Bark like a Dog

A few days ago, I was talking to a person at the YMCA and he was telling me about a demonstration of magic on one of the TV channels during the New Year’s celebrations. You know how it goes, everyone has a better story than the one just before. In the course of time, another fellow told of a web site that is designed to demonstrate how easy it is to give your mind to the control of another. This web site gives a demonstration, a warning and then suggestions so a person can guard against such mind control by another.

I’m sorry that I can’t give you the address of the site. The fellow who was talking about it didn’t know the address off the top of his head, but said he would get it to me the next time we saw each other. Our paths have not crossed since that day.

I tried to search for the site, but had no success, it proved to be a dead end. There were only 119,000,000 hits on "mind control". When I see that many zeros after a 3 digit number, it so confuses me that I have no mind control, whatsoever. So I will just relate to you what was passed along to me about the site.

The instructions on the site are clear that what takes place is only a demonstration of how easily a person can come under the domination of another. To make a long story short, you are asked to type your name. You can, if you choose, type a name that is not yours, or a completely fictitious name. You are also asked to hand write that name on a piece of paper.

Next, you are asked to type a security number. Just so you will be comfortable with the test, they ask that the number be one that is not even close to any of your security numbers. Then you are to write that number next to the name on the paper. However, once you type the security number and hit the space bar, the name and number disappear from the screen.

Then you go through a series of shapes on the screen, different sounds, and answer some simple question. At the close of the time of shapes, sounds and questions, you are ask to perform an action to show that you are under a self-hypnotic state.

You are ask to type whether your are male or female. At the time of the question, the screen shows pictures of animals such as a cat, cow, etc. As you type, instead of typing male or female, you type the name of one of the animal pictured on the screen. Try as you will, you can’t make your fingers type male or female. Instead, you keep typing the name of one of the animals on the screen.

You are then told that to break spell you are under, simply type your assumed name and security number. Of course, you can’t remember the name and number, even if you look at them on the piece of paper.

When you give-up, you can double click the screen and you will see more shapes and music, after which you are ask to type the name and security number. At that time, you can type the name and number, even without looking at them on the paper. Your session, on this site, closes with an explanation of how these methods are being used by some to obtain sales, and even personal information.

They also outline how you can avoid such practices. One of the main things you can do to avoid such control is to approach the demonstration with a skeptical mind, and don’t get caught up in the activity of the site but keep a clear purpose in mind.

To all of this, I replied to the fellow that I wouldn’t want to take the "test", because what if I didn’t "break" the spell? It was comforting to know that even if I were interrupted and didn’t break the "spell", the "spell" would automatically be released in a few minutes.

I can’t verify this site, however, there some similar practices that I can verify, and these types of practices have a bearing on knowing and using proper doctrine.

The magic show on TV during one of the New Year’s celebrations, referred to at the beginning of this lesson, was performed by the Amazing "Somebody", I can’t remember his name. There have been a number of clips of that magic show rerun on other programs. One thing the Amazing "Somebody" did was take a group of people and through suggestions make them feel and act as though they were drunk, even thought they only drank plain water.

I was watching Fox and Friends and this fellow was being interviewed. He gave each of the three anchors a plumb bob on a string. A plumb bob is a pointed weight attached to a string that is often used to establish a straight vertical line. The three anchors of Fox and Friends were to hold the plumb bob over a card. The card had a circle printed on it with two intersecting lines dividing the circle into four equal parts.

These anchors were ask questions. If the answer was "yes", the plumb bob would move over the line from top to bottom on the card. When the answer was "no" the bob would move side to side. If they didn’t know the answer or it didn’t apply to them, the bob went in a circle.

When I was in the fifth or sixth grade, we had a whole school assembly. It had to be a "whole" school affair or there wouldn’t have been enough kids to call it an assembly.

At any rate, the assembly featured a magician. He did the usual slight of hand tricks, and finished off the assembly with a demonstration of hypnotics. He had the first string football team come to the stage, the whole team, all six of them. Our school was so small that we played six man football.

