Doctrines of Demons

The apostle Paul writes very little about Satan and even less about demons or evil spirits. This in spite of the fact that he was on the front lines planting churches in places that had never heard the Name of Jesus.

He makes only five references to the demonic; four of those in the context of food and drink offered to demons; the other is a future reference to the time when weak believers will “surrender their minds to subversive spirits and demon-inspired doctrines (1 Timothy 4:1) That time is now here!

The Message version: “The Spirit makes it clear that as time goes on, some are going to give up on the faith and chase after demonic illusions put forth by professional liars”. It is regretful that these ‘professional liars’ are actually ordained ministers and once were followers of the Lord Jesus Christ. First they are deluded and then they infect others with their demonic doctrines and elusions.

Well, I could name some Canadian and American Church leaders and ministers who are doing just this. Deceiving many and more every day. But really the problem is not with the ‘minister’ of the Gospel but with the followers. They are lacking discernment and so are unable to tell truth from error.

Discernment is not a gift from the Holy Spirit (that would be the discerning of spirits). Discernment comes simply by knowing your Bible. The Bible does not contain truth – it is the truth as God has had it recorded for us. It is an expression of the heart of Jesus who said He is the Way, THE TRUTH, and the Life. We come to know Jesus and the Truth needed to walk successfully as believers in the world by reading, studying, and inwardly ‘digesting’ the Word of God, your Bible. This is “bread’ for your spirit-man and you cannot live on “physical bread” alone but by every Word (spiritual bread) that continuously proceeds from the mouth of God.”

So, you can catch the counterfeit and the lies and demonic illusions by becoming so familiar with the Truth that when something that is false is taught – even by an anointed minister of the Gospel – your spirit will immediately respond by rejecting what is said.

It is time for individual believers to be responsible for their our spiritual health and to guard themselves against false teachers, false prophets and false Christs (Matthew 24:24)

Can Believers Have Demons?

Here’s the question: “Can believers have a demon?”

Here’s the answer: “Yes, but why would thy want one? They’re not pets.”

In the early church they believed that a believer could have a demon if they had carried it over to their new life after being born again. This is still true today. If you have an area of your life that you have not surrendered to the Lordship of Jesus there may be demonic interference keeping you from walking fully with the Lord. The early church’s solution: be discipled by a more mature believer to learn all the basics of the faith you now confess. Secondly, be baptized by immersion in water in obedience to the Lord’s command. A sign of seriousness about Jesus.

The second way a believer can be demonized is through willful disobedience or rebellion. An early Church Father (Chrysostom) said that the way you wrestle with the darkness and win is by becoming light. In answer to the question: “How do we wrestle against spiritual hosts of wickedness?” his answer was: “By becoming good.”

He went on to say: “For wickedness is contrary to good, and light drives away darkness. If we ourselves too be darkness, we shall inevitably be taken captive. How then shall we overcome? If, what they (the demons) are by nature, that we become by choice, we are surely to be vanquished.”

In other words, if you chose to walk in any form of darkness then be sure you will meet a demon or two as that is where they live. And, don’t complain as you choose to live there with them; simply enjoy their company or plan a quick move to a new neighbourhood.

Want to defeat the Devil in your life? Be discipled in the faith, obey the Word, , get baptized if you are not already, and deal with any darkness (evil or wrong doing) in your life. Chose to walk in the light because that is where Jesus lives!

That’s warfare!

Houston, we have a problem

June’s edition of Charisma Magazine has a “survey says” section. They list the results of a Barna Survey and then ask you to go on line and comment, giving your views.

The poll is on tithing. This will start a family feud. Only 11% of Pentecostal/charismatic Christians (born again, Spirit-filled believers) tithe.

Rubbing salt into the wound the survey further states that this can be compared to 24% of evangelicals (born again believers) who tithe.

