God has provided us with the things we require to live basically happy, content, peaceful lives if we put our faith and trust in Him and in the genuine “realities” of His Word. He also has given us numerous signs to prove that He exists. Such signs, if we carefully observe them, also will help keep us on the track of His great Plan (see “on and off the track”: C-15, P-II). Living for God and obeying His Word is like building a house on a rock-hard foundation which will never fail (Matt. 7:24,25).
On the other hand, because Satan cannot be God and never will be able to overcome God (and, thus, never will replace God’s eternal Throne with his own), he must resort to imitating God to draw our natural attention away from God and to direct it toward himself. Our realm is filled with things which Satan has taken (since Satan himself can create nothing) and twisted—both subtly and obviously—into things which are appealing but deceptive and even dangerous. These things he has made as tantalizing, as enticing, and as irresistible to our senses, emotions, and egos as he possibly can.
A counterfeit is like an image being viewed in a mirror. At first glance, unless the mirror is distorted in some way, the image may appear identical to the object of which it is a copy. However, upon closer examination, it will be seen that the right and left aspects of the image are reversed with respect to the right and left aspects of the object being reflected; thus, the image actually is the opposite of what it appears to be. Likewise, Satan’s counterfeits, in fact, are the opposite of God’s realities which they mimic. Calling a counterfeit a reality, or vice versa, is the same as calling evil good or good evil, darkness light or light darkness, or bitter sweet or sweet bitter (Isa. 5:20).
Putting our faith and trust in delusory “counterfeits” and “substitutes” eventually will lead to despair, grief, turmoil, disease—maybe even an untimely death. It is like building a house upon sand which inevitably will give way and crumble (Matt. 7:26,27) in one of life’s severest “storms.” Wisdom to tell the difference between beneficial realities and deleterious counterfeits (and, therefore, to avoid unnecessary adverse consequences by choosing wisely) can be obtained by regularly and diligently studying the Word of God, revealed in the Bible, and by listening to God’s Holy Spirit speaking to one’s conscience.
Christianity is a relationship with our Creator, the Almighty, Triune God, in whose image we have been made. Any other system which professes to “reach” God, or which insists that we ourselves are “gods,” is a religion, instigated by “religious” spirits (see “Holy Spirit vs. religious spirits” later in this part).
We never can “reach” the Almighty God on our own (Job 37:23a), so He has reached down to us in the form of Yeshua haMashiach (Jesus Christ of Nazareth.) Christians who think they can appeal to God’s mercy and obtain saving grace merely by “being nice” and “doing good things” are practicing “Christianism,” which really is “religious Christianity.”
<!>Paul said, pertaining to Satan, “The god of this age [Satan] has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God” (2 Cor. 4:4). Elsewhere, he warned against that which fits into the pattern of today’s “New Age” teachings: “See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ” (Col. 2:8). The “New Age” religion/philosophy, essentially is, ancient Babylonianism which has been passed down in various forms through the ages to its present manifestation of neopaganism. In her eye-opening book Gods of the New Age, Caryl Matrisciana discusses the practices and origins of “New Age” philosophies.
<!><!><!>I sometimes hear that we should be “in harmony with the universe,” and methods commonly put forth as the means by which to do this are meditation, chanting, and “focusing the mind.” Well, my claim is that when one knows Jesus, one is in harmony with the universe because Jesus made it (John 1:3; Col. 1:16; Heb. 1:2c, 3:3,4—see “Creator, Sustainer”: C-6, P-III). I also frequently hear the term “global village” and that the people of the world can (and will) create such a state if (and when) they “come together as one,” accepting all philosophies and religions as valid and “learning to live together.” But, at the same time, there is an increasing antagonism toward Christianity, which alone holds the answers to true world peace and prosperity through Jesus Christ.
<!>Mankind cannot create his own utopia; only Jesus can (and will) do this (see “utopia”: C-13, P-II). The idea that we can do so is akin to the fallacy that people physically evolved from animals. The next logical step on the evolutionary ladder, then, should be a spiritual progression to a “God-like,” “perfected,” “totally enlightened” state which we supposedly can attain by our individual and concerted efforts. Of course, this is merely a new restatement of Satan’s old fib that we can be like God (Gen. 3:5b). The writers of the book The Evolution Conspiracy have stated,
The Bible teaches that man was created by God, fell from God’s grace as a result of disobedience and is desperately in need of redemption. This truth has been a stumbling block to many who choose rather to believe that man was not created by God, but evolved and is the end product of some unguided process of chance and time. Man’s pride argues that the biblical perspective of creation is unscientific, without admitting to the unreasonable assumption of evolutionism. ...
