• 1 Peter 2-2
  • GuardingTheDeposit.com
  • Philippians 1-9

Post-Easter: What now?

In our evangelical culture of "easy grace", it's important to keep the cross in view after Easter.

 

Easter reminds true Christians of how much Jesus loved us; yes, even through every scornful word and undeserved beating that He received on the way to, and eventually on Golgotha. His sacrifice brings us to our knees in praise and thanksgiving, and we are simply overwhelmed at what the Father has done through His Son, for us, and we are awestruck by the incredible love that the Son has for us. These three days (Easter) are marked by sweet fellowship and the joy of salvation and are unparalleled by any other time of the year.

Then what?

On Easter Monday, as our daily routines and weekly to-do lists creep back into our minds, do the impact and eternal significance of the cross begin to fade from view? Could it be that we only seek the benefits of Jesus’ sacrifice and the resulting blessings, forgetting that we too have a cross to bear? Statements such as, “Let go and let God” or the concept of “easy grace” might tempt us to unfasten the belt of truth, lower the shield of faith, and put down the sword of the Spirit until all that we have left is the helmet of salvation. Do we mistakenly (or intentionally, even) “rebuke Satan” or “plead the blood of Christ” in an effort to live victorious lives, forgetting that joyous and triumphant living is attained through holy living and the knowledge that we belong to Christ? Or do we devote each day to God, powered by the Spirit, to conform our thoughts, wills, and affections to be like the mind of Christ? Do we battle daily to tame our tongues, kill our flesh, knock down our idols, and sever our conformity to the world? Are we willing to drive stakes into our prideful selves, cognizant that our identity is in Christ Jesus?

Let me be clear: Our good deeds do not earn or keep our salvation. Only faith in the redeeming blood of Christ, spilled on the cross, attains salvation – and faith in Him alone! Nor am I attempting to place a burden on anyone – Jesus is the author and finisher of our faith (Hebrews 12:2). Paul tells us to work out our salvation, as we obey God in the process of being like Christ Jesus, knowing that ultimately the work is His to do (Romans 8:29; Philippians 1:6; Hebrews 13:20-21). While we will never be completely sinless or completely holy on this side of eternity, we can seek to love and glorify Him every day in our obedience to His Word, His commands.

Our joy is found in following Jesus, and a successful walk with God is to live lives that are consistent with what God has done in us and for us. Paul committed to know nothing but Christ crucified – how glorious would it be to live that way? Indeed!

A joyous, introspective, and blessed Saturday and Resurrection Sunday to you and your loved ones. All praise and glory to the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29).

Hallowed be His name,

Pamela

 

 

 

 

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Truth or Snare? Testing Your Pentecostal/Charismatic Experiences Against Scripture

 

Do you know why you believe what you believe about your Charismatic experiences?

 

I apologize for the sparse blog posts – nerve issues are a recent challenge, and while grasping objects is amusing, typing is less so. There was a time when I believed that if I had enough faith, then I would be healed of my ailments. I was not only taught that physical healing was guaranteed in the atonement, I was also taught that because Jesus healed and because the apostles had the gift of healing, that Christians today could heal too. Sadly, my beliefs were a mix of faith healing, positive confession, and the continuation of the sign gifts. In this article, I will specifically address the healing and speaking in tongues aspects of these sign gifts.

In my Pentecostal and charismatic circles, we didn’t examine how, when, where, why, or to whom the sign gifts occurred; our conversations were based on experience and not on theology. That no one knew what the messages behind the tongues were (or what they even meant), or that no one was healed during the healing practices was not a concern – the experiences alone convinced us that something divine had occurred. The goal was not to glorify God, to proclaim the Gospel, or to grow in holiness – the goal was to have a spiritual experience.

I was unaware of the cessationist viewpoint; I believed that you were either “walking in the power of the Spirit” or you weren’t. The idea that the sign gifts had ceased never entered my mind. Therefore, the purpose of this article is to encourage my Pentecostal and charismatic continuationist sisters to examine, through a series of questions, why they believe what they believe about healing and speaking in tongues.

To Be Clear …

It is not my intention to attempt to end the debate between cessationism and continuationism, nor is it my intention to create division – whether or not the sign gifts operate today is surely not a salvational issue. If you have studied the Scriptures and you are fully convinced (Romans 14:5) that the gifts are still in operation today, then great. However, if you are not sure why you believe what you believe, then examine the Scriptures (Acts 17:11), and make sure that your beliefs are founded on the Word of God alone. The Bible is authoritative over feelings, experiences, and intentions; therefore, “I just feel that…”, “This happened to me in church…” or “God knows my heart…” are not qualifiers for objective truth.

There is a misperception in general that cessationists believe that God no longer performs miracles. However, the question is not whether God is sovereign – God can do anything through whomever, wherever, and whenever He chooses. I believe that God still heals people today; however, Christians do not determine His choosing to heal. We do not control or direct God’s hand. Additionally, the concern is not whether experiences, such as the gift of speaking in tongues exists; rather, the concern is whether what occurs today is biblical. Cessationists do not question whether God can grant the gift of signs; the question is: is He granting it now? The hand of God is not held up for scrutiny, experiences are; there is a lot of spiritual activity in today’s churches, all of which must be tested against Scripture (1 John 4:1).

Following are questions to help you examine your beliefs; these questions address the sign gifts as well as two beliefs concerning salvation – the first is the belief that physical healing is guaranteed in the atonement, and the second is the belief that speaking in tongues is evidence of salvation.

Questions to Consider Regarding Speaking in Tongues

1. If the unintelligible gift of speaking in tongues is from the Holy Spirit, then why do people from other religions speak in unintelligible tongues too? Egyptian priests in the 11th century B.C. spoke in tongues, as do present-day Muslims, Buddhists, and many New Age and occult practitioners.

2. If speaking in tongues is evidence of salvation, then why did the modern tongues movement start only around 1900? Shouldn’t the speaking in tongues have been a continuous practice since Pentecost?

3. If speaking in tongues is for everyone, then why did Paul teach that signs, miracles, and wonders (that obviously included speaking in tongues) were signs of a true apostle (2 Corinthians 12:12)?

4. If speaking in tongues is a sign of the baptism of the Holy Spirit, then why did Paul imply that not every believer was expected to speak in tongues (1 Corinthians 12:30)?

5. Since “tongues” were real languages at the time of Pentecost (Acts 2:6-11), why are the “tongues” that are spoken today nothing but babbling and gibberish?

6. Why, despite Paul’s warning against babbling or unintelligible speech (1 Corinthians 14:9-11), is this sort of speech still encouraged today?

7. Paul expressed that speaking in a language that was understood was better than speaking in an unknown language (1 Corinthians 14:19); therefore, shouldn’t there be no babbling today?

8. If, as some say, this babbling is “angelic utterance”, then why does Paul teach that there must be an interpreter (1 Corinthians 14:27-28)? Are there angels in the church that can interpret these babblings?

9. If the gift of speaking in tongues is still in operation today, then why is it necessary to send missionaries and other volunteers to foreign language schools? And why is the Bible still painstakingly being translated into numerous real foreign languages, year after year?

10. If the speaking in tongues occurred spontaneously at Pentecost, then why do people today teach others how to speak in tongues?

11. If the gift of speaking in tongues was a sign for the benefit of unbelieving Jews (1 Corinthians 14:21-22), then why is it spoken in churches today, and amongst gentile believers of all people?

12. Paul taught that if tongues are spoken that only one person at a time is to speak and no more than three people (and not at the same time!) are to speak (1 Corinthians 14:27); however, as far as I have witnessed, this is not the case today. Many people speak simultaneously, which results in chaos and confusion. Why do churches willingly allow that which is in direct violation of Scripture?

Questions Regarding Healing

1. If faith is required for healing (and lack of faith is a reason for a lack of healing), then why were unbelievers healed?

  • The demon-possessed man from Gerasenes was healed (Luke 8:28-33)
  • Jesus healed Malchus, who had his ear cut off by Peter (Luke 22:51; John 18:10)
  • The man at the pool of Bethsaida was healed without knowing who Jesus was (John 5:11-13).

