How Lying Spirits Make Inroads into Christian Ministry

I was stunned. I had just listened to a well-known Christian leader address the fact that his publisher had just pulled his latest book off the market because they had discovered he had greatly exaggerated his testimony of being a former Satanist high priest. He did not deny the publisher’s allegation, but justified himself, saying it is OK to “embellish” one’s story to make the Gospel more attractive.
If this were an isolated incident, we might shrug it off and move on. The following selected examples, however, indicate that there may be a real problem today with the handling of truth in our movement.
·               Shortly after 911 a well-known “prophet” declared on national TV that Bin Laden would be found within thirty-five days. When, months later, he was confronted by the fact that it did not happen, he sought to justify himself saying that he had not stated what point the thirty-five days was from.
·                 A TV evangelist, who was discovered using an earpiece to receive “words of knowledge” from his wife about people in the audience, justified his actions saying it built people’s faith and helped them receive from God.
·           When feathers suddenly appeared floating across the platform at a large charismatic conference, the  evangelist annouced that it was “Holy Ghost feathers.” She was discredited, however, when a local pastor obtained a video of the meeting, slowed it down, and pointed out that she had released the feathers from the sleeve of her blouse.
·              An evangelist reported that numerous people had been raised from the dead in his revival meetings, but when Christian journalists sought to interview some of them, not a single one could be found.
·          A well-known pastor and worship leader received both sympathy and money while faking terminal cancer for two years, even appearing in concert with an oxygen tank and a tube in his nose before finally confessing it was all a hoax.
And the list goes on.
A Cavalier Approach to Truth Opens the Door to Deception
Such cavalier handling of truth is all too common in charismatic circles. Such behavior, however, is spiritually dangerous. Both Old and New Testaments reveal that “fudging” or compromising truth opens one to lying and deceptive spirits. In speaking of the rampant deception that will be characteristic of the last days, Paul, in II Thess. 2:9-11, says that those who are deceived will perish because they refused to love the truth (NIV). Those who do not love the truth find themselves defenseless against the “father of lies” (Jn. 8:44).
This principle is clearly borne out in the Old Testament account of 400 prophets being deceived by a lying spirit because they were willing to “fudge” the truth for personal gain.
Politicized Prophets
In I Kings 22, Ahab, the wicked king of Israel, asks Jehoshaphat, the righteous king of Judah, to go to battle with him against the Syrians. Jehoshaphat agrees but suggests that they first inquire of the Lord through the prophets concerning the matter. Ahab agrees and sends for his four hundred court prophets who are probably products of the “school of the prophets,” often referred to in the Old Testament as the “sons of the prophets” or the “company of prophets.”
We are not told how the “school of the prophets” began and Scripture neither affirms nor condemns the school. Some believe it was begun by Samuel to prepare young men for prophetic ministry. Nonetheless, it is clear, that through the “school of the prophets,” prophetic ministry was professionalized and became a vocation by which the prophet made his living. Some were hired by the wealthy and kings kept many in their courts as advisers and to inquire of them concerning the mind of the Lord.
As a result, prophetic ministry became politicized with many of these “prophets” yielding to the pressure to prophesy that which would please those in power, from whom they also received their livelihood. Their willingness to compromise truth opened them to lying spirits.
At Ahab’s command, these four hundred “school of the prophets” graduates came before the two kings. They all declared the same message. The two kings are to go out against the Syrians and God will give them a great victory. There is even a prophetic drama as one of the prophets, Zedekiah, takes horns of iron and declares, Thus says the LORD with these you shall gore the Syrians until they are destroyed (22:11).
A Prophet Who Will Not Compromise Truth
Jehoshaphat apparently did not feel settled with what he was hearing, and he asked Ahab if there was not another prophet from whom they could inquire. Ahab sullenly replied that there was one more by the name of Micaiah, but I hate him because he does not prophesy good concerning me, but evil (22:8). Ah, here is a prophet who is committed to truth and will not compromise even when it offends the king. He is no political prophet. He is not trying to impress anyone. He is committed to truth.
At Jehoshaphat’s insistence, Ahab calls for Micaiah. The messenger who goes for Micaiah informs him that the four hundred prophets are all in agreement and exhorts him to let his word agree with theirs, i.e., to get in unity with the other prophets. Micaiah replies that he will speak whatever word the Lord may give him.
Micaiah’s response reminds us that our ultimate goal is not unity, but conformity to Christ who is Truth personified. True Biblical unity is always built on truth.
A Lying Spirit is Released into The Mouths of the Prophets
Micaiah arrived and after a brief exchange with Ahab he related an astounding vision he had seen. Micaiah said he saw the Lord sitting on His throne and all the host of heaven standing by. He heard the Lord say, Who will persuade Ahab to go up, that he may fall [die] at Ramoth Gilead (22:20).
Different ones offered suggestions, but then a spirit came and stood before the Lord and said, I will go and be a lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets (22:22). Micaiah then heard the Lord say to the spirit, You shall persuade him and also prevail. Go and do so (22:22). Micaiah then declared to Ahab, Therefore look! The Lord has put a lying spirit in the mouth of all these prophets of yours, and the Lord has declared disaster against you (22:23).
