By Dr. Steven Lambert
Spiritual abuse, or abuse of authority, remains to be one of the most prevalent though latent problems in the Pentecostal/Neo-Pentecostal church more than four decades after it was first infused into the very fabric, foundations, and functions of that stream of the church through the aupices of the Discipleship or Shepherding Movement in the early 1970s. The deviant doctrines dispersed through that false movement ultimately resulted in the derailment and demise of the Charismatic Movement, as well as the defilement of its myriad of spiritual offspring (believers, churches, ministries) with the spiritually decimating disease of hyper-authoritarianism. Despite the fact that most church leaders of that segment of the church — even more so, it appears, the Neo-Charismatics — multitudes in the U.S. alone were and are victims, whose spiritual and natural lives have been very really affected by this spiritual epidemic.
The real authors of the doctrines of authoritarian abuse are not the original five men who were the main principals of the Shepherding Movement, but rather are the devil and demons, for these teachings were/are among the most pronounced examples of what the Apostle Paul under inspiration of the Spirit identified as “deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons” (1 Tim. 4:1). The net effect of this then is what so many fail or refuse to recognize or acknowledge — that victims of spiritual or authoritarian abuse are not just affected psychologically and therefore, as some ignorantly and callously, castigate should just “get over it and get on with their lives,” but they have become victims of demonization. To state it more directly, spiritual abuse victims are “demonized,” and they desperately need deliverance from the evil spirits (demons) that are the real force behind the spiritual and psychological trauma they have experienced.
It is for this vital reason that we repost here in this forum, which is all about deliverance, this article addressing this extremely important matter. I personally know with a shadow of a doubt from more than three and a half decades of experience in ministering to victims of spiritual abuse that real deliverance is the only real and effectual solution for victims being set free from the enduring emotional devastation of spiritual abuse by hyper-authoritarian church leaders, and that deliverance from the effects of this specialized form of trauma begins with a renouncing of all the covenants the victims entered into with their spiritual slavemasters, or pharaohs. The deceiving evil spirits behind the trauma will remain, no matter how much pyschological or pastoral counseling the person undergoes. Such counseling can sometimes help to some degree, but as we say in the deliverance ministry — you cannot counsel a demon! The only real remedy for demonization is deliverance! Nothing else will have the extraordinary impact that I have personally witnessed when victims of spiritual abuse are delivered from the spiritual terrorism inherent in and at the heart of hyper-authoritarianism. The moment that authoritarian abuse victims verbally reject, renounce, and repent from the ungodly and Biblically unauthorized “covenant relationships” into which they have entered with their spiritual pharaohs and thereby became “slaves of men” (1 Cor. 7:23), the stronghold of “the spirit of slavery” (Rom. 8:15) is obliterated and the unseen “yoke of slavery” (Gal. 5:1) is removed from their necks.
The following is an excerpt from Chapter 11, The Illegitimacy of Religious Enslavement, of my book, Charismatic Captivation, addressing some of the matters I just mentioned:
Be Not Slaves of MenThe simple fact is God does not want us to be under the rule of or be the slaves of men. In fact, He says precisely that in His Word: “You were bought with a price; do not become SLAVES OF MEN” (1 Cor. 7:23).
…God’s Word propounds, “Do you not know that if you continually surrender yourselves to ANY ONE to do HIS WILL, you are the SLAVES of him whom you obey…?” (Rom. 6:16). Whenever Scripture begins a statement with “Do you not know,” it is about to discuss something believers invariably do not know and about which they need to take special note. The term “surrender” in this verse is synonymous with the word “submit,” and the term “yourselves” is referring to the person’s personal will. So, in other words, what is being said here is that whenever someone habitually submits his personal will unto the will of someone else in order to do that other person’s will, in point of fact, he has become the slave of the person to whom he has subordinated himself. Moreover, that, as we discussed in Chapter Nine, is the very definition of witchcraft.
Jesus’ Yoke Vs. The Yoke of SlaveryIn Matthew 11:28‑30 Jesus extends unto all who have become weary from having long labored under the heavy and oppressive yoke of bondage of sin, the invitation to come unto Him and to instead take upon ourselves His yoke:
Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy‑laden, and I will give you rest. Take MY YOKE upon you, and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble of heart; and you shall find rest for your souls. For MY YOKE is easy and my load is light.
