Every day a person or group (Christian or secular) moves in one or more planes: spiritual, natural, carnal, and demonic.
- Spiritual – using other-worldly senses to comprehend the world as Jesus Christ does. It means having the Holy Spirit in residence and voluntarily submitting to him. People who move in this plane notice (discern) phenomena in all three other planes.
- Natural – using physical senses to comprehend the world. People who move in this plane rarely notice (discern) anything in the three other planes, i.e. anything hidden.
- Carnal – using the lens of sin to comprehend the world. People who move in this plane notice (discern) only the natural plane, which they’ve corrupted with sin.
- Demonic – using other-worldly senses to comprehend the world as Satan does. It means having a demonic spirit from hell in residence and involuntarily submitting to him. People who move in this plane notice (discern) phenomena in all three other planes.
As sinners from birth we start in the natural plane. Through constantly giving into sin, we regress to the carnal plane. Our physical senses are corrupted, our spiritual ones dulled. If we sin enough, we regress further into the demonic plane. It takes spiritual conversion (new birth), an act of God through the Holy Spirit, for us to rise from any one of these planes into the spiritual plane.
Only the church of Jesus Christ has the Holy Spirit. Only she should continually move in the spiritual plane. Who else but a spirit-filled believer can sense both carnal and demonic activity and put a heavenly stop to it? This is just what Jesus did with the Pharisees in the Gospels, when they accused him of having a demon. This is what Peter did with Ananias and Sapphira in Acts 5, and Simon the Sorcerer in Acts 8. This is also what Paul did with Elymas the Sorcerer in Acts 13, and the demon-possessed girl in Acts 16. All three men moved in the spiritual plane, Jesus by choice.
I was reared and self-identify as Pentecostal. Many Pentecostal churches and camp-meetings I have attended over the past twenty years know about the spiritual plane. They sometimes operate in it (much less than they should). Yet for the past eighteen months, I have faithfully attended a Southern Baptist church. It’s the perfect example of moving in the natural plane, of not being Pentecostal and proud of it. This church is spiritually poor and doesn’t even know it.
Rarely does the congregation operate in or comprehend the spiritual plane. They worship, preach, and pray in the natural. As a result, they produce few true conversions. They don’t notice when the atmosphere changes, when they start to worship in a spiritual plane because the Holy Spirit has filled the place with his presence. They say they want the Spirit and don’t notice when he shows up. “Anointing breaks the yoke” (Isaiah 10:27). Of this great spiritual truth they know nothing. They’re not anointed, i.e. filled with the Holy Spirit and moving in the spiritual plane.
One morning the pastor told the congregation not to judge other pastors and churches. He said, “Touch not mine anointed and do my prophets no harm” (1 Chronicles 16:22, Psalm 105:15). In other words, as long as someone claims to be a Christian they’re anointed to worship, preach, pray, or prophesy. However, having witnessed the shenanigans of Jimmy Swaggart, the Bakkers, the TBN crowd, and many others over the decades, both Christians and sinners know this is not true – just like Jesus, Peter, and Paul knew. The pastor twisted this verse. He was really telling the congregation not to move in the spiritual plane – not to discern between spiritual, natural, carnal, and demonic activity in “Christian” settings. Maybe the pastor told them not to because he himself cannot.
Between services, the youth and adult groups don’t pray, study the Bible, and witness to the lost. They don’t practice or conduct spiritual warfare. Instead, they play. Each week the bulletin is full of “recreation” ministry (whatever that means), youth sports activities, and food outings for “fellowship.” What in the world is Christian or spiritual about these things? I say nothing.
I can say one good thing about this congregation. They’re spiritually normal in the sense that I rarely find either carnal or demonic activity there. I fear they wouldn’t be able to discern such activity if they saw it, but so far they haven’t really allowed it. They believe somewhat in holiness. By contrast, I have found both carnal and demonic activity in Pentecostal settings.
Three years ago, a self-proclaimed prophet came to my home Pentecostal church to conduct an evangelism conference. He acted strange enough Sunday morning. That night, he acted like a god as he solemnly lowered his voice and left the sanctuary. A family member said, “Frasier has left the building.” It was that dramatic. The congregation didn’t know this man had a demon.
A year or two ago, I heard Rod Parsley at a Pentecostal church less than thirty miles from my house. He claimed to be drunk on the Holy Spirit. I believe he was physically drunk on alcohol. A Holy Spirit baptism shouldn’t make someone act crazy, as if they cannot control their mind or body. Physical alcohol is more likely to produce that. I stayed a half-hour at this service and then left. I felt spiritually dirty. The congregation didn’t know Parsley was acting carnal. Even worse, he blasphemed the Holy Spirit – ascribing carnal activity to him.
Too many Christians today are acting in the natural plane in their homes, churches, and communities. Too many others are witnessing carnal or demonic activity. Few have the spiritual discernment to sense it. Even fewer have the spiritual power to stop it. These people must be zealous and repent, let themselves be filled with the Holy Spirit, and start moving in the spiritual plane. Otherwise, they will experience the judgment of Laodicea: Jesus Christ will spew them out of his mouth (Revelation 3:16).