2. Why were people healed through the faith of others?

  • The centurion’s faith healed his servant (Matthew 8:5-10)
  • The paralytic was healed by the faith of the men who carried him (Mark 2:5)
  • Jarius’ daughter was healed by his faith (Mark 5:35-43)

3. Why were people of faith not healed?

4. Why do faith healers teach that we must continue to claim our healing for complete deliverance from illness when in the Bible healings were both immediate and complete?

  • Peter’s mother-in-law was healed instantly (Matthew 8:14-15)
  • The centurion’s servant was healed “at that very moment” (Matthew 8:13)
  • Jesus healed the woman with chronic bleeding “immediately” (Mark 5:29)
  • Leprosy “left” the leper and he was healed “immediately” (Luke 5:12-13)
  • “…the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear…” (Matthew 11:5).

5. Why do we read in the Bible that obviously physical illnesses such as leprosy and paralysis were healed, whereas unseen afflictions such as arthritis or migraines are “healed” at healing crusades?

6. Why in the Bible were healings public and witnessed by people who knew the afflicted persons, whereas today we hear of “testimonies” of healing, often in faraway and remote places?

7. The apostles were given the power to heal – so why are there “healing schools” today?

8. Why aren’t faith healers curing the sick in hospitals or care centres? Additionally, as shown above, healing also occurred through the faith of others; therefore, if you, dear reader, have faith that healing is guaranteed, why are you not healing in the hospitals?

9. Why do faith healers wear prescription glasses? Why do they age? Why do they seek medical attention? Why do they fall ill at all?

10. Raising the dead, the handling of snakes, and the drinking of deadly poison without falling ill occurred in the Book of Acts, so why aren’t these activities occurring in the local assembly today?

11. Why did the believers in the Book of Acts seek healing from the apostles if they supposedly could heal themselves through their own faith?

12. Why is Scripture filled with the benefits of affliction and illness if we are supposed to be completely healthy?

13. If healing is guaranteed, why do all Christians (everyone, in fact) physically die?

Additional Questions to Consider:

1.In Scripture, signs verified the message of the messenger (Exodus 4:1-9;1 Kings 18:36-37;Joel 2:27-32;Acts 2:1-21;John 10:37-38;1 Corinthians 14:22). Today, we have the completed Scriptures and the Holy Spirit to testify to the truth (John 15:26;16:13). Other than salvation (since believers are performing “signs”), what would signs today signify?

2. If all Christians could perform signs and wonders, then why were they given to verify the identity of Jesus and true apostles (Acts 2:22; 2:43; 4:30; 5:12;14:3; Romans 15:18-19; 2 Corinthians 12:12; Hebrews 2:3-4)?

3. If there is a second baptism, which is evidenced by speaking in tongues, then why does Ephesians 4:5 state there is one baptism?

4. The Bible condemns against seeking signs and giving signs (Matthew 12:38-39; 16:4; Mark 8:11-12; Luke 11:29), so why do so many Christian seek them?

5. Since Satan and his sorcerers can perform lying signs and wonders (Exodus 7:11; 2 Thessalonians 2:9; Matthew 24:24), isn’t it dangerous to seek these experiences? Even those under Satan’s control can perform signs, so how do we know who the true believers are if everyone can perform these signs?

6. If signs are for today, why does Hebrews 2:3-4 state that signs were in the past?

7. The Holy Spirit was sent to testify about Jesus, who is the Word; therefore, why wouldn’t the Holy Spirit first correct the improper doctrine in the Charismatic movement before performing signs and wonders? Why wouldn’t this “Holy Spirit” testify about Jesus, as that is His main role?

8. If God is not a God of confusion (1 Corinthians 14:33), why is there so much chaos at healing revivals and many Charismatic gatherings?

 Let Us Reason Together (Isaiah 1:18)

After considering these questions and studying the Bible, can you, dear sister, still claim that the Word of God backs up your spiritual experiences? Do you really believe that the modern “tongues movement” reflects Pentecost? Have you noticed any discrepancies between charismatic experiences and the Word of God? Is it possible that you could be reading Scripture to fit your experience instead of submitting to the authority of God’s Word, regardless of what you feel and experience?

As mentioned earlier, I do not expect to end the debate as to whether the “sign gifts” are still in operation today, but might I suggest that instead of seeking signs, that we rather seek after the truth! To seek the truth is to pursue Jesus – not only is Christ Jesus the Truth (John 14:6), but wisdom and knowledge are found in Him (Colossians 2:3). Don’t let your experiences and feelings guide you, but let the Word of God be a lamp to your feet and a guide for your path (Psalm 119:105).

Hallowed be His name,

Pamela

 

But-grow-in-the-grace-and-knowledgeof-our-Lord-and-Savior-Jesus-Christ

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The Christian Woman’s Guide to Conversing with Bereans

How should you respond when someone calls your favorite teacher a wolf in sheep's clothing?

 

Imagine the scene: You have finally found some time to sit down to relax; you tune into the Trinity Broadcasting Network only minutes before your favorite teacher (I’ll call her Joyce Osteen) comes on the air. During these few minutes, you check Facebook, and to your horror, you see that someone has posted a warning that Joyce Osteen is a “false teacher“, a wolf in sheep’s clothing! How dare they touch the anointed Joyce Osteen! Although you might be tempted to respond to this claim in a fury of rebukes in ALL CAPS, please read the considerations below.

The purpose of this article is not to point a condemning finger but to address possible obstacles to fruitful conversations. These obstacles may include immature defenses and wrong presuppositions. Ideally, people on both sides of the conversation should act with integrity and humility. But it is most important that we must be imitators of Christ Jesus; yes, even during these conversations.

First, let’s take a look at who the Bereans were. In Acts 17:1-15, we learn that the Bereans researched, tested, and compared what they heard and were taught to Scripture … daily! We are commanded to do the same (1 John 4:1; Hebrews 5:14; 1 Thessalonians 5:21, etc.), so that we will not be taken captive by lies (Colossians 2:8). Not only are we commanded to be Bereans, but we are also commanded to expose evil (Ephesians 5:11Titus 1:9-13; Galatians 6:1). False teachings in the church are evil because they lead to damnation. We don’t hesitate to warn about physical danger, so how much more important is it to warn about spiritual danger?

When Conversing With Bereans:

1. Pray for Discernment, Knowledge, and Wisdom

Be slow to address your concerns, and take the time to pray to God for discernment, knowledge, and wisdom (Philippians 1:9-10James 1:5; Proverbs 4:7). The path to destruction is wide (Matthew 7:13), and there are many false teachers WITHIN the church’s walls (Jude 1:4); so, unless you are behaving as the Bereans did, you might be deceived. The danger of deception is that the deceived do not know that they are being deceived. Thankfully, the Holy Spirit is faithful to guide to truth those who are in Christ (John 16:13).

2. Respond as a Child of God

When responding to something, many people take advantage of the anonymity of the Internet; however, as Christians we know that God is watching and that we will be held accountable for what we say (and type!). Even if a Berean is rude, respond with integrity. A mature Christian woman is gentle, kind, self-controlled, loving, and teachable. Be assured (in giving and receiving) that warnings about faulty doctrines are not a personal attack any more than a caution sign along the road is meant to offend. There may be an urgency to these warnings since we do not know when Jesus will return or how much time we have left on this earth; please do not mistake immediacy for lack of love.

3. Do Not Resort to Name-Calling

Since God has given us the gift of understanding His truths (2 Thessalonians 2:13b), we should be humble and reverent when discussing His Word. There is no place for immaturity or condescension, such as the following remarks:

“You’re just jealous!”

Worldly success is not something a Christian should strive for, so it’s highly unlikely that Bereans are jealous of material success or popularity ratings, and they are certainly not jealous of the dire, eternal destination of a false teacher (1 John 2:15; Galatians 1:10; Galatians 1:8-9). Regardless, this accusation does nothing to help the conversation.

“You’re a Hater!”

Warning the Church about false teachers is an act of love. Would you call someone a “hater” for warning you if you were about to walk off a cliff? Jesus, Paul, and others warned about false teachers and even revealed who these false teachers were. Was Jesus a “hater”?

