Tag Archives: thanksgiving

Seducing Spirits

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“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.” (1 Timothy 4:1)

These “latter days” are surely characterized by the tragic departure from the faith on the part of many. Unfortunately, even many of our churches have followed what should certainly be exposed as “seducing spirits,” embracing lies taught under the influence of Satan.

A list of such false teachings and practices within the church would surely implicate many. Let us look at the examples Paul gives in the next few verses:

First, he identifies the leaders and teachers of these errors as hypocritical liars who intentionally deceive their prey. They have deadened any possibility of right attitude by hardening their minds and searing their consciences (v. 2).

Next, we are given examples of their heresy: “Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving” (v. 3).

Many cults and pseudo-Christian groups have fallen into these traps, but both the institution of marriage and the provision of foods were specifically created by God for man’s enjoyment and blessing (marriage: see Genesis 1:28; 2:18, 24; foods: Genesis 1:29; 9:3). They are to be “received with thanksgiving” to a loving Creator, “sanctified by the word of God and prayer” (1 Timothy 4:4-5). Each of these and all of God’s creation are “very good” (Genesis 1:31), if used properly.

But the main point of this passage is that we should guard against the heresy of false teachers and from imposing on ourselves and our fellow Christians a false piety—practices which may make us feel “holier than thou” but which, in reality, impugn God and His creation.

Rather, let us be among those “which believe and know the truth” (1 Timothy 4:3) of God’s loving provision of creation. JDM

The Power of Spiritual Control

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“Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is. And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit.” (Ephesians 5:17-18)

Two factors need to be identified with these verses. First, the preceding context confines the primary application to behavior, just as the following context relates the behavior to the fellowship of believers. Secondly, the imagery stresses control of that behavior by the Holy Spirit, contrasting drunken behavior with filled behavior.

The filling is not synonymous with the baptism of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:12-14) since all twice-born are so baptized but not all are filled. Nor is it equal with or subsequent to speaking in tongues since some specifically identified as being filled with the Holy Spirit (John the Baptist, Elizabeth, Jesus) never spoke in tongues. Some individuals (Paul, Peter, Stephen) were filled on different occasions. Apparently, the filling produces a temporary effect like alcohol does. The effect of the filling of the Holy Spirit enhances or encourages a God-like behavior in contrast to the Satan-like behavior stimulated by alcohol.

Some passages equate power with this filling (Acts 1:8; Romans 15:13; 1 Thessalonians 1:5), and others equate it to wisdom (Colossians 1:9-11; Philippians 1:9-11; Colossians 3:15-17). However, the immediate context lists four evidences of the Holy Spirit’s control: songs of praise together, personal singing and private melody to God in our hearts, thanksgiving, and voluntary submission to one another in the Lord (Ephesians 5:19-21).

Since the Holy Spirit distributes gifts to the saints (Ephesians 4:7-11) for the purpose of building the body of Christ (Ephesians 4:12-16), it stands to reason that the Holy Spirit’s control would be designed to enhance and stimulate the ministry of believers to each other and their personal joy and awareness of the goodness of God. HMM III

Pray Anyhow

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“Moreover as for me, God forbid that I should sin against the Lord in ceasing to pray for you: but I will teach you the good and the right way.” (1 Samuel 12:23)

Samuel had served the children of Israel as their faithful judge for many years, and the Lord had blessed them and their land. Nevertheless, they began to want a king and pressed Samuel to get one for them. Finally, Samuel anointed Saul to be their king, but both Samuel and the Lord Himself were displeased with their demands.

Nevertheless, Samuel’s great heart, both for the Lord and for His people, is revealed in the promise of our text. Although he was hurt and disappointed, because he had led them successfully and justly his whole life, he would still pray for them and teach them. This is a great example for Christian leaders or workers today who, through no fault of their own, have been replaced by someone else.

Intercessory prayer is not easy, especially if our prayers are not appreciated by those we pray for. Nevertheless, it is a type of prayer ministry that especially pleases the Lord, and that is more important than human gratitude. “I exhort therefore” said Paul (no doubt reflecting God’s own desires), “that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority” (1 Timothy 2:1-2). Paul would even urge prayer for the emperor, Nero, who had imprisoned him and would eventually have him put to death.

Even Jesus had said that we should “pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you” (Matthew 5:44). The Lord Jesus is the greatest intercessor of all. For when we sin (and all sin is sin against the Lord), He is our “advocate with the Father” (1 John 2:1), and in fact, “he ever liveth to make intercession for them” (Hebrews 7:25). Therefore, should we not also be prayer intercessors? HMM

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