“Contending for the Faith” Study 3

Deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons

The Apostle Paul wrote; “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, by means of the hypocrisy of liars seared in their own conscience as with a branding iron, men who forbid marriage and advocate abstaining from foods which God has created to be gratefully shared in by those who believe and know the truth.” (1 Timothy 4:1-3) Here we are told that in the last days before the Lord Jesus comes back that there would be those who would fall away from the faith because they had embraced deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons. Today in the sacramental Church system of Roman Catholicism we see enforced celibacy. Paul tells us that enforced celibacy is a doctrine of demons that results in immorality, paedophilia and sodomy and in unnatural sexual relations.

Seared consciences

These false teachers that had crept in secretly were of the same mindset, men whose conscience was seared as with a hot iron and who had no scruples at all about practicing and perpetrating spiritual deception amongst the assemblies. As we will later discover they were sensual and fleshly minded so called ‘leaders’ who undoubtedly were past masters at subterfuge and spiritual seduction. Paul called them “imposters” but literally the word is “enchanters” and he mentioned these men in the context of the last Days in his second letter to Timothy. These false teachers today are very skilful in mesmerising their intended prey, namely immature, naive and undiscerning Christians, to the point where their prey may be so hyped up that they will swallow whatever these men say. Many today are found in the Mega-Churches and the Word of Faith Prosperity Churches. Television and the Internet are rife with these false teachers and so called prophets of power and greed. Just watch TBN and you will see this clearly!

Strange flesh

Jude has been describing these false teachers and has shown them to be in the character of the fallen angels who had sexual relations with women in pursuing sensuality, and related to them as being the same as those in Sodom and Gomorrah who practiced Sodomy as a way of life and went after “strange flesh.” He also said that these false teachers were rebellious like those in the desert who fell because of unbelief and immorality and disobedience. History has a way of repeating itself as these sorts of people have always been around but in these last days have multiplied like rabbits and infested the Body of Messiah. What else does Jude tell us about these enchanters and practitioners of the occult? We will now look at the text…

(Vs.8-11) “Yet in the same way these men, also by dreaming, defile the flesh, and reject authority, and revile angelic majesties. But Michael the archangel, when he disputed with the devil and argued about the body of Moses, did not dare pronounce against him a railing judgment, but said, “The Lord rebuke you!” But these men revile the things which they do not understand; and the things which they know by instinct, like unreasoning animals, by these things they are destroyed. Woe to them! For they have gone the way of Cain, and for pay they have rushed headlong into the error of Balaam, and perished in the rebellion of Korah.”

Exposition 

(Vs.8) “Yet in the same way these men, also by dreaming, defile the flesh, and reject authority, and revile angelic majesties.”

The first thing we see is that Jude calls these men “dreamers” or those who prophesy out of the imaginations of their sinful and corrupted minds. Jeremiah the prophet also spoke about these kinds of false prophets when he wrote down what God said about these kinds of men; “I have heard what the prophets have said who prophesy falsely in My name, saying, ‘I had a dream, I had a dream!’ (Sounds familiar?) How long? Is there anything in the hearts of the prophets who prophesy falsehood, even these prophets of the deception of their own heart, who intend to make My people forget My name by their dreams which they relate to one another, just as their fathers forgot My name because of Baal? The prophet who has a dream may relate his dream, but let him who has My word speak My word in truth. What does straw have in common with grain?” declares the Lord. “Is not My word like fire?” declares the Lord, “and like a hammer which shatters a rock? Therefore behold, I am against the prophets,” declares the Lord, “who steal My words from each other (sounds familiar?). Behold, I am against the prophets,” declares the Lord, “who use their tongues and declare, ‘The Lord declares.’ Behold, I am against those who have prophesied false dreams,” declares the Lord, “and related them and led My people astray by their falsehoods and reckless boasting; yet I did not send them or command them, nor do they furnish this people the slightest benefit,” declares the Lord” (Jeremiah 23:25-32). Visions and dreams have their place but they are not how the local assembly is to be led by the Holy Spirit. God Himself said though Jeremiah that relying upon dreams and visions was like straw that has no nutritional value at all but that God’s Word was like nutritious grain and like a hammer that smashes a rock to pieces. As CH Spurgeon wrote; “God’s Word is the anvil upon which the hammers of men’s opinions are smashed!”

