Flattering Words and Deceiving Spirits

stanic-flatteryFor many years the churches in America each have had a dominate leader called pastor or priest. Back in the sixties when I started attending Protestant churches, the pastor visited the homes of the faithful, and when they were sick in the hospital, he visited them there too. But along the way men bought into the teaching of church growth, and it became more important to grow a forest and ignore the individual trees. They stopped seeing people as individuals with individual needs. The larger the institution, the more impersonal it became. The thrust was all about church growth by amassing numbers of tithing members with very little attention to their spiritual progress. Men rose up with “great swelling words” and personal charisma and many people were drawn to those churches. Church programs became focused on satisfying the flesh and there was soon a club for everybody’s personal interests–except for seeking the way of the cross that deals with all these diverse soulish interests and makes Christ our ALL in all. Thus the “seeker friendly” church was born and catering to the flesh became a common practice.

During this same period a movement to restore the “five-fold ministries” began. These leaders taught that if we could just restore the ministries spoken of in Ephesians 4:11, Jesus would be pleased and the power that the church had in its infant days 2000 years ago would be restored. This sounded logical to many of us and it was an improvement over the one-man band method of leadership that we grew up with. Using the following verse that says what these five ministries are for convinced people to jump on this band wagon.

For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: (Eph 4:12, KJ2000)

In theory, these five ministries would raise up all the saints to do the work of the ministry for the edifying of the church. Everybody would have a real ministry in the church and if you obeyed and brought yourself under their authority, eventually you would get to be one of the big guys, join in and play in their “reindeer games.” Who knows, you even might get a paid staff position. In reality, the available slots just kept the machine going and made sure the five-fold guys kept their positions. So as you can imagine, there were hundreds of new ministry titles not found in the Bible like parking ministry, coffee counter ministry, children’s church ministry, snow removal ministry, or church decorating ministry. You get the idea.

This shtick got old pretty quick and the enemy had to come up with a new one. Next came men who pointed at the fallacy of the former five-fold teaching. They told their prospective followers that God wanted them to raise up everyone into their own callings. They stressed how important each of person was to God. Some even went around giving people biblical sounding titles such as “the apostle over the church in Smallville,” and flattered their followers with their words, all the time never letting go of their positions as overseer of this new pyramid they were building.

flattery-quoteFlattery! This is the tool the enemy has used from the very beginning. The serpent used this to deceive Eve.

And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’” But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God…” (Gen 3:2-5, ESV2011- emphasis added)

Wait a minute, aren’t we to be godly and god-like? So what is wrong with that? Didn’t God say, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness”? And all Eve had to do was simply eat the fruit of this forbidden tree and she could be just like God. Finally, a fast track to holiness wherein she would know the difference between good and evil for herself! Who needs God, anyway.

You see, dear saints, there is no fast track. There is no holy Stratolounger for spiritual couch potatoes to lie on and get in spiritual shape. But there IS one thing that God has provided that is imperative for those who would follow Christ. It is not having a ministry given to them in the church. Jesus told us what it was, but this entitlement generation totally ignores these verses.

Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. (Matt 16:24-25, ESV2011)

Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple. (Luke 14:27, ESV2011)

Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. (2Tim 3:12-13, ESV2011)

It is much more convenient, profitable and satisfying to rise up over people with convincing lies and flattery than it is to be persecuted and rejected for telling them the truth.  Paul had the Bible knowledge, intellect, and speaking abilities to preach the gospel, but while using these natural abilities, he persecuted the Church of Christ! This is why Paul wrote to the Corinthians:

And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, (1Cor 2:1-3, ESV2011)

He was determined to not use his soulish intellect and flowery language to win these people by tickling their ears, much less flattery, but instead he preached the cross of Christ. He taught that we must each take up our cross and follow Jesus. He knew that our un-crucified souls are of no avail to God, and are a tool of the devil that causes division in the church. The Corinthian believes had already proven this (see 1 Cor. Ch. 3).

Today, Susanne Schuberth shared with me a very enlightening portion from T. Austin-Sparks’ writings that exposes just how Satan has tried to use flattery to deceive God’s people:

Next we come to the Gibeonites. The thing that is said about the Gibeonites, and which sums them up, is this: “They also did work wilily [with guile]…” (Joshua 9:4).  Lies, and flattery, and sentiment all working together.

