The Spirit of control

sumatran-tiger-518771_640 (1)John 19:12: From then on Pilate sought to release him, but the Jews cried out, “If you release this man, you are not Caesar’s friend. Everyone who makes himself a king opposes Caesar.” (ESV)

Control is about the enforcement of one will on another. Here we see Pilate who was really bored about the case against Jesus, convinced there was no substance in it, convinced that Jesus was not a real threat that should be summarily dealt with in the crucifixion on the cross.

However, Jesus was an existential threat to the control the Pharisees had over the religious life of the people and how that makes them really important. Because they position themselves as living examples of closeness to God, they saw themselves as a privileged group that cannot afford to lose their position, and must get rid of Jesus by any means.

They exerted control on the people to demand that Pilate crucify Jesus, giving the picture that any other choice and there will be turmoil everywhere (Mark 15:10-16). Those who want to control you, operating by a spirit of control, comes to you with doomsday scenario. The devil came to Eve, saying you need to eat the fruit (which God said not to eat) or you will forever fall short of your potentials (Genesis 3).

He came to Jesus, saying: you better turn bread to wine or else you will die here (Luke 4:1-13). Jezebel caused Elijah to flee off when she said: I am going to so kill you, you will become irrelevant afterwards (1Kings 19:1-4).

It is the voice of the devil saying: if you do not steal that money you will be poor all your life, like your father was. In a way, you cannot be controlled if you do not have painted a fatal picture of an impending doom on the template of your heart, by some means, e.g. word.

Some people wanting to control Jesus said: you better run away because Herod wants to kill you (John 13:31-33). In response, Jesus announced his understanding of this purpose and timing, and without that he will be tossed to and fro by the divergent information coming his way.

Beware of those who flatter you, because that is also a means of control, making you to feel comfortable with them and therefore susceptible to whatever suggestion they bring, striking you like a serpent, after moving on your body with the coolness of its skin.

Jesus responded to a man who called him a good teacher, saying: nobody is good except God (Matthew 19:16-17). When Nicodemus came to him saying he is the best thing that can happen, he redirected the conversation (John 3).

When certain people came from a far distance to see Jesus, he immediately spoke about his impending death in a parable of seed and harvest. He refused to be cornered by flattery.

Some people wanted to make him king but he avoided them (John 6:14-15). When the one in the spirit of control praises you, it is to bind you to his will, it comes with strings attached. It is always about what they have to gain, when all is said and done, not your fulfilment.

The Pharisees painted a doomsday picture in the mind of Pilate, saying: “since this man (Jesus) calls himself king, if you do not crucify him it means you are not really in support of Caesar, and therefore has a seed of rebellion yourself. You are definitely not Caesar’s friend (John 19:1-18).”

They threatened to expose him as a fraud if he does not bend to their will. That was blackmail. When somebody threatens to expose you, to gain something from you, then you are looking at a man manifesting the spirit of control.

That was what they did when they announced that anyone who believed in Jesus will be put of the synagogue. The Pharisees laid it out that they were going to disfellowship anyone who believes in Jesus. That was an attempt to slow Jesus and the advancement he was making down in introducing the people to a new way of doing things, i.e. the ways of God.

Even Nicodemus a famous man in Israel among the religious leaders could not publicly identify with Jesus; that was how strong the spirit of control operating in the generality of the Pharisees was (John 3).

The spirit of control is about conformity and that extends to even seemingly inconsequential issues, like colour of clothes.

Some Jews who became Christians preached that you cannot be saved expect you practice circumcision, but Paul said that they want to glory in the appearance of the people (Galatians 6:12-14). Again, it is about conformity, and the controller’s benefit, how he appears to be really in control in the eyes of the observer. When rules about externality become the judgment of rightness, then the spirit of control has run amok. When rules are made as layers above (and covering) the written word of God, then we have the spirit of control in maturity.

Jesus accused the Pharisees not because they upheld the scriptures, but for giving their tradition a higher weight that the word of God (Mark 7:1-23). Anywhere that happens in any religious setting, we have an expression of the spirit of control.

Any closed system with a leader or leaders that cannot be questioned is rife with the spirit of control. Jesus has no evil spirit of control operating in hm. He once asked Peter and others: do you also what to leave me (John 6:66-69)?

He did not declare curses on them if they leave, he did not wish they harm if they leave. He gives them choices, but where a spirit of control operates that does not happen. You are not free, it is either their way or the highway.

The spirit of control also operates where there is no mercy. Jesus accused the Pharisees of that saying: they tithe to the least thing but they leave out other important part of the word of God, which includes mercy and faith (Matthew 23). Anywhere where the external is more important than the internal we have the operation of the spirit of control.

In John chapter nine, two parents refused to identify their son (who was born blind) as the man who was healed by Jesus because they did not want to be ostracised from the community where the Pharisees held sway. They do not want to be on the wrong end of the spirit of control’s stick.

When such a system exists it is ripe for divine judgment. And that was what happened, some years after they killed Jesus, when the temple was destructed.

In a way, the temple had replaced God in their scheme of things. It had become something else. Jesus said my father’s house (the temple) has become a den of thieves, when it was meant to be a house of prayers for all nations (Mark 15:15-19). Because of the spirit of control in them, the affairs of the temples rises and falls on what the administrators have to gain, and it ceases to be a place for everyone to connect with God, irrespective of your background. The temple represents the hold of the Pharisees and priest on the people and not God’s.

Jesus declared woe on the Pharisees. The judgement did not happened immediately but it eventually did. They were the epitome of pride, thinking that everyone should differ to them because of the devotion to the scriptures, prayer and fasting.

If that was it, things would have been manageable, but they create myriads of traditions, to render non effect the word of God. They made themselves gods through the traditions that they made to render the word of God of no effect.

Even God said his word is above his name (Psalm 138:2), but these people make their own word to be on the same level as the word of God, to make a name for themselves. That is the symptom of the spirit of control. When you say: I have a special revelation that cancels out a word of the bible that means you want to put the people under your own control and not that of God.

Jesus gave one example, saying that they cancel out the word of God which says people should honour their father and mother by saying that if they say to their parents whatever I want to give to you is dedicated to God, then they do not have to give their parents anything (Matthew 15:1-6).

The spirit of control operates in people who are blinded by their own feeling of self-importance. Thinking they have no need they reject all help that can and have come their way.

Jesus quoting the word God spoke to Isaiah, said: seeing they will not perceive, hearing they will not understand lest they repent and they are healed (Matthew 13:9-16, Isaiah 6:9-10).

The Pharisees with their spirit of control was the epitome of the order of things into the Old Testament, have no genuine perception. They killed the Word (Jesus) the scriptures they were reading pointed them to. As mentioned before, Jesus said they are blind leaders of the blind and both will end in the pit. And it is written, there is one who seeks to control others, but in the end he hurts himself (Ecclesiastes 8:9).

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