The story you’re about to hear is based on true events.
One of the things I most enjoy about small-town living is the ease of grocery shopping. The local grocery store is less than five minutes from here and I rarely find myself in traffic, which was always the case when we lived in California. In this town, you’re in, you’re out, and you’re home quicker than a men’s Olympic slalom skier speeding through the gates…..unless you run into someone you know while navigating the aisles. Following is my condensed recollection of a situation that occurred on aisle four.
Darts And Arrows
A couple of years ago, a longtime self-professed Christian friend and I had a parting of the ways when, to my dismay, she finally came clean about some of the occult activities she had become involved in and had decided to keep to herself because she enjoyed what she was doing and didn’t want to hear a lecture from me.
It didn’t happen overnight, of course. Dawn (made up name) gradually drifted into false teaching, until she was immersed in it. She went from attending a conservative church to a church that successfully indoctrinated the congregation into the New Apostolic Reformation cult’s man-centered theology.
When I noticed Dawn coming toward me my first thought was to do a quick U-A turn to avoid an uncomfortable situation. But that didn’t happen. She stopped in front of my cart, smiled and said, “Well this is a surprise. I was just thinking about you!” After a few pleasantries she chirped, “I got up this morning and the Lord told me to expect a special blessing today.”
I sent up a bullet prayer: Oh Lord, help me to be…gentle. “Are you saying that I’m the special blessing God sent you?”
“Of course! I haven’t seen you in, like, forever and here you are.”
I must have looked surprised. “Thank you.”
“So, are you still writing articles to warn Christians about what you think is unbiblical” she said, using her fingers to make quotation marks.
Zing! A strategically aimed demonic dart pierced my heart.
I glanced at my watch and said, “I wish I had time to chat, Dawn. But I need to pick up a few things for dinner, so I should get going. Good seeing you—”
Dawn cut me off. “I know you think I’m into false teaching, but I’m not.” She couldn’t hide her disdain. “I used to care what you think. But to be honest, I am so over caring. Go ahead and think what you want to, but I believe my church is 100% rock solid and it’s biblical.”
The fruits of the Spirit popped into my mind: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. I managed to reply calmly, “It’s probably not a good idea to discuss your church here, and besides – ”
She cut in again. “We’ve discussed this at length.” She lowered her voice and said, “Nothing to discuss. You made it clear what you believe. I happen to disagree. I won’t allow you to try and convince me that I’m wrong, that my church is unbiblical – and don’t bother to pray for me!”
Zip! A dart to the mouth.
“Now, back up so I can get by!” she demanded.
Surprised by her rudeness, I quickly complied.
As Dawn moved passed me, she quipped, “You are not the blessing I was expecting.” Our carts collided and she snapped, “Just so you’ll know, I read my Bible every day. Maybe I don’t share your orthodox beliefs but that doesn’t mean I’m not a Christian. I most certainly am! How dare you tell me that I’m a New Ager!”
During a discussion a few months earlier, I asked her about the fortune telling practices she was dabbling in at the time. The proof of this was on her Facebook page where I saw an article about how to achieve hidden wisdom as well as another one on a person’s ability to predict and control the future. So during dinner one evening I came right out and told her what I saw on her page and that fortune telling was not pleasing to God. I also let her know that what she was sharing with friends was actually New Age mysticism and that some of the things she was posting were decidedly unbiblical. During our conversation I made it clear that ChristAlignment Destiny cards (a term coined by Bethel Redding) that she and her friends were using to do readings are no different from occultic tarot cards. I pointed out that the only difference between destiny cards and tarot cards was that the artwork on destiny was done by NAR self-professed prophets. But unlike tarot, destiny includes scripture verses.
Now here we were in a grocery store reliving our discussion during dinner. My eyes were fixed on hers as I replied to her comment. “Someone who advocates New Age beliefs and holds a New Age worldview is called what, Dawn?”
Her eyes shifted to the ground; her reply was defensive. “I’m not a New Ager.”
Seemed I had gotten my point across. “We’ve been down this road many times over the years. There’s nothing more to say. Now, please move your cart.”
Dawn refused to budge. “I will, but first I have one question to ask. Do you recall telling me the Enneagram is New Age?”
“Yep. I said that because it is—”
She shot back, “I beg to differ! My church taught a class on Enneagram. My pastor believes in it. And he knows way more about the Bible than you do or ever will.”
Zing! The buffoon arrow.