Ahab responded in anger, ordering Micaiah to be imprisoned and fed only bread and water. The other prophets were also offended and one of them, Zedekiah, went up and slapped Micaiah in the face (22:24). Ahab and Jehoshaphat chose to ignore Micaiah’s word and proceeded into battle where Ahab was killed, and the armies of Israel and Judah were forced to withdraw, just as Micaiah had predicted.
How did a lying spirit find its way into the mouths of these prophets who prophesied in the name of the God of Israel? There is no question that their willingness to fudge the truth for personal gain and to please those in power had opened the door. It still happens today.
It Still Happens Today
I remember a Christian leader, whom I respect, tell about attending a meeting where the evangelist was, reportedly, functioning in the gifts of the Spirit in a remarkable way, particularly in prophecy and the word of knowledge. He said the man ministered in an entertaining sort of way revealing personal things about people in the congregation, even telling one man the brand of cigarettes he had hidden in his pocket.
While observing this, Kenneth E. Hagin said he heard a voice say, “familiar spirit.” The voice was so clear that he instinctively looked around to see if someone next to him had spoken. He then realized it was the Holy Spirit speaking in his heart that this was a familiar spirit at work.
Knowing something of the man’s background and ministry, he realized that the man had built his ministry, not on the word of God and truth, but on the sensational gifts of the Spirit. When the gift was not operating by the Spirit, (I Cor. 12:11), this man, to draw the crowds, had sought to operate the gift out of his own soul. This involved being less than honest; and by playing fast and loose with the truth he had opened himself to a familiar/lying spirit.
Closing the Door on Satan
There has been so much reckless handling of truth and so much gullibility in charismatic circles that I have wondered if some may not be among the first to embrace the anti-Christ when he comes on the scene with his counterfeit miracles. Deception gives birth to more deception. Speaking of the great deception of the last days, Paul tells the consequences for those who refuse to love the truth. He says,
For this reason [not loving truth] God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie, and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness (II Thess. 2:11-12; NIV).
We can close the door on lying and deceptive spirits by loving truth. Satan traffics in lies and deceptions, for this is his only means of power and control. This is why Jesus said in Jn. 8:31-32, If you continue in My word, you are my disciples indeed; and you shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free. When we love and walk in truth, there is no place for Satan in our lives.
Hear the words of Paul in II Cor. 4:2-5 concerning his commitment to integrity and truth. This statement is a wonderful guide that we should all utilize. What a difference it would make in the body of Christ today. Paul says, 
We have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God . . . For we do not preach ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake (NIV).

This article is derived from Dr. Eddie Hyatt's latest book, Angels of Light, available from Amazon and his website at www.eddiehyatt.com.



This article is derived from Dr. Eddie Hyatt's latest book, Angels of Light, available from Amazon and his website at www.eddiehyatt.com.

Winston Churchill once said, “Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” This is especially true of the church where the same mistakes have been made generation after generation concerning revival and the prophetic.
The following information is drawn from a document written around 1560 by Obe Philips, a leader in the sixteenth century Anabaptist movement that sought the restoration of New Testament Christianity. Philips was commissioned as an “apostle” in this movement and he commissioned others to this “office.”
The document, entitled “Confessions,” describes events in Europe in the 1530s. From this document I have delineated 5 warning signs from their experience that can help us avoid the tragic mistakes that produced such great suffering and distress for them.
Warning Sign #1
When Prophecy is Used for Self-Promotion
1517-1537 was a very exciting time for many Christians in Europe. A great spiritual reformation was under way and many believed that God was restoring the church to its original purity and power. Many believed that out of this restoration would come a great revival and harvest that would usher in the coming of the Lord and the end of the age.
In the midst of this end-time, revival atmosphere, individuals began to arise proclaiming themselves to be special end-time apostles and prophets, endowed by God with miraculous power to usher in His kingdom upon the earth.
One of the most prominent of these “apostles” was Melchoir Hoffman, a powerful preacher and teacher who gained a large following. His status was further enhanced when a prophetess saw in a vision a large white swan, larger and more beautiful than all the others, swimming in a beautiful river. She claimed it was revealed to her that the swan was Hoffman and that he represented the fulfillment of God’s promise in Malachi 4:5 to send Elijah before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord (Hyatt, Angels of Light, 24).
Biblical Insight: Satan plays on human ego and pride. God calls us to humble ourselves before Him and promises that He will then raise us up. Demons, on the other hand, tell us how great, wonderful, and significant we are in ourselves. The “Elijah” prophecy given to Hoffman is one that Satan has used again and again to bring good men down because of pride.
The ultimate goal of prophecy is to point people to Jesus. This was confirmed by the heavenly being who was at John’s side as they observed the vast heavenly host worshipping and praising God. Overwhelmed at the sight, John fell at the feet of his heavenly escort to worship him, who stopped him and said,
See that you do not do that! I am your fellow servant, and of your brethren who have the testimony of Jesus. Worship God! For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy (Revelation 19:10).
