THE MYSTERY OF INIQUITY
BY: LARRY HODGES
“For the mystery of iniquity doth already work:” – II Thessalonians 2:7
When Jesus came some 2,000 years ago, He came at a time much like our own–the end of one age and the beginning of another. Just prior to His appearing there were others, impostors, who claimed to fill His office. Each in his turn was shown to be the counterfeit he really was. Jesus came to a people who claimed to be His and who looked for His coming. They expected it with great anticipation, but they expected His coming to be in accordance with their own particular understanding of the written word. The results were tragic.
The Jews so missed the Living Word, because of holding so rigidly to the dead letter of the word, that they crucified Him! But it was more than a mere holding to the letter, which caused them to miss Jesus Christ as Messiah. They, as a nation, were not given to loving the truth or doing the will of God. They were given to doing only what was required by law; they were given to serving God up to a point, beyond which line they were not willing to go, and the spirit of the law was generally ignored.
“Jesus answered them and said, ‘My doctrine is not mine but His that sent me. If any man will do His will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God or whether I speak of myself'” – John 7:16–17 It is my belief that had they been taught by their priesthood (for teaching was the responsibility of the priesthood) to do the will of God and to love the truth, they might have recognized Jesus, the Truth, and His teaching, as the above verse of scripture indicates. But of course this was not to be.
It seems as if every now and then a really strange wind blows through the ranks of God’s people, and some follow after it regardless of how much it disagrees with the testimony of Christ or with the spirit of Christ. Most are not swayed by these winds of doctrine, however, and hold steady. God is very careful to shake whatever can be shaken, so that what remains cannot be shaken. Paul said there must needs be heresy among us so that those who are approved of God might be manifest. God uses even error in the perfecting of His work in us.
There seems an incredible lack of discernment throughout the body of Christ as to truth and error, and one of the functions of the Melchizedek (Zadok) priesthood is to “teach my (His) people the difference between the holy and profane and cause them to discern between the unclean and the clean.” – Ezekiel 44:23 Never has there been such a proliferation of teaching, both true and false, as in the present hour. It seems that all that is necessary for a writing ministry these days is a computer and an urge. And each has his (or her) own peculiar little (some not so little) twist on the gospel of Jesus Christ. It is just as Jesus said it would be, “For many shall come in my name, saying, ‘I am Christ;’ and shall deceive many.“ – Matthew 24:5 He didn’t say, “As if in my name;” He said that they would come in His name! And because they would come in His name, many would be deceived. Therefore, we are told, “Take heed that no man deceive you.” – Matthew 24:4 I used to read this and would think to myself, “How could someone saying that they are Christ be deceptive to anyone when it should be obvious that they are not?”
Most know that the word, “Christ” means “anointed.” Many shall come in the name of Christ saying, “I am anointed,” carries a little different implication, doesn’t it? “But when He, the Spirit of Truth, is come, He will guide you into all truth: for He shall not speak of Himself; but whatsoever He shall hear, that shall He speak: and He will show you things to come. He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall show it unto you. All things that the Father hath are mine: therefore said I, that He shall take of mine, and shall show it unto you.“ – John 16:13-15 The Spirit is the anointing and anyone moving in the anointing is able to truthfully say, “I come to you in the name of Christ.” They will not speak of themselves but rather of Christ, for glorifying Jesus Christ is what He (the Spirit) is sent to do.
I recently sat in on a meeting in which I heard some rather strange and surprising things being put forth as the truth of God. What I heard was in no way new for I had already heard much of it before from others. What I found surprising was that it came not from some slickster with beady eyes who was obviously out for the dollar. It came from a brother. What he taught was that there is no sin, no devil, no demons, no death and no sickness – there is only mistaken identity. Adam never fell, he only thought he did. Adam never prayed to God or worshiped God. He didn’t have to – Adam was God!
Mistaken identity, he stated, is simply not knowing that we are God. It is not being aware of who we truly are, that is, God. Now, if you have run ahead in your mind, as some of Paul’s scriptures to the contrary occur to you, perhaps you ought to know that, according to those who teach this message, neither Paul nor any of the other apostles had this revelation! Perhaps you are under the impression that this is so absurd and outrageous that no one will be persuaded by it. Not so!
