality or encouraging them to eat meat offered to idols (compromising in their relationship with God and His importance in his or her life) then do not use that label, for this is what Jesus himself described it as.
I would also say that I don’t believe it was the fact that the leaders allowed the woman Jezebel to fellowship in their church (even with that lifestyle), that Jesus had the problem with. It was the fact that as leaders, they allowed her to teach her false beliefs and accommodated it in the church, instead of correcting her and protecting the rest of the saints from such abusive and outright rebellious teaching.
So why do so many diagnose the “spirit of Jezebel” based on the domineering traits of the Old Testament Jezebel? Let’s tackle that question next.
Gems from the Crown is a weekly blog from Crown of Glory Ministries to strengthen and encourage believers in Christ in their walk with God, especially in the areas of vision, authority, and identity. If you would like to have Gems from the Crown delivered directly to you, please click here.