She was clearly deceived. Sally heard a voice that said if she didn’t leave our church she would be devoured by a lion like the young prophet who followed the voice of the lying prophet rather than the voice of God (see 1 Kings 13:23).
She didn’t want to leave our church. In fact, she came in weeping when she told us that she “heard the voice of God crystal clear” and could not listen to another. This voice told her she “had a healing ministry that would be like Kathryn Kuhlman’s,” but there was no evidence that this woman had the gifts of healings.
The fruit of this voice was rotten. I met with her privately and gently explained why this was not the way of God. She was still going through deliverance and needed so much healing. She was in the process of getting whole. I told her God had a great plan for her life but she needed to stay rooted in the house of God rather than following this voice into the wilderness.
Though she was thankful and heard me out, she rejected the advice. It brought me to tears because I knew she would have more warfare than she could handle once she disconnected from the church in search of a healing ministry for which she was not prepared and most likely to which she was not called. Long story short, she left our church in deception hoping to be the next Kathryn Kuhlman and the last I heard she’s sitting in a small church doing nothing.
The Foundation of Spiritual Warfare
James 4:7 is the foundation of spiritual warfare: “Submit yourselves to God, resist the devil and he will flee.” The reality is, when you don’t submit to your leadership you are not submitting to God and it opens the door for spiritual warfare that won’t stop until you humble yourself in surrender.
Put another way, submitting to your leadership is submitting to God. Sometimes, they see things you can’t see and know things you don’t know. God gives them insight where you have blind spots. That’s what your leaders are for. Sally wouldn’t even take my counsel into prayer. She flat out rejected it without consideration. It caused me sorrow.
Hebrews 13:17 (NLT) puts it this way, “Obey your spiritual leaders, and do what they say. Their work is to watch over your souls, and they are accountable to God. Give them reason to do this with joy and not with sorrow. That would certainly not be for your benefit.”
The Greek word for submit in this verse is hupeiko. It means “to resist no longer, but to give way, yield,” according to The KJV New Testament Greek Lexicon. When we resist our leaders instead of submitting to them, we’re not resisting the enemy. We’re resisting God. The enemy then has a right to attack, as you’ve violated Scripture.
Again, 1 Thessalonians 5:12 tells us, “Dear brothers and sisters, honor those who are your leaders in the Lord’s work. They work hard among you and give you spiritual guidance. Show them great respect and wholehearted love because of their work.” When you refuse to even take your leader’s advice into prayer to seek confirmation, you’re violating Scripture. You’re not submitted.
But what if they are wrong? God will still work it out for your good. No leader is perfect. Perhaps their counsel was off. It’s always a good idea to pray over counsel you don’t bear witness to. But more often than not, the leader who loves you and has walked with you through various seasons is accurate. More often than not, you have a blind spot.
That said, I have taken counsel from a leader I trusted and, looking back, the counsel was not right. The spirit of it was right but the actions it led me to take caused a lot of upset and pain for several people. When I went to him for further counsel, he told me he didn’t want to talk about it anymore. That’s when I largely disconnected from that leader. If a leader does give you poor counsel—or even wise counsel that seems to backfire—they should be there to offer more prayer and advice. Still, I’m glad I submitted in sincerity.
Beware False Leaders
Now, I’m not saying you should operate in blind trust with anyone but the Lord. But sometimes, like Sally and many others I’ve counseled, they are not listening to the Lord. They are listening to a false spirit. We always want to test the spirits, whether we hear them in the spirit realm or through a leader.
There are false prophets, false teachers, and false pastors who seek to use, control and abuse you. They will never let you go and will curse you on the way out the door. They will always counsel you to do their will even if it’s not God’s will. They will not advise you out of an accurate spirit but out of a selfish spirit. Beware of them.
Likewise, if a spiritual leader is in sin and advises you to follow them into sin—run. Paul said, “Follow me as I follow Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1). If they are not following Christ, you have no obligation to follow them. Many have fallen away from the faith and even died as a consequence of following a leader who wasn’t following Christ. And they don’t always look like David Koresh or Jim Jones.
But, the bottom line is this: James 4:7 is the foundation of spiritual warfare: “Submit yourselves to God, resist the devil and he will flee.” The reality is, when you don’t submit to your leadership you are not submitting to God and it opens the door for spiritual warfare that won’t stop until you humble yourself in surrender. If you have a good leader, submit to them or you may be bringing warfare upon yourself that won’t stop until you do.