Since attending a series of prophetic leadership meetings in January 2004, the Lord has been speaking to us very pointedly about the separation within the Church that is directly ahead of us. There are ancient spiritual enemies that infiltrated the early church following the Day of Pentecost that have now come to a place of maturity. Likewise, the children of Light must also achieve a place of maturity in order to engage the adversary. The Lord is pressing us to “restore the land and make them inherit the desolate heritages.” (Isaiah 49:8)

As we have often emphasized, our conflict is not with flesh and blood but with spiritual forces usurping a place of dominion in the heavenly places. Ours is a spiritual foe! The battle will be won in the realm of the spirit and will liberate people held hostage by spirits of intimidation, manipulation and control.

It is reasonably easy to recognize blatant perversion, unbelief and spiritism that permeates the spirit of this world. However, the more difficult confrontation lies within the Church and the false spirits that masquerade as authentic spiritual authority. However, through the development of discernment and an examination of spiritual fruit, a distinction can be noted as we approach maturity. The Scripture declares,

Solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil. Hebrews 5:14

It seems to be high on the Holy Spirit’s agenda to deal with these influences that desire to separate the people from the walk of intimacy the Lord so emphatically desires.

Identifying Stumbling-Blocks

One such spirit is identified as the spirit of the Nicolaitans. We recognize this spirit raising its evil head at the very outset of the early Apostolic church during the Ephesian church age. It represents a perverted form of leadership that has as its objective the very opposite motive of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit of the Lord will draw the people to the Lord Jesus while this counterfeit influence seeks to separate the people from the Lord. The Nicolaitan spirit will masquerade as a true governmental body wielding counterfeit spiritual authority subtly using fear, manipulation and control to achieve its agenda.

As in the days of Elijah, a confrontation with the prophets of Baal is imminent. The Nicolaitan spirit will be challenged in this hour. The term “Nicolaitan” is derived from two Greek words…”Nikos” and “Laos”. Nikos is defined as: a conquest; victory; triumph; to conquer; and by implication, dominancy over the defeated. The word “nicao” literally means; to dominate-intimidate-manipulate. Additionally, the term “laos” means “the people” or the “laity.” Thus exacting the phrase “to conquer (dominate-intimidate-manipulate) the people (laity).

A careful examination of church history will readily highlight the Nicolaitan movement that marked the beginning of an unrighteous priesthood within the Church. Again, our intent is to identify the spiritual influences that have successfully stolen the inheritance of the saints throughout the Church ages. In so doing, we will be more amply poised to “overcome” in our quest to be seated with Christ on His throne as He likewise overcame.

Equipping the Saints

It is the call of genuine governmental leadership to equip the people to do the work of the ministry. (Ephesians 4:11-12) The apostle Paul was willing to lay down his life for the people to whom he ministered. He did not lord his spiritual authority over the people but readily poured himself out for the sake of the Lord’s Church. That quality is the predominant separation between the genuine and the counterfeit forms of leadership.

The true leadership model is not that of a pyramid but an inverted pyramid. True spiritual fathers will take great joy in seeing their spiritual offspring flourish in their relationship with the Lord and the impartation of the grace gifts. The Lord clearly expressed his disgust and hatred for the Nicolaitan spirit and its corrupt agenda. In fact those who shared His disdain for this evil opposition were commended. (Ephesians 2:6) For those entrusted with the great end-time deposits of power and authority, there can be no intimidating, controlling or power hungry prejudices exercising counterfeit authority over the sheep.

The Nicolaitan spirit will target Christians who have lost their “first-love” affections for the Lord. The enemy meticulously orchestrates a series of life events that cool our affections for the things of the Spirit with the intended hope of imparting apathy and lethargy. Hope deferred will make the heart sick! If accomplished, the door is then opened to this form of leadership that directs the focus of the people away from the Lord.

Engaging Heaven

Thankfully, the spirit of wisdom and revelation is promised to each believer, affording understanding of our rich inheritance in Christ. The Lord is granting the spirit of revelation to open “eyes and ears” to a place of fellowship with him that is displacing hopelessness. In its place, “first-love” affections are being re-ignited. Holy desperation is saturating the hearts of a bridal company who will not be satisfied merely hearing the testimony of others who have encountered the Lord Jesus— they must have their own experiential relationship.

In John 10 there is a clear admonition from the Lord stating, “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them and they follow me.” We are promised the ability to experientially apprehend the revelation of His Voice. The more acutely familiar we are with His Voice the more capable we become of recognizing the counterfeit. There has been a carefully orchestrated plot of the adversary to steal this aspect of our heritage. The desolate heritage of the saints is being restored. The progressive restoration promised in Joel 2:25 is presently taking place. The doors of Heaven are being opened granting unprecedented access to the realm of the Spirit and fellowship with Heaven. The Lord prophetically outlined this privilege when He said,

To him the doorkeeper opens, and the sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. John 10:3

The Lord is calling us by name and leading us out of the dungeons of bondage and oppression into a place of freedom and liberty. Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is emancipation. There will be an overcoming army emerging in this hour. The invitation is being issued to enter into a place of fellowship with the Lord that will equip us for this long foretold confrontation. The Nicolaitan spirit can no longer hold hostage the bride of Christ who is destined to be joined with the Lord in a promised union.

Fourfold Apostolic Mandate

True Apostolic leadership will be commissioned with a fourfold mandate like the one given to the apostle Paul. The Lord sent one of His cherished friends, Ananias, to release a prophetic commission to the now converted Saul of Tarsus. Ananias charged Paul with four specific admonitions that overshadowed the remainder of his life— ones that will characterize the Apostolic leaders of this day as well. The scripture declares,

A certain Ananias, a man who was devout by the standard of the Law, and well spoken of by all the Jews who lived there, came to me, and standing near said to me, “Brother Saul, receive your sight!’ And at that very time I looked up at him. And he said, “The God of our fathers has appointed you to know His will and to see the Righteous One and to hear an utterance from His mouth. For you will be a witness for Him to all men of what you have seen and heard. Acts 22:12-15

Paul was empowered with four distinctive privileges that exemplified his Apostolic calling.

1. Appointed to know His will.
2. See the righteous One.
3. Hear utterances from His lips.
4. Be a witness/testifier of what was seen and heard.

The word witness is a judicial term signifying one who gives testimony only to what they have personally seen and heard. Hearsay evidence is not allowed in a court proceeding. Anointed eyes and ears are essential in the accomplishment of this mandate granting access to the revelatory realm of Heaven where the will of God is apprehended and testimony articulated from credible witnesses. These attributes will begin to separate true governmental qualities from the Nicolaitan spirit.

At the end of 2003 while attending a large conference in Albany Or., my eyes were opened as I entered the sanctuary and the Lord allowed me to see a company of Angels stationed in the back of the Church. Each was dressed in white robes with gold sashes or belts around them. When I asked who they were the answer came instantly. A voice stated, “They are angels that gather.” I shared that revelation with the pastor but later wondered if there were biblical references that signified gathering angels.

An examination of the Scriptures provided several instances in which the Lord said that He is sending angels who gather. One such illustration is Matthew 13:41 declaring,

The Son of Man will send forth His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all stumbling blocks, and those who commit lawlessness.

There is a present work of the Spirit to initiate the process of gathering the stumbling blocks and obstacles set against the high purposes of God. The Nicolaitan spirit is one such example of the effort of the adversary to inhibit the plan of Heaven. As we petition heaven to release the “ministering spirits who gather” through the authority delegated to us, we will begin to see these elements extracted and a more abundant flow of grace present to initiate genuine governmental leadership.