But you belong to God, my dear children. You have already won a victory over those people, because the Spirit who lives in you is greater than the spirit who lives in the world. Those people belong to this world, so they speak from the world's viewpoint, and the world listens to them. But we belong to God, and those who know God listen to us. If they do not belong to God, they do not listen to us. That is how we know if someone has the Spirit of truth or the spirit of deception. -- 1John 4: 4-6 (NLT)
The Book of Romans says that I speak the truth in Christ and my conscience confirms it in the Holy Spirit -- I have great and unceasing anguish in my heart. The devil has always been good at blurring the lines. Fifty years ago he devised a plan to remove God from the public schools and the world went along with it. Forty years ago he convinced women that they should aspire to the same role as men, thumbing his nose at the design of God. Thirty years ago he convinced the world that taking your clothes off to have sex was genetic and beyond our control. Twenty years ago he separated kids from their parents through violent video games and a loosening of moral standards when it came to what we watch and listen to. Ten years ago he made witchcraft cool and sorcery hip. Then we get to today and wonder how we got here.
We got here because the church has been impotent regarding the things of God. We have rendered ourselves powerless for the advancement of the Kingdom of God. While the devil was implementing his strategy the church was allowing a little leaven here and a little leaven there. The 1980s saw an explosion in television evangelists who were selling God to the highest bidder. And the devil laughed. The 1990's saw one of the most heretical movements to ever infiltrate the Pentecostal church in the holy laughter movement. Spasmodic gyrations, uncontrollable laughter, and mimicking animal noises were the core of this alleged move of the Holy Spirit. Instead of being dismissed outright for the apostasy it was, it was embraced instead as the devil laughed. That should have been the wake up call to the church that something was egregiously wrong with our discernment.
Yet instead of waking us up, discernment slipped into a coma as we turned to the new century. Prosperity doctrine was rejuvenated with preachers routinely fleecing the flock and flying around in lear jets. False revivals such as Lakeland Florida erupted where 15,000 people per night would pack a tent to watch a former biker kick people in the face in the name of Jesus. Wannabe prophets reduced the gift of prophecy into little more than clairvoyance. Some even proclaimed that Jesus was putting the Apostles back together. And the church stood by and lapped it up because a little leaven ruins the entire batch:
You were running the race so well. Who has held you back from following the truth? It certainly isn't God, for he is the one who called you to freedom. This false teaching is like a little yeast that spreads through the whole batch of dough! - Galatians 5: 7-9 (NLT)
There is no such thing as an acceptable level of false teaching in the church. There is no such thing as an acceptable level of compromise. Because a little leaven ruins the entire batch. Heresy does not start as something so egregiously obvious. It comes knocking subtly upon our church doors. Disguised as well-intended and fine sounding arguments:
And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to follow him. Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness. Don't let anyone capture you with empty philosophies and high-sounding nonsense that come from human thinking and from the spiritual powers of this world, rather than from Christ. For in Christ lives all the fullness of God in a human body. So you also are complete through your union with Christ, who is the head over every ruler and authority. -- Colossians 2: 6-10 (NLT)
Do we just read Scripture now as an academic exercise? Something to prick our intellect and tickle our ears? Or do we really try anymore to understand what God is trying to say to us when He speaks to us through His Word? These Colossians verses teach us that just because we have made a decision for Christ, the work is not over yet. We have to make sure that we are then rooted in Christ and that our lives are built upon Him. I do not mean the usual lip service we give it at church, but really built upon Him, so that when the evil spirits come, we can easily discern that they are not from God. There is so much high sounding nonsense in the church today. So much empty philosophy that is not rooted in Christ but is instead grounded firmly in this world. Does it make sense on a fleshly level? Absolutely. But on the spiritual level it is suicide.
We see one secular idea after another infecting the church. It will be wrapped up in the name of Jesus but it is high sounding nonsense at the core. It will use things like helping kids as it rationale for example because who would say no to helping kids? I would if the help is coming from the world and is devoid of Christ. Helping people, young or old, with the solutions of this world is not helping them at all. The world will seek to validate our feelings while God will seek to validate our faith. Don't we see this beloved? Of what fellowship can light have with darkness??? NONE! Come out from among them!