Flattery! “Oh, we know that you are the Lord’s people! We know the Lord is with you! We have heard all about it! We have no doubt whatever that you are specially led of God! You are bound to succeed!”

Lies! You are familiar with the lies of the Gibeonites. They are recorded in chapter nine of the book of Joshua.

Sentiment! “Though we started out on this long journey with new wineskins, and warm bread from the oven in our bags, see how tired out we are, and how worn out these wineskins are: and all because we believe in you! We know the Lord is with you, and we appeal to your kind-heartedness!”

It is very striking that when Paul in chapter 6 of the letter to the Ephesians exhorts believers to take unto them the whole armour of God he does not say, Wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fierce onslaughts of the Devil. You would expect him to say that, when he has told of such an equipment; a helmet of salvation, a breastplate of righteousness, a shield of faith, a girdle of truth, and a sword of the Spirit. This surely means that the Devil is coming in with fierce onslaughts. No! The Scripture is, “…that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.” All this provision of God is given to that end.

What is the object of the Devil? Arrest! And what are we to say of the alliance with the Gibeonites? Something which ought to have been slain became an institution. That peril is not so far from us as it pretends to be. The Gibeonites said to Joshua: “From a very far country thy servants are come…” when as a matter of fact they were next door neighbours. The peril is much nearer to us than perhaps we realize.

(…)

From time to time, in the face of a situation which seems to be perfectly good and right the Lord inwardly says, Be careful! Do not commit yourself to that! You will discover later on what is wrong with it! And so we do. We are in a realm where it is so necessary for us to walk in the Spirit, because only the Spirit can keep us moving on in a clear way to the fulness; for if in a case like that of the two and a half tribes, or Achan, or the Gibeonites, we come down on to the natural ground in our endeavour to deal with heavenly things, with spiritual forces, we are bound to have our course checked, and our progress toward the Divine fulness brought under arrest.

Beware of any alliance with the enemy through a lie…  (1)

Daniel the prophet saw this great delusion of Satan coming on the church in the last days when he wrote:

He shall seduce with flattery those who violate the covenant, but the people who know their God shall stand firm and take action. And the wise among the people shall make many understand, though for some days they shall stumble… When they stumble, they shall receive a little help. And many shall join themselves to them with flattery, and some of the wise shall stumble, so that they may be refined, purified, and made white, until the time of the end, for it still awaits the appointed time. (Dan 11:32-35, ESV2011 – emphasis added)

“Oh brother, you are so wise and know so much about the Bible. God has gifted you with so much, come and let me sit at your feet as your disciple.” To this I have one answer–the same one John gave the church when many anti-Christ teachers were among them.

I write these things to you about those who are trying to deceive you. But the anointing that you received from him abides in you, and you have no need that anyone should teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about everything, and is true, and is no lie—just as it has taught you, abide in him. (1John 2:26-27, ESV2011)

Our most important defense against the lies of Satan is having the Holy Spirit abiding in us and listening to HIS voice as He warns us.  Beware of flattery that appeals to your pride or soulish inclinations, dear saints. Satan is even able to make those who are wise in spiritual things to stumble over this one.

(1) http://www.austin-sparks.net/english/books/003396.html

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43 comments on “Flattering Words and Deceiving Spirits

  1. Thank you so much for making our latest trials visible by publishing this article, Michael! Your blog is excellently written as you were led by the Holy Spirit to write these things down. ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

    Spirit-led teaching is something you rarely see or hear these days because believers have no time to wait on God, nor do they know how to obey Him. It is much easier to be led by our old nature’s strong self-will, overwhelming emotions or by a sharp intellect. None of these should be ‘obeyed’ unless our whole being and every area of our life has been surrendered to God. I know you know how to wait on God, my dear brother. It can be exhausting at times, but the blessing/reward for our obedience always follows soon. The first fruit for obeying God is His peace that is not dependent on circumstances. Of course, it is the whole fruit of the Spirit we share, but peace, love, and joy are most often the first signs you perceive as I can say from my own experiences. Furthermore, God keeps giving an obedient believer more and deeper revelations of Who He really is and about truths we might never get at as long as we trust in our old soulish ways.