Just look at these ‘dreamers’ today infesting the Church with their visions of blessing and prosperity and kingdom dominion. They are just like the prophets in the time of Jeremiah who were leading God’s people astray while the enemy was closing in for the kill. Then it was the Babylonians who were the enemy but today it is the Islamic empire. Furthermore, these false prophets today steal from one another in trying to outdo one another with their so called prophetic utterances and dreams. Once again

Paul writing to Timothy said; “Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and encourage with every form of patient instruction. For the time will come when men will not tolerate sound doctrine, but with itching ears they will gather around themselves teachers to suit their own desires. So they will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.” (2 Timothy 4:2-4) A prophet may have a dream and in certain cases it will be valid but the safer option is the prophet who has the Word of God filling his mind and his heart and his mouth. He is the one who treads out the nutritious grain that can spiritually feed God’s people. These are far and few between these days. No genuine believer can live on dreams and visions and personal prophecies of one sort or another anymore than a person can live on lollies and sweets.

The second thing we see is that these dreamers “defile the flesh” through their false visions and dreams. They not only deceive others but also deceive themselves. Paul, speaking about these false teachers and practitioners of the occult, wrote; “evil men and imposters (enchanters) go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.” (2 Timothy 3:13)  These false teachers end up believing their own publicity and also bringing swift judgement upon themselves and an ever increasing spiritual darkness leading to sensuality of all kinds. It is like starting to pollute a river and it isn’t long before the life of that river becomes contaminated and starts to die off. In the end nothing can drink from that river.

These who bring destructive heresies, mixing truth and error, by their shameful behaviour deny the Lord Jesus, bringing swift destruction upon themselves, and take many with them on the downward path to hell. They bring the way of life into disrepute and in their greed they exploit the undiscerning and naive Christians with itching ears, with stories that they have made up. Their condemnation has long been hanging over them, and their destruction has not been sleeping (2 Peter 2:1-3). In the time of Jeremiah when the Babylonians breached the walls of Jerusalem the false prophets were nowhere to be seen, they were either dead or hiding somewhere in a cupboard. So it will be in the end with all false prophets and teachers when Islam hits the western Church hard.

The third thing we are told is that “they reject authority” that is they are not accountable to anyone for what they are teaching. They are “a one-man show” doing whatever they feel inclined to do and cursing others who oppose them. They not only reject other Godly leaders but in their life and so called ministry reject the authority of the Lord Jesus Christ Himself. Some of them today call themselves “little Christs” or “little gods.” When Godly leaders try to restrain these men they in turn damn those men to hell and rail all kinds of curses upon them. They are Satan’s spawn and like their father are proud rebels against God.

Then the fourth thing we are told is that they “revile angelic majesties.” To revile or to slander is to propagate malicious lies, defamation of character where they maliciously utter a false report. These men are so arrogant that they have no qualms about slandering the Angels in heaven. The word “angelic majesties” or “celestial beings” are those who are worthy of praise, honour, glory and of an appearance commanding respect. They are creatures of magnificence, excellence, and a manifestation of the Glory in the character of the Triune God. No wonder Satan uses his servants to slander these angels in heaven because they are involved with the believers lives here on earth in all sorts of ways. As it is written of these angels; “Are they not all ministering spirits sent out to serve for the sake of those who are to inherit salvation?” (Hebrews 1:14)  In the last days just before the Lord Jesus comes back angels will be more involved than ever ministering to those whom God has chosen on the basis of His foreknowledge. But let’s continue…

(Vs.9) “But Michael the archangel, when he disputed with the devil and argued about the body of Moses, did not dare pronounce against him a railing judgment, but said, “The Lord rebuke you!”

Not even Michael the Archangel whose name means; “He who is like unto God” did not dare pronounce a railing judgement on Satan but said; “The Lord rebuke you!”  This is a good example of how to deal with Satan when he attacks us. We can say to him; “The LORD rebuke you in the name of Jesus!” This enables us to keep focused on the fact that it is only the Lord Jesus who can drive Satan out of our affairs. When confronting Satan Michael did not presume to have authority over Satan but knew who did have that authority and used it effectively and we can do the same when confronted by Satan. In the days to come the arena of conflict will not just be in the area of doctrine but also one of spiritual power as the occult expands across the globe and in the professing Christian Church. As a believer we have the authority from the Lord Jesus to “tread on snakes and scorpions (demons)” but only in the name and the strength of the Lord Jesus. With man this is impossible but with god all things are possible.

(Vs.10-11) “But these men revile the things which they do not understand; and the things which they know by instinct, like unreasoning animals, by these things they are destroyed. Woe to them! For they have gone the way of Cain, and for pay they have rushed headlong into the error of Balaam, and perished in the rebellion of Korah.”