There is such a high value placed upon what is termed revelation these days that some people will believe almost anything so long as it is new, untraditional and uttered by someone they esteem highly. It doesn’t matter that it contradicts the revealed word of God; it doesn’t matter that the teaching itself does not glorify Jesus Christ but man; it doesn’t matter that the very spirit of the teaching is anti-Christ in that it seeks to substitute another Christ and another gospel. It is new and who knows? It might be the truth, so lets all jump on board lest we miss what God might be doing. And so, “the simple ones” (those void of understanding) “go straightway, as an ox goeth to the slaughter, or as a fool to the correction of the stocks; till a dart strike through his liver; as a bird hasteth to the snare, and knoweth not that it is for his life.” To these, Wisdom calls out–“Hearken unto me now therefore, O ye children, and attend to the words of my mouth.“ – Proverbs 7:22-24
There has come to be such a very high value placed on what is falsely termed revelation when in fact it is nothing more than the product of a nimble, quick mind that some are quick to follow, but it is the voice of the stranger. Reason has replaced revelation in many quarters. “If this means this, then that must mean that.” It is just as a former mentor once said to me, “The Bible is like a nose of clay. It can be molded to fit any man’s face.” What he meant was that men could with cunning craftiness make the Bible to say whatever they wanted it to say in order to put forward their pet doctrines and their own personal agendas. It is so. In fact, the man who was teaching these things admitted to me that, “Yes, the Bible can be made to say anything one wants it to say.” Except for the faithful Holy Spirit, we might all go astray. Hymanaeus and Philetus erred from the truth. (II Timothy 2:18)
I want to address some of the assertions this teaching makes and address them in the hope that some who are considering this teaching may be helped.
1. Assertion: The Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost are all one and the same. That is, Jesus is the Father and the Spirit.
Result: Jesus is His own Father and Son – He begot Himself!
Truth: There are three which bear record in heaven, not one, and these three are one and this one is three.(I John 5:7) Elohim means plural, so we know that while there are not three persons, there are more than one in number. Also, it was said, “Let us make man in our likeness and image.” It is good to keep in mind that when the Scripture says, “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord.“ – Deuteronomy 6:4, this unity of oneness is to be understood as in harmony rather than in number. There are those in the body who believe the Godhead consists of one, there are those who believe that the Godhead consists of two and there are those, like myself who believe the Godhead consists of three and that these three are, as the Scripture states, one. That oneness is unchanging, eternal and absolute.
2. Assertion: Neither Paul nor the other apostles had this revelation.
Result: If Paul and the other apostles did not teach a thing, then we are left without any testimony or witness as to its truth. It leaves us adrift with no other authority than the man teaching it.
Truth: Paul said, by the inspiration of the Spirit, that the mystery of Christ had been given to him. Not a part of it. “For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles, if ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you ward: how that by revelation He made known unto me the mystery:” – Ephesians 3:1-3. Paul continues that verse with these words (as to the other apostles) “(The mystery) Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men as it is now revealed unto His holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit.“ – Ephesians 3:5
The New Jerusalem is built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ being the Cornerstone. “And (ye) are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief corner stone.“ – Ephesians 2:20 If Paul didn’t have this revelation, then he didn’t preach this gospel and he unquestionably cursed anyone teaching another gospel than what he taught. “I marvel that ye are so soon removed from Him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.” – Galatians 1:6-9 A double curse is pretty strong language – especially when we consider that it comes from a man speaking by the Holy Spirit!
3. Assertion: The idea of God and us is duality. There is only God.
Result: The conclusion is that we and God are the same. Thus, we are God and just don’t know it.
Truth: If I am God and just do not know it, doesn’t that mean that God is confused? If Adam was God and fell, doesn’t that mean that God fell? The mere thought is utterly absurd.
It is quite possible to be in plurality and yet maintain oneness, and it is possible to be in what is termed duality and still be one with God. Jesus was apparently in duality. “I am one that bear witness of myself, and the Father that sent me beareth witness of me.“ – John 8:18 In order to comply with the law that in the mouth of two or more witnesses every word is established, Jesus refers here to Himself as one and His Father as another. This is clearly what is termed by this teaching as duality. He later says that He and His Father were one. “I and my Father are one.“ – John 10:30
4. Assertion: There is no sin, no devil, no demons, no death and no sickness–there is only mistaken identity.
Result: Jesus was part of a great pretense when He died for the sins of the world when there was no sin, was tempted of the devil who did not exist, cast out demons that were not, pretended to die on the cross when there was no death, and healed the sick when there was no sickness.
Truth: “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.“ – I John 1:8 All these are very real and must and can be overcome in Christ. If there is no sin but only mistaken identity, then what was it which Jesus, the Lamb of God, took away; what was He made but sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Christ? He never told anyone who came to Him for healing that they were mistaken and not really sick – He healed them. Are we to believe that Jesus was caught in the trap of so-called mistaken identity when He was tempted of the devil? Or when He said, “The prince of this world cometh and findeth nothing in me.” It doesn’t sound as though He thought there was no devil.
If the Bible is to be believed, what did Jesus cast out of the demoniac man and others if there are in fact no demons? Are we to believe that He merely pretended to cast them out? Or that He merely cast out mistaken beliefs and left the man and all who read the account with the mistaken belief that He had indeed cast out devils?