Both statistics suck. Because both groups profess to believe the Bible is our authority and the standard upon which we base our lives. We are not talking main-line denominations, cults, sects, and wackos here. We are supposedly talking about solid believers – people who have had a conversion experience due to an encounter with the living God resulting in a personal relationship with Him.

So, we are on our faces praying for revival and wondering why revival has not come. We pray and fast to see our loved ones saved and wonder why new converts are not being added daily. We lay hands on the sick and wonder why, in the vast majority of cases, they are not healed.

Well, let me clue you in Church. Jesus said “If you love Me, you will obey Me” and He was certainly, by all of the gospel accounts, not removing tithing as the standard of giving. So, raise your hands during worship and tell the Lord how much you love Him and then don’t tithe during the offering equals HYPOCRITE! Can you feel my anger and disgust? We are in rebellion.

Well, let me clue you in Church. Jesus said to “seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness…” and we don’t put God and His Kingdom first in our finances. So, we are disobedient; which according to 1 Samuel is like the sin of witchcraft.

The Bible clearly states (Deuteronomy 14:23) “The purpose of tithing is to teach you always to fear the Lord your God” (NLT). So, a lot of believers are stupid because fearing the Lord is the beginning of wisdom and so they have no wisdom because they don’t tithe which shows they don’t fear. Follow the logic there and feel the feeling.

The same verse in the older Living Bible states: “The purpose of tithing is to teach you to always put God first in your life.” And Jesus said “Love the Lord your God will all your heart, soul, mind, and strength” and called it a commandment. This would be putting God first! And so, many believers are not obeying this commandment and do not have God in first place.

There is an old saying I learned when I first got saved 32 years ago. “If Jesus is not Lord of all, He is not Lord at all”. Lordship means we have submitted every aspect of our life to Him and He is Lord of every area of our being – including finances. If we are not submitted to Him in the financial realm we are not submitted and He is not Lord.

Tithing is more than paying the bills at the church and making sure the salary of the pastor is paid. It is part of our worship experience. It is a way to offer ourselves up once again to the Lord as we give of what we have earned and so present ourselves in a tangible form to the God who gave us health to work the job. Tithing is basic to the Christian faith – Class 101 stuff – and yet many have yet to learn to obey the Scriptures and live in right relationship with the Lord.

Houston, we have a BIG problm.

Established and Successful

When I was younger my parents were thrilled that I had decided to go to university and work for a commerce (Business Administration now) degree. Then, in their mind, I could become established and would be successful. I could have a house, a boat, a cottage, two cars, 2.3 children and live in Westmount (a wealthy and upper class subburb of Montreal where I grew up.

Then I felt the call of God to enter the ministry and they were anything but happy. They thought that I would be wasting my life and would never have the opportunity to be established and successful.

The Bible talks about being established and succeeding at “life”.

2 Chronicles 20:20 They rose early in the morning and went out to the wilderness of Tekoa; and when they went out, Jehoshaphat stood and said, “Listen to me, O Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem, put your trust in the LORD your God and you will be established. Put your trust in His prophets and succeed.”

This is a great story … Jehosphaphat the King is leading his troops, God’s people, into battle. The enemy is stronger and bigger in number than his army is. He prays and the Lord gives him a battle plan. God tells him to put the choir out front as they march into war and to have them praise God for the victory that they have yet to see. They are to believe His Word and praise Him in faith.

Jerhosphaphat understands that the people of God must believe what God has spoken. He knows that this believing is more than head knowledge – it includes acting upon the word God has spoken. If they do – and if we do – then things will work out and they will be established. Of course, we must not forget to turn our ears to the word of the prophet for with them – if we hear, heed, cooperate and obey – we will be successful.

If we listen to and obey the Word of the Lord – the Bible – we will be established. Paul talks about this in Ephesians were he tells his people that he is praying for them. His prayer is that they would be rooted and established in love. (Ephesians 3:17). In Colossians he also writes of being “rooted in Christ and established in faith” (Colossians 2:6-7). This is not a contradiction as “faith works by love” and so being established in love and established in faith works like a hand in a glove.

