As humans, we are created to know more than just our five senses tell us. We are designed to comprehend a relationship with our Creator God, with a need and a desire to connect to the spiritual.
[Gary Petty] As human beings, we experience physical life through our five senses: sight, hearing, taste, smell, and touch. And you don’t realize how important those five senses are until you lose one. As you all know, I have difficulties with allergies, and for a number of years, I’ve been really struggling with sinus issues, and my eyes drain all the time. Well, actually, the sinus issues have gotten much better over the last year for a number of reasons.
But what’s strange is I didn’t realize I had lost most of my sense of smell. So now I can be eating something, and I’ll say, “That’s just delicious, that’s amazing! What did you do? What’s on this piece of chicken?” And my wife will say, “It’s called pepper.” I’ve forgotten what pepper tastes like, and it’s like, “Whoa is that good. You know, give me more pepper!” And I don’t have to put as much hot sauce on food anymore because it’s like, “Oh, I can taste this.”
We process so much in life by our five senses. But as human beings, we’re also created to be more than just responders to our senses, right? We’re more than just animals. We have intellect. We have consciousness. We have creativity. And because of these things, we are able to comprehend a relationship with a Creator, a relationship with God.
In fact, the truth is, is that all human beings are created with a need and a desire to connect to the spiritual. It’s in us. I mean, it’s actually created by God in us. We all have a need and a desire, all human beings, to connect with the spiritual. It’s very interesting. Science can tell us a lot about how and give us lots of information, and even then, science really doesn’t know as much as they pretend to know. But if we knows some things about the world we live in because of science, it doesn’t answer the important questions of why or purpose or meaning.
And so people who are non-religious, and 31% of all Americans now say they’re non-religious, they’re non-religious, and yet they have a great need to tie into something spiritual. Many of them believe that you know, there’s something out there, sort of a belief almost like in Star Wars , the force, the universe, and you connect into the universe. And so they literally have a religious experience defending some frogs that live in a pond that maybe die because of a road it’s going through. And it is a religious experience they have that they are saving life.
It’s difficult sometimes people that will ridicule and not realize the depth of emotion these people are having. They’re having a religious experience. In fact, when you look at religion itself, it’s designed to try to fill that need. How many have ever been to Notre Dame, because, you know, part of it just burnt down, right? Walking in Notre Dame creates an enormous reaction. Walking into Notre Dame for me, even though, you know, I want to see it historically, I believe that the Catholic Church that built it is a church that has led people a long ways where God wants them to be. And yet walking into that church, there is a sense of awe in the architecture, the way it’s designed, the way the music sounded in there, the way the music sounded, which is awe-inspiring.
And then watching as they bring in, the priest come in, and they come in this ceremony, you think, “This is all designed to try to connect into the need human beings have to have some kind of spiritual experience.” We’re designed. We want something more than us. Hinduism, Buddhism, all pagan religions are designed to try to alleviate, to fulfill a religious need, a spiritual need that every one of us has. Sabbath services, we’re here because we want, we have a need and desire for some connection with God. And that’s one of the reasons why we’re supposed to come together once a week is because that’s part of the spiritual process that we’re going through.
Today, I want to talk about that need and that desire that we have. And then I want to talk about the dangers, the dangers of exploring spiritual experiences that are not God-centered or are not in the way that He wishes us to experience His way, experiences, religious experiences that are not God-centered or they’re not the way He wants us to experience Him. So what does that mean? And what does that mean, not God-centered or not the way that He wants?
We can try to fulfill our spiritual need in a lot of ways. Some people will try to fill spiritual need physically. That’s why some people have unending sexual experiences with different people. Many times, they’re trying to actually fulfill a spiritual need, which that never will. People will try to fulfill that maybe through drug abuse as they’re trying to fulfill a spiritual need. But we can also try to fulfill that need in a lot of different ways.
We have to recognize what it is. We have to also recognize that your need, my need, and desire for a spiritual connection with God can be manipulated to our own self-destruction. I want you to be very aware of it. First of all, we can’t ignore that need and desire. You and I have to become very aware of our need and desire for connection with God. It may be the most intense psychological need we have, this need to be connected to God.
David, if you read the Psalms, talks about this all the time. He writes about it all the time. Psalm after Psalm is about how much he needs God, how much God is his sufficiency, how much God is his helper, how much he is nothing without Him. Let’s just take a look at one Psalm, Psalm 40. I had trouble picking out which Psalm to use. I kept reading a Psalm and saying, “Ooh, that really makes the point.” Then I’d read another Psalm and say, “No, that actually makes the point better.” And I realized that depending on the mood I was in at the time was which Psalm I was connecting to, because each Psalm was David in a different situation saying, “I need God. I did not only need Him. I desire Him.”