5. Assertion: Jesus meant that His Father was merely bigger than He was, that there was simply more of Him when He said, “My Father is greater than I.” As a tea cup of ocean water could be said to be the ocean.
Result: It perpetuates and helps to support the belief that Jesus and the Father are one and the same. This seems to be the basis for the teaching that all things are One.
Truth: That the Father is other than Jesus even though they are One in eternal harmony and unity. The Father begot Jesus and subjects all things under Jesus who will Himself be subject to Him after delivering up the kingdom to Him.
6. Assertion: You have to imagine yourself conformed into His image.
Result: You become the author and finisher of the work of God. You need not that the Holy Spirit quicken the word to you in order for it to become reality. That is done by us with right thinking.
Truth: We are told to cast down imaginations – all of them; not create more of them. Until the Spirit quickens the truth to us, it is not a reality where we’re concerned and therefore conveys no life to us.
“Howbeit when He, the Spirit of Truth is come, He will guide you into all truth: for He shall not speak of Himself; but whatsoever He shall hear, that shall He speak: and He will show you things to come.“ – John 16:13 It is the Holy Spirit who is to lead us into all truth and not we ourselves with our imaginations and so-called right thinking. And that’s not all the Holy Spirit is to do. He is to reprove the world of sin–remember, this teaching says there is no such thing as sin. Are we to believe that the Spirit of Truth is involved in reproving the world of something that doesn’t even exist? “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.” – I John 1:8
7. Assertion: Adam did not pray to God or worship God. He didn’t have to. He was God. No wonder he named every beast that was brought before him. He had every right to name them – he had created them!
Results: Those who believe the lie that they are God tend to stop praying to God. They don’t need to pray anyway. After all, they are God!
Truth: Although we have no record of Adam ever praying or worshiping God, it might have helped to keep him from falling if he had. This I do know – Jesus, the last Adam both prayed and worshiped God and He was Emmanuel, God with us! This teaching obviously tends away from the worship of God for it sits in the temple of God (man’s own body) showing and declaring that man himself is God. If we can hear it, this is the unveiling of the mystery of iniquity, which has been developing side by side with the mystery of godliness.
It is clearly the Christianization of humanism, Hinduism and New-Age thought. Back in the sixties and seventies there was some concern that the New Age Movement might sneak in the back door. We needn’t have worried, it came boldly into the Church through the front door and has firmly ensconced itself behind the pulpit in the form of accepted truth. It has wriggled its way into some very creditable web-sites on the internet in order to gain credibility through their association with others on that web-site.
The teaching we have been alluding to here is but a Christianized version of Hinduism. I am indebted to Terry Crisp for the book he gave me with the following information. It is titled, The Compact Guide to World Religions and includes Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, Taoism, Judaism, Secularism, the New Age and other world faiths. Let me quote from it. “Most adherents of Hinduism believe they are in their true selves (atman) extended from and one with Brahman (God or reality). Just as the air inside an open jar is identical to the air surrounding that jar, so our essence is identical to that of the essence of Brahman or God. (What is inside the vessel, the jar, may indeed be identical with that which is without it, but the vessel, the jar, is not–LH) This is expressed through the phrase, Tat tvam asi, “That thou art,” (the Hindu equivalent of, “I am that I am.”–LH) Humanity’s primary problem, according to Hinduism, is that we are ignorant of our divine nature (sounds familiar, doesn’t it?). We have forgotten that we are extended from Brahman and that we have mistakenly attached ourselves to the desires of our separate selves, or egos, and thereby to the consequences of its actions. Because of the ego’s attachments to its desires and individualistic existence (duality), we have become subject to the law of karma (the Hindu version of the fallen state of man). The law of karma is the moral equivalent of the natural law of cause and effect. In essence, it says that we reap what we sow. The solution in Hinduism is to be liberated (delivered) from the wheel of life, death and rebirth. Such liberation (deliverance) is attained through realizing that the concept of the individual self (duality) is an illusion and that only the undifferentiated oneness of Brahman (God) is real.” End quote, pages 89 & 90.
I find it quite amazing that those teaching the “I am God” message never seem to be at all bothered by the fact that they are teaching the identical message that New Age trance channelers teach: “There is no death, man is God, and knowledge of one’s true inner divinity brings salvation and power.” – ‘Straight Answers on the New Age’ by Bob Larson, page 108.
It is true that we are made partakers of His divine nature, but nothing I have read in the Bible leads one to believe that man either is God or that he ever will be God. The idea seems to go one better than the original “Ye shall be as gods” lie from the serpent in the garden.
My dad used to make a concoction, which he used quite successfully as roach poison. He mixed white powdered sugar with white powdered boric acid. The sugar drew the roach, and the acid did what it was meant to do. You could not tell where the one ended and the other began. In order for error to be successful, it must be presented from within a framework of truth. Raw, rank error will not have much drawing power, but sprinkle it with a little truth and the results are quite amazing.
