Doctrines of demons

There are lies, dammed lies and doctrines of demons

Pearl of great Price – Part 2

Mark Twain once said, “there are lies, dammed lies, and then there are statistics”. Unfortunately for all us, Mr. Clemens was wrong. When it comes to manipulating truth there is something that is more dangerous than statistics. Doctrines of demons.

Last time, we talked about the pearl of great price. That is what Jesus compared finding the Kingdom of Heaven (Mat 13:46) to. The parable tells us that for the person that finds this pearl would willingly make any trade necessary to own the pearl. The pearl not only represent the Kingdom but also represents Truth. Like the pearl of great price the Truth today is nearly impossible to find. On the other hand, doctrines of demons are readily available anywhere you look.

Versions of the “truth”

One of the difficulties that we encounter today is that there seems to be multiple versions of the facts. Even as I write this there are people out there disagreeing on simple facts. This can range from the current debate on the origins of the Covid-19 virus to whether Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walked on the moon to the more tragic holocaust deniers. If you ask around you’ll find people that don’t tie the Chinese government to the covid outbreak in any way, don’t believe we landed on the Moon and have never heard of or don’t believe the “official” holocaust story.

Start with distortions

Now, you might think, “people are people and they come in all shades and shapes and sizes and opinions”. If that were the only thing at stake it wouldn’t matter to anyone. However, the truth is much more sinister. The different versions of the “truth” are necessary to the distortion of¬†the¬†Truth; having a binary conversation between up or down, left or right, right or wrong is much more effective for the purposes of distortion when there are many “shades of truth”.

Distortions the easiest ways to get rid of the truth. Simply take the actual truth and run countless different strains of it. With each version having a very miniscule variation in it, everyone will believe that their version is true to the original. However, once these ideas meet in the open “market place”, confusion is the only logical result. With so many versions available, not only will people question the truthfulness of other people’s versions but eventually question their own.

Add gradualism

Nowhere is this more apparent in society than the subject of sexuality. Just 50 years ago, terms like “deviant” were commonplace in sociology literature when discussing homosexual tendencies. It was an insult on the part of the sociologists as much as it was a way to describe the behavior: a deviation from the norm. It’s hard to imagine that it only took less than a generation to get to where we are right now.

Terms like “non-binary”, “fluidity”, and “seeking” are commonplace and it has reached epidemic levels in our schools. Unlike “deviant”, the new terms are neither meant to explain, describe nor inform. Quite the opposite. They are chosen by the demons in charge to create the greatest of gray areas, where the largest possible number of souls can commit themselves to a lost eternity. Such terminology makes it possible for 8 billion people on the planet to have different points of view on something that has been established by our nature for millennia.

Exhibit A

There is no better example of this than television. When HBO first came on the scene, it was mostly a place where you could find movies that had recently been in the theaters that had not yet made their way to “rabbit ear antenna” tv. The same television service is now filled with movies that could quite easily pass off as pornography. The fact that modern homes have multiple televisions where adults and children are not usually watching in the same room makes for the distribution of this material even more prolific among children than ever.

Not subtle enough

As we mentioned before, society didn’t arrive here over night. It was a slow, constant, intentional march in this direction. If you’ve ever read the Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis, you’ll know what I mean. You may hear people talk about a “swinging pendulum” and how it was worse when they were young. I don’t argue that the wild public orgies of the sexual revolution seem like a thing of the past. However, the spirit of that “godless freedom” remained in society even after the public orgies went back into the closet (for the most part).

When truth can be made distorted so easily and gradually enough to avoid detection, the points of view and perspectives multiply. Soon, the sheer plurality makes the search for truth no longer a sensible goal. In such a situation it is easier to seek consensus and compromise, preferably with a total absence of truth of any kind. As far as doctrines go, relativism is among the preferred by demons.

Relativism

With objective Truth defanged by 8 billion distortions of lesser value and the meaning of Truth buried by the gradual crossbreeding of the Truth, dilution of the Truth the result. But the goal can only be relativism. Since the Truth is so strongly diluted, it must mean that there is no truth. Better yet. It is all true.

Suddenly, everyone with an opinion is a Master of the Universe in the making. Over-confident and under-educated he is civil society’s worst nightmare. You cannot argue with this modern man. He knows it all: “God is dead… and we have killed him”, he’ll chant, thinking it came from some modern rock song.

