Doctrines of Demons?

1 Timothy 4:1 (New American Standard Version): “But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons…”

Doctrines of Demons?

That’s pretty harsh–pretty ‘out there’, isn’t it?

I mean, sure…some will teach things that you or I may disagree with. Maybe we’ll even do so, strongly.

But ‘doctrines of demons’?

Maybe another, more ‘up to date’ version of the Scriptures would be nicer: Let’s try the New Living Translation:

1 Timothy 4:1 (NLT): “Now the Holy Spirit tells us clearly that in the last times some will turn away from the true faith; they will follow deceptive spirits and teachings that come from demons.”

Teachings that come from demons…that’s not much better or more comforting, is it?

Maybe we need to change our question.

Maybe, instead of trying to find a more ‘friendly’ translation, we should instead ask, ‘What did the Apostle Paul mean by this strong term?’

First, the term “Last Days”…that is the period of time immediately preceding Jesus’ return to earth to rule and reign with those who are His, by faith.

That period actually started immediately when He ascended into heaven, and the Apostles stood looking into the sky:

Acts 1:7-11, NLT: “The Father alone has the authority to set those dates and times, and they are not for you to know. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

After saying this, he was taken up into a cloud while they were watching, and they could no longer see him. As they strained to see him rising into heaven, two white-robed men suddenly stood among them. “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why are you standing here staring into heaven? Jesus has been taken from you into heaven, but someday he will return from heaven in the same way you saw him go!”

Since then, the Church–those who have placed their faith totally in Jesus and are living by the power of the Holy Spirit–have been looking for that day. For centuries–even millennia–we’ve been thinking, ‘Maybe it’s today’.

Yet, other things prophesied in the Scriptures that would happen before the ‘end’ were not in place. Israel was still dispersed throughout the world; the Gospel was not preached in every land; and technological advances had not been made which would enable the entire world to see an event at the same exact moment. Now, all of those things have taken place…

…and even more, today, the philosophy of our world*–or much of it, any way–is such that we have turned our backs on God* and exalted ‘humanity’ and the ‘self’ above all*. Even Israel, the nation, trusts not in the Lord, but in their own strength, or that of their allies*.

…an this, I believe, gets us back into the ‘doctrines of demons’. In Paul’s warning to Timothy, he was talking about some who would get into the Church and begin teaching things contrary to the Word of God. In that day, he was talking about those who prohibited marriage and restricted foods.

However, the Principle–that is, supposed ‘Christian’ teachers who teach things contrary to the stated Word or Created order of God–is still applicable today…maybe even more so.

What are those ‘doctrines’ that are demonic? What ‘doctrines’ are taught within the Church that get us way off-track?

Start with the doctrine the elevation of ‘self’.

Many Christian churches teach that the best reason to follow Jesus is that He wants ‘you’ to succeed at finding yourself and being self-actualized**. Instead of ‘worshiping Christ as Lord’ and emptying ourselves out in surrender to Him, we are taught that He wants you to be ‘happy’, and that’s what we believe Him for.

Once this mindset takes over, anything that stands in the way–including the Word of God–is tossed aside.

The examples are endless…

Sex–when I want it, how I want it, with whomever I want it.

Greed and Arrogance–justifying my selfishness and looking down on you because you aren’t as ‘accomplished at it as I am.

Abortion–on demand, without limitation and apology. No questions asked.

Even our sexuality…it’s gone way past un-Biblical behaviors in heterosexuality. It’s even gone beyond ‘tolerating’ or ‘accepting’…now it’s embracing, celebrating and even promoting almost literally ANY kind of sexual expression and behavior, no matter what!

Societies don’t survive like this…especially when these things coincide with a rejection of God and His Word.

For us–the Church in the United States–it’s clear that our culture has chosen the road that it’s on. God’s hand of blessing will be removed. Next, His hand of protection will be withdrawn. Then, pay attention to the economic, natural, spiritual and relational disasters that come upon us (I believe we’re already well in to this.)

However, within the Church of Jesus Christ in this culture, there will be even more. There will be discipline, there will be judgment. It is coming.

