Oppression is defined as – prolonged cruel or unjust treatment or control; mental pressure or distress. There are some spirits of oppression that prolong cruel and unjust treatment or control over many people, some of whom are completely unaware of the effects. I’ll discuss a few of them below.
The Spirit of Infirmity
We read of a woman who had a “spirit of infirmity” for 18 years, and her physical affliction was so bad that her body was bowed down together and she could not lift up herself. We read of this in Luke 13:11 And, behold, there was a woman which had a spirit of infirmity eighteen years, and was bowed together, and could in no wise lift up herself. In this situation, the affliction was out of her control, and she “…could in no wise life up herself”, but the Lord healed her and He was able to lift her up and no doubt she was glad!
We find another person with a spirit of infirmity, and while there are also physical manifestations in this case, this spirit manifests itself in a slightly different way; in more of a mental way. It is this form of oppression we are addressing here.
This account is found in John 5:5 – 7 – And a certain man was there, which had an infirmity thirty and eight years. (6) When Jesus saw him lie, and knew that he had been now a long time in that case, he saith unto him, Wilt thou be made whole? (7) The impotent man answered him, Sir, I have no man, when the water is troubled, to put me into the pool: but while I am coming, another steppeth down before me. Notice the Lord asks the man, “Wilt thou be made whole?”. The man’s response tells us everything about the oppressive spirit of infirmity that plagued him.
You might think the response of someone who had been sick for 38 years would be “Yes! Absolutely!” But that wasn’t the case. His first response was to give the Lord reasons why he could not be healed. Now, granted he did not know the power of the Lord at this time, but that is somewhat irrelevant in that if anyone were to ask him, “Hey, if you could, would you like to be made whole?”, one would think he would say “Yes!”, and yet his response to the Lord makes it seem almost as if he wanted to stay the way he was.
This may seem unbelievable to many people, but that is just how powerful the spirit of infirmity is. This spirit (and it is a spiritual influence) can cause men and women to remain in an oppressed state of self-pity and self-loathing and constantly looking for someone to have sympathy on them. This can be a trap to the point where, if they were offered a better way, or even liberty from their current situation, they would reject it under the guise of “I’ll always be frail and there’s no help for me”, even though there may very well be.
This spirit is oppressive indeed as it attacks the mentality of the person and completely sucks the life, joy, peace, and hope from its host. The only one who can help them break free is the Lord Himself…if even He can do it. The spirit of infirmity is oppressive in that it influences people to believe they can’t be made better than they currently are, or if they could, it influences them not to want to be made better than they currently are.
The Spirit of Fear
Paul the Apostle addresses this spirit in a few different places. He tells us in Romans 8:15 For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear…He also tells us in 2 Timothy 1:7 For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.
In both places he refers to fear as “the spirit of bondage” and “the spirit of fear”. This speaks of a spiritual influence that causes its victims to be in panic mode many times over insignificant, and sometimes untruthful, things. The spirit of fear can also be accompanied by the spirit of infirmity because, if allowed, they can cause a person to withdraw from public life thinking this will keep them safe from some unseen, unknown, but certainly “dangerous” event. They trade freedom for perceived safety.
The spirit of fear is oppressive in that it keeps its victims in perpetual torment. The Apostle John tells us, 1 John 4:18 …fear hath torment…I have found that what people seem to fear the most is the unknown and the potential loss of control.
This spirit of fear can only be broken by complete and vulnerable trust in the love and keeping power of God! Anything reserved in this area is sure to be an open door for the spirit of fear!
The Spirit of Self-Will
The spirit of self-will is an incredibly subtle force! It can take on the appearance of charity and doing the will of God, while at the same time causing us to do the opposite of those things. We often want to believe we are doing the will of God. It is only when it does not work out that we finally admit to ourselves, “Maybe that wasn’t God after all”. Believe me, I’m in no way throwing stones as I’ve had plenty of “It’s the will of God….oops, maybe not” moments in my life! I’m just bringing out how the spirit of self-will is an ever-elusive enemy that is very subtle and sometimes we don’t recognize it until it’s too late.
The Spirit of Inferiority
We often call this an inferiority complex, which is defined as an unrealistic feeling of general inadequacy caused by actual or supposed inferiority. This spiritual influence can be triggered by life events, one’s appearance as being judged to be unattractive (mostly by themselves), or some failure that makes one to become self-conscious of how others think of them.
This can take on a few different manifestations. One of which is the constant need of reassurance from others. This person feels that if they make a decision, it will probably be the wrong one, and therefore they need constant input and validation from “those who know more than I know or ever will know” (watch out when people add the underlined part). To be clear, there are times when we should seek wise counsel, especially when we are in a dire situation we’ve never experienced and an important decision has to be made. The wise man, Solomon, once wrote: Proverbs 20:5 Counsel in the heart of man is like deep water; but a man of understanding will draw it out. It is when validation and approval are constantly needed that inferiority is being manifested.
This spirit of inferiority may also manifest itself in the form of extreme shyness, anger, name calling, or in some other attention-deflecting way. The point is that the person who suffers from this oppressive spirit is not comfortable with who they are naturally, so they try to either appear to be someone they truly are not, or at least deflect attention away from themselves and back on to someone else, and it’s usually done in a way that puts that other person in a negative light, in an attempt to bring them lower than how the inferior person feels.
This can be in the form of making an awkward facial expression toward someone as if something is wrong with that person, or pointing and asking them some random attention-deflecting question like, “What’s that on your shirt?”, knowing that nothing is there. Whatever it takes to get the attention off the person who feels inferior and onto someone, something…ANYTHING but themselves!
I would say we are all tempted with feelings of inadequacy at times, but those who suffer from the spirit of inferiority tend to work extra hard to get the attention off their perceived inadequacies.
The Spirit of Superiority
The spirit of superiority tends to be a by-product of the spirit of inferiority. I said earlier, regarding the spirit of inferiority, “…the person who suffers from this oppressive spirit is not comfortable with who they are naturally…” Those who suffer from the spirit of superiority have the same tendency not to be comfortable with who they are naturally, but rather than feeling the need to diminish themselves, they tend to feel like they need to embellish themselves in some way. This can be in the form of over exaggeration of some effort or accomplishment or straight-out lying about something they said or did in an effort to garner the undue admiration of those around them.
This usually stems from their viewing of someone else as some form of threat to them. This perceived “threat” is dependent upon what is most important to the person and therefore different people will have different reasons, but in my experience, it seems to revolve around the protection of their self-image, or at least what they want people to perceive as their self-image.
The goal is to make themselves seem incredibly above average. Usually it is an attempt to supplement their feelings of inadequacy by replacing them with feelings of over-adequacy (this is why I said earlier it is a by-product of the spirit of inferiority). So, if you hear stories that sound too good to be true…they probably are!
This is by no means a complete list of all spirits of oppression. The power of all these spirits of oppression can be broken by one Spirit…the Spirit of God! Paul reminds us in 2 Corinthians 3:17 Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. Liberty from what? Liberty from the influence of all these spirits of oppression.
Do you need to experience liberty from any of these spirits of oppression?