Verse 1 of Psalm 40, “I waited patiently for the Lord.” I waited. I anticipated. I wanted. “And He inclined to me, and heard my cry. He also brought me up out of a horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet on a rock, and established my steps. He’s put a new song in my mouth” He says, “I’m singing now. I’m actually singing to God because God and I were connected, and I wasn’t, and I worried, and I struggled, and I had anxiety, and I had problems, and I patiently said, ‘God, I need you, and I desire you.’” He said, “Praise to our God; many will see and fear, and trust in the Lord.” Let’s get down to verse 11. He says, “Do not withhold Your tender mercies from me, O Lord; let your lovingkindness and Your truth continually preserve me.”
“I must be preserved. I am lost. I am lowly. I am disconnected. And my life is preserved because of God’s mercies and lovingkindness and truth.” “For innumerable evils have surrounded me; my iniquities have overtaken me, so that I’m not able to look up; they are more than the hairs of my head; therefore my heart fails me. Be pleased, O Lord, and deliver me; O Lord, make haste to help me,” a remarkable acknowledgment of the core of his being of his need and desire for God.
When we deny that or we cover that up, we just keep busy enough. We don’t have to deal with our need and desire for God, or we try to replace it with other things. We get in a very dangerous state that I want to talk about today. Look at verse 16, “Let all those who seek You rejoice.” Seek, how many times in the last two years I’ve given two sermons where I’ve talked about seeking God. It’s an active process. Face to face. Remember, we read that one scripture. It’s probably about five months ago now where David talks about God respond to him saying, “Seek My face.” “Look at Me,” God says, “Just look at Me.” “Seek and rejoice and be glad in You; let such as love Your salvation say continually, ‘The Lord be magnified!’ For I am poor and needy; yet the Lord thinks upon me. You are my help and my deliverer; do not delay, O my God.”
“I am poor and needy.” He’s not saying here he was living in poverty, by the way. “I don’t know where my next meal is coming from.” That’s not what he was talking about here. Spiritually, he realized, “I am in need of God, and I desire God.” We have to understand, this is at the core of our being. You were created that way. You were created that way because God wants you to have a relationship with Him. So He created you to have a need to have a relationship with Him. You and I have that.
But to understand what happens when you and I are not acknowledging and pursuing and seeking God to fulfill that need and seeking God to be our desire, we have all kinds of problems in life. Sometimes this can be the core of a marriage problem. The couple is seeking total healing from each other instead of seeking healing from God, as we actually try to make our mate fulfill something that only God can fulfill. You talk about a recipe for a failed marriage, try to make your husband or your wife God. You have to fulfill the need I have for God. And, of course, that would just destroy the marriage. Nobody could do that except God.
So what happens when we deny that need and that desire? We become susceptible to something else. And that is a false and dangerous attempt to fulfill that spiritual need, a false and dangerous attempt to fulfill that spiritual need, because there is another spiritual force in our lives. We don’t talk about it much. So let’s go back to the scripture we all know. Let’s go back and look at it again and look at the other spiritual force in your life, Ezekiel 28, Ezekiel 28.
It’s an interesting prophecy here. It starts out in verse 1 about the city of Tyre, which was a prominent city at the time of Ezekiel. Verse 1 says, “The word of the Lord came to me again, saying, ‘Son of man, say to the Prince of Tyre, “Thus says the Lord God”’” And it goes on and says, “Because you think you’re a god, I’m going to punish you.” Now, this wasn’t unusual that in the ancient world, the kings considered themselves divine. They were gods on earth.
So He says, “Because you think you’re a god, I’m going to punish you.” And then something else changes. Look at verse 11, “Moreover the word of the Lord came to me, saying, ‘Son of man, take up a lamentation for the king of Tyre, and stay to him,’” not the prince of Tyre, but the king, “Thus says the Lord God” ‘You were the seal of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect and beauty. You were in Eden, the garden of God.’”
Well, the prince of Tyre who thought himself as a God, you know, hadn’t lived for thousands of years. He’s talking about somebody else here. The power behind… the spiritual power behind Tyre, when you read books like Daniel, you see that there is behind the world we know a different spirit affecting human beings, manipulating human beings, and it’s a reality. And in our scientific world, we don’t like to think this is true. This is silliness. This is just superstition. But if we’re going to understand what’s wrong with us spiritually, we have to understand that the more we acknowledge our need and our desire for God, and we give in to that, certain things happen in our lives. And when we don’t, there is another spiritual force that will attempt to manipulate us and to actually turning against God, actually turning against God.
He says verse 13, again, “You were in Eden, the garden of God; every precious stone was covering.” He describes what he looks like in the spirit world, and he describes that he looks like all these precious stones. Why do people like rings with a big diamond in it? You know, you put the light on it, and you see facets and different colors. And he’s describing a being that shines with different colors and in different ways, unlike anything that we can imagine, the most beautiful being God has created.
He says, “You were in perfection, the sum of beauty.” And he talks about him as if he is musical instruments. He is a being that was creative musically, incredibly creative musically. He understood the emotion of music. “You were the anointed cherub who covers.” Cherub is a type of angel, you know that, “I established you; you were on the holy mountain of God; you walked back and forth in the midst of the fiery stones. You were perfect in your ways from the day that you were created, till iniquity was found in you.”