“You’re of Satan!”/”You’re grieving the Spirit!”/”You’re a Jezebel!”

Resorting to histrionics does not further your position; rather, it leads your listener to assume you do not have a Scriptural defense.

4. If You Respond With Cliches, Make Sure You Know What They Mean

It’s easy to respond with a statement that sounds good or that you’ve heard many other churchgoers say; however, please take the time to understand what your statements actually mean.

“Don’t Put God in a Box!”

It’s a catchy phrase, but what does it mean? Regardless of the definition, Jesus exposed false teachers – was He putting God in a box?

“Touch not my anointed!”

This verse is about physically harming a prophet (1 Chronicles 16:22), but since we are commanded to expose false teachers, and because Scripture does not contradict itself, this verse obviously does not apply to anything else. So, there’s nothing wrong in a fair, biblically-based criticism of a teacher, whoever that teacher may be.

“You’re creating division!”

Let’s look at Romans 16:17: “Now I urge you, brethren, keep your eye on those who cause dissensions and hindrances contrary to the teaching which you learned, and turn away from them.” This verse explains that division is caused by those who teach contrary to the Word of God. Truth naturally divides itself from lies; therefore, Christians should not seek unity at the expense of truth … that’s what the world does.

“No one has perfect theology!”

True, but that’s not an excuse for heresy.

“This teacher has blessed me!”/”This teacher helps the poor!”

Following false teachers will lead you to destruction, and that’s not a blessing. There are many leaders and teachers who help people (including those in the secular arena), but that doesn’t mean we should follow after them.

Since false teachers have an appearance of godliness (2 Timothy 3:5), we can’t assume their teachings are sound simply because they do good works. Remember, atheists also help the poor.

“They’ve led hundreds/thousands/millions to Jesus!”

Yes, but which “Jesus” have these teachers led people to? Jesus warned that many people will be misled because of false teachers who will come in His name and preach another “Jesus” (Matthew 24:5; Matthew 24:24;2 Corinthians 11:4). These false teachers are in the church today, preaching their Jesus to their unsuspecting flocks.

Additionally, the Bible informs us that not everyone in church or fellowship is a born-again Christian, and that there are false converts who attend church services (Matthew 13:21; 1 John 2:18-19; Matthew 7:21-23).

5. Please Realize that Proclaiming “Do Not Judge!” is a Judgment

Not only is this crowd favourite a judgment, but if you take Matthew 7:1 out of context and apply it to everything, this then only displays a lack of biblical knowledge and application. There are many great teachings regarding the biblical use of judging, but for the sake of brevity, here is a short video that explains how we should judge:

 

 

6. Make Sure You Know What You’re Talking About

What you think is right, or what your “heart says” is right is not a substitute for the Word of God. Use Scripture in your arguments and interpret verses correctly.

A Berean examines what a teacher believes about important doctrines such as the Deity of Christ, the Gospel, the Trinity, and salvation. Do you know what the teachers you follow believe about these things? It may be difficult to know everything that a television preacher or Christian author believes, but the information is available. It’s also wise to educate yourself on the beliefs of movements that are within evangelical circles. Too many Christians are deceived by the belief systems of the Word of Faith Movement, the New Apostolic Reformation, the Emergent Church, and other unbiblical factions.

7. Converse with Etiquette

As with any conversation, make the effort to understand what is being communicated and read any information that is provided. It’s time-efficient and practical to link to information, especially on social media, so don’t ignore this information. Additionally, ask questions or ask for examples if you are unclear about anything, and remember that even if the conversation ends in disagreement, the goal of communication is understanding, not winning.

Remember Who You Are and to Whom You Belong

Christians belong to the royal priesthood and are joint-heirs with Christ. We have been saved out of the darkness by a merciful and loving God who does not want us to respond out of the flesh with tactics that are better left on the playground. We are a chosen race (1 Peter 2:9) and daughters of the King, who reigns in truth. Let’s make sure we act (and type!) like it.

Hallowed be His name,

Pamela

 

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Biblical Stewardship and Goal Planning

Goal planning and Biblical Stewardship

 

This is the time when many people set goals for the coming year:  vision boards will flood Pinterest, while worldly and godless motivational quotes such as “Believe you can and you’re halfway there!” will fill Facebook’s newsfeed. However, just what are we envisioning and believing? Treasures that can be stored up in heaven (Matthew 6:20)? Or are we storing up worldly things and setting worldly goals? Goals can be good when not man-centered and not driven by selfish ambition. To ensure that we are setting God-honoring goals that have eternal value, here are some points to remember.

God is the Owner of Everything and He is in Control of Everything

God is the owner of our time, our abilities and our resources – we are merely managing these responsibilities. Since it is no longer we that live, but Christ who lives in us (Galatians 2:20), His desires need to be our desires. So, are we managing what belongs to God for His glory?

Additionally, as believers, we must remember that when things do not go as we planned, that God is still sovereign over our circumstances and our lives.

Verses to meditate upon:

  • The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell within (Psalm 24:1)
  •  Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above (James 1:17a)
  • The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps (Proverbs 16:9).

We Exist for God’s Pleasure

Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created (Revelation 4:11 KJV).

It is humbling to know that God created us for His pleasure – to be in a relationship with Him, and to worship Him through His son Jesus Christ. How wondrous it is that He involves us in His purposes! As we discern what these purposes are, what He has given us stewardship over, and what His commands are, we must submit to His will, not ours. Our ambitions must be in submission to His purposes and plans.

We’ll do well to know that the ultimate purpose for believers is to glorify God (1 Corinthians 10:31), and this includes spreading the Gospel.

Verses to meditate on:

  • Commit your work to the LORD, and your plans will be established.(Proverbs 16:3)
  • Commit your way to the LORD; trust in Him, and He will act (Psalm 37:5)
  • Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart (Psalm 37:4).

Many think the verses above mean that God will act favorably toward our plans and the desires of our heart if we commit them to Him. Instead, we are to commit our work, plans, and heart to HIS way first, and then God will favorably act. We cannot simply say, “God I’m committing my goal of buying a 4-storey mansion to You. Please establish my plans and grant me this desire of my heart.”

Look forward to future rewards!

It may feel wrong to be motivated to receive rewards; however, Scripture mentions rewards many times. As mentioned earlier, Jesus told us to “Store up for yourselves treasures in heaven” (Matthew 6:20). What are we storing up? What treasures do our hearts desire?

Verses to meditate on:

  • Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw— each one’s work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire (1 Corinthians 3:12-15)
  • Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him (James 1:12)
  • Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing (2 Timothy 4:8).

The Prayer of Jesus

Before Jesus’ death, the Son of God prayed a remarkable prayer to God the Father. In this prayer, He said, “I glorified You on earth, having accomplished the work that You gave Me to do” (John 17:4). As followers of Jesus, this is a wonderful goal for us, so that by the grace of God we may hear, “Well done, good and faithful servant” (Matthew 25:23).

Have a blessed 2016 – and to God be the glory!

Hallowed be His name,

Pamela

Resources:

A piece with application regarding self-examination

A New Year’s Motto

Psalm 115:1

 

 

 

 

 

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From Thorn of Pride to Throne of Grace

 

In this article, we visit the Garden of Eden where the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life tempted Eve to sin. New Agers Maya Angelou, Marianne Williamson, and Louise Hay are often quoted by evangelicals, however, these teachers promote the deadly sin of pride. How can we avoid the temptations to become godlike and instead become Christlike?

 

 

Welcome to the first article in the Faithful to the Word series.

Have you noticed how often Scripture mentions spiritual unfaithfulness? From Genesis to Revelation, God reveals spiritual harlotry and apostasy, committed by both Jew and Gentile. Thankfully, God also reveals His love and mercy in drawing us back to Him when we’ve veered from His instruction. Regardless, we must be careful to be faithful to God and His Word, both in knowledge and obedience, as we ready ourselves for the return of Jesus.

In this article, we’ll look at the temptation of pride, specifically as it was in the Garden of Eden. We’ll examine the deceptions that led to Eve’s unfaithfulness, why Eve’s decisions were wrong, how these deceptions have entered the modern church, and how we can be faithful to God and His Word when pride tempts us.

