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Satan can and often does inspire us to godly things in order to undermine God’s actual plan for us. The devil doesn’t always send bats or, say, Dracula, to come scare us. He uses the voice of God Himself to inspire us to divert time and energy from what God actually wants us to do. This kind of thing is a lot like dandelions springing up on your lawn. It infects and disrupts the ecology of the church ministry and corrupts it from within by tainting the ministry’s purpose and distracting from its goals.

Without Love

If you are 100% convinced you are indeed a Christian and that you are, in fact, a super-Christian, much holier than most anyone else, and yet you display no love, no patience, no kindness, no tolerance, you are most certainly lost in self-deception, and the voice you are hearing inside your self-deception is not God at all but something pretending to be God. And, since you assume you know God but actually don’t, you can’t tell the difference. The mean-spirited, irrationally hostile church lady, the fearsome, disciplinarian church pastor: these people do not know God. Why are you letting them run your church?

If you’re babbling in tongues one minute and having Diva fits the next, chances are it’s not God inspiring you. Which leaves open the possibility that your tongues—the most popular “show-off” spiritual gift—is either self-delusion, simple fakery, or powered by something not-God. It is impossible for the Holy Spirit to dwell within you and you still be mean and hateful. You can’t be a Christian AND be this ridiculous. You have to choose.

Our “level” of Christianity is best demonstrated not by our magic tricks or the length or volume of our prayers, but by our love for one another [John 13:35]. Without love, all your babbling, all your hollering, all your alleged holiness is an utter and complete waste of your time. When you see God, and one day we all will, He may say, “I never knew you.” Who are you listening to? We must stop assuming that, just because the inspiration feels like it’s from God that it, in fact, is. We must learn His voice.

In our church tradition, there are, likely, millions upon millions of Church Folk who think they are saved and who, in fact, arrogantly believe they are holier than you are. But arrogance is not a quality of God. Even the appearance of arrogance is evidence enough that these people are not, in fact, saved and do not, in fact, know God. They are religious folk who are lost in deception. At best, they are Christians who do not pray, do not read their bibles and who cannot tell the difference between the voice of God and an unclean spirit mimicking the voice of God. They are lost in The Matrix, self-deception being what The Matrix is all about. They have routinely substituted religion for a real experience with God. Franklin Graham, son of the renowned evangelist Billy Graham, appears to me as a most deeply troubling example of this phenomena. Out of one side of Franklin Graham’s mouth: love, kindness and the truth of Heaven. Out of the other side: racism, homophobia, and, *sigh*, irrational hatred of President Obama, complete with an obvious buy-in to this birther nonsense.

Arrogant pastors, mean pastors, deceitful pastors. Unprepared pastors winging it in the pulpit. Pastors preaching (or rambling on) about Noah and The Ark who veer off their topic for no discernable reason to attack gays, to attack Obama—something’s seriously wrong with these guys. They are, at best, Christian men who mean well but who, nonetheless, are led astray by their own flesh. Worst case: these men have been in the fight too long. They’ve left God long ago but continue in ministry because it’s a fat paycheck. Bigotry is not of God. Homophobia is not of God. Hatred is not of God. It’s not a mystery. It’s not even a presumption: Franklin Graham is simply not of God. He’s just another run of the mill ultra-conservative bigot with a famous last name.

It shocks and amazes me the sheer number of deceived people—men and women—who do not know and cannot discern the voice of God. There is a great multitude within our midst who claim to know God, claim to hear God, but who are, in fact, being led by if not possessed by demonic spirits. It shocks and amazes me that our pastors rarely if ever preach on this, that Satan has a counterfeit of every quality of God [2 Corinthians 11:12-15]. Satan can, effortlessly, sound like God. He can make himself look like God. Satan can grant you visions, cause you to speak in “tongues” or believe that’s what you’re doing. Satan can out-dance, out-shout everybody in your church, no exception.

Being spiritually weak or spiritually arrogant plugs up our ears to the extent where it becomes difficult for us to tell the difference between God speaking and something pretending to be God or just our own egos taking the place of God.

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