This homo-modernus has finally met a god he can live with: himself. He is all-knowing. He is also petty, cruel, proud, and a scoffer of things about his paygrade. He’s given to fits of murderous rage, drug-induced psychotic episodes, and a freedom of libido without precedent. This modern man looks more like the ancient Greek gods every day.

Why are you telling me this?

Great question. Because that description can fit just as easily in the church as it does outside. We have let distortions, ever-so-minute, crawl into the Church. We have let these distortions fester and multiply and become a confusing Gordian knot. Since such things are better left untangled, we have decided to look the other way. After all, confronting some of these issues may affect church attendance and the all-important one as well: giving.

Gradually, left unchecked, these ideas and doctrines of demons, take on a life of their own. Well-intentioned churches and pastors and congregations conclude its better to compromise than to deal with the consequences. Don’t believe me? Have a conversation about politics with your pastor. See how long that friendship survives that encounter.

I need more

Still not convinced? Here’s proof. The State of California is home to the most and largest and biggest and wealthiest congregations in the country. Yet, their elected officials seem to take their policy directives¬†directly¬†from doctrines of demons. With abortions and late-term abortions and late-late-term abortions you would have to think that these super-mega-churches have no political clout whatsoever nor do any congregants vote. They had Reagan as governor with no mega churches but Newsom as governor¬†with the mega churches. You see the irony there?

Doctrines of demons?

Ok. So now you’re on board but still think that calling them doctrines of demons is a stretch. After all, we’re all still Christians. Good point. So let’s see what the Word has to say on the subject.

1Now the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will depart from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and the teachings of demons, 2through the hypocrisy of liars whose consciences are seared. 3They forbid marriage and demand abstinence from foods that God created to be received with gratitude by those who believe and know the truth. 4For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, 5since it is sanctified by the word of God and by prayer.

Yup. Doctrines of demons!

At this point it might be worthwhile to make a list of the doctrines of demons that Paul identifies for Timothy. Some are more plain to see than others. The low-lying fruit is probably “legalism”. Don’t touch that, can’t drink this, don’t sit there, say it like that. It reminds me of the scene in Devil’s Advocate: “touch but don’t taste; taste but don’t chew; chew but don’t swallow”. Legalism is at opioid-epidemic crisis levels in our churches. The same people saved by Grace live under the Law. They tithe as foreigners rather than enter the throne-room as sons. With so little understanding of what¬†actually took place on their behalf, they believe the New Testament but practice the Old. Perhaps it’s some kind of insurance policy that I don’t know about.

Forbidding Marriage

Where have I seen this before? Who forbids marriage? It’ll come to me. Not only do these peddlers of demonic doctrines adhere to legalistic practices that no longer apply to Christians, they even invent new ones. Furthermore, marriage is the first institution that God created. Its so important to Him, He set it up in the Garden. In the beginning. So what’s a demonic doctrine to do? Deny, deny, deny! Deny God and His institutions; deny God and the goodness of His Creation.

Fishy Fridays

Forbidding marriage and requiring abstinence from certain foods is only the most apparent of their fruits. If eunuch priests and not eating meat on Fridays were the Church’s greatest physical concerns, we would be in a much better place. No. Their deception goes much deeper than that. In his letter to Timothy, Paul described them as liars, hypocrites and having a seared conscience.

Jesus in fact has some very choice words for those who preach and practice such lies. Jesus calls the Devil the “father of lies”. He also calls those that practice deceit the children of the Devil (John 8:44). Lies are their native language, their nature. The Devil, his demons and those that practice his lifestyle can only teach deceptive doctrines. The Devil was a denier from the Beginning. These preachers of demonic doctrines have all the outside showings of godliness but deny its power.

And so many more

But beyond sex and food, what other doctrines are demonic? It comes down to this: anything that man does to add to the sufficiency of the work that Jesus Christ fully accomplished on the cross is a doctrine of demons. Whether it’s the need to speak in tongues to be saved, to only being allowed to worship on Saturdays, to praying for the salvation of the dead and so much more, demons are and have always been active in adding human work to the finished work of the Cross.

God: fickle,  petty, and weak

The “little foxes” are usually the ones that destroy the grape harvest (Songs of Sol. 2:15-17). When we think of doctrines of demons, we picture some openly unbiblical statement that “anyone” could plainly recognize. Unfortunately, demons have been working on this for a long time and their technique has been refined.¬† Things like “God will heal you in His own good time”. This distortion of the character of God points people back¬†to legalism where they are looking to check off items from a list of “to-do’s”. Healing that is dependent on you might as well be dependent on your pet. This doctrine teaches that Jesus’ death covered sins¬†only.¬†Your bodily healing is contingent on how well you jump through some hoops.