Millions of people are being duped by the false spiritual idea that our society continues on an upward evolutionary pathway, that mankind is on the verge of entering a brand-new age of consciousness and awareness that will come as a so-called quantum leap in man’s evolutionary process. As we are presently witnessing in today’s society, man’s decision to eliminate God by propagating the lie of evolution has ignited a wildfire of New Age thinking and mentality which openly encourages contact with the occult, worship of self, and denial of a biblical God.
On the other side of the issue, Richard Greene, founder of the Mind Control Institute, in an interview for the film The Evolution Conspiracy, said,
What’s going on with this New Age is that we’ve been making a transition in different levels of evolution. Evolution is going on all the time. Many people believe, as I do, that the purpose of life is to grow and that you grow as much as you can in each lifetime, and of course we believe in reincarnation. We have mastered the evolution of the body now; that happened thousands of millions of years ago. That has remained relatively static. We have now moved into the period of our evolution as humankind where we are evolving mentally. ...
I believe that if every human opens up to the possibility of there being a spiritual dimension that we will evolve individually and that will lead into the evolution of the species. Our purpose on earth is to make ourselves realize our godhood, that we have everything that we need inside of us.... We’re in a time now where man is literally taking control of his own evolution.
A person’s prideful claim that he/she is a “god” or can attain “godhood” can be described by any of these terms: “god consciousness within,” “the god-power,” or “the christ-within.”
<!><!>These biblical passages point to “New Age” instruction in the last days, describing those who accept pseudo-truths and who teach them to others:
The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron (1 Tim. 4:1,2). ...
Turn away from godless chatter and the opposing ideas of what is falsely called knowledge, which some have professed and in so doing have wandered from the faith (1 Tim. 6:20b,21). ...
Do not be carried away by all kinds of strange teachings (Heb. 13:9a).
Dr. Jack Van Impe, in a letter to supporters of his ministry, explained how these things are taking place today:
As one prominent New Age authority has stated, “There are tens of thousands of entry points” into the New Age. Millions are being deceived by “enlightening tapes and videos.” Corporations and governments are spending millions on special seminars and training courses that are nothing but cult workshops.
Most of these groups embrace such New Age beliefs as spirit channeling, reincarnation, polytheism, and the human deification (godhood). A few are openly and fiercely satanic and proud to be so. However, not all agree on every aspect of doctrine and ritual. Some even claim to be “Christian.”
Many of these deceptive, sinister groups have even published their own sacred books, or “bibles.” Have you seen or heard of: Dianetics, The Seth Material, The Secret Doctrine, The Last Teachings of Jesus, A Spiritual Sex Manual, or The Satanic Bible? These are just a few of many books that are supposed to add to or replace the Holy Bible, the inspired Word of God.
infiltration of “New Age” theology
If one keeps one’s eyes and ears open, one will see and hear examples of “New Age” ideals and teachings just about everywhere: on TV and radio shows and commercials; in newspapers, magazines, and textbooks; in seminars and lectures; and on street and highway billboards. These philosophies have even infiltrated entire school systems. I am convinced it is for this reason that public schools and colleges nationwide (particularly in the formerly “great” state of California) are having severe disciplinary and economic troubles like never before. For the most part, tragically, God has been separated out of the educational system, His steadfast values and moral teachings having been substituted by ungodly, deadly counterfeits. As a result, I believe He is allowing schools to suffer for their bad choices to teach untruths instead of truths, as well as for trying to eliminate prayer, Bible study, and virtually all references to God and Christianity from the classroom.
Students are taught that “right” and “wrong” are relative; things can be deemed “correct” or “incorrect,” depending upon how they suit the one making the judgment or decision at the time. For instance, “white witchcraft” can be “good.” An abortion is all right if the baby would be too inconvenient. Any means to an end is OK, as long as it brings success. In a sobering article, “America (Righteousness Exalteth a Nation),” Marvin Rosenthal states,
In the Bible, the standard or norm of “rightness” is the will of God, which is simply an expression of God’s nature and character.