In John 16:13 Jesus said that when the Holy Spirit would come, He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is mine and declare it to you. The Holy Spirit is not here to promote a prophet, teacher, angel or any other creature. Jesus is the only Savior, Healer and Lord, and the Holy Spirit is here to point people to Him. When people use prophecy to put themselves and their own movement in the limelight, it is a warning sign they have strayed from the Biblical pattern.
Warning Sign #2
When Prophecy Becomes the Primary Means for Determining the Will of God
Another individual prophesied that Hoffman would be imprisoned for six months in the city of Strasbourg, and after that, his ministry would spread over the whole world. Based on the prophecy, Hoffman moved to Strasbourg where he began to preach and teach throughout that city.
The first part of the prophecy was fulfilled when the Strasbourg authorities arrested Hoffman and had him imprisoned. Philips says that he entered the prison “willingly, cheerfully, and well comforted,” convinced that the latter part of the prophecy would now soon come to pass.
While in prison, Hoffman wrote many letters which Philips says came every day describing “how his actions, his visions and revelations affected him.” One individual prophesied that at the end of his six-month imprisonment, Hoffman would depart Strasbourg with 144,000 true apostles endowed with such miraculous power that no one would be able to resist them. Elated with such prophetic predictions, Hoffman vowed that he would take no food other than bread and water until the time of his deliverance.
Six months passed, however, and he was not released. More time elapsed and he found it necessary to break his fast. Hoffman eventually died in prison, a very disillusioned man. Philips says;
Everything that he so boldly professed from the prophets and prophetesses, he, in the end, found it all falsehood and deception, in fact and in truth; and he was so deceived with all their visions, prophecies, commission, dreams, and Elijah role that my heart today feels pity for him on account of this distress of his soul (Hyatt, Angels of Light, 26).
Biblical Insight: It is clear from Scripture that personal prophecy is not for giving direction in life. There is not a single positive example of such in the New Testament. Neither Jesus or Paul ever encouraged anyone to seek direction from a “prophet.” In this New Covenant, all are given the Holy Spirit, and all are to be led by the Spirit (Romans 8:14) A prophecy may confirm, but never direct.
I know the value of prophecy as confirmation for a woman minister prophesied to me, when I could not even give a testimony, concerning the call of God on my life. Her word gave me the courage to step out of my comfort zone and begin to be obedient to the heavenly call. I did not learn anything new from the prophecy; it confirmed what was already in my heart.
The only New Testament example of a personal prophecy giving direction is in Acts 21:4 where certain disciples, by the Spirit, told Paul, who was on his way to Jerusalem, not to go up to Jerusalem. What did Paul do? He ignored what they said and continued on to Jerusalem. Prophecy must confirm what we already know in our heart and Paul had already purposed in the Spirit to go to Jerusalem (Acts 19:21).
When prophecy is sought out as the primary means for determining the will of God, it has departed from the Biblical pattern and fallen into cultic divining and even witchcraft.
Warning Sign #3
When Prophecy is Preoccupied with Images, Numbers, and Symbols
Prophetic dreams and visions flourished in this movement. These dreams and visions predicted many remarkable things related to the establishing of God’s kingdom and the destruction of the wicked. Much of this information was given in symbolic form which had to be interpreted by those who were “spiritual.” Philips says,

One came dragging a wagon without wheels, another wagon had three wheels, one wagon had no shaft, some no horses, some no recognizable driver, some had but one leg, some were lepers and beggars, some wore a tunic or a cloak with a lappet of fur. All this they could interpret for the brethren in a spiritual sense (Hyatt, Angels of Light, 27).
These prophecies, dreams and visions predicted remarkable successes for the people of God, including a super-empowerment of the Spirit by which they would be enabled to overcome the wicked and establish the kingdom of God in the earth. In his very moving account of these matters, Philips says,
Now when these teachings and consolation with all the fantasies, dreams, revelations and visions daily occurred among the brethren, there was no little joy and expectation among us, hoping all would be true and fulfilled, for we were all unsuspecting, innocent, simple, without guile or cunning, and were not aware of any false visions, prophets, and revelations (Hyatt, Angels of Light, 28).
Biblical Insight: In the New Testament God communicates very clearly and precisely to His people. When He spoke to Ananias in a vision about going and praying for Paul, God gave precise instructions (Acts 9:10-12). He told Ananias the name of the man he was to pray for, the name of the man in whose house Paul was staying and the precise street address. When God does speak in a symbol or image, it is for the purpose of communicating a more clear and vivid message. It is never done as a riddle that must be searched out and solved, or interpreted, by some spiritual elite. God wants to communicate clearly with His children.
Warning Sign #4
When Those Prophesying are not Open to Testing and/or Correction
During this time, two new apostles arrived in Philips’ home town of Leeuwarden. They declared that they had been commissioned to the apostolic office with such signs, miracles and workings of the Spirit that words failed them to describe it. They also declared that, “In a short time God would rid the earth of all shedders of blood and all tyrants and the godless.” Philips says that they frightened the people so that no one dared speak against them for fear they would be speaking against the commission and ordination of God. He says, “For we were all guileless children and had no idea that our own brethren would betray us.”