It’s one thing if those who are ignorant act ignorantly. If the spiritually blind stumble, who’s to blame them?

However, if those who claim to worship the Lord–who claim to have a ‘relationship’ with Him and to ‘surrender’ to Him–If they reject Him, then He–as the loving, perfect Father He is–will send discipline. His goal is repentance and restoration, but He will bring judgment if necessary.

One thing is certainly true…we all need His Grace! We need to repent of our own sin, even if we’ve adopted the ‘doctrines of demons’ within our culture, and ask His forgiveness! We need to seek Him so that He will ‘wake us up’ and break us out of the ‘spell’ that we’ve allowed ourselves to be under.

If you, Christian, find yourself in a good, Bible teaching, humble and ever-seeking church, consider yourself blessed. Don’t take it for granted. Instead, seek Him all the more! Pray for your leaders! Encourage this kind of ‘all-in worship’ in your conversations and LifeGroups!

It is time for “judgment to begin with the house of God” (1 Peter 4:17). 

God is Holy. He is Righteous. He is Wise, and He is Good.

He deserves our worship, love, and obedience.

No matter what our culture…or our church…does!

 

*I do not mean to imply that there aren’t exceptions–of course, there are people of faith everywhere. As a general rule, however, I believe this is valid.

**There is a subtle, but important, distinction between teaching that ‘Jesus is your ticket to a great life’ and ‘Following Jesus fully actually leads–as a side benefit–to the best life you can hope for–now, and for eternity.’ The former is simply spiritual selfishness; the latter is worship and surrender which leads our hearts to resonate with our Creator.

Advertisements

Creativity for the Creator

Notre Dame–that beautiful, ornate cathedral that was severely burned this week–was a beautiful testament to a bygone era. Notre Dame cathedralConstruction on that amazing building was started in 1163 and took almost 200 years to complete!

For perspective, that means that Notre Dame Cathedral has been standing for about 400 more years that the United States of America has been a country!

Granted, it’s gone through updates and additions, but Notre Dame–along with many of the cathedrals in Europe–were built in an era when art was considered sacred. It was an act of worship to make something beautiful that was given back to the Creator.

‘Then God said, let us make {humans} in our image and likeness…” (Genesis 1:26)

One aspect of our creation…”in His image” is that, when we were created by God, we were endowed with characteristics that reflected Him. One of those characteristics is creativity and the love of beauty! 

Add to that the dedication, skill and labor necessary, and you can see that buildings like Notre Dame were, in some respects, acts of worship. 

Look at some of the pictures of this magnificent building:

At some point over the years, however, we lost that. These became increasingly empty relics–testament to a bygone era, before the ‘enlightenment’ and the ‘age of reason’. Now, we look at them as artifacts to be treasured, not so much as places to be inspired to worship.

I am amazed at the number of people who have given and will give in order to restore this cathedral to its splendor.

I am even more amazed at how passionate we can get for a church building–that most of us have never been to–yet many of us don’t have anywhere near the same passion for the God it was dedicated to–a God who is very much ALIVE!

The very thing that inspired at least some of the original artisans, craftsman and laborers to working in a spirit of worship, and therefore giving their very best has now become simply an homage to history, worthy of writing a check, but nothing more.

Even more importantly, the God who was the subject of their worship, and their reason for ‘creating’ this beautiful place is absent from the lives of many who were in tears this week over its burning.

“These people praise me with their words, but they never really think about me.”–Isaiah 29:13, CEV

My hope and prayer is that this fire at Notre Dame will be a cataylst for revival among those who say it ‘matters’. For those who are only into historical relics, I doubt this will have any lasting impact.

My prayer for those who are Believers in Jesus is that this will cause them to take stock–to consider their own lives, and how their ‘worship’ of God can, and should, effect every area of life…and that the most beautiful, creative ‘work of art’ is a life that is surrendered in worship to Almighty God!

Romans 12:1(NLT): “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.”

Today, may we ‘worship’ Him creatively, thoughtfully, and fully!

Take the Faith Step…

Have you ever noticed in your life of faith, that God will call you to ‘step out in faith’ before He comes through?

That really is be design.