As believers we need to know the Word and let the Word so transform us (Romans 12:1-2) that we are rooted and grounded – established – in Him and know His will which is always expressed in and through His Word.

The word “succeed” in the Hebrew means ‘break through’. If we listen to the current “now” Word of the Lord – prophecy – then as we hear and obey we will break through the things that are hindering us in our walk with the Lord and our ministry for Him. Every believer needs to have breakthroughs on a regular basis as life ‘comes at us’. This is one of a number of ministries that today’s prophets fulfill in the Church.

Yesterday we were part of a joint service of three Churches here in the city in which I live. Three very different churches coming together to worship and receive the ministry of the Prophet (Dennis Cramer). Here we saw 40+ people receive life-changing prophetic words from the Lord. All of them were words that encouraged people to reach for their destiny in God. In some cases it was more than evident that the Word of the Lord through the prophet broke through long existing pain, woundedness, generational curses, and other hinderances to a healthy walk with the Lord.

We are to be established and successful. Firmly planted and rooted in God’s love, walking by faith in Him. This is the exciting life of every born again believer.

So, I may not live in Westmount and have a country home in the mountains north of Montreal – but I am certainly established and would consider that in my life I have seen and am enjoying success. Afterall, I am doing what the Lord called me to do 40 years ago.

Repent – be baptized – and so saved!

Does baptism really save? After Peter’s first sermon he responded to a question from those listening. The Question:”What shall we do?”

Peter’s answer: “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”

Repenting is fairly straight forward – although many false converts to the Christian faith think saying a sinner’s prayer was enough to get into Heaven when they die. The Bible states that withour repentance there is no salvation. Repentance – true biblical repentance – is the only way to enter the Kingdom of God and be assured of a place being reserved for you in heaven.

Repenting deals with a change of mind and purpose that turns an individual from sin to God.

1 Thessalonians 1:9 For they themselves report about us what kind of a reception we had with you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve a living and true God

Genuine repentance knows that the evil of sin must be forsaken and the person and work of Christ totally and singularly embraced. Peter called on his hearers to repent or they would not experience true conversion. Many today have not repented – and thus are not true converts and so are not in the faith or in the Kingdom. They may say they are born again but they are following a born again religion.

Peter then moves on to being baptized – immersed – in water. This was in line with what Jesus told the apostles to do. “Go into all the world, preach, make disciples, baptize them…” (Matthew 28:18-20). He was not suggesting that if you were not baptized that you were not saved. He is stating that a true convert will want to be baptized so that he or she can identify, through the waters of baptism, with Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection (Romans 6:3-4).

For new believers at this time in the Roman Empire this was a crucial but very costly identification.
For many it syill is today.

The scripture goes on to say: “for the forgiveness of your sins”. So, we need to be baptized to be forgiven? No! Absolutely not. Dr. John MacArthus states: “This might be better translated ‘because of the forgiveness of sins.’ The reality of forgiveness precedes the rite of baptism Acts 2:41).”

Genuine repentance with godly sorrow brings from God the forgiveness of sins (Ephesians 1:7) and then, because of this experience, they were to be baptized.

Baptism was to be the ever-present act of obedience – so it has often become synonymous with salvation. Thus to say that one was baptized for forgiveness was the same as saying one was saved.

Today many denominations believe that baptism and the Lord’s Supper are all that is required to be saved. The Anglican (Episcopalian) prayer book and catachism states “there are two sacraments necessary for salvation – holy baptism and the Lord’s Supper.” Not true. Absolutely not true!

We need to return to a biblical understanding of baptism and the wonderful meaning it holds for the true convert to the Christian faith.

Christian, have you been baptized since you received Jesus as your personal Lord and Saviour?

Test the spirits

Yesterday we looked at “testing ourselves” to see if we are in the faith. Today we move from 2 Corinthins 13 over to 1 John 4:1-3. These verses state:

THE SCRIPTURE:

Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God; and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God; this is the spirit of the antichrist, of which you have heard that it is coming, and now it is already in the world.

