Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world….Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world. 1 John 4:1-3
The term “cult” is typically used by the secular media to describe religious or semi-religious groups whose members are controlled in almost every single respect by a single individual. Visions of Waco, Texas or the Jonestown Massacre flash before our eyes. However, groups which claim to be in harmony with Christianity but deny foundational Christian doctrines — such as the Trinity, or the unique deity of Jesus Christ — are cults or false religions in a theological sense. We are commanded as believers to “try” every spirit, prove all things against what the Word of God tells us. If it does n0t line up, do not just walk away, run. Paul also warns in 2 Thessalonians 2:3 to let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day (the day of the Lord’s return) will not come unless the falling away comes first. This would suggest that there will be many who will be deceived before Christ’s return.
Spiritual Counterfeits: False Religions
Satan, the great deceiver himself, loves religion. Satan, by acting as an angel of light, has tried to devise a spiritual counterfeit for all of God’s real workings. One of Satan’s favorite frauds is to have a false religion “preach a counterfeit gospel.” Satan loves religion and has many people practicing false ones all around the world. Many of them even mention the name of Jesus. Satan does not mind even a little truth mixed into his false religions as long as The Truth (Jesus), is not taught. In fact, most counterfeit religions have a thread of truth running through them with the devil’s lies woven around it. Otherwise Satan could not ensnare people into them. Satan even takes man’s craving for the supernatural and creates religions that perform supernatural feats.
For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect. Matthew 24:24
“Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie:” 2 Thessalonians 2:9-11
Many precious Christians have been deceived and become totally or partially involved with one or more of these religions. Since these religions have their origin from the devil, and even the elect can be deceived, this is a deception of epic proportions and is not to be taken lightly. Involvement in these false doctrines can produce many needless problems and sicknesses for the person involved because they are forms of idolatry.
If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching (of Christ), do not receive him into your house or give him any greeting, for whoever greets him takes part in his wicked works. 2 John 1:10-11 (ESV)
Gods And Idols
What is idolatry? It is the worship of any god outside of the true and living God. Worship is not confined to prayer in a church service, but is having an intense love or admiration for anything or anyone. This includes the reverence of any deity, supernatural manifestation, or “man of god” above the Lord God Himself.
“Thou shalt have no other gods before me. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.” Exodus 20:3-6
The word “god” has many meanings. Anything or anyone which a man considers to be most important in his life, whose power is the greatest, and whose favor he would do anything or give anything to win, is properly called his “god.” A man may have many gods. When a man worships anything other than the God of the Bible, we say he is worshipping an idol.
An idol may be attractive or ugly. An idol may be a concrete thing, a mythical character, or a mental ideal. But, it is always something a person serves with all he is or has. Some people worship drink, pleasure, money, power and even other people. Whatever or whomever I put first in my heart is god to me. Sometimes a person will worship himself. He can do this by living for himself and doing only the things which please him. This is in essence the religion of “Humanism,” one of Satan’s favorite false religions. Colossians 3:5 says, “Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry.” We are to have no other gods before the true and living God. When Christians speak of God, they mean the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob — the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the God of the Bible.
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Patrick and Marilyn Williams
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Take Heed That No Man Deceive You
Christ said, "For I have given to them the words which You have given Me; and they have received them... I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them... Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth” (John 17:8, John 17:14, John 17:17, NKJV). He did not appeal to the works of philosophers, scholars or theologians for truth, though He was well informed as to their beliefs.
Consider the words of the following scriptures: "Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth (2 Timothy 2:15, NKJV)…Test all things; hold fast what is good” (1 Thessalonians 5:21, NKJV).
"Contend earnestly for the faith which was once delivered to the saints." (Jude 3, NKJV).Don't let anyone take your crown (Revelation 3:11) or deceive you in any way, for the end times will not come until the rebellion (in Greek the word used is "apostasia" meaning “to forsake, falling away, defection from truth”) occurs and the man of lawlessness (or sin) is revealed (2 Thessalonians 2:3).
Why would Christ bother teaching God's Word and truth if it was just going to be changed after His death? On the contrary, He almost pleads for us to hear God's Word and not be deceived. It's not good enough to just listen to what others have to say about the Bible, it is essential that we study it ourselves that we "be not deceived"!