After all, as Hebrews 1:6 says, “Without faith it is impossible to please Him, for anyone who comes to Him must first believe that He exists, and that He rewards those who diligently seek Him.” 

The belief and the seeking must come first…then the blessing of the ‘reward’–in this case, a close relationship with Him–comes later.

Proverbs 3:9-10 says: “Honor the Lord with your wealth,
    with the first-fruits of all your crops;
then your barns will be filled to overflowing,
    and your vats will brim over with new wine.”

Giving to the Lord first–before anything else–is the kind of worshipful faith that God will then bless.

 

In Elijah’s day, he was sent to a widow. The drought that Elijah had pronounced, because of the evil of king Ahab and the worship of false gods in Israel was already severe, and this widow was gathering some sticks to make a fire so that she could make a small loaf of bread with the little she had left, and she and her child could eat it as their last meal and die.

Pretty bleak times, indeed!

Yet, what did Elijah say?

1 Kings 17: 13-14:

“Elijah said to her, “Don’t be afraid. Go home and do as you have said. But first make a small loaf of bread for me from what you have and bring it to me, and then make something for yourself and your son.14 For this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘The jar of flour will not be used up and the jug of oil will not run dry until the day the Lord sends rain on the land.’”.

He told her to step out in faith…to give him (the Prophet) bread first, and that the Lord would supply her needs!

What did she do?

vv. 15-16: “She went away and did as Elijah had told her. So there was food every day for Elijah and for the woman and her family. 16 For the jar of flour was not used up and the jug of oil did not run dry, in keeping with the word of the Lord spoken by Elijah.”

God wants us to live, by faith! He often demands that we demonstrate faith–in His love, His Word, His character and His promises–before He comes through.

Live by faith today–first and foremost, faith in Jesus and His atoning sacrifice on the cross…but more than that, live by faith, trusting in God to come through, according to His promises.

It’s the most ‘excellent adventure’ that there is!

Dream #2: Judge Not?

Judge Not…3/14/19

As I stated yesterday, I have VIVID, detailed dreams. The night before last I had 2…I described one in this post: https://pastordajo.com/2019/03/14/two-dreams-1-sparrow-and-spider/.

Here’s my second one:

In my dream I was at church, talking with a group of people after the service in the lobby. One of the young men—a high schooler—began to walk away from the group, toward the office. As he did so, he pulled out a bottle—a fifth of Southern Comfort! He announced that he “I need me some southern comfort” as he began to drink it.

I walked toward him, and asked him to stop. “What do you think you’re doing?” I asked.

“Drinking my whiskey.” He said.

“You’re under age, and this is CHURCH!” I said.

“Who are you to judge?” he replied.

You should know that, in my dreams, I often get a ‘backstory’—as though it was a movie and I know a lot about each character’s background. I knew this young man was sleeping with his girlfriend and had been busted and suspended for marijuana possession and smoking it at school. He reeked of it even now.

I knew that none of his family came to church, and he didn’t really hang out with anyone here…I was glad he came, but I wondered about his motivation and understanding. “Why do you come here?” I asked.

‘Hey, who are you to judge?’ he answered. “I believe in God. I believe in Jesus. I’m born again and going to heaven…I’m just going to enjoy myself on the way there!”

“No, you’re missing the point”, I said. “Jesus is not just a ‘get out of jail free’ card. He is God. He deserves our worship. He is Savior and Lord. That means that, if I’m following Him, I’m getting closer and closer…He’s changing me.”

“I do what I want”. He said. “Judge not”…and he walked away.

I realized two things at that moment—as I stood there in my dream:

1) People—even church-going ones—can ‘miss it’. We can misunderstand what God did by sending His son. It wasn’t only about heaven or hell (although it was that), but about ‘authority’. Who is ‘in authority’ in our lives—us (our appetites, our cravings, our desires), or God? Clearly this young man (and others like him) are not acknowledging Jesus for who He is—God in the flesh, Lord over all, Savior of all who call on Him in faith.

2) The word ‘Judge’ is misunderstood and misused. Calling someone out and challenging them to live a consistent lifestyle is not ‘judging’. This is simply holding accountable, seeking integrity and rooting out hypocrisy. It takes ‘discernment’, but that is not judging. When it comes to ‘declaring who’s ‘in’ and who’s ‘not’, that is not my call…Judgment in that sense is, and always will be, only God’s role—not mine.