    Thanks again for this wonderful blog post, Michael! 🙂

    Your sister and friend in Him,
    Susanne

    Liked by 2 people

    • Michael says:

      Susanne, you are SO welcome! You have spoken from your own wonderful experiences, that is for sure. Thank you.
      Waiting on God is so important. God is never in a hurry, but the flesh is and Satan is always trying to get us to act right now! in haste. I love this verse in this regard,

      “Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD, Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation: he that believeth shall not make haste. (Isa 28:16, KJV)

      The hardest thing for the flesh to do is to deny itself and take up the cross of Christ and wait for God to move by His Spirit in our lives. But the fruit of those who walk in the Spirit is love, joy, peace and patience first and foremost just as you have said. Yes, we should be growing in the revelation of just Who Jesus is as we grow in this process of waiting on the Lord in our lives.

      Your brother in this walk together with you and Him,
      Michael ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

      Liked by 2 people

      • You’re very welcome, Michael. 🙂 As you mentioned the cornerstone and the difficulties of our old nature (aka flesh) to wait on the Lord, I was reminded of the following verses.

        Go now, write it on a tablet for them, inscribe it on a scroll, that for the days to come it may be an everlasting witness. For these are rebellious people, deceitful children, children unwilling to listen to the Lord’s instruction. They say to the seers, “See no more visions!” and to the prophets, “Give us no more visions of what is right! Tell us pleasant things, prophesy illusions. Leave this way, get off this path, and stop confronting us with the Holy One of Israel!”
        Therefore this is what the Holy One of Israel says: “Because you have rejected this message, relied on oppression and depended on deceit, this sin will become for you like a high wall, cracked and bulging, that collapses suddenly, in an instant. It will break in pieces like pottery, shattered so mercilessly that among its pieces not a fragment will be found for taking coals from a hearth or scooping water out of a cistern.”
        This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says: “In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it.
        You said, ‘No, we will flee on horses.’ Therefore you will flee! You said, ‘We will ride off on swift horses.’ Therefore your pursuers will be swift!
        A thousand will flee at the threat of one; at the threat of five you will all flee away, till you are left like a flagstaff on a mountaintop, like a banner on a hill.”
        Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you; therefore he will rise up to show you compassion. For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him! (Is 30:8-18 ESV)
        [Emphasis added]

        Every blessing,
        Susanne 🐱

        Liked by 2 people

  2. Tony says:

    Seeking clarification. Are you saying that the role of Apostle and Prophet and the rest of the 5 fold ministry are not for today? Or are you speaking against the self-proclaimed Apostles and Prophets?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Michael says:

      Tony, thanks for having me clarify this. God still sends out (apostolos) His servants to do the His work and He still has those through whom He speaks as His oracles (prophetes). There are those who bring the “good news” (euaggelistes) and of coarse there are inspired teachers and loving shepherds among the body of Christ. What the Bible does not say is that these are “offices” (the word is not there in the N. T. Greek) for men to heap to themselves and use to lord over the saints of God. Rather they are gifts of the spirit to enable and build up the body of Christ in all humility and selfless love from the Father. I do not claim any of these titles to myself and thereby limit what God can do with my life to my preconceived ideas of who He is in me. There is way too much pride in the body of Christ that parades itself as His “authority” among the saints of God instead of the selfless servanthood that Jesus and Paul portrayed.
      Love you my brother,
      Michael

      Liked by 4 people

      • Tony says:

        When one is “hooked” on titles, they then get a sense of entitlement which is pride. The Apostle Paul was called a teacher and then a prophet and then an Apostle. The recognizing of the various giftings, i.e., Apostle, prophet, etc. Should be likened to a flower. When in the ground one cannot tell what it is but when it comes up out of the ground and blossoms it is evident for all to see.

        Liked by 3 people

      • Tony says:

        So I agree with your assessment

        Liked by 2 people

      • Michael says:

        Tony, I like your flower illustration. When God was starting to enliven me again after being spiritually dormant for 14 years during my wilderness journey and dark night, I asked him if the prophetic gifting that I had before I was shut down would be even greater now that I had gone through His harsh dealings with my flesh. He simply told me, “That which falls into the ground and dies is not the same thing that springs forth.” In other words what He would be bringing forth was not just a much larger seed of the one He planted. You never know what He might do as He causes the life of HIS SON to shine forth from within us.

