The Character of Seducing Spirits
1 Timothy 4
1. Now the Spirit speaketh expressly,
that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith,
giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils;
2. Speaking lies in hypocrisy;
having their conscience seared with a hot iron;
3. Forbidding to marry,
and commanding to abstain from meats,
which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving
of them which believe and know the truth.
This is an important passage to us who live today. For if this passage was meant to be speaking about any day, it was meant to speak about today. We are in the latter times. We are living just short of the return of the Lord Jesus Christ. I have been waking up every morning surprised for several years now. Jesus is coming, and He is coming soon.
Sometimes I think we should read our sermon passage with second Timothy chapter four. That passage describes the last days condition that will prevail in many of those churches which once held people who were true to Christ. People will not endure sound doctrine. They will be wanting to go their own way, being taught things that will appeal to their fleshly natures. They will get themselves teachers who themselves want to hear new things, and then these people will follow those false teachers into fables, turning away from the simple gospel of Christ. In the first Timothy passage, our text, we find that seducing spirits of Satan are intimately connected with what is going on.
One important point I want you to pick up on as we go into our text. It begins with the statement that the Holy Spirit of God is speaking expressly concerning this issue. This is a very interesting and important expression. We know that the Holy Spirit does not speak of His own volition, but speaks from the mind of the other Persons of the godhead (John 16). But here we have the Spirit of God with a special emphasis proclaiming the condition of seducing spirits among people who have had knowledge of the Gospel of Christ in these the latter days.
As I have studied this passage and compared it with the rest of the biblical teaching on the Person and work of the Holy Spirit, I have come to one very profound conclusion. That is, the work of seducing spirits in the latter times will be to interfere with, take the place of, and even pretend to be the precious Spirit of the Living God. I think the Holy Spirit would have a special interest in such a situation. Don't you?
Listen to me. People today are without discernment between what is the Spirit of God at work and what is a deceiving spirit that wants them to believe it is the Spirit of God. That is why you have such stuff as the Brownsville Revival taking place in Pensacola, the Toronto Blessing in
Canada, and those so-called Vineyard Churches on the West Coast. That is why you have such ungodly movements as the Willow Creek Association which is substituting the works of the flesh for the working of the Spirit to attract people to Jesus. I do not think that without the working of the Spirit of God drawing people to Jesus are you going to get people truly saved.
Seducing spirits have a purpose or business. The business of a seducing spirit is seduction. When people are being seduced, they are not thinking, even when they think they are. They are being carried away on a current swell of their own lusts.
Two things take place when seducing spirits begin to act. People depart from the faith, then they give heed to the seducing spirits and the doctrines of devils. I want you to notice that the departure from the faith takes place prior to the act of heeding to seducing spirits. Now we would think it would be just the opposite wouldn't we? In our thinking we would contemplate the seducing spirits drawing men and women away from that Gospel of Christ, but my Bible is teaching me that they get into trouble because they have already departed from the faith. Or to put it in Roman chapter eight terms, they have already quit walking after the Spirit of God and started walking after the flesh, then the seducing spirits find them fair game.
One of the problems with Christians today is that when we start talking about people walking after the flesh, they immediately start thinking about sex or wanting the things of the world like new cars and such. No, that is not all of what walking after the flesh can mean. You can walk after the flesh in religion too. I believe that many people have departed from the faith today because they are lazy. Yes, you heard me, I said lazy. They want the Spirit of God working and manifested in their lives, but they do not want to work to get into the position where God can demonstrate Himself with power. That takes the work of prayer, Bible study, faithfulness to worship, and the surrender and rejection of sin in their lives. It takes work and waiting on God. We live in a right now generation. People do not want to grow in the faith according to God's plan, so they depart from the faith looking for a new way of getting a religious high. They cannot justify what they get into by the Word of God so they try to justify it by experiences and feelings.
Another problem with people today is they are self-centered. Spoiled little babies who want their dose of god and they want him now. These are the kind of people who are not interested in an encounter with the Living God. They want their god to be a little god who will do what they want, not make requirements of them. The do not want the Spirit of God to get hold of them, they want to get hold of a so-called "holy ghost" and have him serve them. They get something all right.
People depart from the faith, yet they still sing songs, go to a church, make religious noises. Sometimes they seem on the surface a lot more kind and loving than those who are still on the right path. One of the ways you can spot a person who has departed from the faith is you see them putting feelings and experiences on a par with the written word of God. When it gets right down to it and they are forced to choose between the Word and their feelings, they will choose their feelings.
