Deuteronomy, 13:1-3 “If there arise among you a prophet, or a dreamer of dreams, and giveth thee a sign or a wonder, And the sign or the wonder come to pass, whereof he spake unto thee, saying, Let us go after other gods, which thou hast not known, and let us serve them; Thou shalt not hearken unto the words of that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams: for the LORD your God proveth you, to know whether ye love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul.”
2 Corinthians, 11:13,14″ 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.”
Millenniums passed between the writing of these two Scripture passages. However, the story had not changed then and has not changed today. Satan counterfeits the work of God to deceive both unbelievers and believers. A prime biblical example is Simon the scorcerer who masqueraded as “the great power of God”.
The only way to recognize what is false is to thoroughly know what is real. Conversely, in the spiritual world, we are only safe when we ourselves know the God of truth. Counterfeits of the Holy Spirit and His manifestations are only perceived as we have the Spirit of God within us. Knowledge of the Bible is important but alone it cannot keep us safe. Since Satan masquerades as an angel of light he uses Scripture to adorn his lies.
Nobody could deceive me to think they are my wife. Her manner, her voice and her touch are so intimately familiar to me that even if it were possible for someone to perfectly match her appearance I immediately would recognize the facade. Thus it is with God. After we have truly walked with Him for a while after being born into His family we will recognize an impostor. Jesus states it this way in John 10:4,5: “And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice. And a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him: for they know not the voice of strangers.”
The Holy Spirit warns Christians of danger. Throughout my lifetime there have been more occasions than I can remember when I have felt a check in my spirit warning me that something which I encountered was wrong. When this happens I pray for further direction regarding the prompting. Invariably the danger is shown clearly to me as I seek Divine counsel. This gives me a sense of security in the tender care of my Heavenly Father.
Too often we believe that if we know the Bible and “learn the right doctrines” or even “belong to the right church” we are safe. Nothing could be further from the truth. It is highly important to be thoroughly familiar with Scripture and to understand Bible doctrine. However, Satan is a master at using Scripture out of context and subtly perverting doctrine to make a lie look like truth. Throughout history he has led many religious organizations (churches) astray. Only the Spirit of God can alert us to deception. That is why the subject of my previous blog, “Knowing God” is so important.
Spiritual gifts and miracles are never an end in themselves. They are given so that God’s people can minister to each other’s needs. “For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ.” Ephesians 4:12 Likewise, the miracles recorded in Scripture were a demonstration to mankind of God’s Presence in the universe. They revealed His infinite power. They showed His special care for His people. Sometimes God manifested His rightousness in miracles of judgement. Christ’s miracles were a sign of God’s approval upon Him. ( Acts 2:22 )
In contrast, Simon the sorcerer’s miracles brought attention to himself – an obvious sign of a counterfeit. Spiritual gifts and miracles are never for the glory of a person. This puts into question many of the supposed “manifestations of the Spirit” and “miracle workers” of modern christendom.
Another thing to beware of is formulas. When power is associated with praying a certain prayer, reciting particular Scriptures etc. we create something resembling witchcraft. This puts the emphasis on the formula rather than on God Himself. I do not use formulas when asking a favour of my wife! I share my request with her and trust her loving heart to respond to me. Prayer to God is a thing of relationship with One Who loves us!
This is what differentiates between mere religion and true faith. Rituals are meant to enhance relationship – not replace it! Even legitimate rituals such as baptism and communion too often take the place of what they represent. In the modern evangelical world, the “sinners prayer” (which is not found in the Bible) has become a potentially deceptive ritual. Multitudes are deceived into thinking they are assigned a place in Heaven because they have once recited this prayer. Yet they have never experienced the repentance and true faith through which they are to be born into the family of God.
In the past, a Germanic form of witchcraft known as “brauche” or “powwowing” was widely used by Mennonites. Possibly because it included biblical incantations and recitals of the Names of the Trinity along with its rituals, people were deceived to believe it was a legitimate art. There are still those suffering from demonic bondage in conjunction with the practice. Some argued that it must be good because “it worked”. The argument does not hold water. The false prophet can produce signs and wonders.
Religious formulas take on many forms. There are prayer techniques, deliverance formulas, “christian” New Age practices etc. All of them turn the focus away from a loving Creator who longs to hear the prayers of His dear children. Instead, it places the importance on a particular methodology. With that mindset we would be sure to fail if we did not discover just the right mode to follow. That is not how God deals with His loved ones!
When there is no tangible evidence of the reality and power of God in the church, its people are set up for deception. When the gifts and manifestations of the Spirit are not seen and are regarded as a thing of the past a deep void is left in people’s hearts. Man was created to have the supernatural Presence of his Maker within his being and in his experience. Consequently, when this reality is not present, people are in danger of reaching for something that has the outward appearance of what their inner being craves but is not of God. Satan rushes in to fill the emptiness with his well-crafted but deadly substitutes. Many times these include supernatural wonders with a religious flavour.
This is what too many younger people are facing today. They see the vast discrepancy between the current church and the New Testament model. They observe the failure of Mennonites to evangelize effectively. The lack of spiritual power in the church is painfully obvious. Elders are content with religion as they have known it and refuse to hear their case. In disillusionment they do not know where to turn and become prime candidates for deception.
May God have mercy on us! My heart bleeds for these dear young people and I long to take them under my wing and tenderly care for their souls, protecting them from the dangers assailing them. My blog is written to reach out to this searching generation and point them to the God of the Bible Who has not changed. May they find Him and safely abide in His Presence! May God greatly use them and show His glory to the world through them! May His kingdom come! May His will be done on earth as it is in Heaven!
March 21, 2021