BEHOLD THE BEAST
MAN OF SIN REVEALED
Some time back I may have been introduced to "that man of sin" twice within just a few days. The first instance was in an email sent to a Christian elder brother, in which it became apparent that an articulate and intelligent Christian with a heart for the Lord, was suffering from multiple personality disorder. Between one email and the next the writer flipped, having been replaced by an evil alternate speaking on behalf of that person. The alter was inarticulate as opposed to the original writer being very articulate, and wrote with an accent as opposed to no accent of the former, yet both were sent from the same email address. This alter also proclaimed that it was "too late" to save that person because "we" (the multiple alternate community) had "won".
The second instance I witnessed may have been an even more direct manifestation of these verses from 2 Thessalonians. I would like to preface by saying that I believe in the gifts of the Spirit including speaking in tongues as relevant in the body of Christ today, within the proper context and purpose. Even the Roman Catholic Church agrees.
Not long ago I was invited to a Pentecostal church by a person in an internet forum, because I thought I wanted to "learn" how to talk in tongues. The poster recommended a local church that was led by a friend of his with whom he was well familiar, and claimed he had even gone on a foreign mission with, at which he claimed their organization had brought thousands of Muslims to Jesus (though as time went on I increasingly recognized his penchant for storytelling).
I went for a pre-church adult bible study, as well as the regular service that followed, in which kids were also included. The church was attended by perhaps only 25 or 30 persons, however I had an opportunity to see them run pretty much the whole gamut of their beliefs, including the pastor's review of their doctrinal constructs.
The themes of the first service bible study were baptism in the name of Jesus and the subject of the "proof" of salvation being speaking in tongues. All Pentecostal churches don't hold that this is necessary proof, but this one did, like the Assembly of God who purports: "The first physical sign of the infilling of the Spirit is speaking in tongues." As the church service began we all held hands in a winding serpentine line, and right out of the gate were mutterings in tongues all around (which didn't sound like an actual language), with muttered translations by the same individuals following their own tongues. It was quiet and pretty hard to hear, but from what I heard, the tongues translated into blessings on the studies and folks there and such, so I remained open to this, my first experience hearing tongues spoken in person.
Next I had an opportunity to see how verses are proof texted into reinforcing their baptism and tongues being "proof of the spirit" doctrine. This study may have been directed toward me because the pastor had prior knowledge of my attendance, from his internet friend that sent me there, and so he may have wanted to impress me with the necessities of salvation as their doctrine dictates. He also included emphasis on his "authority", because of his having been called, and then ordained.
Between the first and second service there was some time and so there was a bit of fellowship, hand-holding, and a few muttering in tongues and such, and then the next service began. Even though the sanctuary was a small concrete block building (maybe 30x30), the pastor used a microphone turned up quite loudly for both services, perhaps to increase the emotional response. The gal in charge of music periodically helped whip things up as well on her electric piano in conjunction with a small band.
The theme of the second service sermon was about how we're a good witness when we appear as though we are happy to others. As the service progressed there was more hand holding and muttering and we were standing in prayer. I was in prayer with my head bowed and eyes closed and in the background it sounded like the pastor was doing an alter call for unsaved folks to come forward, but when I opnened my eyes I found that the whole church had gone forward, so I did as well. The pastor, and another that I took to be an elder, put their hand on each person's head and said a brief prayer, and the simultaneous muttering in tongues increased while the church was agitated into quite a state of commotion, and as I remember the electric piano may have been going too.
Next, someone who they said was attending for his second time, stuck his arms out in front like he was sleepwalking and started vibrating unnaturally, and spoke in "tongues" for maybe 10 minutes to the church's glee. While I was looking on somewhat amazed, I noticed an increasingly loud background noise rising, and when I looked toward the source of the commotion I saw a tall, early middle-aged man, standing with his hands on his stomach. He would let out a simultaneously shrill and gutteral shriek, as he bent 90 degrees at the waist, and lingered in that position as his head rolled on his shoulders and his eyes rolled in their sockets, while drooling profusely, then he would straighten up, still with his hands on his stomach, and repeat the process. This went on over and over and over again at great length.