The Bite  (Genesis 3:1-6)

 

Genesis 3-1-6

 

1. Lust of the Flesh

In verse six, what was Eve’s first justification for eating from the tree?

________________________________________________________

Like Eve, when we decide for ourselves what is good, and when we do things for our own pleasure, we are fulfilling the lust of the flesh. We follow the flesh – gratify our selfish desires – when we submit to anything that is contrary to Scripture, such as following our hearts, or following the teachings of man. In fact, a teaching (or saying) of man is “Follow your heart”; however, let’s look at Jeremiah 17:9:

 

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How is the heart described?  The heart is ______________ above _________   _____________, and desperately ____________; who can understand it?

The heart – our emotions and desires – is deceitful and sick! We are often blind to the extent that the Fall has affected us. Mark 7:21-23 says that evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness come out of the heart. It is dangerous to follow the heart.

The heart leads us astray in smaller things as well – it convinces us that a large Twitter following equals importance, or that we simply had to buy the pair of Louboutins. Or the heart (our reasoning) may try to convince us that it is possible to separate the physical aspect of yoga from its demonic spiritual aspect.

Often we say, “God knows my heart” – yes, He does know our hearts, much better than we do. Proverbs 21:2 warns that every way of a man is right in his own eyes, but the LORD weighs the heart.

False teachings propel us toward living ungodly, self-centred lives, away from living God-centred lives. Consider this quote from the late New Ager Maya Angelou, who is often quoted by evangelicals: “Success is liking yourself, liking what you do, and liking how you do it”.

Angelou’s quote is not biblical, and it teaches us that we alone are the authority. It is the exact mistake that Eve made, and it’s why we need objective and not subjective guidance for living our lives. We need an authority outside of ourselves to teach us what is right and wrong. Let’s look at 2 Timothy 3:16:

 

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Fill in the blanks: __________ Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in ________________,

Notice that all of Scripture is useful – not just the verses we like and not just some verses in the New Testament. We have a glorious bounty of instruction to guide us! Please note that Scripture is not a manual on how to be happy; this instruction helps us to live righteous or godly lives. 1 Peter 1:13-16 says, “Be holy, for I am Holy”. Again, it is holiness, not happiness, that leads to Christlikeness. It is this instruction of holiness that we need to look for when we listen to pastors or teachers. When the serpent spoke to Eve, she listened and followed her heart and her own desires instead of consulting her husband, whose duty it was to protect her. Today, we can consult the Bible and the Holy Spirit, who will guide us into all truth (John 16:13).

2. Lust of the Eyes

Revisiting Genesis 3:6, what is the second reason that Eve found the fruit of the tree appealing?

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The lust of the eyes is an obsessive desire to own what appeals to us, and it manifests as greed, stinginess, unnecessary hoarding, and coveting. Lust of the eyes occurs when we’ve gazed longingly at the world for so long that it’s easier to spot a counterfeit designer bag than it is to spot a counterfeit Gospel. The gift of vision is a miracle; however, Satan often uses our eyes to tempt us to lust. Lust blinds the eyes, tricks the brain, and deceives us into falling for what the world calls “beautiful” and “good”. The world is an expert in marketing products and lifestyles that may lead us to take our eyes off God.

Notice that the appearance of the fruit was attractive – it enticed Eve. It’s tempting to think that all evil is ugly while all that glitters is gold; however, 2 Corinthians 11:14 warns as follows, “And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.” Attractiveness could very well be a form of deception!

Another popular New Age author and speaker Louise Hay teaches: “I act as if I already have what I want – it’s an excellent way to attract happiness in my life”.

Lust of the eyes may also birth an appetite for an accumulation of material things, heaps of unnecessary stuff. Not only is Hay teaching the unbiblical Law of Attraction, but her quote also sets the conditions for soul-destroying greed. After all, why should we settle for keeping up with the Joneses when we can be the Joneses?

How can we be wise and faithful women who are not deceived by materialism?

First, we need to heed the many warnings in the Bible about materialism and the love of money. 1 Timothy 6:9-10 is just one example:

 

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Fill in the blanks: But those who _______________ to be _______________ fall into _______________, into a _______________, into many _______________ and _______________ _______________ that plunge people into _______________ and _______________. For the ______________ of money is a root of _________ _________ _____ __________. It is through this craving that some have___________________ __________ ___________ _______ __________ and pierced _________________ with many pangs.

What a warning! Notice that being rich and money in itself are not evil. It’s the desire to be rich and the love of money that may cause us to fall into temptation and to experience subsequent destruction. This love of money leads many people to leave the faith that offers salvation, and it keeps countless souls away from the Gospel. This verse makes it clear that those who fall into this snare pierce themselves – nothing and no one else can take the blame.

Instead of focusing on what is appealing to the eyes, 1 Timothy 6:11-12 instructs us to flee from the pursuit of wealth and to focus on the good fight:

But as for you, O man of God, flee these things. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness.  Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.”

Hebrews 13:5 says, “Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.'”

The Lord Jesus Christ will be with us always! No material possession comes close to satisfying our desire to be with God, and no material possession comes close to glorifying God. When we keep our eyes on Jesus alone, we will begin to see how vain the world is and how little it offers.

3. The Pride of Life

Once again, referring to Genesis 3:6, what was the third reason that Eve found the tree appealing?

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Eve wanted to be wise outside of God’s set parameters. When we’re prideful, we think our ways are better than God’s way. Additionally, Eve wanted to be like God, which was also Satan’s downfall. When we desire importance or popularity, we idolize ourselves. Pride leads us to crave attention, worldly identity, appreciation, and position (at home, work, and society). In today’s world of “selfies” and “likes”, it has never been easier to worship oneself.

Consider this quote by New Ager Marianne Williamson, who is sadly also often quoted by evangelicals:

“Our deepest fear is not that we are adequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.”

Doesn’t this quote sound similar to the account of Satan’s fall in Isaiah 14:14?

“You said in your heart,

‘I will ascend to heaven;

I will set my throne on high;

I will sit on the mount of assembly

in the far reaches of the north.

I will ascend above the heights of the clouds;

I will make myself like the Most High.'”

Satan loves it when we follow in his fallen footsteps; he wants us to look for “the god in ourselves”. This is a subtle but important twist – we are not to become god-like, but Christ-like. How do we flee from the temptation to become god-like? How do we focus on becoming Christ-like instead?

 

2 Peter 3-18

 

Fill in the blanks: But grow in the ____________ and ____________ of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.

By growing in spiritual maturity and knowledge of our Savior Jesus Christ, we will avoid being led astray by false teachings and false teachers.

Romans 12:1-2

Romans 12-1-2

 

Fill in the blanks: I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to ______________ __________ ______________ as a ______________ _____________ holy, and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be _______________ to this ______________, but be _______________ by the renewal of your _______________, that by _____________ you may _______________ what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

To be like Christ, we must offer ourselves and yield to God. This involves biblical meditation and the study of Scripture, so that our minds can be renewed according to what God deems is good, acceptable, and perfect. By doing this, we will be able to test and discern the beliefs and values of this world, a world ruled by Satan. God must become greater, while we must become lesser (John 3:30).

 In Conclusion

Sisters, are we following our hearts? Are we running after teachings that are contrary to Scripture? Or are we faithful to God and His Word? Do not be fooled by the “positive” and attractive messages out there.

Consider meditating upon the following verses:

“Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ. Now I commend you because you remember me in everything and maintain the traditions even as I delivered them to you” (1 Corinthians 11:1-2).

“For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps” (1 Peter 2:21).

“As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, ‘You shall be holy, for I am holy'”(1 Peter 1:14-16).

“But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you” (John 14:26).

“How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word” (Psalm 119:9).