A yoke is a metaphor for having subjected oneself under the authority of someone else, a la, for example, the yoke that is placed over the neck of oxen. While under the yoke, oxen, as huge and heavy as they are, become extremely docile creatures, obediently following the tacit prodding of their master‑owner. In this open invitation Jesus is bidding us all to take His yoke upon ourselves, thereby placing ourselves under His perfectly virtuous mastership and ownership, becoming His docile and obedient servants.
Inherent in these words, however, is Jesus’ highlighting of the stark contrasts between the yoke of willing servitude unto Him and the yoke of bondage to sin and to the hard taskmasters in the world who captivate the souls of men. Yokes of bondage devised by Satan are extremely heavy and oppressive fetters that in the end will bring you into total weariness and exhaustion of mind, soul, and even body. Whereas, Jesus says His yoke is easy and His burden is light, and they produce rest for our soul. By contrast, the oppressive yokes of slavery and bondage that leaders who are themselves being driven by an evil religious spirit of domination, control, and witchcraft place upon the necks of their followers, Jesus referred to as “heavy burdens” in his denunciation of the scribes and Pharisees found in the 23rd Chapter of the Gospel of Matthew:
“They tie up heavy burdens and lay them on men’s shoulders, but they themselves are unwilling to move them with so much as a finger.” (v. 4)
“But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you shut off the kingdom of heaven from people; for you do not enter in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in.” (v. 13)
Additionally, in the middle of this quotation, Jesus also points out two extremely significant differences between His yoke and the yoke of bondage. One is that with Jesus, we “learn” of Him, which we know is accomplished through the Holy Spirit’s working to reveal Jesus to us, who also gives us the wherewithal and opportunity to follow after His example and Image, as opposed to the mandated and coerced obedience required in the case of human yokes of bondage.
The other thing Jesus points out is the reason that the two yokes are diametrically opposed to each other: “For I am gentle and humble of heart.” One absolute guarantee concerning the authority that emanates from Jesus is that it will never be heavy‑handed, dictatorial, demanding, overbearing, strong‑arming, or coercive, but rather it will flow out of a genuine gentility and humility of heart and mind after the heart of Jesus, even though it may be required at various and sundry times in certain situations to “reprove, rebuke, exhort, with all perseverance and instruction” (2 Tim. 4:2).
What else is the leadership of the Spirit of God but the “wisdom of God?” And, God describes the wisdom that emanates from Him as being: “first pure [in doctrine and motive], then peaceable, gentle [courteous, kind, and considerate; meek], full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy” (James 3:17, bracketed explanations added by author). Any form of leadership that does not demonstrate these attributes is not flowing from Jesus, and whoever submits himself to such illegitimate authority will be placing himself not under the easy yoke of Jesus, but under the heavy and oppressive yoke of bondage and slavery of men.
In Galatians 5:1 we are warned: “It was for FREEDOM that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a YOKE OF SLAVERY.” Here, God warns us that it is absolutely imperative that we “keep standing firm” in the freedom Christ died to purchase for us and has implanted in our spirit in order to set us free from our former bondage to sin and the devil’s nature. He also commands us to never subject ourselves to any kind of a “yoke of slavery” again, whether it be unto our personal sin or to the sinful acts or conduct of others.
The “yoke of slavery” is not just a metaphor or a figure of speech. It is real. It exists. Having extensive experience in casting demons out of people, I have personally witnessed the “yoke of slavery” on people. People subject themselves to a “yoke of slavery” when they submit themselves or their will unto the control of someone else. I have seen firsthand the powerful bondage people bring upon themselves when they surrender their will unto someone else, whether it be to Satan and sin or to another person.
Actually, as I have already elaborated, whenever someone submits his will unto anyone else, that other person in effect is an idol, or false god, and ultimately it is to demons behind the idol that they have surrendered (1 Cor. 10:19,20). To state it another way, whenever anyone submits his will and surrenders his freedom to someone else, he is committing idolatry and literally submitting himself to demons. To be more specific, the spirits to whom he is submitting himself are “spirits of bondage,” or “spirits of slavery.”
