Do you have words that you just don’t like? I’m not talking about swear words here; I mean ordinary words that you simply don’t like to use and you may not even know why? For instance, I despise the word phlegm. I do an inner shudder when I hear it, I don’t say the word, and I would probably never use it in a blog title. I also don’t like the word waft. My best friend hates the word moist. Think about it: you probably have some.
But I’ve been doing some research on a particular religion and for some reason the only word I could conjure up to describe it is that nasty word up top. (Plus whenever I hear it, I always think it sounds like someone sneezing.) Gnosticism. Don’t let the big word scare you away- until about two weeks ago, I didn’t really have a clear idea on what Gnosticism was. I knew it wasn’t a good thing but that’s about it. I went through some training a few weeks ago and I was a little shocked at how prevalent this viewpoint really is. I’ll be honest and say that most of what you are going to hear from this point on will be from that training and my research after it.
In short, clear terms, Gnosticism is a belief system that centers around man. It believes in an inner light or divine spark in every person. It places a huge value on feelings and experience and believes that a person can experience God outside of the Bible. Gnostics aren’t big on authority or institutions such as the church because they have a more subjective view of morals and revelation. Gnostics tend to be very spiritual and sometimes almost mystic.
So if none of that makes any sense to you, let me give you ways that this plays out in real life:
-Personal, special revelation has replaced God’s Word
-Morals are subjective- I get to decide what’s right for me, you can decide for you
-Experience trumps Scripture- what you feel is true and right, doesn’t matter what anyone else says
-No absolute truth- you assign meaning to things (such as gender)
-God wants me to be happy- pull the verses you like out of Scripture
-Follow your heart, you have a light that is special and unique to only you
Does ANY of this sound familiar to you?? Because it certainly does to me. And the scary thing is that some of it sounds familiar because I’ve heard it from believers. People, that scares me. This stuff is wrong and it has infiltrated God’s church! It can be tricky to catch because a Gnostic can know all the right terms and use the same phrases as biblical believers but what I just wrote above is NOT the gospel. You cannot have the gospel apart from God’s Word (his WHOLE Word) and you cannot decide that you get to call the shots. That’s not how it works.
A verse from Hebrews 2 is popping into my head right now. (May I just add that all of Hebrews 1 talks about Christ being preeminent to all? We aren’t little gods running around. Just wanted to clear that up.) Hebrews 2:1 says:
“Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it.”
That’s highly applicable. How close are you, am I, paying attention to the Scriptures? Do we know it well enough so that when nuances are brought in from the outside we can quickly identify them as the false teachings that they are? I think we need to start paying “much closer attention.”
Otherwise you might get caught up in a gross, phlegmy, false religion.