"Love is strong as death, Jealousy as cruel as the grave."

Song of Solomon 8:6

In 1964 I was in Jerusalem and stayed in the old American Colony Hotel which originally had been the private family estate of Bertha Spafford Vester. Bertha still lived on the grounds in a personal section where I saw her only once. It was her father who wrote the famous Christian hymn, "It Is Well With My Soul" after his two oldest daughters were lost at sea. When I was there, Bertha was a white-haired grand-motherly figure whose life in the Middle East had left a permanent mark of greatness. National Geographic Magazine did a full-length feature story of her service to Jerusalem’s under-privileged. For years she maintained an orphanage and school for homeless children. During the First World War Bertha converted her home into a hospital and once removed a soldier’s eye on her dining room table. She is the only woman to whom the Kingdom of Jordan awarded its highest Medal of Honor. To them, she was "Sit Afifi," the "Mother of us all." At that time, the Old City where Bertha lived was still under Moslem control.

What I remember most about "Sit Afifi" was a story she told of her trying to deliver superstitious Moslems from belief in the dreaded "Evil-Eye." This superstition claimed that if you did anything to draw attention to yourself, you incurred the jealousy of others. When jealousy reached a significant level, the evil-eye released disaster upon you and those you love. Those who travel in the Middle East today see the emblem of the "evil eye" attached to the dashboard of every Islamic automobile or bus. It is in homes, businesses, or hanging from key-chains. The insignia is not only a warning about the deadly nature of jealousy but actually re-enforces the power of its curse. With that fear deeply interwoven into their religious life, the girls in Bertha’s school were fearful to do anything that brought personal attention to themselves. Probably, no other force has done more to paralyze initiative, originality, creativity, among believers than the "eye".

Bertha faced a problem: A dignitary was coming to their school and she wanted a child–one of the little girls–to present a gift to the visitor: A simple, hand-embroidered handkerchief was to be given in a public ceremony. In the beginning, none of the parents were willing. They feared the evil eye. Finally, a couple consented and allowed their daughter to make the presentation. Amid applause, with all eyes upon her, the child gave the handkerchief to the visitor and sat down. Later, that same day, the little girl’s dress caught fire and she burned to death. In agony, her parents blamed Bertha for deceiving them into ignoring the evil-eye. More than ever before, they knew it was real. Not only they, but every other person connected to the school had the superstition powerfully re-enforced in them.

I do not fear the superstition of the evil eye. Absolutely not. "Greater is He who is in me than he who is in the world." At the same time, I also know if left unresisted, there is power in a Moslem curse and in the demon of jealousy. And I have no doubt it was the release of that devilish power that killed the unsuspecting child. Like many other Christians today, Bertha did not realize she needed to do more than merely deny the evil-eye. The students needed protection from powers of darkness. That child and her parents lived in an area totally saturated in its belief. Five times daily, Mosques in Jerusalem shook the spiritual atmosphere with the window-rattling announcement, "There is no god but Allah ..." The curse did exist. It was real. More importantly, it was dangerous. Jealousy is much, much more than a bad attitude. Like witchcraft or other forms of Satanism, jealousy is a spirit. Numbers 5:14. Americans may know nothing of the "evil eye" but they are just as vulnerable as Moslems to the spirit of jealousy.

Through many years of pastoral work I have seen jealousy first-hand in its attack against the home. Let me explain: If a wife becomes jealous of her husband, of his business partners, friends, or relatives, and allows that spirit to express itself through her, she can saturate her home and the area around it with its’ dark power. Her family, work place, even her children, become its target. While she never meant for them to be victimized, once released, the spirit has indiscriminate power. That destruction can be physical, emotional, spiritual, financial, domestic, or manifest in a number of ways. Nor is jealousy’s assault limited to the family yard. It may attack a child at school through teachers or other students who are vulnerable to its’ influence–but who remain totally ignorant of its purpose in manipulating them. It may affect the husband’s business trip many miles away and ruin an otherwise successful day. Observe when one comes under attack from the spirit of jealousy there will be a series of simultaneous strikes from other sources. You have had days when "everything went wrong." This is the type of assault of which I speak. These secondary attacks appear to be unrelated. Actually, they are the "follow-up" of the enemy’s well-disciplined invasion. What I am saying is this: Jealousy does not confine itself to its’ original situation. Like a rock thrown in a pond, the ripple-effect of jealousy will touch situations totally unrelated to the initial cause.