By way of contrast, humanism substitutes man’s opinion of what is right or wrong for God’s revelation of what is right or wrong. The current moment of history is not unlike the days of the judges in ancient Israel when every man did that which was right in his own eyes. [See“historical cycle”: C-2, P-III.] When man becomes the final arbiter, everything becomes subjective. There is no platinum yardstick or measuring rod. When there is no acknowledged norm or standard, there is no absolute by which to measure the issues of life.
However, the divine standard exists whether acknowledged or not, and men either seek to adhere to God’s standards or live in sin and disobedience to their Creator and Sovereign. Many of the problems that now divide our country are not, in an ultimate sense, political or even moral. They are spiritual. The issue really comes down to the belief in a holy God who has revealed His will and to whom men are accountable, or the belief in humanism which ultimately says of man, “I am the captain of my ship; I am the master of my fate.”
An erroneous belief of many school officials is that the constitution advocates the “separation of church and state” (which it actually does not—see the passage about attorney Jay Sekulow in “special people and their purposes”: C-15, P-III). Really, though, this assumption on their part is paradoxical, because humanism, pragmatism, evolution, holism, metaphysics, Eastern mysticism, and other such concepts often preached in schools today are themselves man-made religions with deceptive “New Age” roots.
John Ankerberg and John Weldon, in The Facts on the New Age Movement, have provided a basic but informative list of “New Age” definitions. I, personally, have found some of these included in newspapers and magazines and have heard them discussed or casually mentioned on TV and radio, often by famous personalities.
1) God—an impersonal all-pervading energy.
2) The Holy Spirit—an energy that can be used creatively or psychically.
3) Jesus Christ—a New Age teacher and an illustration of an enlightened individual who realized he was God.
4) Man—inwardly good and divine; thus he carries within himself all that he needs for time and eternity.
5) Salvation—development of psychic powers and higher consciousness. This is achieved by looking inside one’s self and practicing New Age techniques to finally attain awareness of personal divinity.
6) Sin—ignorance of personal divinity.
7) Death—the moment one hopes to experience a merging with God, the all-pervading energy of the universe. This can only come if personal transformation or enlightenment has been obtained.
8) Satan—normal consciousness; man existing in his state of unrealized potential.
9) Heaven—good state of consciousness in this life.
10) Hell—bad state of consciousness in this life.
Christianity and Judaism vs. Islam
<!><!><!><!>Christianity is based upon the concept of a single God manifested as three Persons: Father, Son (Jesus Christ), and Holy Spirit (see “spirit, soul, body”: C-6, P-I). There is no other God besides Him (Deut. 4:35; Isa. 43:11,12, 45:21de), the King and Redeemer of Israel (Isa. 44:6a), the Lord and God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (Exo. 3:15a). Christians, including Messianic Jews have a special, reciprocal relationship with the True God.
In traditional Judaism, the Trinity is not recognized; God is seen as a single being, with many different attributes (seeC-2, P-I), Who made definite promises to the ancient Jewish forefathers concerning Israel and the Jews (see C-2, P-II). Within Judaism is the idea that one must earn God’s favor by following the law written in the Torah (or Pentateuch, equivalent to the first five books of the Christian Bible) written by Moses. Jews also are guided in their study of the law by the Talmud, a collection of books and commentary compiled by Jewish rabbis (teachers) from 250 to 500 A.D, and the Mishnah, an exhaustive collection of laws and guidelines for observing these laws.
<!><!>Islam, the Muslim religion whose god is Allah, usually is thought to have begun with the prophet Muhammad (or Mohammed) during the “Muhammadan Era” (starting in 622 A.D.). However, according to Bible scholar Chuck Missler,
Islam did not start with Muhammad. The supreme deity of Ur of the Chaldees in Abraham’s day [Gen. 15:7; Neh. 9:7] was the moon-god, whose symbol was the crescent moon. He subsequently emerges as the supreme deity of Babylon, named...Sin. Then worshipped in pre-Islamic times as Al ’Ilah, Lord of the Ka’aba in Mecca, Muhammad subsequently incorporated him into his religious system.
“Sin” was derived from zu-en (or en-zu), Sumerian for “lord of wisdom.” The “wisdom” symbolized by this moon-god was representative of astrology, a satanic counterfeit (seeP-IV, S-2), which makes use of the moon’s phases in some of its predictions. The “powers of the universe” supposedly were found in Sin, Shamash, and Ishtar, which personified the moon, sun, and Venus, respectively.
