RELIGIOUS DIVINATION-(Python in the Pulpit?)
by Doug Fortune
Who has BEWITCHED you? (Gal.3:1) Normally we don't think of witchcraft being in the Church or believers being bewitched; this seems like some pretty strong language for Paul to use. Images of a haggard old woman hovering over a boiling black kettle of frog gizzards and eye of newt spring to mind (maybe I watched too much television as a kid!). Is this really what Paul is speaking of though? A look at the context of this verse will perhaps shed some light on the subject.
Often missed, I believe that Gal. 1:10-12 sets a good stage; For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? or am I striving to please men? if I were still pleasing men, I should not be a servant of Christ. For I make known to you, brethren, as touching the gospel which was preached by me, that it is NOT after man. For neither did I receive it from man, nor was I taught it, but it came to me through REVELATION of Jesus Christ.
He didn't receive his ministry from man and he wasn't endorsed by man. Then verses 15-17 reveal God's primary purpose; But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother's womb, and called me by his grace, To REVEAL His Son in me, that I might preach Him among the heathen; immediately I conferred NOT with flesh and blood: Neither went I up to Jerusalem to them which were apostles before me... Did you catch that?... Paul was chosen before he was born, before he had any obedience or works; he was chosen for the purpose of REVEALING Christ to the nations.
The following verses go on to reiterate how his ministry was not a product of, nor endorsed by man.
On into chapter two, we see that he was eventually accepted by the established church (Gal. 2:9). He was still no man-pleaser though, for we find him confronting the elder apostle Peter; But when Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed. (Gal 2:11)In most circles today, had Paul done that, his credentials would have
been pulled and he would have received the left foot of disfellowship ! In verse 19-20, he makes plain the foundation and source of his spiritual authority: For I through the law am DEAD to the law, that I might live unto God. I am CRUCIFIED WITH CHRIST : nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth IN ME: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.
Remember also that he declares he was chosen before his birth as the source of his authority. In other words, it is Christ living THROUGH him that he receives his authority from. It is against this backdrop of authority conferred by God versus authority appointed by man, that he says Who has BEWITCHED you? In verses 2-3 of Galatians 1, he goes on to describe this witchcraft; Did you receive the Holy Spirit as the result of obeying the law and
doing its works, or was it by hearing the message of the Gospel and believing it?- Was it from observing a law of rituals or from a message of faith? Are you so foolish and so senseless and so silly? Having begun your new life spiritually with the Holy spirit, are you now reaching perfection by dependence on the flesh? (Amplified Bible) You see, often those who have man-made and man-appointed authority will preach a sin-conscious gospel of works and obedience. In reality that is an oxymoron, for the true Gospel is neither sin-conscious nor works-oriented ! If you can get people feeling bad enough about themselves, it's easier to get them to go along with YOUR program... it's an issue of CONTROL. Guilt is very good for the religion business ! The true issue is manipulation and control or RELIGIOUS DIVINATION.
In the occult, divination is casting spells and word-curses under the GUISE of revealing secrets and foretelling the future. This is basically what sin-conscious, works-oriented preaching does to the unsuspecting believer in the pew! It focuses on revealing your sin (which, by the way, God says He FORGETS! Is.43:25, Jere.31:34, Heb.8:12) and casts a word-curse (spell) on you so you'll conform, and by conforming to the religious standard, it affects your destiny- a self-fulfilling prophecy of sorts. The root of this divination and man-appointed authority is a RELIGIOUS spirit, which is antichrist. Remember, antichrist means instead-of or a substitute for Christ - the anointing. Some have started out with a true anointing of God on their life, but because they sought the approval of man, they end up with only a man-appointed authority.
In Acts 16 we read of a young woman possessed by a spirit of divination; And it came to pass, as we were going to the place of prayer, that a certain maid having a spirit of divination met us, who brought her masters much gain by soothsaying. The same following after Paul and us cried out, saying, These men are servants of the Most High God...(Acts 16:16-17). I believe this account gives us a prophetic picture worth exploring. First, if you look in the Greek we notice that she is a girl, not a mature woman; that she is in bondage as a slave; that she is bringing her masters much gain. The Church is usually referred to in the female gender. Here, I believe, is a prophetic picture of the immature Church, operating under bondage to religious laws, bringing her pastors... oops, I meant masters much gain.
Notice that she is following Paul and those with him, proclaiming loudly, These men are servants of the Most High God !. At first glance you would think, What's wrong with that? In fact there are some leaders today operating under an authority appointed by man, who surround themselves with immature believers who will put them on a pedestal and proclaim them to be servants of the Most High God. By doing this it helps to make up for their lack of anointing due to man-appointed authority, and helps to draw more people to follow them. Have you ever seen a leader allow people to put them on a pedestal, and to take credit for things they were not even responsible for? Paul said, ...am I striving to please men? if I were still pleasing men, I should not be a servant of Christ. (Gal.1:10). Paul recognized it for what it was, as the girl was drawing attention to himself and his companions. Paul cast that spirit of divination out of her!
It is interesting to note that the word translated as divination is PYTHON in Greek. A man named Pythagoras was an early Greek philosopher who founded a society of pagan religious orientation known as Pythagoreanism. The society fostered strong bonds of friendship and a sense of ELITISM among its members through ritual and a code of rigorous self-control, including lists of taboos. This ancient spirit is alive and well today. This description of Pythegoreanism could easily be a description of many churches under man-appointed authority - cliquish groups, elitism, ritual (believe me, there IS charismatic/ pentecostal ritual) codes and taboos. All these elements appeal to the approval of man as they stem from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil.
It is also interesting to note that the python snake does not poison its victims, rather it wraps its coils around and slowly squeezes the life out of its victim. Most man appointed leaders and churches are not necessarily involved in poisoning through blatant doctrinal error (although some are), rather they just squeeze the life out of the believers through the oppression
of sin-consciousness and works-oriented mentality. Perhaps you've seen another fairly common scenario: a Church experiences a powerful move of the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is there is LIBERTY... it is difficult to please men and maintain control where there is much liberty... also when people come into liberty they begin to be released into their giftings and callings... this is very threatening to intimidated man-appointed leaders... so we begin to limit the flow of the Spirit... I think you know the rest of the story.
Let us be like Paul, receiving our authority from God rather than man. Let us understand that our authority is based solely on our death in Christ, and His subsequent Resurrection Life flowing through us. Let us quit seeking the approval of men and allow the abiding anointing to flow out of us; And as for you, the anointing which ye received of Him ABIDETH IN YOU, and ye need not that any one teach you; but as His anointing teacheth you; concerning all things, and is true, and is no lie, and even as it taught you, ye ABIDE IN HIM. (1 John 2:27) Right now, call upon that abiding anointing the leads you into truth and ask the Lord if you have been bewitched by sin-conscious, works-oriented preaching. If so, be like Paul and cast out that spirit of divination, that python that seeks to squeeze the Life out of you. Move forward...into the glorious LIBERTY of the children of God. (Rom.8:21)
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