However, the tendency we have in our culture to ‘live and let live’, and to embrace the ‘you do you’ concept should not apply to those who claim to be followers of Jesus. We need to encourage, pray for, lovingly confront, and walk with each other as we follow Him.

“Jesus said,  “Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. For you will be treated as you treat others. The standard you use in judging is the standard by which you will be judged. And why worry about a speck in your friend’s eye[c] when you have a log in your own? How can you think of saying to your friend, ‘Let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,’ when you can’t see past the log in your own eye? Hypocrite! First get rid of the log in your own eye; then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye.” (Matthew 7:1-5).

Certainly that was calling for humility, authenticity, character and a spirit of repentance before God. I need to let Him do His work within myself, first and foremost—and I, for one, know there’s still a lot to do! However, that doesn’t mean that we are never to confront, encourage, and hold accountable other believers in the family of God. After all, Paul wrote, “you are not to associate with anyone who claims to be a believer[j]yet indulges in sexual sin, or is greedy, or worships idols, or is abusive, or is a drunkard, or cheats people. Don’t even eat with such people. It isn’t my responsibility to judge outsiders, but it certainly is your responsibility to judge those inside the church who are sinning. God will judge those on the outside; but as the Scriptures say, “You must remove the evil person from among you.” (1st Corinthians 5:11-13).

Clearly, there is a certain degree of accountability we have to one another, within the family of God. While it does not mean that we should go around being the ‘religious police’ for each other, we should ‘call each other to consistency’ and encourage accountability within our relationships within the family of God.

The young man in my dream was under a delusion: that Jesus is willing to be our SAVIOR with no attention to Him as our LORD. In truth, of course, He is both…and as I follow Him, He effects—for the better—all areas of my life!

This is part of what He meant when He said “The thief comes only to steal, kill, and destroy; I have come that they might have life, to the full!” (John 10:10)

That young man thought he was ‘living the life’, but in reality he continued to be deceived and buying into the lie that ‘sin=freedom’. Sin—including all of the things he was doing and many, many more—is enslavement, NOT ‘freedom’. True Freedom comes when we learn to walk with Jesus, in the power of the Holy Spirit, and be changed to the point where we’re able to see and experience the ‘Full Life’ that God wants for us!

It’s not about ‘judgment’…it’s about Vision!

Two Dreams: 1) Sparrow and Spider

When I have dreams, I have VIVID, movie-quality dreams. These things are crazy in their color, detail.

Last night I had (at least) 2 very vivid dreams.

Let me tell you about the first one: The Birds and the Spider.

At the end, go ahead…try your hand at ‘the meaning’ behind the dream.

Sparrow and Spider               3-14-19

In my dream I saw that there were a bunch of Sparrows in the family room.

Upon investigating, I found that the ductwork—which (for some reason) was exposed near the floor—had a hole in it. I had to lay on my back and shimmy under the ductwork to find it, so that I was prone and almost stuck to do it, but sure enough: there was a hole. I realized, to my surprise, that it was a ‘designed’ hole—this hole was installed that way! It had a piece of scrap iron across the middle of the hole, but the birds were coming out of that hole. I was about to slide a piece of aluminum up to cover the hole, when something caught my eye from the left—near the wall.

It was a large spider.

This spider was different than I’d seen before. Much bigger (about 6”) and very, VERY quick. He was almost jumping back and forth, making movements that seemed to communicate (it was a dream, after all) that I should get nowhere near that hole!

I was wary of laying there prone, next to this large spider, but I didn’t know if it was dangerous or not. (After all, as I’ve always told my girls, spiders are much smaller than us–even 6″ spiders–and we can usually conquer them if we keep our emotions in check.)

Luckily for me, I had my ‘Google glasses’ on.

In my dream, Google glasses are basically computers on your eyes. If you touch a button, whatever you’re looking at becomes an instant ‘Google search’ which gives a display on the glasses. I realized, however, that I did not want to move my hand up to the glasses to push the button, since it might startle the spider.

