|Listen to the Bible|
Thoughts and Commentary on today's reading:In Genesis, we find the well-known story of the serpent in the Garden of Eden - and the Fall of Mankind.
This story reveals the essence of sensual religion. And since sensual religion is actually one of the most dangerous ideologies sweeping Christianity today, time and deeper study into how Satan tempted Eve is warranted. For in so doing, we find keys to recognizing some of the biggest lies of the enemy and some of the greatest temptations currently ongoing today.
Today, the idea that there might be ultimate Truth—Truth that stands of itself, whether recognized or not, existing outside the scope of one’s own personal experience—is a concept as rare as an endangered species. Truth is usually viewed as “relative”. In other words, truth is changing, depending on one’s personal needs and circumstances. Rather than believing in some over-arching, all-encompassing, whether-we-recognize-it-or-not-it-still-stands TRUTH; most say ultimate Truth does not even exist!
KEY POINT: ALL SCRIPTURE IS INSPIRED BY GODInstead, people tend to believe that there is “your” truth and “my” truth.
“All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.” 2 Timothy 3:16-17
As mystic Fran Hafey explained in her online article titled, “Your Truth is Within You”:
“When your truth unfolds like a flower being born, you will feel it in your heart and know its true.” (Holistic Living, www.1stholistic.com)In this way, TRUTH is replaced with “what is true for me”. With such a perspective, the pursuit of ultimate Truth becomes irrelevant. For if truth is relative to the person who believes it, man is his own “god”. And one need not know TRUTH, in an ultimate sense, one needs only to know ONESELF, discovering one’s personal truth.
By this popular way of thinking, the path of ultimate Truth has become overgrown by the brambles of disuse. So few seek for ultimate Truth, that this formerly well-trod path of thought, which was once the most important philosophical quest, is now nearly totally out of sight.
Perhaps, more than anything else, this way of thinking is the reason we are in a time of spiritual famine today. Most, even among Christians, don’t really know what the Truth is.
It’s a scary thought really. But this is the most fundamental reason many, even among Christians, search for emotional experiences and mystical moments rather than studying the Bible. But, Scripture tells us that there is ultimate Truth. Specifically, the Bible states that the Word of God, in Flesh (Christ) and Book (the Bible), are Truth:
“Sanctify them through Thy Truth: Thy Word is Truth.” John 17:17
“Yahshua (Jesus) saith unto him, I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by Me.” John 14:6
KEY POINT Spiritual Maturity Involves Knowing and Understanding True Doctrine
“Whom shall He teach knowledge? And whom shall He make to understand doctrine? Them that are weaned from the milk, and drawn from the breasts.” Isaiah 28:9
Blowing Wind is a Scriptural Metaphor for False Doctrine
Scripturally, wind is a metaphor used for false doctrine and spiritual deception. These false concepts are powerful and forceful, gusting the biblically unrooted person about; much like a helpless tumbleweed is blown this way and that, in a trackless desert.
“That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive.” Ephesians 4:14
Threatening Christians, there are winds of personal experience. They puff at us to believe this way or that way because of our own life-experiences, whether good or bad. How does this deceptive “wind” manifest itself, effecting the beliefs of Christians? Consider the following three examples; all of which are true accounts from the experiences of Christians, which we have tried to help in our ministry.
CASE #1: “The Sick Child”A few years back, we received a phone call from a thirty-something woman, who was an active member of the local church congregation. The woman, whom we will call Misty, had come to believe that it was perfectly acceptable for Christians to get “help” from New Age healers, mystics and Shamans (which is an old word meaning “witchdoctor”).
As obviously twisted as this doctrinal viewpoint may seem, this deceived woman had come to hold this belief by a profound experience. Misty and her daughter, who was about 11 years old at the time, were waiting to catch a flight out of New York. The child was sick and worsening by the minute.
Misty’s Dangerous Belief: One should do whatever it takes to get help. If a Shaman is able to help, while prayers do not. God is helping through the Shaman!
In the layover time, Misty grew very anxious when the girl’s fever reached 104°F (40°C) and was not responding to fever medicines or Misty’s prayers. At her wits end, the worried mother called a Shaman (recommended by a friend) for help. The Shaman prayed with Misty over the phone. Instantly the child’s fever was gone and the girl no longer even felt sick at all!
The young mother concluded that the Shaman had it “in” with God. She also was convinced that because the Shaman had helped her, doing something “good”, that this mystic was “good”.
When this Shaman later invited Misty to join her for a séance, Misty gladly attended. It was the beginning of an occult journey for Misty, in which she was ultimately blown completely out of Christianity altogether. But it all began when Misty believed she had found the “truth” based upon her “good” experiences with the Shaman. Adjusting her doctrinal viewpoint to suit her sensual experience was a deadly mistake. Had Misty used God’s Word as her Source of ultimate Truth, testing her personal experience against Its Teachings, she would have been protected from this deadly, doctrinal wind.
