Presentation on theme: "DISCERNING THE SPIRIT WITHIN THE CHURCH Jesus warned of false prophets who would perform "great signs and wonders" so convincing that "if it were possible,"— Presentation transcript:
DISCERNING THE SPIRIT WITHIN THE CHURCH Jesus warned of false prophets who would perform "great signs and wonders" so convincing that "if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect" Matthew 24:24.
Easy to see Occult Practices Most fundamental, Bible believing Christians know that: weeping statutes, stigmata, apparitions, haunted houses, appearances of "Mary", automatic writing, channeling, witchcraft, psychic healing, incantations, hypnosis, magic and seances, to name but a few, are not of God. However, an increasing number of Christians are becoming caught up in a "Christianized" version of the occult.
Why the Attraction? I believe the answer to that is simple—being made in the image of God we are more than mere physical beings, we are also spiritual beings. Our very nature (fallen that it is) has a built-in curiosity and fascination with the supernatural. Fallen mankind also has an inclination toward religion (be it pagan, atheism or otherwise) in order to compensate for the loss of fellowship and communion with God. This may also include Christians, especially those who have never been properly discipled. All too often Christians are left to define Christianity on their own, which makes them prime targets for satanic delusions or deceit. Sincere believers, who hunger and thirst for more of God and who have grown restless and dissatisfied with dead, dry, powerless churches are also at risk. Multitudes of Christians have crossed over denominational lines in recent years to join various charismatic groups (without testing them) in the hope of gaining new spiritual experiences and power. What about lucky charms, number 13 etc.? Why do Christians give credibility to these things?
Desire for Spiritual Power – any spirit The desire for spiritual power and supernatural experiences is the common denominator between Christians and non-Christians alike. Scripture makes it clear that in the last days there will be a great spiritual delusion and occult seduction prior to Christ’s return. Jesus warned of false prophets who would perform "great signs and wonders" so convincing that "if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect" Matthew 24:24. The apostle Paul also warned of a false "signs and wonders" movement in the last days (2 Timothy 3:8). In spite of the warnings by both Jesus and Paul, there is scarcely any thought that some of today’s signs and wonders might be part of the very spiritual deception which the Bible foretells. We are also seeing, as a part of the "signs and wonders" movement, a burgeoning "church growth" movement, a "prayer and fasting for revival" movement, and a "spiritual warfare" movement, all working toward the same goal.
Not all Spirituality is of God!!!! People who want to be "spiritual" must be aware that not all "spirituality" is of God. New Agers, witches, fortune tellers, mediums, astrologers, shamans, psychic healers and the like all claim to be "spiritual". The question is which spirit are they operating under? 2 Timothy 4:3-4 gives us one answer to this question. "For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables." Today radio and satellite television exposes millions to an endless parade of "teachers". Jesus said, "An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign" Matthew 12:39a. Do we not live in an "evil and adulterous generation" today? Matthew 16:1 records that the religious elite tempted Jesus to show them a "sign". When Jesus was asked by His disciples what the sign of His coming would be, He answered, "Take heed that no man deceive you" Matthew 24:4. Whether we like to admit it or not, Christians can be just as superstitious as non- Christians.
Superstition is not new. According to Webster’s dictionary, superstition means "a belief or practice resulting from ignorance, fear of the unknown, or trust in magic or chance; an irrational abject attitude of mind toward the supernatural, nature, or God resulting from superstitious beliefs or fears." Superstition among the unsaved can lead to ungodly beliefs and horrible practices. Christian superstition is an open door for unscriptural attitudes, beliefs, practices (i.e. faith in faith, positive confession, "seed faith") and idolatry. Superstition can replace discernment, which results in a blind acceptance of anything supernatural regardless of the source. Jesus’ disciples exhibited superstition (ignorance) in the case of the man born blind. (John 9:2.) And when the disciples saw Jesus walking on the sea they "were troubled, saying, It is a spirit; and they cried out for fear" Matthew 14:26. In the Old Testament we read in Judges 8:27 that Gideon "made an ephod (object of worship) thereof, and put it in his city, even in Ophrah: and all Israel went thither a whoring after it: which thing became a snare unto Gideon, and to his house." In Leviticus 19:26 God told the people that they were not to "observe times".
Other practices exhibiting occultist thinking. Tatooing. Leviticus 19:28 says, "Ye shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor print any marks upon you: I am the LORD." (Emphasis mine.) Superstitious Christians believe that if they vow to give tithes and offerings to God, then God is obligated to financially bless them. When a person gives to get, they reveal their ignorance of scripture and God’s character. "Give to get" is the mainstay "sales pitch" on "Christian" television today. This lie originated in the mind-science religions and lures superstitious Christians into a false Gospel (faith in their faith). Money is given to the rich instead of to the poor, (which is sin to God). Authentic Christian ministries, missionaries and needy servants and saints are oppressed as a result. Eventually the misled giver may completely turn from God when the desired results fail to materialize. We have witnessed this tragedy many times.
Test, test & test against God’s written word! Vows and covenants with God must be kept within scriptural boundaries to ensure that one is not falling prey to the "devil’s devices". Ignorance and superstition is a deadly combination because any person operating under both is automatically open to believe and receive anything as truth that he or she perceives as "spiritual" or "supernatural". Superstitious Christians are wide open to occult powers that they assume are from God. The Bible warns of "…another Jesus" and "another spirit" and "another gospel…" 2 Corinthians 11:4. In the same chapter, verses 13-15, we are warned "For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works." Acts 17:23 records Paul’s statement to the superstitious Athenians, "For as I passed by, and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with this inscription, TO THE UNKNOWN GOD". These people swallow without question everything and anything that appears "supernatural" such as gold dust, gold fillings, uncontrollable laughter, splitting pulpits, strange lights, so-called angelic visitations, outlandish "visions" of Jesus, people en masse being "slain by the Spirit", false prophets and prophecies, etc. No one tests these as the Bible says to do! The real test is: does it bring glory to the Father in Heaven?
Watch. People who claim to be Christian fall for and practice New Age Hinduism in such superstitious teachings as the following: "positive confession"; using Jesus’ name as a "mantra"; believing that we are "little gods" and employing visualization techniques (psychic prayer). To such the Apostle Paul wrote, "But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived. But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou has learned them. For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. Therefore watch,…" 2 Timothy 3:13-14; Acts 20:30-31a. ARE YOU WATCHING?