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The Bible teaches that God made us male or female, and no matter our own feelings or confusion, we should act in accordance with the biological reality of God’s good design. Transgenderism falls short of the glory of God and is not the way to walk in obedience to Christ.
1. Gender Binary
The Bible knows no other gender categories besides male and female. While men and women in Scripture may express their masculinity and femininity in a wonderful diversity of ways, Scripture still operates with the binary categories of men and women. You are one or the other. The anomaly of intersex individuals does not undermine the creational design, but rather gives another example of creational “groaning” and the “not the way they are supposed to be” realities of a fallen world. Likewise, the eunuchs in Matthew 19 do not refer to sexless persons, but to men who were born without the ability to procreate or who were castrated, likely for a royal court (for more on the challenge of intersex, and the question of eunuchs, see Denny Burk, What Is the Meaning of Sex?, 169-183).
The biblical understanding of male and female is more than just an assumption writ large on the pages of Scripture. We know from Genesis 1 and 2 that the categories of male and female are a part of God’s design for humanity. Indeed, when God created the first human pair in his image, he created them male and female (Gen. 1:27). He made the woman to be a complement and help to the man (Gen. 2:18-22). Far from being a mere cultural construct, God depicts the existence of a man and a woman as essential to his creational plan. The two are neither identical nor interchangeable. But when the woman, who was taken out of man, joins again with the man in sexual union, the two become one flesh (Gen. 1:23-24). Dividing the human race into two genders, male and female—one or the other, not both, and not one then the other—is not the invention of Victorian prudes or patriarchal oafs. It was God’s idea.
2. Gender Identity
Someone with respect for Scripture may say at this point, “I agree that God makes as either male or female. But you are confusing biological sex with gender. I know transgender Christians who desire to embrace God’s design for men and women, but they also believe that who God created them to be does not correspond with the sex assigned to them at birth.” I don’t doubt that there are persons like this out there (and in our churches). While some people embracing a transgender identity may do so on a lark, many strongly feel that only by living as the opposite sex can they full embrace their true self.
The question is not whether such persons and feelings exist. The question is whether the is of our emotional or mental state equals the ought of God’s design. Most Christians reject this thinking in a host of other areas, from eating disorders to unbiblical divorces. We understand that following Christ means dying to ourselves (Matt. 16:24), being renewed in our minds (Rom. 12:2), and no longer walking as we once did (Eph. 4:17-18). Being “true to ourselves” is always a false choice when it means going against God’s Word.
As much as contemporary academia says otherwise, the Bible believes in the organic unity of biological sex and gender identity. This is why male and female are (uniquely) the type of pair that can reproduce (Gen. 1:28; 2:20). It’s why homosexuality—a man lying with a man as with a woman (Lev. 18:22)—is wrong. It’s why the apostle Paul can speak of homosexual partnerships as deviating from the natural relations or natural function of male-female sexual intercourse (Rom. 1:26-27). In each instance, the argument only works if there is an assumed equivalence between the biology of sexual difference and the corresponding identities of male and female.
3. Gender Confusion
The next one follows how there are two natural bodies; the male and female is God’s idea, and if we are meant to embrace, by divine design, our biological and creational difference as men and women, then it stands to reason that the confusion of these realities would be displeasing to God. And so we see clearly in the Bible that men should not act sexually as women (Lev. 18:22; Rom. 1:18-32; 1 Cor. 6:9-10), that men should not dress like women (Deut. 22:5), and that when men and women embrace obviously other-gendered expressions of identity it is a disgrace (1 Cor. 11:14-15). We do not have an inalienable right to do whatever we want with our physical selves. We belong to God and should glorify him with our bodies (1 Cor. 6:19-20).
I have not begun to answer all the important questions about pastoral care, counsel, and compassion for the hurting and confused. But with the cultural winds gusting as they are, we cannot assume that Christians—even those in good churches—know what to think about gender or why to think it. Hopefully this brief post, and these three building blocks, can help us ensure the right foundation is in place. After all, the goal is not to build a wall to keep people out, but that God might build up his church in truth and grace that we can welcome people in, calling his image bearers to embrace the life that is truly life (1 Tim. 6:19).