Hallowed be His name,

Pamela

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They Walk Among Us: Unmasking the Deceivers in the Pulpits

How to Recognize False TeachersMasked, I advance. – René Descartes

As a former occult practitioner, my answer to whether Christians should celebrate Halloween is that if Christians saw the real faces behind Halloween, they would be horrified. Witchcraft is as the sin of rebellion (1 Samuel 15:23), and the decorations of gore and evil should not be associated with light and purity (2 Corinthians 6:14). Whatever my viewpoints are, I know many Christians exercise “Christian liberty” with this holiday, so I’ll let this controversy brew without further input from me (for this year anyway).

Horror movies exploit fear to create more fear. But fear of what? The evil characters in these movies can only destroy the body; the bigger horror is the evil characters in the pulpit that lead many to eternal damnation. Millions of people are deceived by the disguises donned by false teachers, because these teachers are not outfitted in obvious, evil costumes. These false teachers are dressed to con and deceive. Moreover, the false teachers who are obvious in their heresies are doubly useful to the enemy – not only do they have their naive followers, but the following is commonly heard: “Oh, Heidi Baker/Juanita Bynum/Gloria Copeland is a false teacher for sure but not Beth Moore/Priscilla Shirer/Christine Caine.” It’s easy to assume that outlandish performances in the pulpit would only sound the discernment alarm; however, the performances of a Todd Bentley or a John Crowder further mask the stealthiness of a Christine Caine or a Rachel Held Evans, for example. And how dare anyone mention Peter Popoff and Beth Moore in the same sentence! Shock! Gasp! Yet, despite outward appearances, all false teachers have many things in common, including their delight in deception (2 Peter 2:13).

It is because of this horrifying level of deceit that I apply my Halloween reasoning – if Christians saw the real faces behind false teachers, they would (should, surely) quickly repent and turn away from these teachers. So, let’s unmask these liars and discover how these whitewashed tombs deceive their victims and hold them captive. Let’s not end up like the victims in a B-rated horror movie: Those who run around in confusion, their arms flailing in every direction, and who ultimately (and predictably) meet their respective ends by stumbling into a dark alley, when they should have stuck to the well-lit streets. Let us set our feet upon solid ground, and let the light of Scripture guide our way.

False Teachers Operate in Secrecy and Disguise

There are numerous Biblical references to the deception and trickery that false teachers use. Satan, who is their father (John 8:44), is crafty and cunning; he does not appear in slasher-film garb nor is he dressed up as a villain or archenemy. Being what he is, he appears as an angel of light. Satan doesn’t spew venom or curses from the pulpit; he preaches happiness, false unity, tolerance, and love. Sadly, this is how Christians, who should be as wise as serpents, become the victims of wolves. These Christian victims may have their Little-Red-Riding-Hood moments of “Pastor, what big teeth you have”, but in the end, many people are destroyed.

These verses warn of deception (italics are mine):

  • How long shall there be lies in the heart of the prophets who prophesy lies, and who prophesy the deceit of their own heart? (Jeremiah 23:26)
  • Beware of false prophets who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves (Matthew 7:15)
  • They disguise themselves as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness (2 Corinthians 11:13-15)
  • See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit (Colossians 2:8)
  • Deceitful spirits and teachings of demons, through the insincerity of liars (1 Timothy 4:1-2)
  • Who will secretly bring in destructive heresies (2 Peter 2:1)
  • So as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect  (Matthew 24:24)
  • By smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive (Romans 16:17)
  • For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not confess the coming of Jesus Christ in the flesh. Such a one is the deceiver and the antichrist (2 John 1:7)
  • For certain people have crept in unnoticed (Jude 1:4).

Not only do we need to be aware of the deceptions within the visible church, we also need to be aware of the deceit of our own hearts (Jeremiah 17:9). It is the deceit of the heart that lead Christians to believe that Joyce Meyer has been a blessing in their lives, and it’s the same deceit that prompts people to recite prosperity affirmations in the vain hope of receiving wealth. A hint of pride and false humility hides in the heart when a person declares, “I don’t judge anyone!” Scripture commands us to judge righteously and not by appearance (John 7:24). False teachers are quick to publish photos of their missionary work; unfortunately, those photos lead the undiscerning folk to think that they’re seeing good fruit. It’s not good fruit; it’s a deception. Unbelievers give to charity as well. False teachers have an appearance of godliness (2 Timothy 3:5).

Identifying Marks of the Disguise

1. False teachers teach a different doctrine (2 Corinthians 11:4; 1 Timothy 6:3)

A trap that all false teachers use is to teach half-truths mixed with lies. For instance, many Christians think that because Scripture is referenced in the channeled book Jesus Calling, that it must be biblically sound. I have heard the same defense from followers of Joyce Meyer. These teachers add to and take away from Scripture to justify their counterfeit Jesus and different gospel.

False teachers rarely mention sin or repentance, and when they do, their assertions are unbiblical, such as Joseph Prince’s comments regarding repentance and confession:

Joseph Prince, false teacher

The above quotes demonstrate 1 Timothy 6:4: “Such a person has an unhealthy desire to quibble over the meaning of words”.

Scripture instructs us to teach the whole counsel of God, and that includes sin and repentance (Acts 20:27). Joel Osteen disagrees:

The remarks in the video are typical of false teachers who focus on happiness and success instead of godly living. They offer formulas and “breakthroughs” – prescriptions that do nothing to remedy our wretched state of sinfulness. False teachers promote a love for this world, a love that feeds the carnal mind. These teachers promise freedom, but they are slaves to corruption (2 Peter 2:19).

Another doctrine of demons that is gaining popularity in the modern evangelical church is mysticism. Christians are instructed to perform dangerous things, and many of them are obeying. This quote is from the Twitter feed of Jesus Calling:

Contrary to the above quote, Scripture instructs us to guard our hearts and renew our minds with the Word of God (Proverbs 4:23Romans 12:2).

2. False teachers deceive through smiles, flattery, and an appearance of knowledge

In the Osteen video above, he appears to have the fruit of love, peace, and gentleness – who would have guessed that he is actually ruled by Satan? Osteen is very slick through his use of flattery – what person (Christian or not) wouldn’t want to believe that he or she is destined for greatness and highly favored? However, Scripture warns that by smooth talk and flattery these teachers deceive the hearts of the naive (Romans 16:18).

Another form of deceit is the popularity of these false teachers. Undiscerning Christians believe that these celebrities must be biblically sound because they have large followings; however, Scripture states that these teachers have forsaken the right road and have followed the way of Balaam, who had attempted to curse Israel for the rewards of wealth and popularity (2 Peter 2:15). It is assumed that these celebrities and teachers have great knowledge because they have written (and keep writing!) best-selling books and/or because they have doctorates. Despite these successes, Scripture says that these teachers are ever learning, but they are never able to come to the knowledge of the truth (2 Timothy 3:7). Scripture also states

Despite their best-selling books and sold-out conferences, false teachers cannot understand truth! The naive think they are learning something profound and wise from these deceivers, but their teachings are nonsense. Consider these quotes from Joyce Meyer:

Joyce Meyer, false teacher

 

The quotes above reflect Jude’s warning that false teachers are like clouds without water – they promise much but deliver nothing. Besides the obvious unscriptural assertions and the horrendous lack of logic, Meyer is correct about one thing – there is a battle for the mind, since that is how the Word of God is absorbed. Satan loves it when the modern church interprets truth as the world and experience-based pagans do. The father of lies is the true author of Meyer’s book, and his royalty payments are souls. Chilling.

Behind these masks of smiles, flattery, and knowledge hides arrogance – these teachers would have to be arrogant to exchange the Words of God for their own words (Jude 16). They are filled with their own self-importance, and they do not hold themselves accountable to anyone since they reject authority (Colossians 2:18; Jude 8).

The arrogance of Benny Hinn’s desire to kill those who question his teachings, Steven Furtick’s Hater video, and Joyce Meyer’s declaration that she is not a sinner are well known. Let’s veer from the usual list of suspects and see what’s happening in the lesser-known circles. Meet Jory Micah. According to her website, Micah is in the process of writing a book; she was named one of the top 10 female bloggers in Beyond Evangelical – the personal blog of Frank Viola. Not surprisingly, Viola is a false teacher. On her website, Micah says that she had a dream from the Lord and “if you are a woman who has felt limited or oppressed by the Christian Church in any way, YOU were in my dream and there is freedom for you.” Her mission is to 

Help women shake off the chains of limitations and the shackles of oppression that the Christian Church has wrapped around them in the name of the Bible and stale religion. (Her) goal is to see women universally embraced as church leaders – elders, lead-pastors, evangelists, Bible teachers, apostles, worship leaders, and every leadership position that both lay women and ordained ministers can dream up with God.”