KEY POINT - THE TRUTH FROM THE WORD OF GOD: Those who practice witchcraft and consult spirits are not “good” – nor are they working under the power of God. - Isaiah 8:19-20, Leviticus 19:31
CASE #2: “The Unconverted Teenager”A teenager, whom we’ll call Derek, had no personal interest in Christ; although he had been raised in a conservative, Christian home. Yet, in spite of being raised with Christian values and beliefs, and even having been home-schooled, he still attended Church only because his parents made him go.
One weekend, Derek visited another Christian church. During the church service, the pastor taught that the Bible wasn’t an accurate history Book, but was rather a “spiritual guidebook”. Further, he told the congregation that Jesus wasn’t really God. But in spite of these doctrinal teachings, which were clearly different than Derek’s parents’ beliefs, he was drawn to this church and began attending there regularly.
Gradually, as Derek fellowshipped in this new church, his own belief-system came to mirror theirs. But the attraction Derek felt for this congregation wasn’t its doctrines, these he accepted as a by-product. What attracted him, convincing Derek that this church had the “Truth”, was its miracles.
People in this church regularly experienced healings and miraculous manifestations of power. In fact,
there was even a spot, in the scheduled program, for these miracles. During his first visit, the congregation had gathered around Derek. They laid hands on him, saying that he was lost and needed to “receive the spirit.” As they prayed for him, a powerful, tingling sensation gripped Derek’s body. His limbs grew heavy, yet seemed electrified at the same time. He was so overwhelmed that his typical teenage veneer, of appearing emotionally detached and “cool”, broke down. He wept as though the fountains of the deep had been broken up. And, in his own words, he was “converted” on the spot.
From there, Derek made drastic doctrinal changes which alarmed his parents greatly. He stopped attending church with his family and exclusively worshiped with his new church family, forsaking the Scriptural teachings of his upbringing in the process. He quit believing that “Jesus” was God in the Flesh. And he no longer read any part of the Old Testament, nor participated in Bible study of any kind, since he now believed the Bible was only a spiritual “guidebook”, without historical or prophetic value.
Derek’s Dangerous Belief: Truth is determined by miracles. The presence of miracles proved that the second church’s doctrines were right. Those who pray and worship in conservative ways, studying the Bible and aligning their lives with its teachings, are just “legalists” who don’t really have the Presence of the Holy Spirit. The doctrinal teachings of his parents’ church must be wrong because they had no sensational validation.
Derek’s Christianity had become a sensational experience, where the value of spiritual songs and activities was measured by how breathless they made you, or how good you felt in doing it. Had Derek used God’s Word as his Source of ultimate Truth, testing his personal experience against Its Teachings, he would have been protected from the doctrinal winds, which powerfully blew him away.
KEY POINT - THE TRUTH FROM THE WORD OF GOD: Miraculous signs and wonders are performed, both by God’s Power and by demonic power. Miracles and good feelings don’t prove that the spirit behind them is from God. – Matthew 24:24, 2 Thessalonians 2:8-10
CASE #3: “Encountering Angels”A group of conservative, 4th generation Christians began meeting to study the Bible after church each week. One day, after the group had been meeting together for a couple of years, an angel appeared to the leader. This spectacular visit was repeated until it became a regular event to get messages from the angel.
Soon, it wasn’t only the leader who was encountering angels. The members of the group were all delighted with angel visits, exciting visions, and even out-of-body experiences. As these supernatural experiences grew more frequent, the group no longer met together to study the Bible, rather they gathered to share their miraculous experiences and to hear the angels’ instructions.
At first, the angelic instructions were simple. And the results were a “blessing” in the eyes of the whole group. Having “confirmed” that the angel was “good” by testing whether his instructions had good outcomes, the group was fully convinced they were Angels of Heaven.
Group’s Dangerous Belief: Angels visited and spoke to them because they were special, being chosen by God for a unique purpose. The messages from the angels were “proven” to be from God, because following the instructions from the prior messages had “blessed” them.
As time went on, the angels began to instruct the group to take things from stores (without paying) because these items were “needed” in the “Cause of Christ.” Sadly, although these Christians were Sabbath-keepers with a pretty good understanding of the Law of God, they still believed the angels, even though they now plainly gave directions counter to Scripture.
