“So the worthless rose up against the honored, those of no reputation against such as were renowned, the foolish against the wise, the young against those advanced in years.
“For this reason righteousness and peace are now far departed from you, inasmuch as everyone abandons the fear of God, and is become blind in his faith…”
– The First Epistle of Clement to the Corinthians
“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.” (1Ti 4:1-2) – Apostle Paul
The beginning quote for this entry is from a letter of Clement to the Church of Corinth. Scholars are in favor that this letter was written by the traveling companion of the apostle Paul. When Clement wrote the Corinthian Church both Paul and Peter had already been martyred.
Clement’s letter is one of several letters written by those who knew the apostles. Clement along with Barnabas, and a couple more writings, were given consideration with regard to being placed in the New Testament canon of Scriptures. (Clement’s letter is found in the Alexandrian manuscripts. [Clement lived A.D. 30-100])
Paul speaks of Clement and other workers who helped him;
“[They] have shared my struggle in the cause of the gospel, together with Clement also and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life.” (Phil4:3)
The battle through the ages
One of the greatest dangers that the Church has faced through the ages has been that of seducing spirits that attempt to make inroads among God’s people. Paul warns that in the latter times this will become even more pronounced. He says many will reject or abandon the true faith in Jesus Christ to follow ungodly spiritual influences, even to the extent of following a false or counterfeit Jesus.
It isn’t simply Paul that gives the warnings. All the apostolic writers call attention to the spiritual seductions of the end times. But it goes even further back. The prophets of old also called attention to the last days where false prophets will abound among God’s people.
Listen carefully to the Lord speaking through the prophet Jeremiah -
“The anger of the LORD will not turn back until He has performed and carried out the purposes of His heart; In the last days you will clearly understand it. I did not send these prophets, but they ran. I did not speak to them, but they prophesied. But if they had stood in My council, then they would have announced My words to My people, and would have turned them back from their evil way and from the evil of their deeds.” (Jer 23:20-22)
Jeremiah gives several clues to the false prophets of the end times -
1st: “In the last days you will clearly understand it.” [God's true people will have insight into false prophets.]
2nd: “I did not send these prophets.” [Why would God need to say that He did not send these prophets? It is because they'll claim to speak for God, in a manner of, 'Thus saith the Lord.']
3rd: “(A true prophet) would have turned My people back from their evil way & evil deeds.” [Notice how the prophets in Jeremiah's time were preaching prosperity, and love, and no accountability or responsibility for sin.]
— Now take note of what Malachi has to say; “You have wearied the LORD with your words. Yet you say, ‘How have we wearied Him?’ In that you say, “EVERYONE WHO DOES EVIL IS GOOD IN THE SIGHT OF THE LORD LORD, AND HE DELIGHTS IN THEM,’…”(Mal2:17)
Don’t confuse these warnings with God’s promises that nothing will ever be able to separate His ‘born from heaven’ believers from His love that is found in Jesus Christ. A believer’s salvation was make complete at the cross. All the warnings have to do with false prophets and false spiritual movements.
There is a Biblical example of a church gone astray…
Corinth typifies a church gone astray
The Church of Corinth is a classic example how dark spirits can make inroads among God’s people. Let’s take a closer look at the Corinthian issues that allowed the enemy to find a place with this group.
With the Corinthian Church there was one very serious situation that called for special concern by the apostle Paul. It had to do with the gifts of the Spirit and in particular the gift of speaking in foreign or other languages.
At the Delphi temple they practiced a pagan glossolalia or speaking in tongues, but not in any language that could be understood. This influence of the pagan glossolalia was strongly felt not only in Corinth, but also in the entire Grecian world. (You can study this in most encyclopedias.)
The way the oracle worked was that a male prophet at the temple would receive a question from an inquirer. The question could be personal, or about government affairs, or whatever. The inquirer would be brought into the presence of a young woman priestess of Apollo who was said to have a “pythonic spirit.”
The young woman would speak or scream out in unintelligible utterances, often fall out in a frenzy, supposedly through the spirit of Apollo in her, and the prophet would interpret the message.
For some reason it was the women that took the role of having a pythonic spirit. They would go into trances. Their frenzied babbling sometimes would continue over a time.
The idea was that the young woman was possessed by the spirit of the god. The god was supposedly speaking through her in the form of telling the future.
Paul met this pythonic spirit at work in Philippi.
“It happened that as we were going to the place of prayer, a slave-girl having a spirit of divination [puthõna] met us, who was bringing her masters much profit by fortune-telling.” (Act 16:16 NASB)
The issue of gifting
It is important to understand that Paul never took away from their being a gifting from God about speaking in other languages. The problem seemed to stem from those who had been to a Delphic priest and had been exposed to the spirit of divination. It is even possible that some of the Delphic priests and priestesses were attempting to infiltrate the Christian assembly. Christians would have been considered a threat to the Delphic oracle.
In addition the Corinthian believers may have felt like they were in competition with the Delphic oracles. This was probably why Paul had to deal so much with the issue of speaking in tongues with the Corinthian church. You don’t find this issue in any of the other churches.
If you read the Corinthian letters with this background in mind, it will help you appreciate some of the things Paul is addressing. Listen carefully to the language:
“Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I do not want you to be unaware. You know that when you were pagans, you were led astray to the mute idols, however you were led.” (1Co12:1,2.)