False prophets and teachers and heretical Church leaders will belittle and criticise those things they do not understand especially if they feel threatened in some way or feel as if their authority is being undermined. Anything outside of their experience they discard as worthless and irrelevant and dismiss out of hand those who oppose them. There is no spiritual life or discernment in them. As it is written; “But the natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised.” (1 Corinthians 2:14) There are no shortage of these kinds of heretical men and women who in some cases are calling down curses on all those who oppose them or are critical of what they are saying and claiming to be doing in the name of Jesus. Indeed did not our Lord Jesus Christ say; “Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they? So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. So then, you will know them by their fruits. “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.’ (Matthew 7:15-23)

The Lord Jesus did not deny that they did miracles in His name but that even though they did them they did not know Him. When you consider Judas Iscariot, he along with the other eleven, preached, healed the sick and saw people delivered from demons in the name of Jesus but look where he ended up! These false prophets and teachers followed their basic fleshly instincts, lusts and desires which ultimately would destroy them in hell where they would be in unending and conscious torment. Their destruction is not annihilation! They will be conscious in hell! Now Jude mentions three men in the Old Testament whose character reflected these false prophets and teachers infesting the assemblies.

Firstly he mentioned Cain. He was the world’s first murderer who killed his brother in cold blood. It was not a crime of passion because God warned him to resist the temptation but Cain, after coldly calculating how he would go about killing his brother, deliberately and wilfully murdered his brother. Murder is not always a physical act. John wrote; “We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love our brothers. The one who does not love remains in death. Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that eternal life does not reside in a murderer.” To hate someone is as good as murdering them. Cain and Abel were brothers and both knew God. Cain was one who tried to get right with God by offering up the fruit from the ground he had tilled but the ground was cursed after the fall. In other words he tried to be justified by works and was rejected. Abel on the other hand knew he was a sinner and that he could only approach God through the sacrifice of another innocent animal offered up to God on his behalf and chose one of his firstborn lambs and his sacrifice was accepted. Just as Cain persecuted Abel so religious hypocrites who ingratiate themselves into the assemblies persecute those who stand for the truth and oppose their heretical doctrines. When a false teacher cannot refute a true teacher’s doctrine then they attack the man for saying it. They seek to assassinate their character. These men Jude mentions were of this character.

Secondly Jude mentioned Balaam. He was a so called ‘prophet’ of sorts that had a reputation for telling the future and he most probably had a certain amount of knowledge due to the fact that in reality he was a practitioner of the occult. He was a prototype of the greedy money preachers we see today on television and on the internet. He was not Jewish. He was bribed by Balak the King of Moab to curse Israel. However, God intervened and spoke to this man through his donkey when the Angel of the LORD was about to kill Balaam. He ended up blessing and not cursing Israel because he was so scared to do anything else. Having said this in Numbers chapter 25 we find that the Israelites were seduced into worshipping Baal at a place called Peor, and that the LORD’s anger burned against them. Then in Numbers 31:16 we read that it was Balaam who advised the Israelites at Peor. The Midianites and Moabites at Peor followed Balaam’s advice to worship Baal and they in turn were the means of turning the Israelites away from the LORD and there were serious consequences that followed when a plague struck the people of Israel for their idolatry. Balaam is considered to be a covetous false teacher who led others into sin. He was killed by the Israelites when they entered Canaan.

John wrote about certain people who were in the assembly at Pergamum that were in the character of Balaam because of what the Lord Jesus said about them. “But I have a few things against you, because you have there some who hold the teaching of Balaam, who kept teaching Balak to put a stumbling block before the sons of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols and to commit acts of immorality.” (Revelation 2:14) There is no shortage today of those who are in the ministry for what they can get out of it. They are into money, status, position, power and autocracy and heavy shepherding and condemn any who disagree with them or oppose them. Their wages in God’s estimation is wickedness and they will go straight to hell. The tragedy is that these false teachers and prophets will take many with them who should not be there if they had really loved the truth.