The errors within the above quote are outside the scope of this article. However, for the record, Micah and I did converse regarding the unbiblical role of women pastors; sadly, she would not listen to what is plainly written in Scripture – that women pastors are unbiblical.  According to her website, anyone who disagrees with her is a hater. (And probably a big meanie too!) Micah is obviously a bright young woman, and from all appearances, she could easily become the next Rachel Held Evans or Christine Caine. As the Meyers and Caines of the women-led pulpits age, there are many young women being trained to assume their positions.

Micah admits she was warned; however, arrogance ruled:

 

The deceptive teaching that women pastors are biblical

 

3. False teachers are motivated by greed.

Skip to 2:06 to view Leroy Thompson parading through money:

 

That video speaks for itself.

Many Christians are too focused on the twisted Scripture verses of the prosperity gospel to notice that the Bible clearly warns that false teachers are motivated by greed. These teachers prey on their victims through the same corruption that has led them to the pulpit to begin with – greed! These teachers deceive by evil and carnal means, so it follows that their motivation is also carnal. Paul Washer says, “False teachers are God’s judgment on people who don’t want God, but in the name of religion plan on getting everything their carnal heart desires.” Terrifying thought.

Here are some warnings about the greed of false teachers:

  • In their greed they will exploit you with false words (2 Peter 2:3a)
  • Having itching ears, many people will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths (2 Timothy 4:3-4)
  • They use godliness as a means of gain (1 Timothy 6:5)
  • They are shepherds feeding themselves, and they live to satisfy their desires (Jude 12Jude 16)
  • Those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction (1 Timothy 6:9).
Guard Your Hearts and Minds

Stay away from these masked bandits! Christians are commanded to avoid these liars who do the work of Satan. Some appropriate verses:

  • Have nothing to do with them (Ephesians 5:11; 2 Thessalonians 3:14)
  • If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house or give him any greeting, for whoever greets him takes part in his wicked works (2 John 1:10-11)
  • Don’t let them take you captive or cause you to lose your own stability because false teachers have turned people away from the faith (Colossians 2:8; 2 Peter 3:171 Timothy 4:1).

It would be pure terror to share in the fate of false teachers as listed here:

Jude, a half-brother of Jesus, lived at a time when Christianity was under attack by apostates, and in the book of Jude, he called the Church to contend for the truth. Therefore, I believe it is fitting to close with his instructions and subsequent praise to God:

But you must remember, beloved, the predictions of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ. They said to you, “In the last time there will be scoffers, following their own ungodly passions.” It is these who cause divisions, worldly people, devoid of the Spirit. But you, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life.  And have mercy on those who doubt;  save others by snatching them out of the fire; to others show mercy with fear, hating even the garment stained by the flesh.

 Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen” (Jude 17-25).

Soli Deo Gloria

Pamela

Please note that false prophecies are also an indication of a false teacher, which I have warned about here.

I’m exercising my Christian liberty to hand out a costume award:

How to recognize a false teacher

 

 

 

 

 

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O foolish Christian, who hath bewitched you?

 

Can Christians Be Affected by Witchcraft?

It’s that time of year again – Halloween – when the forces of evil assault the children of God and destroy Christians’ peace and joy. It’s a time when Satan and his army are at full strength, a time when the Christian can do little but hope to win the battle against the mighty powers of the enemy.

Really?

According to many people in the modern church, the statements above are indeed the truth. In this article, author Jennifer LeClaire writes that witchcraft can affect Christians, and she lists the signs that reveal that there is a curse on a person’s life. I generally remain silent about the questionable content of Charisma News; however, I could not remain silent about this article because I was once deceived by the false teachings about the supposed power of Satan over Christians. This high view of man and low view of God notion is found in the Spiritual Warfare Movement (SWM), also known as Strategic Level Spiritual Warfare. Teachers and authors such as C. Peter Wagner, Neil Anderson, Frank Peretti (This Present Darkness), and Derek Prince promote spiritual warfare.

These teachers and authors claim that demons occupy specific, territorial ground and that Christians have the power and authority to bind Satan, pray for hedges of protection, and demolish strongholds. These teachers also explain the various ranks in Satan’s army and how one can identify which demons are causing one’s problems; yes, all of this according to the demon’s name and “assignment”. Not only are these teachings dangerous and false, but they also dishonor our sovereign God, who providentially rules (Isaiah 45:5). Remember, friends, that God commands us to test everything and to rebuke false teachers (1Thessalonians 5:21Titus 1:9). I will not respond to every claim of LeClaire’s  –  most of her claims are speculative at best and certainly not found in the Word of God. However, I will examine her exegesis of Scripture.

My Experience with the Spiritual Warfare Movement

I became involved with the SWM because I had been sensing a heavy oppression; I’d also felt blocked from God. Additionally, the victory and healing that many “Christian” teachers claim (back then and today) belong to the children of Christ were not present in my life. This absence led me to question my faith, and I concluded that I had not been fully delivered from my previous involvement with the occult (which had included witchcraft). I researched the topic of deliverance and spiritual warfare, and before long, I found myself in one of the largest Pentecostal churches in my city and sitting between two people who were fervently praying for me. The woman who prayed over me (I’ll call her June, only because that’s her name), had apparently spoken to the “main” demon who had been wreaking havoc in my life. According to June, this demon had told her that I had a line of demons attached to me due to my previous involvement in the occult; and according to this demon, these “attached” demons were never going to let me go or let me talk about Jesus Christ. That evening, after the deliverance session, I left with more confusion. My suspicions about the demonic activity in my life had been confirmed; however, how was I to rid myself of these demons? The deliverance didn’t work.

During the next few years, my spiritual struggle continued. I followed the instructions for deliverance as found in books such as Neil T. Anderson’s The Bondage Breaker, and I prayed the prayers from books such as Paul Eckhardt’s The Prayers that Rout Demons and Break Curses. Sadly, I still felt oppressed; there was nothing more that I could do. In fact, it seemed that the more I participated in this “warfare”, the stronger the enemy became. I started to physically sense demons – much like in my days in the occult.

Seven years after my first attempt at deliverance, I again met with a deliverance minister. Since he believed that demons were more active during specific hours at night, we arranged to conduct the ceremony in the company of two other deliverance “experts” at 11:00 pm, and at my home. Praise God, mere hours before the ceremony, confusion erupted about payment for the service and the deliverance was canceled. Today, thanks to God, His truth, and the granting of true repentance (2 Timothy 2:25), I am free in Christ. Freedom came once I understood who Christ is  – my Sovereign Master and Redeemer, and once I saw who Satan really is – a liar and deceiver. To think that anyone is held captive by the Spiritual Warfare movement’s deceptions pains me. Christ came to set the captives free.

You Foolish Galatians, Who Has Bewitched You?

In LeClaire’s article, she writes that the Webster’s Dictionary defines witchcraft as “An irresistible influence or fascination”; she then says, “The Bible warns us not to be bewitched: ‘O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you that you should not obey the truth? Before your eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed among you as crucified.'” However, the Bible passage she cites is not about witchcraft – the context of Galatians 3 is justification by faith. Here, Paul is warning the Galatians that they were being misled by the false promises and flattery of the false teachers. The Expositor’s Bible Commentary notes:

…a doctrine of salvation by works foolishly denies the necessity for grace and declares the death of the Lord Jesus Christ unnecessary. Yet this is what the Galatians were on the verge of embracing. They were being intellectually inconsistent, self-contradictory. How can such nonsense be explained? Paul suggests facetiously that perhaps they have been placed under a spell by some magician” (notes on Galatians 3:1).

In this light, it’s ironic that the book of Galatians is not warning about witchcraft but about false teachings and the abandonment of essential doctrine.