“Spirit of Slavery”In Romans 8:15 comes the Divine admonition: “For you have not received a SPIRIT OF SLAVERY leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, “Abba! Father!” When people yield themselves and their will to someone else they are indeed subjecting themselves to a “yoke of slavery” to Satan and uncontrollable obedience to the temptations of sin he originates. When they do, an actual evil spirit, a “spirit of slavery,” comes in and begins to exert influence upon the person that he or she is powerless to resist.
Ironically, this is the same spirit that brings people under the bondages of compulsions and addictions. It has been my experience that the result is the same in the case of someone who submits himself unto the dominion of another person as it is in the case of someone who is addicted to drugs, alcohol, tobacco, or food, or is a “compulsive gambler” or “compulsive buyer”—all are being coerced by these demons of addiction and compulsion to do things they do not want to do. In the case of someone who has submitted their will to another person, that person actually becomes obsessed with and addicted to the other person in a very similar way as the person who becomes addicted to a substance. It is witchcraft of the highest order—the subject is now under the captivating spell of the one to whom he has submitted himself.
Demonic Soul‑TiesWhen a person surrenders his personal will unto another person in this way, the result is a “soul‑tie,” which, for the reasons stated in the foregoing, evokes supernatural bondage involving the powers of demons. After years of wresting people out of the supernatural throes of demonic bondage consequential to having surrendered their will unto someone else, I am convinced that such “submission” gives opportunity and license to devils to enter into that person’s life and to exert demonic influence and control over that person. Whether what transpires is “possession” or “obsession” or “oppression” matters little, and is only an issue of semantics. The only term used in Scripture for demonic incursion is translated “demonization.” The result is that the person who surrenders his will, whether to a substance, behavior, or the control of another person, no longer has full control over his own life, but has surrendered some measure of that control to demons, allowing them to exert some measure of influence and control in especially the surrendered aspects of the person’s life.
All this is true, regardless of what domain the soul‑tie is operative in, and soul‑ties can exist in just about any realm of human experience. Demonic soul‑ties frequently occur in the case of unwed romantic partners, and definitely and automatically do occur the moment the relationship becomes sexual (1 Cor. 6:16), and they can become especially nefarious and difficult to break when purported “spiritual” evocations are also involved in the relationship. Soul‑ties can also occur in the case of people who have made inordinately intense covenants of special “friendship” wherein they vow excessive and improper devotion and dedication to one another. Christians covenanting with one another as “prayer partners” and in spiritual parenting relationships must beware of this kind of soul-tie developing. Demonic soul‑ties can also be established in the domain of business relationships, especially with partnerships or small corporations involving only a few principals (2 Cor. 6:14‑18). But, the kind of soul‑ties that in many instances are the strongest and most difficult to sever are those of the ilk addressed in this book in which a sincere but spiritually naive disciple of Christ has become enslaved to a spiritual leader by means of the deadly combination of fallacious spiritual indoctrination plus fleshly seduction and charm.
All such soul‑ties are demonic, invite demonic incursion, and result in submission to evil spirits of slavery. This is why the Lord trumpets forth the simple and clear warning: “therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery.”
Sons, Not SlavesThe simple fact is God absolutely prohibits us from becoming slaves to men. Some of the reasons for that are offered in the foregoing. It is from abject slavery and bondage to the hard taskmastery of the chief false god, the devil, that the Lord has delivered us, and to once again subject ourselves to slavery and bondage which leads ultimately to the devil is to in effect trample underfoot the propitiatory sacrifice of Christ and the freedom He thereby obtained for us.
The highest intention and indeed the ultimate plan of God is to make us not slaves, but sons: “Therefore you are no longer a slave, but a SON; and if a son, then an heir through God” (Gal. 4:7). Indeed, that is what redeemed humanity is—sons of God. “Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the SONS OF GOD….Beloved, now are we the sons of God.”
For more than thirty-five years, I have been doing all the Lord has allowed, anointed, and enabled me to do to set captives of spiritual authoritarian abuse free from the bonds of witchcraft, or the “yoke of slavery,” in which they are ensnared.
In the last few years, the Lord has kindled a fire in my belly for the State of Florida in particular. Not only to do what I can to set the captives residing in this State free, but also to be used of the Lord to ignite prophesied fires of revival and refinement in the humanly nicknamed “Sunshine State,” but Heavenly named, “Sonshine State.”