An angelic being, claiming to be the good angel Gabriel, appeared to Muhammad, an Arab shepherd. There is no question in my mind that this was an evil angel sent by Satan to deceive Muhammad (just as I believe the angel, Moroni, was an evil angel sent to deceive Joseph Smith, who began the Mormon religion in the early 19th Century; the Bible is complete in and of itself and requires no “supplements,” such as the Qur’an (Koran) or the Book of Mormon—for other little-known information about Mormonism, which is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, this web site may be visited: http://www.alphamin.org).
<!>Bruce Cohen—in Israel, Arabs, and the Middle East—relates the substance of the counterfeit angel’s false message to Muhammad:
The Jewish people, the descendants of Isaac, because of their sins, essentially had failed in their mission to bring the world into a relationship with God, so now God was turning to the descendants of Ishmael. He [the angel], the Arab shepherd [Muhammad], and the Arabic peoples had been selected by God to bring the world into islam which means absolute submission to the will of Allah (Arabic for God).
... If Muhammad had even a mild understanding of Scripture, he would have known immediately that the angel who spoke to him could not have been from the God of Abraham. Any new revelation must agree with what is already established as God’s Word (see Isaiah 8:20).
The fact is that God has not revoked His promise to Abraham of an eternal inheritance for Israel (see “purposes of Jesus and Israel”: C-15, P-I).
<!><!><!><!><!>Arabic people, generally, are descended from Ishmael, Abraham’s first-born son (Gen. 16:15), who mocked Isaac, Abraham’s second-born son (21:8,9), just as staunch Muslims mock Jews and Christians. When Ishmael’s mother, Hagar, became pregnant, she even despised Isaac’s mother, Sarah (16:3,4). Isaac, not Ishmael, was guaranteed (by God) the land inheritance promised to Abraham, though Ishmael was promised an eventual inheritance of his own (17:18-21, 21:12b,13). God described Ishmael and his descendants this way:
He will be a wild donkey of a man; his hand will be against everyone and everyone’s hand against him, and he will live in hostility toward all his brothers (Gen. 16:12).
Much of the Middle East tension today, among Arab nations and involving Israel, is explained by this statement and by the Ishmael/Isaac rivalry.
It is understandable that jealousy would arise within descendants of Ishmael, because they were not chosen to receive the great land inheritance promised to Abraham (Gen. 15:18,19). This jealousy, in fact, has resulted in their forcibly seizing most of this land. But they want Israel (only fractionally larger than New Jersey), the “final precious jewel in the crown,” as it were. More specifically, they would like to gain control of Jerusalem, Islam’s third holiest city, to make it the Islamic, specifically the Palestinian, capital.
Jews and cognizant Christians believe the scriptural truth (Holy Bible) that the present land of Israel (and much more) belongs to the Jews; radical Muslims insist on believing the scriptural counterfeit (Qur’an) that Israel must come under Arab control and that anyone who disagrees with this must be annihilated. The jihad (holy war or, literally, “striving” or “effort”), declared upon Jews and Christians by fundamentalist Muslims, will not be ended by any “peace” negotiations or treaties made by mankind (see “religious spiritual battles”: C-10, P-I), as the struggle between Judaism/Christianity and Islam will continue until Jesus returns to end it.
<!><!><!><!><!><!><!><!><!><!><!><!>The Bible is the true and complete word of God to all the people of the world. It contains numerous descriptive examples of how God has dealt and will deal with the nation of Israel, as well as irrefutable promises He made to and will keep with Israel (seeC-2, P-II and C-2, P-III). Through the Bible, we are made aware of our sin nature (Rom. 3:23), our separation from God because of our sins (Col. 1:21), and our inadequacy in being able to do enough “good things” to gain His approval, grace, mercy, and salvation (Titus 3:5a).
The Bible makes it clear that atonement for a human life can be made only with blood (Lev. 17:11c); furthermore, only by the blood of Jesus Christ can permanent reconciliation back to God be made (2 Cor. 5:18,19; Col. 1:19,20). Though God is Love, and though He clearly demonstrated this Love by sending His only begotten Son into the world to save us from our sins (John 3:16; 1 John 4:8b-10), He also is capable of anger and wrath (Exo. 22:24; Deut. 9:7a,8; 2 Chr. 36:16; Rev. 6:16,17—see “Anger”: C-6, P-IV). And only by the blood of Jesus can anyone be saved from this wrath (Rom. 5:9).
