Avoiding The Seductive Spirit
by: Lonnie Lane
I received an email from a man in the Philippines who is teaching Jewish roots. Imagine that! Jewish roots in the Philippines? God is working to restore believers to His covenantal foundation of faith all around the world. As examples, I know of two “One New Man Messianic fellowships,” as they call themselves, in two different West African countries. And Sid just visited Brazil where hundreds came to the Lord, and they are now starting “One New Man” discipleship groups. (See Ephesians 2:14,15 on one new man.). The return of Jews and Gentiles, coming together on the Biblical foundation God originally gave to Israel, is often accompanied with the return of the power and presence of the Holy Spirit. The compound name of this ministry is a part of that coming together: “Messianic Vision / It’s Supernatural.” To give you a further idea of how many people are seeking to know God in these aspects, I thought you might find it interesting to know that in just the last thirty days, there have been 457,000 visits to our Messianic Vision It’s Supernatual website from people the world over. That’s about 15,000 per day. Lotta folks.
And…well, okay, I have to boast here a little. Though I’m boasting in the Lord because I never could have made this happen. Only He could. I wrote a discipleship book (something else I couldn’t have done without the Lord) from a Jewish roots perspective entitled, Meeting Messiah, Knowing God; which is designed for individual or group study. (It’s a free download on our website which you can access if you’d like.) Click here They are translating my discipleship book into Portuguese, the native language of Brazil, and using it to disciple the new believers there, both Jewish and non-Jewish. Another one of those “around the world” things the Lord is doing.
But back to our brother’s concern about overdoing the quest for Jewishness by believers; a concern I share with him. He wrote: “God has opened doors for me to teach on the Hebraic roots. There is quite a number of Gentile Christians now being interested in it. But the danger is some in their endeavor to go back to Jewish roots, they got tangled up with rabbinic teachings and practices and consider it to be as authoritative as the Tanakh…. They can be led astray by Jewish spiritualism (not Messianic). Do you have a full teaching (on this) in an article?”
…my own experience has been that there is a spiritual seductiveness to Orthodox Judaism.
I’ve known people, who were supposedly believers (both Jews and non-Jews), get so fascinated with things Jewish that they leave the Lord, and enter into a form of Rabbinic or Orthodox Judaism that has captivated them. It makes me wonder if they ever really experienced knowing the presence of the Lord themselves or the freedom of the Spirit of God, if they can be satisfied with rituals. I understand that rituals can have a certain sense of satisfaction – you’re doing something having to do with serving God, at least. So what went wrong in their spiritual lives? Several possibilities exist as I see it. For one, my own experience has been that there is a spiritual seductiveness to Orthodox Judaism. I’m talking about a real sense of being wooed; that stirs up something inside that longs for a more Jewish expression, a connection with something inside that’s not being met elsewhere. I don’t know if Gentiles experience the same thing as Jews, but I’ve had that experience, where I had to break off a friendship with an Orthodox Rabbi because of this very thing. This was not sensual, but entirely spiritual. I recognized that I was being spiritually seduced by demons who were wooing me into a desire for more ritualistic Judaism, which could ultimately mean turning away from the Lord. So I know the power of that religious spirit. It’s a strong one. And it is a spirit that is not the Holy Spirit. It feels like an emotional drawing when you’re feeling it – not at all in the same way you feel the presence of the Lord. A religious spirit doesn’t really care what religion you are drawn to, it just wants to keep you away from Yeshua.
On the other hand, there is something real about a desire for a more authentic, Biblical experience that most of the church is not providing. And there is, I believe, a legitimate longing that comes from God to get back in touch with Torah. So this attraction to Orthodox Judaism satisfies something inside, simply because there is a Biblical reality to the return to the foundational (Hebrew) faith with God. But Rabbinic or Orthodox Judaism is not about Messiah Yeshua and therefore it doesn’t lead to salvation or an assurance of eternal life, nor a release from the guilt of sin. Without Messiah Yeshua, you are left with fulfilling laws. We have to follow one or the other. You can’t have both. Because in the carrying out of rituals or religious practices, no matter how many prayers you pray a day. It’s looking to the laws and your performance of them in order to please God. But it’s not by our efforts or works that we are saved, or even that we please God, but by grace which is the undeserved forgiveness and favor of God based on what Yeshua did. There is no deserving of what only God could have done, so there can be no performance that warrants salvation.
The Word is clear that if you’re going to live by the law, “You have been severed from Messiah, you who are seeking to be justified by law. You have fallen from grace” (Galatians 5:4). Pretty strong words, aren’t they? And here’s why: We must not “…nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness comes through the Law, then Messiah died needlessly” (2:21). We know that’s certainly not the case. If anything were ever true, it’s that God came to earth as a sinless Man; who was born of a virgin, lived a holy life, and died according to God’s will; as the final and complete atonement for mankind’s sin so that we could be restored to God. The Law, or Torah, was not given for salvation. It was given to teach the people of God how to live as unto God. Salvation was always by faith, in the same way God related to Abraham long before the Torah was given: “For the promise to Abraham or to his descendants that he would be heir of the world was not through the Law, but through the righteousness of faith” (Romans 4:13).