Another way you can spot a person who is not walking in the faith is you see a person who thinks of themselves as some special class of Christian. When they start looking about and thinking themselves superior, watch out. When people start thinking they are on some special plane, they are, but it is very likely not God's plane. It is amazing how much pride, pompous little people can muster. People who depart from the faith often evidence pride. They become wise in their own self deception and so proud of it. If they only knew how silly they look to people able to discern the difference between true and false holiness.
It is a sad thing to see people who once had such a testimony for the Lord fall into the pitfalls and snares of delusion, departing from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of demons. But it is the reality of our day. We should always be on guard against the deceptions that are abroad in the world today.
Seducing spirits always work according to one of three principles.
the principle of the world
the principle of the flesh
the principle of the devil
Now this is a subject we could park on for some length, and we could become all involved in everything that is in each of these three principles. That would take a lot of time and quite frankly you probably would not remember all that is embodied in them. For the sake of getting the point across, I am going to confine my remarks to one major example of what it is I am talking about. And surprisingly each of these examples I am going to give you, though a primary example, is a category of deception that is often overlooked when we consider the subject. No wonder seducing spirits are so successful.
Our first area in which seducing spirits work is after the principle of the world. The principle of the world does not only mean the things within the world, but it also means the ideas contained within the world. The logic of man, for instance, apart from the Spirit of God, is the logic of the world. Men begin to do what seems right in their own eyes. They lean unto their own understanding, instead of judging things by what the word of God says.
The logic of the world is the logic of the evolutionist. In as much as he did not wish to keep God in his heart, he decides to ignore all evidence to the contrary and delude himself into thinking that if you add millions of years into an impossible occurrence it then becomes possible, and life could come into existence and evolve into different species apart from God.
The logic of this world makes man want to get to heaven based on works instead of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. He reasons other ways to be saved and sanctified rather than the way of the Bible. In the logic of the world man wants to be good enough to be accepted of God instead of standing before the Lord clothed in the Lord Jesus Christ's righteousness alone
Man is always busy trying to do things his way. Frank Sinatra used to brag in song that he did things his way. His way does not matter to him today. They called him the "Chairman of the Board". What he was, was a mobster who sang worldly songs. Today he is not chairman of the board. Today he is wishing he had done things God's way and not by his own logic.
Seducing spirits like to make man in his logic think there are other ways of getting to heaven, in fact there might be many paths to getting to God instead of by the way of the old rugged cross. Seducing spirits tells man, "Think this thing through, don't you really believe that all these millions of people in the world who are questing after salvation have to have some truth?" And man in his perverted logic alienated from God answers, "Yes." Then the seducing spirit says, "Then shouldn't you preach tolerance?" And the man who has turned away from the truth of God's word answers, "Yes." The seducing spirit leans back and smiles. He has just produced one more ecumenical. I call those kind of people 'ecumaniacs'. They are people who love every body else's religion more than they love the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Next, we come to the second principle by which seducing spirits work, this is the principle of the flesh.
Usually when we think about the seduction of the flesh, we think about the lusts of the body, you know carnality, and people who are addicted to strong drink, drugs, and pornography. Stuff like that. We preachers have preached against the talk shows, soap operas, dirty movies and the such-like for years. We have quite correctly labeled those things under the heading of the lusts of the flesh. However, the principle of the flesh does not only mean sexual desire or other lusts contained in the flesh, it can also mean the emotions of the flesh.
People base their relationship with God and with others on how they feel. They often times operate with God on the basis of whether they feel saved or not. They pray on the basis of whether they feel in distress or not. They pick up their Bibles only after they have had the world around them crash down on their heads and being ignorant of the word of God they complain because the word does not immediately open to their solution. Then they have demon inspired anger against God because He (they say) did not solve their problem. People act in the devilish seduction of their emotions, with God, just like spoiled little kids do with a parent. "Gimme", "gimme", "Gimme". And they say "God you don't love me because you did not 'Gimme'."
Devilish seduction after the principle of the flesh is why we have skyrocketing divorce today. People base their marriages on how they feel rather than what they have committed to. People divorce because they don't feel they are in love anymore. They think love is an emotion. They have hearkened to the seduction of devils who have told them love is based on how you feel instead of who you are committed to. It is a good thing the Lord Jesus does not base His love for us on how He might feel about us isn't it? We ignore Him, break His commandments, violate His precepts, discard His Word, fail to reflect His love to others or even to Him. It is a good thing His love is commended love and not the kind of love the devils of hell would have us to think is real love, isn't it?
