Departing from the faith
I Timothy 4:1 says “The Spirit speaks expressly that in the latter times some willdepart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of demons…”
The phrase ‘depart from the faith’ is key. Lest we misunderstand, departing from the faith does NOT mean rejecting Jesus, it means to depart from sound and balanced faith.
The Greek word here means to step away from. They are seduced to step away from sound and balanced faith but they love God. This stepping away from is done slowly in the way a seduction is gradual, and it takes many forms.
Most of us know someone who has departed from the faith – they love Jesus – but they’ve departed balanced faith to follow some teaching or teacher or pet doctrine that becomes their whole focus - heaven, end times, angels, money, extreme discipleship where they have to ask ‘an elder’ for permission on decisions, etc.
We’ve also seen highly visible leaders who have been unfaithful in their marriages, left their spouse or had their spouse leave them, had substance abuse issues and more, and after the briefest of time away if at all, are right back in the pulpit – in some cases the ministry doesn’t miss a beat while their marriage falls apart.
How demonic seduction works
Paul goes on to list a couple doctrines of demons that will arise in the last days, and one of them is celibacy. By looking at this doctrine we can see patterns of the ways demons work their strategy.
(Peter defined the last days in Acts 2:16-21 as starting with Pentecost and ending at Jesus’ return. For a more complete study of how celibacy became policy in the Roman Catholic church I’ll provide a link to Wikipedia at the end)
Early on celibacy began with Godly motives; some taking vows of chastity to emulate the life of Jesus and Paul, who in his case felt he could better concentrate on ministry if he was single (I Cor 7: 7, 32-33).
So by the mid 100′s & 200′s AD other leaders started lives of celibacy – no problem if they as individuals make a choice to not marry nor engage in sexual relations- it became the ‘in’ thing among some leaders.
But a church hierarchy strongly took control after Constantine legalized Christianity in the early 300′s AD. By 385AD Pope Siricius twisted scripture teaching that in Moses’ day Levitical priests lived in the temple away from their wives during their time of service, therefore God must want priests to abstain from sexual relations while they serve Him. So the next step was that if a minister was married he could not have sex with his wife because he was a priest in service to God, and then it moved to ruling a priest could not be married at all.
You can see the seduction begins with Godly motives but error in application; the lifting of one scripture or example, twisting it slightly, and elevating it to the point of ignoring other scriptures which could balance it out. For instance, Paul also said in I Corinthians 7 that if a person does marry they haven’t sinned, he advises spouses to only abstain from sexual relations for a season of fasting and prayer, and then come together again, and there were many husband/wife teams that worked with him. They also ignore the fact Peter was married and that qualifications for leadership included having a solid marriage and family life. (I Cor 7:2-5; Rom 16:3, 7; Mk 1:30; I Tim 3)
Whether it’s celibacy in the 3rd century or rationalizing the leaving of one’s wife to marry the secretary but continue in ministry with no accountability in the 21st century, it’s all a seduction away from sound and balanced faith by ignoring the whole of God’s counsel in favor of exalting one passage or ministry above God.
Demons that teach
Paul says some will “give heed to seducing spirits and teachings (doctrines) of demons.” Perhaps it’s strange to think that demons teach, but the fact is Satan counterfeits the things of God.
Here’s how the genuine works. God gives revelation to people by the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Truth. Then that person shares the revelation they have received, and it can be confirmed by scripture, others who know the Spirit of Truth and scripture, and/or is a pattern consistent with the Word as a whole.
Demons imitate that, giving revelation to people who are open to it, often with tantalizing experiences that aren’t consistent with the Word, with half truths and enough of what seems right so others can be seduced too, or they exalt ‘the ministry’ focusing on healings or impact to justify continuing on.
Then those people share that revelation in meetings and it becomes ‘a move of God’ to those people. Those experiences and revelations are not consistent with scripture nor can they be found chapter and verse - arrogance sets in and some ministers claim their revelation goes beyond the Word.
The fact is that a minister’s experiences may be genuine, and congregations may even experience manifestations that are real because in submission to the leader those spirits have freedom to manifest, but the roots are demonic for the purpose of spiritually seducing Christians, thus bringing a mix of the genuine and the demonic.
Demonic revelation often also disguises itself as rationalization of sin – that’s a big part of the seduction. The New Testament teaches in I Timothy 3 that strong moral character and strong marriage and family are requirements for leadership, yet some are seduced away to ignore that; their spouse leaving them or divorcing the wife to marry a secretary, or the wife leaving because the minister is abusive and won’t submit to counsel so is forced to leave – often these things barely slows ‘the ministry’ at all.
It’s no accident that Paul uses ‘seduction’ to describe a spiritual process of error, for sexual seduction is closely related. Thus if a minister has a past or current life involving sexual sin it’s a very small step for a demon to share a revelation that leads to rationalizing away God’s Word in a spiritual seduction.
Some look at dramatic healings and say he and it must be God, yet others will respond to the Spirit of Truth within and the Word and recognize it is not genuine. God made a donkey talk, so healings are a sign of the grace of God, not an endorsement of the donkey.
Let no one defraud you…insisting on self-abasement and worship of angels, taking his stand on visions he claims he has seen, vainly puffed up by his sensuous notions and inflated by his unspiritual thoughts and fleshly conceit.” (Col 2:18)
The phrase ‘vainly puffed up’ is a phrase in the Greek using ‘eike‘ which means ‘to no purpose’ and ’phusioo‘, which means ‘puffed up’. It describes a person puffed up for no reason – their depth of character, revelation, and experiences are false or demonic in origin – they have nothing to be proud of.
This word ‘puffed up’ is closely related to ‘pride’ as used in I Timothy 6:4-5 where Paul said some ministers are proud and ’think gain is godliness’, but they ‘know nothing’. The word ‘pride’ is ‘tuphoo‘ - it’s where we get ‘typhoon’ which is a Pacific Ocean hurricane (Atlantic Ocean hurricanes are called hurricanes).
It means ‘to puff up and wrap in smoke’, indicating the swirling of candle smoke after the flame is blown out. A person conceals themselves with a swirl of ministry or spectacular revelations or teachings
though inside they are puffed up in pride, and it is a demonic seduction in progress. Think of the spinning and swirling of a hurricane – they are seduced by spirits and demonic teaching and surround themselves with this swirl of revelation and spirituality – but it’s false. (And like a hurricane, leaves destruction in their wake)
Seduction is at work: Congregations, ministry partners, people who go to their meetings – all ignore the scripture that requires a strong family life and moral character in leaders so they can go see a miracle or feathers or gold dust or hear what some angel supposedly said. They look for the spectacular while ignoring the supernatural process of discipleship God is trying to do in their lives – which seems too hard, or maybe mundane and boring to be God after all.
The Word is clear; Leaders must have a strong moral character and solid marriage and family life, and that’s how they are measured, and from that the genuine revelations and experiences follow. When you hear teaching, see miracles, hear of experiences a minister claims, dig a bit to look at the person’s marital history and moral character. If they have an unfaithful past, are they fully restored and is their ministry balanced? If he/she measures up to I Timothy 3, then fine, but if not, don’t be deceived by a talking donkey.
Here is the link about the history of celibacy: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ Clerical_celibacy
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