Doctrines of Demons
In recent years a number of ancient heresies have begun sweeping through the church again, deceiving thousands, even sidetracking whole movements. These are the very same deceptions that tried to seduce the first century church, which much of the New Testament was written to combat. They gain inroads by the most subtle, seemingly innocent ways but quickly begin to erode the very foundations of Christianity to the point where those who continue in them are actually "severed from Christ" in the very way that the Scriptures warn this will happen. As we read in I Timothy 4:1-6:
Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons,
speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron,
forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from foods which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth.
For every creature of God is good, and nothing is to be refused if it is received with thanksgiving;
for it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer.
If you instruct the brethren in these things, you will be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished in the words of faith and of the good doctrine which you have carefully followed (NKJV).
Because these doctrines are so blatantly contrary to Scripture, we did not think that they had a chance to succeed in the church. We were wrong, and have been shocked as we have seen some of the most seemingly solid, faithful believers carried away with these deceptions. Most quickly become isolated and then are deceived to the point of even denying the cross and return to various forms of legalism for righteousness and even the Law of Moses, just as the Scripture above warns we would see in the last days.
One doctrine that is seeking to make inroads into the church requires Christians to eat in accordance with the Jewish law, which declares that if one does not do so they are not only in disobedience to God, but are opening themselves up to demons. Some even go so far as to say that those who do not comply with these dietary laws cannot be healed by the Lord, and are even in jeopardy of losing their salvation.
In the Scripture quoted above, "commanding to abstain from foods" is named as a doctrine of demons empowered by deceiving spirits. This seems to be the entry point of a host of other deceptions that begin to erode the very foundations of the biblical Christian faith. As this verse declares, in the last days this form of legalism is a major way that many will "depart from the faith." The biblical antidote to these heresies is also given, which is, "If you instruct the brethren in these things, you will be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished in the words of faith and of the good doctrine which you have carefully followed" (I Timothy 4:6 NKJV).
Because so much of The New Testament was written to counter these very doctrines that were assaulting the first century church, these heretical teachers must undermine the authority of the New Testament to spread their deception, and they do. After seeking to have believers return to the Old Testament as the true basis of faith, they begin to challenge especially the apostle Paul as a deviant teacher. Of course, they overlook the fact that all of the apostles and elders of the early church agreed with Paul, which was clearly established in the Council of Jerusalem, and repeatedly affirmed in their own epistles to the church. The conclusion of the Council in Jerusalem was summed up in Acts 15:22-29:
Then it seemed good to the apostles and the elders, with the whole church, to choose men from among them to send to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas--Judas called Barsabbas, and Silas, leading men among the brethren,
and they sent this letter by them, "The apostles and
the brethren who are elders, to the brethren in Antioch
and Syria and Cilicia who are from the Gentiles, greetings.
"Since we have heard that some of our number to whom we gave no instruction have disturbed you with their words, unsettling your souls,
it seemed good to us, having become of one mind, to select men to send to you with our beloved Barnabas and Paul,
men who have risked their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
"Therefore we have sent Judas and Silas, who themselves will also report the same things by word of mouth.
"For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to lay upon you no greater burden than these essentials:
that you abstain from things sacrificed to idols and from blood and from things strangled and from fornication; if you keep yourselves free from such things, you will do well. Farewell" (NAS).
In his letters Paul addressed this issue of dietary legalism with clear and specific teaching, not only because it would emerge to some degree in every generation, but because, as he stated in I Timothy 4:6, in the last days it would be backed by demonic power and promoted by deceiving spirits. The demonic power of deception now accompanying these heresies is obviously increasing dramatically, subduing many with a spirit of deception that seems nearly impossible to penetrate.
Deception is deceptive, and those who fall to it obviously do not know it. Even though the contradictions in these doctrines are often so blatant that they seem ridiculous, unfortunately they cannot be seen by those who come under their spell. Soon even the most clear biblical teachings that encounter these deceptions will have no effect on them as they will often boldly and shockingly twist Scriptures to verify these false doctrines. They shamelessly try to apply every reference in the New Testament to commandments or laws-- to the Law of Moses in place of the "new commandments" of love that the Lord gave to us--which actually fulfills the law and the "perfect law of liberty" (James 1:25 NAS) that they actually refer to.
These heresies are modern attempts to again bring the church under the yoke of the Law. Because some have their origin in Messianic movements, many are starting to strongly react to all Messianic movements. This is unfortunate as many of the Messianic leaders that we have discussed this with not only recognize these heresies for what they are, but likewise are alarmed and are beginning to take strong stands against them. Some readily consider these heresies another form of replacement theology.