Florida is an apostolic state, in that the apostolic anointing and function is a “first-in” anointing and function (1 Cor. 12:28) — a forerunner, pioneering, breakthrough anointing. Virtually all the original famed explorers’ forays into the New World were along Florida’s then surreal sand-covered beaches. Spanish explorer, Juan Ponce de Leon, is accredited with the original discovery, in 1513, of the pristine paradisal peninsula, which is encompassed on three sides by the immense waters of the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico. The lush flora and foliage pervading it partially influenced the awed adventurer’s naming of the newly found land.
Further demonstrating the State’s apostolic roots, though it is not been widely chronicled, a number of critical conflicts, conflagrations, and events precipitating the colonization and early establishment of America occurred here in Florida.
Florida is a proverbial “Fort Knox,” financially speaking, because much of the world’s wealthiest and most influential people reside in or hold properties or interests somewhere in the pearled peninsula. For multiple consecutive years, the sparse, exclusive enclaves of Jupiter/Hutchison Islands have been ascribed the wealthiest per household hamlets in America. The unimaginable dense concentration of mammon represented in the State of necessity then comprises a lion share of the “wealth of the wicked” God declares is stored up for the righteous of the End-times Church Jesus is building that is required to finance the final great global in-gathering of souls.
For these reasons and much more that cannot be addressed in this article, one of the most ferocious pitched battles between Heaven and Hell is over the 60,000 total square miles of land mass comprising the State of Florida, but more importantly, over the some 18 million souls who inhabit it. Numerous profound and portentous prophecies by prominent voices foretelling major moves of the Spirit of God have been trumpeted during the 20th and now early part of the 21st Centuries. What some have purported to be a “Prophetic Movement,” which is a precursor of the nascent “Apostolic Movement,” was launched from the panhandle of Florida, where one of the most significant modern protracted outbreaks of the Spirit, the “Brownsville Revival,” also occurred. The sleepy Central Florida town of Lakeland was the somewhat unlikely host of the so-called “river” or “laughing” revival in the early 1990s through the ministry of Rodney Howard-Browne and the aegis of Carpenter’s Home Church, itself a significant phenomenon, burgeoning into a multi-thousand-member super-church over the span of three decades in the late 1900s. Similar growth bursts transpired during that same span in a number of other Florida locales as well. Still today, Florida is graced with a number of mega- and super- and large Neo-Pentecostal churches that are offshoots of the spectrum of spiritual streams flowing in the State.
Unfortunately, however, as an apostolic State, the master-deceiver, the “prince of the power of the air,” has also in times past hijacked the spiritual air-currents of the fair State whose name is also partially derived from the Spanish word for Easter, for propagation of some of his most diabolical and damaging handiworks of deception — “winds of doctrine,” i.e., false movements founded on “doctrines of demons” — in modern church history. One of the most prominent of those false movements was the Discipleship or Shepherding Movement of the 1970s, spawned in the South Florida coastal town of Fort Lauderdale. The deviant doctrines dispersed through that false movement eventually permeated the fabric, foundation, and functions of the Charismatic Movement, ultimately effecting its derailment and demise, as well as the defilement of its myriad of spiritual offspring (believers, churches, ministries) with the spiritually decimating disease of hyper-authoritarianism.
From the present vantage point, it is clear that the effect of the spiritual plague known as the Shepherding Movement was of epidemic proportions. Veritable spiritual genocide has transpired. Not just in Pentecostal and Neo-Pentecostal but denominational and non-Charismatic consortiums as well. None of the present streams of the Spirit — i.e., spirit-oriented churches, groups, ministries, and networks — are unaffected by it. The constant stream of communications and counseling requests to my office by victims of authoritarian abuse demonstrate the validity of these assertions. The streams that are supposed to make glad the City of God (the church Jesus is building) [Ps. 46:4] have been polluted by it and instead made the Church sad. Vast portions of the Body of Christ reel in the downward spiritual spiral of witchcraft! It’s almost as if the events initiated by the sounding of the Third Angel’s trumpet of Revelation 8:10-11, wherein a great star named Wormwood — “fell on a third of the rivers and on the springs of waters….and a third of the waters became wormwood; and many men died (spiritually) from the waters, because they were made bitter” — has some latent application.