From this we can assume that some of the Corinthian believers had taken part in the Delphic oracles. It was the spirit of divination that had led them astray. (Keep in view the term, ‘led astray’. We are going to see it again in Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians. )
“Therefore I make known to you that no one speaking by the Spirit of God says, ‘Jesus is accursed’; and no one can say, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ except by the Holy Spirit.” (1Co12:3)
Someone was speaking by a spiritual power that declared Jesus was accursed. Paul’s contention was that the Holy Spirit would most certainly not say that Jesus is accursed. There is a vast difference between Jesus taking the curse of the Law upon Himself at the cross, and Jesus being accursed. But these false outbursts of prophecies were leading the people astray.
Can a person confess the wrong Jesus?
For someone to make a true confession that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, that He died on the cross for our sins, that He arose from the grave and ascended to the right hand of the Father, and is truly the Lord God, this would be an act of the Holy Spirit. It is this act of true believing that includes the very heart of repentance towards God and faith in Jesus Christ. Out of this heart confession of the Lordship of Jesus Christ, there is a heart exchange, the person is born again.
However, can someone say that Jesus is Lord and it not be of the Holy Spirit? Yes, if there is a occultic spirit involved. Paul addresses this issue in his second letter. He says it is possible to preach a Jesus who is not the Jesus of the Bible. (See the book, ‘The Beautiful Side of Evil’, by Johanna Michaelsen. She came under the influence of a false Jesus spirit.)
Listen to Paul:
“But I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds will be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ.”(2Co11:3)
Continue to keep in mind the term ‘led astray.’ Paul uses it in both letters. In this second letter, Paul’s warnings are even stronger with regard to people being led astray.
‘Led astray’ is the Greek word phtheiro, which means to corrupt or spoil. The corrupting is a spiritual deception. Notice that the background of being led astray is still the serpent.
This word is used in Rev19:2, where it says,
“He has judged the great harlot who was corrupting (phtheiro) the earth with her immorality, and He has avenged the blood of His bondservants on her.”
Paul shows how this corrupting influence works. He said,
“For if one comes and preaches another Jesus who we have not preached, or you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted you bear this beautifully” (2Co11:4)
The Corinthian group was coming under the influence of the occult. There is no other way to explain an involvement with a different Jesus, a different spirit, and a different gospel. You may think this is hard to do, but Church history has proven that this has always been a real danger for believers.
The pattern seems to follow this line – First a move of God in the hearts of believers for a return to the purity of the ancient faith. Not long afterwards the enemy begins making inroads into the movement. The movement becomes corrupt. Then comes a judgment from God that includes a call to repentance.
Now let’s hear a bit more from Paul’s traveling companion.
Clement has more to say.
Let’s come back to Clement. Here are a few notable quotes from his letter. It gives an idea of what happened to the church in Corinth, and what can happen in a church today if a spirit of occultism enters the scene, and turning to the Lord with repentance does not take place.
“Your schism has subverted the faith of many, has discouraged many, has given rise to doubt in many, and has caused grief to us all. And still your sedition continues.”
“The height to which love exalts is unspeakable. Love unites us to God. Love covers a multitude of sins. Love beareth all things, is long-suffering in all things. … Love admits no schisms.”
“All the generations from Adam even unto this day have passed away; but those who, through the grace of God, have been made perfect in love, now possess a place among the godly.”
“Through envy and jealousy, the greatest and most righteous pillars of the Church have been persecuted and put to death. … Peter, through unrighteous envy … Paul also obtained the reward of patient endurance, after being seven times thrown into captivity … Thus was he removed from the world and went into the holy place…”
Did the Church at Corinth ever revert itself? Who knows. We do have a promise that the Lord will not lose any that belong to Him. It is possible that the Lord simply removed His people to a place of His choosing. But this is speculation.
So a question remains.
What is it that gives birth to working of darkness
It all begins with false promises. The downward spiral of every spiritual movement can usually be traced to people seeking power without purity of heart. People want power and they want it now. So they run about seeking someone to lay hands on them so they can have more power. They are looking for this one special experience that will transform them into some sort of spiritual-giant.
Then you have these false teachers who make prideful boasting their platform of ministry. People get turned on by being told that they can do everything that Jesus did. The gospel of, ‘take up your cross and follow Jesus,’ becomes a mockery. And the inside message becomes, ‘We are gods!’
[For more insight go to: http://buddymartin.net/blog/2011/05/twisting-and-turning-in-the-wind/]
What’s wrong with this? What is wrong with this is that the power of life that believers are promised is found in only one place. It is found in the out working of the cross. God never promised us that we would have no struggles, or battles, or temptations, or failures, or heart ache. He promised that He would never desert us or fail us. He promised us that His presence in our hearts and lives would be enough to any and every circumstance we may face.
What the Lord promised us is that we would have tribulations but we were to take courage because He had overcome the world. The lesson is that He will overcome the world in us. The Lord made it very plain that we are not of this world and that our future glory is yet to come.
Listen to the great apostle Paul –
“After they had preached the gospel to that city and had made many disciples, they returned to Lystra and to Iconium and to Antioch, strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying,
“‘Through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God.’” (Act 14:21-22)
Time for a check up
Paul was simply telling the Corinthians not to get over-focused on these particular gifts. There is no question that the Lord can speak to us through others. But to go about seeking a prophet today can do much damage to a believer’s walk with the Lord.
I realize everyone has their own thoughts, opinions, and experiences. But in the study of Scriptures, it is important not to let our experiences decide what we believe. We must learn to be true to the Scriptures.
Everything I have shared in this entry is for educational purposes. My advice to believers today is to stay on guard against any form of occultism. Familiar (pythonic) spirits love to enter congregations and play off as being from the Lord.
Here is your song for today. Please listen to it. It is titled, ‘In Christ Alone.’
May the Lord’s blessings rest upon you and all that is yours,
In Christ always,