A few years ago, I had been contacted by a representative of a local church and this was about a case that sounds extremely odd. There was a woman who would attend their church and perhaps still attends it. She would exhibit Stigmata while the church services would go on. This caused the church goers to be in wonder of her and the church leadership was suspecting demons at work. Because in certain types of demon possession, the affected individual also exhibits Stigmata. The people were getting too interested in her instead of praying to the Lord. So I was asked for a strategy to deal with her, since they didn’t want to directly cast her out of the prayer services, since part of the congregation believed her to be genuine. Eventually following my advice this was tackled cleanly and effectively.
Let me now give you a few definitions of what Stigmata stands for:
- Stigmata: bodily marks or pains resembling the wounds of the crucified Jesus and sometimes accompanying religious ecstasy. (As per Merriam-Webster dictionary online)
Now the church representative was very concerned that the Stigmata ie the bleeding wounds on the woman’s hands were of the devil. I told him not to get too presumptuous about that but let me give him my advice on it. So I decided to ask him a few questions and by this analyze the situation. So for your convenience let’s call the church representative as George. Here’s how our chat went on:
Myself: Where do the wounds show up on her?
George: On the palms, both of them.
Myself: Not anywhere else?
George: Only the palms.
Myself: Strange, because these even happen on the feet, sometimes on the forehead and even on the chest.
George: I’ve not faced this before so I’m not sure what you are talking about.
Myself: No problem. Let me ask another question?
Myself: Does she belong to your denomination?
George: No, she’s from so and so denomination.
Myself: Do you suspect this stigmata that shows up in her might be a ploy to poach your existing church members in her denominational church?
George: (A bit startled) Nothing yet. She didn’t tell anyone to join her church.
Myself: Are you sure?
George: But she does attend other churches too?
Myself: Then why does she attend your church. Are you not aware that certain denominations proclaim other denominations as heretics?
George: I’m not sure but she is regular with us.
Myself: What’s the attitude of others in church towards her?
George: They are awestruck by her and are eager to see her every church service.
Myself: (Concerned) Does this mean she attracts others to Christ?
George: Can you be more specific?
Myself. Yes. By her getting the mysterious blood marks on her palms, do people at your church feel like praying more to the Lord? Do they feel like reading the Bible even more? Do they feel like fasting? Do they pray for more miracles to happen in your church?
George: (Stumped) I’ll have to check on this. This will need me to research on what’s going on.
Myself: Can I suggest a thing?
Myself: Don’t put her on a position of prominence in church. Make sure that people at the time of praise and worship are focused on Christ. You are to keep track of what messages she gives the others in your church and check if it is consistent with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
George: We always focus on Jesus Christ at the church services but I will make sure people continue to focus on the Lord and not her.
Myself: That’s fine enough. I also want to ensure that somebody preaches the Gospel to her.
George: We preach the Gospel at church. I’ll make sure some woman also reaches out to her in this regard.
Myself: I also suggest that you keep track of your people. I mean you don’t want a situation that her stigmata causes people to switch over to her denomination?
George: No. We preach the true Gospel, why should people leave us?
Myself: That’s not my point. I’m not blaming your church. I’m only asking you to make sure your church is not carried away into impulsiveness.
George: What about demons? Don’t you suspect her stigmata could be a demonic manifestation?
Myself: I’d say its demonic if she abhors the name of Jesus that she ends up getting fits (epilepsy) all of a sudden on hearing the name of the Lord. Or she reacts violently and screams a lot.
George: Ok, thanks. I will keep track of the things you’ve said.
Myself: No problem. I will pray for her and your church services to not be affected negatively.
Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophecies, but test everything; hold fast what is good. Abstain from every form of evil. Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it. (1 Thessalonians 5: 19-24)
Now it took the church representative a few weeks to get back to me as to what happened. He told me he tried the stuff I told him. They made sure someone preached to the woman who got the Stigmata. The church services were done with the wholesome preaching of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Plus the worship was purely focused on the Lord. George said the woman didn’t have any specific revelation nor prophecy to give to the church nor did she cause any people to join the other churches she would go to. Most importantly, the woman no longer manifested the Stigmata on her palms. She instead prayed and read the Bible and leads an upright life to George’s best knowledge. The people were not attracted to her but instead focused on the Lord God.
The point here is not just Stigmata, it might have been levitation in mid-air or even holding poisonous snakes without getting harmed, what should be our reaction?
- It definitely does not mean that we consider such people as worthy of more respect than Christ.
