By: Marvin Hicks
“Beloved, believe not every spirit” (I John 4:1).
At a very young age we learn the ways of the hypocrite. The spirit of this age is the spirit of the stage. A mother can immediately distinguish the difference between the sham cry of a child and the desperate plea for help and comfort. So the Lord of all hearts is fully aware of the differences in man’s praying. He knows the desperate plea of a struggling child of the Kingdom.
A special symptom of our day is the strong temptation for many to play God” A woman will knowingly and willfully marry a sinful man. She says, “My love will heal him! I will keep him away from the gamblers’ table I will make certain he is delivered from drunkenness! I will see to it that he is Pentecostal after I marry him!” Then comes the heartbreak. She suddenly finds that she is not God. There is no power in her to give new life to this downtrodden soul. She has no ability to effect a new birth in this sinner’s heart and spirit. This women made a mistake common to thousands all over the world. Caught up in the Spirit of the
Stage, she tried to “play God!” She attempted to build her own heaven…to save her own soul.
Oh what a text of warning breaks over the darkness! What assurance to know of Apostle John’s admonition to us: “Beloved, believe not every spirit!” Then he explains the reason for such a warning. “For many false
prophets (or religious actors) are gone out into the world.” We are now living in such desperate days.
With dazzling garment, Herod stood in the reflection of the morning sun. He gave the people an oration…a ringing speech that sounded all the way across the stage of human glory. So profoundly were these multitudes affected, they screamed and cried aloud, “It is the voice of a god, and not of a man!” Herod did not say this of himself — but he permitted others to say it concerning him.
What Herod really needed was the reality possessed by Paul and Barnabas in the Lycaonian sector of Asia Minor. Here is the record: “When the people saw what Paul had done, they lifted up their voices, saying…
The gods are come down to us in the likeness of men!” If ever two men could have been tempted to “play God”, these Apostles could have been victims. However, the sacred record says, “Which when the apostles,
Barnabas and Paul, heard of, they rent their clothes, and ran in among the people, crying out, “sirs, why do ye these things? We also are men of like passions with you, and preach unto you that ye should turn from
these vanities unto the living God…”
But Herod could not resist this temptation. His silent acceptance of human glory brought the wrath of God upon him. The temptation to “play God” on this fateful morning overwhelmed him: And, in taking such
adulation to himself, he committed the “Sin of Silence.” Herod could have immediately corrected their erroneous opinion; but, after all he was spellbound by a spirit…It was the Spirit of The Stage that cost
him his soul! Herod was eaten with worms…But the Word of God grew!” The reason for such a tragic and is plainly stated in the Book of God. It says, “He gave not God the glory.”
In this day of glitter and glamour, when the “do it yourself” fad has overflowed into religion, there is an increasing tendency to receive unto ourselves that which belongs ONLY TO GOD. The Lord has said, “My
glory will I not give to another.” Since God alone can look beneath the cover of a man’s soul, and since the “show must go on” by the persistent demands of gullible men, the temptation to play God is ever present! But long after the sham and pretense of religious actors have been exposed, long after their “show” has been cancelled by the stroke of doom and death, the Word of God will continue to grow and thrill and bless the human heart! “Beloved, believe not every spirit.”
Simon, who had bewitched the people of Samaria, “Giving out that he himself was some great one,” Brought that same spirit over into his relationship with the Apostles. Offering the Apostles money, he said,
“Give me also this power that on whomsoever I lay hands, he may receive the Holy Ghost.”
It seems that here was a man who wanted his own private show! He wanted to be the star. He could not go along with the flaming evangels, whose all-consuming desire was to live and die for God. No sir! He wanted to pull away and start his own entertainment feature. Caught in the swirl of the world, here is a man who acted his part with great precision. But God’s man speaks with authority. Peter said unto him, “Thy money perish with thee…thou hast neither part nor lot in this matter for thy heart is not right in the sight of God.”
Do not be misled in these days of signs and wonders. We must not, as God’s Pentecostal host, be caught in the tragic trend of assisting these religious actors in their task of setting the stage for the anti-christ. Man can not save within his own power. We cannot heal within our own limitations. Jesus Christ, and not a system, saves a soul. Jesus Christ, and not a religious actor, heals the suffering. Of course, this is not
to criticize those humble-hearted men of faith and power who, “believing their own advertising,” pray in their own name, and claim results out of the figment of their own imagination. We need something more than a beautiful religious presentation, something more than costly furnishing and social service, something more than an understanding of vitamins and calories. We need a Saviour who will save: a God who need not play God–for he is God!
It is impossible for this “Spirit of the Stage” to be a holy spirit. Once there was a time when a burdened minister could, with apparent and heavy anointing, preach the “Crucifixion,” until the audience felt the
throb of the victim’s pulse, and would kneel at the cross, as the “dripping blood” washed away every stain. But how is it today?
Because of the “Spirit of the Stage” that treats religious subjects with romantic splendor, the minds of men have been captivated and entertained by a colossal production, costing several million dollars. These have
seen a sinful actor move his crimson-covered head, begging forgiveness for those who fake his crucifixion. The sham cry from a hollow cross on a temporary hill in a Hollywood studio by a professional actor is a far
cry from the REAL Christ who shed REAL blood, in dying REAL death upon the REAL cross at a REAL Calvary!
Here is the tragedy. glamour prevails! The audience SLEEPS through the sermon and WEEPS through the play. Dear brethren we are no match for this evil spirit. In the theatre or on the television screen, we cannot
compete with such a sham production! Our only hope, then, is not in background music and stage acting — but in the power and demonstration of the Holy Ghost! This the world cannot fake! The Holy Ghost experience is about the only reality left available to the human heart today! Have you forsaken the theatre, with its sham and hypocrisy? Have you forsaken the television screen with its substitution for reality? Have you received the Holy Ghost since you believed?
These Spirit-filled ones are those who can still thrill to the reality of a Pentecostal meeting. These can tell the vast difference in a “star-studded choir,” singing for gain, and in the humble-hearted singers at the United Pentecostal Church, on Sunday night, singing number forty-nine!
There are those, as Ananias and Sapphira, who will hold back a portion, thinking their knowledge is the ultimate. Or like Saul who, above the lowing of the oxen and the bleating of the sheep, acted his part by
saying, “I have performed the commandment of the Lord!” But in each incident, and revelation of truth exposed the Spirit of the Stage.
So the “Spirit of the Stage” is of satanic origin. Satan’s proposition to Jesus in the desert went something like this? “If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down.” In other words, “Condescend to become a cheap
magician to entertain me with a show of strength.” Jesus rejected this temptation to play God because He was God. The presence of reality always obliterates the need for showmanship.
(The above material appeared in a July, 1975 issue of Gospel Tidings.)
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