Other Messianic groups are still wrestling with these issues, but those who are sincere lovers of truth will come out of this with a strong devotion to the liberty that we have been given in Christ. That liberty can never be compromised without the most tragic consequences for anyone who trusts in the atonement of the cross. In Galatians 2:11-14, we see that in the first century even Peter, the "apostle to the Jews" along with Barnabas and others, were temporarily ensnared with this deception while visiting Antioch.
There can be no compromise with the one essential truth--any doctrine that attempts to displace the cross of Jesus as the atonement for sin and the only source of righteousness, is a heresy of the most dangerous kind. As the Scripture warns, this can actually sever us from Christ. As we are assured, "For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: `You shall love your neighbor as yourself" (Galatians 5:14 NKJV).
Those who are currently being carried away with this modern form of the ancient heresy usually do so exactly as we are told in Romans 10:3-4:
For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and seeking to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted to the righteousness of God.
For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes (Romans 10:3-4 NKJV).
The Law itself declares that if one is guilty of not keeping a single commandment they are guilty of breaking the whole Law. If one is going to keep the whole law they will have to return to making the sacrifices required by the Law. This includes not only the stoning of adulterers (see Leviticus 20:10), homosexuals (see Leviticus 20:13), and those who seek to entice us away from the Lord (see Deuteronomy 13:6-11), but even stubborn, rebellious children (see Deuteronomy 21:18-21), as well as anyone who breaks the Sabbath
(see Numbers 15:32-36). Because of this, modern Judaizers blatantly pick and choose the parts of the Law that they think should be kept today and disregard the rest. This, among other things makes for many contradictions in their teachings that are amazingly overlooked by their followers. Again, deception is deceptive. As Paul tried to warn those who were foolishly falling to this in his own time,
For Moses writes about the righteousness which is of the law, "The man who does those things shall live by them (Romans 10:5 NKJV).
And I testify again to every man who becomes circumcised that he is a debtor to keep the whole law (Galatians 5:3 NKJV).
If we adhered to the Law of Moses today how many of us would have had to kill our own children? Indeed, if our parents had held to this Law, how many of us would be here now, especially those of us who grew up in the 60s? How many of us who now serve the Lord in truth would never have made it through the adultery that many of us lived in B.C.? How many homosexuals would have had no chance for deliverance and salvation? And how could anyone escape the kind of judgment the Law brings when the simple act of picking up sticks on the Sabbath resulted in death by stoning?
The Law established the standards of God's righteousness and the fact that the consequences of sin is death. However, it was a tutor to lead us to Christ, compelling us to fall at the foot of the cross for our salvation and to find our righteousness in Christ. God's only remedy for sin is the cross, and the mercy of God that triumphs over judgment is only found there.
Because the Law simply could not be "digested" by fallen man, those who returned to the Law for righteousness in the first century were referred to as "dogs." This is because dogs will return and try to eat their own vomit. This is why Paul wrote in Philippians 3:2-9:
Beware of the dogs, beware of the evil workers, beware of the false circumcision;
for we are the true circumcision, who worship in the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh,
although I myself might have confidence even in the flesh. If anyone else has a mind to put confidence in the flesh, I far more:
circumcised the eighth day, of the nation of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the Law, a Pharisee;
as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to the righteousness which is in the Law, found blameless.
But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ.
More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish in order that I may gain Christ,
and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith (NAS).
In Revelation 22:15, the Lord says concerning His city, "Outside are the dogs and the sorcerers and the immoral persons and the murderers and the idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices lying" (NAS). This is not a very good group to be included in, but such is the lot of those who try to return to the law to establish their own righteousness.
God's Method of Revealing Salvation to the Gentiles
What would be harder for God, to redeem a food group or an entire people group? He revealed to the apostle Peter that His salvation was for every people group and that he could now eat things that were formerly condemned by the Law. God went to great extremes to prove to Peter that He could cleanse anything and anyone as we read in Acts 10:9-20. This led to Peter opening the door of faith to the Gentiles by going to the house of Cornelius, a Roman centurion. As he was preaching the gospel, he and his party of circumcised Jews were amazed as they witnessed the outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon the Gentiles gathered there.
Even in light of these remarkable events, the Jewish believers in Jerusalem contended with Peter about the salvation of the Gentiles, "saying, `You went in to uncircumcised men and ate with them!'" (Acts 11:3) Nevertheless it was true. God had cleansed a people group by convincing Peter he could also cleanse a food group which he had seen in his vision.
It is noteworthy that this took place in Joppa, the same city where Jonah rejected God's call to the Ninevites. Thankfully Simon Barjona was willing to receive new revelation from God even though it went against centuries of teaching that dominated the Jewish mind set, when God wrought a substantive change in many dimensions by the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ Jesus. Yet this issue continued to plague the young church. For this reason Paul wrote to the Corinthian church:
Eat whatever is sold in the meat market, asking no questions for conscience' sake; for "the earth is the LORD's, and all its fullness (I Corinthians 10:25-26 NKJV).
