The principle of demonic retaliation
Spiritual pitfalls and chains of demonic retaliation lurk in the shadows of internal spiritual fortresses. The Bible calls these spiritual fortresses strongholds or footholds. When people nurse open wounds in their souls they needlessly facilitate the destructive operations of the enemy in their lives and histories. Soul wounds weaken people making them easy prey to the enemy’s devices and schemes. The right attack at the right point, at the most strategic moment, can easily lead a person into a fatal trap.
Any opportunity that causes us to ignore unresolved conflicts is potentially dangerous. On one hand, the person has an unending source of inspiration and motivation based on the emotional pain they feel. On the other hand, the enemy’s hook is already in their mouth.
The position of leadership without genuine authority and the corresponding position coming from higher up entail the dynamic of a dream that has become a nightmare. The unresolved conflict today becomes the crisis of tomorrow.
Jephthah was suddenly promoted to the position of leader over his city. Who was behind this promotion: God or the devil? Perhaps it could even be both. In any case, Jephthah’s promotion posed a very dangerous risk. A wounded outcast became the leader of the city from one moment to the next. Jephthah’s example is a reminder of many cases in which pastors suffer emotional beatings in the ministry and then soon after leaving receive an invitation to take over the leadership of another church. Too often, the sins committed against them are not resolved responsibly and the wounds that they have sustained are not properly diagnosed much less treated. Diverse injustices are committed in the name of “love” in favor of the potential and the charisma of the person.
To assume a position of leadership without receiving sufficient healing is one of the most terrible pitfalls in which a leader can fall. In light of this, the Bible affirms that the fear of man brings a snare (Proverbs 29:25). This flattery passed off as love, which ignores moral integrity, and true brokenness of the person is an authentic snare. These situations tend to repeat themselves, each time with increasingly profound consequences.
The elders of Gilead needed a hardheaded leader, and Jephthah wanted to be head over all those who had previously rejected him. He was ready to negotiate anything for an opportunity like this one. This was his opportunity to compensate his inferiority complex within his family and city where he had previously left with his tail between his legs.
Inspired by the pain of his reputation as a renegade, he led the army of Israel to war. However the fact is, that he was much more vulnerable than anyone imagined.
So Jephthah said to the elders of Gilead, “If you take me back home to fight against the people of Ammon, and the Lord delivers them to me, shall I be your head?” And the elders of Gilead said to Jephthah, “The Lord will be a witness between us, if we do not do according to your words.” (Judges 11:9-10)
Jephthah couldn’t believe how the tables had turned. He fostered such a need for self-affirmation before those who had rejected him that he made a deal with God to the point of exposing his own family. This opportunity looked like a dream come true. He could not bear to pass it up.
The greatest danger of a leader inspired by emotional wounds is that regardless of how low his spiritual state is, many times things seem to work out for the good. The only problem is that these seemingly favorable circumstances will only last for a while.
Frequently leaders who are living in critical situations involving serious sins receive spiritual counsel, but they refused to repent. They try to justify their errors by the results they are experiencing in ministry. In the process, such leaders convince themselves that God is using them. Strange as it seems, many times God does truly using them but simultaneously Satan is preparing them for a mortal blow. Many scandals regarding great leaders have occurred in this manner.
The most traumatic part of the whole story of Jephthah is that in spite of having exposed his daughter to death in exchange for emotional revenge against his family for rejecting him, the Lord gave him victory. Seemingly, the story would have been so much better if everything had gone wrong and his only child would have been spared.
In the same manner, we may often strike a damaging blow to the enemy, but in the process, he exacts much more damage in a manner much more on target against us that we manage to exact against him. This disproportionate damage defines the principle of demonic retaliation. Jephthah destroyed his household and cut off his family lineage forever. What a depressing price to pay. No victory can ever compensate for the destruction of our family yet similar exchanges between ministers of the Gospel and satanic forces occur among us daily. Let us heed the Apostle Peter’s warning:
You therefore, beloved, since you know this beforehand, beware lest you also fall from your own steadfastness, being led away with the error of the wicked; but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and forever. Amen. (2 Peter 3:17, 18)