The key verses today speak a prophetic Word over the church today. it is a Word that reminds us of who we are supposed to be in Christ. But we need to revive discernment if we are ever going to see the church walk and operate in the power God intends for it. The key verses starts with the obvious but I think we need to be reminded -- we belong to God! We do not belong to the latest church growth fad or popular conference. We belong to God. We do not belong to the secular forces that wish to make the church as powerless as the world is at stopping the onslaught of the enemy in these the last days. We do not belong to worldly solutions to any problem! We should not be seeking out the advice of the world! My dear Lord, are we serious?
The second truth that we need to wrap our heads around is one of the greatest promises in the entire Bible -- greater is the spirit that lives in us than the spirits that infect the world. I know that we do not preach or teach on it enough but the battle we are in is not carnal. It is spiritual. It is fought on the spiritual level. If you try and fight a spiritual battle on a carnal plane it is like bringing a knife to a gun fight as Sean Connery once said. You want to know why so many Christians cannot get any victory over the things in their life? It is because they are trying to resolve a spiritual problem with a carnal solution. Same thing in the church. We have allowed our churches to become infected with spirits that are not of God. Jezebel spirits that control information and seek to bring in more and more secular answers into the church. Python spirits that attack the leadership or anyone who is right spiritually to then spiritually choke out those who remain. But the Spirit of the living God is stronger than these spirits. We have to stand in the authority that God gives to us and become watchmen on the walls of our church. This is not a game we are playing. The eternal destination of the souls of men are at stake. Here is the core of spiritual warfare:
We are human, but we don't wage war as humans do. We use God's mighty weapons, not worldly weapons, to knock down the strongholds of human reasoning and to destroy false arguments. We destroy every proud obstacle that keeps people from knowing God. We capture their rebellious thoughts and teach them to obey Christ. And after you have become fully obedient, we will punish everyone who remains disobedient. Look at the obvious facts. Those who say they belong to Christ must recognize that we belong to Christ as much as they do. I may seem to be boasting too much about the authority given to us by the Lord. But our authority builds you up; it doesn't tear you down. So I will not be ashamed of using my authority. -- 2Corinthians 10: 3-8 (NLT)
Beloved -- look at the obvious facts! Systems, programs, theories, outreaches, events, or anything that is secular based and brings no glory to God is a proud obstacle that keeps people from knowing God. It does not matter what your intention is! These things are defended with the best human reasoning but in the end the arguments are false. We should not be ashamed of the authority given to us by the Spirit of God that lives inside us.
The key verses then explain the crux of what we are dealing with. The world likes to sell the notion of shades of grey. That nothing is black or white. That is because the truth gets lost amidst the grey. We can feel better about our sin amidst the grey. But that is not what we believe beloved. There is right and there is wrong. There is black and there is white. There are no shades of grey. You are either furthering the Kingdom of God or by default -- you are furthering the kingdom of this world and the enemy. Look at the sharp contrast drawn here. There is the spirit of truth and the spirit of deception. The spirit of deception is any spirit that is not the Holy Spirit. This is the crux of discernment.
Dear friends, do not believe everyone who claims to speak by the Spirit. You must test them to see if the spirit they have comes from God. For there are many false prophets in the world. -- 1John 4: 1 (NLT)
But we do not do this very well anymore if at all. We have abdicated our responsibility to test everything to determine if what we are seeing and hearing is from God. We have gone from trusting God to trusting church. From worshipping God to worshipping church. In this new model the church can do no wrong -- not God. I said this recently but it bears repeating -- do you honestly think that the Apostle Paul wanted to be relevant to the cultures he was coming into contact with on his missionary journeys? The cultures of excessive sex and idolatry? The cultures of sorcery and witchcraft? Why in the world would he want to be relevant to the very culture he was trying to save people out of? Yet that is where we find the church today. Trying desperately to build a building instead of advancing the kingdom. Trying desperately to fit in with the culture of the world. Dear God why? This culture is completely opposed to anything that is of God. We should not be trying to fit in but rather to draw people out.