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    “See to it no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ” (Colossians 2:8).

    « Does the Old Testament Still Apply? | "The Basics of Life" by 4Him (song) »

    Seeking God's Power

    What is the root cause of people being drawn to rituals? What is it about the nature of people that compells us toward traditions and rituals?


    It is comforting to know (or have the illusion of knowing) what to expect when the world is often quite unpredictable. But more than this is an innate desire for power. Original sin had zip to do with apples and everything to do with the temptation for wisdom and ultimately, the power and control that belong to God alone.


    A ritual is arguably different (though the two may overlap at times) from a tradition. In a spiritual context, rituals are a means for a human to attain power through manipulation of a deity, nature, or other people.


    We are all naturally bent toward this, but perhaps Christians are less honest (or more easily deceived) than pagans in this regard. Pagans openly admit to their use of rituals, spells, incantations, and more in their attempts to contact and attain the aid of supernatural forces.


    Christians disguise theirs through fancy terminology like “spiritual disciplines”, “Holy Spirit power”, “spiritual principles”, or “spiritual formation”. Siblings in Christ, we desperately need to wake up to our deceptions.


    The illusion (delusion) of power and control is a strong temptation, and Satan will usually avoid being obvious, especially with mature Christians. If you throw a frog in a boiling pot of water, it will jump out quickly. Place a frog in a pot of room-temperature water, then heat it up gradually, the frog will stay and be boiled alive.


    Are we trying to get “closer to God” by using methods He never endorsed, taught, or even spoke against? In these cases, we will end up further from Him,

    “If you love me, obey my commandments” (John 14:15).


    Pragmatism (in which the end justifies the means) is a subtle, highly seductive and deceptive mistress.


    Get back to God’s word (the Bible) and God’s word alone (“Sola Scriptura”). Talk to that leader, read that devotional, do that Bible study, study books about God/prayer/Jesus/how-to-get-closer-to-Him, go to blogs, etc. but know these tools are produced by flawed (and sometimes deceived) human beings, and they in no way, shape, or form replace or substitute the Bible and regular, basic reading and study of it.


    We are exhorted in Scripture to study and know it for ourselves. (2 Timothy 2:15; Acts 17:11; 2 Tim. 3:14-17; Deut. 11:18-23; Psalm 119:11)  We (not the Bible study leader, Sunday school teacher, pastor, singer, or author) are personally responsible for our actions, beliefs, and Bible knowledge. 


    Ways in which Christians seek God’s power (none of these are Biblical, by the way):

    “More (what is it??) Lord!” Is it more of God we want, or more of His….power? God is powerful, but how could we presume to be able to use His power? If we are totally honest, we may just want a “spiritual high”, a shot of “Holy Spirit power”.


    Why does “more of God” seem to equate to experiences? The “closer” (but how can we be any closer if He resides in our hearts?) we are to God, the more righteous our lives should be (not appear, as if He can’t see through our masks).   


    How did the priests of Baal act versus Elijah during the famous showdown in 1 Kings 18: 20-40? They jumped around, made a bunch of noise, chanted, danced, shouted, cut themselves, and frantically prophesied from morning till evening. We should look like Elijah who calmly and reverently prayed to God (who answered in a tremendous way!), not the priests of Baal who were all killed afterwards.


    Spiritual disciplines: asceticism (self-denial), spiritual practices (rituals) like labyrinths, lectio divina, contemplative prayer, and even sex. All of these are “borrowed” pagan practices that predate Christianity.


    “Reclaiming” things like rock music, tribal music, certain dances, whatever, “for God” (like He needs them?). The Bible has a phrase for this. It is, “looking like the world”.

    “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will” (Romans 12:2).  


    And we are commanded NOT to do it.

    Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. (Phil 4:8).


    Teaching. Some of the worst anti-Biblical ideas come from those who are supposed to be teaching God’s word and leading His people. Spiritual leaders, authors, musicians, teachers, elders, deacons, and anyone else with a wide audience and platform.

    “Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.” (James 3:1).  


    The harder we try to “get to God” or do things to “please God” apart from the Bible, the farther we actually go from Him. Why? Because GOD CAME DOWN because He knew we couldn’t go up. This concept is the essence of Christianity, and what makes it so unique.


    He has already told us in the Bible, what pleases Him (“if you love me, obey my commands”, John 14:5). He has already made a Way to Himself, “Jesus answered, I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life…”, John 14:6).


    “I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds anything to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book. 19 And if anyone takes words away from this book of prophecy, God will take away from him his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book.”  (Revelation 22:18-19)

    “You shall not add to the word which I command you, nor take anything from it” (Deuteronomy 4:2 & Deuteronomy 12:32).

    “The entirety of Your word is truth” (Psalms 119: 160).

    “Do not go beyond what is written”
    (1 Corinthians 4:6).

    “Do not add to his words, or he will rebuke you and prove you a liar
    ” (Proverbs 30:6).    


    Playing on our egos, Satan tells us we will become wiser, will grow towards God, and/or have a more fulfilling Christian life once we embrace certain ideas, gain some “secret” knowledge, or perform some “special” rite. Those who speak out against these things just don’t understand, or are ignorant, prideful, and/or arrogant.


    But where in the Bible is the concept of a “more fulfilled” Christian life? Certainly the Bible does advocate knowing God better, but the only prescribed methods are Bible study and prayer (not contemplative).


    Rarely are we satisfied when God makes it easy, so our pride decides to make things up that sound (and probably are) far more exciting.   


    Just because buzzwords or ideas are popular, doesn’t mean they are correct or founded on the Bible. Before you embrace it, research thoroughly!  

    "Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true." (Acts 17:11)


    See also: Uncovering the Secrets of God

    On Spiritual Manifestations

    Colossians: Human Nature in Three Easy Chapters

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