Lucky for me, I realized that I was fortunate to have ‘military-grade’ Google glasses! These glasses worked with a glove. It allowed me to touch my thumb and pinky together and that would do that same thing! (Who knew?)

When I touched my thumb and pinky together, and looked at the spider, a graphic display came up…in great detail I saw the spider up-close. It was called a ‘Pincher spider’ because of the most prominent feature: large pinchers at the front of it’s body. These pinchers were loaded with a venom that would sting—but not kill—a human. Pincher spiders, according to the display, were very quick and hard to kill—because they jumped around so much.

As I turned my attention from the display to the spider, I noticed that it was looking directly at me. Clearly, I was in its territory, and it didn’t like it! I realized that I would need to let the bird situation go until I eliminated the spider.

I would need to make one quick movement to extricate myself from under the ductwork. At the same time, I was able to grab a towel (just happened to be next to my hand), which I would wad up and try to use to squish the spider.

I was preparing to make my move, and I kept my eye on the spider as I did so…three, two, one…I went to pull myself out and at just that moment, the spider jumped toward my face! Last thing I remember is the spider—almost in slow motion—getting closer to my glasses! I was not able to move fast enough, and the glasses enabled me to see the eyes, the pinchers, the hairs on the legs…just as it landed.

Then I woke up with a start!

Fortunately, there are no Sparrows actually in my family room.

I Want, I Deserve, I Need, I DEMAND!

Maybe you’ve noticed.

Over the past several years, a mindset has taken hold.

This mindset is becoming pervasive in our culture. The speed at which it is spreading is breathtaking, but in many ways, it’s as old as humanity.

It is a mindset that says ‘I want…’.

It’s a philosophy which encourages the individual to think about…themselves!

It is, in some ways, nothing new. After all, we all have ‘wants’. There’s nothing inherently wrong with ‘wanting’ something or ‘desiring’ that thing.

Most of the things we want are innocuous. I want nice clothes, I want to be healthier, I want a newer car, a vacation, I want to curl up and read a book, I want a loving relationship….the list could go on and on.

The changes that I’ve noticed in the last several years is that the ‘I want’ thought has begun to be followed up with ‘I deserve’.

In other words, if ‘I want it’, I ‘deserve’ it…and you are wrong if you stand in the way of it.

This turns, very quickly, into ‘I need it’, and if it’s it’s a ‘need’, then society should make it available to me, for free…in the color, style and feel that I want…on my terms. After all, how can an ‘evolved’ society stand in the way of my legitimate ‘need’?

Similarly, if I have a ‘need’ and others decide that they have a similar need…we then have the right to DEMAND it…and to punish those who stand in our way!

I want RESPECT…I deserve your respect…I need it, and I DEMAND it!

If you don’t want to give it, then you must be punished!

What has caused this change? Where has this mindset come from?

In some ways, it’s ancient.

Way back in the beginning, according to Scripture, the first man and first woman were given a choice–to follow God’s will toward an ongoing, beautiful and life-giving relationship with Him, or to follow the serpent’s suggestion to a self-centered, individualistic and short-sighted life ‘wants, needs, and demands’ for our own way.

Genesis 3:6: “When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it.”

From that moment, onward, we have had this tendency. No one has to be ‘taught’ to be self-centered–we come by it naturally.

Yet, it’s really only been in the last 10 years or so that our culture has allowed the ‘wants’ to become ‘demands’. What has changed?

Again, we can learn a lot looking back into history.

In the Biblical book of Judges, we read a line a few times: “In those days, Israel had no king; everyone did what was right in their own eyes.” (Judges 17:6; 21:25). 

However, lest you take the easy way out and blame ‘our Leaders’, let me remind you…

Proverbs 21:2: “Every man’s way is right in his own eyes, But the Lord weighs the hearts.”

Proverbs 30:12: “There are those…those who are pure in their own eyes and yet are not cleansed of their filth.”

Proverbs 16:25: “There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death.”

When we lift ‘My Wants’ to the level of ‘Needs’, then justify it into an ‘I deserve’ outlook, we then move to ‘I Demand’.

