When looking at the various religions, patterns began to emerge. There are many common aspects between other religions, which accentuates how different God’s word is from everything else. Compared with other religions, God’s commands stand apart. This clear separation illustrates that there are really only two choices: 1) God and 2) everything else.
Satan is the father of lies, and he leads us to believe that there are multiple spiritual options. The truth, however, is that all of these other “options” lead us back to him.
You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.John 8:44
Every step we take away from God leads us one step closer to the devil. The Bible is very clear about what things should avoid. These are the very things the devil repeatedly tempts us to do. By giving in to these temptations, we are drawn away from God.
Do Not Worship Other gods: Paganism, Pantheism
“You shall have no other gods before me.Exodus 20:3
God does not deny the presence of other “gods”. However, they are declared “false gods”. In Deuteronomy, the Lord Our God is declared the God of gods and Lord of lords. He is the ruler of all. It is He who bestows power to his children in order to complete their purpose.
For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality and accepts no bribes.Deuteronomy 10:17
Thus shall you say to them: “The gods who did not make the heavens and the earth shall perish from the earth and from under the heavens.”Jeremiah 10:11
The Old Testament mentions some of these “gods” by name including Baal, Molech, Nebo, Dagon, Chemosh, Asherah, Ashtoreth, Abaddon/Apollyon. Further, scripture informs that Satan and his followers were confined to earth.
How you have fallen from heaven,Isaiah 14:12
morning star, son of the dawn!
You have been cast down to the earth,
you who once laid low the nations!
The seventy-two returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name!” And he said to them, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.Luke 10:17-18
Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came among them.The Lord said to Satan, “From where have you come?” Satan answered the Lord and said, “From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking up and down on it.”Job 1:6-7
The account of Elijah and the prophets of Baal (1 Kings 18:20-40) demonstrate the impotence of these “gods” when compared to the one true God.
Do Not Worship God using pagan religious practices: Roman Empire/Roman Catholic Church
These “false gods” are the angels who rebelled against God. The desire for power and equality with God, caused these corrupted angels to be cast out of heaven. Confined to earth, they made the earth their kingdom and aspired to rule over mankind. Perverse rituals were performed to gain the favor of the “gods”. This confirmed their control and enslaved mankind to their own selfish desires.
be careful not to be ensnared by inquiring about their gods, saying, “How do these nations serve their gods? We will do the same.” You must not worship the Lord your God in their way, because in worshiping their gods, they do all kinds of detestable things the Lord hates. They even burn their sons and daughters in the fire as sacrifices to their gods.Deuteronomy 12:30-31
[T]he sacrifices of pagans are offered to demons, not to God, and I do not want you to be participants with demons. You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons too; you cannot have a part in both the Lord’s table and the table of demons.1 Corinthians 10:20
Pagan worship practices involve acts that are detestable to God. This forces a choice, follow God or turn away. Thus, these practices are completely incompatible and should not be integrated into the worship of God.
Do Not Use Occult Practices: Paganism, Druidism, Wiccan, New Age
In our modern age, we tend to disregard the practice of witchcraft, divination, or communication with spirits as a hoax. Although this may often be the case, complete disregard can leave us blind to these spiritual weapons. We should remember this quote “The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist.” This clever deception allows us to believe that there is no harm in palm reading, tarot cards, Ouija boards, astrology, or any other common occult practice. Although these practices are forbidden, they are confirmed by scripture.
When you enter the land the Lord your God is giving you, do not learn to imitate the detestable ways of the nations there. Let no one be found among you who sacrifices their son or daughter in the fire, who practices divination or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft, or casts spells, or who is a medium or spiritist or who consults the dead.Deuteronomy 18:9-11
God forbids these practices, so where does this power come from? Considering its source, we know it cannot be trusted. The devil tempts us through our desire for knowledge and power. But he only tells half-truths that are rooted in deception. He tempts us with an unknown power to ensure our dependence on him.
Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world.1 John 4:1
And when you look up to the sky and see the sun, the moon and the stars—all the heavenly array—do not be enticed into bowing down to them and worshiping things the LORD your God has apportioned to all the nations under heaven.Deuteronomy 4:19
We should be careful not to underestimate the devil. Fortune-telling by the serpent is what convinced Eve to disobey God. He foretold that the fruit would not kill her, rather it would open her eyes making her like God. There is an unseen spiritual world with power unknown to us. Our desire to know the unknown can easily become our undoing because it opens the door.
“For sin, seizing an opportunity in the commandment, deceived me and through it killed me.”Romans 7:11
God has chosen what he wants to reveal, and this is communicated by his prophets. Attempting to uncover more is both an act of disobedience and faithlessness. The devil makes promises he never intended to keep. Once we turn away from God only the hollow and empty promises remain. The devil quickly abandons all when they are of no further use. Mankind is left to face the consequences alone.
Stand fast in your enchantments and your many sorceries, with which you have labored from your youth; perhaps you may be able to succeed; perhaps you may inspire terror. You are wearied with your many counsels; let them stand forth and save you, those who divide the heavens, who gaze at the stars, who at the new moons make known what shall come upon you. Behold, they are like stubble; the fire consumes them; they cannot deliver themselves from the power of the flame.Isaiah 47:12-14
Do Not Worship Created Things: Paganism, Materialism
We have an innate desire to worship that was instilled in us at creation. Because we can only see the physical, we crave a tangible representation of what we worship. However, physical confines can’t contain God. Unsatisfied with worshipping an unseen God, we created human-made objects of worship.
“You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below.Exodus 20:4
In ancient days this was in the form of carved idols to represent the “gods”. Along the way we found new “gods” in the world, like riches, power, fame, or celebrity. Our idols changed likewise by becoming sports cars, mansions, yachts, and status symbols. Regardless of what we currently prize, none of it lasts or can stand the test of time.
Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.1 John 2:15-17
Often honor, integrity, and morality must be sacrificed to acquire worldly treasures. But it is just another empty promise. No created thing will ever satisfy.
For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.1 Timothy 6:10
We may find momentary satisfaction, but emptiness always follows. We are left chasing something we will never find.
Do Not Worship Human Wisdom/Enlightenment: Hinduism, Buddhism, New Age, Deism, Naturalism
New Age and Eastern religions are considered a “way of life” focused on achieving enlightenment (state of inner peace and wisdom). Your circumstances in this life are dependent upon your conduct in previous lives (“Karma”) which move you up and down the path to enlightenment. Achieving “moksha” or “nirvana” requires a state of perfect enlightenment, bringing liberation from the repetitive cycle of reincarnation. What then? You either cease to exist or are absorbed in Brahman, the eternal Being. So punishment is a repeating cycle of eternal life and reward is the end of your existence.
There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death.Proverbs 14:12
See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ.Colossians 2:18
Our thirst for more knowledge makes enlightenment and reason especially attractive. I am not suggesting that God does not want us to use our intellect or reasoning. However, when the pursuit of wisdom or enlightenment becomes our sole pursuit, to the exclusion of God, problems are bound to develop. The biggest problem is that of subjective morality. Good and evil become matters of perspective because everything is individually reasoned. This makes nothing inherently good and nothing inherently bad. In other words, anything can be justifiable.
Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord, and turn away from evil.Proverbs 3:7
Under this reasoning our ability to maintain law and order disappears. It only works if all human beings are inherently good and desire the same things. Yet, that is not what we see in our societies. There are murderers, rapists, dictators, human traffickers, thieves, and opportunists who take advantage of other people. However, their own reasoning may lead them to believe that their actions are justifiable. We need objective morality to set bounds on what is permissible and what is forbidden. Mankind has always been drawn to fulfill individual personal desires, often at the expense of others.
Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom. But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice.James 3:13-16
“For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”
Naturalism focuses not on spiritual enlightenment but on scientific discovery. Nothing exists that is not knowable or discernable through science in the physical world. The answer to every question is already here just waiting to be found. This belief appeals to our human pride and makes us feel in control of the world around us. The thought that we aren’t the most intelligent, that we don’t have the answers, or that there are things that can’t be seen or explained makes people very uncomfortable. We don’t like the idea that our human knowledge has limits. Even when inconsistencies develop in scientific explanations we are resistant to acknowledge them. Wisdom is the ability to admit what you don’t know.
