Ministry Today | Serving and empowering church leaders

Doctrines of Demons

Gnosticism is alive and well in the 21st century. Tragically, even those who should know better are sometimes deceived.


My grandson, who is in first grade, just threw up all over my office carpet!

This may not be the most noble, invigorating or spiritual thought you've had come your way today, but his "moment" came pretty close to expressing the feelings I was having just prior to his unloading.

I was preparing to write this column, getting my thoughts together and reviewing a letter I asked a friend to send me regarding one of the subjects at hand when my grandson--an otherwise bright, happy 6-year-old--appeared at the door.

"C'mon in," I said, opening a short conversation that began with my inquiring into how things were going at school, what new friends he was making and what studies he liked best. Suddenly, a smiling mouth turned upside down, and he started to cry.

"My stomach hurts, Grandpa." And with no more warning--splash!

I don't think this was his response to my questions about school. He really likes school a lot. And I'm not exactly sure what spawned the splash, though I had time to guess while spending the next half-hour blotting, sponging, wiping and spraying.

He cried. I comforted him and took him into the bathroom to stand in front of the toilet in case of an encore. Thankfully, we had apparently plumbed his whole system in one gush because there were no further visitations.

I was glad, naturally, and my only regret for the whole evening (though I was sorry for the little guy) was that he wasn't downstairs in the den where his Grandma Anna was when he struck pay dirt. That would have been her domain and would have allowed me to remain silently at work in my office while she tended the mess.

I mused over this transient event as I washed my hands and shoes and deposited my socks and slacks in the washer. His shot had blanketed everything in its path and was only slightly less than the one "heard 'round the world." As I did, I was suddenly struck with the feeling that there was possibly something peculiarly providential in my grandson's eruption--something almost prophetic, if you will.

Please note: I pause to assure you that I really didn't think his outburst was prophetic, since there are a few wild-eyed saints ever ready to attribute some spiritual meaning to virtually anything that happens to them. And while I'm certainly not one of them, I will say that the subject I felt compelled to write about in my column is loaded with sick ideas. To some degree, these ideas are enough to crowd me toward the edge of repeating my grandson's performance myself.

My subject (if you were wondering when I'd ever get to it!) is 21st-century gnosticism--a pretty august theme for a column that begins with curds and whey. But I am upset--really! In the last few weeks I've come across two of the most disgusting, nauseatingly unbiblical ideas I've encountered in 40 years of ministry, both presented as "revelations"--"revealed as insightful, heretofore unperceived secrets only now perceptible to the truly mature." I outline these dangerous ideas below.




Twisted teaching on marriage. The first had to do with marriage, or rather, with "not really being married at all, even when you are."

The concept advanced was a bizarre twist on "kingdom teaching" that argued that once a person has entered the kingdom they transcend earth's order and are thereby exempt from its laws--even God's. Being "beyond" the mundane requirements of morality, the proposition blithely declared "we are now outside the possibility of committing adultery." (Hold on, it gets worse.)

In this system, this "incapacity to sin" has nothing to do with being freed from sin, but with being free to do things that used to be sin until the "kingdom person" entered their new, enlightened state. Sexual disobedience (that old idea contained in God's holy Word) then becomes passé, since no such thing as "infidelity" exists any longer.

Whatever ensues in sexual indulgence with however many partners a person pleases becomes redefined as some exalted state of spiritual interaction and mutual ministry to one another. I always thought you called this a "free-love cult," but I guess I'm just not mature enough to capture the depths of it all!

Twisted teaching on demons. The second bizarre idea had to do with demons; well, not quite "demons," but supposed "human spirits" that, at death, were somehow pirated away by demonic beings before they could make it to heaven or hell. Now, being subject to the spirits that captured them, they are, according to this teaching, often transmitted to living humans who experience a unique spiritual bondage.

This isn't the usual kind of bondage that involves the possibility of deliverance by means of something so "unoriginal" as casting the evil spirit out in the name of Jesus. In fact, these demons, according to this teaching, might even be led to accept Jesus as Lord and be ushered out of the person they inhabit and into heaven! Of course, these spirits might not accept Him, so the alternative of hell also exists if they refuse the counsel of the person seeking to bring this supposed deliverance to the man or woman victimized by this bondage.

Give me a break! No wonder sound-minded deliverance ministries have a hard time gaining a hearing. (And by the way, did I mention that many of the above flawed insights were gained while those propagating this idiocy were talking with the demons who explained this to them?)




The horror of all this nonsense is that anyone could actually believe these twisted teachings--especially anyone who is within five miles of a Bible. It's there--in God's Word--that we are warned "that in the 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" (1 Tim. 4:1-3 NKJV).

It is in the Word that Jesus Himself indicts two churches with the evil of hearing false teachers who "hold the doctrine of Balaam" and who teach and seduce His servants "to commit sexual immorality" (Rev. 2:14, 20).

Of course, there are a host of other passages in God's Word that address this subject, any one of which will expose and explode the evils indulged here. But desperate people listen: "For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables" (2 Tim. 4:3, 4; NKJV).

So it is, faithful pastor-servant. It isn't merely the kooks who are on the loose, but there are "sickies," still as rampant in this century as in the first. The apostles faced the same order of false teachers then, and they haven't gone away. They still sally forth, sowing tares in patches of kingdom terrain.

These sick, false teachers market their weeds like dope peddlers, selling fallacy as a new high--an advanced revelation beyond what others can know or grasp. Thus they license their corrupt pursuit of self-indulgence and leverage themselves into a position of manipulative control over the ignorant.

Thank you for sitting with me in the aftermath of my descriptive opening to this column. (If you survived that, my guess is that by now--if you feel like I do about all this--you're probably near-ready to join my grandson's earlier performance.)

What can we do? Really, just one thing: Pastors, preach the Word! "Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching" (2 Tim. 4:2).

I don't think there's reason to spend a lot of time elaborating the sordid details behind the twisted notions of presumed arcane insight detailed above. The answer is to "hold forth the faithful Word" and to keep feeding your flock as a good shepherd.

In fact, I normally would not have taken this much time to deal with such ridiculous notions, except there simply are times when you have to mop up the vomit somebody else donated. *

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