Fearful Warning

The lesson that lies in the apostle Peter’s denial of Jesus is both eye-opening and powerful. Not only does it serve as a warning against self-reliance, but it tells us that if we are not truly rooted and grounded in the faith and do not rely on Jesus for salvation, rather than on ourselves, we will incur the same kind of denial that Peter suffered.

There is another who has been in denial regarding the power of God for thousands of years.

Revelation 12 gives a history of the Great Controversy in 17 succinct verses. In verses 7–12 it says, “And there was war in heaven: Michael and His angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, and prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven. And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him. And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night. And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death. Therefore rejoice, ye heavens, and ye that dwell in them. Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea! for the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time.”

Several references are herein made to the fact that Satan’s power is short-lived, at least in terms of eternity.

  • He lost his special place in heaven, a consequence of both his literal and his spiritual downfall.
  • He is going to be overcome—at least by some.
  • He knows that he has a short time.

In Isaiah 14:12, 13, the story of Lucifer’s fall begins: “How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north.”

“Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised in the city of our God, in the mountain of his holiness. Beautiful for situation, the joy of the whole earth, is mount Zion, on the sides of the north, the city of the great King.” Psalm 48:1, 2.

Satan wanted to sit on the sides of the north like God, just as Isaiah 14:13–15 tells us: “ ‘I will also sit on the mount of the congregation on the farthest sides of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the Most High.’ Yet you shall be brought down to Sheol [hell].” Isaiah 14:13–15, NKJV.

Jesus Himself gave us some hints as to the nature of Satan in John 8:44 (International Standard Version) when He was debating with the Pharisees over their paternity. When they told Him that He was a child of fornication, He responded: “You belong to your father the devil, and you want to carry out the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning and has never stood for the truth, since there is no truth in him. Whenever he tells a lie he speaks in character, because he is a liar and the father of lies.” Here Christ references two commandments that Satan had broken: the sixth and the ninth.

In Genesis 3:15, Jesus said to Satan, “I will put enmity between thee [the serpent] and the woman [the church], and between thy seed [the children of Satan, his evil angels and those he has enlisted on his side on this earth] and her seed [Christ].” When these words were spoken to Satan by Christ in the Garden of Eden he should have given up his quest for supremacy right then and there. That he did not give up clearly shows that he was in absolute denial. And clearly he continues to be in that state of denial today. Throughout scripture his eventual fate is told time and time again, sometimes very directly, as in Genesis 3:15, and sometimes indirectly.

Paul makes it clear who the Seed of the church is. He wrote, “Now to Abraham and his Seed were the promises made. He does not say, ‘And to seeds,’ as of many, but as of one, ‘And to your Seed,’ who is Christ.” Galatians 3:16, NKJV

“It [the Seed of the woman, Christ] shall bruise thy [Satan’s] head, and thou [Satan] shalt bruise His [Christ’s] heel.” Genesis 3:15, last part. This is a fairly direct statement that Satan is going to lose his power and lose the Great Controversy. However, his demise is also predicted in less direct ways.

In Psalm 89:34–37, it says, “My [God’s] covenant will I not break, nor alter the thing that is gone out of My lips. Once have I sworn by My holiness that I will not lie unto David. His seed shall endure for ever, and his throne as the sun before Me. It shall be established for ever as the moon, and as a faithful witness in heaven.”

It is easy to conclude from this that Satan’s kingdom must eventually end.

Daniel, who has given so much wonderful prophecy, wrote in Daniel 2:44, 45: “And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever. Forasmuch as thou sawest that the stone was cut out of the mountain without hands, and that it brake in pieces the iron, the brass, the clay, the silver, and the gold; the great God hath made known to the king what shall come to pass hereafter: and the dream is certain, and the interpretation thereof sure.”

In Daniel 7:14, again the promise is made, “And there was given Him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve Him: His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and His kingdom that which shall not be destroyed.”

Here again, if Satan were not in a state of hopeless denial, he would realize that the Lord’s kingdom is not going to be destroyed but rather is going to prevail. Therefore, his kingdom would have to end.

In Daniel 7:27, there is another statement which says, “And the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the most High, whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him.”

Then there is the wonderful promise in Nahum 1:9: “What do ye imagine against the Lord? He will make an utter end: affliction shall not rise up the second time.”

