I didn’t see it at first. I knew there was a spirit operating within the ministry. I knew it had to do with murmuring—but it was more dastardly than I imagined.
It was a spirit of desertion.
I had never heard of such a thing and knew nothing about it, so I turned to the Word of God to get prophetic insight and scriptural backing to identify and combat this deadly spirit.
First, we need to understand what desertion is. Desertion is the act of deserting a family, an organization or a military unity. Desertion is far worse than someone going AWOL (Absence Without Leave). Someone who goes AWOL may return. The deserter has no intention of returning.
Desertion is the abandonment of a military duty or post without permission. It is leaving or remaining absent from their unit, organization, or place of duty, where there has been a determined intent to not return. The intent is to avoid hazardous duty or shirk contractual obligations. In other words, they abandon their post without ever telling a soul.
How the Spirit of Desertion Operates
The spirit of desertion operates quietly, with no notice. It stays underground until it’s ready to strike. It’s a sudden abandonment of the post. It’s difficult to discern it ministering to a person’s heart until it suddenly manifests.
Desertion works with spirits of betrayal and abandonment. We see it in relationships where the husband up and leaves with no warning. We see it in businesses where people quit for a better job without giving any notice whatsoever. We see it in churches where imaginary offenses cause them to resign their position despite the reality that there’s no successor to fill it.
Desertion works with spirits like treachery and rejection. While offense drives it at times, the voice of fear can prime the pump for desertion’s influence in a person’s life. The person under the influence of the spirit of desertion struggles within themselves about the dastardly deed they are being tempted to execute. They will either confess the struggle or they will leave without looking back.
This spirit of desertion defies the voice of God in one’s life. The pledges, vows and commitments they made suddenly take a back seat to demonic reasoning. They are convinced in their own mind that they are hearing from the Holy Spirit about “a new direction” but the spirit that is driving them is anything but holy.
Everyone Faces Desertion
Anyone working to build anything is going to wrestle with this spirit of desertion at some point. Whether you are building a family, a career, a business or a ministry, it’s going to attack at the opportunity time. We normally don’t see it coming because the deserters seem loyal and true.
Jesus faced the spirit of desertion—and it was at one of the most critical hours of his life. It was in the Garden of Gethsemane when He was about to be arrested on false charges. Matthew 26:56 relates, “In that hour Jesus said to the multitudes, ‘Have you come out, as against a robber, with swords and clubs to take Me? I sat daily with you, teaching in the temple, and you did not seize Me. But all this was done that the Scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled.”
Gideon dealt with deserters in his army. He saw his troops whittled down to a few hundred as a result. The sons of Ephraim deserted the army on the day of battle (see Psalm 78:9).
Paul the apostle dealt with this wicked spirit working on people who were supposed to walk with him. In 2 Timothy 4:16 (NASB), he wrote, “At my first defense no one supported me, but all deserted me; may it not be counted against them.” Paul also specifically named Demas as one who deserted him (see 2 Timothy 4:9-10).
Unfortunately, deserters end up reaping what they sow if they don’t repent. That spirit makes no friends and takes many hostages. That’s why we have to pray for them. They don’t really know what they are doing. They believe they are finding relief from a burden or heading into a new assignment, but the enemy is waiting to meet them—and to steal, kill and destroy.
Thankfully, no matter who deserts you God is with you. Jesus said He would never leave you or forsake you. No matter who comes under desertion’s influence in your life, you can hold on to the one who sticks closer than a brother. You can hold on to Jesus. He understands what you are going through.