Another example: Jealousy may begin when a father becomes envious that the neighbor’s children have more expensive toys, better vacations, more friends, than his own. Where love was his motivation for providing for his children in the past, that changes, and the motivation of love is replaced by one of resentment and bitterness. Outwardly, everything appears the same. He continues to provide for the children but the internal difference is catastrophic. In changing his basic motivation he has changed the controlling influence in the home from love to bitterness. If left uncorrected, he will become possessive, controlling, selfish, in his children’s behalf. Love no longer reigns. Jealousy rules. Soon, no one in the family can please him. Ultimately, jealousy even destroys those who cooperate with it. For someone to realize they have a spirit of jealousy and do nothing about it is to wilfully harm those they love.

My own ministry suffered immeasurable damage from jealousy. After my baptism in the Spirit in 1977 I returned to Florida and began a fresh work of the Spirit in an old congregation. Word quickly spread that new life had come to a church in town. Our membership doubled, then doubled again, finances flourished, people were saved, healed, delivered from addictions and disease. New converts were sometimes taken to the ocean after the evening service and baptized in the dark. We installed Christian T.V. in one of Florida’s largest prisons, our ministry to youth flourished, pastors flew in from out of state to receive help. Whole delegations came from other churches to learn from us. Satan saw the work as a threat and unleashed a battalion of jealousy-demons against us. In a destructive way we became front-page news in our local paper. The Spirit’s work crashed. This was the most painful time of my life and I desperately wanted to run. God said, “No.”

Slowly, we recovered and the remaining sixty people bought property and began again. Two years later our little band of sixty had grown to more than 300 and we had to buy another hundred chairs. Those quickly filled and we were running in excess of 400 on Sunday morning. Best of all, the Holy Spirit was free to move with “signs and wonders.” Delegations came from other churches on Sunday nights to experience the power of the Spirit. Lives were changed in every service. New Staff members were added and I resigned as pastor to fulfill my call into evangelism. Soon, I was traveling to Europe, Africa, Asia, the U.S, and other parts of the world. But the battle with jealousy remained as an on-going struggle for both me and the church. Jealousy seeks one thing: The death of the church and total stoppage of the Holy Spirit’s success. 

Tragically, we Christians ignore the New Testament’s warning that we are fighting "Principalities, Powers, Rulers of the darkness of this age, Spiritual Hosts of wickedness in heavenly places." Ephesians 6:12. South Florida had a tragedy in which a young man murdered the girl he devotedly loved. I later realized, he did not love her. Love never kills. Jealousy kills. God is love--Satan is jealousy. Jesus gives "life more abundantly." Satan came to "kill, steal, and destroy." John 10:10. It was not long after that, while praying early one morning, the Lord interrupted my thoughts with this explanation: "Jealousy is Satan’s imitation of love." The thought was arresting and for a long while I sat with the concept going through my mind. It came again clearly: "Jealousy is Satan’s imitation of love." As I meditated on the message, I realized that outwardly, love and jealousy share many similarities. So many, in fact, that people sometimes confuse the two. They do not realize that the devil is silently substituting his deadly imitation for true love; this subtle change is extremely dangerous.

Years ago, I was called to the hospital room of a woman dying from a series of severe–but seemingly–unrelated attacks against her health. She was a committed Christian who for a long period of years battled cancer, diverse illnesses, a variety of weird accidents, medical mix-ups, mis-diagnosis, etc. The caller had urged me to hurry as the woman was in an unconscious, dying-state. Driving alone to the hospital I suddenly had a powerful "word of knowledge" in which I knew the source of those strange crises: The woman was under a curse of jealousy. When I arrived at the family room where relatives had gathered together, I blurted-out what the Holy Spirit had told me. Looking at the husband I said, "Your wife is the victim of a curse of jealousy!"