Next, LeClaire lists eight signs that are supposedly clear that a Christian is under the spell of witchcraft. The fourth point states:

“Forgetting who you really are: You are a child of the King. You are the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus. Greater is He who is in you than he that is in the world (1 John 4:4). You are blessed coming in and blessed going out. Everything you put your hand to prospers. That’s your legal position. But when witchcraft attacks, you feel like a worthless worm. You forget who you are in Christ, have little to no interest in the Word, church, praise, worship or the like. You may feel guilt, condemnation or self-pity.”

Once again, her exegesis of Scripture is problematic – the context of 1 John 4:4 is the ability to discern between the Spirit of Truth and the spirit of error; this is obvious by reading the content before and after verse 4 – specifically verse 6, which states, “By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error.” Verse 4 has nothing to do with legal positions, prospering, or witchcraft; the message is that because God is in us, the Holy Spirit protects us from false teaching and that we have nothing to fear from the enemy who is in the world. In other words, Christians have overcome Satan and his false prophets because Christians have resisted their teachings through the power of the Holy Spirit. It is my opinion that some Christians misread this verse as “Greater are you because He is in you….”

Who is Bewitching Whom?

LeClaire concludes with this warning: “We all need to be careful about tapping into spiritual witchcraft and releasing word curses against others and ourselves.” I’m not sure how a person can accidentally tap into witchcraft; however, the attempt to gain power through “word curses” (or using the “creative power of words”, “naming and claiming”, etc.) is witchcraft! Anything that attempts to manipulate or control events outside of God’s absolute rule can be viewed as this sin of rebellion (1 Samuel 15:23). What is the difference between reciting words from a Book of Shadows and repeating affirmations from a Joel Osteen book? In the latter, only lip service is paid to Jesus Christ – the faith of the outcome is in the so-called power of words. In my occult days, I experienced the fruition of certain spells I cast, so do not be fooled, albeit limited, Satan has power on this earth.

Please do not believe that any resulting manifestations (of our desires, mostly) stemming from reciting daily affirmations are a blessing from God – it might be a judgment (Romans 1:24). Friend, be careful to test everything, to discern, and to not go beyond the bounds of Scripture (1 Corinthians 4:6).

Concerning the earlier definition of witchcraft, it would appear that those in the SWM are “bewitched’ by witchcraft and Satan – there seems to be a fascination and obsession with demons and the things unseen to the point that Scripture is both added to and misinterpreted. Moreover, the power available to Christians, as taught wrongly in the SWM, can also be seductive and fascinating. Desiring secret wisdom and God-like status was the cause of both Satan’s fall from heaven and the fall of man. Pride is at the root of this SWM teaching – to think that man is able to rebuke Satan when not even the archangel Michael attempted to rebuke him is prideful (Jude 1:9). And to imagine that one can direct or force the hand of God through scripted speech is beyond words. The teachings of SWM remove the focus from Jesus and the Gospel; instead, it aids the enemy who comes to steal, kill, and destroy (John 10:10). Not surprisingly, fear that should be reserved for God is now perverted and directed at Satan.

For those who are in Christ, there is no danger of being affected by witchcraft or curses (Proverbs 26:2). The real danger of the SWM lies in being led astray by false teachings and cleverly being drawn and tricked into pagan beliefs and practices. Surely, the SWM has more in common with witch doctors and shamans than it does with Christianity. To be aligned with this movement is to follow the teachings of men, not that of God; be aware of the doctrine of demons, for they have secretly crept into the church (1 Timothy 4:1Galatians 2:4Jude 4). The SWM causes confusion, which is of Satan, and its teachings toss Christians to and fro by human cunning and by craftiness in deceitful schemes (1 Corinthians 14:33Ephesians 4:14). With the widespread acceptance of these false teachings, I ask again: who is bewitching whom?

True Spiritual Warfare

Christians do not need to follow a bunch of legalistic rules to be free of Satan – the Gospel has set us free (John 8:32). True spiritual warfare is not about breaking curses, erecting hedges, or binding Satan and his demons. The passage in Ephesians 6:10-17 specifically addresses spiritual warfare; surprisingly, the teachings of the SWM are not found there. The Christian armor consists of truth, righteousness, the Gospel, faith, salvation, and the Word of God. In Scripture, these pieces of armor are repeatedly mentioned in connection with God’s protection. Here are just a few of the verses that reflect this:

  • In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make straight your paths (Proverbs 3:6)
  • Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you (Isaiah 41:10)
  • Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you (James 4:7)
  • But the Lord is faithful. He will establish you and guard you against the evil one (2 Thessalonians 3:3)
  • We know that everyone who has been born of God does not keep on sinning, but he who was born of God protects him, and the evil one does not touch him. (1 John 5:18).
“And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7)

The wondrous sacrifice of Jesus Christ frees Christians not only from eternal hell and from separation, but also from worry and anxiety. How can people experience peace if they believe they are under the power of witchcraft? Or if they believe they have a line of demons “attached” to them?

Friends, have nothing to do with the deeds of evil (Ephesians 5:11); we are to think of things that are true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, and anything worthy of praise (Philippians 4:8). What a blessing that is! We are free to focus on these things because God is in control and because Christians belong to Christ Jesus. Someone advised that Christians should preach the Gospel to themselves every day. I think that is a great idea – let’s keep our eyes on the Savior. As the psalmist wrote, “Hope in God; for I shall again praise Him, my salvation” (Psalm 42:5).

Soli Deo Gloria,

Pamela

Resources for further study:

I highly recommend this series: Justin Peters’ interview with Jim Osman, author of Truth or Territory? Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 – Demolishing Strongholds, Part 4 – Hedges of Protection, Part 5 – Hexes and Generational Curses, Part 6 – Binding Satan, Part 7 – Rebuking Satan, Part 8 – Spiritual Mapping

How Deliverance Ministries Lead People Into Bondage

The Strategy of Satan – How to Detect and Defeat Him

Southern View Chapel: Spiritual Warfare Part 1, Part 2

Recommended Books (courtesy of Glenn E. Chatfield of The Watchman’s Bagpipes)

Territorial Spirits and World Evangelisation? by Chuck Lowe

Miracles, Demons, & Spiritual Warfare: An Urgent Call for Discernment by Edward N. Gross

Modern Myths About Satan and Spiritual Warfare by David Kirkwood

Power Encounters: Reclaiming Spiritual Warfare by David Powlison

The Bondage Breakers by Ignacio Rovirosa

Psalm 91:1-4

 

 

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Cult of Personality: The darkness under the evangelical limelight

The Cult of Personality – The darkness under the evangelical spotlight

I sell the things you need to be
I’m the smiling face on your TV
I’m the cult of personality
I exploit you, still you love me
I tell you one and one makes three

You gave me fortune
You gave me fame
You gave me power in your God’s name
I’m every person you need to be
I’m the cult of personality

These lyrics from the 1988 song “Cult of Personality” (by the band Living Color) aptly describe the many preachers and teachers found in Christian media, megachurches, bookstores, and at conferences. Wikipedia states: “A cult of personality arises when an individual uses mass media, propaganda, or other methods to create an idealized, heroic, and at times, worshipful image, often through unquestioning flattery and praise.” These prominent ‘Christian’ leaders deliver these false gospels and teachings, which flatter the ego and praise the flesh. They exploit the sheep, lie, (2 Peter 2:1-3) and tickle the carnal Christian’s ears with what the Christian desires to hear (2 Timothy 4:3), while they themselves are revered and put up with easily enough (2 Corinthians 11:4).

When we think of a cult, usually Jehovah’s Witnesses, the religion of Scientology, or someone like David Koresh comes to mind, as we’ve become accustomed to determining which group is a cult, based on society’s definition. However, cults and their leaders can be determined from a theological basis as well. While we can examine prominent leaders in the visible church from the societal viewpoint (which include devotion toward a particular figure, having beliefs regarded by others as strange or sinister or having a misplaced admiration for a particular person), I’ll use a theological viewpoint to show how some evangelicals in the limelight exhibit the traits of cult leaders. I’ll show how they teach so-called truths that deviate from the Christian faith.