The angel eventually even told some of them to shoot people. After listening to and being “blessed” by visits from this angel for 2 years, they were ready to follow the angel’s instructions, no matter how extreme. Two members of this group were injured and a woman was slain in the resulting gunfire. The shooter, a fourth-generation Seventh-day Adventist, is now serving a life sentence in the Sheridan, Oregon women’s prison. All because a group of conservative Christians wasn’t rooted in the Truth and were taken out by the winds of false doctrine and demonic deception.
KEY POINT - THE TRUTH FROM THE WORD OF GOD: Angels cannot be given a “blank check”. We cannot assume they are angels from Heaven merely because they are lovely, “loving” and make us feel good. Nor can we judge their source by whether their council has “blessed” us in the past. We have to test their words against the WORD. – 2 Corinthians 11:14, Isaiah 8:20
As these three alarming case studies show, one’s life-experiences and the feelings and sensations which accompany them, are easily manipulated by the magical workings of the devil. He is a master magician. And in a magic show, the closer you look, the less you see.To be protected against such deadly deceptions, we must be rooted and grounded in the Word of God - seeking and knowing the ultimate Truth from Scripture. This is our only safety in a world where the winds of deceptive doctrines are only getting stronger by the day.
Consider the sad story from today's reading, found in Genesis chapter 3. If anyone could have safely trusted their senses to tell them the truth - it should have been Eve. Her senses were perfect! She hadn't fallen yet. But the sobering reality is that, even in their perfect state, human senses or emotions were never a safe way to determine what is the truth. Consider the story.
The devil shape-shifted, taking the form of a beautiful serpent. (Yes, ladies, it’s hard to believe it now, but the Bible says snakes used to be not only beautiful, but THE MOST beautiful animal in the Garden of Eden!) In this earth-shattering encounter, what Eve perceived and believed was actually opposite from the reality of the situation. Plainly, even though Eve was perfect, with senses far superior to our own, her senses and her “personal truth” were so far off the mark that they weren’t even in the same “galaxy” with the ultimate Truth!
Today, we read the whole sad story in Genesis Chapter 3. To make the point very clear that relative truth is a total lie, and that Truth exists, many times beyond our perceptions, whether we recognize it or not; let’s compare what Eve perceived with what was really going on during that serpent encounter.
There was a big difference between Eve PERCEIVED in her encounter with the serpent - and what was really the TRUTH. Consider the following questions. Then ask yourself, how often was Eve right? Which question(s) did she answer correctly by relying on her perfect perceptions?
Question #1: To whom was Eve speaking?
What Eve Perceived: Eve perceived an “enhanced” serpent, sitting in the Forbidden Tree, eating Forbidden Fruit.
The Truth: The devil had taken the form of a serpent. Eve was actually speaking with Satan, himself.
Question #2: Why could the serpent speak?
What Eve Perceived: The serpent was able to speak (which he couldn’t previously do) because he had eaten the enhancing Forbidden Fruit.
The Truth: Since the serpent was really the devil, he could speak.
Question #3: Why did the serpent speak to Eve?
What Eve Perceived: Having been blessed by eating the Forbidden Fruit, he wanted to share the blessing with Eve.
The Truth: The devil wanted to deceive and destroy Eve.
Question #4: What would eating the fruit accomplish?
What Eve Perceived: Eve would be enhanced, becoming like a “god.”
The Truth: Eve would lose her immortality, plunging herself, the human race and the planet into sin, suffering and death.Clearly, pursuing the ultimate Truth is a quest we cannot afford to forsake. If we want to survive the devil’s dangerous deceptions, we need to be able to know and discern the ultimate Truth, which is far above and beyond our own limited, deceivable perceptions.
We cannot afford to be spiritual tumbleweeds, blown hither and yon, completely at the mercy of the next sensational gust of wind. Such a rootless state of spiritual immaturity makes us dangerously vulnerable.
“...Be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive.” Ephesians 4:14
The key to becoming spiritually mature and protected from the doctrinal winds is to develop a “root-system” in the Word of God, formed through personal Bible study. This serves to not only protect us, but also shelters others within our sphere of influence.
“... In vain they do worship Me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.” Matthew 15:7-9
“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.” 1 Timothy 4:1
“Be not carried about with divers and strange doctrines. For it is a good thing that the heart be established with Grace...” Hebrews 13:9
We cannot rely on our feelings, senses, or personal interpretations to determine what is the Truth. The Truth is always found in the Word of God. Had Eve trusted the Word of God (He had told her not to eat of that Tree) instead of her own perceptions, she would not have fallen prey to the serpent's lies. And it only when we stand upon the Word of God - now - that we are protected from deception as well:
“Whom shall He teach knowledge? And whom shall He make to understand doctrine? Them that are weaned from the milk, and drawn from the breasts.” Isaiah 28:9
“Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of Truth...” 2 Timothy 2:15-16
“Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee.” 1 Timothy 4:16