We find another passage in Isaiah where Isaiah talks about this very thing. He calls him Lucifer, the great day star, like a shining star. But this being, this cherub created by God, chose… because the angels were given free will, he chose not to follow God. He believed in the bottom of his being that he knew better than God, that God just didn’t know what He was doing, and he had a better way. And so he literally tries to overthrow God.
Verse 16 says, “By the abundance of your trading you became filled with violence within.” He’s a violent, angry being. “And you sinned; therefore, I cast you as a profane thing out of the mountain of God; and I destroyed, O covering cherub, from the midst of the fiery stones.” And this is where we get the being that we known as the adversary, Satan. So it means adversary. This is the enemy of God who has one purpose, and it is to destroy what God is doing. This is real. And there are, according to Revelation, a third of the angels who followed him. This is real.
And Satan, according to apostle Paul, is the god of this world. The world you and I live in and all of its mess isn’t because God’s created this mess. It is because Satan and the angels who followed him, we call demons… and the sermon actually started as a sermon to explain what demons are. I’ll get that later because it ended up as a different sermon. Satan and the demons, the fallen angels, are the embodiment of evil. They are evil, and they wish to destroy what God is doing. And they have a spiritual influence on every human being on the face of the earth. And they are trying to manipulate you.
You know, we say, “That’s silly. That’s just superstition.” We can understand the reality. The reality beyond the five senses, the reality beyond what I can taste or smell or see, that there is a spiritual reality that you and I desperately need and desire, but we desperately need and desire God, and when that’s not fulfilled, we become susceptible to this other spiritual force. We have to understand in our lives, in our children’s lives, how important that can be.
The apostle Paul makes a comment to the church in Corinth. You know, we’ve been going through 1 Corinthians in-home Bible studies. We have two more to do in 1 Corinthians then we’ll go on 2 Corinthians. But we have studied the depth of paganism, those people were coming out of and what that meant and why it was so hard for them to actually live Christian lives, what they struggled with. He makes a remarkable statement. It helps us understand what was happening in the Corinth Church and helps us understanding what’s happening in our lives by going to 1 Corinthians 10. 1 Corinthians 10, I’m going to read a couple of verses here before what I want to read because I want to get the context some.
1 Corinthians 10:14 1 Corinthians 10:14Why, my dearly beloved, flee from idolatry.
American King James Version×, “Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry.” He’s telling the people of Corinth, you’ve got to get out of your paganism. And, of course, Aphrodite was the main goddess there, but they want to worship Zeus. And like most countries that had been taken over by the Romans, they accepted all kinds of gods and goddesses from every place the Romans went. And so this would have been a place where you’ve got to go on and worship any God you wanted. There was a synagogue there if you wanted to… want to worship the god of the Jews, that’s okay too. Just don’t bother anybody about what they believe.
“I speak to you wise men; judge for yourselves what I say.” Now he’s going to talk about what he talks about in the next chapter, and that is the taking of the bread and the wine of the Passover service. He says, “The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ?” We are in communion with Christ when we take that bread and that wine. We are symbolizing a personal intense relationship with God through Christ that acknowledges our need and our desire for that relationship. We are in communion here. That is not like, “Oh, yeah, we sort of know each other. Oh, yeah, I do this because I earned favor with God.” You’re in communion with Him.
“The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ? But we, though many, are one bread and one body; if we all partake of that one bread. Observe Israel after the flesh: Are not those who eat of the sacrifices partakers of the altar?” So what am I saying then?” Paul says, “Okay, what’s the point I’m trying to make? That an idol is anything. or what is offered to an idol is anything?” He says, “Am I trying to tell you that there’s some magic in idols?” He says, “No. An idol is a piece of stone. That’s all it is.” But there’s something else is here that’s very, very important that he wants them to understand. “Rather, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice they sacrificed to demons and not to God, and I do not want you to have fellowship with demons.” We are in communion when people in Hinduism or Buddhism… I know this is unpopular in where in this all-accepting society we’re living in.
But when they worship those gods behind those meaningless statues, there is demonic influence, understand that, demonic influence. The religions are from Satan and demons. But it is an attempt by those people to have communion or something spiritual. They need it, and Satan knows how to manipulate that. If he knows how to manipulate that with others, we have to be careful he doesn’t manipulate that with us. We get so sure of ourselves sometimes that we have to be very careful. Our assurance is in God, not in ourselves.
He says, “You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons.” He just flat-out says, “You cannot partake of the Passover and participate in pagan worship.” You can’t. You’re having communion with two different spiritual directions, two different spiritual identities. “You cannot partake of the Lord’s table and the table of demons.” Now, that’s a very important concept that shows us the power of the other spiritual beings. Now, they’re not more powerful than God. But for a period of time, God has allowed Satan to be the god of this world. We can’t afford to forget that. Are we get too comfortable in the world that we live in? We sort of assume that it’s okay. We assume since it seems to be normal that it’s okay. And if you live depending on what year you live in or what part of the world you live in, almost anything can be considered normal. Almost anything can be considered, “Well, this is acceptable.”