Marks of a Cult–From a Theological Viewpoint

While society is concerned with whether a cult is physically dangerous, the theological viewpoint determines if a cult is spiritually dangerous, based on whether the original doctrines of biblical truth have been distorted. This is important because spiritual deception and heresies may have devastating eternal consequences.

The following points demonstrate how some evangelicals (personalities) in the limelight distort the original doctrines of biblical truth.

1. These Personalities Introduce Extra-Biblical Revelations or Teachings 

Teachings and practices not found in Scripture flourish due to some popular Christian leaders. These practices include: contemplative prayer, spiritual formation, lectio divina, prayer circles, deliverance ministries and false spiritual warfare teachings; mysticism, psychology,  positive thinking and humanism, word of faith teachings, modern-day prophecies, heaven and hell ‘tourism‘, the slain in the spirit phenomenon, to name but a few. Additionally, there are many women pastors who disobey God’s command that women should not teach men; sadly, many popular leaders support these women. Many high-profile teachers also support gay marriage through the lens of distorted scripture. Rachel Held Evans is an example of one who teaches men and who supports gay marriage:

Rachel Held Evans support of gay marriage

 

2. These Personalities Promote a Wrong View of God and/or Man

Many popular leaders have a wrong view of the members of the Trinity: T.D. Jakes is a Modalist, John Hagee denies Jesus claimed to be the Messiah, Brian Houston of Hillsong claims Muslims and Christians serve the same god (1:30 minute mark), while Benny Hinn, Paul Crouch and Kenneth Copeland proclaim we are gods.

The Word of Faith Movement is notorious for elevating man while mocking God’s sovereignty and providence, as recorded here:

 

3. These Personalities Minimize or Eliminate Sin

Absent from the limelight is the need for repentance and the wretchedness of sin. Joyce Meyer eliminates her sin altogether and says she is not a sinner.

Joel Osteen talks about his decision to not teach about sin.

4. These Personalities Teach a Different Gospel

Found amongst the teachings of these leaders are the false man-made gospels of Ecumenism, the Prosperity Gospel,  NAR/Dominionism, Chrislam, and the Social Gospel. New Age and Eastern Mysticism are present in most of these false gospels.

Yet another lie promoted by Joyce Meyer, Kenneth Copeland, Frederick K. Price, Kenneth Hagin, Charles Capps, and other Word of Faithers is that Jesus paid for our sins in hell.

Also tragic are the many teachers who wrongly state that speaking in tongues, healing, and/or sinless perfection are proof of salvation.

5. These Personalities Are ‘Guru Type’ Leaders 

These prominent Christians promise what the Bible does not promise–the seeking and fulfillment of carnal desires such as wealth, health, prosperity, and a comfortable life. Since Jesus did not teach that we are promised these things this side of heaven, it is clear that followers of these teachers are following the teachings of men and not those of God: ‘For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive’ (Romans 16:18).

These teachers toss the name of Jesus around as lip service in order to deceive the sheep and often blaspheme His precious name with heresies, so that these stars and starlets can be catapulted into fame and wealth. These prominent leaders have managed to acquire a large following rather successfully. Unfortunately, many in the church are blind as to how captive they are.

Biblically ignorant Steven Furtick, pastor of Elevation Church, perfectly demonstrates the strong hold over his followers:

 

Steven Furtick

Used with permission from Mary, who faithfully contends for the faith at Living4HisGlory

 

Steven Furtick is a visionary that his followers must unite under? Shockingly unbiblical.

Just as with traditional cults, followers of false teachers often passionately defend their leaders when these teachers are exposed as false teachers. Regrettably, the followers do not compare that what is being taught by their idols to Scripture, and they defend the teachings of these men and women, and not the Word of God. They demonstrate a willful ignorance and submission to these leaders.

Not surprisingly, most of these leaders are no better at receiving rebuke, and instead of prayerfully submitting to God’s wisdom and studiously studying God’s Word, they get angry and defensive. Again, Steven Furtick perfectly demonstrates this:

 

 

Furtick egotistically disagrees with God’s command to test all things (1 Thessalonians 5:21), to expose false teaching (Ephesians 5:11), and to show ourselves approved in rightly handling the word of truth (2 Timothy 2:15). This video surely demonstrates many of the personality traits of a typical cult leader. A typical cult leader:

  • has a grandiose idea of who he is
  • requires excessive admiration
  • is arrogant and haughty
  • is hypersensitive to how he is perceived by others
  • publicly devalues others as being incapable, inferior or unworthy
  • calls those who question him the  ‘enemy’
  • refers to non-members or non-followers of him as ‘the enemy’
  • treats others with contempt and arrogance

Warnings and Judgements

As shown, the teachers mentioned above are teaching heresies; they are surely not part of the faith that was once delivered–they are teaching different doctrines and are therefore cults.

Scripture is clear regarding the seriousness of false teachings and the judgement that will follow. If you think there is nothing wrong with these teachers because they teach some ‘good stuff’ or their teachings have ‘blessed you’, please take your eyes off them and read these warnings from God:

  • And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed (2 Peter 2.2).
  • But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed (Galatians 1:8).
  • As for a person who stirs up division, after warning him once and then twice, have nothing more to do with him, knowing that such a person is warped and sinful; he is self-condemned (Titus 3:11).
  • But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction (2 Peter 2:1).
  • Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons (1 Timothy 4:1).
  • Their condemnation from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep (2 Peter 2:1-3).

The warnings are clear, and yet many are ignoring them just as in Jeremiah’s day.

Don’t Believe the Lies!

If you are of the opinion that these teachers are Godly because they are successful, that is a lie. God’s definition of success is not popularity–think of the apostles and of others martyred for their faith, even to this day.

If you think examining doctrine is being divisive, that is a lie. Romans 16:17-18 is clear that it is those who teach unbiblical doctrines that are causing division.

If you think we are not supposed to judge, that is a misconception and lie. We are to judge righteously (John 7:24).

If you think questioning these people is unloving, that is a lie. Love is sharing the truth–the truth of the Gospel in the hope for God’s mercy and His granting of repentance.

If you think being doctrinally accurate is ‘stifling’ the Holy Spirit, that is a lie. The Holy Spirit teaches and convicts us through the Word of God. If we are ignorant to what Scripture says, that is ‘stifling’ the Holy Spirit.

Lastly, it is a lie and a deception to think that just because you love Jesus that you cannot be deceived. Matthew 24:24 teaches that false teachers will perform such signs and wonders that if possible they would deceive the elect. Therefore, these teachers are deceiving some in the visible church. If you think you might possibly be deceived by these teachers, you should examine yourself to see if you’re in the faith and if you’re truly saved (2 Corinthians 13:5).

Beloved, take nothing for granted. The time we have left is short; pray for wisdom and discernment and examine whom and what you believe. Stop following this cult of personalities and follow the Lord Jesus Christ, our rock and redeemer who deserves all the glory.

Soli Deo Gloria,

Pamela

ANNOUNCEMENT: CONGRATULATIONS Susie Glennan! YOU ARE THE WINNER OF THE JESUS UNMASKED GIVEAWAY! Please check your email inbox or spam folder 🙂

 

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A Note of Return and a Give Away!

Hello, friends! First, I’d like to thank you for all your prayers and encouragement. They have lifted me greatly. I have seen physical improvement, however, since this is an ongoing condition and I cannot depend on my hands and arms to work for extended periods of time, articles that would appear in Weekender will be posted on Guarding The Deposit’s facebook page on a daily basis as I come across them. The page is open to the public, so if you’re not on Facebook, you can still access it if you wish.

Enough about me and on to the giveaway which is about the greatest gift of all–Jesus Christ. Jesus Unmasked, written by the humorous Todd Friel, has given me a deeper appreciation of Jesus in the Old Testament. It would also be a great gift for those outside of the Church who struggle to understand who Jesus was and is.

You do not have to do anything to enter (it’s not a works-based giveaway, wink, wink), I will simply draw a name from the subscriber list and contact the winner by email (check your spam folder for pamelacouvrette@gmail.com).

Have a blessed weekend,
Pamela

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