After doing some strange actions and saying some funny words, the magician clapped his hands and said that every one on the team was a dog. All six of them fell to the floor on "all fours" and barked. When the magician said beg they all raised their front "paws" and whined. One of the teachers thought this so funny that he fell off his chair laughing. At that point, the magician clapped his hands and the team all stood up and they didn’t remember a thing about the incident.

Then he turned to the teacher who was still laughing uncontrollably. The magician ask the teacher if he thought that what had just taken place was a trick or was it for real. The teacher said it was all a BIG trick. The magician ask, if the teacher thought that he, the magician, could pull the same trick on him. The teachers response was an emphatic "NO!!"

To make a long story short, the teacher not only went down on all fours, he rolled over with all fours in the air. Of course, to the delight of all the students!

By now, you are probably saying, "So what?" You may even be thinking that I have been a participant in some magic show, because all this doesn’t seem right for a Bible study. No, I haven’t been to a magic show, and please hang in there! It has a great deal to do with this Bible lesson and the ones to follow.

Those who attended the series on the cults remember that we found that some of the Eastern Religions have practices that cause the participants to enter trances and sometimes do other strange things, even to causing physical injury to themselves, and in some cases death.

Into the Church

As far back as I can remember, and I can remember way back, some churches practiced being Slain in the Spirit, and some still do. Being Slain in the Spirit is a practice in which the participant through mental and emotional conditioning falls to the floor in either a limp pile or as stiff as a board.

Sometimes while Slain in the Spirit, people would simply lie there until the spell was over. Other times, they would go through physical contortions. There have been reports that while Slain in the Spirit some have preached or as it is called prophesied.

One thing that I want to plant in your mind by this unusual exercise is that doing strange things can be produced in the best of people when their minds are controlled by other people or information. Not only can strange things be produced by such a method, but actions and results similar to Spiritual actions and results can be produced by or in good people, and yet those actions are as non-biblical as they can be.

Almost any Spiritual action can be imitated by the energy of the flesh or the control of the mind or by demons. Therefore, we must be very careful to make sure that what we attribute to God is not, at its best carnal or at its worst demonic.

Listen to what our Lord and Savior had to say on this subject. Christ is a good one to listen to on this or any other subject. Sad to say, far too many are listening to the words of others, without carefully comparing them to the total context of Scripture. Thereby, opening their minds to the control of non-biblical information.

Matthew 7:15-24 "Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. 16 "You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? 17 "Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 "A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. 19 "Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 "Therefore by their fruits you will know them. 21 "Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. 22 "Many will say to Me in that day, 'Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?' 23 "And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!' 24 "Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock:

Wow! These people, with whom Christ would not associate, sure look like good people to me. I’ve never "prophesied in Christ’s name". I’ve never "cast out demons in Christ’s name". I’ve never "done many wonders in Christ’s name". Based on outward results, those folks seem to be pretty nice people to have as best friends and Spiritual guides, right? Yet, Christ says that they were "practicing lawlessness". Christ didn’t say that these were nasty people who were out there killing people, robbing banks and running red lights. Sometimes, our concept of "lawlessness" and God’s concept of "lawlessness"are vastly different.

Lawlessness [iniquity] = (Greek) Anything contrary to proper directives or laws; contempt for the law

If we are doing things or teaching things contrary to the directives of Scripture, we are "practicing lawlessness". Throughout these lessons, we will examine this portion, in more detail.

For some reason, we Christians are fascinated with the new, the different and the strange. Somehow, some think that these things are signs of spiritual maturity. In addition to this fascination, we want results! We want those results now and if those results require personal sacrifice and discipline, then we want someone else to give the sacrifice, and provide us with the results, without personal cost.

An illustration of those facts can be seen by an event that took place in the locker room of the "Y". The local "Y" provides each person with two towels. When you are through with your towels, they are to be placed in a dirty towel container. It is a very simple and proper procedure. There are signs on the walls saying, "Please be courteous and put used towels in containers". However, more often than not, towels are left on the bench or on the floor. After all, they pay dues. Why should they have to carry their own towel 15 feet to the container on their way out of the locker room? One evening, one aisle of lockers had about 20 or so towels left behind.