That is a bad place to be–for the individual, and a society.

No culture can last long in that mindset…it will lead to its own destruction. It has, throughout history, and it will–very quickly–in our culture.

When we get to the point that our ‘wants’ have justified the killing of over 60 MILLION of our own children; when we become so self-centered that sexual sin–of all kinds–is rampant and now becoming bizarre; when divorce has become commonplace; when parents are irresponsible enough that government–through schools and other places–has to step in and feed, clothe, and otherwise provide basics for children (and the parents now ‘expect’ it to be so), then we have to realize that we’ve become a culture that has lifted ‘self-centeredness’ to the level of an idol. We are all asked to bow down at the ‘altar’ of ‘Wants’. Any challenge of those ‘desires’ is somehow ‘evil’.

Everyone is doing what is right in their own eyes…

What is the answer?

Repentance! Turning back to God! Basing life and morality on the true and living Word of God!

Romans 3:23-24: “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.”

If we are Christians, we MUST stand strongly on the Word of God, and to share the good news of Jesus.

IF we are not Christians, but are concerned about the direction of our nation, then we need to turn to God.

You can call that ‘judgmental’ or ‘narrow minded’ if you want; it is still TRUE!

…and it’s the only real hope for our nation.

Keep Your Head Down…?

Perhaps you’ve noticed.

Today, if you put an opinion ‘out there’ that it not what the dominant cultural norm is (at least, for this week), you will get attacked, castigated, painted some form of creature not worthy of an opinion.

So, what do we do in that case?

Many of us just stay quiet.

hand over mouth

…and that’s a problem.

Here’s the thing: If you look at life from an earthly, temporary, here-and-now-is-all-that-exists mindset, you will be subject to the whims of your ‘age’, your culture, etc.

However, if you look at life from a Biblical mindset or worldview, you will not look at events the same way. You will realize that we are at a ‘point’ in the Eternal Scheme of Things that God is working out, in His perfect timing and plan.

The choice of which way you look at life is profound and important, for a host or reasons–not the least of which is that it will impact exactly how you will respond to cultural things.

Most importantly, it also helps you to know what’s ‘right and wrong’ about these cultural things. After all, if God is real, and He’s working out HIStory with a ‘plan’ in mind, that might mean that there’s and ‘end date’ to history! Certainly, there’s an ‘end date’ for each one of us, as individuals, and if God is real, then we should pay attention to what He thinks, more than what our culture thinks.

This means that God’s Word on the matter would mean more than a Hollywood star, a Politician, a Facebook Meme, or the loudest person at the party. None of those things could change God’s Word. That would be important to know.

I know that I, personally, have been struggling with this whole thing. As a Christian, I absolutely believe in God, in His Word, in His Will, and so on. Not a doubt in my mind.

I also believe that our culture–Western culture in general, but American culture in particular–has long ago turned its back on God and has tried to ‘throw off’ the ‘constraints’ of living life–even a little–according to His Word.

I believe that the biggest, most influential move to make would be for The Church–not a ‘building’ or ‘organization’, but rather all of the Individuals who believe in Jesus as Lord and Savior–to experience a ‘revival’ of passion, purity, and power, through Repentance, Prayer, Worship, the Word, and renewed commitment to follow Him, come what may. I still believe that.

However, one thing I must confess is that I’ve sort of taken a ‘let them go their way’ mindset…I’ve disengaged from cultural and political discussions, assuming that ‘the die has been cast’. That is wrong.

Here’s one Key that those of us who are Believers know: “We know that we are children of God, and that the whole world is under the control of the evil one.”–1 John 5:19. We know that satan is a liar, a thief, a murderer and that he will do anything and everything he can to deceive millions who are in darkness and think they are ‘enlightened’. He wants to take them down with himself. We know that “The thief comes only to steal, kill, and destroy; I (Jesus) have come that they (His followers) might have Life, and have it To The FULL” (John 10:10, emphasis mine).

There IS a battle raging in our world today. It’s not primarily a ‘political’ battle. It’s not even primarily a ‘cultural’ battle. It is, first and foremost, a SPIRITUAL battle.

…and we Believers need to engage!