In the 2004 movie, the Phantom of the Opera, a young girl with a beautiful voice (Christine) finds herself being cared for by an acquaintance of her father’s after her father’s and mother’s death. Also, she had a childhood sweetheart (Raoul), and they both had enjoyed hearing stories told by her father before his death. One story was of an “Angel of Music” that her father promised to send to her upon his death to watch over her, protect her, and train her voice.
Enter the phantom of the opera (Erik) – the disfigured murdering but brilliant sociopath that masquerades as the “Angel of Music.” In the dark hours of the night, he seduces Christine into thinking he is the one sent by her father to protect her; however, he desires to have her for himself. His idea of love is enslavement in prison in the depths of the opera house. This is not unconditional love – a love that seeks the best for the other person – but rather intimidation, manipulation, domination, and control that aims to satisfy his sociopathic disease. Furthermore, Christine is deceived into allowing herself to be taken to the dungeon lair by Erik, the Phantom of the Opera.
Yes, predators depend on the altruistic nature of the innocent. However, Raoul, who loves her with a love that seeks the best for Christine, his future bride, is willing to die to save her from the Phantom and succeeds in rescuing her, and they lived happily ever after. However, the Phantom continues to lurk in the background.
Similarly, the fallen angel Lucifer (Satan) (1) masquerades as an “Angel of Light” (2 Corinthians 11:14) who through the ages has victimized many with his seductive tales and empty promises of a better life (1 Peter 5:8. John 10:10). Starting with Eve and then Adam (1), he deceived the human race into rejecting the God that loved them, thus condemning the human race to the cruel antics of this murdering yet brilliant creature with the traits of a psychopath (John 8:44. Proverbs 12:10). Hence I referred to Satan as the Phantom of the Ages! Nevertheless, Jesus, our true lover, came and rescued us from our inevitable fate of eternal torture and suffering in the “dungeons” of Hell by taking our place (1), paying our penalty for sin, and then coming back to life (1) (John 3:16-18).
With this framing or perspective, we enter into the time of the first Christian church at Corinth. Corinth (1) was a port city in Greece full of the vices that typically are found in port cities. It also contained the temple of Aphrodite, the goddess of love, with 1,000 cult prostitutes. The city was so full of wickedness that the expression “corinthianize” was used to describe the effects of immorality, and the term “Corinthian girl” was synonymous with a prostitute. In this setting, people actively worshiped idols that converted to Christianity and they formed the Corinth church.
Furthermore, realize worshipping idols is worshipping and fellowshipping with Satan’s spiritual pawns or minions called demons (Leviticus 17:7. Deuteronomy 32:17. Psalms 106:36,37. 1 Corinthians 10:20,21).
Consequently, these people were accustomed to being deceived by demons, and that behavior had to be unlearned now that they were Christians. The risk was that in their desire to listen to and follow the Holy Spirit’s leading, they may be deceived into following their former unholy spirits’ offers of counterfeit Holy Spirit things. The manifestation of counterfeit gifts by immature Christians at Corinth was the main issue and not carnal Christians operating in the true gifts of the Holy Spirit.
Realize that Satan aggressively markets both the opposite of the truth (e.g., atheism, agnosticism, Satan worship) and a cornucopian spectrum of counterfeits (2 Corinthians 4:4). These counterfeits range from the direct worship of other gods or deities to some of the more sinister Christian knock-offs (i.e., look-alike or cults). For example, LDS appears to worship the Christian Jesus and center on His death on the cross. However, if you go deeper into their theology (unfortunately, this information is not readily available to those first joining this church), you will find that their “Jesus” does not meet the requirements (1) to save us from our sin. That is, He is not God, the creator that became a man and bore our sin by the shedding of His blood but rather a brother of Satan! (2 Corinthians 11:3,4) Furthermore, their salvation is based on performance (Colossians 2:8) and not grace received by faith (Ephesians 2:8,9. Galatians 1:6-9. 1 Timothy 4:1). Jehovah’s Witnesses is another cult in this “knock-off” category, as is Islam, and even Judaism, all of which, including the aforementioned LDS, make Jesus Christ the Son less than God (1 John 2:23. 1 John 5:1. 2 John 1:9. John 15:23. Colossians 2:9. 1 Timothy 3:16).
