Contending for the faith | Making Disciples | Equipping the Saints for Ministry

   by Jeannette Haley

This is a tough subject to tackle, (because it is seemingly endless) but one that is necessary to address as we continue to hear of supernatural phenomena and “signs and wonders” occurring in both the world and the church. It is no secret that in the past few decades major changes have occurred within Protestant Christianity—changes that pose a genuine threat to the “faith which was once delivered unto the saints” Jude 3b.

We need to ask ourselves what those changes are and if they are truly of God. We need to discover their origins, motivations (spirit behind them) and their goals. And most of all, we need to receive a love for the truth so that God will not send a strong delusion that we should believe a lie. (2 Thessalonians 2:10-12)

Most fundamental, Bible believing Christians know that weeping statutes, stigmata, apparitions, haunted houses, appearances of “Mary”, automatic writing, channeling, witchcraft, psychic healing, incantations, hypnosis, magic and seances, to name but a few, are not of God. However, an increasing number of Christians are becoming caught up in a “Christianized” version of the occult.

Why are people attracted to the supernatural? I believe the answer to that is simple—being made in the image of God we are more than mere physical beings, we are also spiritual beings. Our very nature (fallen that it is) has a built-in curiosity and fascination with the supernatural. Fallen mankind also has an inclination toward religion (be it pagan or otherwise) in order to compensate for the loss of fellowship and communion with God. This may also include Christians, especially those who have never been properly discipled. All too often Christians are left to define Christianity on their own, which makes them prime targets for satanic delusions.

Sincere believers, who hunger and thirst for more of God and who have grown restless and dissatisfied with dead, dry, powerless churches are also at risk. Multitudes of Christians have crossed over denominational lines in recent years to join various charismatic groups in the hope of gaining new spiritual experiences and power.

The desire for spiritual power and supernatural experiences
is the common denominator between Christians and non-Christians alike.

Scripture makes it clear that in the last days there will be a great spiritual delusion and occult seduction prior to Christ’s return. Jesus warned of false prophets who would perform “great signs and wonders” so convincing that “if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect” Matthew 24:24. The apostle Paul also warned of a false “signs and wonders” movement in the last days (2 Timothy 3:8).

To quote author and cult expert, Dave Hunt, “Today a growing “signs and wonders” movement in the Christian church is literally exploding and is involving not only charismatics and Pentecostals but even evangelicals who only a few years ago were opposed to what they would have characterized at that time as fraud. Today, in spite of the warnings by both Jesus and Paul, there is scarcely any thought that today’s signs and wonders might be part of the very spiritual deception which the Bible foretells.

We are also seeing, as a part of the “signs and wonders” movement, a burgeoning “church growth” movement, a “prayer and fasting for revival” movement, and a “spiritual warfare” movement, all working toward the same goal. Few are those who dare to see any connection between these movements within the church and the false “signs and wonders” which the Bible prophesies for the last-days apostate church. Those who call themselves Christians are just as reluctant to admit the possibility of any satanic involvement in the “miracles” as the secular world is to admit the possibility of such involvement in the human potential and psychic powers it seeks to develop.

It is the author’s conviction, based upon more than 50 years of observation and research, that we are in the midst of an accelerating occult seduction of both the secular world and the church.” (From OCCULT INVASION, Pgs. 15, 16)

People who want to be “spiritual” must be aware that not all “spirituality” is of God. New Agers, witches, fortunetellers, mediums, astrologers, shamans, psychic healers and the like all claim to be “spiritual”. The question is which spirit are they operating under? Why are so many Christians easily seduced into occult practices within the church? 2 Timothy 4:3-4 gives us one answer to this question. It reads, “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.” (Emphasis mine.) Today radio and satellite television exposes millions to an endless parade of “teachers”.

Jesus said, “An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign” Matthew 12:39a. Do we not live in an “evil and adulterous generation” today? Matthew 16:1 records that the religious elite tempted Jesus to show them a “sign”. When Jesus was asked by His disciples what the sign of His coming would be, He answered, “Take heed that no man deceive you” Matthew 24:4. Truly, one of the greatest “signs” that we are indeed in the end times is how many are being deceived by false “Christs” (“anointed ones”); false “prophets” and false “apostles”—all of whom curse those who dare to question their heretical doctrines.

Whether we like to admit it or not, Christians
can be just as superstitious as non-Christians.

According to Webster, superstition means “a belief or practice resulting from ignorance, fear of the unknown, or trust in magic or chance; an irrational abject attitude of mind toward the supernatural, nature, or God resulting from superstitious beliefs or fears.”

