Touch Not, Taste NotJohn Collins1/7/2013 8:47:00 AMIn Colossians 2, Paul gives warning and signs to look for that make it very easy to identify a false ministry such as the "Evening Light" doctrine we have been discussing. Paul's understanding of the mystery of God, a mystery hidden in Christ Jesus, stretched far into the future. His warnings that were accurate in his own time are still accurate today.
Paul said that in Christ, we find wisdom and knowledge, which he calls "treasures." He specifically mentions this wisdom and knowledge so that we use our better judgment rather than listen to emotional stories. Paul says, "I say this in order that no one may delude you with plausible arguments."
Paul warned that men would come with empty deceit to lure us captive. Taking the "Evening Light" ministry of William Branham, we find a direct correlation with his emotional stories of his childhood with this verse. Now proven to be fabricated, these stories had great appeal to the listener, but were invented stories with no purpose: empty deceit.
These that would rise, Paul said, would focus on the elemental spirits of the world, which is not according to Christ. Paul says that "In Him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, and you have been filled with Him who is the Head of all rule and authority."
We find the focal point for the healing aspect of William Branham's ministry to be the healing, and more specifically, the "angel on the platform." Branham claimed that he could do nothing unless the "angel" showed him, and that the angel with him performed the healing. Studying other false religions and the occult, we find their focus on the elemental spirits to be in common with Branham's teaching, and exactly what Paul was warning about.
If Christ dwelled within, the power would have came from Christ. There would be no need for an "angel."
Paul speaks against these men that would come with doctrines of asceticism. Our generation is not the first to have these doctrines, as they stem from other false religion. Asceticism describes a lifestyle characterized by abstinence from various worldly pleasures, often with the aim of pursuing religious and spiritual goals.
The Greek words Paul speak are "katabrabeueto thelon en tapeinophrosyne," translated to mean giving judgment against the things you desire in humility. Paul then gives examples of things the people enjoyed during his day, things that were associated with Pagan worship. Food that was offered to idols could be taken freely, because God was the Lord of all. Paul says not to judge what we drink; the same God that provided the drink for the Pagans provides it for us. Do not forbid to enjoy celebration during festivals that the Pagans celebrate, or the new moons or even Sabbaths because all of these things belong to Christ.
We find each topic Paul mentions directly relate to the doctrines of these "Evening Light" ministers, who insist on our forbidding the pleasures of the world. Though Christ declared that we are not to love the things of the world, He did not forbid us to partake, so long as it was done with moderation. Drinking is not forbidden in the Bible, yet drunkenness is. Eating is not forbidden in the Bible, yet gluttony is a sin.
Most "Evening Light" ministers are teetotalers, as were the Gnostics of Paul's time, as well as some other Pagan religions. Paul said not to allow others to judge us for what we eat or drink, yet these false teachers bring doctrines of asceticism that apply to our drink. Most will tell you that the celebration of Halloween is the celebration of the "devil's holiday," yet Paul says specifically not to allow someone to judge you for your partaking in celebration during festivals.
While the Mosaic Law was fulfilled in Christ and a New Covenant in effect, these false teachers also spread false doctrines regarding physical labor on Sunday. Though they ignore most of the Mosaic Law, they claim that this one portion of the Law is still in effect, and only obey a portion of that law regarding the Sabbaths. While sitting in a restaurant forcing others to do their physical labor for them, they are breaking the Law they try to uphold. Yet, Paul says we should not allow others to teach us doctrines that forbid our use of the Sabbath for our own humble purpose.
Next, Paul goes into further detail regarding the "elemental spirits." Paul says that we should not allow someone to disqualify us by going on in detail about their visions.
The root of most of the "Evening Light" followings is a false prophet. William Branham. Charles Taze Russell. Joseph Smith. John Alexander Dowie. The list could go on and on and on. In Branham's example, the story of each of his visions were told hundreds of times, over and over during most of his sermons. Those visions grew considerably in detail over time, with the story at the end quite different than the story that he started with. On and on, Branham went on in detail about his visions.
Paul says not to follow anyone whose worship includes worship of angels. We worship Christ, our Lord and Savior.
Like the other cult names mentioned, Branham's ministry is filled with not only the promotion of "his angel," but in lifting up angels while lowering Christ. Branham said that Michael, the archangel, was Jesus Christ. Because of this, he said that Jesus and Satan were equal at one time, essentially lowering Christ to raise up an angel. The "angel on the platform" spoke to Branham, not the Holy Spirit that should have been within him. Throughout his ministry, the worship of angels is very evident.
Paul says that these going on in detail about visions and promoting worship of angels were "puffed up without reason by a sensuous mind," and that they do not hold fast to their Head, which is Jesus Christ. Paul says that they separate themselves from the whole body that should be "nourished and knit together through all its joints and ligaments, growing with a growth that is from God."
We find that these "Evening Light" ministers teach separation from the rest of the body of Christ. Not only is it damaging to the follower, it is an injury to the Body of Christ.
Paul asked us, "If with Christ you died to the elemental spirits of the world, why, as if you were still alive in the world, do you submit to regulations?" We, as Christians, are given the power to discern for ourselves that which is right, and that which is wrong. We are instructed to put on the whole armor of God, rightly discerning the Word.
There is no mystery as to which elements of the Mosaic Law we are to uphold and which we are to ignore, as many of these false teachers preach. The Old Covenant, the one Paul called the "covenant of death," has been fulfilled. Our portion of that agreement was upheld when Christ lived a perfect life and died for our sins.
Paul said that these men, teaching these doctrines of asceticism and instructing us the way in which we should live, have an appearance of wisdom. Yet, Paul says that they are promoting a self-made religion. Paul says that they are promoting a separation to the Body of Christ.
Worse: Paul says that they are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh. Men can pass rules and regulations as they please, but only Christ can give us the strength to become more like Him.
As Christians, we should ask ourselves the same question that Paul asked: If with Christ you died to the elemental spirits of the world, why, as if you were still alive in the world, do you submit to regulations? Why do we allow false teachers and false prophets to go on in detail about rules and regulations without supporting scriptures to back them up? Why do we allow them to enforce portions of the Mosaic Law while they themselves break other portions? Why do we listen when they go on in detail about their visions? Or magnify their angels?
Do we worship the elemental spirits, or do we worship Christ?