We must know that any teaching which makes Jesus Christ the Son anything less than God is false teaching. In His resurrected body, Jesus appeared to Apostle John on the Isle of Patmos and declared to Him: (3)
“Do not be afraid! I am the first and the last, and the one who lives! I was dead, but look, now I am alive—forever and ever—and I hold the keys of death and of Hades! Revelation 1:17 a; 1:8
Christ was in eternity before He came to earth to become Jesus the Man. (3)
I came from the Father and entered into the world, but in turn, I am leaving the world and going back to the Father.” (John 16:28 NET)
And now, Father, glorify me at your side with the glory I had with you before the world was created. (John 17:5 NET)
Another type of counterfeit involves Christian churches that identify with the true Jesus; however, they allow compromising God’s Word to occur. That is, they are a “Bible informed” church juxtaposed to a “Bible-based” church. For example, the Bible is very clear that all sinners are loved by God (Romans 5:8); however, the lifestyle of homosexuality is condemned as a sin (1 Corinthians 6:9. 1 Timothy 1:9,10. Romans 1:18-32). Therefore, in a “Bible-based” church, the homosexual would be unconditionally loved (1) and not condemned, but the sin of homosexuality would not be condoned (1). (John 8:10,11) That is loving the sinner but hate the sin! (Jude 1:22,23)
In a “Bible informed” church, they might say that they know what the Bible says about homosexuality. However, they claim the Holy Spirit updated that homosexuality is now acceptable (Jude 1:17-19. 2 Corinthians 11:13. 2 Peter 2:1,2). Well, the Holy Spirit authored the Bible through men (2 Peter 1:20,21) and does not change (Malachi 3:6. Hebrews 13:8). What we have here is someone, and perhaps a sincere person, confused and deceived by a counterfeit spirit telling them what they want to hear (2 Timothy 4:3,4).
Consequently, the Apostle Paul wrote the epistle (i.e., letter) to the church in Corinth to teach them the genuine spiritual things (including but not just limited to spiritual gifts – 1 Corinthians 12:1,2 [see NET note 1 by left-clicking “Read More”]) of God so they would recognize the counterfeit demonic spiritual things of that ancient phantom masquerading as an “Angel of Light” Satan (2 Corinthians 11:14. Acts 8:9-24).
Federal agents don’t learn to spot counterfeit money by studying the counterfeits. They study genuine bills until they master the look of the real thing. Then when they see bogus money they recognize it.(4)
By the Holy Spirit’s guidance (2 Timothy 3:16), Paul started this teaching on spiritual things by giving them a test or indicator of the source of the spiritual (1 Corinthians 12:3). This test was later supplemented by the Apostle John (1 John 4:2,3). He then discusses the division of labor amongst the three in one God (1) that we serve (1 Corinthians 12:4-6).
Paul then introduces the “ministry” gifts of the Holy Spirit by stating that they are given to Christians to profit everywhere and everyone (1 Corinthians 12:7). Consequently, we are not to be afraid of them or allow our gifts to puff us up with pride (1 Corinthians 8:1). Interestingly, there are two extremes seen in the Christian church today. Some in the Christian church are so afraid of being deceived by a counterfeit gift that they ignore them or teach that they are no longer for the church today (Matthew 25:24-29. 2 Timothy 3:5. 2 Peter 3:16).
On the other hand, some Christian churches have not learned to discern the genuine; therefore, they have unintentionally practiced a counterfeit gift(s) in their eagerness (2 Corinthians 11:3). Sadly, some practice the counterfeit intentionally (Matthew 24:24). Nevertheless, we are directed to DESIRE spiritual things but instructed to SEEK to develop the character of Christ, which includes the fruit of the Spirit (1), so that we will not be deceived (1 Corinthians 12:31.1 Corinthians 14:1.Philippians 1:9-11).
Paul then lists the ministry gifts of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:8-10). I categorize them as follows:
Three to help them BELIEVE (by what we say):
Word of Wisdom – a simple definition of wisdom is the ability to use knowledge. Many have heard of the engineer that can design a door but cannot open it! (Realize I am an engineer, so no offense intended to my fellow engineers) The point is we may have a lot of knowledge but still not know what to do. When the Holy Spirit activates the Word of Wisdom gift, it is as if the “so simple a child could do it” solution “drops” into your mind (i.e., the light bulb turns on!). What a joy to have this breakthrough for what seemed an impossible situation. Think of the belief stirred when God gives you the solution for someone that is facing an utterly hopeless situation. Recall that Jesus performed ministry while on Earth, NOT in His ability as God but rather in the Holy Spirit’s power (1). Therefore, I have included an example of this gift in operation from the ministry of Jesus while on Earth (Matthew 17:27).