But if we are in communion with Christ and with the Father, things aren’t going to be acceptable, not to us. Part of the problem with this need for the spiritual is it’s mysterious, right? It’s mysterious. And so what we do is we look for mysteries. We believe that the key to the spiritual is a mystery, so what we have to do is find a mystery, and the mystery fulfills it. And that’s why in ancient times, they had what they called mystery religions, and that’s a very fascinating concept, the mystery religions.
It’s hard sometimes to know what the mystery religions believe. Do you know why? It was a mystery. You had to be part of the group to know what it meant. And if you weren’t part of the group, they wouldn’t tell you what it meant. The whole point of a mystery religion is, “We have the gnosis , we have the knowledge, and you don’t. If you join us, you get the knowledge. If you don’t join us, nope, we don’t tell you.”
There are entire ancient religions known as mystery religions that we know almost nothing about. We know about Mithraism, and I’ll give a sermon someday and tie in Mithraism to some of the problems and issues we have today in Christianity. But the reason why is because so many Roman soldiers worshipped Mithra that they sort of let the cat out of the bag, and they told people about the secret gnosis . So we know more about Mithraism than almost any of the ancient mystery religions, but there are a lot of them.
What is the mystery we’re looking for? What is the mystery that leads us to understanding our spiritual nature? Colossians 2, Colossians 2. If you start reading this passage in Colossians, it may seem at first, “Well, this has nothing to do with what we’re talking about.” Then we’ll see where it leads, for Paul’s taking us here. Colossians 2, Paul was dealing with a lot of problems in Colossians. People were looking for mysteries. And so… They’re also in Laodicea. The letter to Colossi was supposed to also be read in Laodicea. So we understand the problems the Laodicean church was having at this time because we understand what was happening in Colossi. Verse 1 says, “For I want you to know what a great conflict I have for you and those are Laodicea, and for as many have not seen my face in the flesh,” this is, of course, is Paul writing, “that their hearts may be encouraged, knit together in love, and attaining to all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the knowledge of the mystery of God.”
You will see Paul used the word mystery numerous times. It’s very interesting. He has about probably 8 or 10 different mysteries he talks about in the New Testament. And when you read every one of them, they’re an attack on paganism. They’re attack on some mystery in one of the pagan religions. He said, you know, “You can have full assurance,” he tells Christians, “because you understand the mystery of God.” Now, he’s going to flesh this out a little bit, “Both of the Father and of Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.”
The Greek world wanted wisdom. He says, “You want wisdom, you want knowledge? It’s the mystery of God and Christ. There you got it, right there. That’s the mystery. That’s why you need and desire spiritual experiences.” And the ancient temples were designed to give them a spiritual feeling of experience. They even found now that in the first century, there were certain temples that had all kinds of miracles taking place, and now they realized they were machines. They actually had machines in the temple. One was a simple thing. You went up to this idol, and you worship, then the idol gave you answers.
But what they found out was, because they found a diagram of it, there was a hole where the mouth was, a little tube went down, and there were holes at the bottom of the thing, and there were priests down there listening to everybody… the prayer because you had to say it out loud… They say, “God, this God is talking to us and answered us specifically.” You know, they’re probably down there snickering underneath, you know, as they answer everybody’s prayers. But it was all designed for the same thing, this grandeur, this feeling, “The spiritual need and desire I have is being fulfilled. I can go home now. I feel better. I feel better now because I went to church and something was fulfilled in me.”
He goes on he says, “Now this I say lest anyone should deceive you with persuasive words. For though I am absent in the flesh,” Paul says, “yet I am with you in spirit, rejoicing to see your good order and a steadfastness of your faith in Christ. As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving.” I can give a whole sermon on that sentence.
What he’s saying here is the mystery is in God. Once you understand who the true God is, you understand he said, Jesus Christ. Once you understand that He sent Jesus Christ and what that really means who He was before He came, His life, death, and resurrection and what that means to you personally, then all these things happen. “You’re rooted in Him. You’re built up in Him. You’re established in the faith.” And it also says “you walk in Him.” Christianity is more than acceptance of Jesus Christ. That’s one of the great lies that are told today. Christianity is to walk in Him. It is to follow Him. It is to be a disciple. It is to be an imitator. Christianity is real. It is to be Christ-like. So the mystery is, “Here’s what we’re looking for. Here’s what every human being on the earth is looking for.”
And very few find it because we don’t find it. God gives it to us. God finds us. I mean, we may be searching, but no matter how much you search, how do you find God? I mean, one day were you just walking long enough and far enough that you came to His throne. “Well, I found You. I wondered where You were.” We may be searching, but it is God who finds us. And when He does, He says, “You, understand, I am your need. I am the desire you long for. That’s how I made you.” But if that’s not, if we’re not pursuing that, if we’re not walking in Christ, we end up beginning to seek someplace else for that need and desire to be fulfilled.
