What Does 1 Corinthians 2:14 Teach about What Unbelievers Cannot Know?

1 Corinthians 2:14 But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.

What does this verse teach about what things unbelievers cannot know?

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RajeshG's picture

One key to a right handling of this verse is to carefully handle the phrase: "the things of the Spirit of God." One possibility would be to interpret this phrase in a manner that would make the verse mean that unbelievers cannot know any spiritual truths because they do not have the Holy Spirit.

Numerous passages in Scripture show that this interpretation would be wrong. Scripture teaches that natural revelation, which is not mediated by the Spirit to an unbeliever, nonetheless enables him to know accurately that God exists, is glorious, is righteous, etc.:

Psalm 19:1 <To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David.> The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork.

Psalm 97:6 The heavens declare his righteousness, and all the people see his glory.

Acts 14:14 Which when the apostles, Barnabas and Paul, heard of, they rent their clothes, and ran in among the people, crying out, 15 And saying, 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, which made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all things that are therein: 16 Who in times past suffered all nations to walk in their own ways. 17 Nevertheless he left not himself without witness, in that he did good, and gave us rain from heaven, and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness.

Romans 1:20 For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: 21 Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.

RajeshG's picture

In addition to what unbelievers know through natural revelation, they also know accurately that there are many things that people do that make those who do such things worthy of death:

Romans 1:28 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient; 29 Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, 30 Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, 31 Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful: 32 Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.

Kevin Miller's picture

The previous chapter tells us specifically one of the things that is foolishness to the natural man. 1 Corinthians 1:18 says "For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God."

RajeshG's picture

Kevin Miller wrote:

The previous chapter tells us specifically one of the things that is foolishness to the natural man. 1 Corinthians 1:18 says "For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God."

You are right! We must keep in mind that there were no verse breaks or chapter divisions in the original manuscripts of the NT. Connecting this verse with 1 Cor. 2:14 is essential for interpreting 2:14 correctly.

RajeshG's picture

In a previous, closely related thread, BIBLE PASSAGES THAT GUIDE US ABOUT SECULAR/UNBELIEVING CRITICISMS OF CHRISTIAN WORSHIP MUSIC/MINISTRY?, I (and others) presented many other passages that show various truths that unbelievers have accurately spoken about and uttered.

I read through that entire thread yesterday evening so that I would know what was covered in that thread. The purpose of this thread is to build on that thread; of necessity, there will be overlap between the two.

Kevin Miller's picture

RajeshG wrote:

In a previous, closely related thread, BIBLE PASSAGES THAT GUIDE US ABOUT SECULAR/UNBELIEVING CRITICISMS OF CHRISTIAN WORSHIP MUSIC/MINISTRY?, I (and others) presented many other passages that show various truths that unbelievers have accurately spoken about and uttered.

I read through that entire thread yesterday evening so that I would know what was covered in that thread. The purpose of this thread is to build on that thread; of necessity, there will be overlap between the two.

So why didn't you just add your thoughts about 1 Cor 2 to that thread instead of starting a new one that overlaps the old one?

Do you think Paul had music in mind when he was writing 1 Cor 2?

RajeshG's picture

Kevin Miller wrote:

 

RajeshG wrote:

 

In a previous, closely related thread, BIBLE PASSAGES THAT GUIDE US ABOUT SECULAR/UNBELIEVING CRITICISMS OF CHRISTIAN WORSHIP MUSIC/MINISTRY?, I (and others) presented many other passages that show various truths that unbelievers have accurately spoken about and uttered.

I read through that entire thread yesterday evening so that I would know what was covered in that thread. The purpose of this thread is to build on that thread; of necessity, there will be overlap between the two.

 

So why didn't you just add your thoughts about 1 Cor 2 to that thread instead of starting a new one that overlaps the old one?

Do you think Paul had music in mind when he was writing 1 Cor 2?

That thread was already very long, and my opening post in that thread is not the starting point that I wanted for this thread. Also, the nature of many of the comments in that thread were of a character that I do not think would be helpful for developing the direction of this thread.

The way that this thread will build on the previous one is not that this thread will be focused on music/worship. Although, at some point, I intend to make application to music/worship, that will not be the sum total of the thread.

I do want to bring forward into this thread the various categories of passages that were discussed in that thread about unbelievers making valid statements.