As I came in another fellow said, "I don’t know where that janitor is. I get so angry when they don’t keep this place picked-up?" He added some other short words to his statement, but they don’t need to be repeated. As a matter of fact, those added words did not add any literary quality to his statement. I made one trip down the aisle and picked-up the towels and put them in the dirty towel container. Then I came back to my locker and began to get into my work-out clothes, but never once did I hear a "Thank you." I did hear a low mutter of, "That’s better, but it should never get that bad." It so happened that when I finished my work-out and came back to the locker room, this fellow was leaving and his towels were left behind on the floor. The world’s attitude is more than a little like that in so many ways. "I won’t take care of my towel, even if there are sign all over the place telling me to do so and I certainly won’t pick-up anyone else’s towel." In a real sense, many in the Christian realm use a similar philosophy when it comes to living the Christian life. So many do not care about the clear instructions of Scripture, even when those instructions are clearly posted by the Holy Spirit on the pages of the Bible.

Setting Our Course

In the lessons to follow we will examine what the scripture has to say about these issues which we have tried to illustrate.

Today, religious information is easily obtained through books, tapes, TV, internet, etc. However, it is far easier to get information than it is to check out such information, to make sure that it squares with the true biblical teaching.

Questions have been raised concerning some of these teachings as to their biblical validity. It is far easier to say that such teachings are false, than to demonstrate in what areas they are wrong.

The difficulty stems from the fact that some areas of those false teachings are loosely based on biblical truth, but then the course of that teaching subtly makes many wrong turns, and what started out as good and proper, is used to bring about a false action and in some instances even a wrong lifestyle.

The ultimate action produced by this false teaching is also a problem, because the outward results of such teaching is similar to what the Bible says we are to strive to reach, only it is easier to reach those pseudo-results. Therefore, the Believer who is only geared for results, rather than obedience to the declared Word of God, is often drawn to this easier and quicker way, that outwardly looks a lot like spiritual maturity. Even more devastating than making such a false move, is that the Believer often turns the control of their mind over to such teaching.

Our Lord gave us an illustration, that graphically brings out this problem.

Luke 11:24-26 "When an unclean spirit goes out of a man, he goes through dry places, seeking rest; and finding none, he says, 'I will return to my house from which I came.' 25 "And when he comes, he finds it swept and put in order. 26 "Then he goes and takes with him seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter and dwell there; and the last state of that man is worse than the first."

Certainly, it was a good thing for this fellow to clean house and put it in order. This would seem to be very good action and something in which Christians should engagethemselves. Of course, the illustration here refers to our lives, not a structured dwelling place.

The point of the illustration is that this fellow did not fill his house with the proper things. Therefore, even though his house was very clean and well ordered, he didn’t have within his house those things needed to withstand the control of those demons.

His life was open to being controlled by others, 
and those others made his last state 
far worse than his first.

Just because an action has trappings that look like spiritual maturity, it doesn't mean that it’s biblical. If those trappings are based on imitation teachings, then there will be a far worse future ahead.

Pay Attention

In our theme passage of Matthew 7, the Lord gives us some real insights as to how to spot the imitation and how to have real Spiritually based actions.

Christ started this portion by saying, we are to beware of false prophets. This class of false prophet was not unique. Christ likens His Believers to sheep. A sheep would of course have very little to do with a false prophet who looked like a ravenous wolf. However, a sheep would not be on guard against another sheep.

False prophets don’t usually 
show themselves as destroyers of God’s word.

Instead, they present themselves as having something new and better or as having something that had never be revealed before or something that was lost in time and was just rediscovered.

God is almighty. You would think that He would prevent such false prophets from coming into a group of sheep. After all, when a ravenous wolf comes into a flock of sheep, it is not to improve the flock, but instead to advance their own cause, which is to devour, etc.