To the church at Rome he wrote:
Receive one who is weak in the faith, but not to disputes over doubtful things.
For one believes he may eat all things, but he who is weak eats only vegetables.
Let not him who eats despise him who does not eat, and let not him who does not eat judge him who eats; for God has received him.
Who are you to judge another's servant? To his own master he stands or falls. Indeed, he will be made to stand, for God is able to make him stand.
One person esteems one day above another; another esteems every day alike. Let each be fully convinced in his own mind.
He who observes the day, observes it to the Lord; and he who does not observe the day, to the Lord he does not observe it. He who eats, eats to the Lord, for he gives God thanks; and he who does not eat, to the Lord he does not eat, and gives God thanks.
For none of us lives to himself, and no one dies to himself.
For if we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. Therefore, whether we live or die, we are the Lord's (Romans 14:1-8 NKJV).
Paul was convinced by the Lord Jesus Himself that nothing is unclean of itself.
I know and am convinced by the Lord Jesus that there is nothing unclean of itself; but to him who considers anything to be unclean, to him it is unclean (Romans 14:14 NKJV).
When Paul used the Greek word koinos for unclean or common, it was the word both Peter and the Lord used in Acts 11:8-9. "But I said, Not so, Lord! For nothing common or unclean has at any time entered my mouth. But the voice answered me again from heaven, What God has cleansed you must not call common" (NKJV). If God could not cleanse all food, how could He cleanse all of mankind?
To the Colossians Paul wrote:
So let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or sabbaths,
which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ.
Let no one cheat you of your reward, taking delight in false humility and worship of angels, intruding into those things which he has not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind,
and not holding fast to the Head, from whom all the body, nourished and knit together by joints and ligaments, grows with the increase that is from God.
Therefore, if you died with Christ from the basic principles of the world, why, as though living in the world,
do you subject yourselves to regulations--
"Do not touch, do not taste, do not handle,"
which all concern things which perish with the using--according to the commandments and doctrines of men?
These things indeed have an appearance of wisdom in self-imposed religion, false humility, and neglect of the body, but are of no value against the indulgence of the flesh" (Colossians 2:16-23 NKJV).
Jesus Himself addressed this same issue:
And after He called the multitude to Him again, He began saying to them, "Listen to Me, all of you, and understand:
there is nothing outside the man which going into him can defile him; but the things which proceed out of the man are what defile the man.
["If any man has ears to hear, let him hear."]
And when leaving the multitude, He had entered the house, His disciples questioned Him about the parable.
And He said to them, "Are you so lacking in understanding also? Do you not understand that whatever goes into the man from outside cannot defile him;
because it does not go into his heart, but into his stomach, and is eliminated?" (Thus He declared all foods clean.)
And He was saying, "That which proceeds out of the man, that is what defiles the man.
"For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed the evil thoughts, fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries,
deeds of coveting and wickedness, as well as deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride and foolishness."
"All these evil things proceed from within and defile the man" (Mark 7:14-23 NAS)
Jesus taught that what is in a man's heart is what defiles him, not what enters through his mouth. That is why heart faith is required to purify a man--heart faith in the work that Jesus Christ has done on our behalf. It is His blood that has cleansed us, not our adherence to any body of laws.
Eating for Health
While it is true that eating habits have a significant affect upon one's health, it is also clear from the sum of both Jesus and Paul's biblical teachings--they did not teach eating according to the Levitical code as a New Covenant commandment from God. They taught the very opposite.
To follow one's conscience in areas not specifically addressed in Scripture is a fundamental aspect of New Testament freedom for which the Lord died. It is also clear that the church is not to establish such dietary rules as either commands or requirements for its membership. Each individual is free to adopt his or her own code of diet, and should not apply pressure upon one another in these areas. "It was for freedom that Christ set us free..." (Galatians 5:1 NAS). Let us therefore have the courage and resolve to maintain the apostolic charge:
Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.
Indeed I, Paul, say to you that if you become circumcised, Christ will profit you nothing.
And I testify again to every man who becomes circumcised that he is a debtor to keep the whole law.
You have become estranged from Christ, you who attempt to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace.
For we through the Spirit eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness by faith.
For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor un-circumcision avails anything, but faith working through love" (Galatians 5:1-6 NKJV).
Circumcision was a main issue made in the first century by the Judaizers, but the same principles hold true for any aspect of the Law that is thrust upon believers as a means of establishing their standing before God in place of the cross. The main inroads of the modern version seems to be re-establishing the dietary rules of the Law of Moses. This is an inroad that seems to inevitably lead to other heresies. However, there are some who advocate eating according to the Law simply for health reasons, and these should not be confused with those who compel believers to keep the dietary laws as a form of obedience to God.