Look what Paul says here in verse 8. Remember, he’s writing now to Christians here in Colossi. This is to the world, “Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ. For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power.” He said, “Be careful you don’t get locked into the basic principles of the world, the basic ideas that principles can actually be translated in ideas.” Sometimes that Greek word is translated to spirits, spirits of the world. In other words, it’s the thoughts and the emotions.
Don’t get trapped into thinking your need, your desire that was designed in you for God can be fulfilled someplace else. It can only be fulfilled in God through Christ. That’s it. We say, “Okay, I get that, but I don’t have the power to do it. I don’t have the power to actually… You know, I want God to help fulfill me.” Because, in this life, we will never completely be fulfilled in our need and desire for God. That is only completely fulfilled when we’re changed. And when we’re changed, that need and desire is fulfilled because we will see Him as He is.
But between now and then, we struggle with this need and this desire. And as we struggle, but “I failed, I failed, I failed,” that’s why there’s this element, there’s key to this, that we must be absolutely aware of that we forget. In our relationship with God in Christ, we can forget something. What am I forgetting? Let’s go to Romans 5, Romans 5. Are you with me still? Okay. Are you with me? I always want to say, “If I’ve lost you, raise your hand,” but I’m afraid that half of you will raise your hand.
Romans 5:1 Romans 5:1Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:
American King James Version×, “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Now, let’s look at all the positive things Paul’s going to say here. You’ve been justified. You have the right before God to have a relationship with Him. That’s what justification is. He’s given you the right to come to Him.
He’s giving you the right to appear before Him. He’s giving you the right to have a relationship with Him. He has a desire for you, too. He doesn’t seem to have a need for us, which is good for us. Needs tend to be debilitating, right? “Well, you didn’t fulfill my need. You are my best friend, and you weren’t there for me. You didn’t fulfill my need. You’re not my best friend anymore.” Fortunately, God doesn’t have those kinds of needs for us. That’s good for us, but He has a desire for us.
You and I, on the other hand, we have a need and a desire for God built into us. I mean, God didn’t design us. He says, “I love you. I want you to be my child.” So He had to design into us a desire to be His child. I mean, I want you to be my child, but I’m not going to design that in you. Well, then how would we ever be… how would we ever be drawn towards Him? There has to be something in us that draws us towards Him. So we were designed with the spiritual need.
And He says here this positive word, “You’ve been justified, and you have peace with God.” You can go talk to God. You can interact with God because of Jesus Christ to whom we also have access by faith into this grace in which we stand. So the favor of God has been given to you. He’s speaking here to Christians in Rome. He says, “The very favor, the grace of God has been given to you.” Wow. I mean, how much money can you pay God to get His favor? How many good deeds can you do to get His favor? How perfect do you have to be to get His favor so that God called you?
What He did really in all of us, He awakened our need for Him and our desire for Him. “Okay. What do I do now?” He says, “Which we stand and rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.” So now we’re rejoicing. Wow, I wish I could have everything in that verse, peace and hope and rejoicing. Would it be great to feel that way 24 hours a day, even in my sleep sometimes? I woke up in the middle of the night the other night. I had a dream I was being chased by zombies. Fortunately, you know, I didn’t look at their faces, they were all of you. That would have been a little scary. But it wasn’t that. It was just zombies. I know what they did. How in the world did I get off on that?
Verse 3, “And not only that, but we also glory…” We find hope and purpose “in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope.” What a positive outlook in life. That Paul is telling the Roman, “Christians because of this relationship you have with God through Christ, this peace, this justification, this is what happens in your life.” This is what’s supposed to be happening in our lives, and sometimes it does. And let’s face it, sometimes it doesn’t. We all struggle.
But the next verse. Now, hope does not disappoint. Your hope will be fulfilled. How do we know our hope will be fulfilled? “Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” The spiritual need and desire you and I have from God can only be fulfilled when God puts His Spirit in us. We could have a surface relationship with God and never be fulfilled. You and I were designed to have communion with God. You and I were designed not to be an independent being forever. We were designed to be in a relationship with God where His Spirit literally dwells in our minds, where our spirit and His Spirit are connected together. It’s an incredibly wonderful thing that God wants for us, to be connected to God forever.
I mean, we stay who we are, we have our own personalities, but we are connected to God. That empty desire, that empty need that we have is fulfilled and will be fulfilled forever because of our connection with God because we have God’s Spirit. This, this is the mystery. This is the mystery that is supposed to engage us every day as we understand, “I have a need and desire to be with my God because He made me this way.” And nothing else, nothing else can get in the way of that, because if it does, I just end up angry, lonely, messed up, afraid. I end up nowhere if I let anything get in that way. This is the answer to the mystery.
Now, I’m going to talk about in the last few minutes what I originally started to write the sermon about. And that is what happens when we are not connected to God? Well, first of all, we get emotionally messed up, and we really are emotionally messed up, and our thought process gets all messed up. I didn’t want to go into that. I want to talk about what we will do as human beings to fulfill the spiritual need, to fulfill the spiritual need.