- It does not mean that we throw away our knowledge of the Gospel in exchange for untested visions or revelations accompanying the “miraculous” person in question.
- It does mean that we continue to worship the Lord God without deviating from principles of the Bible.
- It does mean that we do not worship false gods on the insistence of any person who can even perform supernatural feats.
- It does mean that we document such cases, including the mental state of the person having Stigmata etc to be able to clearly analyze the situation instead of being clueless.
- It does mean that if we don’t know how to deal with such cases we are humble enough to ask some other Christians who are aware of such situations.
- Above all pray and read the Bible and do research by yourself too.
Verses for reflection:
- Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. This is how you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, and every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and is already in the world. (1 John 4: 1-3)
- But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. (2 Peter 2:1)
- “Beware of false prophets who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruit. Do men gather grapes from thorns, or figs from thistles? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit. But a corrupt tree bears evil fruit. A good tree cannot bear evil fruit, nor can a corrupt tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Therefore, by their fruit you will know them. (Matthew 7:15-20)
- How is it then, brothers? When you come together, every one of you has a psalm, a teaching, a tongue, a revelation, and an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification. If anyone speaks in an unknown tongue, let it be by two, or at the most by three, and each in turn, and let one interpret. But if there is no interpreter, let him remain silent in the church, and let him speak to himself and to God. Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others judge. If anything is revealed to another that sits by, let the first keep silent. For you may all prophesy one by one, that all may learn and all may be encouraged. The spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets. For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints. (1 Corinthians 14:26-33)
Does the Bible permit self-abasement and worship of angels?
Let no one disqualify you, insisting on self-abasement and worship of angels, taking his stand on visions, puffed up without reason by his sensuous mind (Colossians 2:18, Revised Standard Version)
Don’t let anyone condemn you by insisting on pious self-denial or the worship of angels, saying they have had visions about these things. Their sinful minds have made them proud (Colossians 2:18, New Living Translation)
Worship of angels?
God’s angels do not desire worship as they know that they are servants of God and nothing greater. There are 2 instances in the Book of Revelation that the angels themselves asked not be worshiped.
And the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.” And he said to me, “These are the true words of God.” Then I fell down at his feet to worship him, but he said to me, “You must not do that! I am a fellow servant with you and your brothers who hold to the testimony of Jesus. Worship God.” For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy. (Revelation 19:9-10)
And he said to me, “These words are trustworthy and true. And the Lord, the God of the spirits of the prophets, has sent his angel to show his servants what must soon take place. And behold, I am coming soon.” Blessed is he who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book. I John am he who heard and saw these things. And when I heard and saw them, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who showed them to me; but he said to me, “You must not do that! I am a fellow servant with you and your brethren the prophets, and with those who keep the words of this book. Worship God.” (Revelation 22:6-9)
What about self-abasement or self-denial?
Self-denial doesn’t earn you the grace of God. If the grace of God could be earned by works of men then it would not be grace at all. There is no work, not one work that can get you salvation. You receive salvation as a free gift from God through Jesus Christ.
Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Spirit; Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life. (Titus 3:5-7)
“Do not say in your heart when the LORD your God has driven them out before you, ‘Because of my righteousness the LORD has brought me in to possess this land,’ but it is because of the wickedness of these nations that the LORD is dispossessing them before you. “It is not for your righteousness or for the uprightness of your heart that you are going to possess their land, but it is because of the wickedness of these nations that the LORD your God is driving them out before you, in order to confirm the oath which the LORD swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. (Deuteronomy 9:4-5)
Going by Colossians 2:8 are we supposed to cease to listen to visions and prophecies completely?
Not at all. We are not to quench the Spirit. God still gives visions to his people. However not all visions come from God. Satan too gives false visions. Deceitful people receive visions by demons or even their own thoughts and falsely label it as divine. Colossians 2:8 speaks against those who by claiming to have visions then insist that people follow their ideas on things that totally contradict the Bible’s teachings.
“Therefore,” declares the Lord, “I am against the prophets who steal from one another words supposedly from me. Yes,.. I am against the prophets who wag their own tongues and yet declare, ‘The Lord declares.’ Indeed, I am against those who prophesy false dreams,.. They tell them and lead my people astray with their reckless lies, yet I did not send or appoint them. They do not benefit these people in the least,” declares the Lord. (Jeremiah 23:30-32)
Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophecies, but test everything; hold fast what is good. Abstain from every form of evil. (1 Thessalonians 5:19-22)
God bless you for taking the time to read this.