My words were met with incredulous stares. The family was Christian but one which carefully distanced itself from what they considered my strange, "charismatic claims about the Holy Spirit." But I didn’t wait on their response–not did I sit down. The dying woman’s sister was a true-believer and I knew she would support me. "In the Name of Jesus Christ!," I said, speaking with authority, "we take total, absolute, unconditional command over the curse of jealousy and cancel it in Julianna’s life. We do this in the Name of Jesus!"

When I finished, the woman’s sister darted from the room and rushed to the bedside. Within a minute’s time, Julianna opened her eyes and immediately rallied. In an incredibly short time she was out of danger and is alive today. Later, a family member took me aside and told me what everyone else in the room already knew: Years of intense, angered jealousy against the victim and the relative from whom it came.

Not long ago I was in a meeting that ended with the congregation experiencing a wonderful, spontaneous baptism of love. People across the building hugged each other, rejoicing in the joy of the Lord, and weeping tears of happiness. It was a scene where "Heaven came down our souls to greet and glory crowned the Mercy Seat." I was probably embraced a hundred times by both men and women--few of whom I knew. Later, when I went to my car alone in the dark a man suddenly stepped out of the shadow and in a very threatening voice said, "I don’t like the way you hugged my wife!!" I was frightened and quickly apologized, saying, "–I don’t know which one is your wife." "She’s the one over there in that truck!," he snapped back, indicating he had put her there as punishment. I attempted to explain that the hug had been fatherly. But he didn’t understand what I meant and continued his tirade. To him, all hugs were erotic. He knew of no other kind. After a while he stalked away.

What I saw was not a man’s love for his wife but his jealousy. While I felt remorse for him, and pity for his wife, I felt an especially deep concern for his children. A man whose only expression of love is an erotic one cannot show affection to his sons and daughters. His children will grow up without ever feeling their father’s embrace. That is the way jealousy replaces true love with its own confusing counterfeit. In the past 63 years of ministry I have had numbers of victims weep out their stories to me.

Middle aged men sat in my office, weeping, and explaining, "In my entire life my father never hugged me." How sad! God designed us to be hugged. Hugs release endorphin and serotonin in the brain which promote a sense of happiness and well-being. That in turn, produces better mental and physical health. Children, particularly, need to be hugged.

What should you do if you recognize jealousy is working through you? First of all, realize that in its intense form, jealousy is a spirit. Specifically, it is a demon-spirit. The only successful resistance is to have someone minister deliverance to you and cast it out. That must be done in the Name of Jesus. Until jealousy has been destroyed by the power of the Holy Spirit it will continue to inflict its devilish program against you and those you love. In the end you will discover, it is "cruel as the grave."

Perhaps you are not the source of jealousy but the one whom it has attacked. What can you do to protect yourself? First of all, Jesus said, "Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who despitefully use you and persecute you." Don’t fight on their level. If you do, you too will become as jealous as they are. You must rise above their earthly plateau and battle in the spiritual-realm. Recognize that the person is not your problem. The demon is the problem. Paul said, "We wrestle not against flesh and blood." Instead, we wrestle against "Powers, Principalities, Rulers of darkness, Spiritual hosts in high place." To win, you must put on the "whole armor of God." That includes girding yourself with "truth," wearing the "breast plate of righteousness," protecting your feet with the "gospel of peace," off-setting the attack by the "shield of faith," protecting your mind by the "helmet of salvation," and finally use the "sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God." Finally, you must pray with "all prayer and supplication in the Spirit." Ephesians 6:13-18. Jesus said, "I give you power to tread on serpents and scorpions and over all the power of the enemy." Luke 10:19. The Apostle John declared, "He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world." I John 4:4.

Finally, wage all-out spiritual war. Take authority in Jesus’ Name. Bind, rebuke, banish, the enemy by the power of the Cross. Win! Don’t fall into the trap of thinking jealousy can be ignored. It cannot. Bertha Vester and the parents of a little girl in Jerusalem learned the hard way. You do not need to be afraid of such a spirit. But you absolutely must realize that it is real--and it is dangerous. You must drive it from your life!