Detecting Spirit Fraud (1 Peter 1:10–12)

holy-spirit-1214520-1279x1595

…inquiring what person or time the Spirit of Christ in them was indicating when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories.” —1 Peter 1:11 (ESV)

Where the Spirit is so emphasized that there is little to no emphasis on Jesus, it’s not the Holy Spirit who’s involved. Many churches are all kinds of spiritual, in a bad way. A way that grieves the Spirit of Christ. In his great book, The World-Tilting Gospel, Dan Philipps sets forth the litmus test.

“Show me a person obsessed with the Holy Spirit and His gifts (real or imagined), and I will show you a person not filled with the Holy Spirit.

Show me a person focused on the person and work of Christ—never tiring of learning about Him, thinking about Him, boasting of Him, speaking about and for and to Him, thrilled and entranced with His perfections and beauty, finding ways to serve and exalt Him, tirelessly exploring ways to spend and be spent for Him, growing in character to be more and more like Him—and I will show you a person who is filled with the Holy Spirit.”

The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Christ. He is sent by Christ. He ministers Christ. He puts us into union with Christ. He is the witness of Christ, the Scriptures are His recorded testimony, and through them He speaks of Christ still (John 15:26). If this is too opaque for you, J.I. Packer stings together a slew of similes that should make things clear.

“We may multiply the illustrations. The Spirit, as we said, is the floodlight, or the searchlight, picking out and illuminating the Lord Jesus for us; also, he is the contact lens that enables us to see him clearly; also he is the matchmaker, drawing us close to Christ for a permanent union; also, he is the intercom, making communication between Christ and us a reality of our experience; also, he is the spiritual pacemaker, implanted to ensure heart-healthy functioning in love to Christ; and with all this he is the channel through which Christ pours his life and power into us for worship, sanctity, and service. But in all that he does he keeps himself out of sight. When he works in us, Christ, not the Spirit, is the center of attention. Spiritual experiences that lead away from Christ, or bypass him, are not from the Holy Spirit at all.”

Any kind of spirit that draws attention away from Jesus, towards itself, isn’t holy, but demonic. You don’t want to be filled with such spirits. You don’t want to be empowered by such spirits. You don’t want gifts from such spirits.

Don’t Buy “Dragon Slayer” (Colossians 2:8–15)


“See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ.” —Colossians 2:8 (ESV)

False teaching promises freedom and enslaves. It promises life and give death. Heresy is a lie dressed up as truth. She promises fullness, but she’s a vacuum. She’s a harlot; she’s not lady wisdom.

The worst kind of captivity is the one you’re blind to and embrace as freedom. Man rebels against God desiring to be free and finds bondage to sin, Satan, and death. But more subtle, more crafty, is the illusion of freedom, deeper spirituality, and fullness that looks like it’s fighting for God’s kingdom against the forces of darkness.

The false teachers trying to make inroads at Colossae had a fascination with angels and spiritual forces (Colossians 2:8, 18, 20). This is why Paul has stressed that Christ is supreme over all thrones, dominions, and authorities, including those that are unseen (Colossians 1:13, 16; 2:15). Much false teaching today enslaves by promising liberation from the demonic. Demonism doesn’t always look like a goat; often it disguises itself as a lamb.

Jennifer LeClaire, writing for Charisma Magazine, tells of a friend who had a “vision” (see Colossians 2:18) wherein a squid was perched atop her head. She writes, “I knew enough about the unseen world to understand a spiritual attack was underway [emphssis added].” As you study Colossians, it becomes apparent that the false teachers were promising some kind of fullness of knowledge that was in addition to the authoritative and final apostolic revelation of Christ. LeClair is claiming exactly that kind of knowledge. What kind of spiritual attack was afoot?

“What I didn’t know was that a sneaky squid spirit would soon start stalking me.

Right about now, you might be scratching your head and asking, with all sincerity—or with all mockery—‘What in the world is a squid spirit?’ Essentially, it’s a spirit of mind control but its affects go way behind what you would think.

In his classic book, Demon Hit List, Eckhardt lists mind control and defines it this way: ‘Octopus and squid spirits having tentacles; confusion, mental pressure, mental pain, migraine.’ ”

Balderdash! LeClair then elaborates on how one falls prey to a sneaky squid spirit. Additionally, she provides intel concerning their tactics and how to combat them. The problem with all this? None of it is “according to Christ,” the Christ who has conquered (Colossians 2:15), the Christ we’ve received (Colossians 2:6). The problem with such teaching is that it says Jesus isn’t sufficient when He is the only One who is. Our eyes are diverted from the revelation of Christ as given in the Scriptures, to that which is “of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh (Colossians 2:23).” We thus come into bondage, having traded the armor of Jesus Christ for a shiny and flashy display piece dubbed “dragon slayer” that is useless, save to draw glory to ourselves.

Demon Duped about Demon Duping (1 Timothy 4:1–5)

Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons…

Both the original audience (especially Jewish Christians), and we, can be numbskulls  concerning the threat of false teaching because we misunderstand the phrase “latter times,” but we are muttonheaded for different reasons. To see why, we must be clear as to when the “latter times” are. The Biblical answer may surprise you. Hebrews 1:1–2 says that God spoke in the past in various ways, but “in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son.” If you think that “last days,” there is nothing more that a references to recently transpired events, you may find it harder to weasel your way out of 1 Corinthians 10:11 when Paul says that what was recorded concerning Israel was for our instruction “on whom the end of the ages has come.” Not to be outdone by Paul, John says it is the last hour (1 John 2:18).

The last days were inaugurated in the advent of Jesus Christ. Jesus’ incarnation is the presence of the future, the kingdom come. The language of the “last days,” in the epistles corresponds to the way the gospel writers speak of the kingdom. Sometimes the kingdom is future, sometimes it is present. The kingdom is here now but not yet. The kingdom is God’s redemptive rule and reign come in His Son. Redemption is here now, but not fully here yet. What would have shocked the Jewish Christian is that the kingdom and last days could be here and that there would be false teachers. They expected the kingdom to come all at once and mop everything up.

We have the opposite problem. We’re not bothered by the idea of false teachers at the end of the age. That is precisely when we expect them. We’re dull because we don’t think we’re in the last days. We are. What can we expect? Because Jesus is King, because He is risen, because He has ascended, because He is at the right hand of the Father, because He, with the Father, has sent His Spirit to empower and sanctify His church, because all enemies are being put under His feet, we can expect light to conquer darkness, but, because His redemption isn’t fully here yet, in these last days, we can expect darkness to be violently opposed to the light. Don’t be demon duped that this isn’t the time of demon duping.

Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. —1 Peter 5:8 (ESV)