Biblical Insight: False prophets are unteachable and unwilling for their prophecies to be evaluated and tested, as Scripture commands. Virtually every time New Testament Scriptures speak of prophecy, they also speak of evaluating and testing the prophecy, which is the responsibility of every believer. I Thessalonians 5:19-21, for example, says, Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophecies. Test all things; hold fast what is God. I Corinthians 14:29 says, Let two or three prophets speak and let the others judge. And in this same vein of thought, I John 4:1 says, Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world.
Sign #5
When Prophecy Becomes a Replacement for the Scriptures and Common Sense
The tragic end of this prophetic movement came, when based on dreams, visions, prophecies, and supposed angelic visitations, a number of these visionaries claimed that God had designated the city of Munster as the New Jerusalem and from there the kingdom of God would spread through all the earth. Philips says, “Some had spoken with God, others with angels—until they got a new trek under way to Munster.” Based on the prophecies and supposed visions, they went to Munster and took the city by force from the Catholics who controlled it and renamed it New Jerusalem.
The Catholics, however, quickly regrouped and regained control of the city. They wasted no time in inflicting a terrible slaughter on those apostles, prophets and their followers who believed they were setting up the kingdom of God on the earth.
Philips tells about going to Munster and walking among the bodies, many of them beheaded, of these individuals who had been his friends and acquaintances. It was a very somber time and a wake-up call for him as he observed the sad end of these apostles and prophets who had relied without question on their dreams, visions and prophecies.
This whole fiasco resulted in widespread persecution of all Anabaptists who were hunted down, imprisoned, hanged, burned, and drowned. Philips later lamented his role in the extremes of this movement. He wrote,
It is this which is utter grief to my heart and which I will lament before my God as long as I live, before all my companions, as often as I think of them. At the time that I took leave of those brethren, I had warned Menno and Dietrich and declared my [apostolic] commission unlawful and that I was therein deceived. I thank the gracious and merciful God who opened my eyes, humbled my soul, transformed my heart, captured my spirit, and who gave me to know my sins. And when I still think of the resigned suffering which occurred among the brethren, my soul is troubled and terrified before it (Hyatt, Angels of Light, 30).
Biblical Insight: In Psalm 119:105 David said, Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. When Jesus was tempted by Satan in the wilderness to doubt His identity, He responded to each temptation with, It is written, and then quoted the appropriate passage of Scripture. John Wesley, who saw many unusual spiritual manifestations as the leader of the eighteenth-century Methodist revival, said, “Try all things by the written word, and let all bow down before it.” When Scripture and common sense are neglected for dreams, visions and personal prophecies, it is a warning sign that the movement has gone astray.
This sixteenth century prophetic movement highlights the need to “test the spirits” and to “judge” prophetic utterances according to the Scriptures. For the most part, these were sincere, seeking people who suffered much pain, grief and even death because they neglected this Biblical admonition. May we learn from their example and not repeat their mistakes.

This article is derived from Dr. Eddie Hyatt's latest book, Angels of Light, available from Amazon and his website at www.eddiehyatt.com.



I had a strange encounter with a false prophetic spirit while preaching my first "revival" meeting at the Assembly of God in Kiowa, Oklahoma in 1972. It happened one afternoon as two friends and I were going door to door, witnessing and inviting people to the meetings.
We knocked on the door of a small wood frame house and a strange but very "spiritual" little man invited us into his home. We immediately noticed that his walls were papered with pictures and letters from well-known preachers and healing evangelists with whom he obviously corresponded and listened to on the radio.
Almost immediately he began telling us about his sensational, spiritual experiences. He had experienced, he said, visions and out-of-the-body experiences. He told us that he had been to both heaven and hell. He also said he saw Jesus in hell, whom he said was still there suffering for our sins.
At this point my friend, Ruel, interrupted and said, “Jesus is not in hell; He is in heaven.” This individual angrily retorted, “Don’t you call me a liar; I will kill you. I was there. I saw him.”
From the beginning, our spirits did not witness with the spirit that was in this man. But what clinched it for us was when he said that he saw Jesus in hell suffering for our sins. This was so contradictory to what the New Testament says about Jesus ascending on high and sitting at the right hand of the Father that we immediately knew it was a lie and that he was possessed with a deceiving spirit.
We offered to pray for him and he accepted our offer. He was now seated in a chair and as we laid our hands on him he bowed his head and began jabbering, as if in tongues. Suddenly, he lifted his head and began making strange motions with his hands toward us as if he were casting a spell.
When my friend, Charles, asked what the hand gestures were all about, he replied, “When I put that on someone, they usually die within three days.”
We had no fear, for we knew the truth of I John 4:4, Greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world. We departed realizing he did not really want deliverance and was taken captive by the deceiving spirit to which he had yielded himself.
These same deceiving spirits were at work in Biblical times. During his time of ministry in Philippi, Paul encountered a young woman who prophesied through a false prophetic spirit known in the ancient world as the "spirit of python."