        I think that though Paul was a “sent out” one (apostle), he also functioned as a profoundly inspired teacher, an effective evangelist, and his prophesies about the end times are all through his letters as he shepherded the people that he had brought to Christ. In short, it was ALL being done by Christ in him and not out from the old man in Paul! Jesus is all these things and as Paul said, “I can do all things through Christ who is my strength.” All God needed was a yielded vessel that ceased to try and guess what form Christ would manifest Himself as he served and loved the body of Christ in simplicity.

        Liked by 2 people

      • Tony says:

        Let me just get clarification on one more thing Michael. Do you believe that the Lord still commissions Apostles in the same way He commissioned the Apostle Paul?

        Liked by 2 people

      • Michael says:

        Your turn, Tony.

        What is the Spirit telling you? And are their prophets like John the Baptist today?

        Liked by 2 people

      • Tony says:

        On this subject I would emphatically say that the original 12 were not to be replaced. With that said we have the Apostle Paul who had all the criteria of an Apostle. i.e. A personal commission from the Lord Jesus,

        1Co 9:1 Am I not an apostle? Am I not free? Have I not seen Jesus Christ our Lord? Are you not my work in the Lord?
        Extraordinary signs and wonders.

        2Co 12:12 Truly the signs of an apostle were accomplished among you with all perseverance, in signs and wonders and mighty deeds.
        The evidence will be visible for all to see which eliminates the self-proclaimed Apostles.
        In the book of Revelation Jesus commends the Ephesian church for testing those claiming to be Apostles
        Rev 2:1-2 “To the angel of the church of Ephesus write, ‘These things says He who holds the seven stars in His right hand, who walks in the midst of the seven golden lampstands: (2) “I know your works, your labor, your patience, and that you cannot bear those who are evil. And you have tested those who say they are apostles and are not, and have found them liars;
        It doesn’t make sense to test for something that no longer exists.
        I do feel that the Holy Spirit is saying that the Apostle and Prophet will be seen again. The point is that they have to be tested to see whether or not they are the real deal or just fancy talkers.

        Liked by 2 people

      • Michael says:

        I agree, Tony. I have met a lot of charlatans in my day, but very few that do the work of an apostle and none like Paul. Paul was the apostle to the Gentiles and God gave him the clearest understanding that IN Christ there is no Jew nor Gentile, male nor female, slave or free any longer, but rather the wall of separation has been torn down and there is only ONE new creation IN Christ. Almost all that I have seen claiming these five fold titles have made it their business to rise above the body of Christ and build up doctrinal walls to protect their own kingdoms. Thus we have over 41,000 different Christian denominations and sects, today. This is how I tell which are false and which are true. Who are they pointing the hearts of the people to?

        As for prophets? Yikes!!! Those who claim that title are a dime a dozen and most are on a giant ego trip pointing to themselves instead of like John the Baptist (who according to Jesus was the greatest of all the O.T. prophets), who was willing to decrease that Christ might increase in the eyes of His bride. This is the calling of a true prophet as far as I am concerned. “He who has the bride is the Bridegroom and the friend of the Bridegroom (true prophetic ministry) rejoices when he hears His voice” (not in their own voices!).

        Liked by 2 people

      • Tony says:

        Speaking of 41,000 different denominations. We’re you aware that the last church mentioned in the book of revelation, Laodicea, comes from 2 Greek words? Laos meaning people and diocea meaning opinion and /or judgement. So putting them together you get Laodicea which, by the way, is where our English word, “democracy”, comes from.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Michael says:

        Thanks, Tony.

        Like

  3. Pat Orr says:

    Thank you for the blog. Your caution to us believers is very sobering indeed. I think that much of me has been formed in the midst of flattering words and deceiving spirits. I fear that I enjoy that instead of immediately rejecting it. Lord, help me to so love the truth, that I will hate lies – regardless of the packaging.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. All I can say at this time having just read this, is AMEN ! My heart is burning within me, the Spirit in you brother testifies with the same Spirit in me…the Word manifest in our hearts creating the unity that is spoke of in Eph 4 . The complete Revelation of the Word. I love you – so I would ask this, if the Holy Spirit is a complete Revelation of the Word (full measure), are we still needing a 5 fold ministry?

