Taking a Stand on Visions

Woe is me, for I am ruined! Because I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts.

–Isaiah 6:5

Some false teachers in the church at Colossae were mystics who promoted the worship of angels. The second component of mysticism in the church was visions. In Colossians 2:18, Paul said, “Let no one keep defrauding you of your prize by . . . taking his stand on visions he has seen, inflated without cause by his fleshly mind.” These mystics were depending on visions rather than the authority of God’s Word.

Even today, some Christians claim to receive visions about heaven or about God. People who rely on visions are often filled with pride–they are “inflated without cause,” as Paul wrote. But anybody who has truly seen a vision of God is not filled with pride but overcome with humility. When the prophet Isaiah saw a vision of God, he said, “Woe is me, for I am ruined! Because I am a man of unclean lips” (Isaiah 6:5). When the Lord appeared to an Israelite named Manoah, the man said to his wife, “We will surely die, for we have seen God” (Judges 13:22). A true vision from God is accompanied by humility.

If mystical visions don’t come from God, where do they come from? One possibility is Satan. In 2 Corinthians 11:14, Paul said, “Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.” Muhammad, the founder of Islam, and Joseph Smith, the founder of Mormonism, both claimed to receive revelation from angels. I believe they did see angels, but they were angels from Satan.

The second possibility is that these visions come from our own sinful minds. In Colossians 2:18, Paul said the person who relies on visions is “inflated without cause by his fleshly mind.” Sometimes the source of mystical visions is our pride. We want to think that we’re better than other Christians because we’ve been given special revelation.

Sometimes the source of mystical visions is a desire for power. Beware of religious leaders who say, “God gave me a vision, so you better do as I say.” I believe God leads all Christians, including pastors. But if a vision is from God, He’ll also put that vision into the hearts of other church leaders and members.

Sometimes the source of these visions is a desire for excitement. Do you know why people at an amusement park stand in line for hours for a three-minute ride? They crave excitement; they like the sensation of those ups and downs. In the same way, some people crave the spiritual goosebumps they get from a supernatural experience. That’s the source of many mystical visions–they don’t come from God but from the desires in our own fleshly minds.

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Today’s devotion is adapted from “Hating Religion and Loving Jesus” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2012.

Scripture quotations taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved. www.lockman.org.

 

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