As our brother mentioned, some people regard the rabbinic teachings and the practices, which I was calling rituals because they are kept ritualistically, as equal with the Tanakh. Specifically that would be the Torah. The reason is that Orthodox Judaism follows, what they say was originally given to Moses orally, in addition to the written Torah. These oral laws are regarded as the explanation of the written laws – the specifics of how to keep them, very simply put. But there is nothing in the Bible that suggests there was another law added to the written ones. In fact, Exodus 24:4 says, “Moses wrote all the words of the Lord.” So there were no “other” words of the Lord. It’s those Oral laws by which the rabbis judged Yeshua. They had drawn so many ‘fences’ around the Torah to keep from violating it, that they saw only the fences and not the spirit of the Torah. Take the Sabbath, for instance. Yeshua was accused of healing on the Sabbath, which was against their Oral Law, not against Torah. Yeshua would not have violated anything in Torah – He was the embodiment of Torah and kept it entirely. Yeshua made it clear that He was not acting against Torah, but the Pharisees were so zealous for their Oral Law that they condemned Him by it, not by Torah itself. Those same Oral laws are in effect today, and are largely what the Orthodox practices are about.
….there is some- thing real about a desire for a more authentic Biblical experience…
There are, of course, benefits and blessings. For one thing, the practices keep you thinking about God all the time, or at least what you think God wants you to be doing. It’s hard to forget you belong to God when you’re praying all day, and careful to do or not do according to the practices. It becomes a way of life, this kind of living for God. Is it legalistic? Yes. Some are strangled emotionally by it. See this interview Sid did with Aviad Cohen, for instance. Others seem to do well in that kind of highly structured environment. There is also a very strong sense of identity and of community, that you belong to something sacred, even if it’s not as sacred as believers would consider sacred. That alone can have a powerful impact on a person’s life.
Now I ask you, are some of those very things somehow missing in the church today that might explain why someone would leave Christianity, and enter into those kinds of orthodoxy? Notice I said Christianity because I expect it is more “the church” that they leave rather than Yeshua, if they’ve ever really experienced knowing Him personally in the first place. We see a profound sense of belonging in the first century believers – belonging to Yeshua and consequently belonging to each other. Granted they already had a deep sense of being God’s people to begin with as Jews. And what they came to realize was that they were keeping Torah by the Spirit of God, as they never had been able to “in the flesh” or through their own efforts before. There had to be a wonderful sense of fulfillment and satisfaction in that because, now that they were living by the freedom of the Spirit and grace, they really were pleasing God. They were being truly Biblical.
Well, let me ask you another question: From God’s perspective, would He not want that same sense of belonging, and of being a part of something sacred for all believers? Is the church not largely missing something when we don’t see that level of covenant community and belonging to one another? Has the devil kept us too busy, and too insulated to be really there and vulnerable to one another? We live such relatively isolated lives in comparison to the first believers. It could be that those Orthodox communities have a draw of something interpersonal that is often missing in a church congregation where you go once a week, but interact only superficially, and briefly until you see them next week again? Or maybe on Wednesday again and do the same thing? What most of us do “in church” is not what God had in mind for His Body!
We’ve written on this subject elsewhere many times so I won’t go any further here. My point is that the church is often not providing either the relational sense of covenantal belonging that comes from mutual purpose, or a life-changing, life-penetrating, real and powerful shared experience with Yeshua by His Spirit. And so some people who have a proclivity for things Jewish, or whatever meets their needs more than their Christian experience, will find more satisfaction elsewhere than in the church. Apart from the Body of Messiah, one can only know just so much of the Lord. We were meant to be a body, to be “one-anothering” with each other, but our idea of “fellowship” too often falls short of what is really Biblical. And many believers lead lives of loneliness, with no one to help them bear their burdens, when we are told to “bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Messiah” (Galatians 6:2)
…how does all this fit into studying Jewish Roots and why God wants us to know them?
Now that you know this (maybe you’ve known it for a long time), how about if you invite some folks out for lunch after church to get to know them better, or invite someone to your home for an evening whom you didn’t know well before. Start moving in the direction of relationship-building in the church. Or how about inviting someone unsaved and find out what their lives are all about, sharing some of your own and sharing the Good News with them in the process? Ask some acquaintances, in the course of even the lightest conversation (that even works with the waitress, or the check out guy at the grocery store), if there’s anything you can pray for them about, because you believe God answers prayer. Then check with them, after you’ve been praying their request for a week or two, to see what God has answered. That’s how house fellowships begin. For more on that, see Tony and Felicity Dale. You can make a difference! That’s being Biblical.