    Liked by 2 people

    • Michael says:

      Dear Allen, I think the answer to your question is in what Paul wrote, “For me to live is Christ and to die is gain.” “I can do all things through Christ who is my strength.” It is all about Jesus and His Spirit and never about us if we truly walk in the light as HE is in the light. All we can do is yield to His will no matter what form He chooses to manifest Himself in through us. Men love neat little boxes to put God and His moving in, but every time we build one he blows it all apart. Thank God! Or to borrow a slogan from the U.S. Navy, “Christianity! It is not just a dogma. IT’S AN ADVENTURE!” 🙂

      Liked by 3 people

  5. dimple says:

    Dear Michael,
    Thank you. A portion of the quote from Sparks spoke directly to me. A change needed to be made…
    Blessings~

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Fred says:

    I don’t know what to do with this info or how to handle it other then cry out to GOD for mercy and help which is what I do often. The pastor of the church that is a block from my house was concerned about me not being there and did seem concerned about my spiritual well being. That church is a Lutheran church that has around 20 members if I remember correctly. Based on things he has told me he would actually be in agreement with you except for the part about not going to church. I am too scared to go to that church because of what I saw The higher up leaders of the Lutheran Church did and that was give their loyalty to the pope. I do not want any thing to do with the pope. How ever I do feel so guilty when I don’t go to church so I found one that has not put loyalty in the pope. I skipped the Sunday that just passed though mainly because I was sick. Maybe I allow my flesh to do to much, I get so confused too many people teach opposite things. I know GOD can and does teach us directly and I stopped watching a video when the pastor on it said that god does not do that. Some of the stuff before that I agreed with but not all so when he said that I was offended and wanted to defend god’s honor but I felt lead not to do that instead i just turned the video off. I have been taught directly by GOD at many times. I was taught about Jesus being our sabbath just as Hebrew’s chapter 4 says. He taught me so many other things so I know for a fact we can learn directly from him. I remember one preacher saying that yes GOD teaches us directly but not every one of his children are shown the same information so we still need to teach each other what we learn. Some thing about every joint supplying in the body of Christ.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Fred says:

    I was lead to this just a little bit ago. so I had to share as it goes along with what you said at least to me it does.

    These Inward Trials
    By

    John Newton

    I asked the Lord that I might grow,
    In faith, in love, in every grace;
    Might more of His salvation know,
    And seek more earnestly His face.

    I hoped that on some favored hour,
    At once He’d answer my request;
    And by His loves constraining power,
    Subdue my sins, and give me rest.

    Instead of this He made me feel,
    The hidden evils of my heart;
    And let the angry powers of hell,
    Assault my soul in every part.

    Yea more, with His own hand He seemed,
    Intent to aggravate my woe;
    Crossed all the fair designs I schemed,
    Blasted my gourds, and laid me low.

    “Lord, why is this?” I tremblingly cried,
    “Wilt Thou pursue Thy worm to death?”
    “Tis in this way,” the Lord replied,
    “I answer prayer for grace and faith.”

    “These inward trials I employ,”
    “From self and pride to set thee free;”
    “And break thy schemes of earthly joy,”
    “That thou may’st seek thy all in Me.”

    Liked by 5 people

    • Michael says:

      Fred, I love this part of the poem,

      “These inward trials I employ,”
      “From self and pride to set thee free;”
      “And break thy schemes of earthly joy,”
      “That thou may’st seek thy all in Me.”

      It speaks of the same wisdom that God uses to allow even the wise among God’s people to be deceived.

      “…the people who know their God shall stand firm and take action. And the wise among the people shall make many understand, though for some days they shall stumble… When they stumble, they shall receive a little help. And many shall join themselves to them with flattery, and some of the wise shall stumble, so that they may be refined, purified, and made white, until the time of the end”

      Fred, God places a high value on experience. Being “book smart” is not enough to outsmart the devil for he quotes scripture, too. We cannot always avoid being led astray, for our enemy uses stealth and lies and knows all our weak points, but in the hands of our Father He will teach us as we suffer through each trial. We will draw closer to our Lord through it all. God’s idea of perfection is not that we never make mistakes, but rather that His children learn from their mistakes with changed hearts. He wants us to learn to the point that we will not repeat these mistakes again and put our trust in the voice of the Spirit and not in our own souls (which consist of our minds, wills and emotions). He wants us to walk by the Spirit speaking to our spirits as he leads us into all truth.

      ​When the righteous cry for help, the LORD hears and delivers them out of all their troubles. The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the LORD delivers him out of them all. (Ps 34:17-19, ESV2011)

      Liked by 3 people

  8. Don says:

    Thank you Michael for this post. Recently this same topic came very clear to me like this, the church organization must have leaders and other members who are not so much followers of that leader but capable of being the leader just not in that relationship to all the other members.