“And just so you’ll know, the woman who led the class has been teaching it 10 years. She teaches that there are 9 types of personalities. I’m a 2, the helper. I think you’re a 5, the investigator. Jesus is a 7—"
My turn to interrupt. “Good grief, Dawn” I chided. “I’ve studied the Enneagram, too, but for different reasons. From a Christian perspective the Enneagram is steeped in the occult.”
“No it’s not! What I learned is that we can know God by knowing ourselves.”
“If you take time to research it like I did, you’ll discover that what I’m telling you is true. The teaching that we can know God by first knowing ourselves is not found anywhere in Scripture. Do you believe there are nine paths to God? That’s what the Enneagram teaches. Show me where the Bible teaches that? And where does the Bible say that the Enneagram is the face of God and the Body of Christ?”
“I can’t remember.”
“Don’t bother to look for that teaching in Scripture, or anything close to it, because it’s not there.”
“I’ll ask my pastor and get back to you.”
Dumbfounded, I grabbed two jars of traditional Ragu and placed them in my cart…. can I squeeze by?”
Dawn begrudgingly complied and went on her way.
On aisle 5, I texted my husband to let him know that due to unforeseen circumstances dinner was going to be a bit late. As I headed to the checkout counter, I reminded myself that my encounter on aisle 4 was with a woman who was not a sister in Christ; my former friend had joined forces with her father, the devil. It was clear to me that what had happened back there was full blown spiritual warfare.
Put on the full armor of God…came to mind as I sat the Ragu on the counter.
When I arrived at my car, I heard someone behind me say shrilly, “I’m not a New Ager! I go to church, I read my Bible, I pray, why does it matter if I want to know what God has in store for me? My friend did a reading two years ago. The cards predicted she’d be married within a year. And guess what? She got married three months ago. Another friend prophesied over her a year and a half ago and told her that she’d get married soon. God must have wanted her to know that.”
I turned to look at her. “Sorcery is of the devil, Dawn. Paul calls it a work of the flesh. If you don’t believe me, read Galatians 5. You and your friends are practicing modern day sorcery. What you’re into is no different from practicing witchcraft.” I opened the door, unloaded the grocery bag and closed the trunk. Before entering my car I said firmly. “The Bible says that seeking hidden wisdom is of the devil. If not from God, where do you think the ability to predict the future comes from?”
Dawn huffed, “Witchcraft? Seriously? You’re delusional. You always look for a demon behind every rock! Me? I look for what God is doing! I pay attention to what God is saying to me. And besides, you can’t prove their predictions didn’t come from God, that my friends aren’t hearing directly from Him.”
Demonic darts were flying fast and furious.
With the sword of the spirit in my grip I went back at her. “If you want to hear what God is saying, read the Bible. In Galatians 5, Paul, who was Holy Spirit led, says in no uncertain terms that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. That should trouble you greatly.”
“I refuse to believe that God would allow my friends—and me—to be misled.”
“What we hear comes directly from God!”
“So you believe that you and your friends hear God’s audible voice?”
“The Spirit of God speaks through us!”
“I’ve never known you to study the Bible, Dawn. Nor are you obedient to what God says in his Word, nor do you take his commands seriously. And yet you believe God speaks through you?”
“If you’re suggesting I’m a sinner, you’re right. We all are and that includes my friends – and you are too! Even you should know that God speaks through sinners. But you lack the faith to believe that.”
Dawn was headed down another rabbit trail so I said, “I need to go home and fix dinner.” My response to her comment about my lack of faith probably came across as rude. Nevertheless, I let it fly. “Coming from people who attend a church whose pastor lacks spiritual discernment, and worse than that, he teaches heretical Word of Faith theology, it’s easy to see that the voice of God you and your friends believe you’re hearing is counterfeit. Your shepherd needs to consider his actions and where what he teaches is leading the flock he’s supposed to guard from encroaching wolves. One last thing. Has it not occurred to any of you that what you hear in your mind may not be coming from Almighty God, but from spiritual forces of evil?!”
She countered with, “You are a very negative, mean and hateful person!” As she stomped away, she fired off the condemnation arrow: “Scoffer!”
I climbed into the driver’s seat, started the engine and turned off the radio. Before putting the car in gear, I relaxed into my seat and prayed for Dawn. “Lord, thank you for using me to hit Dawn with the uncomfortable truth. What a blessing to have had an opportunity to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints.” My eyes glistened with tears. “I pray that my words of warning about the heretical beliefs Dawn holds will sink in and that she’ll scour your Word to discover who you are and your ways….” I watched Dawn’s car pull out of the parking lot. Thirty years of friendship with a woman who had chosen to withhold her occult propensities from me. Withholding the truth from someone is the same as lying to them. Even after thirty years of friendship, I never really knew Dawn Caldwell.
