Calvary Road Baptist Church

“SEDUCING SPIRITS”

First Timothy 4.1

 

In Second Corinthians 2.11, we are warned not to be ignorant of Satan’s devices. It goes without saying that fallen angels, demons, evil spirits employ the same devices their leader the Devil uses. Dr. John Nevius, a missionary to China in the late 1800s who had many encounters with evil spirits, which led to the writing of his classic on the subject, Demon Possession and Allied Themes, gives the following list of demonic phenomena:[1]

 

1.      The use of a medium for the purpose of holding communication with spirits.

2.      Necromancy, or professed communication with the dead by the intervention of a medium.

3.      The invoking or summoning of spirits by means of hymns or prayer.

4.      Receiving communications from spirits by writing, through methods more or less direct and immediate.

5.      Gradual “development” or training by which the medium or subject, and the spirits, are brought [in contact], so that the medium becomes ready and responsive in performing his new functions.

6.      Obtaining prescriptions and healing diseases by spirits, through the intervention of a medium.

7.      Carrying on communications with spirits through a medium by the use of spoken language, or by raps, or other arrangements or devices.

8.      The mysterious appearance and disappearance of…lights and flames.

9.      Levitation, suspension in the air, and transference from one place to the other of crockery, household utensils, and other objects, including also men…

10.  Haunted houses, mysterious opening and shutting of doors, and other similar phenomena.

11.  The moving of furniture and other objects without physical contact.

12.  Rappings, clattering of dishes, and unusual noises and disturbances, without any physical cause which can be found.

13.  Impressions by unseen hands, sometimes gentle, sometimes violent, producing physical pain and injuries.

14.  The nervous and muscular symptoms peculiar to a demoniac, and often to the medium during possession, or its initial stage.

 

Dr. Nevius continues by saying, “The Bible teaches us that to have intercourse with a ‘familiar’ spirit is a voluntary act of disloyalty to, and rebellion against God. It is forsaking God, and holding intercourse with, and becoming the agent of his avowed enemy, the devil.”[2]

I do not think anyone here would disagree with Dr. Nevius. However, the problem here in the United States is somewhat different from that faced in parts of the world that have not had the gospel influence we have seen. Our experiences with the forces of darkness are more likely to be along the line of Paul’s comment to Timothy in First Timothy 4.1, “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.”

There is great spiritual opposition to our ministry, yet that opposition does not come in the form of demonstrations of supernatural power or in the form of possessions. Rather, it comes in the form of unscriptural doctrines (“doctrines of demons”) and spirits engaged in the seduction of both Christians and non-Christians. Therefore, I would like to spend some time this evening dealing with the activities of seducing spirits. Before we dive in, however, let us be very clear about two things: First, they are spirits. That is, they are incorporeal, immaterial, without physical substance, creatures who I think are fallen angels. As well, they are engaged in seduction.

The question at this point is what seduction is. The Greek word translated “seducing” translates the Greek word planoiV, from which our word planet is directly derived. However, when the Greeks used the word they referred to something that wandered in the sky, and came to refer in the active sense to deceiving someone to cause him to wander from his path. Thus, these are spirit beings who engaged in activities designed to lead people astray, what we normally think of as seduction. That understood; let us consider the seduction by spirits, followed by the strategy the saints should employ to avoid being seduced:

 

First, THE SEDUCTION OF PEOPLE BY SPIRITS

 

Consider some simple questions that should yield some beneficial answers:

First, where do seducing spirits attack? We can learn a great deal by examining a statement made by the Apostle Paul to the Corinthian congregation. Turn to Second Corinthians 10.3-5:

 

3      For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh:

4      (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;)

5      Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.

 

It does not make sense to imagine Paul laboring on a battlefield in spiritual conflict that was not the focus of demonic opposition. After all, wherever Paul engaged in ministry there would be spiritual opposition. Therefore, since Paul refers to dealing with men’s imaginations, and describes proud inclinations, it is clear that Paul thought the spiritual battlefield to be the human mind.

Therefore, though spirits do have powers, following the lead of their leader, Satan, their primary weapons are lies and pride, matters that are resolved in the human mind. Therefore, my friend, where spirits attack you when they seek to seduce you is your thought life, in the arena of your mind.