Therefore once more I will astound these people with wonder upon wonder; the wisdom of the wise will perish, the intelligence of the intelligent will vanish.”Isaiah 29:14
Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you thinks that he is wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is folly with God. For it is written, “He catches the wise in their craftiness,” and again, “The Lord knows the thoughts of the wise, that they are futile.” So let no one boast in men.1 Corinthians 3:18-21
Do Not Indulge Your Sinful Desires: Paganism, Secularism
The biggest lie of all is that freedom is doing what we want. The truth is we become slaves when we feed our desire for pleasure. Having unbridled freedom from rules may seem nice at first, but it always becomes self-destructive and leads us to dark places. When we exercise these “freedoms” it leads to brokenness and addiction.
Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these.Galatians 5:19-21
For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander.Matthew 5:19
For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions—is not from the Father but is from the world.1 John 2:16
God knows we are easily tempted to take things to excess when left to our own judgement. This is why he placed bounds on behaviors and practices. Not to deprive us of enjoyment, but to protect us from our own self-destructive tendencies.
For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?Mark 8:36
As a result, they do not live the rest of their earthly lives for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God. For you have spent enough time in the past doing what pagans choose to do—living in debauchery, lust, drunkenness, orgies, carousing and detestable idolatry.1 Peter 4:2-3
Who stands to gain when we have followed the path of pleasure to its end only to find shame, brokenness, and regret? Yet, even at these times, God still waits for our return with open arms.
Do Not Distort God’s Word : False Christians (Catholic or Protestant)
The reputation of Christianity has suffered greatest from misrepresentation by other Christians. True understanding of God’s word allows us to see God’s true nature, his expectations, and his purpose for mankind. Sadly, many have chosen instead to twist his word, taking it out of context, using it to support hateful and bigoted ideals.
But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed. And in their greed they will exploit you with false words.2 Peter 2 :1-3
These are false prophets and false teachers who represent the enemy. They are sent to deceive and mislead those in search of God. It’s easy to identify a false teacher when you read the Bible regularly and have a personal relationship with God.
Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming.Ephesians 4:14
However, for those unfamiliar with God’s nature and the redemption available through Jesus, false teachers can cause many to reject God under false pretenses. That is why true Christians should do their best to reflect the truth of scripture both in their words and in their conduct. Jesus said that his disciples would be known by their love (John 13:35). Anyone preaching a message rooted in hate is not a follower of Christ.
If anyone teaches a different doctrine and does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching that accords with godliness, he is puffed up with conceit and understands nothing. He has an unhealthy craving for controversy and for quarrels about words, which produce envy, dissension, slander, evil suspicions, and constant friction among people who are depraved in mind and deprived of the truth, imagining that godliness is a means of gain.1 Timothy 6:3-5
There are numerous scriptures warning of these wolves in sheep’s clothing. Spiritual leaders bear enormous responsibility in properly guiding others to God. Causing another to spiritually stumble will be met with the most severe judgement. Any message delivered should always be firmly rooted in scripture, following the spirit of the law.
And he said to his disciples, “Temptations to sin are sure to come, but woe to the one through whom they come! It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were cast into the sea than that he should cause one of these little ones to sin.Luke 17:1-2
Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness.James 3:1
The word of God is a direct contradiction of every other religious path. That is because religion was formed by man as a means to worship God. Because man is sinful and corrupted, our worship practices are also prone to corruption. We see this again and again throughout history. There has not been a religion that has been without fault or incorruptible. Yet, it’s individual Christians who comprise the body of Christ. The members of this church are not confined by a building, a city, or a nation. They can be Catholics or protestants of varying denominations. They are set apart by a true devotion to God and his Word which provides us clear instruction to live a life that is holy (set apart). Because these are not the values of the rest of the world it can make followers of Christ feel like strangers in a strange land. But we can endure if we hold tight to God’s unshakable word. Who will you choose to follow?