While superstition among the unsaved can lead to ungodly beliefs and horrible practices, among Christians superstition is an open door for unscriptural attitudes, beliefs, practices (i.e. faith in faith, positive confession, “seed faith”) and idolatry. Superstition can replace discernment, which results in a blind acceptance of anything supernatural regardless of the source.

Jesus’ disciples exhibited superstition (ignorance) in the case of the man born blind. (John 9:2.) And when the disciples saw Jesus walking on the sea they “were troubled, saying, It is a spirit; and they cried out for fear” Matthew 14:26. In the Old Testament we read in Judges 8:17 that Gideon “made an ephod thereof, and put it in his city, even in Ophrah: and all Israel went thither a whoring after it: which thing became a snare unto Gideon, and to his house.”

In Leviticus 19:26 God told the people that they were not to “observe times”. This meant that they were not to practice magic or divine by the clouds or by flocks of birds that pass over. It refers to being superstitious regarding lucky and unlucky days, imagining omens in the skies, and other such practices by various means. Before we laugh at such superstitious practices let us remember that large numbers of people today who call themselves Christians are caught up in “seeing” angels in the clouds and other “supernatural omens”.

Another practice God strictly forbade is that of tatooing. Leviticus 19:28 says, “Ye shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor print any marks upon you: I am the LORD.” (Emphasis mine.) Tatooing was a practice of various pagan nations from the earliest times. They marked themselves with all kinds of paint and cuttings of the flesh. These were connected with superstition; any disfiguration of the body was an outrage to God and an insult to Him who originally designed the body.

We can read of other superstitious practices in Genesis 30:14-16; 35:4. In Judges 21:18b we read, “Cursed be he that giveth a wife to Benjamin.” Dakes notes, “It seems that in those days men were so superstitious they believed if one bound himself to a curse with a vow, as here, the curse would come upon the one who vowed if he broke the vow. When men make vows that are not right the proper thing to do is to repent to God for them, making restitution wherever possible and doing only what is right from then on. All sin is to be repented of and put away, including vows that cause one to sin (Mat. 12:31-32; 1 Jn. 1:9). (Dakes Annotated Reference Bible)

Superstitious Christians believe that if they vow to give tithes and offerings to God, then God is obligated to financially bless them. This is a triple tragedy because 1) almsgiving, not tithing, is taught by Jesus and the New Testament church, 2) those who teach tithing as God’s truth are usually always rich wolves in sheep’s clothing (heretics), and, 3) “blessing” in God’s economy has very little, if anything, to do with financial gain. In fact, Paul stated,“But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and raiment let us be therewith content. But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows” 1 Timothy 6:6-10.

When a person gives to get, they reveal their ignorance of scripture and God’s character. “Give to get” is the mainstay “sales pitch” on “Christian” television today. This lie originated in the mind-science religions and lures superstitious Christians into a false Gospel (faith in their faith). Money is given to the rich instead of to the poor, (which is sin to God). Authentic Christian ministries, missionaries and needy servants and saints are oppressed as a result. Eventually the misled giver may completely turn from God when the desired results fail to materialize. We have witnessed this tragedy many times.

Vows and covenants with God must be kept within scriptural boundaries to ensure that one is not falling prey to the “devil’s devices”. Ignorance and superstition is a deadly combination because any person operating under both is automatically open to believe and receive anything as truth that he or she perceives as “spiritual” or “supernatural”. Tragically, ignorant and superstitious Christians lack the necessary discernment to keep them from falling into the realm of darkness and delusion.

Superstitious Christians are wide open to occult
powers that they assume are from God.

The Bible warns of “…another Jesus” and “another spirit” and “another gospel…” 2 Corinthians 11:4. In the same chapter, verses 13-15, we are warned “For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.”

Acts 17:23 records Paul’s statement to the superstitious Athenians, “For as I passed by, and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with this inscription, TO THE UNKNOWN GOD”. While multitudes of Christians declare that they know whom they worship their attitudes, actions and fruit reveals otherwise. Jesus said that His sheep know His voice and will not follow another. Today we see multitudes of people who call themselves Christians heeding the voice of others. These people swallow without question everything and anything that appears “supernatural” such as gold dust, gold fillings, uncontrollable laughter, splitting pulpits, strange lights, so-called angelic visitations, outlandish “visions” of Jesus, people en masse being “slain by the Spirit”, false prophets and prophecies, etc.

People who claim to be Christian fall for and practice New Age Hinduism in such superstitious teachings as the following: “positive confession”; using Jesus’ name as a “mantra”; believing that we are “little gods” and employing visualization techniques (psychic prayer). To such the Apostle Paul wrote, “But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived. But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou has learned them. For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. Therefore watch,…” 2 Timothy 3:13-14; Acts 20:30-31a.