Breaking Spiritual Manipulation

 

“Nebuchadnezzar spake and said unto them, Is it true, O Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, do not ye serve my gods, nor worship the golden image which I have set up? Now if ye be ready that at what time ye hear the sound of the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, and dulcimer, and all kinds of musick, ye fall down and worship the image which I have made; well: but if ye worship not, ye shall be cast the same hour into the midst of a burning fiery furnace; and who is that God that shall deliver you out of my hands? Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, answered and said to the king, O Nebuchadnezzar, we are not careful to answer thee in this matter. If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king. But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.”
-Daniel 3:14-18

Our text is one of the most recognized stories of the Bible. And there is no doubt, this account is rich in instruction and contains manifold lessons for our edification and learning. Obviously, the primary theme communicated to God’s people here is, “no compromise”, which we’ll touch on in this article. However, I want to concentrate on one, often overlooked and under-discussed aspect of our text, namely, God’s clear instruction on “breaking spiritual manipulation”.

The devil wants to intimidate us, cow us down in a corner and make us reconsider the Word. Rest assured saint of God, the only way to break spiritual manipulation is found here in our text; it’s a difficult and often costly lesson we must all learn if we’re to be overcomers.

Now, the spiritual warfare for the true Christian is intense. This is a life filled with many challenges; temptations abound. The ebb and flow of the battle often moves like the wind. Sometimes the enemy uses subtlety, attempting to cloak his every move with stealth, lulling us to sleep. Other times he may cunningly try to entice us outside of Jesus by appealing to the lusts of the flesh. Then again, he can be less clandestine, mounting a frontal attack on believers, attempting to coerce, intimidate, or otherwise manipulate. He will boldly unveil himself in threats, often through the people closest to us, and dare us to cross a spiritual line. It’s this specific situation we want to address in this post.

The players may change: it could be a wicked government, a wayward church organization, an employer, a rebellious child, an unruly wife, but the pattern for victory, as we will learn, is always static. Any time Satan uses another human vessel in an attempt to manipulate us to compromise the Word of God we can/must apply the principle we will see in our text. So, may we open our spirits and take heed to God’s way in breaking spiritual manipulation. Also, if we pay close attention, we can learn how to avoid becoming manipulators ourselves. I have outlined several points for our consideration…

FIRST, LOOK AT THE KING HIMSELF

Daniel 3:1a Nebuchadnezzar the king…

Now, it would be unwise for us to allow the fact that he was a king escape us. When we think of Nebuchadnezzar, the first attribute that comes to mind is that he was the ruler, not the ruled. So ultimately, he did things his way, he made his own decisions, he submitted himself to no one: an attribute we dare not overlook. He, by and large, answered to no one. He certainly didn’t consider the Word of God. Furthermore, the King was like a lot of people, he was in love with himself. He was selfish. As we know, selfishness, in any form, is the foundation of unbelief and sin. Allow me to go a step further, if we fall into selfishness, we become a potential vessel of the devil. And remember, selfishness, the Bible says, shall intensify itself in the last days…

2 Tim. 3:1-2 This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves…

Thus, in our story, the King is typical of those who are, at least momentarily, self-absorbed and acting independently from God. He represents the manipulator, the one Satan uses in an attempt to intimidate, coerce, or otherwise pressure others to compromise.

AT THE CENTER OF THE CONTROVERSY WAS THE GOLDEN IMAGE

Daniel 3:1a Nebuchadnezzar the king made an image of gold…

Notice, it was the king who made the image of gold. Hence, the origins of this idol can be traced to the King’s heart. Some commentators have even speculated that the image was of the King himself. It doesn’t really matter if it was or not, it might as well have been, because it revealed the idolatrous heart of Nebuchadnezzar. Moreover, it was made of pure gold, and thus, was of great worth. The Bible says…

Daniel 3:1c …he set it up in the plain of Dura, in the province of Babylon.

Notice the meaning of the names of these two locations where the idol was set up…

Dura: {Hebrew} doo-raw’, Literally means in your circle or dwelling.

Babylon: {Hebrew} baw-bel’, Always represents religious confusion.

The significance? The devil will attack you right where you live, right in your everyday circle or sphere of influence and it will often have a religious quality. In other words, the point of controversy, the ground of manipulation, will generally rise up out of the ordinary. Also notice…

Daniel 3:1b …whose height was threescore cubits, and the breadth thereof six cubits

This means the image was sixty cubits tall and six cubits wide, a number value of 60 + 6 or 66. We know the book of revelation tells us the number of the beast is Six hundred, sixty and six, or 666. Think about it, two thirds of the anti-Christ equation is found here. Listen, saint of God, you don’t have to be a Satanist, a sodomite, or a harlot to be used by the devil. All you have to be is self-centered. Fall into carnality and before you know it, Satan could be using you as a manipulator with an idolatrous axe to grind. For our study, the image is symbolic of the thing that clashes with God’s expressed will.

NOTICE, THE KING GATHERED ALL TO THE IMAGE

 

Daniel 3:2 Then Nebuchadnezzar the king sent to gather together the princes, the governors, and the captains, the judges, the treasurers, the counsellors, the sheriffs, and all the rulers of the provinces, to come to the dedication of the image which Nebuchadnezzar the king had set up.

He expected everyone to see it his way. Everyone must conform to his ideas, opinions, and plans or else. More times than not, the individuals the enemy uses, are completely unaware of the deeper, spiritual schemes and plots. Nebuchadnezzar, because he was deceived by sin and self, was blind to the greater implications of his decisions. He had no idea that his every move was being recorded, that God was watching, and that Satan was using him to attack God’s people. To the manipulator, more times than not, it’s not about right or wrong, sin or holiness, heaven or hell, Jesus or Satan; no, it’s simply about them (what they want, believe, think, etc.). Remember, Romans 8 doesn’t teach the carnal mind will merely act against God, but that it is enmity (hatred) against God.