When you look at society around us, there’s a lot of things going on that people are trying to do to fulfill their spiritual need. Witchcraft, you know how many Wiccans there are in the United States? Last time I looked, it was a quarter of a million. That was a couple of years ago. I’m sure it’s a lot more now. Of course, a lot of people are just claiming to do that because it makes them feel cool.
But what is that? Well, I’m a Wiccan. That’s cool. That’s just an attempt to fulfill a need, right? How about sorcery, spiritualism? Spiritualism is bigger in this country than we realize, the need to interact with the power of other beings. How many of you have heard of The Secret ? Remember The Secret that came out a few years ago, only a few. Don’t read it. It’s incredibly dangerous. How about The Law of Attraction ? Only a few. Wow, you don’t have any paganism in you at all. How about Oprah? How many have heard of Oprah? Joel Osteen? These are leaders of a new age Christianity that at its core is not biblical. Okay. You have to see it.
It’s not biblical, and it’s frightening because, I’m going to give a sermon on this, too, it confuses human love with God’s love, and it evaluates God by human concepts of love instead of us being evaluated by God’s concepts of love. And so it seems right, it feels right, but it’s not. And this country, 31% of all people in this country now say they’re not religious or spiritual. And a lot more say that they’re spiritual but not religious, which usually means they’ve bought into things like the New Age movement.
And the New Age movement is nothing more than warmed-over Hinduism. It’s Star Wars . You can tie into the force, and the force can be with you, and you can manipulate if you have the right… what it? It’s in your bloodstream and the stars. I forget what it is, that causes you to be able to be in touch with the force. And if you’re in touch with the force, you can manipulate things with your mind. You can pick things up. You can do… okay. That’s sort of what The Secret is all about. You can manipulate everything around you, The Law of Attraction .
I mean, these writers have millions, tens of millions of people who follow them. And as they do, it’s like The Da Vinci Code . Now, how many of you heard of The Da Vinci Code? Okay. Da Vinci Code is a little bit New Age, too. The Da Vinci Code is a novel. By the time The Da Vinci Code had been out five years, of course, Dan Brown’s done a whole lot of novels since then, 40% of everyone under the age of 40 believed Jesus had babies with Mary Magdalene. Now, think how that changes how you see the Bible. Now, of course, those people are all now what? 55 years old. We don’t realize how paganized our world is. It was easy to get up say, “The Catholic Church worshiping idols, now, there’s paganism.”
Protestantism, which always had some elements of paganism in them, and it’s like Christmas or Easter, has now becoming more and more paganized in ways that are almost unbelievable, not everybody, but is headed in that direction, magic, the occult, Ouija boards, which we… you know, I don’t even know if they have paganism. I know they have because some advertised on Walmart, astrology, mysticism. We’re all looking for mysticism, this secret mystical experience with the spirits. You know, my kids are tired of it. You’re probably tired of me hearing every time I drive by one of this tarot card places. And I did this one time.
My son and I, he was young, we’re walking through… I know I’ve told you this before. We’re walking through a, what was it, flea market. And there was a woman there with a big sign, you know, “I can read your future.” And I stopped, and I looked at her, and she looked at me, and I looked at my son. And I said, “We go in here and pay her money to look at our future, but she already knows we’re not going to.” I wasn’t real popular at that moment, but I got a kick out of it anyways.
We live in a world where everybody’s searching for something. “Ancient Aliens” on the History Channel . How many have seen that? Oh, even more. Oh, there’s a little bit of paganism here. Okay. That’s not even paganism. That’s just stupidity. I mean, you talk about faith. That just… wow, anyways. It’s humorous. I can watch five minutes of it at night, and it makes me want to go to sleep. It’s great, but it gets me laughing.
Our society is spiraling into a disengagement from God. We may not see it because, well, we have each other. We may not see it because our next-door neighbors are decent people. You know, they go to church, and they don’t steal, and they don’t lie, and they don’t cheat. So, okay, we don’t see what’s happening in the bigger picture.
And the bigger picture is, this is a pagan world, and this is now becoming a pagan country. And if we’re not careful, we will get pulled into it. Watching movies about demon possession. I’ve had a couple people asked me, “Have you seen this movie?” I say, “No. I will never watch it.” Why? Because I’ve sat down and talked to demon-possessed people, and I’m not going to watch that. I know the reality of it. I’m not going to watch it.
Role-playing games where you were Satan and demons involved seems like that’s not a big problem. We’re just going to sit down and play with Satan for a while. And, you know, for 90% of the people who do that, it’s not going to have a real adverse effect on their mind, but there are people who it will. This is manipulation just like the ancient world with its paganism that made Paul… it said, it made him… The words that are used there when he went to Athens distressed almost beside himself with understanding what paganism was and meeting with those people and saying, “I can tell you a better way. I can tell you the truth of your longing. I can tell you about the Unknown God, Plato’s Unknown God, that all of you believed in, the great God that nobody knows anything about who created all the other gods. Yeah, well, I could tell you about Him. And it’s not what you think. And you were made to be His children.”