The question repeatedly arises, “Why does God allow these men to propagate such heresy?” Apart from the Biblical answer that Paul gave us (so that those who are approved among us might be made manifest), I was struck by the answer that Bill Mauger (pronounced Major) offered. He said, “There seems to be such a smorgasbord of things from which Christians may choose, for the simple reason that there are those with a taste for these things. There are those to whom these kinds of things appeal.” “...Because they received not the love of the truth. And for this reason (because they did not love the truth) God shall send them strong delusion, that they all might be condemned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.” –II Thessalonians 2:10, 11
J. Preston Eby says, “There is a simple, but sure test by which one may discern whether anything pertains to the Kingdom of God or is of “this world.” The truth is that all that belongs to the Kingdom of God originates in and proceeds from the Spirit of God. Every thought, word, deed, desire, action, activity, method, system, movement or institution which originates in and springs from the life of the Spirit of God and is an expression of the Kingdom of God . Conversely, all that is of this world originates in and proceeds forth from the carnal mind, which mind is under the dominion of the ruler of this world.” End of Quote
I fully believe what he has to say here and I believe it will work where true or false teaching is concerned. Does it have the spirit of Christ about it? If it does not, then it is not of Christ. Does it exalt and glorify Christ Jesus or man? If it does not exalt Christ Jesus, then it does not exalt or glorify God. If it exalts man, then it comes from him who sits in the temple of God showing himself to be God. Anti-Christ!
“One of the main objects of the Holy Spirit is to get believers really identified with Christ as the risen and exalted Lord, and to make His risen life real in their experience. As the age moves toward its consummation -the manifestation of Christ – two features will become increasingly evident. On the one hand things, men movements, institutions, organizations, etc., will predominate and draw multitudes after them, and will attach the crowds to themselves. On the other hand, with a growing disappointment and disillusionment over these, a minority will turn to the Lord Himself to find Him alone as their life.
“Three elements will inhere in all this. One is the unmistakable development of the principle of Anti-Christ; that which will definitely supplant Christ, or intend to do so. The second is the alternative to the whole Christ in man-made Christianity, an imitation life born and carried on by its own momentum. The third, a deep and genuine quest for reality, truth, and inward knowledge of the Lord Himself. In the first case it will be the naked worship of man in human power: a tremendous overflow of humanism, the wonder and glory of man. The third will be Christ altogether as the life.
“If the Christian is attached to some thing, such as a teaching, a tradition, an institution, a movement, or person, the end will certainly be limitation of life and eventually confusion and disappointment, perhaps worse. The New Testament makes it unmistakably clear and emphatic that the destiny of all is to be “Christ all and in all.” We must learn that a true work of the Spirit of God is to attach everything to Christ Himself. He, Christ, must be the life of our spirit, the “inner man,” so that we are strong in the Lord: not in ourselves, nor in others, nor in things. We shall have to survive adversity by His strength within alone.
“Christ will have to be the life of our mind. Perplexity will find us without the power to explain and understand, but the Spirit will teach and lead.
“Christ will need to be life for our bodies. There is such a thing as Divine life for the physical body. Not always does the Lord choose to heal the body, but He does always want to be its life, even in suffering, to fulfill His purpose.
“It is the Lord Himself, and for this to be so, it often has to be against the background of natural inability. The power of His resurrection is the law of union with Christ from beginning to end. Days of terrific pressure are upon the Lord’s people. Their enemy is taking very little off-time. The only sufficiency is in the Lord Himself as our life.
“Barnabas exhorted the believers at the beginning that “with purpose of heart they should cleave unto the Lord.“ (Acts 11:23) There is an utterness about this that will be pressed upon us until the time “when Christ, who is our life, shall be manifested.” T. Austin-Sparks A prophetic word if there ever was one.
My dear brethren, when someone teaches that we have simply to imagine ourselves perfect in Him and we are – they are teaching that all the processing you have endured under the hand and grace of God is, in effect, of no consequence. They declare the deaths of the millions of martyrs who gave their lives up rather than deny the teachings of Christ or His apostles to be of no value. If Paul, who supposedly had not the revelation these teachers claim today, yet had so much revelation concerning the mystery of Christ that He must endure a thorn in the flesh, then where is the thorn of these modern-day authorities?
There are those who have told me that I should not address such a topic as I here have addressed. They say that it is not in good taste and that I may find myself preaching against something rather than declaring Christ, but I simply cannot justify seeing such an audacious incursion of the enemy without alerting those who may not be aware of it. He who called me and separated me to the ministry has said, “Lift up thy voice like a trumpet and cause my people to hear and to know the truth concerning this matter.”
MYSTERY OF INQUITY, THE [Larry Hodges] 1