Doctrines of Demons
By Ron Matsen
What are these “doctrines of demons” Paul warns us about? What can we do in this age of deception?
What does the Bible have to say about the End Times? Matthew’s Gospel gives us the response of Jesus to this question. “Now as He sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, ‘Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?’ And Jesus answered and said to them: ‘Take heed that no one deceives you.’”
The Apostle Paul expands on this by stating, “Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons.”
A doctrine is defined as “the codification of beliefs or a body of teachings or instructions, taught principles or positions, as the body of teachings in a branch of knowledge or belief system.” Simply put, a doctrine is the formalized expression of a foundational belief.
What are these “doctrines of demons” Paul warns us about? Satan often relies on deception through disinformation. Misinformation is defined as accidental untruth, where disinformation is the intentional misrepresentation of the truth. Therefore, doctrines of demons are creeds that offer counterfeit truths.
Paul expressed his fear for the wayward church in Corinth by saying, “But I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. For if he who comes preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or if you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted—you may well put up with it!” Here Paul lists three types of false doctrines that the church might accept: 1. Another Jesus 2. A different spirit 3. A different gospel.
As Jesus was warning His disciples during His end-times discourse He told them, “Many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many.” John the apostle declared, “Who is a liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist who denies the Father and the Son. Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father either; he who acknowledges the Son has the Father also.” The deception of the antichrist is to present a “pseudo Christ” (an alternative Christ). Not everyone who names the name of Jesus means the same person as revealed in the Bible.
The Muslims say they believe in Jesus. But Muslims describe Jesus as “Isa. His message was pure Islam, ‘surrender to Allah.’” They go on to assert that, “Isa’s original disciples were also true Muslims, for they said ‘We believe. Bear witness that we have surrendered. We are Muslims.’” Although the Apostle Paul claims that the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus is the true Gospel, the Muslims claim that although Christians believe “Isa died on a cross, and Jews claim they killed him, in reality he was not killed or crucified, and those who said he was crucified lied.”
The Mormons say they believe in Jesus. But they do not believe that Jesus was born of the virgin as described in the Bible. They proclaim that “the birth of the Saviour was as natural as are the births of our children; it was the result of natural action. He partook of flesh and blood—was begotten of his Father, as we were of our fathers.” They go on to say that “Jesus is the literal spirit-brother of Lucifer, a creation.”
The Jehovah Witnesses say they believe in Jesus. But they teach that “the Son of God was known as Michael before he came to earth.” In the JW version of the Bible, John 1:1 reads, “In the beginning was the Word. The Word was with God, and the Word was a god.” They suggest that Jesus “was a powerful godlike one. Clearly, Jesus is not Almighty God.”
The Roman Catholics say they believe in Jesus. But in their veneration of Mary they define a diminished Jesus. The Jesus of Roman Catholic doctrine is eternally connected and dependent on His mother Mary. She is “the Queen over all things,” our “Advocate, Helper, Benefactress, and Mediatrix, who is “full of grace,” the “Mother of God and our mother.” It was Mary who “crushed the poisonous head of the most cruel serpent and brought salvation to the world.” It is she who “delivers our souls from death,” and “continues to bring us the gifts of eternal salvation.”
There is so much more that could be said of the Hollywood Jesus and the Jesus of numerous cults that all present another Jesus. Jesus is not defined by what others believe and teach about Him, but He is defined by Scripture only. Clearly we are living in the days when there are many misrepresentations of the Jesus of the Bible.
A Different Spirit
Spiritual deception is accomplished primarily through the working of counterfeit miracles. The Apostle Paul warned, “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.” Paul identifies three areas of potential spiritual deception: 1. Power 2. Signs and 3. Lying Wonders.
Counterfeit Power — The Book of Acts gives us insight into this area of concern. “But there was a certain man called Simon, who previously practiced sorcery in the city and astonished the people of Samaria, claiming that he was someone great, to whom they all gave heed, from the least to the greatest, saying, ‘This man is the great power of God.’ And they heeded him because he had astonished them with his sorceries for a long time.” Simon used sorcery to demonstrate enough spiritual power that the people referred to him as “the great power of God.”
Counterfeit Signs — Exodus chapters 7–8 detail the works of the Egyptian magicians. They were able to mimic the first four miracles that God worked by the hand of Moses before Pharaoh. We also read that because of these signs produced by his magicians, his heart grew hard against the commands of God.
Counterfeit Wonders — What is a “wonder?” It comes from the Greek word teras, which means “an exceptional event” or “omen.” It is used only 16 times in the New Testament, 13 times speaking of the Works of God. If “power, signs, and wonders” can be produced by both God and Satan, how can we know which are of God?
John gives us a simple test. “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God, and every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God. And this is the spirit of the Antichrist, which you have heard was coming, and is now already in the world.”
Spiritual discernment requires testing. It starts with “comparing spiritual things with spiritual” things like the Bible. The authentic Holy Spirit will never contradict the Scriptures. Never use our “natural mind” to discern the activity of the Spirit. The truly spiritual “judge all things” to determine what is from God.
Be Watchful in All Things
What can we do in this age of deception? Paul told his disciple Timothy, “Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables. But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.”