And it said that half of them said, “Huh, we’ll talk to you again.” Now, half of them said, “This guy’s idiot,” right? Half of them said, “We’ll talk to you again.” Now, what’s fascinating, he never mentioned the Bible once because they would not have accepted the Bible. That was an ancient Hebrew book that didn’t have the wisdom of the Greeks. So he argued it from a Greek viewpoint. “Let me tell you about the great Unknown God because He’s not what you think at all. And you want to be His children, and you can be His children.”
And for some of them… it didn’t say any of them were converted from him, by the way. But for some of them, there was this longing. For a brief moment, they saw their need and their desire for God. “We will talk to you more about this.” Now, how many did? I don’t know, but that’s what he tapped into, what is their need and desire from God.
Ephesians 2, our last scripture here, Ephesians 2. We read the first few verses here many times in sermons and sermonettes, but I want to read through a little bit farther in this passage also. Ephesians 2:1 Ephesians 2:1And you has he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins;
American King James Version×. Speaking to the church, “And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience.”
There is a spirit world around us that the modern mind does not want to accept, a world where Satan is the god of this world, and there are demons, and they try to influence us all the time. And, you know, most of times, it’s not a frontal assault, right? If someone came up to you and said, “Hey, you can make lots of money. All you have to do is… you know, I can supply all the heroin you need for your entire neighborhood.” Who’s going to do that, right?
It’s not a frontal assault much of the time. It’s subtle, and it’s subtle because it’s an attack on your mind so you don’t see it. And it’s usually done in feelings. Satan attacks us in emotions. So we’re not even aware what’s happening. And if we tap into that… now, it’s our emotion, by the way, but he feeds it. So, if you have a problem with envy, and you let him into your life a little bit, you’re going to be overwhelmed with envy because that’s going to become the way to fulfill that spiritual need and desire for God. If I just got what that person has, I could be happy. Okay.
So we’re actually now trying to fulfill our need and desire for God to envying somebody else’s car or somebody else’s house or somebody else’s money. “That will fulfill me if I could have that,” or anger. “Well, that’s just not fair. It’s not fair that this has happened to me. It’s not fair that this bad thing happened to this person who got away with it. It’s just not fair.” And, you know, it’s not.
But if we’re not careful, there’s one being in this universe who really believes nothing is fair. He’s the one who believes he knows more than God. You talk about unfair, “I’m the only one that knows how this works, and the old man won’t let me do it my way.” That’s Satan, he thinks everything is unfair.
So, we get caught up in feelings of being unfair. And guess what happens? It floods in. We now are consumed with unfair. You know, people say, “I was so angry, and then I don’t know what happened. I just got so angry. I could have committed violence.” Well, guess what the most angry being in the universe did? He’s the prince of the power of the air who works in the sons of disobedience. Who are the sons of disobedience? Everybody not called by God. There’s only people called by God, who are the children of God, and the sons of disobedience, who are not yet exposed to God, who Satan has been allowed to be the god of this world in their lives. And so it’s the subtle attacks. It’s the subtle attacks that we have to be so careful about.
You know, people say, “Well, I can never do that. I could never commit adultery.” Well, you know, Satan is just not going to have some woman walk up to you and throw herself at you because that’s frontal attack. You can say no. But he might play on some animosity you have towards your wife and make it worse and worse and worse and worse and worse. Then he doesn’t just throw some woman at you. He brings some kind, understanding woman into your life, and you spent six months talking to her about the problems you have with your wife and then decide, “I love her more.” Oh, it’s smart.
And we think he doesn’t do these things. He manipulates the whole world. And pretty soon, your need and desire for God is totally erased. All you can think about is your need and desire for your wife, and which now has been replaced with this woman. How did that happen? It usually doesn’t happen overnight. It takes a long time. And now your need and desires for this woman, and you really don’t care what God says. How does that happen? It’s because we’re being manipulated. That’s why. That’s how. And we’re so easily manipulated. We’re not that good at standing up to Satan. We’re just not. We think we are, but we’re not.
He goes on, he says, “Among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others.” You and I, when we look at our troubled human nature, have to understand, the reason you and I have so many problems is because, along the way, we’ve absorbed so much of these attacks by Satan that we have parts of our nature that’s just like him.
You and I have part of our nature that’s just like him. We were by nature the children of wrath. We’ve absorbed it. We let him manipulate us in our weaknesses so that whatever weakness we have, he tries to just absorb and absorb until that weakness becomes like his weakness. Our issue with anger becomes like his issue of anger, and we become violent. Our issue with jealously becomes like his. Our issue of wanting to be recognized becomes like his issue of wanting to be recognized. And we absorb it, and we absorb it, and we absorb it.
I don’t think too many of you here are going to go to a soothsayer tonight that which was in my original sermon, was about demonic influences and these things. I’m much more concerned that you and I tonight could have a problem because of these subtle things, this feeding, this manipulation that goes on. And we have to understand, that’s reality. That’s the reality you and I live in because that’s the reality of the universe. That’s the reality of what it is to live in the world of Satan.