    Like the thumb on my hand the leader works with all the other fingers to hold the tools to build the Kingdom. You cannot work without fingers and a thumb and both are controlled by the eyes which are in the Head.The thumb is not ruler over the other fingers and in a way works opposed to them.For most tasks the thumb must push one way and the fingers push against it. They are working together yet it appears that they oppose one another. The heavier the load that must be picked up the tighter they must grasp in opposite directions.

    I have never seen a hand with more than five fingers and one thumb. Those born with the extra finger do not have any bone in it, it cannot do any work and it makes the hand too large.

    And finally will you please define nico and laity for me? Correct me if I’m wrong but is this not the ruling of the big name leaders over the laity? The practice of the Nicolaitans which God hates twice in the book of Revelation given to John?

    Don

    Liked by 1 person

    • Michael says:

      Thanks Don,
      As for your analogy of the hand, Paul appointed elders in every city where he left a body of converts behind. There was never a single elder put in charge of the local body. I almost cut off the end of my right index finger once and had to have it stitched back together. Well, at first I had no feeling in it and it was useless to work with my thumb. Finally, the bandages the stitches were remove and then I had feelings in it that I could not trust for almost a year. In the interim I had to use my thumb with my middle finger and got quite good at it. Finally, my index finger normalized and then I had to train my hand to work normally once again. Somehow, I think that there is a lesson in this as to why Paul appointed multiple elders in the churches. What good is a thumb without the fingers and what good are fingers without the thumb? Well, they have more usefulness than a singular thumb does. In Ecclesiastics we read,

      Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken. (Eccl 4:9-12, ESV2011)

      These churches that have a singular authority at the top that does not receive input from the older more experience saints in their midst are ripe for the enemy to come in and wreck havoc and he eventually does.

      As for that doctrine which God hates, the doctrine of the Nicolaitanss… the name tells us what it is.
      It is from the Greek words Nikos and Laos and literally means to conquer the people.
      Mickelson nailed it:

      G3531 (Mickelson’s Enhanced Strong’s Dictionaries of the Greek and Hebrew Testaments)
      G3531 Νικολαΐτης Nikolaites (niy-ko-laiy’-tees) n/g.
      1. (meaning) vanquishers of a people, conquerors over the laity (the people).
      2. (group) Nicolaitans, a sect that adheres to subjugating (i.e. dominating and ruling over) a people while outwardly professing Christianity.

      There has been no shortage of this spirit working its evils in the churches I have been part of in the past and it is an evil that paralyses the rest of the body where it is present.

      Thanks for your comment, my brother.

      Liked by 3 people

  9. Ken Dawson says:

    Wow Mike you are a very gifted teacher/preacher!

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Ken Dawson says:

    Yes it was!

    Liked by 2 people

  11. gmm21century says:

    Flattering Words and Deceiving Spirits
    – perfect phrases.. what is going on in churches now.
    —-
    It works…because people like recognition, titles, etc..

    Dan

    Liked by 2 people

    • Michael says:

      Thanks, Dan. As I read your comment I thought of this passage…

      “Be appalled, O heavens, at this; be shocked, be utterly desolate, declares the LORD, for my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water.” (Jer 2:12-13, ESV2011)

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Things can get very difficult and perplexing to us at times, but if we just hold on to Him… We see the beautiful thing He has done in us. He is so wonderful to us. I loved your poem Fred. Thanks.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Michael says:

      Thanks Russ, this is so true. In Hebrews chapter 12 that speaks of the chastening by our Father in heaven who loves us and it reads,

      “Now no chastening for the present seems to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them who are trained by it.” (Heb 12:11, KJ2000)

      It is important to learn that with the training of the Lord there is always an “afterwards” in which His righteousness shines forth in us. Enduring this chastening by believing that He loves us is key and it works His patience in us. Even Jesus had to learn obedience to the Father by the things He suffered and servants are not greater than their Master.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. gmm21century says:

    Michael, it is one of my favorite passages from Jeremiah.

    Dan

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Mrs. N says:

    This was very enlightening – even more so all the comments. Something I thought about while reading was – I have seen the opposite a time or two. A brother or sister so worried about not wanting to be given praise for revelations the Lord had given them that they became a recluse- not sharing the things that the Holy Spirit had said to them/ done in their lives. The only ones who knew were those that witnessed it. I think- well, perhaps that is as far as the Lord wanted those things to go. What are your thoughts brother Michael?