What is the answer? I believe the answer is inherent in a prophetic word the Lord gave me in July 2004. It tenders the key that unlocks the chains of bondage in which God’s people who are called to be “Sons of God” as opposed to “slaves of men.” The false teaching of illegitimate authoritarianism has brought curses upon the Body of Christ that must be reversed in order for the people of God to possess their inheritance. This past week the Lord dropped this phrase into my spirit, “Poised to Possess!” I believe the Spirit is saying the Church is “poised to possess” the Promise Land, but like the Israelites, they must be delivered out of the tyranny of spiritual Pharaohs that are holding them in bondage in order to possess it. The Body of Christ at large, and to some degree the Church of Florida more so than any other, is in serious crisis! Yet, sadly the majority of believers are thoroughly brainwashed and thus hoodwinked to the horrific state of affairs that pervades the Church.
As I write, my spirit is exceedingly sorrowful and grieved. But I have been at this prophetic thing long enough to know that it is not really me that is sorrowful and grieved, but rather God. Really, when you stop and think about it, what is it to me? Why would I, as just another person, care about these matters? No, I’m seeing and sensing what God sees and senses. Prophets are “seers.” They see things; often things others do not or cannot see, at that time. Oftentimes others will not see the things a prophet sees until like Elisha with his servant, the prophet prays that God open the eyes of the blind so that they can see what he sees. But prophets are also “sensers” they sense things that others do not sense — often the heart or feelings of God (yes, God has feelings). I know without any equivocation that what I am seeing and feeling in my spirit is what God sees and is feeling. This is not a Steven thing, this is a Spirit thing!
One of the objectives of the Spirit of the Lord and anointing that was upon Him, which is likewise the anointing under which every true minister on His behalf operates, Jesus stated was/is to “set the captives free” (Lk. 4:18-19). The Holy Spirit commanded through the Apostle Paul, “It was for FREEDOM that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject AGAIN to a YOKE OF SLAVERY” (Gal. 5:1)! Jesus declared, “He whom the Son sets free is FREE indeed” (Jn. 8:36)! He also said that true disciples of His, who abide in His Word, will be SET FREE by the Truth that they KNOW (Jn. 8:31-32)! It is clear from just a few snippets of Scripture such as these and the preponderance of Old Testament chronicles concerning the people of God as well that God is intensely desirous of His people being FREE of ALL kinds of bondage, no matter what it may be! GOD WANTS HIS PEOPLE FREE! Free to be HIS! He is a jealous God who, above all else, wants us to be free to belong to Him, and Him alone!
Satan himself, the original rebel and defector from God, is the master-taskmaster! He is the arch-megalomaniac who is absolutely possessed with the altogether foolish figment of conquering and controlling God’s entire Creation, and enslaving the crown jewel of that Creation — mankind. Yet, the most succinct expression by the Holy Spirit in the Word of God of the purpose of the Son of God’s manifestation and visitation is “that He might DESTROY THE WORKS OF THE DEVIL” (1 Jn. 3:8). Essentially, “the works of the devil” are invisible chains of captivity to the rebellion against God that the devil himself originated. God wants you free from his bondage.
My spirit cries out to the Body of Christ today: BE FREE FROM THE CAPTIVITY OF SATAN AND SIN, INCLUDING THE SIN OF IDOLATRY AND SPIRITUAL ADULTERY! I implore you to hear the voice of the Lord crying out in the wilderness today! Pray and ask God if you have sinned and brought a curse upon your life by entering into unauthorized covenants.
Father, I pray now, in the name of Your Son, whom you sent to set the captives free, that you open the eyes of your people, to see the yoke of bondage that they have been under, and that you set them free from it today! I give you praise, honor, and glory, for hearing my prayer and doing it! Amen!
After reading this prophetic word, if you have not already read my book, Charismatic Captivation, I strongly urge you to order your copy today and read it, in order to be set free from “the yoke of slavery” to illegitimate human mediators. You may read more about the book and order it from our website at: http://www.charismatic-captivation.com. Additionally, on the SLM-Amazon Store is a section of books by other authors among our recommended reading list for victims or suspected victims of spiritual abuse that you can order through our affiliation with Amazon.Com as well.
