Protecting and Cleaning Your Spiritual House
Main Passage: 1 Thessalonians 5
Secondary Passage: Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work. 2 Timothy 2:21 NIV
Recently, I discovered a snake, an unwelcome visitor, in my pool area! I swam my “laps” with my swim tether and then practiced turns off-tether at the deep end. Since it’s been a long time, I grabbed the pool edge to steady myself before doing the flip part of the turn. Later, I put on an aqua belt to stretch and strengthen in the deep after I finished, I spotted something move out of the corner of my eye. So, looking more intently, I saw a baby snake with a distinct diamond on its head and a repeating pattern along its body! My heart stopped for a moment. It slithered along where my hand had gripped the edge for my turns! Its small head dipped toward the water, looking like it wanted to join me. I gasped and immediately got out. I summoned my husband to check it out and determine what we needed to do. We both could see that we had to deal with it swiftly. He got a spade and killed it since we believed it could be venomous. Some of the snake’s blood spilled into the water, which meant the filter had to cycle for twenty-four hours before it would be clean again. I shuddered, wondering what could have happened if it had slithered into the pool and bitten me!
What’s the Deal?
I am starting a series of lessons about how Satan and his demons slither into our lives subtly, uninvited. We will delve into how New Age comes into the church and Christian organizations, and how we can prevent it from creeping into our lives as believers. As I teach ChiRho Flow this quarter, I am reminded of the value of teaching alternative exercise practices to yoga, taiChi, martial arts, and more because so many believers have been deceived by “good sounding spiritual” things, when they are indeed from that Serpent, the Devil. You can prevent New Age from creeping into your spiritual life.
The Thessalonian church was a major seaport and the capital of Macedonia, a Roman province. Due to the high traffic from many cultures and the Greco-Roman influence, the large Jewish population worked to stay firmly rooted in their monotheistic worldview and traditional in their faith practice. They also had many pagan converts who wanted nothing to do with the Greco-Roman culture prevalent at that time.
In 1 Thessalonians, Paul fondly remembers his ministry to this new church. He gives them important foundational instructions to nurture them in their new Christian faith. They didn’t fully understand some of his teachings about end times, though. Still, they did grasp the resurrection of the dead, so Paul worked from their knowledge, and expanded it.
In chapter 5, he reminds them how the Day of the Lord—end times—will come on suddenly without warning, urging them to stay firmly rooted in the teachings he gave them. He didn’t want them to be taken by surprise, because it would come suddenly like birth pains on a pregnant woman. He wanted them to hold tightly to their faith using the illustration of a breastplate from Roman armor with faith and love as a helmet of the hope of salvation. The breastplate protects the heart of faith, and out of it flows love. This helmet is a mental discernment, knowing their salvation is secure. They will need to rely on them to get through the tribulation yet to come. But they could also rest assured whether it comes while they live or after they die, they would be secure in Christ. Paul instructed them to comfort and edify–that is, encourage–each other just like they are doing now in the horrendous, sinful culture with polytheism from the Roman gods that surrounded them.
Paul also instructs them about living a holy life set apart for Christ. Those who teach and lead them in their church deserve respect and to be peaceful together. They were to continuously pray with gratitude to help, correct, encourage, and remain patient with each other.
They especially mustn’t let the teachings from outside quench the work of the Holy Spirit within them, and not allow outside teachings to cause them to hate prophecies. Paul told them to test everything against what Paul taught them and hold onto what is good—from God. They were to steer clear of every kind of evil.
In conclusion, Paul gives them a blessing of peace from God, and that they would be completely mature so that their entire being—spirit (that which relates to God), soul (that part which lives on eternally), and body (the vessel in which they live) so they would remain blameless (pure) for when Jesus comes back for them. Paul reminded them that our Lord is faithful and will follow through on His promise to return.
Paul also asks for prayer. In his closing remarks, he asked them to ensure his letter was read in the church. He blessed them by saying that the grace of Jesus Christ, our Lord, would be with them. Amen (let it be so).
The passage from 2 Timothy 2:21 talks about how we as God’s vessels have a specific purpose to our Master, that we must be cleansed from wickedness to be of valuable use for our Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ.
So what does this passage have to do with New Age, you ask? Plenty, I can assure you! We live in a pagan culture full of hedonism and the elevation of self with a smattering of many religious influences, primarily Buddhist and Hindu. The basis of New Age teaching is that we are gods and can reach perfection (Hindu and Buddhist teaching), with a heaping helping of pantheism (God is in everything). It also includes balancing good and bad energies. When you enter a yoga studio, martial arts, or TaiChi class, these teachings set the tone for everything taught within that space. Even so-called Christian yoga and Christian martial arts classes are “Christian” by name alone. We, as believers, must test every teaching against the Word of God to know whether it is good, or not. Yet believers are hoodwinked by the Serpent, who slithers in under the radar, into believing these classes have no religious teachings. Worse yet, some use religious lingo that sounds Christian but is not. The instructors are taught that Hinduism and Buddhism are philosophies, not the religions they genuinely are.
What’s worse, these teachings have been “sanitized” and slipped into workplaces, schools, and even, dare I say, churches and Christian organizations. Just like that baby snake that slithered into my pool area unnoticed until it was beginning to dip its head into the water where I was working out, New Age creeps into prayer time, the end of a speaker’s talk., even a “Christian” yoga class. Make no mistake, mindfulness meditation, transcendental meditation, crystals, some teachings with aromatherapy, manifesting, and more aren’t from God! Good faithful Christians are being deceived repeatedly without realizing what’s happening. Soon, they are being led into guided imagery in Christian gatherings because it is supposedly helpful in their prayer lives! It has just enough Christianese twisted to fit the ungodly practice in their “pool”, that is, gathering. So the snake poisons their minds and hearts, then eventually, they no longer read their Bibles, pray to God without the “additions” from New Age beliefs, and begin to despise fundamental Christian doctrine. That tiny, innocent-looking snake is full of deadly venom that will poison our spiritual lives if we let it.
What must we do now? Know God’s Word well. If anything taught or practiced goes against the Bible and doesn’t fit God’s character, it’s not from God. We are to avoid it at all cost. If you aren’t sure, simply leave it alone until you’ve had the time to compare it with the Bible. When you see something going on at your church that has New Age teachings or goes by a Hindu or Buddhist name, talk to the leaders of your church about it. When someone is talking about playing with, or balancing “energies” and wishing good vibes for someone, pull them aside some time and discuss with them their error. Be caring but honest. If you aren’t sure, find out more about it and look these teachings up to know what they are and how they conflict with God’s Word. Know the Truth. If you’ve brought these spiritual practices into your home, clear them out now! Fill your home with God’s Word His goodness, and bathe it in prayer. If you don’t, that Serpent will return and bring seven more like it, yet worse to make their home with you (Matthew 12:43-45). Church leaders, clear out anything ungodly to purify the church so it will bring honor and glory to God in all areas of ministry.
God deserves our devotion, calling us, churches, and ministries to remain pure, and faithful to Him. It is then we can be useful vessels for God’s work.
Prayer: Lord, see if there is any wicked way in me and lead me into the everlasting way (Psalm 139:23-25). May I bring honor and glory to you and lead others to you. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson.
Zondervan Bible Commentary: Volume 2 New Testament, p.p. 871-873. Copyright 1994, Zondervan. Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan.
Republished with permission from Blogs.crossmap.com, featuring inspiring Bible verses about Help! There’s the Snake! – Charlaine Martin.