Anne became a leader within the weight loss group. Members started going to her for counsel and encouragement. She grew to a position of respect and notoriety, not because of ego, but because she had an anointing of the Lord to really help these people. Cherise envied Anne’s popularity and began to mutter snide remarks under her breath whenever Anne offered up a suggestion. Cherise managed to turn even the smallest things into a competition between them.
Anne was getting badgered by constant verbal thorns and she was tempted to fight back. But by the grace of God she realized this battle was not of the five senses. The situation needed a touch from the supernatural.
God has given us solutions to every type of problem we face, but not every weapon in our arsenal is appropriate for every situation. A simple illustration: a butter knife is the perfect knife for spreading butter on bread, but it’s not the right knife for slicing carrots. Once you know the difference, you’ll be able to pick the right knife every time. It works the same way spiritually.
First we learn to recognize the effects of particular kind of devil spirit in action. Once identified, we can find out from the Word of God what to do when it attacks. Each kind of demon exhibits unique characteristics. God tells us: “There is nothing new under the sun” (Ecc 1:9). Once we see the operation of a certain kind of demon and we’ve read about it in the Bible, we will recognize it when we see it and know what action to take.
The Bible calls the ones that attacked Anne “thorns,” and “pricks.” Numbers 33:55 says, “Then it shall come to pass, that those which ye let remain of them shall be pricks in your eyes, and thorns in your sides, and shall vex you in the land wherein ye dwell.” The word “vex” means to besiege, afflict, and oppress. The word “dwell” means that they were settled; they were in the right place; they were at ease with where God had them.
But these spiritual thorn and prick demons are the ones who come against believers when we are actually in the right place with the Lord and dwelling there. The devil gets so envious he sends pricks and thorns through people to pester us, make us mad and get us distracted or even better, in a fight.
Joshua 23:13 says the following about this kind of demon: “They shall be snares and traps unto you, and scourges in your sides, and thorns in your eyes, until ye perish from off this good land which the Lord your God hath given you.”
Judges 2:3 says: “They shall be as thorns in your sides, and their gods shall be a snare unto you.”
A great example of these spiritual thorns and God’s solution to getting rid of them is found in Second Chronicles 20. King Jehoshaphat was a good king. He and all his people were prospering and enjoying God’s blessing. They had come up out of Egypt and didn’t bother the kings or people of Ammon, Moab or mount Seir. But now that Jehoshaphat was doing so well and had such a good reputation, these three armies were envious and they gathered a great multitude to come and destroy Jehoshaphat and his people and take over the wealth.
Jehoshaphat was challenged to a fight, but he really didn’t know what to do. Jehoshaphat recognized the enemy and though he won many battles in the past, in this case, as in any case with spiritual thorns and pricks, God’s solution was not to fight.
I don’t want anyone to have to deal with these vicious spirits, but if you or anyone you know has been attacked by them and tried to fight, they quickly learned that fighting does not work. If we try to fight we will lose. This kind of spirit can only be taken care of by the Lord himself. God spoke to Jehoshaphat and the people through Jahaziel:
“Thus saith the Lord unto you, ‘Be not afraid nor dismayed by reason of this great multitude; for the battle is not yours, but God’s. Ye shall not need to fight in this battle: set yourselves, stand ye still, and see the salvation of the Lord’” (2 Chron 20:14-17).
The people prayed and praised God and the next morning when they came to the watchtower to see what was going on, all they saw were dead bodies. The three armies had attacked and killed each other so that not one enemy was left alive. Not only had God allowed the armies to wipe out each other, but all the stuff they’d brought with them became rich spoil for Jehoshaphat and his people.
In both Joshua 23:13 and Judges 2:3 where spiritual thorns are described, God’s solution was that if the people would look to Him, He would be the one to drive those people out who had been operating under the influence of thorn demons.
In New Testament times the Apostle Paul also encountered these spirits and God showed him how to handle them—in the very same way as Jehoshaphat. 2 Corinthians 12 has that record.
Paul was on the high road. He was getting amazing spiritual revelations and was able to help so many people, but then came “a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me” (2 Cor 12:7). The dictionary defines “buffet:” “to hit with the fist, to beat back like waves hitting a boat, to punch, slap, or force its way by struggling or hitting.” A buffing wheel is used for polishing. We have the phrase “polish him off,” meaning to kill him. This is the ultimate goal of a pricking spirit: to kill the believer’s anointing, his talent, his notoriety, his joy of soaring in his unique spiritual abilities in Christ.
At the time of Paul’s attack, he was being exalted because of the way God was working in him to minister, just like God works in each of us to bring us into positions of honor in areas where we spiritually excel. Paul prayed three times to get rid of it. Paul was no slacker when it came to praying but somehow he wasn’t getting God’s answer. I wonder if he was maybe thinking he could fight it, like we sometimes think.
But the Lord told him, “My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness” (2 Cor 12:9). “Weakness” in the Greek means a lack of spiritual power, which is what we saw with Jehoshaphat. Jehoshaphat realized he didn’t have enough spiritual power to go against such a spirit as the one he was facing with those three armies. He needed God Himself to do it. The Lord Jesus was giving Paul the same answer when He said, “My grace is sufficient for thee.” In other words, let Me do this job.
The Lord wants “to shew himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward him” (2 Chron 16:9). And with thorn spirits all we do is look to Him to take care of the situation. “Set yourselves, stand ye still, and see the salvation of the Lord” (2 Chron 20:17).
Envy in other people makes them susceptible to these thorn and prick demons. They try to provoke us to fight back. If we give it to the Lord instead, and don’t fight back with our five senses, the demons can’t get to us and the Lord gets rid of them instead.
When Anne was attacked, her flesh wanted to fight, but she soon recognized what kind of spirit it was and we took the situation to God in prayer. We were inspired to tell the spirit it couldn’t touch her and it wasn’t going to get a fight from us, but from the Lord himself.
Soon after that we were invited to go to breakfast with some of the people from the group, including the girl being used by the thorn spirit. The Lord said go, so we went. When we got there, we could tell that the thorn spirit was completely gone. The girl was free from any devil spirit and acted normal. And as long as we were in the group, it never came back.