On the contrary, the Qur’an (or Koran) contends that God has abandoned His promises to Israel, due to her disbelief and disobedience. It states that Allah (whom Muslims consider to be “God”) will be merciful to those who have faith in him, who cease from doing evil, and who do only good works. Unfortunately, no one is ever certain whether or not he/she will be looked upon favorably by Allah. The real God never changes (Mal. 3:6a); whereas, Allah is subject to whim and impulse.
<!>The Bible is a compilation of the writings of many authors; and any matter “...must be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses” (Deut. 19:15b; 2 Cor. 13:1b). The Qur’an, however, is the writing of only one person Muhammad. In the Qur’an is the declaration that Jesus allegedly said, “I am sent forth to you by Allah...to give news of an apostle that will come after me whose name is Ahmed [another name of Muhammad, meaning ‘Praised One’]” (pp. 103, 104 in The Koran, translated by N. J. Dawood); but there is no biblical account that Jesus made such a statement nor that such an apostle would succeed Jesus. (Page number references from The Koran will be included here in the text rather than in the bibliography.)
<!>The Qur’an claims that it “...confirms previous scriptures [the Bible]...” (p. 332); yet, there are numerous inconsistencies. For instance, according to the Qur’an, the Creator “...created man from clots of blood” (p. 26) and “...from water...” (p. 207); but nowhere does it state that people were created in God’s image. The Bible, however, states that “...the Lord God formed man from the dust of the ground...” (Gen. 2:7a) and created people in His own image (1:27).
<!>It is written in the Qur’an that Noah was 950 years old when the Great Flood began (p. 192); while the Bible states that Noah was 600 at the time (Gen. 7:11). God told Noah, “I am going to put an end to all people, for the earth is filled with violence because of them” (6:13a). Yet, in the Qur’an, the reverse is reported: Noah is alleged to have said, “Lord, do not leave a single unbeliever in the land” (p. 22), erroneously implying that the destruction of the unbelievers was Noah’s idea rather than God’s idea.
<!>Similarly, Moses indicated to God that he was not a good speaker, that he was “...slow of speech and tongue” (Exo. 4:10). So God told Moses that his brother, Aaron, would become Moses’ spokesperson to the children of Israel (4:14-16). Yet, the Qur’an conversely claims that Moses requested to the Lord, “Free my tongue from its impediment, that men may understand my speech. Appoint for me a counselor from among my kinsmen, Aaron my brother. Grant me strength through him and let him share my task....” (p. 221). In reality, Moses did not request that his speech impediment be removed; and, again, someone (in this case, Moses) is acknowledged to have given God the idea to do something which He already had in mind to do (that is, cause Aaron to be a helper to his brother, Moses).
<!><!><!>The Qur’an indicates that after Moses found the children of Israel worshiping the golden calf, he threw down the sacred Tablets. However, there is no indication that they broke; in fact, it states that he later picked them up (p. 251). But, in fact, the Tablets did break (Exo. 32:19), and new ones had to be made (Deut. 10:1-4). The Qur’an states that upon the new Tablets “...was inscribed a pledge of guidance of mercy to those that fear their Lord” (p. 251); but, in fact, only the Ten Commandments were written on these Tablets (Exo. 34:28b). In the Qur’an, Moses is alleged to have struck the sea with his staff to cause it to divide (p. 199); but, actually, God divided the waters after Moses merely stretched out his hand over the sea (Exo. 14:21).
<!><!><!><!><!>Muhammad wrote that, after Mary conceived, she “...retired to a far-off place” and that, during childbirth, she “...lay down by the trunk of a palm-tree” (p. 33). In reality, Joseph took Mary home as his wife (Matt. 1:24); and together they later went to Bethlehem, where Jesus was born and placed in a manger (Luke 2:4-7) in a stable or “sukkah” (see “Jesus born during Sukkot”: C-5, P-III). Also, according to Muhammad, “Jesus was no more than a mortal whom We [Allah] favored and made an example to the Israelites” (p. 148). Yet, Jesus Himself claimed that He had been set apart by the Father and sent into the world (John 10:36a), and He implied or stated that He actually was the Son of God (Matt. 10:32,33, 11:27; John 10:36b—see “Son of God”: C-6, P-III).
