‘Now the Spirit speaks expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils’ ~ 1 Timothy 4:1
Doctrine, a set of beliefs or principles that are passed on. In this world, two broad principles govern every worldview – godly and devilish. In regard to devilish doctrine, James writes, ‘But if you have bitter envying and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. Such wisdom does not come down from heaven but is earthly, sensual and of the devil’ (James 3:14). Paul also clearly warns that ‘such teaching come through hypocritical liars, whose conscience have been seared as with a hot iron’ (1 Timothy 4:2). And so he urges Timothy; ‘If you point these things out to the brothers, you will be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished up in the words of faith and of good doctrine that you have followed’ (v6).
Doctrines of devils come in three broad forms; earthly, sensual, and outright devilish, as James states. For the earthly kind, they ‘forbid people to marry, and commanding them to abstain from meats, which God has created to be received with thanksgiving which believe and know the truth’ (v3). By emphasizing more on earthly matters, such doctrine turns focus away on true spiritual matters, to the detriment of the receiver. ‘Touch not! taste not! handle not!’ (Colossians 2:21), they say. But ‘such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom, with their self-imposed worship, their false humility and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence’ (v23). In this day and age, such wisdom is labelled under the pretext of movements, religious establishments, or whatever other labels that discourage holy matrimony, freedom in consuming certain foods, wearing of certain attires, or other outwardly baseless restrictions. Yet it is written, ‘Let no man therefore judge you in meat or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or the new moon, or of the Sabbath days: Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ’ (Colossians 2:16). However, propagators of such human regulations, ‘promise them freedom, while they themselves are slaves to depravity – for a man is a slave to whatever has mastered him’ (2 Peter 2:19).
Another form of doctrines of devil is that they give heed to seducing spirits. In other words, the wisdom is sensual – if it feels good, then it must be good. Those who teach such have their conscience seared as with a hot iron, and so urge on the pursuit of ‘feel-good’ activities no matter their outcome, or rebellion to God. Instead, they encourage people to create an atmosphere of love around them, to subject their minds to emptying, their lips to chants, their bodies to certain poses, and other useless rituals in order to achieve a desired effect. In other words, such doctrine focuses on self and encourages such bodily activities under the false pretext of calm, awareness, and spiritual enlightenment. Paul warns, ‘Do not let anyone who delights in false humility and worship of angels disqualify you for the prize. Such a person goes into great detail about what he has seen, and his unspiritual mind puffs him up with idle notions’ (Colossians 2:18). Such intrude into those things which they have not seen, and so subject themselves to an endless pursuit of a mirage. They ‘have lost connection with the Head, from whom the whole body, supported and held together by its ligament and sinews, grows as God causes it to grow’ (v19). In other words, they become disillusioned with what appears to be spiritual, but in reality have no roots, for there is one Head, Jesus Christ.
Lastly, the doctrines of devils are outright devilish. Jesus commends the Church in Thyatira ‘who have not learned Satan’s so-called deep secrets’ (Revelation 2:24). Paul urges, ‘Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives’ tales; rather train yourself to be godly’ (1 Timothy 4:7). Such doctrines of devils tend to assume knowledge outside of Christ that dates back to this and that age, or to such and such culture/civilisation. This faulty doctrine claims to have secrets in healing, restoration, prosperity, and even future predictions. It also implies use of all sorts of means outside God’s Word, and invoke a lot of signs, incantations, observations, repetition, and myths. Creation and inanimate objects like cards and boards are used to arrive at a ‘wise’ judgement. Yet God commands, ‘Let no one be found among you who makes his son or his daughter pass through the fire, who practices divination or sorcery, interprets omens (astrology, horoscopes etc.), engages in witchcraft, or casts spells, or who is a medium or spiritist or who consults the dead. Anyone who does these things is detestable to the Lord’ (Deuteronomy 18:10-12). For those who try to fit part of these in the Body of Christ, even in the smallest measure, Paul says ‘They must be silenced, because they are ruining whole households by teaching things they ought not to teach – and that for the sake of dishonest gain’ (Titus 1:11).
Those who teach, spread, advocate, or participate in any of the doctrines of devils (knowingly or unknowingly) to whatever degree are ‘bringing swift destruction on themselves’ (2 Peter 2:1). For even God ‘did not spare angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, putting them into gloomy dungeons to be held for judgement’ (v4). Peter continues to observe that those who hold to such doctrines, ‘Presumptuous are they, self-willed, they are not afraid to slander celestial beings; yet angels, although they are stronger and more powerful, do not bring slanderous accusations against such beings in the presence of the Lord. But these men blaspheme in matters they do not understand. They are like brute beasts, creatures of instinct, born only to be caught and destroyed, and like beasts they too will perish’ (v10-12). In fact, ‘with eyes full of adultery, they never stop sinning, they seduce the unstable, they are experts in covetous practices – an accursed brood!’ (v14). Jude adds that they are ‘filthy dreamers (who) defile the flesh, despise dominion, and slander celestial beings . . . they are clouds without rain . . . twice dead . . . murmurers and fault-finders; walking after their own lusts; and their mouth speak great swelling words, and flatter others for their own advantage’ (Jude 1:8,12,16). They ‘distort as they do other Scriptures to their destruction’ (2 Peter 3:16). For such, ‘Blackest darkness is reserved for them’ (2:v17).
‘Be on your guard so that you may not be carried away by the error of lawless men and fall from your secure position. But grow in grace and knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever! Amen’ ~ 2 Peter 3:17
‘Evidently, some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven preach any other gospel than the one we preached to you, let him be accursed!’ ~ Galatians 1:7-8
‘All Scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable for doctrine . . .’ ~ 2 Timothy 3:16
‘But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy’ ~ James 3:17