Now, you and I have been given all these things we read about, what Paul wrote about in Romans when he wrote about the mystery when he wrote about receiving God’s Holy Spirit. He goes on, “But God…” Okay. So here’s the problem, “But God, who is rich in mercy because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses.” We were dead people walking. It’s all we were until God calls us. We were just people waiting to die with no hope.
He says, “Even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved).” That’s important because you and I can’t save ourselves. By grace you have been saved doesn’t mean, “Oh, good, nothing I do now matters.” That’s satanic.
He says, “And raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace and His kindness towards us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.” So you and I didn’t earn this, this right to have God come into our lives.
Now, people stop there, “Okay. I didn’t earn God to come into my life. It’s all my grace.” And I’ve actually had people make that argument with me, “You’re trying to earn your salvation. You’re trying to make it up brownie points by keeping the Sabbath. I don’t have to do anything because Jesus came into my life, and I was saved by grace, and I don’t have to do anything.” “Do you go to church?” “No. Well, I do sometimes like on Easter, but you know, it’s the one day I can sleep in and meet with my friends and do things. Oh, well, you know, I mean, Friday night we go out drinking and, you know, my live-in boyfriend, he thinks the same way.”
So, that’s not what this means because let’s read the next verse. When we are locked in, when God is the center of our need, and God is the center of our desire, and Christ has brought us to that, and now we are walking in Him because we have God’s Spirit in us, then this happens. “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.”
The more we understand this mystery, the more we’re involved in it. And the more we are submitting to God’s Spirit, the more God works in your life, God works in your life, the power of the Almighty God. You and I have to guard our minds as the children of God against the deteriorating paganism of the world you and I live in. I don’t say this to be alarmist, but I am alarmed because I’ve watched in 15 years even a change happen inside religion. You know, I’m always on religious sites, printing out articles. I say, “That’s a good point. I’m going to keep that. Oh, okay, that’s a Southern Baptist.” But you know what? I do it less and less because when I print them out, there’s New Age stuff in there. There’s acceptance of… complete acceptance of transgenderism.
The entire Methodist Church is ripping itself apart over homosexuality and transgenderism, something that 25 years ago would not even have been considered. And the problem now is there’s so many homosexual and lesbian ministers in the United States. They want to split away from international Methodists. They had a vote in the… did I tell you this? See, I forget what I tell people. That’s okay. You know, once you get to be a certain age, you can repeat yourself. The Methodist Church just had an enormous vote. They brought in all their pastors, and they voted on whether to accept transgenderism, homosexuality, lesbianism. And what do they call it? It’s bisexual then there’s another term that’s used for just… well, I won’t even go there.
So, you have these… and they voted to accept it and to change their doctrines. That’s what they were voting on. And it lost by a pretty close margin, and the reason why is, the majority of the Methodist ministers in the United States voted to change their doctrines to accept all those things. And it was the Methodist ministers in the Philippines and Africa that voted against it. So now the Methodist ministers in the United States are trying to figure out how to excommunicate all their ministers in Africa and the Philippines who stood up for the Word of God. That’s what Christianity has become, folks.
As a little child, I went to the Methodist Church, and they sure didn’t believe that when I was a child. That’s what it’s becoming. So, right now, there’s an exodus, which has been going on in the Methodist Church for years. There is an exodus of the people who are against those things into the Wesleyan denomination. Wesley, John Wesley was the founder of the Methodist Church. Now those who believe what he taught, because he was a very conservative Christian, have to leave. And eventually, they’re going to excommunicate their pastors in Africa and the Philippines. It’s a pagan world, folks. We are going to have to be real careful, not to let that sink into us, into our lives, into our lives. And you will be persecuted for not letting it seep into your lives. You’re going to be persecuted for it because the world is changing, our society is changing that much.
You know, Satan’s days are numbered. Christ is coming back, He throws him out. Okay. That’s all part of the plan. But right now you and I live in this world, anticipating the Kingdom of God, preparing for the Kingdom of God, because it’s His purpose to create children. And we’re just Firstfruits. Those called by God now wherever they are, whoever they are, they’re the Firstfruits. The greatest harvest becomes later. Firstfruits are being prepared to be there when Christ returns.
We are designed to bond with God through His Spirit so that this need and desire becomes paramount in our lives. That need and desire drives us to God. And in doing so, it changes everything else in life. It changes everything else in life so that we actually begin to really have love and joy, longsuffering and goodness and mercy and faith and peace.
Christianity becomes practical as we walk in Him, walk into Christ as He becomes our example. And Satan wants to pervert that relationship because he doesn’t want you to have it. He does not want you to have that relationship with God. He wants humanity to be superstitious and ritualistic and involved in demon worship where we’ve heard he gets to play God for a while. That’s all he’s doing. He’s playing God. And we are to stand against that because we have been given the right and the privilege to come out of that confusion.
You and I have been given a right and a privilege for the grace of God to know what our need is, to know what our desire is, and to have that relationship where God Himself and His Son, Jesus Christ, as Christ said, “We will come, and We will abide in you.” And in that way, that need and desire is finally fulfilled.