The spirit realm is not the property of New Agers but of the Church, author Jennifer Eivaz says, and it is the inheritance of every Christian to learn how to discern and see into the supernatural.
In her new book, Seeing the Supernatural: How to Sense, Discern and Battle in the Spiritual Realm, Eivaz explains some of the most contentious and misunderstood issues in the Church and equips readers to flow in the discernment of spirits, one of the gifts of the Holy Ghost listed in 1 Corinthians 12.
"I'm a person who has always been in tune with the spiritual realm and nobody ever educated me out of it," Eivaz said in an interview with The Christian Post.
When it comes to the supernatural, a mindset pervades in many Western churches that dictates that the spiritual realm, for all practical purposes, amounts to psychosomatic silliness. And while many Christians will pay lip service to the reality of spiritual warfare vis-à-vis Ephesians 6 — where the Apostle Paul speaks of the importance of putting on the armor of God and that believers wrestle not against flesh and blood but against distinctly spiritual wickedness — it is another thing entirely to discern, engage and actually battle evil, the author says.
"Salvation is spiritual, and God is Spirit," she said, "so we're going to be dealing with spiritual things. So to have a mindset that these things don't exist, they're not real, they are not a part of our lives so just shut your eyes ... that's not biblical. It's anti-biblical."
Regrettably, many Christians have indeed been educated out of it because someone told them it was not real, she continued, "but most people have had some kind of encounter [in their lives] that they cannot explain."
Seeing the Supernatural, then, provides an explainer.
Eivaz weaves together the scriptures that speak to supernatural phenomena and stories from her personal life and ministry experience in the book's eight accessible chapters. At a succinct 155 pages, she tackles some of the thorniest questions that can be asked like "Can a Christian Be Demon Possessed" and offers advice to spiritually-tuned people who pick up on spiritual activity, both angelic and demonic, but do not really know what to do with it.
"We exist in a divine tension and a divine power shift in the earth," Eivaz told CP, noting that the challenge is often finding a language for these things.
"And Jesus gave His church the keys, and authority in His name, with the intention of us actually using it. So what are we using it against?"
When Christians rightly stand in the spiritual authority they have been given in Christ, it is used against the demonic principalities and powers that bind the object of Jesus' affection: men and women who need to know the Gospel, she said.
The Modesto native is a graduate of Oral Roberts University who now resides in Turlock, California. Eivaz, now 47, was raised in a Mormon household and told CP she was always a spiritually sensitive kid.
Things got particularly dark for her during her junior year in high school where she recounts she was living in "full-on rebellion" and her family was beset by all kinds of problems. Around this time she was experiencing the demonic in palpable ways; her bed would shake at night and she would hear voices. Her family stopped going to the Mormon church at that time because they were not meeting the church's severe standards.
But her uncle, an enthusiastically evangelistic Pentecostal, invited them to church. She had no plans on becoming a Christian and did not particularly like Christians. But it was there where she met the real Jesus.
"That was when everything changed," Eivaz recalled. "You don't know Jesus and then all of a sudden He meets you and you know it's Him, there's just no question about it."
Although unfortunate divides between the Word of God and Spirit have manifested in certain charismatic circles as have abuses of the supernatural, Eivaz insisted that in truth there ought not be any division between them.
Every spiritual experience must be tested against the Scripture, Eivaz stressed, noting that she teaches on interacting with the spiritual realm and discernment. She always underscores this because when the Bible ceases to be the ultimate reference point, all sorts of weirdness erupts.
"It's fascinating to me that God breathed forth written scriptures that so reflect Himself that as you move out in intercession and in prayer, and into these kinds of [supernatural] topics like discerning of spirits, He never violates His written Word."
When Christians have unexplainable spiritual experiences and they take it before the Lord in prayer, if God was really speaking or moving they will eventually find something in the Word of God to confirm it, she said.
In chapter 8, "What to Do With the Things You Discern," the author unpacks a critical truth regarding how to discern good and evil spirits.
"To distinguish effectively between spirits, we have to remember that this gift is a sensory process before it is an intellectual one," she writes, citing Hebrews 5:14, which reads: "But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil."
"The Holy Spirit causes us to discern good and evil through our physical senses — our eyes, ears, smell, taste, and touch, as well as through our emotions," she continues.
Yet navigating all these things is a learning curve indeed, she notes, and if God is trying to communicate something to someone in this way, it is essential that mature believers, through community and accountability, learn to sort out what they are sensing so they can respond appropriately. And anytime one deals in the supernatural there is a degree of "messiness" because people do not know how to handle it with maturity, but God gives grace for the journey.
"When you notice that you are discerning something by the Holy Spirit, it is first an invitation to dialogue with Him. It is a call to a conversation with God," Eivaz emphasized.
CP asked the author what advice she would give to spiritually hungry pastors and churches who have either been wounded by charismatic abuses or those who call themselves "functional cessationists" — those who believe that the gifts of the Holy Spirit are operational today but admittedly function like they have ceased — as was expressed by a pastor on the popular Reformed website Desiring God on Oct 2.
"If they are a leader of the church, they are the gatekeeper. They know what their church can handle and what they can't," she replied. "They need to pace themselves and not feel any pressure at all to do things fast."
"You have to really know how to lead people with love, not shut it down, but counsel them in a way that does not steal their curiosity about the supernatural but give them a road to walk out on."