John has been talking about the Holy Spirit (1 John 3:24) and now informs his readers that other spirits exist – specifically demonic spirits. He then goes on to say that these spirits produce false prophets and false teachers so that their false doctrines can be spread to believers in the Church.

It seems that the believers in John’s time were too open-minded to anyone who had a new teaching or revelation. They were not like the Bereans that are commended in Acts 17:11-12 who tested everything that Paul taught them to the known scriptures.

John says to “test” the teachings and revelations. The Greek word “test” is a metallurgist’s term used for assaying metals to determine their purity and value. He is stating that Christians must test any teaching with a view to approving or disapproving it – rigorously comparing any teaching to the scriptures to see if they contain any substance and anything of any value.

One commentary states: “By juxtaposing “spirits” with “false prophets” John reminds his readers that behind human teachers who propagate false doctrine and error are demons inspired by Satan. Human false prophets and teachers are the physical expressions of demonic, spiritual sources.” (Dr. John MacArthur)

Strong words but very wise ones. We must judge a ministry and a minister by his or her teachings and not by their ability to work or release supernatural happenings such as healings and signs.

Jesus warns us that in these Last days false prophets and false Christs will perform miracles, signs and wonders – great and astonishing ones.

Matthew 24:24 “For false Christs and false prophets will arise and will show great signs and wonders, so as to mislead, if possible, even the elect.

And that is exactly what is happening today. Believers are too quick to flock to supposed ‘revivals’ and declare things to be “of God” when the teachings going forth are contrary to the doctrines of the Church as set forth in the scriptures.

Believers flock to prophetic conferences to hear the latest revelation some well-known author/minister has received – apparently never testing these revelations to scripture not judging them wrong when they don’t come to pass.

If the teachings and revelations are not in line with the Bible then the believer has the right to question the source of the miracles, signs and wonders.

APPLICATION:

As believers we must get to know our Bibles. Not a verse here and a verse there but the whole Bible from cover-to-cover. We must come to know the story of God’s interaction with humankind and His plans and purposes for the day we live in.

As believers we must “study to show ourselves approved”. More than reading a few verses in the morning – we are to take quality time – substantial lengths of time – to study God’s Word and come to understand it for ourselves.

As believers we need to learn how to interpret and apply the scriptures that we read and study.

As Believers we must test everything we hear in a teaching to the scriptures to see if it really is true.

As believers we must not think that all “attesting miracles” (marginal note re. “great signs and wonders”) are proof that the teaching and the teacher are from God.

As believers we must come to know the faith that we claim to believe and learn how to boldly defend it from those who teach another Jesus, another spirit, and another gospel (2 Corinthians 11:4).

It is time to “contend for the faith once delivered to the saints (jude 1:3)

For a more indepth look at this topic – see my blog “The Apostle/A Cloud of Witnesses” as well as my blog “Evangelism and soul-winning/The Revival in Flordia” as well as “/The Third Heaven”

Pass the Test

The Scripture:

Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you – unless indeed you fail the test? But I trust that you will realize that we ourselves do not fail the test. (2 Corinthians 13:5-6)

Paul has written this letter to the Christians in the Church at the city of Corinth. In the letter he has been defending his apostleship. It seems that some of the believers were questioning the genuineness of Paul’s apostleship. He was their spiritual father (1 Corinthians 4:15) having led them to the Lord and salvation through grace and faith (Ephesians 2:8-9); yet they were questioning whether his apostleship was valid – thinking that maybe, just maybe, he might be a false apostle.

His answer was that they needed to test their faith and stop testing his apostleship. He placed the emphasis back on them taking it off of himself. In the Greek – the grammer puts a great emphasis on the pronouns “yourselves” and “you”.