    I’d like to add this- I am the LAST person ( as far as I feel) on earth to ever write such an eloquent blog as this. I know what I feel in my heart but I have no confidence within to sit and try to write it out and then share it with the world. I think I’d probably make a huge tangled mess of the words and do more damage than good- because I don’t feel like I could put in black and white what the Lord is speaking to my heart— now- hold on. I am in the midst of communication with my adult cousin. We have not seen each other for 30 some years. Actually he was a baby last time I saw him in Germany ( we are actually German). About 2-3 months ago he felt prompted to contact me. We had NO communication over the years except to see photos of each other from our parents. Our fathers are brothers. So anyhow – and there is a point – he contacted me and we have had many unbelievably wonderful email communications. It was amazing to both of us that never really having known each other we could be so open, so ” close”. He told me that he is a Buddhist– but feels empty. He asked me about my ” religion”. Stop. Remember what I said above? About not being confident in writing what the Lord puts on my heart? When he asked me the question about my ” religion” I froze. How could I answer that in a worthy way? I panicked. I panicked because I had developed this beautiful relationship with him and now… It was about to be flushed- I thought. So- I did the only thing I know to do. I talked to the Lord about it. And I said well… Thanks for the time with my cousin Lord – help me now to write the truth. So- I sat, I wrote the deep things of my heart and told him who the love of my life is… I told him all about Jesus and our relationship.

    For almost 2 weeks there was silence. I figured- yep- I blew it. I’m not very good at communicating these sorts of things….

    Then- day before yesterday there was an email from him. He apologized for the late response because they had moved apartments … He said– the words I wrote was absolutely amazing and he had a whole list of questions about Christianity and In particular- Jesus.

    And I marveled– not at myself– no way– I marveled at the fact that time and time again how the Lord uses us at the right place and time if we will just be willing irregardless of how we feel about ourselves – because it’s truly a relationship- a partnership. The Holy Spirit prompts me to do my part and he does the rest. We are a team. Like best friends that know each others ways and even thoughts… This is how I am beginning to see my relationship with The Lord… Like you said it’s an adventure. Truly that’s the truth. And what an adventure!

    Liked by 3 people

    • Mrs. N says:

      I forgot to add- in my life the Lord has shown me that right around me- in my own family are numerous opportunities for sharing the gospel and what Jesus has done in my life. Sometimes I’ve seen believers be downhearted because they feel they need a ” ministry” to really be called a Christian. Somehow they feel like they aren’t worthy because they can’t write powerfully or they don’t feel like they manifest some special ” gift” . I’ve learned that having the Holy Spirit inside and having a real relationship with the Lord is enough- I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. He opened my eyes to see that exactly where he has placed me is where he wants me to work. If that makes sense- unless my words are all tangled.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Michael says:

        Connie, You are so right! “Ministry” is not having an office or a title, it is simply serving who God puts on your heart to serve. And He outfits each of us for that service as we abide in Christ. {Please read my reply to our brother Ken (https://awildernessvoice.wordpress.com/2017/01/25/intimacy-love-and-the-glory-of-god/comment-page-1/#comment-5100)}, “All things are yours and you are Christ’s and Christ is God’s.”

        A lot of confusion about “ministry” has come from the translators taking a Greek word that should be translated “serve” or “servant” and making it sound like an “office.” Jesus tried to get this point across to the disciples when one wanted to sit on His right side and the other on the left in heaven. This passage is properly translated in this version,

        And when the ten heard it, they were indignant at the two brothers. But Jesus called them to him and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant [diakonos], and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served [diakaneo] but to serve [diakaneo], and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Matt 20:24-28, ESV2011)

        Now compare the KJV.

        As you can see by the context of the above passage, two of His disciples wanted the seats of power like kings in the Kingdom of Heaven. This same word “diakaneo” which should have been translated “serve” and “served” was most often translated “minister,” “ministered” in the KJV and many other translations to make it sound like men in an office. Here is another contrasting example:

        Only Luke is with me. Take Mark, and bring him with thee: for he is profitable to me for the ministry. (2Tim 4:11, KJV)

        vs.

