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Straying off from the centre
- Jacob Ninan
Many new teachings are coming up from around the world that appear to be curious and interesting, and many Christians are lapping them up without pausing to examine their validity (2Ti.4:3). Some teachers seem to be vying with one another to come up with sensational revelations that appear to be the truth for the times. If these were things that would build us up and draw us towards the goal of loving God and His people more, praise the Lord (1Ti.1:5)! But sad to say, a lot of them are only serving to distract people's attention by focussing on irrelevant issues and misleading interpretations.
My guess is that the New Age philosophy with its emphasis on mysticism, rituals, forces, material-divine relationships, etc., has infiltrated Christian minds so much that distinctions have become very much blurred. Without understanding that the essential purpose of God in our lives is to purify us from sinful ways and to transform us into His character, people are getting taken up with issues that ultimately cause us to stray away from this (Ro.8:28,29). Of course Satan tempts us towards sin, but he also tries to take us away from the path that leads closer to God.
A lot of teachings border on superstition and magical effects. The upsurge in teachings about holy oil, blessed handkerchiefs, Jewish prayer shawls with their blue tassels, the seven spouted lamps, the blowing of the shofar (a Jewish horn), gadgets with seven drops of blood to be placed above doors, etc., which were used as symbols in the Old Covenant, shows us how special powers are being attributed to things instead of a relationship with God.
On the other side, people are being taught to fear certain things, such as wind-chimes, pyramid shapes, Egyptian paintings, etc.! Do these have any powers that can harm us? It is one thing if we use or have used them in connection with religious systems (1Co.8:7). But they themselves are inanimate things that have no power. Why are we living in fear when we have Jesus Himself in us who has conquered all the powers of darkness (Col.2:15;1Jn.4:4).
Some are getting into numerology! They delve into the numerical values of Hebrew and Greek letters and come up with discoveries of hidden meanings in words! Some use computers to try out different combinations on the King James Version (!) and discover hidden messages in the Bible! Some people teach as if the number 12 has some magic powers (remember the 12 tribes and the 12 disciples?) and propose that all governing bodies should have 12 members, and suddenly people accept this all over the world!
The common factor in all these things is that we are forgetting the focus on our relationship with God and people, the condition of our heart (spirit) which God looks at, the authority that comes from being men and women after God's own heart, etc., and getting occupied with external things. This is the essence of idolatry, isn't it?