If their faith was genuine and real then that would be proof that his apostleship was valid and real. If their faith was not true to the Word of God then they would have to declare their faith in Jesus Christ false and thus his apostleship as false as well. In other words, they are the living proof of the genuineness or lack of genuineness of his apostleship.

So, his suggestion was that they stop questioning the validity of his call to be an apostle and simply question or test themselves and see if their faith was real and life-changing. If it was – then he is truly a real apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ.

His logic was like this: he is pointing out the incongruity of the Corinthians’ believing (as they did) that their faith was genuine and his apostleship false. Paul was their spiritual father; if his apostelship was counterfeit, so was their faith. The genuineness of their salvation was proof of the genuineness of his apostleship.

APPLICATION:
So how do you “test yourself” to see if you are really in the faith – a real Christian or not?

First you should examine your salvation experience.

If you came to faith in Christ because someone told you that God would give you a better life – that God had a wonderful plan for your life; then I would suggest that your faith is not biblical or real. You came to Christ for the wrong reason.

Did you come to faith in Christ by saying a sinner’s prayer? Someone led you in a sinner’s prayer saying “repeat after me”. Peter, in the first sermon of the Christian faith in Acts, chapter 2, did not say “repeat after me”. In answer to the question “what must we do to be saved?” he responded “repent”. So, if all you did was say a sinner’s prayer I would suggest that you too are not walking in genuine faith and thus are not a genuine convert.

We have:
Salvation by sincerity
It doesn’t matter what you believe as long as you are sincere
Salvation by service
As long as my good works outweigh the bad things I do
Salvation by subtraction
I don’t drink, smoke, cuss or chew or run around with those who do
Salvation by ritual
I am a believer because I have been baptized and take Holy Communion
Salvation by heritage
I was born into a Christian home and I have always been a Christian
Salvation by comparison
I am not near as bad as they are
Salvation by association
I know a minister and he visits me occasionally
Salvation by location
I live in the United States (Canada) and so am a Christian

One becomes a believer by coming to realize that they have broken God’s moral law – the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20) and that, as a result of this they are sinners in God’s eyes. Sin is defined as the breaking of the Moral Law. (1 John 3:4)

Then a person must recognize that this sin separates them from a loving and caring God – separates them now and forever (Isaiah 59:1-2)

Understanding that – they then need to repent (change the way they are thinking about all of this) and acknowledge that they have sinned against a holy God (Psalm 51).

This repentance should be accompanied with godly sorrow and not just worldly sorrow (sorry you got caught). (2 Corinthians 7:9-10)

Then accept the fact that the penalty for your sin is death (Romans 6:23) and that without the shedding of blood there will be no forgiveness (Hebrews 9:22)

The Bible states that Jesus paid the penalty for your sin by dying for you so that you would not have to die. And, that He shed His blood on the Cross of Calvary so that the Father could forgive you of your sins.

Acknowledging this as truth and asking Jesus to come into your life as Saviour is the start of your salvation. This is a definite choice you have to make. This should be followed by a commitment to His Lordship in your life as you “come under new ownership”.

Then, as a true convert – you begin to grow by reading your Bible every day along with praying. And, you should immediately become part of a Bible-believing Church in your area. Christians are always connected to a born again Church as we need others to help us to walk out the Christian faith in daily life.

So test yourself to see if you are “in the true faith” as Paul suggests.

James sets out some other issues to help us to test our faith as well – James 2:14-26

The start of a new one

This is just an announcement that I am starting a “Daily Bible Insights” blog which will start each day with a scripture passage followed by my commentary on the passage and an application from that passage and commentary geared to your daily life and walk with the Holy Spirit.

It is my hope that these daily blogs will be an encouragement to you as you deepen your love relationship with the Lord and as you “study to show yourself approved” as Paul told Timothy to do.

Of course, your interaction with my thoughts and comments is encouraged and I do read and respond to each blog comment. Your comments will be posted within 24 hours and are usually followed immediately by a comment or two from me personally.

I am working with my web guy to see if we can have people receive these daily blog entries automatically via email each day…