Paul Encounters the Spirit of Python
During their time of ministry in the city of Philippi of Macedonia, Paul and Silas encountered a young woman who prophesied through what Luke calls a spirit of divination (Acts 16:16). However, the Greek word from which “divination” is translated is python, a word associated with prophecy amongst the ancient Greeks and Romans. Because it was so well known in the ancient Greco-Roman world, the original readers of Acts would have made an immediate association when they read the words “spirit of python.”
Prophecy in the Ancient Pagan World
Prophecy was common among the ancient Greeks and Romans. In fact, the noted historian, F.C. Grant, has said that the consultation of prophetic oracles was probably the most universal cult practice in the Greco-Roman world (Hyatt, Angels of Light, 15).
“Oracle” was a word used by the ancients for a message from the gods, i.e., a prophecy. It was also used of the location where the oracles were given. Many regions had their own divinely inspired prophets or prophetesses who gave their oracles (prophecies) to a constant stream of seekers.
Prophecy was also common in the ancient pagan and mystery religions. This is borne out by the Roman historian, Livy (59 b.c.a.d. 17), who describes followers of the pagan deity, Bacchus, who “as if insane, with fanatical tossings of their bodies, would utter prophecies.” He also describes devotees of the goddess Cybele as “prophesying in their frenzied chants” (Hyatt, Angels of Light, 15).
So pronounced was the public’s fascination with the supernatural that Petronius, a first century Roman official and novelist, declared, “It is easier to meet a god than a man.”
That prophecy and the supernatural were so common in the ancient, pagan world is why there are so many admonitions in the New Testament to not be deceived; and is why Paul, every time he mentions prophecy, includes an admonition to judge, test and prove the genuineness of prophecy.
How the “Python Spirit” Got its Name
The most famous ancient, pagan oracle (prophetic center) was at the city of Delphi in Greece and was known as the “Oracle at Delphi.” According to legend, the Greek god, Apollo, had slain a large female serpent--a python--at that site and the spirit of the python had remained. According to the legend, it now possessed the prophets and prophetesses who functioned there, “taking possession of their organs of speech moving and compelling them to give prophetic utterances” (Hyatt, Angels of Light, 16).
This was commonly known as the “pythian spirit” or the “spirit of python.” At the height of its popularity, the oracle at Delphi maintained three prophetesses who offered advice and counsel through the pythian spirit to a continual stream of visitors including generals and government officials.
“Spirit of python” thus became a general designation for pagan prophecy in the ancient Greco-Roman world. This is the association the first readers of Acts would have made to Luke’s mention of a “spirit of python.”
The Spirit of Python is Different from Christian Prophecy
One characteristic of the Oracle at Delphi—and all pagan prophecy—is that it was self-induced. Preceding their prophetic functions, the priestesses would go through ritual baths, sprinklings and animal sacrifices leading to a hyped and frenzied prophetic state.
One ancient drawing pictured the prophetess in a disheveled, frenzied state as she gave forth her oracle. Other pagan religions used music, dance, contortions and sex orgies to work themselves into a prophetic frenzy. (Do we charismatics have our own rituals by which we work ourselves into a “prophetic” state?)
In contrast, New Testament prophecy is not self-induced, i.e., it does not come forth at the initiative of the person prophesying. We do not work ourselves into a prophetic frenzy like the pagans. Paul is very clear in I Cor. 12:11 that the gifts of the Spirit, including prophecy, are given as He [the Holy Spirit] wills. Although we can learn about how prophecy and Spiritual gifts function, it is dangerous to think that we can learn “how to” prophesy of our own initiative.
This is, perhaps, why Paul allowed this situation with the young woman to go on for “many days” before dealing with it and casting out the spirit. He did not have a “how to” list for dealing with such situations but was dependent on the leading and guidance of the Holy Spirit.
I am convinced that when we begin to push ourselves into prophesying out of our own hearts, apart from the Holy Spirit, we open ourselves to false spirits such as the spirit of python that possessed this young woman in Philippi.
We Must Recognize the Counterfeit
Some today would have told this young woman that her fortunetelling ability was a gift from God and that she merely needed to submit it to Him. That was not Paul’s approach. He discerned that her gift was demonically inspired and he cast out the spirit that gave her that ability. When the demon went out, her fortunetelling powers were gone.
David Brainerd (1718-1747) ministered to Native Americans with great success. He tells of a medicine man among the Delaware who was feared and held in high esteem by the people because of his psychic and miracle working abilities. Brainerd said that when he preached about the miracles of Jesus being evidence of His divinity, the people were not impressed and proceeded to tell him about this man and his supernatural powers.
The medicine man eventually came to hear Brainerd preach and was powerfully convicted by the Holy Spirit and eventually accepted Christ as His Lord and Savior. Like the young woman, when she was delivered of the python spirit, he immediately lost all his supernatural powers. His testimony was, “When the word of God came into my heart, the power I had known went out.” His conversion and testimony had a powerful impact on the Delaware and other tribes in the region.
A person born into a family that practices palm reading, tarot card readings, ouija boards and other occultic practices may develop natural or soulish psychic abilities. They may also pick up demons, or what the Old Testament calls “familiar spirits.” It is a grave mistake to think that these are God-given gifts that will hopefully be submitted to God. They are demonic counterfeits of the true workings of the Holy Spirit and must be renounced and cast out.