I wiped the tears from my eyes and finished with, “I pray that you will reveal Dawn’s sin to her, that she will repent of it, and be obedient to do your will that’s made clear in Scripture. Lastly, Lord, deliver Dawn from the hold the evil one has on her through the church she attends, amen.”
As I drove home, I thought to myself, Believers are not to fear evil and we’re not to back away from evil.
Christ’s elect are to do what I had just done while shopping at the local grocery store, if need be.
Put On The Full Armor Of God
God has given believers a way to protect themselves in Ephesians 6. (I'll share the particulars in a moment.) A few years ago, after I had thoroughly studied this subject, it became apparent to me that many of my brothers and sisters were unarmed while fighting a vicious enemy – and so was I! I came to realize that those of us in the thick of a spiritual battle had to lay our worries and woes aside (worry is sin) and do battle God's way. But before we could face the enemy, like any soldier going into battle, we had to go into it with helmets, breastplates, shields, swords and, most importantly, the Gospel of Christ that changes minds and hearts! So – I wrote a piece to share what I had learned about fighting the good fight and how to win it. What I wrote is even more pertinent today than it was umpteen years ago. My hope in reposting those instructions now is that the serious Christian will take Paul's words literally when he says, "put on the whole armor of God!"
I am amazed by how many Christians are unfamiliar with the Armor of God the Apostle Paul spoke about in Ephesians 6:10. “Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.” Yes, the devil is real, he’s a schemer, and he’s out to get you! If you don’t believe he’s real, I urge you to read the Gospels. Take Mark 9:25 for example. Jesus actually spoke to a demon. “You deaf and mute spirit,” he said, “I command you, come out of him and never enter him again.” It would be a little ridiculous for Jesus to talk to demons if they don’t exist. There are plenty of other examples I could use. However, my point is that Christians are failing to arm themselves for battle against the spiritual powers of darkness!
So, how can you defend yourself against demonic attacks? You must get dressed!
In Ephesians 6 Paul tells believers what to wear. First, buckle the Belt of Truth around your waist. Truth is a deep knowledge of God’s character and His will as applied to our lives.
Second, the Breastplate of Righteousness must be firmly in place. This refers to the righteousness of Christ, not your own righteousness! The breastplate protects your heart from Satan’s attacks.
Third, you must wear the proper shoes if you’re going to resist Satan. His expertise is unmatched at keeping you off balance! Solid footing is provided by the Gospel of peace. (Peace comes when you learn to rest in God’s promises.) With the right shoes you’ll be prepared to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Your feet have got to be ready to move at a moment’s notice!
Fourth, take up the Shield of Faith. Faith is complete trust in Christ. When you have faith in God, Satan will be unable to worm his way into your life because Christ offers adequate protection.
Fifth, take the hope of the helmet of salvation–look forward to the day of Christ’s return, when the wicked will be judged, and you’ll have peace. In the meantime, the helmet will protect your mind from temptation and from believing false doctrine. Feel confident that the moral depravity taking place throughout the world will “ultimately be resolved by God’s program,” says Ray Stedman. And “live unafraid in a world of fear and terror.” Moreover, “God is moving in history, and nothing that happens can upset or delay His plan.”
Sixth, you must wield a very sharp and deadly sword – the Sword of the Spirit. The Word of God is a Christian’s sword. The Bible is “living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword” (Hebrews 4:12). When you’re tempted, do as Jesus did and use Scripture as a weapon to fight off the Adversary.
Lastly, pray! The Sword of the Spirit and Prayer are offensive weapons. Use them!
There you have it. The Armor of God is a symbolic description of the Lord Himself. You must put on Jesus Christ. Trust completely in His power! It’s a mistake to try to live for Christ in your own strength. You must receive and utilize Christ’s power. He wants His people to live as He did, on complete reliance on God. He will work through us by the power of His Holy Spirit indwelling in us.
So, when the devil comes knocking on your door, let Jesus answer it!
The Old Serpent and the Slacker–An allegory on Spiritual Warfare and the importance of putting on the armor of God. (Eph. 6:10-19) Angels and demons go to battle over Brady McCoy, a back-slidden Christian who has recommitted his life to Christ and is determined to reconnect with God. But distractions and diversions get in the way of Brady’s “quiet time” with the Lord.© Marsha West
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