In Luke 1:31–33, when the angel spoke to Mary about her impending delivery, Satan’s ultimate fate was once again given indirectly: “And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name Jesus. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto Him the throne of His father David: And He shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever, and of His kingdom there shall be no end.”

In the parable of the sheep and the goats in Matthew 25:41, Christ clearly states the ultimate end of Satan: “Then shall He say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from Me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels.”

In Revelation 20:1–3 it says, “And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years, and cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled: and after that, he must be loosed a little season.”

In Revelation 20:10, it says, “And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night forever and ever.”

In spite of all the warnings given throughout Scripture that the seed of the woman—that is, Christ and His followers who constitute the church—will prevail, Satan continues in his effort to lead men astray. Unfortunately, he has achieved a great degree of success. Why is this?

In the New King James Version of the Bible, it is stated this way: “The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie, that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.” II Thessalonians 2:9–12.

The International Standard Version translates it a little differently. “The coming of the lawless one will be accompanied by the power of Satan. He will use every kind of power, including miraculous signs, lying wonders, and every type of evil to deceive those who are dying, those who refused to love the truth that would save them. For this reason, God will send them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie. Then all who have not believed the truth, but have taken pleasure in unrighteousness, will be condemned.”

Both of these translations put the definite article in front of the word lie: that they “believe the lie.” That lie is that we can be saved in our sins and therefore do not need to heed the many, many Scriptural injunctions regarding dying to self and perfection of character. There is probably no more fearful warning in all of Scripture than this one.

Let’s look for a moment at an interesting little piece of mythology concerning the siege of Troy, which shows in type exactly what Satan is attempting today to conquer mankind. According to legend, the Greeks had maintained a ten-year siege of that ancient city, but they had never been able to take it. So they came up with a remarkable strategy designed to finally penetrate its heavily fortified walls. They constructed a huge wooden horse and left it outside the city walls and then they stopped their siege and retreated.

The citizens of Troy were convinced that the Greeks had given up and that they had left this huge wooden horse as a token of their acknowledgment of the power of their enemies. The Trojans, however, were curious about this horse and decided to bring it inside the gates of the city to remain as a monument to their victory over the Greeks. Although they did not really defeat the Greeks, they were not subdued by them. (Similarly, we will not defeat Satan—that is left to Jesus—but we cannot be subdued by him.) Therefore, they were going to keep this horse as a monument to their invincibility. Little did they know that, inside the horse, soldiers were waiting for the right opportunity to come out and open the gates so that the Greek army that was outside could come inside and capture the town.

In a similar manner, the Roman church has developed a clandestine tactic to penetrate the Protestant churches, even further than they have already done, and bring them under the full control of the Vatican. Although this may seem somewhat unlikely, note the following explanation:

“Throughout Christendom, Protestantism was menaced by formidable foes. The first triumphs of the Reformation [having] past, Rome summoned new forces, hoping to accomplish its destruction. At this time the order of the Jesuits was created, the most cruel, unscrupulous, and powerful of all the champions of popery. Cut off from earthly ties and human interests, dead to the claims of natural affection, reason and conscience wholly silenced, they knew no rule, no tie, but that of their order, and no duty but to extend its power. The gospel of Christ had enabled its adherents to meet danger and endure suffering, undismayed by cold, hunger, toil, and poverty, to uphold the banner of truth in face of the rack, the dungeon, and the stake. To combat these forces, Jesuitism inspired its followers with a fanaticism that enabled them to endure like dangers, and to oppose … the power of truth [with] all the weapons of deception. There was no crime too great for them to commit, no deception too base for them to practice, no disguise too difficult for them to assume. Vowed to perpetual poverty and humility, it was their studied aim to secure wealth and power, to be devoted to the overthrow of Protestantism, and the re-establishment of the papal supremacy.

“When appearing as members of their order, they wore a garb of sanctity, visiting prisons and hospitals, ministering to the sick and the poor, professing to have renounced the world, and bearing the sacred name of Jesus, who went about doing good. But under this blameless exterior the most criminal and deadly purposes were often concealed. It was a fundamental principle of the order that the end justifies the means. By this code, lying, theft, perjury, assassination, were not only pardonable but commendable, when they served the interests of the church. Under various disguises the Jesuits worked their way into offices of state, climbing up to be the counselors of kings, and shaping the policy of nations. They became servants to act as spies upon their masters. They established colleges for the sons of princes and nobles, and schools for the common people; and the children of Protestant parents were drawn into an observance of popish rites. All the outward pomp and display of the Romish worship was brought to bear to confuse the mind and dazzle and captivate the imagination, and thus the liberty for which the fathers had toiled and bled was betrayed by the sons. The Jesuits rapidly spread themselves over Europe, and wherever they went, there followed a revival of popery.” The Great Controversy, 234, 235.

