Can Christ-worshipers turn into demon-worshipers? John Piper answers

Cross for the Nations 2020
Cross for the Nations 2020

Notable theologian John Piper recently tackled how professing Christians can fall into “demonic worship” and leave the Church, especially as the End Times draw closer.  

On an episode of “Ask Pastor John” on Desiring God, a listener inquired about 1 Timothy 4:1, which says some “will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons.”

“This seems like a very stark transition for once-professing believers. What does this look like? Can it really mean Christ-worshipers become blatant demon-worshipers? Or is this move far more subtle? Can you explain to me what’s happening in this text?” the listener asked.

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Piper began by stressing that “no genuinely called and justified Christian ever falls away into demon worship — not permanently, anyway." He said the question pertained to people “who've been in the church for years and are outwardly identifying as Christian and yet are not truly born again” and end up being “swept away into the teaching of demons."

Piper added that people who attend church services can be influenced by deceitful spirits, and these can lead to “cultic practices” and false teaching. This, he said, will get worse in the End Times.

“The danger of seduction by deceitful spirits and teachings of demons is always present throughout this fallen age, from the time of Jesus till Jesus comes back,” he said. “They’re always there. But there will be a greater temptation as the end of the age approaches and the Lord draws near.”

For scriptural backing, Piper cited a couple of Bible passages, including Matthew 24:12–13, in which Jesus said, “Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.”

“In other words, the mystery of lawlessness will have a huge impact on nominal Christians, whose love for Christ is shallow and unreal. They will grow cold. Their resistance to the deception of demons will give way and they will not endure to the end,” Piper said.

Piper noted that this falling away of nominal Christians from the Church could come either “gradually” or “suddenly,” but added that if Christians “remain in the grace of God and treasure Christ above all, we will be kept.”

Piper’s focus on the falling away of Christians to demonic ideas comes not long after the release of author and radio host Michael Brown’s latest book, Why So Many Christians Have Left the Faith, which examined why so many American churches are in decline.

In an interview with The Christian Post last month about his book, Brown said Christians leaving the faith en masse is “something that's going on that had to be addressed” and said it was based on multiple factors.

“When I talk to different people who are on the front lines of answering questions that strugglers have, and others who are doing youth ministry, each one will tell me something different,” Brown explained.

One factor that Brown considered a notable one was “the effects of a compromised Gospel,” adding that “our failure to preach a clear call to discipleship and a clear message of the cross for a whole generation has produced a lot of Christians who really aren't Christians at all.”

“They heard a form of the Gospel, which is kind of a positive life coach approach, but haven't really been transformed,” he said.

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