Word of Knowledge – This gift provides you with information that you had no other way of knowing. Suddenly you know the name of someone you have seen for the first time, or you know they have suffered some trauma. This is not a party trick but rather helps others open up or “take off the mask” that likely was causing them to not believe in God or believe that He loves and cares for them. Example from the ministry of Jesus while on Earth (Matthew 17:24,25).
Faith – This gift allows the one ministering on behalf of another to go beyond their present level of faith. For example, a disheartened pastor mentions that some child’s foot was caught in a riding lawnmower while the Dad was driving them around. He relates the doctors do not think the lower leg can be saved. Suddenly, it is as if someone opens a valve in the back of your head and all doubt drains out! You find roaring out of your mouth, like a lion, that the child will not lose the leg or the function! The pastor gets it, the parents receive it, and God brings it to pass! Glory to God! Example from the ministry of Jesus while on Earth (John 11:23).
Three to help them RECEIVE (by what we do):
Gifts of Healings – This gift overcomes the obstacles a person might have in receiving from God and starts and/or accelerates the healing process. For example, a sick person believes that God is willing to heal them from some disease, but they are so worn down or have so much emotional baggage that they cannot receive from God. Note the word gifts is plural, meaning that the one ministering the gift, similar to specialists in the medical profession, may have a more effectual gift when dealing with certain sicknesses but not others. Also, the healing may vary from instantaneous to progressive (i.e., taking some period of time but typically twice faster than normal Isaiah 61:7). Example from the ministry of Jesus while on Earth (Matthew 8:16,17. Isaiah 53:5. 1 Peter 2:24).
Working of Miracles – Where a person with a disease needs healing, a person with a physical defect or damage to their body needs a miracle. Realize, prayer efficiency can be enhanced if we ask for what we need precisely. Healing is not what a person with a broken leg needs but rather a miracle to mend it. However, healing may be required for any infection that might have occurred. I have nothing against the medical profession (1) as I utilize them, and I have children who work in this field. However, we must always turn to God first, then man for our needs (2 Chronicles 16:12,13). Even pain relievers should be prayed over (similar to blessing our food) before being taken (1 Timothy 4:3,4). In fact, God may send you to a doctor and/or have medicine prescribed for you. The point is where is your treasure – in man or God (Jeremiah 17:5. Luke 12:34). Note that it is a “working” of a miracle, meaning that the receiver is typically required. For example, the man that was blind received a miracle of functioning eyesight after washing in the Pool of Siloam (John 9:1-7), which was a fairly long way from the temple. Note that a miracle to restore the seeing system damaged since he was born was needed and not just to heal a disease impairing his vision. Example from the ministry of Jesus while on Earth (Luke 17:12-14).
Prophecy – This gift is more about speaking a message fresh from God that testifies about Jesus than foretelling the future (Revelation 19:10 b). Utilizing this gift, the Holy Spirit may choose to speak a message that edifies, exhorts, and comforts a person about how, when, and where they might receive what they need, etc. (1 Corinthians 14:3). It can also be spoken and applied to a group of people—an example from the ministry of Jesus while on Earth (Mathew 5:1-12).
Three to keep them from being DECEIVED (by what we know):
Discerning of spirits – This gift allows sensing the spiritual realm. It could be that you are allowed to see God’s angels or Satan’s fallen angels and/or demons. This allows you to know what demonic infiltration a person might have; thus, the church is alerted to not be deceived. It also will allow you to minister salvation, healing, or deliverance precisely as Satan routinely hides the root of an issue and will have a decoy to keep you ineffective. For example, a person has chronic migraines symptoms, but the source of the issue is sex with their spouse before marriage. Cleverly, the migraine headaches did not start until shortly after the wedding, which was a long enough time that the connection to the sinful sex is not suspected. Furthermore, this gift is not about constantly “discerning” something critical about others! Example from the ministry of Jesus while on Earth (Mark 9:25).
