by Mike Ratliff
“But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons.” (1 Timothy 4:1 NASB)
The “Emergence phenomenon” (or whatever they are calling it nowadays) is not Christian. Oh, many of these self-styled “emergents” insist that their “conversation” is the epitome of what Christianity is supposed to be, but the “movement” is undergoing even more drastic transformations, which now include its members celebrating Ramadan or having Buddhist monks instruct them on meditation techniques. This “phenomenon” is nothing more than deceived people who have been seduced by evil spirits to believe the doctrines of demons. We live in a time of deep spiritual deception. I have encountered this spirit of deception working through some people who attempted to cause me to stumble through their deceitful tactics. What we must never forget my brethren is that our enemy is a master salesman and he uses unwitting people to deliver his message to those who are serving the Lord Jesus in order to distract them in an attempt to nullify them in the truth war.
Carefully read the passage I placed at the top of this post, 1 Timothy 4:1. Here it is from the Greek New Testament.
1 Τὸ δὲ πνεῦμα ῥητῶς λέγει ὅτι ἐν ὑστέροις καιροῖς ἀποστήσονταί τινες τῆς πίστεως προσέχοντες πνεύμασιν πλάνοις καὶ διδασκαλίαις δαιμονίων, (1 Timothy 4:1 NA28)
The words “latter times” are the Greek words ὑστέροις (latter) and καιροῖς (times). These two words together are referring to a time or season in the future. This time period started at the first coming of Christ and runs until His return. This passage is referring to apostasy and the fact that it will exist throughout this period. However, using the context of the rest of the Bible we know that this apostasy will continue to increase, reaching a climax shortly before our Lord returns. The apostasy in this passage is seen where Paul wrote that some “shall depart” (ἀποστήσονταί) from the faith (πίστεως). The usage here of the word ἀποστήσονταί tells us that Paul is referring to deserters of the faith. This word describes those who once professed to belong to God, but now they “stand away from Him,” having never belonged to Him. These apostatize from God in an act of rebellion. Why do they do it? They “gave heed” (προσέχοντες) “to deceitful” (πλάνοις) “spirits” (πνεύμασιν). The word προσέχοντες (giving heed) is an interesting word. It figuratively represents one who “holds his mind towards” someone or something. It literally describes those who pay attention to someone or something. These apostates departed from the πίστεως in rebellion from God because they have been deceived by πνεύμασιν πλάνοις. They have listened to those who teach the doctrines (διδασκαλίαις) of devils (δαιμονίων) and the πνεύμασιν πλάνοις working through them have seduced them into believing lies.
Now my brethren the next time you listen to Brian McLaren or any of his friends or speak in their most persuasive voices in their attempt to show Christians that they too will find true fulfillment in throwing off the shackles of their faith to pursue what they profess to have found, know for certain that you are being lied to by a πνεύμασιν πλάνοις (deceitful or seducing spirit). What should we do? Did the Lord leave His children to walk through this minefield of apostasy with no instruction? No!
1 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. 2 By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God; 3 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. 4 You are from God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world. 5 They are from the world; therefore they speak as from the world, and the world listens to them. 6 We are from God; he who knows God listens to us; he who is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error. (1 John 4:1-6 NASB)
We must not (μη) believe (πιστευετε) every (παντι) spirit (πνευματι). We are to listen to and obey the Holy Spirit, but there are other spirits. These evil spirits or demonic spirits produce false prophets and false teachers who propagate the doctrines of demons, which to the Church are false doctrines. Christians must have a healthy skepticism regarding any teaching. The charges that we are not open-minded and are too judgmental come from those who are opening themselves up to deception by πνεύμασιν πλάνοις. We must understand that it is imperative that we believe in God’s truth rather than anything that pretends to be an “alternate truth.” There must be absolutely no room in our hearts for compromise here. The teachers and preachers who preach Jesus and Him crucified, that is, they preach the Gospel are of God. Those who preach around this and actually preach another Jesus are not from God, but are the mouthpieces of πνεύμασιν πλάνοις. In fact, those who do this are of the antichrist (αντιχριστου).
John closes this section with encouragement and we should as well. I find it very encouraging when he tells us that all truly in Christ have overcome these evils. He tells us that these truly in Christ are not of the world, but of God, and, therefore, know the Spirit of truth and the spirit of error. We know God’s truth and turn from the lies from the enemy. Those who fall into the ditch of apostasy were never of God to begin with. What we must do is stand firm and pray for discernment and wisdom that we may know who to listen to, who are of God, and who to reject, who are nothing more than mouthpieces of πνεύμασιν πλάνοις.