If you have ever stepped into the den of the dragon, you may have had an experience similar to this. Many years ago, I attended a Christmas Eve midnight mass in a very large Catholic Church. It was an amazing show. The church was highly decorated with glitter, gold and beautiful paintings, and candles burning everywhere. Incense was burning, and the priest was arrayed in gorgeous robes. There was also chanting. It was a very impressive service. As Sister White wrote, it all meant “to confuse the mind, and dazzle and captivate the imagination.”

“His [Satan’s] policy is deception from first to last, and his steadfast purpose is to bring woe and wretchedness upon men, to deface and defile the workmanship of God, to mar the divine purposes of benevolence and love, and thus cause grief in heaven. Then by his deceptive arts he blinds the minds of men. …

“When error in one garb has been detected, Satan only masks it in a different disguise, and multitudes receive it as eagerly as at the first.” Ibid., 284, 285. What disguise is Satan using now to lead men from the truth?

Ignatius Loyola and Martin Luther were contemporaries. Martin Luther was just eight years older than Loyola, but the two men could not have had more different influences upon world history. Luther turned decidedly toward dependency on Christ as his personal Saviour. Loyola depended solely on himself. Luther was led by the Holy Spirit; Loyola was led by Satan.

In the book, The Omega Rebellion (Remnant Publications, Coldwater, Michigan, 1982), written by Rick Howard, a Seventh-day Adventist minister, is this statement: “Loyola longed for supernatural experiences, believing them to be evidence of God’s presence and power. Deceived, he turned to the writings of the Roman Catholic mystics and saints, longing for God to reveal Himself in everything, all the time. He desired God’s presence on his terms, and Satan made sure he would think he found him. … Loyola’s experience was mysticism, and he taught all those enlisted in the Jesuit order, which he founded.” (Emphasis added.)

Believing that God is in everything is nothing other than pantheism—the basis for New Age religion and the current phenomenon called “the emerging church.”

“In the emerging Church, due emphasis will be placed on both theological rootage and contemporary experience, on celebration in worship and involvement in social concerns, on faith and feeling, reason and prayer, conversion and continuity, the personal and the conceptual.” [Ian Mobsby, Emerging and Fresh Expressions of Church, Moot Community Publishing, London, 2007, 20, 21.]

Please note the subtle but fatal mixture of truth with error in that statement. Note also the complete lack of a call for repentance and confession.

Let’s look at the different forms of worship practiced or promoted in the “emerging church.” Meant to bring the practitioner to a higher state of consciousness, they are nothing other than different forms of spiritual formation. If they were called by their original names, they would in all likelihood be rejected by most Adventists. When they are called “spiritual formation” they are embraced as the latest and greatest way to know God.

As noted earlier, Loyola thought that by entering into the realm of mysticism he would find God. What he actually found was an open channel of communication with evil spirits, which he assumed to be a revelation of God. He combined the techniques of mystics and monks from centuries earlier into what he called “spiritual exercises.” In the book, The History of Protestantism, by J. E. Wylie [Hartland Publications, Rapidan, Virginia, 2002], Loyola’s work is compared with the magicians who strove to rival Moses. A Jesuit who had gone through these exercises remarked that, “Loyola’s book on this subject was truly written by the finger of God and delivered to Ignatius by the Holy Mother of God.” Adventists, however, know exactly that Satan is the one who wrote it for him.

The object of these exercises was to render the members of this order absolutely obedient to their superiors, who in turn were equally submissive to those above them, and they to those above them, until it finally got to the Jesuit general at the top of the hierarchy. The first Jesuit general elected by those under him was indeed Ignatius Loyola.

Once converted, it did not matter what one’s superiors demanded of him, even if it was immoral or illegal. They believed that the end justifies the means. When fully committed, they believed that by contemplating holy things while the body was engaged in sinning, the soul remained free from sin. So, in a nutshell, a Jesuit believes that he can commit murder, tell lies, abuse children, or perform any other abominable act, and justify his actions by thinking about what he believes to be holy things while he is sinning. One thing is absolutely clear from this and that is that spiritual exercises can destroy the conscience.