Thirdly Jude mentioned Korah of the Tribe of Levi (Numbers 16:1-35). He was a man who rebelled against the guidance of Moses when the sons of Aaron and the tribe of Levi were made priests of the nation. He was jealous that he was not picked and wanted to act as a priest and minister before the altar of God, and incited others to follow him. This is what false teachers and prophets do who want to be someone in authority. They get other leaders they can control and seduce the spiritually unstable usually through promises of blessing, prosperity, health and wealth if they follow their teachings. Usually what they teach is a mixture of truth and error or they take a truth and make it central to their doctrines. This is precisely what the Mammon loving Word of Faith prosperity teachers on TV are doing today as they “fleece the sheep” without any qualms while claiming to be anointed by the Holy Spirit. An accursed breed! Korah and his 250 followers, all men of renown well known in the camp, assembled together against Moses and Aaron. They argued on three points.

Firstly; they said that Moses and Aaron were no better than anyone else. In other words they thought they had the same authority to lead the people but God had not anointed them for the task. They thought they could do a better job than Moses or Aaron. They were arrogant, high minded, presumptuous and possibly even delusional. Secondly; they argued that everyone had been chosen by the LORD implying that Moses and Aaron had taken on their leadership role illegitimately and that without the LORD’s approval. Thirdly; they argued that they did not have to obey Moses and Aaron and that Korah himself thought he was the top man for the job. Well things did not go as they planned. God caused the earth to open up and swallow up all the people who followed Korah including their families; also a fire came down from heaven and consumed the 250 would be priests who offered up incense illegally.

The sin of pride and rebellion does not go unpunished and the tragedy is that it also involves others especially family members. The innocent suffer along with the guilty. When Korah and the others went down into the earth little ones went with them as well. One deterrent to sinning in this way is how will it affect those closest to us? Or more so how can we sin after what the Lord Jesus suffered for us at the cross? The altar speaks of the cross which all of us who love and follow Jesus must embrace. It means crucifying and sacrificing our personal ambitions for self-aggrandisement, wealth, money, power, influence, prominence and the accumulation of unnecessary material possessions in this world. Most of all we have to guard against pride and presumption. God has a work for all of us to do within the local Body of Messiah and has gifted us to do that work. The danger comes when we want to move into a position we are not called to or gifted for and seek to obtain it by any means. This is a recipe for spiritual shipwreck or burn out.

We live in the age of the Laodicea Church. The word for Laodicea means “people’s rights or opinions” and this is the case in much of Christendom today. It is the fact that people’s opinions replace the Word of God. This is why you have a confused and spiritually dysfunctional leadership because in most cases the leadership does not follow the pattern given in scripture. Usually it is a case of “a one man show.” The whole idea of submission to those who have legitimate spiritual authority in the local assembly is lightly esteemed by those, like Korah and Co, who want to usurp positions that they are not called to or gifted for.

There are many men in pulpits today who have Bible knowledge and have been ordained by men but it is mostly intellectual and academic and they are not anointed with the Holy Spirit and power but have taken the role on for themselves. God has not called them. They have called themselves! Many have been approved because of their academic learning or their ability to communicate publically but have no spiritual gifting for that ministry. There are some secular business executives who speak very well and forcefully in secular corporations that move people but they are most certainly not operating in the power of the Holy Spirit. We live in an age and culture where the catch cry is; “we have rights.” These rights are not speaking about human rights where certain minorities are being persecuted. We are speaking about those who say “I can do whatever I please, when I please and feel like doing and do not have to answer to anyone.”

Just watch some of these Mammon loving preachers and so called prophets on TV and you see this very clearly. Self-will and self-importance is not only prominent in secular society but has crept into the Church. The Bible speaks against this kind of thing (Romans 8:7; 10:3; 13:1,5) (1 Corinthians 16:16) (Ephesians 5:21,22,24) (Colossians 2:20; 3:18) (Hebrews 12:9; 13:17) (James 4:7) (1 Peter 2:13,18). In the letters to the churches in the book of Revelation the word “submit” is used 15 times. When we speak about submission we are not speaking about submitting to unlawful autocracy but to those in the local assembly who have legitimate spiritual authority, gifting and oversight who seek to govern according to the Word of God. These should be honoured by all as Moses and Aaron were to be honoured in the Assembly of Israel.

Korah led many people to their deaths through pride and false doctrine. He wanted to function as a priest, and did not recognize the God-given authority of Moses. Ambition in ministry is the pride that comes before a fall. Wanting to be the very best for the LORD is one thing and this in itself is a good ambition. However, “where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every evil practice” (James 3:16). If the ministry serves the Lord Jesus then it is valid but if the minister serves the ministry or himself then there is a problem. Either they have been side-tracked by Satan or they are in the ministry for selfish ambition and not for the glory of God. Many today are building monuments to themselves and their ministries and not building the Kingdom of God. You cannot do both!

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