<!><!>Allegedly, Jesus, speaking to Allah, will say, “You know what is in my mind, but I cannot tell what is in yours” (p. 387). Yet, Jesus professed, “I and the Father are one” (John 10:30) and “...I do nothing on my own but speak just what the Father has taught me” (John 8:28b). If Jesus is telling the truth in the Bible, then Allah and the Father are not one and the same entity. Also, the Qur’an asserts, “Jesus is like Adam in the sight of Allah. He created him of dust and then said to him, ‘Be,’ and he was” (p. 399). Yet, in the Bible, John indicates, “He [Jesus] was with God in the beginning” (John 1:2), affirming that Jesus was not a created being.
<!>Muhammad related that “virgins” and “high-bosomed maidens” would be men’s rewards in Paradise (pp. 20, 21, 52), and that male believers would be wed to “dark-eyed houris [heavenly virgins].” However, Jesus made it clear that resurrected people will not marry (Matt. 22:30). The idea of virgins and maidens being given as rewards in heaven to men who go there sounds a great deal to me like merely an appeal to the wishful desires of earthly, mortal men. And what of the rewards presented to women when they reach heaven, none of which are included anywhere in the Qur’an? (Women have virtually no regard or esteem in a Muslim-dominated society.) The fact is, “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him” (1 Cor. 2:9).
<!>Clearly, the Qur’an is anti-Jewish and anti-Christian, with such teachings as, “Believers [in Allah], take neither Jews nor Christians for your friends” (p. 380); and, “The unbelievers among the People of the Book [Jews and Christians] and the pagans shall burn for ever in the fire of Hell. They are the vilest of all creatures” (p. 29). The following statements, as well, are contained in the Qur’an: “He that chooses a religion other than Islam, it will not be accepted from him and in the world to come he will be one of the lost” (p. 402); “Had the People of the Book [Jews and Christians] accepted Islam, it would have surely been better for them. Few of them are true believers, and most of them are evil-doers” (p. 404); and “Unbelievers are those that say: ‘Allah is one of three.’ There is but one God. If they do not desist from so saying, those of them that disbelieve shall be sternly punished” (p. 383). Allah tells Muslims to “...slay the idolaters [unbelievers in Allah] wherever you find them. Arrest them, besiege them, and lie in ambush for them” (p. 311); and, “Those who avenge themselves when wronged incur no guilt” (p. 153)—even though the God of the Bible declares, “It is mine to avenge; I will repay” (Deut. 32:35a; Heb. 10:30a). Allah and God are not one and the same; Allah is a very powerful evil angel who advocates revenge, while the true God forbids it.
The world is hard. Life is a struggle. But without God in people’s lives, problems are even more insurmountable; there is more depression and loneliness, and more people attempt suicide. Everyone of us has a “God-shaped vacuum” in his/her heart. With God filling this space, we can have the peace of mind, security, and happiness for which each of us has an insatiable longing. God is the most valuable Friend we can ever have.
Greg Laurie, on “A New Beginning,” his weekly show on TBN, has asked, “Why were we created?” His answer is that we were created to know God. He adds that in the “jigsaw puzzle” of life, one piece purposely has been left out of the “box.” That piece is God-shaped. To complete the puzzle, we must find that piece outside of the “box” (that is, outside of the world system in which we physically live). God’s Holy Spirit, speaking to our spirits, attempts to show us how to find the True and Living God; only He will fill our vacuum or finish our puzzle of life. Nothing else will substitute for God adequately, because everything else is a perishable counterfeit.
Satan provides people with a host of worldly counterfeits to occupy the God-shaped “spaces” in their hearts or to complete the complex “puzzles” of their lives. People need something to which they can give their primary devotion, whether it be something physical or something spiritual. Whatever it is essentially becomes their “god” and the worship of it their “religion.” But the worship of false “gods” fails to bring lasting fulfillment, happiness, or satisfaction.
For instance, money temporarily provides “peace of mind” and “security.” Alcohol, drugs, and pornography temporarily give “pleasure” and “gratification.” Junk food and smoking temporarily relieve boredom, loneliness, or anxiety. Scary or alien-related motion pictures temporarily abate a morbid curiosity about the mysterious or the unknown. And meditation (a counterfeit of prayer if one is not meditating upon God), mysticism, spirit channeling, astral projection, divination, and satanism temporarily satisfy a desire to “expand” outside of our limited selves. The common denominator among these and other substitutes, though, is that each only can alleviate, for a short time, the constant, never-ending yearning for permanent happiness, security, and peace of mind—which can be attained only through a relationship with our Creator.