These same exercises are taught in spiritual formation classes and seminars, only in a more subtle form. One of these exercises is meditation, often called “meditative prayer” or “contemplative prayer.” New Agers, Hindus, and other Eastern religions practice these techniques. In fact, some professedly Christian teachers believe that Christians are depriving themselves if they do not learn the ways of other religions. Rick Warren, the author of the best-seller, The Purpose Driven Life [Zondervan, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 2002], wrote, “In the wider ecumenism of the spirit being opened for us today, we need to humbly accept the learnings of particular religions. What makes a particular practice Christian is not its source, but its intent.” Apparently Mr. Warren believes that the Bible alone is not sufficient to teach us to grow spiritually. We need the help of Eastern mystics.

Contemplative prayer sounds innocent enough to the average Christian. It may sound like intimate communion with God to ponder His majesty, His power, His love, His providences, contemplating all the wonderful attributes of God and meditating on His word. Unfortunately, this is not what is taught in spiritual formation classes. One teacher of contemplative prayer describes it this way: “When one enters the deeper layers of contemplative prayer, one sooner or later experiences the void, the emptiness, the nothingness … the profound mystical silence … the absence of thought.” William Johnston, Letters to Contemplatives, Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 1992, 13.

What is taught by spiritual formation instructors and contemplative prayer is just the opposite of what it sounds like. The purpose is to so completely empty the mind that one enters into a sort of self-induced hypnotic state. A repetitive mantra is used to achieve this emptiness, much like that employed by practitioners of Eastern religions and occult practices. A mantra is a word or a phrase, maybe even a scripture or a portion of a scripture that is repeated over, and over, and over. In Matthew 6:7, Jesus said of this practice, “But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.”

It is mind-boggling that Christians can be induced to do the very thing that Jesus commanded them not to do, all the while believing that they are having a close encounter with God.

Another aspect of spiritual formation is called “The Silence.” What one author wrote about it doesn’t just border on blasphemy; it is blasphemy. “I turned from the world about me to the world of consciousness that lies within. I shut out all memories of the past, create no images of the future. I concentrate on my being, on my awareness. I slide deep into the very recesses of my soul to a place of utter repose. I know, I know that this is Immortal Self, this is God. This is me. I am, I always was, I always will be.” U. S. Andersen’s, Three Magic Words, Wilshire Book Company, Chatsworth, California, 2011, 319.

Is that not what Satan told Eve when he tempted her to sin? What utter deception. This is the ultimate form of idolatry, making God to be whatever you imagine Him to be, even yourself. This certainly sounds like the original lie told in the Garden of Eden. I cannot help but think of the words of Paul to the Romans in Romans 1:25 where he wrote, “Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.”

Keep in mind that these techniques taught in “Christian” seminars are the very techniques used by mystics and Buddhists. If you were to trace back to the source of nearly all of the spiritual formation seminars conducted, you would find that Catholic priests, especially Jesuits, are at the root. Just as the Greeks used the Trojan horse to overthrow the citizens of Troy, the Jesuits are using a spiritual Trojan horse to overthrow the foundation and pillars of Christianity.

One of the diabolical ideas introduced by spiritual formation is that a Christian must experience “the silence” to have genuine spiritual growth. This leaves the feeling with those who have experienced it that they have reached a higher plane than those who have never learned the spiritual exercises.

Another quote from Rick Howard’s book, The Omega Rebellion, states: “Roman Catholic doctrine teaches that supernatural manifestations experienced when the disciple enters the mystical state called the silence, where the presence of God is experienced, are absolutely required for there to be any genuine Christian growth, for that is where God’s grace is received, according to their theology.” Howard, 114.

Another aspect of spiritual exercises is hypnosis. We know enough about the dangers of allowing someone to control our minds that we don’t need to dwell on this one very much. Basically, in hypnotism, the subject is yielding complete control of his mind to someone else, who has likewise yielded his mind to the control of Satan.

Now let’s discuss what is termed “utter repose” or “ecstasy.” Remember the words of Andersen that we read: “I slide deep into the very recess of my soul to a place of utter repose.” Here is a clue as to what the person encounters when practicing the contemplative prayer and entering “the silence,” the self-hypnotic state. When the individual has an experience of utter repose or ecstasy, he abandons Christian reasoning. Notice that I said “Christian reasoning.” Because human reasoning is quite fallible, we can get in serious trouble if we rely on human reasoning without the aid of Scripture. Christian reasoning involves a conscience affected by a knowledge of Scripture and the divine will.

