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Truth Discernment

IV. Discern the spirits

a. Give no heed to deceiving spirits

The Holy Spirit expressly warns the church against giving heed to the deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons (1 Tim. 4:1). Since the spirits are invisible, how would a person be able to pay attention to them? Here, Paul joins the doctrines of demons together with the deceiving spirits. What is his logic and intention? To understand this, let us look at the relationship of knowing God and keeping His word. To know God requires us to know and keep His word. Conversely, when attention is on, say, twisted doctrines, it is the same as digressing away from God and giving attention to the evil spirits. This greatly jeopardises one’s relationship with God if prompt actions are not taken to rectify the situation.

Here Paul particularly mentions the doctrines of the demons. The key feature of Satan’s work is to change the word of God. Especially, as the second advent of Christ is approaching faster than ever before, Satan’s work of changing the doctrines of God is increasingly more apparent and frantic. There are two perspectives to this Pauline teaching. First, a doctrine that is contrary to the doctrine of God is not from God and therefore it is a doctrine of Satan. The changing is done by deceptively destroying the conscience of man. When it happens, believers become greatly insensitive to the word of God.

Second, the doctrines of Satan are concerned with the existence of Satan. Since time immemorial, Satan has been masquerading himself as an angel of light. His mind has been corrupted by the pride of his heart, trying to usurp God’s glory of being the only Supreme Being in the entire universe. This is clearly evident in his dialogue with Eve: the snake stated, temptingly, that “you will be like God”. This blasphemes against the very essence of God, Who has declared that He alone is the LORD (The only Self-existent One) and there is no other (Isa. 44:8; 45:5–6, 14; 47:10).

Paul also predicted the same mindset would appear in the son of perdition who sits in the temple, exalting himself above all God (2 Thess. 2:4). This is the working of Satan (2 Thess. 2:9). Paul has detailed his works; by recognising them, the spirits can be discerned (2 Thess. 2:8–10). The spirits are at work in a person:

1. When he constantly becomes puffed up.
2. When he employs unrighteous and deceptive means to achieve his ends.
3. When he does not have any love for the truth of God that he has received.
4. When he takes great delight in unrighteousness.

Such a person is even endowed with great power, signs and lying wonders (2 Thess. 2:9), to draw the undiscerning to his snare and turn them into vessels of unrighteousness.

[To Be Continued]

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