The Curse of Unauthorized Covenants
By Steven Lambert, ThD (7/7/04)
One of the last books Derek Prince authored prior to his recent death was Blessings and Curses (Revised version, 2003; Chosen Books, Grand Rapids Michigan). It has been well-documented how that in the 1970s Prince had been one of the originators of what became known as the Discipleship or Shepherding Movement. To his credit, however, when the doctrines associated with that movement were challenged by numerous prominent church leaders, the highly-respected Bible teacher was the first to publicly acknowledge that the teachings were erroneous, recant them, repent, and ask fellow believers for forgiveness from the spiritual harm he had been instrumental in wreaking upon the Body of Christ.
In Blessings and Curses (p. 46) [emphasis and bracketed comments added], Prince writes:
In Exodus 23:32-33 God warned Israel about the idolatrous nations whose land they were about to enter: “Do not make a COVENANT with them or with their gods…The worship of their gods will CERTAINLY be a SNARE to YOU.” If you make a solemn agreement with people who are under the power of evil forces, you come under that same power…. As Christians, we are all in a covenant relationship with the Lord and the ONLY other valid covenant is that of marriage between a husband and wife. Covenants are very powerful, and to enter into a covenant relationship on any other basis but these can be extremely dangerous. If it is a scriptural covenant [which the author states are only those between a believer and the Lord, and between a husband and wife], its effect will be a blessing. But, if it is unscriptural, its effect will be a CURSE. Solomon offers an urgent word of counsel in Proverbs 6:4-5 to anyone who has made a pledge or vow binding them to an evil ASSOCIATION:
Allow no sleep to your eyes,
No slumber to your eyelids.
Free yourself, like a gazelle from the hand of the hunter,
Like a bird from the snare of the fowler.
What you have said with your own lips [unscriptural/unauthorized pledges, oaths, covenants] only YOU can unsay. At the same time, get rid of any articles associated with the ungodly covenant. It is best to do this in the presence of Christian witnesses who can support you with their faith.
It is clear in Scripture that human covenants, pledges, and oaths other than the only two that are authorized by Scripture (marriage and God’s with believers) subject the participating parties to curses that bear the potential for great harm and grave danger.
Contrary to the adage quoted even by occultists, Jesus did not teach that the truth itself will automatically set you free. Rather, He taught that it was the truth that we KNOW — the truth that lives (abides) in us and that we live in — that will set us free (cf, John 8:31-32). Indeed, the Word of God is literally filled with Kingdom Truths that bear unfettered power to liberate all who will accept and apply them to their lives, yet that glorious result cannot occur until we first KNOW those Truths. It is incumbent upon every believer who comes into this knowledge and understanding regarding illegitimate covenants to immediately repent and renounce every such improper covenant, and replace it with a confession of the two appropriate covenants, in order to “free yourself” from the “hand of the hunter” and “the snare of the fowler” — for improper covenants make us captives to the hunter and make our lives ensnared by the fowler, (Satan) who has the authority to fowl everything in our lives that is unprotected as the result of our removing ourselves from the protective covering of God through improper spiritual covenants and associations made with humans, which produce enslavement (Rom. 6:16).
Ungodly human covenants of improper submission to men, as postulated by the erroneous Shepherding doctrines, have brought the State of Florida under a curse — from the Southeast coast to the Northeast extremities of the panhandle. Let every preacher and believer first “free” his or her self from these covenants of enslavement and the curses they bring upon the participants, then preach, proclaim, and declare the message of freedom and liberty to fellow believers, and thereby deliver ourselves and the church of Florida that Jesus is building from the scourge of the curse!
When the scourge of this self-imposed curse is finally removed, we will begin to see God’s hand of favor and approval released upon the church of Florida, and the fulfillment of the many prophesies predicting an unprecedented outpouring of the Spirit and God’s Glory upon the coastlines of the State![end]
The following is an excerpted section from Chapter Two, The Movement Goes Underground, from my book, Charismatic Captivation, first published in 1996, which proffered back then more warnings concerning the dangers of unauthorized and unscriptural “covenant relationships,” and traces the roots of the concept to the Discpleship/Sheperding controversy that emerged in the mid-1970s.
However, what has transpired over the course of time is that in order to avoid the adverse effects of controversy, the majority of Discipleship proponents and practitioners have gone “underground,” so to speak, employing less overt and less conspicuous methods and means of propagation, cloaking and camouflaging their operations behind more subtle and euphemistic, cryptic language.