Do I need to tell you that to depend on feelings is dangerous ground? Remember that Satan can affect our feelings. That’s something that I have discovered time and time again while giving Bible studies. The person I’m studying with so often talks about his feelings and how he has had a wonderful feeling after a Bible study. I don’t ever want to quash that feeling, but it is a dangerous thing to rely on feelings as an evidence of spiritual growth. We know that we walk by faith and not by sight—by faith and not by feeling.

One proponent of spiritual formation, when listening to a preacher explain that the Bible was to be our sole and ultimate authority, responded this way, “No, no, no. The ultimate authority in my life is not the Bible. It is not confined between the covers of a book. It is not something written by men and frozen in time. It is not from a source outside of myself. My ultimate authority is the divine voice in my soul.” How much trouble do you think you can get into if that is all you rely on?

I once had a very interesting discussion with someone I love very dearly, but who was very much opposed to my becoming a Seventh-day Adventist. I expressed my belief that the Bible contains the truth and contended that if you want to know what to do to have eternal life, the Bible will tell you. If you want to know the ultimate reference to determine right from wrong, it is the Bible. I was told very adamantly, “No, I know what’s right and wrong.” I tried to explain that no one has an innate ability to know absolutely what is right and wrong in every circumstance.

If a child is brought up smoking cigarettes and drinking coffee, that’s going to be normal to him and he will not see anything wrong with it. And of course, children are brought up doing things much worse than that. Unless you have some external, objective reference, you are not going to know what is right and wrong. That reference has to be the inspired word of God—the Bible. Although it was indeed written by men, it was written by men who were inspired by the Holy Spirit, and it does indeed contain the truth.

Well, clearly the spiritual formation movement is poised to take over Christendom. It all ties in with the warning given in Revelation 13:3, “And I saw one of his heads as it were wounded to death, and his deadly wound was healed: and all the world wondered after the beast.”

Since the deadly wound was inflicted in 1798 when the papacy was temporarily overthrown, the deadly wound has been healing. The counter-reformation launched at the Catholic church’s Council of Trent, along with the relentless working of the Jesuits, has once again made the Vatican the most powerful organization on the planet.

In the past, the papacy made physical war with the saints. An estimated 50 million martyrs were slain for refusing to accept the pope as supreme and for refusing to submit to Catholic doctrines and practices. In modern times, the strategy is different. Protestants are being overthrown by stealth, infiltration, deception, political involvement and whatever means Rome can use, especially this new Trojan horse—spiritual formation.

Do not ever forget that the papacy does not confine itself to religious affairs. The Vatican desires the same position it held during the dark ages—supreme power over the nations and their governments.

Just as the mystery of iniquity was at work in Paul’s day to bring the papacy into power, it is at work now. Spiritual formation is providing a powerful medium for the three unclean spirits of Revelation 16 to gain entry to the multitude who open themselves up to devils when they enter “the silence.”

History is being repeated. Just as the great falling away took place in the early church, resulting in the exaltation of the papacy, once again just before the Second Coming of Christ, a falling away is in progress.

In II Thessalonians 2:3, 4, we read, “Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God, sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.”

The temple of God is the church. It is not some brick and mortar structure. It is not a rebuilt temple in literal Jerusalem.

Note what Paul wrote to the Ephesians in Ephesians 2:20–22: “And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief corner stone; in Whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: in Whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.”

Peter alluded to the same concept in I Peter 2:5: “Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.”

Popular teaching today is that the antichrist will appear after the saints have been raptured. He will then, supposedly, make a covenant with literal Israel, and the temple will be rebuilt in Jerusalem. What many do not know is that this is an interpretation of the Jesuit, Francisco Ribera, who, in the 16th century, designed this theory to get the papacy off the hook. The reformation was in full swing and the Catholic Church was losing members by the thousands, who were convinced that Rome was the seat of antichrist. By removing the final week of Daniel’s seventy-week prophecy given in Daniel 9:24–27, and throwing it somewhere into the future, Ribera was able to divert attention away from the papacy to some future individual.

