Not long ago a reader protested that he could prove the publishers of New Horizons are "obeying the Devil". A serious charge indeed! And a charge that no Christian ministry can ignore. For who wants to serve the Devil?
Though at least one denomination denies his existence, yet most Christians have a mental image of "the Devil" as a leering horned and tailed monster in red body-sock, cloven-hoofed, breathing fire and carrying a trident! It's the typical cartoonist concept. Indeed even among leading churchmen he has become a joke. Certainly many evangelical charismatic preachers have little respect for him often threatening to "tweak his tail" or send him scurrying in terror.
Riches To Rags
However, Satan the Devil is a very real being. Though "spirit" he is a distinct personage, originally created by God for a very important function. His "life story" is an incredible "riches to rags" saga that has implications vital to our day.
And to you personally!
That saga is unfolded in the Bible. But the mental image of the Devil held by many Christians certainly is not supported by the Bible!
For the Devil - far from being a music-hall joke - is the most powerful being to roam our planet. He has his own agenda (in which you are included), and his twisted cunning plans are fast coming to fruition. Often unknowingly, leaders in politics, in economics, in science - and even in Christianity - are pawns in his game. And the climax of some six thousand years of intensive effort by him and his demonic entourage is about to burst onto the world stage.
The Bible describes Satan as "the most subtle of all creatures". He is the arch-deceiver and the original liar. His evil machinations have misled billions into a perception of him that completely clouds his real intentions. And this he doesn't mind, for behind his smoke-screen of deception he blinds mankind to the truth (II Corinthians 4:4) and forwards his evil design. Elsewhere we're told by the apostle Paul that even Christians would "give heed to ... doctrines of demons" (I Timothy 4:2).
Clearly, then, our correspondent is right to imply that some who profess the name of Christ will unknowingly "obey the Devil". They believe - and teach - demonic doctrine. We then have to ask what that doctrine is. And it's a fair assumption that we could define it as "any doctrine which is clearly contrary to the Word of God".
So if our reader could point out where the teachings of the Churches of God conflict with the Scriptures then we could judge the accuracy of his accusation!
Is it because we teach that the "immortality of the soul" - with all its dependent doctrinal offspring - is not biblical? "You shall not surely die", according to the Word of God, was Satan 's first lie! Is it because we refuse to accept the trappings of the modern Christian festivals? Any encyclopedia will shed light on their pagan (and satanic) origins. Is it because we don't worship on Sundays? Again, a pre-Christian Satanic concept that was foreign to the Church of the first century or two after Christ's Resurrection. Or how about our teaching that sinners don't burn endlessly in hell as soon as they die? Even leading evangelical scholar Dr John Stott no longer believes this "doctrine of demons" then there's the "trinity" doctrine which we reject - a teaching that was completely unknown to the early Church, and which has been rejected by numerous leading Christian scholars as unbiblical. It, too, reflects an aspect of the Devil's own religion!
Who then "obeys the Devil"? Who is deceived? The Christian way, said Jesus, is hard to find and difficult to follow. True belief is nothing like as easy as falling off a greased log! And it is found only in the Scriptures. Are you on the right path? Simply being happy in your chosen church, or comfortable with your pastor or priest, or enjoying good fellowship, is not an authentication of truth! Literally millions unknowingly embrace "doctrines of demons".
The only way to find out whether you obey God or whether you obey the Devil is to open-mindedly search the Scriptures. Many of you wrote for our Statement of Beliefs . Have you checked each statement with your Bible? Do you think those teachings "obey the Devil"? Have you sought to understand them?
The Bible is not a textbook style how-to-do-it manual. It is deliberately written - and inspired by God - in such a way that you must search it diligently for the "pearl of great price", the truth. Most Bible teachers, however, wear the distorting spectacles of denominational tradition. They simply are blind to the real meaning of the Word of God! What chance have their disciples?
But if you seriously want to understand it - you can. Whole- heartedly and diligently seek God and His will and you can find it. He will remove the veil and give you a chance at 20/20 vision!
The truth won't be comfortable. But it alone leads to eternal life.
To comment on this article or request more information, please contact James McBride by e-mail at the comment form below.
For PDF or mailed copy, see CGOM. Excerpt from New Horizons Volume 1 Issue 6, November/December 1997. Edited by James McBride of the Churches of God, United Kingdom.
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