Next, how do these spirits attack to accomplish their seductions? There is no reason to think seducing spirits would employ a tactic much different than the one employed by Satan when he tempted Eve in the garden or Jesus in the wilderness. Do you remember what you have no doubt read in Genesis chapter three, where the serpent sought to undermine Eve’s confidence by creating doubt and uncertainty concerning God’s truthfulness and motives? The same kind of attack was leveled at the Savior when Satan tempted Him in the wilderness. Matthew 4.3: “And when the tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread.” The press of time prevents the development of this thought. However, the main thrust of the attempt to seduce is to undermine one’s confidence in the trustworthiness of God’s Word, or in God’s motives, so that a person actually thinks that he might be better off by sinning than by not sinning. Of course, that is a lie. Doubt, uncertainty, perhaps when a person thinks he is talking to himself about the pros and cons of obeying God, of trusting God, of yielding to God. You are not always talking to yourself when you are talking to yourself, but a spirit has interjecting himself into your thoughts.

Third, when do these spirits try to work their seduction? We know the Lord Jesus Christ was tempted by the Devil after forty days without food. That suggests to us that foul spirits believe that physical weakness, and perhaps illness and fatigue play a role in a person’s ability to deal with spiritual seduction. On the other hand, methinks a person is thought to be particularly vulnerable to seduction when he has experienced a personal victory. We know Job was experiencing tremendous personal success when Satan was permitted to attack him, perhaps as a means useful to the Devil to subvert Job or seduce him. Consider King David. First Chronicles 21.1 reads, “And Satan stood up against Israel, and provoked David to number Israel.” Thus, in direct conflict with the God’s command not to number the people, David does so, in what seems to be an appeal to bolster his own pride concerning the might of his fighting forces. As well, though I have no direct proof that their actions were the result of spiritual seduction, I rather think Uzziah’s arrogant insistence on usurping the function of a priest that resulted in God afflicting him with leprosy, and Nebuchadnezzar’s boasting about the might of his empire that led to him temporarily losing him mind after Daniel had told him God had raised him up, bear the earmarks of spiritual seduction by appealing to their pride.[3] Thus, when you are physically worn out or sick, when you have only recently experienced a great personal victory, or when you are spiritually anemic from inattention to your spiritual welfare, you can expect that attempts will be made to seduce you into committing sins that will compromise your effectiveness for Christ.

Finally, what do evil spirits seek when they attempt to seduce you? First Corinthians 10.20 shows their ends when they seduce the lost: “But I say, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils.” Seducing spirits want what the Devil wants and should not have, worship that belongs to God alone. However, when spirits seduce a real Christian, there is no real possibility of receiving worship. Christians will not consciously worship a false God, but can be seduced into compromising sins. Turn to Galatians chapter five. The works of the flesh are found in Galatians 5.19-21, which are the sins that are so characteristic of unsaved people. My friends, it is not only reasonable, but it almost goes without saying that spirits will attempt to seduce Christians to engage in adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, and revellings. That is, sexual sins, moral impurities, priorities that dishonor God, contentious and divisive behavior, misuse of medication, intoxication, partying, and other related activities that reflect an absence of joy and self-control and a desire to gratify the sinful nature in an inappropriate manner. Not only will evil spirits seduce people to do these things, but they will seduce people so they will not give evidence of the fruit of the Spirit, to give evidence of Christian love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance (which is self control).

My friend, you have a target on your back. There is nothing a seducing spirit wants more than to entice you into minimizing the sinfulness of sin, into letting your guard down so that you will be more prone to sinning, and thereby ruining your life beyond repair.