This futurist interpretation of Daniel and Revelation has been embraced by the majority of Christians, leaving them vulnerable to Satan’s great deceptions. Focus has been taken off the pope as antichrist, leaving little fear of what the Vatican is planning. By accepting these Jesuit fables, Protestant Christians have placed themselves in a very precarious position.

It is because of a lack of individual study and consecration to Christ that multitudes are being deceived. Herein lies the reason why spiritual formation is so widely accepted.

In I Peter 5:8, Peter wrote, “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary, the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.”

As we read in the beginning from Revelation 12:12, “Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea! for the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time.”

He knows that his time is short, but do we realize the same? The meeting of time and eternity is drawing nigh. Let us be so familiar with scripture that we can recognize Satan’s deceptions, even in their most subtle form and be hid with Christ in God so that we will not be among those who are devoured by the roaring lion.

John Pearson is the office manager and a board member of Steps to Life. After retiring as chief financial officer for the Grand Canyon Association, Grand Canyon, Arizona, he moved to Wichita, Kansas, to join the Steps team. He may be contacted by email at: johnpearson@stepstolife.org.

New Age Worship

Genesis 3 is a summary of principles introducing us to the beginning of what is called the New Age. Any philosophy on spiritual things that is not based upon the word of God leads in the wrong direction. It may include some truths from the Bible, like believing the truth of creation and a healthy diet, but without a firm foundation, that knowledge mixed with error can only produce an incorrect and false spirituality that will not last.

In the beginning God created the world and all that is in it. He made a beautiful garden to be a home for our first parents, Adam and Eve, and in the midst of the garden He planted the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Of all the trees in the garden, this tree was the only one that God held back from them, prohibiting them from eating of it. All of the others were to be for their food.

At the end of each creation day God declared His work “good.” Jesus, while on earth spoke with a rich young ruler who came to Him asking, “ ‘Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?’ Jesus said to him, ‘Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God.’ ” Luke 18:18, 19. When God said, at the end of each day of creation week, that what He saw was good, He meant that the things He made were like God but not God. The moon, the stars and all that was created were good. Everything created for man right down to the smallest mote in the sunbeam had, as they came from the Creator’s hand, the character of God impressed upon them. But though these things were like God, they were not God.

The New Age belief and pagan spirituality make created things, like the sun, moon and the forces of nature, gods to be worshiped instead of the creator God. From the tree of knowledge of good and evil Satan was able to introduce this seed of error craftily mixed with an element of truth.

Today, Eastern religions have become very popular presenting a diagram of the spiritual notion of the balancing of forces, half black and half white—some good in the bad and some bad in the good. This would mean that there is some bad in God and some good in Satan, but this is a deception. There was no poison in the garden home; there was no sin and there was nothing evil. The tree of knowledge of good and evil was put there as a test for Adam and Eve to choose to whom they would give their allegiance. Sin came about by the blending of truth with error. There was a preacher in the Garden of Eden, a preacher of unrighteousness, and as he preached his message to Eve she started to believe the principles of New Age—new philosophies that God did not create.

The serpent said unto the woman, “Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?” Genesis 3:1. It was a certainty, that as a result of transgressing the will of God, there would be death, but the seed of doubt was planted there, it took root and germinated.

Paul says, “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Romans 6:23. This is a very clear statement. By eating that fruit offered by Satan, our first parents transgressed God’s law; they stole what was not theirs and committed murder. By that simple act they caused the death of billions of their descendants. Every imaginable sin has now come into this world as a result of that first indiscretion. How simple it seems; how horrid the results!

Satan well knows that for sin or error to be attractive and effective it has to be connected with truth. Sin and its results, devoid of any truth, would stand out in all of its unattractiveness and horror without anything to attract the unsuspecting person. That is why yin and yang exist, the black has some white and the white has some black creating a very cunning and deceptive belief.

Genesis 3:1 says, “Now the serpent was more subtle than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?” In other words, did God say that? Seriously, is that what He said? Are you sure He said that? Here, with all of his subtle cunning, Satan created doubt in the mind of Eve as to what instruction God had actually given.

Then Satan outright contradicts what God had said: “And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die.” Verse 4. In Genesis 3 verses 1 and 4, we see the beginning of New Age, the beginning of the teaching of false and erroneous doctrines; a false philosophy resulting in a false system of religion. As we see in Genesis 3:1, the idea of questioning or inculcating doubt in the certainty of God’s word is the foundation of New Age and false religion.