People in churches listen to the seduction of demons in their relationships with one another. They often remind me of children in the back seat of their parents car. "Momma, he looked at me that mean way again." "Daddy, she's too far over on my side of the car." "Tell them to stop that." Stop what? "That!" The only difference between some people in churches and kids in the back of a car is it looks worse on people who are supposed to be saved adults. They seem to have forgotten the Lord said we would be known by the love we have for one another.
Now we come to the third principle or type of the seduction of devils. The principle of seduction after the ways of the devil is based on what the devil's goals and purposes are. This might include witchcraft but it does not have to. People do not have to be intentionally serving the Devil or Satan to give heed to seducing spirits according to the principle of the devil. People fall into this trap when they depart from the true word of God and go after the so-called new versions of the Bible. The devil's first attack in this world was on the basis of God's word. Did God really say that? Man's first response was, in the person of Eve, to add to the word. She was already yielding to the seduction of the devil.
To me this is the most awful type of seduction but it is the one more and more people are falling into. People have taken to accepting anything some printer will print to get money as the word of God. Just like Eve in the Garden of Eden people are being convinced that God cannot keep His word. The seduction of devils tells you His word can be lost and some serpent is going to help you recover it. Jesus had problems with snakes in the grass in his day. He called them scribes, Pharisees, and hypocrites. Today we have our own problems with snakes. We call them translators, revisionists, and publishers! But the shameful thing is just like Eve we seem to think we can take two different things and have them both be the word of God.
One of the things that amazes me about this whole thing is how blind so-called religious leaders can be about this issue. It seems to me quite plain that many people, before they ever fall into seduction after the principle of the devil have already apparently succumbed to the seduction of devils after the logic of man's own mind before hand. Magicians do slight of hand tricks, but they cannot compare with the slight of mind trick that can say, "We believe that the Scripture is true and cannot be broken. We believe what the Scripture says about how the word of God will endure forever;" but, "We also believe what some men have said about the true text having to be lost and recovered." But then these filthy dreamers turn around and say we are different from the cults that claim the very same thing. Isn't the man who says some part of my Bible is not the real word of God just like the man in the cult who says he believes that the Bible is the word of God in so far as it is correctly translated? No wonder so many Baptist churches are filled with people who have never won a soul to Christ. They don't sound any different to a cult member than his own leaders do!
Doctrines of devils include false religious systems. Such ideas as you do not have to come by way of the cross to be saved is a doctrine of devils. The Devil acts like he actually believes that he can one day win this war and defeat God, but a lot of his lesser devils are not so similarly illusioned. Remember what some of them asked Jesus one day. "Do you come to torment us before the time?" They know that they are in a losing battle. Ever since Cavalry they have had no illusion that the way they cannot go, the way of the cross, is the one that leads home. That you can be saved by works is a doctrine of devils . That you can become a god and populate your own worlds as the Mormons teach is a doctrine of devils. You should become tolerant of other religions and allow them equality with your own is a doctrine of devils.
Oh yes, Satan's first doctrine was that he would exalt himself and replace the Lord God in Isaiah chapter 14 and he has been teaching that doctrine to people with great success for a very long time. As a matter of fact we are letting Satan teach that doctrine to our children right under out noses and with the dollars taken away from us by the tax collector to boot. Yes, he is teaching his first doctrine under the heading of humanism right in the public schools and we are letting him and his servants get away with it.
One nation under God indeed. We have become a nation of pagans and apostates. People are trading away their freedoms won in the persecution of both the church and the revolutionary war in the hopes that they can make it through the rest of their lives enjoying the pleasures of sin for a season.
You want to know why the church does not see much true revival taking place anymore? Just look at the condition of the people in the church. Why just a couple of weeks ago I heard of a youth worker in a Baptist church who was taking kids home to watch R rated movies. A few years ago I hear about a woman working with teenage girls who took her class to Hooters. When her pastor found out about it and called her out on it, she tried to get a movement started to get the pastor fired! Bold in their sin, these people who reject the true God to pursue the pleasures of sin!
Surely they cannot believe there is a soon coming day of judgment. Surely they cannot believe there is a day of accountability coming. They must not really believe there is a God who sees all and knows all. What kind of doctrine of devils must these people have to reject the Gospel and its call to holiness in living?
My friends there is a day of accounting coming. It is coming for the sinner. They will stand in a judgment that will determine how deep in the depths of hell they will suffer for all eternity. A judgment day is also coming for the believer. And many people who think of the judgment of the believer as a place to gather rewards and clap for others will discover themselves suffering loss. I wouldn't want to be the hell bound sinner. And, I would not wish to be the empty handed believer either. But most of all, I would or wish to be the apostate, who knew the Gospel of Christ and forsook it for the seductions of devils.
P. O. Box 752
Buchanan, Georgia 30113