"When the existence of evil spirits is recognized by the heathen, it is generally looked upon by the missionary as 'superstition' and ignorance; whereas the ignorance is often on the part of the missionary, who is blinded by the prince of the power of the air to the revelation given in the scriptures, concerning the satanic powers." - Mrs. Jessie Penn-Lewis, War on the Saints
Many years ago, I heard a preacher advising his congregation on how to avoid being deceived by the devil. He offered an analogy of currency.
He said that in a bank, a teller is not taught to recognize counterfeit currency because one can never anticipate what will make each counterfeit identifiable. Rather, he said, the tellers are taught to know the real currency well enough that a counterfeit will be spotted immediately.
He said that we should do the same with God. Know Him well enough that if you see something that is not of God, you'll know it immediately.
Ironically, during the very time I was listening to that preacher, I still subscribed to occult beliefs. Although, if you'd told me I was in the occult at that time, I would have laughed at you.
I thought if I wasn't sacrificing infants on a stone slab, wearing an upside-down cross, or drinking blood, I wasn't in the occult.
I knew "God" and that was all I needed to know. So I thought.
We absolutely must make every effort to know God. But unfortunately this "currency analogy" doesn't always work against deception, especially when it comes to occult deception, and I have discovered five reasons for this.
Reason #1: False Christs and False Conversions
It is possible to spend a lifetime "getting to know God/Jesus," and all the while, wasting your life away on a real, living entity who is not Jesus at all, but just does a superb impression of Him.
I actually said the sinner's prayer countless times in my life. That doesn't mean I was submitting to or even meeting the true Jesus, and it certainly never drew me out of the occult. I had no idea that the spirit I was accepting was a false Christ.
If your initial experience with Jesus is with a false one, your very frame of reference for what's true is flawed. If that's the case, you can dedicate yourself to "knowing God" all you want, and all you're going to get is more deception. This is the equivalent of getting to know the counterfeit while thinking it's the real thing all along.
If you are concerned that you or someone you know might be a false convert, watch this video:
Reason #2: The Devil Doesn't Always Deal in Dollars
Not every occult thing the devil dangles in front of you will present itself as spiritual currency.
Many occult practices and teachings masquerade as things that are seemingly not spiritual at all. The more occultism goes mainstream, the more desensitized society becomes to it, and the more "innocent" it appears to be. It often presents itself as purely secular or spiritually neutral.
I have seen occult practices and teachings masquerade as...
- jewelry or decorative items - spirals, crescent moons, dream catchers, fairies
- decorating styles - Feng Shui, Zen gardens and fountains
- exercise - yoga, Edgar Cayce-prescribed exercises
- art - fractal imagery, mandalas, tribal sculptures, totem poles
- music - binaural beats, beta and theta tones, solfeggio frequencies
- science - The Law of Attraction, neuro-linguistic programming, evolution, pyramids
- fictional entertainment - Harry Potter, Twilight, The Wizard of Oz
- practical healthy habits - progressive relaxation, Ayurvedic diet
- medical treatment - acupuncture, touch therapy, Reiki
- cultural traditions - Native American power animals, belly dance, fortune cookies
- technology - subliminals, lucid dreaming masks, sound and light machines
- childhood games - "He loves me, he loves me not...," cootie catchers
- numbers - 11:11, 333, 12/21, 1234
Reason #3: Really Close Counterfeits
Some spiritual counterfeits pass easily because they're simply so close to biblical truth that it might not even occur to some people to question them. Things such as angel statues or angel cards, contemplative prayer, circle prayers and prayer labyrinths are all occult. But since angels and prayer are found in the Bible, many people think they're okay.
Some of those people have read the Bible numerous times and would never be caught spending a moment of thought on the devil or his tactics. It's not for lack of time spent getting to know God that they have been deceived. It's for lack of knowledge about the deceptions.
Remember, "Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light." A prophet of God was deceived in 1 Kings 13. I'd say he knew God better than most. Prophets generally do. But when spiritual deception shows up, it doesn't always look like deception, especially in these last days. It often looks surprisingly like God Himself. Even Adam and Eve were deceived and they walked in the garden with God every day.
Bank tellers get fooled sometimes too.
Reason #4: God Is Not Entirely Knowable
He is infinite and, in our humanness, we are not. There is no way we can possibly contain total knowledge of the infinite God in our small, finite brains. We're too small and He's too big. We would explode.
None of us will ever be the experts on God that bank tellers are on currency. It would take eternity. We can know the word and we can come to know God very, very well, yes. We can even grow in extremely powerful discernment, but we cannot hold God in the palm of our hands and examine His every nuance like a dollar bill.
Even knowledge of the word takes a lot more time, study and examination than knowledge of a dollar bill. You can see every nuance of a dollar bill in less than a day. You'll never read a whole Bible in less than a day.
Reason #5: This Is a War, Not a Bank
The devil doesn't want to make a deposit. He doesn't even want to make change. He wants to take you prisoner.
Banks generally are clean, well-lit, temperature-controlled environments with security guards on site. War is dirty, it takes place outside, sometimes in the dark, often in brutal elements, and sometimes the soldiers have to watch their own backs.
This is why God has given us armor. Some bank tellers sit behind bullet-proof glass, but they don't have to wear armor and you'll never see one wielding a sword.
Not to mention, God and mammon are worlds apart. Mammon - or money, at least in the United States, is covered with masonic (satanic) symbols.
And God doesn't decrease in value like currency does.
What Can We Do?
We should not stop seeking to know God even for a moment. But we also shouldn't refuse to educate ourselves about occult deceptions, either.
We should not obsess ourselves with it. This is yet another danger - when Christians live occult lives vicariously by researching it too much.
Studying your bible is an absolute must, and knowing God's character can help tremendously when it comes to discerning what is of Him and what isn't.
Know the Holy spirit. The Spirit of truth guides us into all truth.
When watchmen and watchwomen warn us of spiritual dangers, listen. Granted, there are some who cry wolf every day. But there are others whom Jesus has rescued out of occult deceptions for the express purpose of standing at the very gates of those deceptions, to warn oncoming travelers of the danger therein.
You can't always know every counterfeit that's going to come along, but you can know the ones that the watchmen and watchwomen are warning you about. You don't have to study them in detail, just heed the warning.
A person who scoffs at a warning might actually end up okay. It could happen. But there might be someone watching who needs that warning, yet follows the cue of the scoffer and disregards it...like I did.
Jesus wants us to have victory over the darkness, so we will be free and so He will be glorified. Let's take advantage of the many resources He has given us against deception and win that victory!