        Luke only is with me. Taking Mark, lead him back with you, for he is useful to me for service. (2Tim 4:11, CLV)

        A woman called me one time and asked if I believed in women in ministry in the church. I told her “Absolutely, I believe in both men and women should strive to be servants in the body of Christ.” She said, “No! I mean can women have a titled ministry?” It became evident that her motive was to be “a somebody” in authority, not a servant, just the opposite of what Jesus said in the above passage in Matt. ch. 20.

        So, dear sister, serve those Jesus has put you with among your family and friends as the Spirit leads you for “All things are yours and you are Christ’s and Christ is Gods” if you are willing to humble yourself as Jesus did and be a servant. Its all about our attitude and those who exalt themselves will be humbled.

        BTW, we got a book order from Larry H. in Russia. Thanks for letting him know about “One Body in Christ” by Kokichi Kurosaki. He sounded excited to get his hands on a hard copy of the book.

        Your brother in God’s own Son,
        Michael

        Liked by 3 people

      • Mrs. N says:

        😊❤️ more later- but quickly- every single Christian needs to read that book. Read it and pray about- it profoundly changed my thinking about so many things. It is truth. Thank you for pointing me to it – it has unlocked doors and taken blinders off my eyes and cleared the cobwebs.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Michael says:

        Connie, you made me smile. It is such a joy to see you being set free to flow with the Spirit wind. ⭐ 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • Mrs. N says:

        Reading it was like … Discovering a truth that you had a hunch was true a long time ago but you couldn’t see much evidence for it so you never really talked about it. Then suddenly- everything you knew instinctively was proven and all you could do was sit and weep tears of joy. That and jump for joy! Even with arthritis in your knee! And hip! 😁

        Liked by 1 person

      • Connie, as a German I have always wondered about this ‘ministry-and-gifts-thing’ which I primarily meet on American blogs. It seems to be somehow religio-cultural to me. In Germany a minister is someone who serves the state and receives money in return. In America you serve a church and the congregation must pay for you through tithes and donations. Although there are some similar denominations here in Germany as well, it never got that popular as it has been in the States.

        Liked by 2 people

      • Michael says:

        Susanne, what we in America with our doctrine of “separation of church and state” find interesting about Europe is how the churches and ministers are supported by tax dollars and not by donations of the people. :-p Yes, this whole thing about “having a ministry” and spiritual gifts is all too self-centered for the most part among American Christians. What’s wrong with just serving those who God puts you with in the love of Christ and not letting your left hand know what your right hand is doing? It is good to get an outside look at our churches and what they are doing. Thanks for your insight, Susanne. ⭐

        Liked by 1 person

    • Michael says:

      Connie, you wrote about “A brother or sister so worried about not wanting to be given praise for revelations the Lord had given them that they became a recluse- not sharing the things that the Holy Spirit had said to them / done in their lives. The only ones who knew were those that witnessed it. I think- well, perhaps that is as far as the Lord wanted those things to go. What are your thoughts brother Michael?”

      I have a hard time telling about my own story since I came to Christ or even that we have a large website with lots of material on it about the Kingdom of God. As for the fist part Jesus said, “If I bear witness of myself, my witness is not true. There is another that beareth witness of me; and I know that the witness which he witnesseth of me is true.” (John 5:31-32, KJV). We need to be careful about blowing our own horn when we do a service for others in the name of Christ (see Matt. 6:2). “Humble yourself in the sight of the Lord and He will lift you up” as is needed for His kingdom work.

      As far as writing ability goes, what I have is a gift from God. I all but flunked my English courses in high school, but somewhere along the way He helped me organize my thoughts, increased my vocabulary and also gave me a wife who is a great proof reader. 🙂 He gives us what He know we will need to serve Him and others as it says in 1 Cor. 12:11. It sounds like the Spirit gave you His words to speak to your cousin. Always ask Him and don’t start thinking you now have “the gift of evangelism” or some such thing. Remember, the “gift” of the Spirit IS THE SPIRIT!

      You wrote, “The Holy Spirit prompts me to do my part and he does the rest. We are a team. Like best friends that know each others ways and even thoughts… This is how I am beginning to see my relationship with The Lord… Like you said it’s an adventure.”

      I like the way you put this. We provide the body and the willing spirit and He enlivens us with the rest. It is when our souls (intellects, emotions and wills) get in the way that things break down.

      Liked by 3 people

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