Let me tell you, when someone comes into the flock of MBF with a new and different doctrine, it is not to make MBF stronger, it is to destroy MBF for their own benefit!

Beware = (Greek) To turn one's mind or attention to a thing by being on guard against it.

We Christians should always be on guard, and have our minds attentive to making sure that the sheep we are talking to is not a ravenous wolf in sheep’s clothing.

We are to be suspicious of all doctrine that goes contrary to what we have heard and check it out. If we swallow what someone says that is different than we’ve heard or we tolerate it without checking to make sure that it is what the Bible says, we are sinning, and are promoting that false doctrine.

Galatians 1:6-9 I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, 7 which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. 8 But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. 9 As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed.
so soon = (Greek) suddenly; speedy; rapid; fleeting; characterized by ill-considered haste.

The phrase "so soon" does not simply indicate the passing of time, but that it happened suddenly, almost without warning. One day they believed and lived by what Paul was teaching and almost the next day they turned from that teaching to a new teaching and teacher. This sudden change came through ill-considered haste.

Paul had a problem at Galatia. These people heard his preaching and said somthing llike this, "Wow! We’ve never heard such wonderful truth. We want more! As a matter of fact, we are willing to do anything, even give our own eyes, if you will just keep preaching that Gospel. We’ve never learned so much about the Bible, as we have through your teaching!"

Then suddenly, with "ill-considered haste", they said something like, "We don’t believe all those wonderful things you’ve taught, even though they were carefully present from the Scriptures. We talked to this person the other day and he has a new idea, and some of it comes from the Bible, and it feels good. So we are going to follow this new fellow’s teachings!"

Why should a Believer have to beware of what is taught by another good Christian? Look at just few of the many scriptural warnings of false teachers and false teachings. I will try to keep my comments on these passages to only what is needed to see the connection to our subject.

Please note, as we read these passages, how often it is mentioned that what is taught is presented in such a way as to deceive the Believer, and if each is not on guard, they will fall under the control of the false teachers and their teachings.

1 John 4:1 Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test (all) the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world.

We are to test all these people and their teachings by constantly comparing what is taught with all scripture. Notice that the false prophets had gone out into the world, indicating that at one time they were in the church.

2 Peter 1:19-2:3 We also have the prophetic word made more sure, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts; 20 knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, 21 for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit. 2:1 But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction. 2 And many will follow their destructive ways, because of whom the way of truth will be blasphemed. 3 By covetousness they will exploit you with deceptive words;

Peter, by inspiration of God, presents this great passage on our prophetic word and how it came directly from God through holy men moved by the Holy Spirit. While in the glow of such wonderful revelation, the Holy Spirit is careful to let us know that we have a "sure" word in which we can trust. But in spite of such a wonderful revelation from God, there were also false teachers doing their destructive teaching, even as the Word of God was being given.

Just as there were false prophets during the time the Scriptures were being given by the Holy Spirit, there will be false teacher among you, as you proclaim the truth of God’s Word.

These false prophets bring in these false doctrines under the cloak of secrecy. They don’t want such doctrine examined in the light of the totality of the Word of God.

A word of caution! If you get your hands on or hear some teaching and you are reluctant to bring that teaching to your pastor for evaluation, more than likely what you have found is false, and you are one step from being controlled by it.

2 Peter 2:18-19 For when they speak great swelling words of emptiness, they allure through the lusts of the flesh, through licentiousness, the ones who have actually escaped from those who live in error. 19 While they promise them liberty, they themselves are slaves of corruption; for by whom a person is overcome, by him also he is brought into bondage.
Allure = (Greek) To catch by bait, hence to beguile; To entrap through deceiving the mind by evasion and distraction

Notice who these teachers try to allure by their empty words. They are those who have already escaped from the bondage of such error. Their evangelism or outreach is to snare those who are already free from the very bondage that these false teachers are presenting.