A conversation comes to mind that I had a while ago. Someone was saying that they weren’t so sure that all this demonstrative charismatic stuff was really Biblical. I couldn’t resist. I asked in reply, “Do you think that people sitting in church for years, listening to sermon after sermon and never sharing the Lord with anyone is Biblical? Is it Biblical for someone to never lead anyone to the Lord in their whole life as a believer, or never pray for healing for someone, or if they do, to never see anyone healed that they pray for? Is it biblical that you’ve never cast out a demon? Or raised someone from the dead? Is it biblical that you don’t tithe and don’t visit people in prison? Is it biblical to hold a grudge and remain angry about something, even for years?” They were a bit stunned, but saw what I was saying. Isn’t it time we got back to living Biblically? We can start with loving one another. We were meant to be a body to be “one-anothering” each other. Try it, you’ll love it.
So for those supposed believers, who have jumped the Christian ship for the Jewish one, or whatever ship, I’m not sure that sometimes the fault isn’t as much the church’s for not presenting the real Jesus and the real Bible. Let’s start with how often have you heard “Repent” in your church? So people carry the weight of guilt for years with no place to get free. The Lord once told me that the reason there’s so much counseling going on in the church, is because there’s no Cross in the church for people to come and get free of their sin! Or, with regard to demons, let me quote something my pastor said a week ago: “If you’re not casting out demons on a regular basis, you’re dealing with a lot of stuff you don’t have to.” Yes, Yeshua meant for us to get them, not only out of other people’s lives where the opportunity presents itself, but to forbid them to mess with our own lives. Tell them to get out of your body, out of your family, out of your home, your relationships, your finances….out of your life and your family’s lives, in Yeshua’s name. They gotta go! They must obey His authority. Just be sure you mean it and believe you’re acting Biblically when you do it. Stand your ground and kick the devil and his lies out of your life. Yeshua said to do it. There are too many people trying to counsel a demon, when you just need to do what Yeshua did repeatedly: Tell it to shut up and get out. That’s Biblical!
As for sharing the Lord, you can only present Yeshua to others as you know Him. You can always tell people your testimony, which is the way you know Him. No one can argue with your own experience. The same thing applies to how much you can believe. You can only believe what you know of Him. If what you know of the Lord isn’t really working for you, then maybe you’re not believing what the Bible really says. Or you have only taken seriously part of what the Bible says of Him and read selectively. So your faith looks like Swiss cheese: it’s got holes in it. Rather than look elsewhere for satisfaction, or where you see someone else looking, I suggest you cry out to God with all your heart and ask Him to come to you or to that person. Cry out to the Lord to come to your church, to come to The Church at large, to make Himself known to your city, to your country. Repent not only for your distraction and luke-warmness, but for the church’s. We are in desperate need of a revival. For sure, the devil is on the move to try and move people away from trusting in Yeshua as their only savior. Whether it’s Orthodox Judaism or some strange and unbiblical form of Christianity, mark my words, it’s coming. Some of it is already here. There will be a remnant that follows the real and Biblical Yeshua, and there will also be a lot of variations and strange deviations of Christianity. Beware, dear ones, of what you’re listening to. Beware of compromise or spiritually seducing spirits, that seek to woo you away from the Word of God alone as your source of truth.
So another question arises: how does all this fit in with studying Jewish roots and why God wants us to know them? In order to know the truth, that’s why. As we’ve said many times, the New Testament sits soundly and squarely on the foundation of the Old Testament; on the Tenakh. You cannot fully grasp the depths of what Yeshua has given us and done for us by the New Testament alone. Just this week in church, we were having a discussion about how God ordained that only a limited number of priests could come close to Him, to touch the things of God, to know His presence and to act on His behalf for the people who had to stand outside, while they ministered inside the sanctuary. These priests could only be direct descendents of Aaron, of the tribe of Levi. But through Yeshua, God has made every Gentile and Jewish believer in Yeshua a priest with the authority from God to come close to Him, to touch and be touched by God, by His Spirit; to know His presence and to act on His behalf. To minister His love and grace to others. What a powerful gift He’s entrusted us with. How astounding that He would open up His priesthood to all who would come to Him. Do you see the magnitude of the privilege He’s given to us? There is such power in that authority to do the works of God in the name of Yeshua. We have been given the anointing to make God known to the world around us! It’s for you. And it’s Biblical. You’re a priest unto God if you’re a believer in Yeshua. What does that mean to you? Think about this for a day or more, and see how you see this as a reality in your own life, more than you do right now.
Reprint of this article is permitted as long as you use the following; Use by permission by Messianic Vision, www.sidroth.org, 2011.
Scripture quotations are from the New American Standard Bible Copyright ©1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, La Habra, Calif. All rights reserved. Used by permission.