Characteristics of a Spirit of Python
Luke uses “spirit of python” in regards to this slave girl probably because the spirit operating in her was like the one at Delphi. There is, of course, the possibility that she had actually been to Delphi and that is where she picked up this false spirit.
It is important to note that what she said was true. Satan and demons have some knowledge and will reveal their “secrets” in order to impress and draw people into their destructive web. Only our God, however, is omniscient, i.e., all knowing.
Here are some of the traits of a spirit of python that are obvious in this narrative.
·  It loves to flatter. The prophecy of this young woman was not given to encourage or affirm, but to flatter. We all need to give and receive affirmation and encouragement, but flattery is insincere and self-serving. So many today, including leaders, are so starved for affirmation and approval that they are vulnerable to the flatteries of a deceiving, python spirit. We must be so settled in God’s acceptance and approval that we are no longer susceptible to the flatteries of a false prophetic spirit. Beware of those who use prophecy to flatter and, thereby, gain advantage.
·     It demands attention. This is indicated by the fact that she followed Paul and the others for “many days” continually giving forth her prophecy. Beware of those who use prophecy to thrust themselves into the limelight.
·  It loves to be seen and heard. This is indicated by the fact that she kept putting herself at the center of attention. Note those who use prophecy to make themselves the center of attention.
·  It wants to be important. This is indicated by the fact that she directed her prophesying to the leaders of this new movement. Beware of those who use prophecy to gain status with pastors and leaders.
·  There is a monetary motive.  This young slave girl was raking in a lot of money for her masters. I am afraid this same motive is present in the charismatic/prophetic movement today. Some brashly offer a personal prophecy in return for a financial gift. Others are more subtle like a "prophet" I once saw who expressed his desire to pray for everyone who would bring a certain designated offering to the front for his ministry. As he prayed and then prophesied over each one that came with their money, I saw women looking in their purses for money so they could go forward and “get a word.” I believe this man was opening himself to a false spirit—a spirit of python—by his devious actions.
Taking A Stand for Truth
There is so little discernment today that many churches in the modern charismatic/prophetic movement would probably have put this young woman on their prophetic team, for what she prophesied was accurate and positive.
Discernment is lacking because, in this post-modern world, the lines between true and false are being blurred and even erased. Reason and common sense are being replaced by a me-centered philosophy that creates its own reality.
Some in the charismatic movement are tapping into New Age writings with the excuse that “all truth is God’s truth.” If this had been Paul’s approach he would never have confronted the python spirit and cast it out, for what was being said was true.
Taking a stand for truth is not always the most popular thing to do. Paul and Silas were arrested, beaten and thrown in jail because they distinguished between the true and the false and cast out the python spirit. Nonetheless, they refused to compromise truth and God sent an earthquake, physically and spiritually, and turned the situation completely around.
God is looking for people who will stand for truth in this hour. Truth is vital for it is our ultimate weapon against the “father of lies.” This is why Jesus said,
If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free (John 8:31-32).

This article is derived from Dr. Eddie Hyatt's latest book, Angels of Light, available from Amazon and his website at www.eddiehyatt.com



In my book, 2000 Years of Charismatic Christianity, I documented the dynamic, miraculous work of the Holy Spirit from the Day of Pentecost to the present time. I also documented the intensifying of the Holy Spirit’s work since the turn of the twentieth century, with virtually all denominations now open to the miraculous gifts of the Spirit, and the formation of thousands of new Pentecostal and charismatic churches and denominations.
Even as I was doing the research for that book, however, I was being made aware of the demonic deceptions that arose in virtually every revival. Thomas Coke, John Wesley’s colleague and biographer, wrote of how Satan sought to destroy the great eighteenth century Methodist revival with counterfeit gifts and manifestations. He also acknowledged that it was not something new.
Those who have read the accounts of the great revivals of true religion in many parts of Europe, and in our own country in particular, will easily perceive the sameness of those devices of Satan whereby he perverts the right ways of the Lord.
The devices Satan uses again and again in revival are spiritual pride and a neglect of Scripture for the pursuit of esoteric, spiritual experiences. Coke mentions this in his biography, saying that Wesley was called upon to oppose several great deceptions that arose in the revival. According to Coke, one of the deceptions was,
Attention to dreams, visions, and men’s own imaginations and feelings, without bringing them to the only sure test, the oracles of God.
I am a life-long, committed Pentecostal-Charismatic who values the miraculous and dynamic work of the Holy Spirit My earliest memories include being in church meetings where gifts of the Holy Spirit were being manifest and prayer for the sick was being offered. I remember as a child going with my family to great healing revivals under the giant tents of Oral Roberts and William Freeman.
I lived through the great healing revivals of the 1950s, the great Charismatic Renewal of the 1970s (when I was supernaturally called into the ministry), the Word of Faith revival of the 1980s, the Toronto and Pensacola revivals of the 1990s and the work of the Holy Spirit since that time.