The main point of this thread, as I see it now, is to correct an important faulty notion (based at least in part on an incorrect handling/application of 1 Cor. 2:14) concerning how we are to determine what we believe unbelievers cannot know in one specific area. Depending on how the thread develops, other emphases might emerge as well.

Kevin Miller's picture

RajeshG wrote:

 

Kevin Miller wrote:

So why didn't you just add your thoughts about 1 Cor 2 to that thread instead of starting a new one that overlaps the old one?

Do you think Paul had music in mind when he was writing 1 Cor 2?

 

 

That thread was already very long, and my opening post in that thread is not the starting point that I wanted for this thread. Also, the nature of many of the comments in that thread were of a character that I do not think would be helpful for developing the direction of this thread.

The way that this thread will build on the previous one is not that this thread will be focused on music/worship. Although, at some point, I intend to make application to music/worship, that will not be the sum total of the thread.

I do want to bring forward into this thread the various categories of passages that were discussed in that thread about unbelievers making valid statements.

The main point of this thread, as I see it now, is to correct an important faulty notion (based at least in part on an incorrect handling/application of 1 Cor. 2:14) concerning how we are to determine what we believe unbelievers cannot know in one specific area. Depending on how the thread develops, other emphases might emerge as well.

You didn't answer whether you think Paul had music in mind when he wrote 1 Cor. 2. 

RajeshG's picture

Kevin Miller wrote:

 

RajeshG wrote:

 

 

Kevin Miller wrote:

So why didn't you just add your thoughts about 1 Cor 2 to that thread instead of starting a new one that overlaps the old one?

Do you think Paul had music in mind when he was writing 1 Cor 2?

 

 

That thread was already very long, and my opening post in that thread is not the starting point that I wanted for this thread. Also, the nature of many of the comments in that thread were of a character that I do not think would be helpful for developing the direction of this thread.

The way that this thread will build on the previous one is not that this thread will be focused on music/worship. Although, at some point, I intend to make application to music/worship, that will not be the sum total of the thread.

I do want to bring forward into this thread the various categories of passages that were discussed in that thread about unbelievers making valid statements.

The main point of this thread, as I see it now, is to correct an important faulty notion (based at least in part on an incorrect handling/application of 1 Cor. 2:14) concerning how we are to determine what we believe unbelievers cannot know in one specific area. Depending on how the thread develops, other emphases might emerge as well.

 

You didn't answer whether you think Paul had music in mind when he wrote 1 Cor. 2. 

I did not answer it because I do not think that it is a relevant question.

Kevin Miller's picture

RajeshG wrote:

 

Kevin Miller wrote:

You didn't answer whether you think Paul had music in mind when he wrote 1 Cor. 2. 

 

How is that a relevant question?

The reason I asked the question in the first place was because you said you were going to be building upon one of your previous music threads.

In your next response, you said, "The way that this thread will build on the previous one is not that this thread will be focused on music/worship. Although, at some point, I intend to make application to music/worship, that will not be the sum total of the thread."

So while I understand that music is not going to be "the sum total" of this thread, you are acknowledging that music applications are going to be made by you. Therefore I think my question is certainly relevant as to whether you think Paul had music on mind when he wrote 1 Cor 2.

RajeshG's picture

Kevin Miller wrote:

 

RajeshG wrote:

 

 

Kevin Miller wrote:

You didn't answer whether you think Paul had music in mind when he wrote 1 Cor. 2. 

 

How is that a relevant question?

 

The reason I asked the question in the first place was because you said you were going to be building upon one of your previous music threads.

 

In your next response, you said, "The way that this thread will build on the previous one is not that this thread will be focused on music/worship. Although, at some point, I intend to make application to music/worship, that will not be the sum total of the thread."

So while I understand that music is not going to be "the sum total" of this thread, you are acknowledging that music applications are going to be made by you. Therefore I think my question is certainly relevant as to whether you think Paul had music on mind when he wrote 1 Cor 2.

The application that I am going to make concerning music/worship concerns correcting misuse of 1 Cor. 2:14 to deny the validity of certain statements by certain unbelievers concerning music. I am not going to make any direct applications of the passage to music/worship.

Kevin Miller's picture

RajeshG wrote:

The application that I am going to make concerning music/worship concerns correcting misuse of 1 Cor. 2:14 to deny the validity of certain statements by certain unbelievers concerning music. I am not going to make any direct applications of the passage to music/worship.

So are you saying that 1 Cor 2:14 actually supports these "certain statements" made by these "certain unbelievers" about music?

