Thoughts to Ponder

(1 John 4:1 NIV) Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. (2) This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, (3) but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world.

New Revelation or New Age?

I believe we must be careful whenever 'new' revelations are revealed, one thing I think we should do is ask God to give us wisdom to discern truth from error: (James 1:5 NIV) If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.

I want to approach this subject with a loving heart. I know many people who are very faithful Christians who think these new ways of dealing with their problems are Biblical and beneficial. I don't want to call into question anyone's faith, however, I believe as God's Word says that there are lots of false teachings out there and that we as believers must be careful. My objective is to take a close look at these practices in the light of scripture. If you feel compelled to write me you will find my e-mail address listed below, however, before you click that link to e-mail me, I ask that you get out your Bible and look for yourself, and that you ask God for His opinion.

Let's start by showing what I mean by these new revelations. There are many names for these things. Sometimes they are called 12 step programs, sometimes I have heard them called 7 step programs, or theophostic prayer, or even 'healing of memories.' It can be described as leading a person through memories of hurts or bad feelings and dealing with those feelings. It might involve forgiving people who the person 'remembers' wronged them. It might involve visualization, often of Jesus present when the incident happened to make the incident a more pleasant experience. Another of these new revelations is that many Christians are in bondage by demons and must therefore be delivered.

Because we are talking about a number of different teachings each of the things I speak about may address one or more of these different 'revelations,' however, overall I want to address whether or not these are things that Christians should be involved in.

I copied the following from a website which promotes their own style of theophostic therapy: (emphasis added)

Do you notice how often "I" is used? The person has to deal with this problem. That is the crux of my disagreement with this type of therapy/prayer or whatever you want to call it. The person is in charge, they must let go of the hurt, they must deal with the memory, they must take the lie captive, and so on. Where is Christ in this? Where is the power of God to deal with your life? Where is the freedom that Christ promised us? (Luke 4:17-21 NIV) The scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written: {18} "The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, {19} to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor." {20} Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him, {21} and he began by saying to them, "Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing." (Galatians 5:1 NIV) It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. (2 Corinthians 3:17 NIV) Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.

We don't know what Paul's thorn in the flesh was, but we know God's answer when he asked for it to be taken from him: (2 Corinthians 12:9 NIV) But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. Paul also states in this passage that he puts his past behind him: (Philippians 3:13 NIV) Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, (14) I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. Paul does not advocate going back to his childhood or even to the womb to address what made him the person he grew up to be. He does advocate keeping his eyes on Christ. I think that is good advice.

My basic problem with all of these 'new revelations' is the same, they take the focus off of Christ, and they take the power away from God. They say we have to deal with our problems. We were not released from sin, demonic power, past hurts, past sins of others, or the power of darkness when we were cleansed by the blood of the Lamb. They all make Christ's death and His blood less than sufficient for our deliverance.

There is no need for 7 steps to freedom, there is only one step needed and that is faith in Jesus Christ. These people promote the idea that a Christian can be demonized, which is a nice way of saying that a Christian can be demon possessed. I have a real problem with that. Does not a Christian have the Holy Spirit indwelling in them? Now I have read some of the explanations for this such as: The prince of the air is Satan and yet the Holy Spirit also inhabits the air, so you see a demon and the Holy Spirit can be in a believers heart at the same time. I don't believe that!! Can a Christian be misguided by a demon? Yes I believe that can happen, I believe that is what happens many times when Christians fall into sin, but that is not the same thing as being demon possessed.

Look at Peter for instance. Remember when this incident happened: (Matthew 16:23 NIV) Jesus turned and said to Peter, "Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men." Jesus spoke pretty harshly to Peter, but right after He spoke those words He went on to say: (Matthew 16:24 NIV) Then Jesus said to his disciples, "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. Notice He did not cast out the demon which was in Peter!! No where do we read that Jesus or any of the Apostles ever cast out a demon from a believer.

Let's look at another example, this one is about Ananias and Sapphira,. Their story is told in Acts 5:1-10. I won't post all of it here, but as you remember they lied about how much they received for the sale of land. Peter confronted them and they both dropped dead at his feet. I do want to quote one verse: (Acts 5:3 NIV) Then Peter said, "Ananias, how is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you have lied to the Holy Spirit and have kept for yourself some of the money you received for the land?" Notice that Peter asks Ananias how he could allow Satan to fill his heart, but did Peter cast Satan out of Ananias' heart? No. If Peter was trying to say that Ananias had been possessed by Satan wouldn't he have delivered him? Also if this sin was due to demon possession then why did Ananias and Sapphira die for it, after all it would have been beyond their control. Now before someone tries to tell me that these two were not believers, let me ask exactly the same question. If they were not believers, why didn't Peter cast out the demon and save them as he and the others had done for so many other people? Could it be because these two people, although influenced by Satan, still made the decision themselves to sin? Although they were influenced by Satan they were not possessed by him or any other demons?

(James 1:13-15 NIV) When tempted, no one should say, "God is tempting me." For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; {14} but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. {15} Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death. Notice James says it is our own evil desire that drags us away and entices us to sin.

I have a real problem with anything that takes power away from God in our view. God is sufficient to protect us. If you don't think God can handle your protection, then it is time for you to get a clue, because you are weaker than God. If He can't protect you, you are lost!