We have been told that man was made a little lower than the angels (Hebrews 2:7), but New Age says that man is an angel. God says He created man, but the New Ager says man is god! The whole belief that man “shall not surely die” (Genesis 3:4) as a result of his transgression of God’s command implying doubt in connection with the truth, is the foundation of false religion and the New Age.

From this idea of not really dying, we have a myriad of false concepts that have come into the world—soul migration, reincarnation, and other different types of beliefs of what happens to you when you die and that there is some other consciousness or some kind of life. Even some people who claim to believe in the Bible tend to believe that there is some after-life that is separated from consciousness in this form.

The Bible says, “For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not any thing.” Ecclesiastes 9:5. They experience no more hatred or variance for there is no more consciousness because there is no more memory in the grave where they go. The Bible is very clear in Ecclesiastes 9 that whatever you have to do, do it while you are alive for there will not be another opportunity in the grave. This being the truth, how then do so many have the idea that there is so much light after death and that the soul goes on and on? Unbelief mixes truth with error becoming a faulty foundation bearing doubt in the clear word of God.

Within this foundation of truth and error there is really no penalty for sin for “you will not surely die.” Not only is there no penalty for sin, but the soul lives on in some kind of life after death. In Genesis 3:5 it says, “For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods.” That is the ideal illumination, eyes opened. By partaking of this secret truth Satan claims that the mysteries of the world will be revealed, bringing out that which is already in you by partaking of his spiritual exercises and various practices and “you shall be as gods.” However, unless God Himself has revealed them, those mysteries of the world belong with God alone.

What the devil actually says here is that by your transgression of God’s instruction, you will not die and your eyes will be opened. You will mix both good and evil and by this method you will become like God. It is no wonder Jesus said that Satan was “a liar, and the father of it.” John 8:44.

Martial Arts

All martial arts widely practiced in the East and other various places are connected with religion and usually the religion of the town from which it came. The postures and stances are forms of worship. When entering the traditional school, it is necessary to first bow to the creator of the skies, which is usually a picture on the wall of the person who developed that particular type of martial art. The picture is always situated on the eastern wall. After bowing in that direction, to the place of the rising sun, you then bow to the senior student or the teacher. After bowing to these three, you make a triangle and place it upon the floor, bowing down and placing your forehead into this triangle. The forehead is the location in the brain where the frontal lobe is situated. This is the place of all reasoning and from here all decisions are made. By bowing into the triangle, the will is submitted to the leader or picture of the leader and also to the instructor. This routine is by no accident and is very significant.

New Age religion, like paganism, encompasses the worship of the solar system—the sun and stars. As well as the animals, the powers of man, including his sexual power is worshiped as in the ancient Baal worship. The serpent is revered, considering it to be the greatest creature and believing it to be one of the highest forms of divinity.

In many religions today various portions or principles can be found that were forbidden in the book of Genesis.

The foundation of New Age is contraindicated in the Bible. The eyes of many have been taken away from worshiping God to worshiping His creation, the sun, moon and the stars.

God has revealed His character, His good, in His creation. A study of the human body with its healing and restorative powers, all reveal the character of God demonstrating His love and compassion. Even when we transgress He wants to bring us healing. His creation has no power of its own, but so many direct their worship to mere objects instead of the Source of all power.

Many say they simply use items to enhance their worship with God, but who is it that has the right to dictate worship? Who is it who dictates what is right and what is wrong; is it the creature or the Creator? Who is able to argue with God? Job tried! He did not sin, but he tried to dialog with God Who made him realize his place. Job became quiet realizing the majesty and creative power of God as He started showing him all these mysteries and various things He had created in the world (Job 38; 39). Job came to the conclusion that he had to close his mouth at the wisdom and manifold power of God (Job 40:4, 5).

We cannot tell God what we need to do in order to worship Him. Cain thought he could adjust his sacrifice to the fruit of his own labor (Genesis 4:3), from the sacrificial lamb that God had instructed. He found out the hard way that it was not accepted (verse 5). It is interesting that the result of Cain’s disobedience was to kill his brother, whose offering God accepted. This same attitude has existed throughout the generations, resulting in religious persecution up to today where hatred is still exhibited against those who continue to worship God in the manner He has commanded.

God is not happy when we endeavor to make up our own rules when it comes to worship. Paul says, “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness.” Romans 1:18.