RajeshG's picture

Kevin Miller wrote:

 

RajeshG wrote:

 

The application that I am going to make concerning music/worship concerns correcting misuse of 1 Cor. 2:14 to deny the validity of certain statements by certain unbelievers concerning music. I am not going to make any direct applications of the passage to music/worship.

 

So are you saying that 1 Cor 2:14 actually supports these "certain statements" made by these "certain unbelievers" about music?

I am going to argue from other passages that I only recently (this week) have understood that provide a biblical basis both for supporting those statements and for further rejecting the use of 1 Cor. 2:14 as a basis for denying the validity of those statements.

RajeshG's picture

In the previous thread, I presented 7 categories of passages that show that unbelievers can know and make statements validly about spiritual truths:
 

1. Foundational revelation about what unbelievers know is ungodly conduct, such as Romans 1-3, and therefore they can make valid assessments of such ungodly conduct by both unbelievers and believers and can even advise both unbelievers and believers against such conduct

2. Passages where unbelievers validly assess as shameful or unrighteous what those who profess to be God’s people have done, such as Ezekiel 16:27 and 2 Samuel 12:14 (David gave God’s enemies occasion to blaspheme because of his wicked behavior)

3. Passages where unbelievers make comments that have profound spiritual significance that goes far beyond what the unbeliever understands and cannot be explained as the result of their being made in the image of God or the result of "common grace," such as Caiaphas in John 18; also the demon-possessed girl in Acts 16:16-18

4. Passages where unbelievers give advice of a spiritual nature or pertaining to spiritual matters, such as Pharaoh’s servants in Exodus 10:7, Jethro’s advice to Moses in Exodus 18:14-27, Naaman’s servants’ counsel to Naaman in 2 Kings 5:13, the comments made to Haman by his wife and his wise men in Esther 6:13 (this might fit better in category 3 or may belong in both categories)

5. Passages where believers cite as valid what unbelievers have said about the ungodly conduct of others, and the believers use it to counsel other believers, such as Titus 1:12-14

6. Passages that speak of unbelievers who will be eternally condemned and yet they engaged in wide-ranging spiritual ministries:

Matthew 7:22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? 23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

How these people were able to do these things and still be unbelievers who will be condemned in the end is puzzling.

7. Unbelievers who validly assessed demonic activity in others

Mark 9:17-27 seems to one such passage.

Kevin Miller added an 8th category:
 

8.Passages that encourage us to be skeptical of the understanding of unbelievers in regards to spiritual matters. Several of us have mentioned I Cor 2:14, and Jay also points out Acts 8:21. Aaron previously mentioned Eph. 4:18 and 2 Cor 4:4. I've also thought of Isaiah 44:18, Matthew 13:13, and Romans 8:6-8.

In this thread, I would like to focus on another set of passages (not directly listed in any of the 8 categories above), especially one passage in particular, that bear directly on how we should understand the applicability of the passages listed in category 8, especially 1 Cor. 2:14, to our understanding of what unbelievers cannot know.

Kevin Miller's picture

RajeshG wrote:

 

Kevin Miller wrote:

So are you saying that 1 Cor 2:14 actually supports these "certain statements" made by these "certain unbelievers" about music?

 

I am going to argue from other passages that I only recently (this week) have understood that provide a biblical basis both for supporting those statements and for further rejecting the use of 1 Cor. 2:14 as a basis for denying the validity of those statements.

I'd have to see which "certain statements" from unbelievers you are referring to on order to see if your new passage actually supports the statement being given.

If an unbeliever's statement already agrees with information given in other Scriptures, then, of course, we can accept that the unbeliever had given a true statement. They may not even completely understand why their statement would be true, but if it matches what is already written as Biblical truth, then it doesn't matter whether it was spoken by an unbeliever or a believer.

If the unbeliever makes a statement that the Bible itself does not clearly delineate, then I'm not going to judge the unbeliever's statement as being more authoritative than Scripture. I would say the same thing about the words of any preacher. If the preacher makes a definitive declaration that goes beyond what the Scriptures themselves declare, then I'm not going to judge that preacher's words as being more authoritative than the Scriptures.

RajeshG's picture

Kevin Miller wrote:

 

RajeshG wrote:

 

 

Kevin Miller wrote:

So are you saying that 1 Cor 2:14 actually supports these "certain statements" made by these "certain unbelievers" about music?