Yes, I value the work of the Holy Spirit, but I have learned from experience that all that glitters is not gold and that Christians, perhaps as never before, need to listen to the words of Paul who, in II Corinthians 11:13-15, warned,
For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ. And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness.
The purpose of this book is not to be critical. The purpose of this book is to help this generation realize that along with the promised outpouring of the Holy Spirit in the last days, there are many Scriptural warnings of wide-spread deception that will also characterize the end times. I see signs everywhere of this deception, especially in the modern charismatic movement.
It behooves us, therefore, to be equipped to discern the true from the false, the real from the fake. As John the Apostle exhorted in I John 4:1,
Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits whether they are of God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.

This is the Preface to Angels of Light, available from Amazon and my website at www.eddiehyatt.com.



A noise was heard like the sound of a rushing mighty wind, which filled the Temple, and all the congregation simultaneously arose, being moved upon by an invisible power; many began to speak in tongues and prophesy; others saw glorious visions; and I beheld the Temple filled with angels, which fact I declared to the congregation (Hyatt, Angels of Light, 37-38)
The above is not the description of a contemporary, prophetic glory conference. It is not the description of a modern revival service. It is Joseph Smith’s description of the dedication of the first Mormon Temple in Kirkland, Ohio in 1831. 
Many do not realize it, but the early Mormons experienced speaking in tongues, prophecy, falling under the power, visions, and angelic visitations Yes, this movement, that denies the virgin birth of Jesus and believes there are many gods ruling different plants, emerged out of one of the most powerful revivals in Christian history, the Second Great Awakening. 
Their example is a wake-up call for all who embrace the supernatural ministry of the Holy Spirit to be diligent in carrying out the Biblical commands to test the spirits and to judge prophetic utterances and supernatural manifestations. After all, Satan does not come in a red suit with horns and a pitchfork; he comes as an Angel of Light as Paul warned in II Corinthians 11:14.
Mormons and the Second Great Awakening
Peter Cartwright (1785-1872) was a circuit-riding Methodist preacher and one of the most remarkable revivalists of the Second Great Awakening. His autobiography offers intriguing reading and provides valuable information concerning the religious landscape in early and mid-nineteenth century America.
His autobiography also offers a personal glimpse into the origins of Mormonism and how it began in the milieu of religious revivalism. For example, Cartwright tells about a large campmeeting he was conducting with thousands in attendance, including Methodists, Baptists, Presbyterians, Quakers and others. On Saturday morning, he said, “There came some twenty or thirty Mormons to the meeting.”
He tells how at the end of the service, the Mormons remained behind, singing and praising God. They were excellent singers and many began coming back under the tabernacle to hear them. They continued singing and as people finished their noon meal they came back to the tabernacle until there was a large crowd gathered around them.
Eventually one of the Mormon women began to shout and then swooned away and fell into the arms of her husband. Her husband then announced that she was in a trance and that when she came out of it she would speak in an unknown tongue and he would interpret. This was obviously not something new for them (Hyatt, Angels of Light, 33).
Cartwright, by this time, decided to break up their meeting, as he believed they were purposely seeking to draw attention to themselves. As he walked into the midst of the group the woman in the trance began speaking in tongues. When Cartwright told her to “hush,” she opened her eyes, laid her hand on his arm, and said, “Dear friend, I have a message directly from God to you.”
Cartwright, who was a gruff sort of personality, said, “I stopped her short and said, ‘I will have none of your message.’” The woman’s husband, who was to interpret the message in tongues, angrily replied, “Sir this is my wife, and I will defend her at the risk of my life.” Cartwright retorted, “Sir, this is my campmeeting and I will maintain the good order of it at the risk of my life” (Hyatt, Angels of Light, 34).
After an exchange of emotionally charged words, the group finally left. Cartwright identified them as Mormons, followers of a “Joe Smith” with whom he had had several conversations.
Cartwright Meets “Joe Smith"
Cartwright had several meetings with the founder of Mormonism, Joseph Smith, whom he called “Joe Smith.” Smith shared with him his vision for the restoration of the church of the New Testament. According to Smith, during a time of revival in upper state New York he had prayed about which church was the right one. Smith said that during this time of prayer,
I saw a pillar of light exactly over my head, above the brightness of the sun, which descended gradually until it fell upon me. When the light rested upon me I saw two Personages, whose brightness and glory defy all description, standing above me in the air (Hyatt, Angels of Light, 35).
According to Smith, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit appeared in this vision and told him not to join any of the churches, for none was the true church. 

Cartwright said that Smith, at first, sought to flatter him telling him that of all the churches then in existence, the Methodist church was the closest to the church of the New Testament. According to Smith, however, the Methodists had stopped short by not claiming the gift of tongues, of prophecy, and of miracles. He went on to tell Cartwright,
If you will go with me to Nauvoo (a Mormon community), I will show you many living witnesses that will testify that they were, by the saints, cured of blindness, lameness, deafness, dumbness, and all the diseases that human flesh is heir to. And I will show you that we have the gift of tongues, and can speak in unknown languages, and that the saints can drink any deadly poison and it will not hurt them (Hyatt, Angels of Light, 35).