Paul tells us that our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but he does not tell us that we have to have the demons cast out of our hearts. No instead he tells us to put on armor to protect us from the onslaught. Think about the analogy he uses (under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit). He tells us to put on armor, which by its design only protects the wearer from external attack: (Ephesians 6:12-17 NIV) For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. {13} Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. {14} Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, {15} and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. {16} In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. {17} Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

Now for the real question, is this all really a new revelation from God or just New Age practices? I believe with all my heart that this is New Age. Again before you hate me for that statement, let me explain. I believe some very godly people have been deceived into believing this stuff. When I call something New Age I mean something that gives power to the person. For example, visualization is advertised as a way for the person to change circumstances, whether those circumstances are past memories or their ability to shoot a basketball. Breaking the bondage caused by demons, first it denies the power of Christ to have released you when you obtained salvation. Second it replaces real trust in God with magic words or sayings. Such as pleading the blood over your car, because a demon has made the starter quit working. Or renouncing the demon of overeating, or the demon of rebellion in your children. We were all born with an evil heart and only by the saving grace of Jesus Christ can we overcome it. Take a close look at the story of Job. Satan did the dirty work but only after getting permission from God. So, even if is a demon that keeps your car from starting, shouldn't you pray to God for deliverance?

Don't get me wrong, I do believe that Christ gave us power over the demons, but only in respect to His work. If the occasion arises where a Christian is confronted by a demon possessed person (non-believer) I do believe we can use Christ's authority to cast out that demon. I also think that when people try to link demons to every 'bad' occurrence in the world around them, they are giving Satan and his legions much more credit then they are due. But again the bottom line is this, God is more powerful than any of His created beings, so go right to the top; talk to Him directly!!

Shouldn't we be like the Bereans? (Acts 17:11 NIV) Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.

(1 Thessalonians 5:21 NIV) Test everything. Hold on to the good.

Here is another area that I think we need to ask God for discernment in dealing with. Is it called Seven Steps to Freedom in Christ.

Here is the basic concept. On the surface it might look like there is nothing wrong with it, but look closer: Satan will be defeated only if we confront him verbally--(1) Renounce involvement with satanically inspired occultic practices (including any activity that a family member may have participated in); (2) Choose to live by truth rather than deception; (3) Choose forgiveness rather than being bitter (this includes forgiving ourselves); (4) We must choose to be submissive rather than rebellious; (5) Live humbly instead of proudly; (6) Choose freedom rather than bondage to sin; and (7) Renounce the sins and curses which may have been placed on your ancestors.

My problem with this is the same as it is with the others we have looked at, the person is responsible for their own deliverance. Are we stronger than God? Are we stronger than Satan and his demons? I don't believe in beating around the bush, so I will just come right out and say it. If you ever get out from behind Christ and His protection Satan will eat you for lunch and still go away hungry. You are no match for the least of the demons. It is only by the power of Christ that we can have authority over them. We don't need to confront Satan verbally, we need to stay in the Will of God, period. He is our protection, our Redeemer, our Liberator, our Savior and our Father.

Here is a sample prayer from the Seven Steps to Freedom in Christ: "I cancel out all demonic working that may have been passed on to me from my ancestors. ... I renounce all satanic assignments that are directed toward me and my ministry, and I cancel every curse that Satan and his workers have put on me. ... I reject all other blood sacrifices whereby Satan may claim ownership of me." Again do you see how often I is used?

I want to close with one last question. Do you think you are more powerful or smarter than the archangel Michael? If your answer is no, then maybe you should take heed of how he handled a dispute with Satan: (Jude 1:9 NIV) But even the archangel Michael, when he was disputing with the devil about the body of Moses, did not dare to bring a slanderous accusation against him, but said, "The Lord rebuke you!"

E-Mail Ralph

These devotionals are written by Ralph Dettwiler, and reflect his views.

The statement below was sent to me by a reader:

Theophostic destroyed my marriage of 15 years. She was lead to believe that her father did things to her, then she later believed I did things to her that I did not do. No one should be in theophostic counselling!!! It is a bunch of hocus pocus with the Lord's name on it. Christians should be protesting outside of places that use this method on people.

The statement below was sent to me by another reader:

Dear Ralph,

Thank you for writing against Theophostic ministries. I entered this type of ministry at the request and recommendation of my pastor over three years ago. At the time, I was trying to overcome some difficult memories and pains from childhood sexual abuse. After three years of theophostic counseling, I not only had not gotten better, I had developed a deep depression and became suicidal. There had been periods of peace and relief as I felt that I was "Conquering" some of the pain I wanted to leave behind. At the climax of my therapy, however, I almost succeeded in ending my life. I felt that Jesus had left me and didn't love me because I was not seeing/hearing him in the horrible memories that were being uncovered.

Dozens of memories had been "remembered" and "uncovered" by "Jesus" that even I had difficulty believing were true. But, over time, I was encouraged by the different Theophostic facilitators to accept them and let Jesus heal me. Not so easy... Among the previously un-recalled traumas were Satanic Ritual Abuse, Sexual abuse by my father, and Masonic ritual abuse. The way that the counseling works actually leads people into believing a lie before you allow Jesus to come in and heal you. Well, what happens when "Jesus" starts to "say" ludicrous things? And what if you never get the special word-of-knowledge the facilitator encourages you to wait for? The reality of it all was that I was hearing myself think, not Jesus talking to me. I don't believe any of the previously un-remembered memories were true at all.

I have left the city where all of this took place, my hometown of over 20 years. The emotional pain and devestation I inflicted on those around me is almost too unbearable to think about. I have since moved on and started a new life for myself. However, I can't help but remember all of the other Theophostic victims I left behind. I call them victims because they THINK this will help them, it sounds good. But, this movement was sweeping my church and, no doubt, ruining other lives in it's path.

Theophostic is a mockery of all that is sane, reasonable, and Biblical. I am glad I escaped it and I hope that others will do the same, before they get sucked in as deeply as I did. It may seem to help for a little while and bring a sense of peace, but the end result will most likely be utter devestation. It certainly was for me.

Thanks for speaking out about this.

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