12 Weeks of Prayer: Week 1 Day 4
Satan’s Prime Directive
By Pastor Mike Heil
TOH The Unapologetic Theologian
“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.”
I Timothy 4:1.
“As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming."
Americans are molded by what we receive from the culture, bringing perceptions that confuse and distort the truth. One example today would be how we perceive demons and Satan. I find that there are two ways the average, common, everyday person in America looks at demons; one, they are just a myth and not real, a figment of the extremist Christians. Robert Simpson, in the periodical “ABC of Religion and Ethics,” wrote: “I read Screwtape as an impressionable adolescent, and it did a number on me. It steered me towards a
superstitious, histrionic way of thinking about spiritual matters - a way of thinking that is disdained not only by religious sceptics, but also by most mature Christians.” The book Mr. Simpson is referring to called “The Screwtape Letters” is the classic book by C.S. Lewis in which C.S. Lewis describes how Satan and his demons tempt and deceive mankind. It is this spiritual truth that Mr. Simpson pronounces as “superstitious” and “disdained” by most
The second way Americans view demons and evil spirits is as bizarre and terrifying, with sharp teeth, horns, and hoofed feet. Hollywood has been the primary form Satan uses in this deception with movies like: The Exorcist, Devil’s Advocate, or Rosemary’s Baby. Both of these caricatures are wrong, and both of these perversions of truth are by design. God tells us in I Timothy 4:1 “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.” The first and most basic deception of Satan is to keep the church (and the world) ignorant to his reality. In the same way that Satan kept Eve unaware of his reality, packaging himself in the form of a serpent, so today Satan camouflages himself and his demons as novel, new doctrines in the church, or as a popular cultural movement or as a political priority. Any thought direction that keeps the church oblivious to Satan’s reality! His kingdom is all around us, yet he works overtime to keep the church and the world unaware of his treachery.
Notice what is said in I Timothy 4:1, it says in the latter times there will be deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons. In other words, God tells the church when this will be happening. “The latter times” speaks to where you and I, the saints of Jesus Christ, exist today. The signs of the last days that Jesus described in Matthew 24, Luke 21, and Mark 13 fill the headlines of newspapers today; earthquakes, famines, racial tension, false prophets, Israel being regathered as a nation all confirm the world is living in the last days before Jesus’ return. So, the deceptions, the lies, the manipulation and distortion of truth have all been ratcheted up to the highest level by the evil one.
Not only in this verse does God tell us the timing of these great deceptions of Satan, but He tells the church the methodology behind how they will happen. I Timothy 4:1 says “deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons.”
Deceitful spirits speak to who is conveying and initiating the deceptions to the church, and doctrines of demons speaks to how Satan is bringing these deceptions into the church! Ephesians 4:14 says the same thing in a different way, “we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming.” This Scripture speaks to how Christ uses apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers (His special ministry gifts to the church) to bring maturity to the saints. In verse 14, God is telling us why we need to receive this maturity . . . as a protection from the trickery of men who use deceitful scheming. Sound familiar? Deceitful scheming fits hand in glove with what I Timothy 4:1 conveys “deceitful spirits.” Not only do the two verses blend together in their warning about deceitful spirits moving people in the church to use trickery and craftiness, but we also see in Ephesians 4:14 that we are not to be moved by every “wind of doctrine.” Again we see the harmony God has placed in these two verses with the word, doctrine. Doctrine is an old King James word meaning "teaching." That’s very succinct and clear. These deceitful spirits will attempt to move presenting teachings that pervert the truth of God!
As difficult as it seems to believe this, I’m not the one saying this; it’s the Scriptures-the inspired word of God-saying it in Ephesians 4:14 and I Timothy 4:1. So much as we might want to believe this can’t be true, we need to have our spiritual eyes open to the false teachings and false teachers and false prophets that are in some churches today. This is why God has blessed the saints with the ministry gifts, apostles, prophets evangelists, pastors, and teachers; these anointed gifts from Jesus Christ are a protection to the saints. They will see the wolf coming from the sheep, they will expose the false teachings of the evil one. It is vital that you and I, the saints in Christ, respect and listen to these ministry gifts for our own good. Not because they are infallible (only the word of God in holy Scripture carries that distinction), but because they are anointed and called by Jesus Christ.
So, to sum up what is happening in these latter times, the church is in a specific and dangerous era of satanic deception. And God calls us through His word to be diligent, to be unified, to be attentive to the ministry gifts He has given us, and to renew our minds through His holy word. Selah.
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