As we recognize the qualities and power that God has put in His creation, we are to fall on our knees and recognize His greatness and glory and direct our praise to Him, not bow down and worship beasts and things whether they be living or just representations of them. By worshiping the creature we “hold the truth in unrighteousness.” It says, “Because that which may be known of God is manifest [made clear or made evident] in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. For the invisible things of Him [the things we cannot see, the spiritual things, the things that are not able for our eyes to see clearly] from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse.” Romans 1:19, 20.

We are to examine creation in order to understand the Creator and God has left us no excuse. There was a time when everyone knew who God was. Adam and Eve knew who God was; they saw Him face to face and their children saw the angels with the flaming swords guarding the entrance to the garden so that they would no longer have access to the tree of life. Our first ancestors had much evidence of divine power and understood these things. But, “when they knew God, they glorified Him not as God [they did not give Him praise and reflect His character], neither were thankful; but became vain [self-centered] in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.” Verse 21. They had the truth and they held it in unrighteousness, their own imagination, which became vain or unprofitable, or outside of what God had said. How insulting to God for man to praise the stars, the gold and silver, fall down and worship things able to be burned and destroyed instead of the One who gave them for man’s enjoyment and for him to see His manifold love and return to Him the deserved blessings for being a good Father.

Man would rather cut down a tree, cutting it up into pieces and from that tree build a house. He would then build a fire and take some of the wood to warm himself. Out of another piece he would make some implements of very different furniture, and then take a part of it and make a god and fall down and worship it. How ignorant is man to think that a piece of wood or stone has any power, yet he will fall down and say, “This is my god, hear me!” (See Isaiah 44:14–17.)

Many today are under the same delusion of pagan worshipers, “Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools.” Romans 1:22.

All of the pagan mystery religions are based upon the concept of giving you wisdom. Darwinism, Buddhism and the various other religions of the East all claim to give the highest form of wisdom. The books of these various teachings are seen as fruit to be desired to make one wise, but they all result in transgression against the law of God.

James says, “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally.” James 1:5. All wisdom comes from God through His word. We are to meditate upon God’s word. It is not to meditate in the way that New Age teaches to blank out the mind, resisting all thoughts and impressions to the reciting of some poem, or some cone or mantra or looking at nature.

Eastern meditation is clearly not meditating on God’s word, but emptying the mind, disallowing the prompting of the Holy Spirit’s conviction of sin, which is the only means of revealing our need of a Saviour. The vacant mind makes it susceptible to the deception of the evil one who promises the false wisdom. We are told to meditate on God’s word, which will develop the mind, allowing the Holy Spirit to convict us of sin. It is very dangerous to block out the impressions that come from the Holy Spirit.

The New Age belief is very dangerous, but the majority of people allow their children to watch cartoons and various television shows that teach its principles in a far more effective way than any temple or book can do. If you research the authors and the creators of these things, you will find that they are New Age advocates following these religions. “For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he.” Proverbs 23:7.

This philosophy is pervading the whole earth, flooding it from many different channels, and we must be vigilant and fight against it. God is not the forces of nature—He created them! God is not the sun, moon and the stars. God is not internal energy—God is the creator of all these things! Each is to have its proper place but never an object of worship. It is in vain that man says, “I’m god too, so I’m going to take this stone and make my image, made in the image of a man. I will take this gold and make an image of a calf and worship it. I will make an image of Buddha and worship it.” Others keep those trinkets, claiming they don’t actually worship them but just have them to help them find God. That is like Aaron, supposedly in charge of the Israelites while Moses was on the mount receiving the tables of commandments, while trying to excuse himself for building the golden calf in the wilderness said that he just threw the chains and the bracelets inside the oven and the big calf jumped out!

When confronted with truth, don’t run in a different direction. There is only one way to find wisdom and one way of salvation and that is through Jesus Christ who was in the image of God. Laying aside His divinity He took on human nature that we might be partakers of His glory. We were originally made in the image of God and by Satan’s deception inherited the image and character of Satan, but we have all been invited to receive Christ’s robe of righteousness and once more reflect the image of God physically, mentally and spiritually.

We are to be restored and live godly by the power of God under the principle of purity.

John R. Cofer is currently engaged in establishing training schools under the name, The Schools of the Prophets for the youth. He and his wife, Maria, have established a digital media company to create and promote video media teaching the unique message of Adventism using social media such as Facebook and Youtube. He can be contacted by email at: landmarks@stepstolife.org.