<!><!><!><!><!>The night before Jesus was crucified, He told His disciples that when the (Holy) Spirit of truth would come to them (fifty days later—see “Pentecost”: C-4, P-IV), He would “...guide [them] into all truth” (John 16:13a). The Holy Spirit is still the one who informs us, believers and unbelievers alike, of God’s truths by speaking to our spirits and urging our consciences. Former believers—“...whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron...” due to following “...deceiving spirits and things taught by demons...” because they have abandoned their faith—can become “hypocritical liars” (1 Tim. 4:1,2) and fail to listen anymore to the instruction of the Holy Spirit. It is the Holy Spirit who testifies to our spirits and souls the truth about Jesus (Luke 2:26-32; 1 Cor. 12:3b; 1 John 5:6c). And it is this Holy Spirit who manifests the gifts of God (1 Cor. 12:4,7) to anyone who will receive them.
Unfortunately, many people who regularly attend Christian churches are as far away from the Holy Spirit of God as people who consider themselves atheists, while others are misled away from the godly truths found in certain Scriptures. Why is this? It may be a surprise for some to find out that common “hang-outs” of demonic “religious” spirits are Christian churches and other Christian organizations. These spirits work in different ways.
Within many people, they create a sense of satisfaction; these people go to church to feel sanctimonious and to “look the part” of Christians (to their families and friends). They may feel “religious,” but the rest of the week they feel empty because they lack a personal, fulfilling relationship with God (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit). They think they know Him; but really they just know of or about Him. Religious spirits induce, in many, enough inner “fulfillment” on Sunday mornings so as not to feel the need to listen to the message and take it to heart, nor do they feel the need to read their Bibles to verify the accuracy of the spoken message and find out Whom God really is.
Religious spirits also like to induce feelings of mistrust and ill-will in some Christians, causing them to assail others—even those who agree with them on fundamentally important issues like the deity of Jesus and His blood atonement for sin—on matters of doctrinal and biblical interpretation. Such people bring charges against fellow believers within their own and other Christian churches and organizations, promoting strife and divisiveness. For instance, there are those who strongly believe that no one but Jesus’ apostles of the early first century could (or can) receive certain spiritual gifts (1 Cor. 12:4-11), thus enabling them to do such things as perform miracles (by God’s Power) as Jesus did, or to prophesy, speak in tongues, or interpret tongues (see “gifts of the Holy Spirit”: C-6, P-IV). These doubters, not having received such gifts, often vehemently—and even maliciously—speak out against those who have.
<!>Yet, Jesus said that anyone having faith in Him can do what He did (John 14:12a); and Paul indicated that within a church body should be those who have and desire to have gifts of prophecy, working of miracles, healing, and tongues, though not everybody would have every gift (1 Cor. 12:27-31). Religious spirits prevent many from possessing the faith which would enable them to receive certain spiritual gifts; in turn, these people apparently feel that no one else is worthy to receive them either. As a result, they incorrectly teach that the gifts of the Spirit are not granted by God to anyone within the Church of the present age.
I believe that Paul described the most extreme of such people as follows:
If anyone teaches false doctrines and does not agree to the sound instruction of our Lord Jesus Christ and to godly teaching, he is conceited and understands nothing. He has an unhealthy interest in controversies and arguments that result in envy, quarreling, malicious talk, evil suspicions and constant friction between men of corrupt mind, who have been robbed of the truth and who think that godliness is a means to financial gain (1 Tim. 6:3-5).
I feel that some Christians whom I will refer to as “heretic hunters”—who do have their place in exposing cults and counterfeits but who also frequently find fault with true Christians—fall into this category. Due to their lack of faith (not in the Gospel message but in some things that Jesus literally taught), they “...have been robbed of the truth...”; and they teach others their very limited views. Whether or not they are out for financial gain, they receive spiritual satisfaction and fulfillment by slandering and discrediting other Christians, thereby extolling themselves in the eyes of their followers while, at the same time, fulfilling the goals of the religious spirits deceiving and manipulating them. I believe such people also are described here:
Avoid godless chatter, because those who indulge in it will become more and more ungodly. Their teaching will spread like gangrene (2 Tim. 2:16,17a).