The rest of the church was so nonplused, it would have seemed like I was the only one who even noticed, except for the kids whose eyes were the size of saucepans including one that appeared to be this poor fellow's little boy. Though not having had the benefit of a mirror I wonder if perhaps my eyes didn't look the same!
Now this may be taking a leap at presumption, but since neither the pastor, nor anyone else, made an effort to deliver this poor fellow from what appeared to be an unclean spirit or perhaps even a demon, I was left with little choice - particularly based on the rest of what I saw - than to conclude that they must have believed this to have been a manifestation of the Holy Spirit.
Throughout the service the pastor's 'display our joy' theme had him repeatedly do a spastic looking arms flailing around in the air over his head, and rubber legs kick with a partial spin routine, with occasional utterances throughout of a word or two in tongues. Then in what was to be the crescendo, the pastor, in trying to emphasize the joy that we can find in the Holy Spirit and how we can manifest it outwardly, became increasingly agitated on the small stage. He then jumped up on, and stepped across, what looked like a table clothed card table, jumped down, ran through the band instruments, making a loop back around to the front of the stage and then back up onto the stage. He then announced something to the effect 'we can show even more jubulation by doing something like …' as he turned and dashed straight at the concrete block wall behind the stage whereupon he jumped up and threw the front of his torso against the wall, in the fashion that two football players might do after one gets a touchdown. Turning back toward the congregation and appearing somewhat stunned (I was gussing he nailed the wall with either his chin or forehead and was on the verge of being knocked out), he then eased the service back down into a theme of the obligation of "tithing", with each person (except me) going forward in turn and placing their offering in a basket up front. The congregation consisted mainly of poor black people, with a suited white rednecky looking guy as pastor.
I believe that most, or perhaps all, of the people in that little community center building were likely regenerate Christians. The theme of Jesus, Jesus, Jesus was the most resounding. But the way it appeared to me is, that this church is a run-away train without an engineer, and here is why. Throughout all of the muttering in tongues, including the new indoctrinee who was vibrating and mumbling a tongue, and particularly the exhibition of the man shreiking and bending alternately, head wagging and drooling (without whom, my conclusions may have been a little more inconclusive), at not one time did I observe an attempt to "try the spirit" in anyone. It's possible that I missed it over the muttering, but it didn't appear to me that it was done even one time in either of the two services.
Here is how the scriptures weigh in on this:
1John 4:1 Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.
1John 4:2 Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God:
1John 4:3 And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that [spirit] of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.
The spirit must be asked to confess that Jesus Christ IS come in the flesh. An unclean spirit may obfuscate by saying something like "I am he", or that Jesus Christ did, or has, or was, come in the flesh. The IS is very important since unclean spirits, atheists, secular historians and Muslims, for example, will all readily admit that Jesus Christ DID come in the flesh. The historical record is simply too compelling to deny it.
Additionally, on the subject of tongues:
1 Corinthians 12:8 For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; 9 To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit; 10 To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another [divers] kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues: 11 But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will.
17 If the whole body [were] an eye, where [were] the hearing? If the whole [were] hearing, where [were] the smelling?
1Cr 14:22 Wherefore tongues are for a sign, not to them that believe, but to them that believe not: but prophesying [serveth] not for them that believe not, but for them which believe.
1Cr 14:6 Now, brethren, if I come unto you speaking with tongues, what shall I profit you, except I shall speak to you either by revelation, or by knowledge, or by prophesying, or by doctrine?
As the sermon went on to detail what the pastor believes is required for salvation, and as the man shrieked and the other vibrated in a trance, and the pastor threw himself against the wall, the following verse kept nagging me:
Micah 6:8 He hath shewed thee, O man, what [is] good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?
So can the "man of sin" sitteth in the "temple of God" - the corporate body of Christ - and even in a regenerate individual's body? In just a few days it would seem I was witness to two very significant and specific manifestations of it.
If you would like a view deeper into the spirit world, Ellis Skolfield spent over 8,000 hours hosting an internet chat forum, in which he helped folks suffering from MPD (DID) recover their monominds through the power of the Holy Spirit. This book moved me more deeply than anything I have ever read, and it's free. Shining Man With Hurt Hands (PDF):