 

Now, THE STRATEGY THAT SHOULD BE EMPLOYED AGAINST SEDUCTION

 

May I make this as basic as possible? There are two things you must do in order to counter the attempts by seducing spirits to being you down, to compromise you, to ruin you, and to destroy your testimony:

First, you must resist. The assumption, of course, is that you are already serving God. The assumption is that you are faithfully reading God’s Word, spending time in prayer each day, cultivating your prized relationship with God and the Savior, and that you attend church and are involved in ministry and outreach. Excuse me, if I have not described your life there is no point in any spirit seducing you, because you are already out of play. You are already ineffective. Not that such an ineffective Christian would not be seduced, but that such a Christian has made himself such easy prey to pick on that he is effectively asking for it. However, when a serious Christian is attacked, and when there is an attempt to seduce someone whose relationship with God is meaningful to him, and when his heart’s desire is to serve God and be used in reaching the lost and setting an example for others to follow, then definite steps are called for to resist those foul spirits. Turn to James 4.7: “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” It is obvious that whatever results in the Devil fleeing from you will also result in a seducing spirit fleeing from you. The command to resist shows that resistance is possible. However, you must have the presence of mind to recognize the intelligence behind the subtle attempts to seduce you. You have to pay attention. You have to be circumspect. Your reputation, your testimony, your service to God, your relationship with God, must be important enough to you that you will mightily strive against any attempts to disrupt it. Now turn to First Peter 5.8-9: “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world.” The Devil is a dangerous foe, who must be resisted from a place of steadfastness in the faith, as I mentioned moments ago. Do not think you can disobey God and resist seducing spirits. Do not think a closed Bible and a lackluster prayer life, unfaithfulness in church, and absence from attempts to reach the lost will result in the successful preservation of your Christian integrity. Along this line, turn to Romans 13.14. Though the Apostle Paul was attempting to rouse the Roman Christians from their overall spiritual lethargy, what he writes in Romans 13.14 certainly has application to successfully resisting spiritual seduction: “But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.” Christian, you have to carefully avoid placing yourself into situations where spiritual seduction is more likely. For example: A young man and young woman have no business placing themselves in isolated situations where they can easily be tempted, or where their private conduct is challenged by people who are hostile to them. Another example: Anyone in business needs to conduct himself in such a way that no questions about his integrity or business practices are raised without a credible defense of his actions. In short, do not put yourself in a situation where it is easy to do wrong in a moment of weakness. As well, do not put yourself in a situation where your actions will be questioned without you be able to satisfactorily deny wrongdoing. The enemy is just as well served when people think you have sinned as when you have actually sinned. In a word, resist.

Then, after resisting, you should remember. Remember what happened to Eve when the serpent seduced her. Remember what happened to Abraham when his own wife seduced him into have sex with Hagar. Remember what happened to Lot’s wife when the enticements of Sodom seduced her into looking back, at which time God turned her into a pillar of salt. Remember how easily David was seduced by a glance in the direction of Bathsheba, because he made provision for the flesh by not being where he should have been when kings go forth into battle. Remember what happened to King Uzziah, a godly man’s life ruined as a result of a single misstep. Joseph resisted the seduction of Potiphar’s wife. Would you have? Daniel resisted the enticements of Babylonian power and wealth. Would you have? Demas forsook Paul, having finally succumbed to the enticement of the world after serving God for years. Would you have succeeded where he failed?

 

To be sure, some of the examples of seduction I have rehearsed to you are illustrations of people succumbing to the enticements of the world, and not specifically enticements of evil spirits who have seduced people. However, I am not sure a clear demarcation exists whereby you can say that this example is one in which the world seduced someone, while that example is one in which a spirit succeeded in seducing a fellow.

Since we are told in First John 5.19 that “the whole world lieth in wickedness,” there is no way to clearly tell where the influence of the world leaves off and the influence of a spirit begins. They compliment one another in their combined effort to seduce the child of God into committing sin, or in seducing the child of God into not doing so much right.

Just be careful, my friend, because the indwelling Spirit of God makes you a ripe target for seduction. You are the enemy, and for your own protection you need to stay close to the Lord, and faithful in God’s graces. Resist any attempts to distract you from your ministry, from your devotion, from your walk with the Lord, and remember not only the bad things that happen when saints stumble and fall, but also remember the ways in which our Lord and the Apostles Paul and Peter fought the good fight against spiritual adversaries.



[1]Dr. John Nevius, Demon Possession and Allied Themes (Revell, 1894), pages 321-322.

[2]Ibid., page 323.

[3] 2 Chronicles 26.16-21 and Daniel 4



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