I was in my first year in junior secondary school. It was a boarding school. My parents had decided to send me and my sisters to a popular girls’ school in our homestate for ‘exposure.’
At that time, my parents were conservative Christians, and the church we attended was word-based – but quite conservative. Even though they believed in the baptism of the Holy Spirit and the gifts of the Spirit, these were not really exhibited – like they were in other pentecostal churches.
I was there for only one year, but it was in that school I first experienced the excesses of pentecostalism – and why people spoke negatively about the manifestations of the Spirit.
It was creepy. And terrifying.
At night, after lights out, these girls would begin a kind of ‘fellowship’. They would pray, sing, clap – then begin to manifest the ‘gifts of the spirit’:
Speaking in wild tongues. Crying. Screaming. Giving prophecies. Twirling. Shaking. Calling out people by name and giving words of knowledge and wisdom – even shameful ones that exposed the hidden things done by other students.
All in the dark, with just one or two candles.
It was spooky. I had never seen anything like it.
That was my first experience of ‘spiritual manifestations.’
My heart would be thudding hard, and my body would be trembling as I stood in the circle with the other students.
One day, I just told God, “I don’t want the Holy Spirit. I don’t want the baptism of the Holy Spirit. I don’t want to have anything to do with the Holy Spirit.”
I was that terrified.
I also heard a lot of stories about ministers who used demonic powers over their members – and how you had to be careful not to be bewitched. I heard it so many times that I didn’t trust any move or manifestations of the Spirit. I was frightened of being deceived and possessed.
Then I got into the university.
In my very first year, God – in a really funny way – led me to a fellowship and connected me to a group of Christians. There, again, I saw the manifestations of the Spirit and His gifts –
And, this time, I wanted it.
God, I wanted it. Badly.
But it seemed no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t get baptized in the Holy Spirit. I remember telling God I was sorry for rejecting the Holy Spirit and He should please give Him to me. Anytime we prayed about it, I would pray tensely, intensely, and desperately.
Looking back now, I smile. It is so easy to receive the Holy Spirit.
Finally, a friend told me about his own experience and what the minister told him. Using the same words, he said, “Deborah, the Spirit is more willing than you are.”
It was as if chains were broken, and burdens of guilt and unworthiness fell off. The next time, a group of us held hands, I ‘released’ myself, fell under the anointing – and I began to speak in tongues.
Later that day, I got back to the hostel. I was alone in the room and I began to pray, hesitantly, in tongues. Then, very forcefully, the old fear gripped me, and all kinds of thoughts began to play out in my mind. “Suppose this is not the Holy Spirit? Suppose I have gotten possessed? Suppose abcdwxyz?’
I didn’t know where I got the knowledge or boldness from (obviously it was the Holy Spirit), but I knelt by my bunk and said, “I come against you spirit of fear. I rebuke you and I command you to get out in Jesus name!”
Immediately I said that, I felt something leave me, and though my physical eyes couldn’t see anything, I could ‘sense’ it walking out of my room. I actually followed its path as it moved by my bunk, through the room and out of the door.
I didn’t realised I had been held bound by a spirit of fear because of what I had experienced and all I had heard.
Now, there is natural fear – although I wouldn’t use the word ‘fear’. Maybe ‘caution’. It’s really there to protect you:
Being careful not to walk alone at night.
Running when you see a lion charging at you – or you see a fire explosion.
Not allowing strangers into your home at night, especially when you are alone or have children.
These are normal fears meant to protect you.
But there is a spirit of fear that cripples and binds you from true freedom, true liberty and being all that God calls you to be.
This spirit usually attaches itself to strongly emotional situations. When you go through an experience that affects your emotions and causes you to be deeply terrified – and you do not deal with the fear immediately – a spirit of fear attaches itself.
A Christian cannot be possessed, but he/she can be oppressed because an opening has been made through an emotional experience. The more I grow in God, the more I realise how powerful our emotions are and why they should be constantly brought under Him. Demonic spirits of fear, anger, unforgiveness, etc. usually attach themselves to unyielded emotions – especially when they have been unresolved for a long time.
I once heard a well-known minister share about how there was a riot in the city where he lived in. Killings and maimings were going on, and – by God’s grace and the skin of his teeth – he managed to get a vehicle out of the city. As the vehicle passed by, he noticed this particular dead body on the road.
Days after, the riot ceased and he returned to the city. As he passed by, he saw a flock of vultures on that corpse. He didn’t think much of it.
Years later, he started having horrible issues in his marriage. When he finally decided to seek the Lord, he had a vision of that corpse with the vultures – and the Holy Spirit told him clearly, “Unhealed wounds attract demons.” (I didn’t plan on telling this story, but someone needed this.)
That’s why you see people who have experienced heartbreak by a loved one, or rejection by a parent, or failure in a business or enterprise – and they haven’t dealt with the pain before God. After sometime, these wounds begin to fester and the smell of them – in the spirit – attracts demons.
Same with fear. When an experience causes you to be deeply afraid and you don’t deal with the fear, a spirit of fear attaches itself to your emotions.
This spirit also attaches itself to us when our gates (eyes, ears, etc.) are filled with things that cause fear. Like my experience above, I had constantly heard a lot of things about evil pastors, demonic manifestations and bewitchment. So, I became afraid.
-You watch horror films constantly – and you can’t sleep at night when you hear the slightest sound. (I once read that a well-known horror fiction writer says he sleeps with the lights on. I don’t blame him.)
-You have constantly heard “You are a failure,” or constantly seen the way people treat you after you have failed – again. So you stop trying.
-You might have heard about or seen a lot of divorces, breakups and infidelity around you – and so you are afraid of getting married.
The spirit of fear keeps you bound – from being all that God wants you to be, and from coming into the fullness of all He has for you.
So, how do you get rid of this spirit?
(1) Ask God to reveal to you areas of your life where this spirit might be hidden – or has a stronghold. Sometimes you might be unaware that you are held bound by the spirit of fear until you come into the light – or until a situation arises that reveals it. Once He reveals it,
(2) Rebuke it with the Word, the Blood and the Name of Jesus.
(3) Get into the Word and see what God says about that situation – or, better yet, get a specific word from Him concerning that situation. The Word fills you with faith. Faith and fear cannot exist side by side.
(4) Speak this Word received over yourself constantly until it becomes flesh – and total boldness manifests.
(5) Guard your gates. Faith comes by hearing. Fear, too, comes by hearing. If what/who you are constantly listening to is fear-inducing, cut it/them off. Deliberately choose to build up your faith.
(6) Be filled with the Spirit. Pray in tongues as much as you can. It builds up your faith. (Jude 20). When your faith is built up, there is hardly room for fear.
‘For God has not given us the spirit of fear, but of power, love and a sound mind.’ (2Timothy 1:7)