How many times were you told that if you don’t tithe “you are robbing God” (Malachi 3:8)? Imagine a human that is able to rob God. And yet, we are constantly told that we don’t receive because we don’t give. Somehow, God is keeping track of our finances and He will only give to us when we’ve reached our minimum required. Just like an earthly father, I guess.

God deniers

Further still, there are doctrines that deny the deity of Jesus altogether. There are sects that describe Him as “a son of God”; you know which ones those are. Then there are entire religions based on the belief that Jesus was only a prophet. Islam, by definition, is a doctrine of demons. It denies the virgin birth, the death on the Cross and the resurrection. And this doesn’t just apply to Islam. In fact, any person, group or religion ¬†who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh (2 John 1:7) is a liar. And since, as we said before, the Devil is the father of lies anyone who denies Jesus in the flesh is a child of the Devil.

Let my people think

I know it sounds harsh. We all have those friends out there. So, I would encourage you to take this as your notice. You have been served. Make sure you preach to your friends and family members that do not recognize or deny Jesus “come in the flesh”. No three-point sermon needed. A few words here and there and a life well-lived will do. But should the opportunity present itself, be ready to give the reason for your hope.

Debilitating Doubt

Where Doubt Hides

There’s a scene in the¬†Left Behind movie series where the pastor is standing on the pulpit looking out into an empty congregation; the Rapture occurred and, believe it or not,¬†he was…left behind! He goes through a monologue where He’s talking to God about “how could it be” that he would stand up there week after week and, of the whole congregation, the shepherd was the one who’s faith wasn’t genuine. As he’s reasoning with God, he comes to the understanding that, after all, “knowing and believing are two different things!”

Faith & Doubt

How many times have you found yourself in that very same situation: you read all the books, you can quote all the right verses and can argue with the greatest of Pharisees as well as the biblically uneducated; you’ve brought dozens to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ, you’re the head of a ministry, give regularly and with conviction and, when it’s all said and done, it all amounts to nothing more than¬†mere religion. Somehow, everything you know to be true about God feels like “head knowledge” and that’s all! Of all the people around you, you’re¬†the one with doubts and skepticism! How could it be? How did you get here?

[Tweet “you’ve led dozens to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ, you’re the head of a ministry, give regularly and with conviction and, when it’s all said and done, it all amounts to nothing more than mere religion.”]

Where Doubt Lives

Well, the simple answer is that we all get there from different directions: Peter and Thomas were there¬†with Jesus during His earthly ministry, and even they¬†doubted; what chances do we have of going through life free from the debilitating effects of doubt! It has been said that “If you’ve never doubted, then you never really believed in the first place”. If that isn’t just merely editorial, we must be in good company. Many of the great fathers of Apologetics began life as atheists, agnostics, deists, or came to Jesus from other belief systems. Men like C.S. Lewis, Ravi Zacharias, Lee Strobel, and Thomas Aquinas, to mention a few.

If you've never doubted, then you never really believed in the first place Click To Tweet

Forgiveness & Doubt

Unfortunately, being in good company doesn’t always make for a good party; surely Hell will be full of A-Listers but I doubt that any of them would choose to stay if given the choice to leave, no matter how many blue bloods are roasting with them. Knowing that Peter denied Jesus three times or that Thomas needed to put his finger in Jesus’ side before proclaiming “my Lord and my God”, does very little to shore up my standing during these moments of crisis.

Two thousand years later I have just as many questions as hairs on my head. If I can just go back in time a week or so before this thought pattern began; before I entertained any of these questions for longer than the 2 milliseconds that they are usually allowed to stick around for, I wouldn’t be in this predicament. Luckily¬† Thankfully,¬† 2,000 years ago, Jesus was thinking of messy, fickle humans like you and I and through us a lifeline. His reply to Thomas tells us what Jesus thinks of our faith; my faith and yours!