For example, the extreme concepts initially referred to as concepts of “pastoring” are now termed “shepherding” principles. To give it a more sophisticated and sanctimonious ring, the obsequious relationship between the subjugated (the sheep) and their subjugator (the shepherd) now is called “covenant relationships.” These “relationships” (if you accept that appellation) in many groups espousing Discipleship/Shepherdship/Covenant doctrines and employing variations of the practices advocated under that teaching are actually codified in the form of a “Covenant Agreement” signed by the subjugated in which the subjugated pledges his eternal oath of allegiance and unquestioned obedience and obeisance, along with his financial support, of course, to his “shepherd.” Usually, this “covenant” requirement is a matter which is not addressed openly in the public meetings, but is introduced “in private” to attendees who have been around long enough to have become fully indoctrinated with the group’s ways and teachings, and to have become psychologically dependent on the group (more on this and other psychological mechanisms employed by Discipleship groups later).
Allow me to say in passing that to me, oaths such as these bear little dissimilarity to the secret oaths and pledges required of initiates into secret societies such as the Free Masons, Ku Klux Klan, and the La Cosa Nostra (Italian Mafia), which essentially bind the inductee to that group for life, or in other words, “Til death do us part.” In fact, it has been my experience in dealing with hundreds of people in deliverance from demonic powers that the pledge taken by inductees into these secret societies is precisely the same in terms of the spiritual impact it induces as those taken by members of Discipleship/Shepherding/Covenant cults (as we shall discuss later, this is precisely what these groups are cults). A plethora of spirits of bondage, witchcraft, and idolatry saunter right through the door willfully opened by the person who enters into such demonic “covenants” of allegiance to men. Additionally, terribly debilitating and subversive satanic soul-ties are formed with the individuals with whom they have “covenanted.” But, in actuality, the spiritual dynamic that is being instigated in the unseen spiritual realm when a person “covenants” with another human being in this manner, agreeing to subject himself to a mere human rather than unto the Lord Jesus Christ, is a pact of idolatry, because, spiritually speaking, wittingly or unwittingly, the subjugant has in essence pledged to submit his human will to his subjugator. In effect, the subjugant has just become the willing slave of his subjugator, for the Spirit says, “Do you not know that when you present yourselves to someone as slaves for obedience, you are SLAVES of the one whom you obey” (Rom. 6:16).
The ultimate result of such a “pax idolatrus” is that that person has in actuality made the pact, not with that leader, but with demons, for in reality there is no such a thing as an idol, but the idolatrous homage rendered unto “idols,” whether they be human or inanimate is “sacrifice to demons, and not to God” (1 Cor. 10:19-22). In other words, anyone who makes a spiritual covenant with anyone other than God, covenants with demons, whether they intend to or not, for “You cannot drink the cup of (fellowship with) the Lord and the cup of (fellowship with) demons; you cannot partake of the table of the Lord and the table of demons” (Ibid, v. 21, parenthesis added by author). If you do so covenant and so partake of fellowship with idols (other gods), or demons, you “provoke the Lord to jealousy” (Ibid, v. 22). Thus, in actuality this “covenanting” business and paying homage to human leaders is tantamount to pagan demon worship. The Bible explicitly constrains us against making such “covenants” with anyone other than the Lord Jesus Christ Himself. It specifically commands, “Do not become slaves of men” (1 Cor. 7:23).
Dear Friend, if the Holy Spirit is convicting you of ungodly human covenants of improper submission to men such as what are addressed in this word, I urge you to “Allow no sleep to your eyes, no slumber to your eyelids” until you “FREE YOURSELF, like a gazelle from the hand of the hunter, like a bird from the snare of the fowler” by renouncing all such ungodly covenants and thereby break the self-imposed bondages and curses over your life. Repeat the following simple prayer:
Dear Lord Jesus, my eyes have been opened to the error of these improper covenants I have made with men in ignorance, and sense the inner conviction of the Spirit regarding them. I ask you to forgive me of my sin and error. I want to FREE MYSELF from the witchcraft resulting from those false oaths, pledges, and covenants right now. So, in the Name of Jesus Christ, the Name above every name, I now renounce those covenants I made and demand by the Spirit of the Lord that the illegitimate yoke of slavery that has been upon me now lift off of me! I am now free of all false burdens and responsibilities, and free to serve YOU as my Lord. Thank you, Jesus!
[Original Post Date on Prophetic Perspective E-zine: 11/19/2005]