In numerous churches, religious spirits have infected and influenced members of the clergy. Some have become so caught up in rituals or in their own philosophical views that they divert people’s attention away from God and direct it toward man-made things and humanistic ideals. Some have lost sight of the reason true Christians are Christians: because of faith in God’s grace, extended to those who trust in Jesus because of the blood He shed on the cross for our sins. Thus, they fail to convey adequately the Gospel message to the people who listen to and follow them. Some, having rejected the literality of the Bible or having not had a personal relationship with the Lord Jesus, de-emphasize the importance of (or even rebuff the idea of) Jesus’ blood atonement for sin. Rather, they may focus on Jesus’ teachings or even on what they themselves feel are things “good people” should do.
<!><!>Some preachers and priests spend their time accusing and condemning their members for not being “legalistic” enough (see “law vs. sin and legalism”: P-III), eventually “turning off” many in their congregations. Some do the opposite in that they down-play sin and its penalties, telling everyone, simply, that they “are forgiven” of their sins (or even that asking for forgiveness is unnecessary) and encouraging them to “go in peace.” The fact is, people should approach God directly, rather than a “go-between,” on the matter of forgiveness of sins (2 Chr. 7:14; Psalm 103:3a; Acts 3:19).
<!><!>In any case, religious spirits could not care less about whatever people do or do not believe and in whatever they have put their faith—as long as they are distracted from Jesus and from the knowledge that He is the only way to the Father (John 14:6b), the only means of delivery from present troubles and anxieties (Gal. 1:3,4), and the only means of salvation from the eternal consequences of sin (Acts 4:12). Religious spirits do not have to steer people directly toward Satan to accomplish their goals; if they only give people a false assurance in their relationship with God, their missions are successful.
<!>God has allowed us to know some of the future, generally and specifically, through inspired revelations to Old and New Testament prophets (2 Pet. 1:20,21) and through words of wisdom and knowledge by the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 12:8—see “gifts of the Holy Spirit”: C-6, P-IV). Taking the time to study the Bible and getting to know the Holy Spirit of God, Who communicates with our own spirits and souls, will result in supernatural guidance of our lives. We may not be told particular future events to occur (although sometimes we might); but, when the Holy Spirit guides our lives, we will get clear impressions of things we should and should not do. God strictly forbids getting such information by any other means (see “deceiving information, false answers”: C-8, P-II).
<!><!>On the other hand, Satan’s substitute for gaining such knowledge is divination: foretelling the future or ascertaining the unknown by supernatural means, excluding those allowed by God. Many places in the Bible expressly speak against divination, which can provoke God to Anger (2 Kng. 17:17b). Paul even cast out of a girl a spirit by which she predicted the future (Acts 16:16-18). God told Moses to tell the Jews that when they entered the land God had promised to them,
Let no one be found among you...who practices divination or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft, or casts spells, or who is a medium or spiritist or who consults the dead. Anyone who does these things is detestable to the Lord.... The nations you will dispossess listen to those who practice sorcery or divination. But as for you, the Lord your God has not permitted you to do so (Deut. 18:10-12a,14).
Could this commandment by God apply as well to our great nation, the USA, in which there is a marked escalation in the consultation of astrologers, psychics, fortune tellers, and mediums, as well as in demonic religious activity such as spiritism, mysticism, channeling, and Satan worship? Might we as a nation be “dispossessed” if we do not reject these and other practices detestable to God and turn to Him—rather than to people or to the deceptive, lying spirit world—for answers to our questions? I think the answer is absolutely yes.
<!><!><!><!><!><!><!><!><!><!><!><!><!><!><!>Other places where the Word of God warns against such practices as divination and medium/spirit consultation, and states the consequences thereof, are 2 Kng. 21:6; 1 Chr. 10:13,14; 2 Chr. 33:6; Isa. 8:19, 19:3,4; Jer. 14:14,15, 27:9,10, 29:8,9; Ezek. 13:6-9,23, 22:28; Zech. 10:2; Col. 2:8; 1 Tim. 4:1, 6:20b; Heb. 13:9a; and 1 John 4:1,3,5.
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Copyright © 1998– by Ted M. Montgomery, O.D. Most rights reserved.