If I can just go back in time a week or so before this thought pattern began before I entertained any of these questions for longer than the 2 milliseconds that they are usually allowed to stick around for, I wouldn't be in this… Click To Tweet

Doubt’s Hindsight

How many of us say to ourselves: “if I had been in Peter’s or Thomas’ shoes, I wouldn’t have doubted as they did.” We think of ourselves as having more faith; or at least the sort of faith that would have believed under those¬†circumstances! We’ll never know if that is true or; if permitted, we’ll have that¬†answer as well on the other side of Eternity. Perhaps, it’s for the best that we were born when we were. After all, Jesus’ response to Thomas gives us lots of credit for fighting the good fight in our modern concrete jungles. in the very next verse, Jesus said,

Because you have seen Me, have you believed? Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed. - John 20:29 Click To Tweet

In God’s eyes, our faith is stronger! We were given a different set of facts, a different set of signs and wonders than what the apostles were given. Granted, some of us may have very well seen the dead rise, or cancers cured or limbs grow back but, for the most part, our faith is based on personal experiences with the Word and its Truth working in our lives. The Apostles and the Pharisees of Jesus’ time were there: the Apostles marveled in awe; the Pharisees pouted because He was healing on the Sabbath so it¬†must have been from Beelzebub.

In the end, no amount of evidence convinced the large majority of Jesus’ countrymen that He was the Christ. Jesus himself said in the parable of Lazarus and the rich man, “If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be persuaded even if someone rises from the dead.‚ÄĚ Stuart Chase, I believe, said it best when he commented that for those who believe, no proof is necessary, for those who¬†don’t¬†believe, no proof is possible”.

If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be persuaded even if someone rises from the dead. Click To Tweet

Today’s Doubters

As Christians, as humans, as thinkers, a bit of doubt and skepticism is par for the course. God invites us constantly and consistently to “reason together“; He is not afraid of your difficult questions and He’s certainly won’t be insulted that you have doubts. There’s no reason to keep your doubts to yourself and let them fester. Consider this: you’re keeping your doubts to yourself (not addressing them with God) because you don’t want to offend the same God that you doubt exists, or loves, or cares, or sees? If He’s real: He cares, He sees, He loves and is longing to address your needs; if He’s not real: the answers to your questions (along with the questions themselves) don’t matter.

[Tweet “Consider this: you’re keeping your doubts to yourself (not addressing them with God) because you don’t want to offend the same God that you doubt exists, or loves, or cares, or sees?”]

The future of Doubt: Faith

Dear friend, doubt is debilitating only if you let it. You’re not an atheist, believe me. You’re a thinker; you are who He created you to be.¬†The God we serve is not a figment of our imagination: He doesn’t stop existing when we stop thinking about Him or have doubts; we serve Him still, in the doubt, through the doubt, in spite of the doubt and, just as important, because of our doubts. The biggest victories in my Christian walk always came after such moments; when God stepped into history, again, for me, and showed me just how real He really is. The only figments of imagination are, truly, us! We exist only because of Him. He constantly thinking of us, sustaining us, supplying life, and holding Nature together so that we may exist in it.

The biggest victories in my Christian walk always came after such moments; when God stepped into history, again, for me, and showed me just how real He really is. Click To Tweet

The Anatomy of an Insult – Part 2

Sticks and Stones

In a recent post, we discussed how Nathaniel’s unthoughtfully sincere words were not enough to cause offense to Jesus. We also learned how something good can “come out of Nazareth”: whether it be in the natural realm, meaning Jesus Himself, or in the spiritual realm: the majority of the people that will read these words are “gentiles” by birth but Jews and Royal Priests by our adoptions as sons because of what came “out of Nazareth: the Nazarene and His disciples.

The last time you read the passage in John 1:43-51, what probably stuck out to you the most was Nathaniel’s “insult”. Nathaniel’s audacity to speak such a thing about Jesus is not a likely Sunday School lesson. But don’t forget, Nathaniel didn’t know then what he would know just a short time later. Although Nathaniel’s name doesn’t ever return to prominence in the New Testament accounts, his words would surely become the “faithful wounds of a good friend” in short order.¬†

Fruits worthy of repentance 

For too many people nowadays authentic Nathaniel-like sincerity is insulting. Unfortunately, all too often this is offense-taking sentiment is prevalent in the Church as much it is in the World. Thankfully Jesus shows us how to peer into the heart of the matter, overlook the “letter” of words and find hidden treasures in their “Spirit”. Jesus goes on to teach us the meaning behind “the faithful wounds of a friend”.¬†

When looking at the loving way Jesus answered Nathaniel’s sincere heart cry for the Truth, it couldn’t have been any more different than the total disdain He reserved for those who insisted they knew better but in fact these scholars and scribes and Pharisees but could not bear witness to anything resembling fruits worthy of repentance“.

