Let no man beguile you of your reward in a voluntary humility and worshipping of angels, intruding into those things which he hath not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind,
And not holding the Head, from which all the body by joints and bands having nourishment ministered, and knit together, increaseth with the increase of God.
E6.1 Visions from the enemy
That the enemy gives visons is in no doubt. Even if what they say is true!
If there arise among you a prophet, or a dreamer of dreams, and giveth thee a sign or a wonder, And the sign or the wonder come to pass, whereof he spake unto thee, saying, Let us go after other gods, which thou hast not known, and let us serve them; Thou shalt not hearken unto the words of that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams: for the LORD your God proveth you, to know whether ye love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul. Ye shall walk after the LORD your God, and fear him, and keep his commandments, and obey his voice, and ye shall serve him, and cleave unto him.
This is a very significant passage. These prophets may give a message from their vision and the sign may be true. BUT, look at the end results — their fruits. God here says if they say to go after other gods, which ye have not known, don’t listen to them. This is key. It is not whether a sign is true or not but rather what is the resulting fruit?
Another interesting example is from the NT. Acts 16:16-18. When Paul was in Philippi. Although not a vision the same principle applies. A woman with an evil spirit went around crying that Paul and his company were servants of the most high God, and had come to shew the way of salvation. What she said was true, but Paul being grieved in spirit cast the demon out! It was the source that was wrong.
E6.2 An Example from the OT
One example of a vision from the enemy is in the book of Job.
In order to understand Job we need to remember two things:
(i) Ch.1-2. Satan accuses Job of putting his trust in God because of his wealth etc. God allows Satan to touch Job and cause him suffering to show that Job loved God irrespective of his wealth. In other words God trusted Job not to curse Him. The key thought is that none of the people in the narrative, including Job, knew any of this at all!
(ii) Ch.42. God said that Job’s friends did not represent God faithfully. This must be borne in mind when reading the friends’ comments.
Now a thing was secretly brought to me, and mine ear received a little thereof. In thoughts from the visions of the night, when deep sleep falleth on men,
Fear came upon me, and trembling, which made all my bones to shake. Then a spirit passed before my face; the hair of my flesh stood up:
It stood still, but I could not discern the form thereof: an image was before mine eyes, there was silence, and I heard a voice, saying, Shall mortal man be more just than God? shall a man be more pure than his maker?
Behold, he put no trust in his servants; and his angels he charged with folly: How much less in them that dwell in houses of clay, whose foundation is in the dust, which are crushed before the moth? They are destroyed from morning to evening: they perish for ever without any regarding it. Doth not their excellency which is in them go away? they die, even without wisdom.
Eliphaz has a vision which is clearly not from God, as we will now consider:
v12. It was secretly revealed: Eliphaz is in effect saying “ God has told ME therefore I’m right” — remember God’s verdict at the end on the three friends.
This emphasis on secrecy is a warning sign. The gospel is not a secret to a few special initiates, but to everyone who calls on the name of the Lord. Always be wary of those who use such phrases such as ‘God told me’; ‘This is the word for you’, etc. These people are claiming to be special in some way and are setting themselves up above everyone else, remember II Cor.1:24.
v13-15. Elihphaz was in fear and trembling, his bones made to shake and hairs stood up! There was no comfort from any source here, unlike those who had genuine visions from God and were afraid. Later on Job complains that they were scaring him with visions, Job.7:14-15. No wonder he said later “miserable comforters are ye all” Job 16:2. God has not given His people a fearful heart but a sound mind, II Tim.1:7.
v16. He could not discern the spirit before him, with all genuine visions in scripture there was no doubt or vagueness as there is here. It was clear if it was an angel or whatever. Whether or not the message that was given was fully understood is a different matter. But there was no vagueness about what they saw. Go through the Scripture record and see how the visions from God were clearly described.
vv17-20. Any further doubt must be dispelled since this spirit now lies: it states God doesn’t put trust in His angels. This contradicts all we have written in scripture where we told clearly God makes them ministers to serve. eg Heb.1-2. Remember the angels God trusted at the time of Jesus’ birth, in appearing to Mary and Joseph to tell them of Jesus’s conception. To the shepherds in the announcement of Jesus’ birth and so on.
The spirit says God doesn’t trust man. Well God was trusting Job not to curse Him at that very moment! Just a rereading of the opening two chapters of Job will verify this. God trusted the twelve Apostles and the early church to preach the gospel into all the world. In fact, Paul says we are entrusted with gospel, eg. II Tim.1:14!
The fruit of this vision did not bring comfort, clarity or any answers to Job about his suffering. Instead it just made matters worse for him. The fruit of this vision speaks for itself.
E6.3 Example from the NT
It is not expedient for me doubtless to glory. I will come to visions and revelations of the Lord. I knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago, (whether in the body, I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) such an one caught up to the third heaven. And I knew such a man, (whether in the body, or out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) How that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter. Of such an one will I glory: yet of myself I will not glory, but in mine infirmities. For though I would desire to glory, I shall not be a fool; for I will say the truth: but now I forbear, lest any man should think of me above that which he seeth me to be, or that he heareth of me. And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.
II Cor 12:1-10
Here we have the Apostle Paul talking of his experience of visions. Note the tone, he seemed very reluctant to speak of them. Then he said it took place more than 14 years ago! He wasn’t in a hurry to boast of such a thing, in fact he only did so because the Holy Spirit prompted him to write it down for the purpose of this letter. He goes on to say that he will not glory in them.
Then we have this remarkable sentence; lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations. Paul understood that there was a danger of pride as a result of visons. He talks of being exalted above measure. In other words there was a danger of thinking he was greater than he was because of visions and revelations! This teaches us that visons and revelations etc. do not make a person any more spiritual after wards than before.
In order to keep him humble the Lord allowed a thorn in the flesh so that he would not be exalted above measure. Paul rejoiced in his infirmities so that the power of Christ may rest on him. He had his priorities correct!
His infirmities etc., made him weak, but in weakness he was strong, for he keep his heart and mind on Christ and not the visions God gave him. Paul was not a man to be puffed up in his fleshly mind. May we follow his example.
Supernatural events that occur in lives have the great danger of feeding pride. We must be ever vigilant against this evil. Where God grants visons or dreams it is because He has desired it for a specific purpose. It is not to puff us up in our fleshly mind. We must also test the spirits, are these messages in line with scripture or do they contradict it? What is the fruit?
Anything which takes our eyes off Jesus has to be rejected. As ye received Christ Jesus the Lord so walk in Him.
Keep your eyes upon Jesus
Let nobody else take his place
So that hour by hour, you will know his power,
Till at last you have run the great race!