Even though these great and swelling words of emptiness present a plan for liberty, the end of following such teaching is greater bondage. Sound a little like the fellow the Lord said cleaned and ordered his house but did not fill it with the right things. Therefore, the last of that life was worse than the first part.

How sad for those who spend a lifetime trying to live by these teachings of so called liberty, ease and lack of stress only to find that at the conclusion of life, these teachings bring biter bondage, instead of liberty.

2 Corinthians 11:13-15 For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ. 14 And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light. 15 Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness, whose end will be according to their works.
1 Timothy 4:1 Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, 2 speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron,

The list of other warnings by the Holy Spirit in the Word of God could go on and on. The many warnings by the Holy Spirit indicate both that there will be false teachers and false doctrines and both will be numerous and controlling of the mind in such a manner as to bring a person into bondage, bad bondage to both the teacher and the doctrines.

Rather than listing more passages stating the fact that many false teachers and doctrines will invade the ranks of Believers, let’s look at how we are to go about fortifying ourselves against being trapped into bondage by these false teachers and their doctrines.

First we must question new teachings, even if those teachings are presented by a dear friend or your pastor. We are not to question for the sake of just being obnoxious, but to establish the biblical validity of the teaching.

I know! We have learned to be politically correct, and we wouldn’t want to challenge what a friend said, because we might lose a friend. If the person is really a friend, they won’t want to give you some teaching that is biblically wrong, and will be more than willing to have that teaching compared with all Scripture.

Plus, is it better to lose a so called friend, than to find yourself in the bondage, described in 2 Peter 2, or to have your last end worse than the beginning, as described by the Lord.

In the Old Testament, the Israelites were instructed that if someone, even a close relative, presented false teachings or a strange god they were to be killed. That give us and idea of the importance of God's thoughts about this subject. Maybe we think God was just overreacting.

Paul brings out the importance of not accepting "another gospel" in a passage we looked at earlier in this lesson.

Galatians 1:6-9 I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, 7 which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. 8 But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. 9 As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed.

In the Book of Acts, we are given an illustration as to how we should go about verifying the validity of a teaching.

Acts 17:10-12 Then the brethren immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea. When they arrived, they went into the synagogue of the Jews. 11 These were more fair-minded [noble] than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so. 12 Therefore many of them believed, and also not a few of the Greeks, prominent women as well as men.
Fair-minded [noble] = Having or showing qualities of high moral character

You speak about being politically incorrect! Those at Berea were about as politically incorrect as one can get. Those"crazy people checked out what the Apostle Paul said, to see if it was correct.

These people saw the importance of making sure that what they listened to and believed was true in all aspects, compared with the totality of Scripture. A quality that is woefully lacking in our churches of today.

The last thing on the minds of these Bereans was preserving a friendship, even the friendship of Paul. Their only concern was to preserve their Spiritual blessing for time and eternity. Therefore, the Holy Spirit said that they were more noble than those at Thessalonica.

That statement by the Holy Spirit wasn’t exactly politically correct, either. It looks like the Holy Spirit needed to have some sensitive training (I jest). The Holy Spirit doesn’t seem to be sensitive to the feelings of those at Thessalonica, or He would not have said that the people at Berea were more noble than those at Thessalonica. You know, it’s not nice to compare.

You see the Holy Spirit is far more concerned with truth 
than He is with compromise to ease the pain of revealed sin.
Jude 1-3 Jude, a servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James, To those who are called, sanctified by God the Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ: 2 Mercy, peace, and love be multiplied to you. 3 Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation, I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints.
When it comes to biblical things, 
many Christians are far more concerned with political correctness 
than they are with biblical correctness. 

God is greatly concerned about this matter. Therefore, if we are claiming a Spiritual life, we must be greatly concerned about this matter, also. Not only should we be concerned about it, we must do something about it.

Matthew 12:30 "He who is not with Me is against Me, and he who does not gather with Me scatters abroad.
I didn’t say it. Christ said it, and it is true!!  
Are you with Christ in this matter or are you against Christ?
© Clyde White, Austin TX, 2006