Kinds of Tongues – When speaking with our minds, we have the ability to insert our paradigms into the discourse, thus altering the message and deceiving others and ourselves. Even in prophesy, this can be an issue as you might choose to not say something because of how the audience might react (1 Corinthians 14:32). However, this issue is circumvented when speaking from your spirit in a language you do not know with your mind. However, the message does others no good (1 Corinthians 14) unless it is interpreted by God through others or directly to the person (Acts 2:4-6). No matter what you believe about tongues, respect and obey the Bible’s mandate not to forbid speaking in tongues (1 Corinthians 14:39). Yes, and even carnal Christians know two verses – drink a little wine (1 Timothy 5:23) and do not speak in tongues unless you have an interpreter (1 Corinthians 14:28). To which I agree with 1 Corinthians 14:20. Example from the ministry of Jesus while on Earth (John 11:33,38 (2). Romans 8:26).
Interpretation of Tongues – Interpretation of discourse in tongues is not typically given to a person all at once. This is done so that faith is required for you to declare that God will use you for the interpretation. Typically, you have only the first few words and no more until you start speaking, and then the rest is revealed as the opening of a scroll – line upon line (Isaiah 28:10,11). Consequently, there is no time to insert your opinion, and if you stop without saying something, it will be obvious to all. Furthermore, this is an interpretation and not a translation of the tongue spoken, meaning there is not necessarily the same number of words in the translation as the original tongue. Example from the ministry of Jesus while on Earth (John 11:41-43).
- When a WORD of WISDOM is given to someone letting them know that Abba has provided the solution to a complex problem in the future it results in them feeling the LOVE of God their Father.
- When someone is given a WORD OF KNOWLEDGE about a problem in the present it results in them feeling JOY which is their strength! (Nehemiah 8:10)
- When someone exercises the gift of FAITH in a stressful situation, the result is a feeling of PEACE that passes all understanding. (Philippians 4:7)
- When GIFTS OF HEALINGS are given, PATIENCE is exercised as the healing starts then but is often progressive healing by degrees.
- When WORKING OF MIRACLES is given, it provides instantaneous deliverance from a malady or stronghold; then the KINDNESS of God is felt (Oh, what a Savior! I am tearing up remembering mine!).
- When PROPHECY is given, then the GOODNESS of God’s Word is felt (It makes you feel so pure and clean!).
- When DISCERNMENT OF SPIRITS is given, the FAITHFULNESS of God’s provision and protection is felt as He alerts you to a hidden enemy or a stalwart protective angel. (1)
- When KINDS OF TONGUES are given, then the GENTLENESS of God is felt (a great test for the false tongues through you or others… does it feel gentle or harsh?).
- When INTERPRETATION OF TONGUES is given, this requires SELF-CONTROL to trust God, overcome the fear of rejection, say what He is putting in your spiritual heart, and then not to add to the message.
Discipleship for Ministering Christians
- Jesus did not “Go Native” while on His Earthly Mission… What about you and me?
- Would the Real Jesus Please be Lifted Up!
- The Phantom of the Ages
(Security, Wholeness, Success)
Dear friend, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, just as it is well with your soul. (3 John 1:2 NET)
(1) Select the link to open another article in a new tab with additional information.
- YLT John 11:33 Jesus, therefore, when he saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her weeping, did groan in the spirit, and troubled himself, and he said, 38 Jesus, therefore, again groaning in himself, cometh to the tomb, and it was a cave, and a stone was lying upon it,
- KJV John 11:33 When Jesus, therefore, saw her weeping, and the Jews also weeping which came with her, he groaned in the spirit, and was troubled, 38 Jesus therefore again groaning in himself cometh to the grave. It was a cave, and a stone lay upon it.
- NKJ John 11:33 Therefore, when Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her weeping, He groaned in the spirit and was troubled. 38 Then Jesus, again groaning in Himself, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone lay against it.
- LTHOLYBIBLE John 11:33 Then when He saw her weeping, and the Jews who came down with her weeping, Jesus groaned in the spirit and troubled Himself. 38 Then groaning again within Himself, Jesus came to the tomb. And it was a cave, and a stone was lying on it.
(3) Hamon, B. (2014). How Can These Things Be?: A Preacher and a Miracle Worker but Denied Heaven! (p. 8). Shippensburg, PA: Destiny Image® Publishers, Inc.
(4) MacArthur, J. (1994). Reckless faith: when the church loses its will to discern (p. 79). Crossway Books.