A Devastating New Form of Slavery for African Americans
One of the offshoots of these aberrant teachings is the attempt to Judaize African Americans by making them think that they are members of the lost tribes of Israel. Compelling believers to return to the Law was referred to by the New Testament apostles as bringing them again under the yoke of slavery, and this is precisely what this new form of the ancient heresy is attempting to do. When it especially targets African- Americans who have only in recent history been freed from physical slavery, this spiritual slavery is even more than ironic--it is the kind of tragic cruelty that only the devil is capable of.
As several Messianic and other leaders have observed, those who fall to this kind of deception are in most cases those who are lacking in a strong personal identity, and are therefore easily drawn to seeking an identity as one of "God's chosen people." This can only happen to those who fail to understand that the ultimate identity is to be found in Christ as a "new creation." As we are told in II Corinthians 5:16-17:
Therefore from now on we recognize no man according to the flesh; even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him thus no longer.
Therefore if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come (NAS).
As stated, such deceptions are only possible because of a basic lack of understanding of the new creation that we are called to be. However, many Christians lack these very basic foundational teachings. This is not only making inroads among African-American churches, but throughout the church. One of the most popular forms of this teaching is called "British Israelism" that tries to establish the British as the lost tribes of Israel (the northern ten tribes that were scattered and lost to history). There has also been a book published seeking to establish the Japanese as one of the lost tribes of Israel. It seems apparent that sooner or later they will try to convince everyone that they are from the lost tribes of Israel. Actually, the arguments are quite compelling, and there probably is some truth to it. In fact, it is not unlikely that all races now have some ancestors from these lost tribes.
So what? Those who are in Christ, who are of the new creation, are first generation decendents of God! Only those who are lacking a very basic understanding of who they are in Christ would be so concerned about who they are in the flesh. Only those who are weak in their identity in Christ will be drawn to being made to feel special, or to be included in a special group in such a way as this. The fact is that many are weak in their identity in Christ, and they are easy prey for such deceivers.
Attacking the Only Name by Which We Are Saved
Another aberrant offshoot of this doctrine seeks to establish that the name "Jesus" is a pagan name, and we should therefore only use the name Yeshua, which is the "proper Hebrew name." They also reject all other names for the Father but Yahweh, which in itself is a human derivative for what is supposed to be "the un- pronounceable name of God." If it is "un-pronounceable" why try to pronounce it at all? Even so, what kind of father would demand their children to call them by their full, proper name before answering them? This may seem too outrageous for anyone to buy into, but many have.
God is not as petty as some foolishly suppose. The Lord still heals in "the name of Jesus." Even the demons recognize that name and obey it. The Lord knows when you call upon Him regardless of which language you use. Witchcraft is based on formulas and incantations, and we must grow up and start rejecting such ridiculous doctrines as these foolish and deceived people are trying to impose upon believers. If you accept them, you will drift from being a believer to one who tries to establish your own righteousness by being a performer--severed from Christ who is our righteousness.
We should also keep in mind that there are many solid believers who prefer to use the name Yeshua for various reasons, which should in no way reflect on their spiritual character. However, we must understand that demons hate this name because they know its power, and we should be wary of any person who seeks to undermine the name of Jesus in any form. Those are obviously being demonically influenced at best.
The antidote to these poisons which some are trying to feed the church is found in the first verses we quoted in this message from I Timothy 4:1-6. We must instruct God's people in these things, and fortify the basic doctrines of the faith that many are drifting from.
In this Bulletin we have only superficially dealt with these heresies, and have refrained from naming specific teachers of these doctrines or their books. However, we are not adverse to naming them in order to protect the church, which has an obvious precedent in the New Testament. If these continue to make inroads in the church, we will deal with them as necessary, probably addressing them in future editions of The Morning Star Journal, which has an even wider circulation than this Bulletin. We have also taught on these heresies and will be making the tapes and videos available through our catalog and website. We must confront such heresies or we will never be true shepherds or watchmen. If they are making inroads into your church or movement, they must likewise be confronted if you are going to be a true shepherd or watchman.
Everything we need to confront in such aberrant teachings is in the New Testament, which was written primarily to confront the roots of false doctrine that continuously try to gain access to the church. The book of Galatians was specifically written to address the heresy we have addressed here. I strongly recommend that every believer read the entire New Testament every year, which can be accomplished in just over six months by reading a single chapter a day.
We should also not let this kind of aberrant teaching cause us to overreact and keep us from reading the Old Testament. Every place in the New Testament that mentions "the Scripture" is in reference to the Old Testament. We must however, have a strong foundation of understanding of the New Covenant, in order to see how the Old Testament points to and prepares us for the New Covenant in Christ. Basically it is "all about Jesus." We must reject anything which tries to eclipse Him as the only One who is the Way, the Truth, and our Life.