One instance where the fruits worthy of such repentance were put on display immediately! In the account of Jesus’ resurrection (John 20:24-29) lies the well-known encounter of Jesus and the disciple Thomas. This passage is where we get the expression “Doubting Thomas”, which we use when people are distrusting of any news, no matter the source. Thomas demanded proof that Jesus had risen from the dead. Thomas told his fellow disciples that he would need to put his finger into His pierced side and perforated hands. An empty tomb is one thing; saying that the body in the tomb is not dead elsewhere is a whole different story.¬†

Doubtful by default

The Greatest Insult is Doubt

To be honest, in a secularized modern world such as our own, no one blames Thomas for being so… rational. It is reasonable to imagine that Thomas had seen many people crucified in Palestine. The Romans had made crucifying enemies of the State into an art form. Thomas simply couldn’t conceive how anyone could survive such punishment. I’m sure that many other disciples had even shared his pragmatism until they saw Him in the flesh again. Thomas however, was bold enough and honest enough with¬†himself to speak it out loud.¬†

As they assembled there together days later, Jesus walks through the wall and puts His hands up for closer inspection by Thomas. He shows Thomas His chest wound where the spear had punctured all the way through to His heart. Thomas falls to his knees and bears witness that Jesus is truly the Son of the Almighty God. 

So, what was it that offended Jesus? Was Jesus even offended at all? Were the “faithful wounds of a friend” that Solomon was referring to the insult and offense that comes from those who are the best positioned to do the most damage and yet handle their words with the dexterity of someone with no impulse control? If Jesus really was offended by Thomas’ words there is little evidence here. However, He does make an example of Thomas and his secularist, materialist mindset. After all, believing after having seen is easy. Jesus takes the opportunity to pronounce a blessing on the billions of Believers that would come to Him throughout the millennia: “Blessed are those who have not seen, and have believed” (John 20:29). After all believing¬†after¬†seeing that no faith at all.¬†

Friends and their faithful wounds

Jesus was surely not pleased. After raising the dead, walking on water, feeding the thousands, silencing a storm, and healing the sick, one of His most trusted friends doubted this final triumph over the forces and the Laws of nature. Thomas’s doubt was unbecoming of a man that had spent the better part of 40 months together with Jesus.

Unfortunately, Thomas’ doubt and double-mindedness were not exclusive traits to this one disciple. Judas’ internal conflict brought to the end of his rope, it brought Peter to deny Him to a little servant girl and caused the majority of others to run, scatter and hide. In fact, the Gospel accounts only place John the Beloved at the crucifixion of Jesus.

Unmitigated Tamarity

Thomas, like Nathaniel, spoke from his honest internal dialogue. Unlike the latter, Thomas had a purely worldly view of his surroundings. Thomas was perhaps the kind of man that struggled with his doubts even as he witnessed the miracles themselves. Thomas had room for miracles in his mind and as his relationship grew closer to Jesus he struggled less and less. But there was just something about Jesus raising Himself from the grave that was too much for him to handle.  

Pearl of Great Price

It is therefore our greatest fortune that the “faithful wounds of a friend” are the ones Jesus bears on His body to this day. Jesus overlooked, covered, atoned, and erased the insults of both Thomas and Nathaniel. The blood that oozed out of His hands and gushed out from between His ribs paid for not only the insults of those that accepted His forgiveness; it lies in wait to be discovered as payment in full for the countless millions around the world that have not yet come to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. They unwittingly spew insults on Jesus all day long and bearing in their own lives the cost. It is our sacred responsibility to introduce the world to this magnificent Forgiver of wrongs. For those of us who have found this great Pearl, we too often discard it in the busyness of life.¬†

Professional Profaners

In an upcoming post, we will discuss antiquity’s best orators of calumnies and Jesus’ favorite hypocrites. When it came to this group of people, Jesus held back no punches. He hit back hard in their war of words. His replies were pubic in the form of plain language as well as in the form of parables. I hope you’ll come back for part 3 when we discuss some of my favorite passages from the Gospels. Also, if you’ve missed out, be sure to read Part 1 of this 3-part series on the Anatomy of an Insult.¬†