Romans 8:7b-8 …for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. 8So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.

If you subject yourself to that mind, you may not have intentions to oppose God, it may be the last thing you want, but you will. You will become blind, self-deluded, and you will expect everyone to bow at your carnal reasoning.

COMMUNICATING THE REPERCUSSIONS OF DEFYING THE IMAGE

Daniel 3:15 …if ye worship not, ye shall be cast the same hour into the midst of a burning fiery furnace; and who is that God that shall deliver you out of my hands?

When anyone, anywhere, consciously or unconsciously, makes us pay a price for following Jesus, we are facing manipulation. Regardless if the individual/individuals are aware of it or not, they have become a yielded vessel of Satan, to manipulate. Think about it, the King was oblivious to the underlining purposes of the devil, he thought he had a good idea. The devil wasn’t primarily interested in the thousands of Babylonians, no, he desperately wanted the few that were undefiled. You may recall this same satanic principle expressed in the story of Haman and Mordeca…

Esther 3:5 And when Haman saw that Mordecai bowed not, nor did him reverence, then was Haman full of wrath.

This is the demonic pattern. The enemy is willing to take great risks and to sacrifice much in an attempt to desecrate the holy. So it was in our story. The devil was willing to spend a lot of money, time and resources in an attempt to trap three slaves. Don’t be naive’, you may think you’re nobody, but if you are living fully for Christ, you have made yourself a target. The enemy will constantly be looking for someone within the sphere of your acquaintances to use in an attempt to manipulate or intimidate you. Often, it can be a lost relative, a child, a wife, a close friend, our employer, etc.. This is where the application becomes more difficult. “Why?” you may ask. Because we often hate to disappoint those who are closest to us. Nevertheless, whenever we find ourselves being tempted to back down and the circumstances cause us to weigh our options, we must stand in Jesus. When we become keenly aware, “if I obey God, this person is going to make me pay a price”. Whenever we find ourselves in such a situation, we must be very decisive. Notice what the Bible says…

Daniel 3:16 Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, answered and said to the king, O Nebuchadnezzar, we are not careful to answer thee in this matter.

Here is the first principle in breaking spiritual manipulation: if we are to overcome, we cannot tip toe around this kind of warfare. We cannot be careful with our answer, worried about the spiritual fall-out if we are too bold. No, we must, with all of our spiritual might, plunge the sword utterly through the heart.

We can’t play the diplomat and win this battle. We must boldly confront the individual and challenge the devil. Remember, when Peter unknowingly (carnally, selfishly) suggested something outside God’s will to our Lord, Jesus rebuked him by saying, “Get thee behind me Satan”.

TO COMPROMISE, IN ANY WAY, FEEDS SPIRITUAL MANIPULATION

Daniel 3:17-18 If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king. 18But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.

In these situations, we must not try to appease the manipulator. If we do so, we will never break, but rather foster spiritual manipulation in our life. Moreover, we’ll never be a witness to those used by the devil to manipulate if we take the passive route. Furthermore, we will encourage the devil to attempt to intimidate us at every turn. The pattern set forth in our text teaches us: those who unrighteously demand must be denied, those who unscripturally threaten must be transgressed, and those who manipulate must be mastered. Hence, until we are willing to lose everything, we’ll never really gain anything. When the enemy demands we “step back”, we must cry out to God and boldly step forward. It doesn’t really matter if deliverance comes or not, the real issue is, “I’m not bowing.”

“Those who sacrifice honor for peace will ultimately have neither.”
-Winston Churchhill

THE TESTIMONY OF JESUS IS OFTEN DISPLAYED IN THE FIRE

Daniel 3:25 He answered and said, Lo, I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and they have no hurt; and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God.

Notice, this pagan king was granted a revelation of Jesus, but only because these three Hebrew boys refused to be manipulated. Think about it, under accusation, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego were referred to as certain Jews, but after they were cast into the furnace the King called into the fire, saying, “ye servants of the most high God.” Think about it, here is a man so deceived he sets up a golden image. He is willing to murder to sustain and feed his idolatry and yet, the revelation of Christ is granted to him. Why? Was it because these three Hebrew boys sought to pacify his anger? Was it because they gave him what he wanted? No, these brave young men gave the wicked king what he needed: they loved Jesus supremely whether he liked it or not. So often, today’s church compromises and use “love” as its justification, claiming to be concerned about souls. True Biblical love toward men can only be established as we love God supremely.

THE POWER OF AN UNSCATHED TESTIMONY

Daniel 3:29 …there is no other God that can deliver after this sort.

In closing, let me simply say, very few in this hour understand this principle. Others may agree in theory, but under pressure they think it too extreme, too calloused, or mean-spirited. Such people have no stomach for spiritual blood, refusing to “play the man” and shunning the realities of spiritual battle. Such lack of spiritual commitment means, at best, a lifetime of bondage to fear. Don’t be deceived, you’ll never deliver that rebellious wife or child by appeasing them. You’ll never have a testimony before your lost relatives by compromising when they pressure you. You must stand in the power of the Holy Ghost, unflinchingly obey the Bible, and defy the opposition or you will forever be chained to the darkness.

“…the salvation of the righteous is of the LORD: he is their strength in the time of trouble. And the LORD shall help them, and deliver them: he shall deliver them from the wicked, and save them, because they trust in him.”
-Psalms 37:39-40

-B.W."Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand." -Ephesians 6:13“Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.” -Ephesians 6:13