Smith Proves to be Angry and Unteachable
As Cartwright listened to Smith, it soon became obvious that he had left behind Biblical truth and was following sensational teachings based on prophecies, visions, and supposed angelic visitations. As Cartwright began pointing out to Smith his error with Scripture, he said that Smith’s wrath boiled over and “he cursed me in the name of his God.” Smith angrily retorted,
I will show you, sir, that I will raise up a government in these United States which will overturn the present government, and I will raise up a new religion that will overturn every other form of religion in this country (Hyatt, Angels of Light, 36).
Mormon Doctrine Built on Esoteric Spiritual Experiences
Joseph Smith and his early followers not only claimed the miraculous gifts of the Spirit, they claimed to experience visions and angelic visitations on a regular basis. Those of the contemporary prophetic movement would have, if they had been there, designated Smith as a prophet or seer. 
Smith claimed that on one occasion an angel named Moroni appeared to him and told him where to find the plates on which were inscribed the Book of Mormon, written in an ancient Egyptian text. Smith claimed that while he and an associate, Oliver Cowdery, were translating the book, John the Baptist as well as Peter, James, and John appeared to them and ordained them to the priesthood of Melchizedek.
Smith obviously had a very active imagination and a desire to be important. Demons will always play on such human credulity and pride, telling indiviudals how important they will be if they accept the revelation. Cartwright considered Smith and the Mormons a living exmaple of Paul's warning that Satan transforms himself into an angel of light (II Corinthians 11:13-15).
Out of this group that based its beliefs on prophecies, visions, and angelic visitations, has grown a movement that today numbers millions of followers around the world. While many of their beliefs are obviously Christian in origin, they also hold to many beliefs that have no basis in Scripture and are at odds with Biblical Christianity. This happened because they exalted their spiritual experiences to equality with, and even above, the Bible.
For example, Mormons teach a form of polytheism, claiming that the planets of the universe are ruled by different gods and that Elohim—the God of the Old Testament—is the god of this planet. They also teach that Elohim had a wife who bore his offspring as the Eternal Mother. According to Mormon doctrine, Jesus is merely the oldest of the offspring produced by the Heavenly Father and Heavenly Mother, and we are all his spirit brothers and sisters.
We Must Not Repeat Their Mistakes
Winston Churchill once said, “Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” I see emphases in the modern charismatic and prophetic movements that could lead to similar tragic ends if we do not learn from their mistakes. Here are five suggestions that can help us avoid repeating the same mistakes as this movement.
1) Make the Bible the standard by which every spiritual experience is judged. When John Wesley was faced with strange spiritual manifestations in the Methodist revival, he exhorted, “Try all things by the written word and let all bow down before it. You’re in danger of enthusiasm every hour, if you depart ever so little from the Scripture: yea; from that plain, literal meaning of any text, taken with the context.” The Bereans, in Acts 17:11, were commended because, instead of naively accepting what Paul and Silas preached, They searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether those things were so. Because the Mormons neglected the Bible as the final standard of truth, they were led astray by those angels of light Paul referred to in II Corinthians 11:13-15).
2)  Don’t be afraid to “test the spirits.” We will not quench the Holy Spirit by doing what He has commanded us to do. We may quench spiritual pride and religious ambition, but not the Holy Spirit. Smith and the early Mormons did not test the spirits, nor did they judge their prophetic-supernatural experiences. Instead they twisted Scripture to make it fit their experience. Avoid this at all costs.
3)  Avoid spiritual pride. Cartwright says that Smith told him that if he [Cartwright] would join him [Smith], “We could sweep, not only the Methodist church, but all the churches, and you would be looked up to as one of the Lord’s greatest prophets.” Do you see and hear the pride in that statement? Remember that, “the stronghold of deception is pride.” We must stop trying to be important and simply be obedient to the Lord.
4)    Stop chasing the sensational. Let the supernatural happen: Don’t try to make it happen. The early Mormons were obviously enamored with the sensational—visions, angelic visitations, and so on. This led to their departure from Biblical truth. Along with teaching the miraculous dimension of our Christian faith, we must emphasize the practical Christian lifestyle of Scripture. This is clearly articulated in passages such as the Sermon on the Mount. Don’t be afraid of using some sanctified common sense, which the Bible calls wisdom.
5)    Avoid an elitist mindset. Smith claimed that he and his followers were the true restored church of the New Testament and that all other churches were false churches (the Mormons still believe this). This too was based in pride and an unhealthy lust for importance and power.
My Prayer
My prayer is that God will have mercy on us, and bless us, and cause His face to shine upon us, that His ways may be known upon earth and His salvation among all nations (Psalm 67). May God give us a love and hunger for His word, a sharpened sense of discernment, and the courage to speak and walk in His truth. 

This article is derived from Dr. Eddie Hyatt's latest book, Angels of Light, available from Amazon and his website at www.eddiehyatt.com. Eddie is deeply committed to a ministry of writing , teaching and preaching, calling America back to God and her founding principles. He believes there is a purifying process taking place in the American church, which is a necessary prerequisite for genuine Spiritual Awakening.