1 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;
2 Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron;
3 Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth.
4 For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving:
5 For it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer.
6 If thou put the brethren in remembrance of these things, thou shalt be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished up in the words of faith and of good doctrine, whereunto thou hast attained. 1 Tim. 4:1-6
Have you ever heard of cluster bombs? They are bombs that are released from a single ‘mother’ bomb (I suppose), and they scatter all over the place. They do much more damage than a single bomb would.
In the spirit, cluster bombs are what people of God come against when they depart from the faith. Notice in the scripture above that it is not people giving heed to a seducing spirit or to a doctrine of a devil, no. On the contrary, there is a multitude of demons out there, all with the singular purpose of dispersing many wrong doctrines, and spreading much deception.
And how do God’s people become ensnared by these demonic doctrines? It is when they depart from the truth. There is a departing from the truth. And the Bible says that a time will come when God’s people will depart from following the truth.
“3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; 4 And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables” (2 Tim. 4:3-4).
The Bible declares that we have loved the lie more than the truth. And you do not have to be demon-possessed to believe in demonically-inspired doctrines.
Today in Christendom, apart from those demonic doctrines that Paul mentions in the above scripture (forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats), there are many more that the devil has released from his arsenal.
In mainstream Pentecostalism, the prosperity gospel probably tops the list of suspect ‘faiths’. This gospel is more widely accepted than any other false teachings because it caters so well to the flesh. Who does not love the good life?
But you will not find this teaching in the New Testament, not an iota of it. All the Bible says is that if we have food and clothing, these things are sufficient for us and that true riches constitute being content with them (1 Tim. 6:5-10) as long as we are living Godly lives. That is as far as the Bible goes with material or worldly “prosperity”.
Material and financial riches are all right, if God chooses to bless us with them. But they do not form any part of the New Testament teachings. And they are certainly not the spiritual blessings that God promised Abraham, our father of faith. The Bible talks of our father Abraham, who was rich in worldly possessions, in this manner:
“For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God” (Heb. 11:10).
If we were to agree with the proponents of the prosperity message, we would not be in league with the Old Testament partriarchs, the OT prophets, our Lord Jesus Himself, the Early Church, nor the apostles of Christ.
The minute the church leaves the central message of Jesus of denying self, taking up our cross and following Christ (Mat. 16:24), we throw ourselves wide open for the devil to attack and defeat us because we have given him the one weapon he needs to defeat us – our flesh.
The first man, Adam, had a problem. The Bible says,
“And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat” (Gen. 3:6).
The flesh was alive in Eve and Adam, and sin found a foothold.
In the second Adam, Christ, the flesh has been crucified. At the cross Christ completely and utterly defeated Satan through defeating sin – by crucifying the body of sinful flesh..
“3 For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: 4 That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit” (Rom. 8:3-4).
The cross is the only place where we can crucify the flesh and defeat the devil. The truth of the Bible is the cross.
We have a choice. We could choose to ally ourselves with the victory that Christ got on the cross, by crucifying the deeds of our flesh; or we could ally ourselves with the flesh – and become susceptible to every new doctrine the devil brings in through his seducing spirits and devils.
And demonic doctrines play havoc with people’s lives. There is no questioning the fact that the doctrine of “forbidding to marry”, in particular, has wrought incredible destruction in the lives of men, women and children. Having been swept under the carpet through the centuries, today that damage is headline news even in the secular world.
Likewise, the prosperity gospel has wreaked havoc in the lives of men and women. This is especially so in Third World countries where poverty is rife. Unscrupulous preachers have used this gospel to enrich themselves at the expense of poor believers. The preachers tell their flock to bring in all their wealth, with the promise of “reaping a hundredfold”, and other false promises.
Moreover, today material and financial “gain” is touted as godliness in church. The wealthier one is “in Christ”, the more spiritual they are considered. But notice Paul’s words in 1 Timothy 6:5: “Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself”.
“From such withdraw thyself”. Withdraw yourself from whom? From men who suppose that gain is godliness. Withdraw yourself from men who teach that the more prosperous you are materially, the closer you are to God. That is the spirit of the world. In the world, the closer you get to the center of power, the more affluent you become.
“From such withdraw thyself”. That’s the final nail in the prosperity gospel’s coffin.
There are many other virulent doctrines within the church today, but we do not have the opportunity to deal with them here.
The bottom line is that these doctrines do not deal with sin. They do nothing to transform men and women into the image of Jesus Christ. But the gospel of Jesus Christ is about a transformation. The message of a transformed life was the singular gospel that the Early Church heard and preached.
And tragedy of it all is that the minute we leave off following this message of transformation, as the scriptures so clearly warn us, we throw ourselves wide open to deception.
[Below: “Oh, happy day!”]