 

I am going to argue from other passages that I only recently (this week) have understood that provide a biblical basis both for supporting those statements and for further rejecting the use of 1 Cor. 2:14 as a basis for denying the validity of those statements.

 

I'd have to see which "certain statements" from unbelievers you are referring to on order to see if your new passage actually supports the statement being given.

 

If an unbeliever's statement already agrees with information given in other Scriptures, then, of course, we can accept that the unbeliever had given a true statement. They may not even completely understand why their statement would be true, but if it matches what is already written as Biblical truth, then it doesn't matter whether it was spoken by an unbeliever or a believer.

If the unbeliever makes a statement that the Bible itself does not clearly delineate, then I'm not going to judge the unbeliever's statement as being more authoritative than Scripture. I would say the same thing about the words of any preacher. If the preacher makes a definitive declaration that goes beyond what the Scriptures themselves declare, then I'm not going to judge that preacher's words as being more authoritative than the Scriptures.

Although in many respects what you write here is valid, there is at least one vital area in which it is not. The activities of Satan and his demons in their interactions with humans is a subject about which God has intentionally only provided limited information in Scripture. The nature of the information that He has provided to us in Scripture on that subject itself teaches us that your statement is not correct when it comes to evaluating statements by certain unbelievers on certain subjects.

Your framing the discussion as whether statements of certain unbelievers have more authority than Scripture is problematic because it implicitly asserts that Scripture provides comprehensive information about all subjects about which it speaks. The Scripture itself shows us such a view is not correct. There are subjects about which Scripture speaks, and Scripture itself tells us that it does not provide us with detailed, comprehensive information about those subjects.

Kevin Miller's picture

RajeshG wrote:

Although in many respects what you write here is valid, there is at least one vital area in which it is not. The activities of Satan and his demons in their interactions with humans is a subject about which God has intentionally only provided limited information in Scripture. The nature of the information that He has provided to us in Scripture on that subject itself teaches us that your statement is not correct when it comes to evaluating statements by certain unbelievers on certain subjects.

So are you saying that in the subject of demonology, the statements of unbelievers ARE more authoritative than Scripture, since Scripture doesn't provide us with all the information we need?

RajeshG's picture

Kevin Miller wrote:

 

RajeshG wrote:

 

Although in many respects what you write here is valid, there is at least one vital area in which it is not. The activities of Satan and his demons in their interactions with humans is a subject about which God has intentionally only provided limited information in Scripture. The nature of the information that He has provided to us in Scripture on that subject itself teaches us that your statement is not correct when it comes to evaluating statements by certain unbelievers on certain subjects.

 

So are you saying that in the subject of demonology, the statements of unbelievers ARE more authoritative than Scripture, since Scripture doesn't provide us with all the information we need?

See my 2nd paragraph that I added to my previous comment.

Further discussion of this point will have to wait until we get into a discussion of the passages that I am going to treat shortly.

Kevin Miller's picture

RajeshG wrote:

Your framing the discussion as whether statements of certain unbelievers have more authority than Scripture is problematic because it implicitly asserts that Scripture provides comprehensive information about all subjects about which it speaks. The Scripture itself shows us such a view is not correct. There are subjects about which Scripture speaks and tells us that it does not provide us with detailed, comprehensive information about those subjects.

No, I don't think my statement asserts that Scripture provides "comprehensive information." My statement asserts that if someone else tries giving MORE information than Scripture provides, then we can't necessarily assert that that information is true. It MAY be true, but it it is just as likely that it is false. For example, it the unbeliever makes the statement "X is evil because of demons," then I should be able to look at the Scriptures and check if X is evil because of demons. If Scripture does not provide that information, I'm not going to assume the unbeliever's words are MORE authoritative than Scripture and definitely assert that the unbeliever is speaking truth. It may be true, but it also may not be.

RajeshG's picture

Kevin Miller wrote:

 

RajeshG wrote:

 

Your framing the discussion as whether statements of certain unbelievers have more authority than Scripture is problematic because it implicitly asserts that Scripture provides comprehensive information about all subjects about which it speaks. The Scripture itself shows us such a view is not correct. There are subjects about which Scripture speaks and tells us that it does not provide us with detailed, comprehensive information about those subjects.

 

No, I don't think my statement asserts that Scripture provides "comprehensive information." My statement asserts that if someone else tries giving MORE information than Scripture provides, then we can't necessarily assert that that information is true. It MAY be true, but it it is just as likely that it is false. For example, it the unbeliever makes the statement "X is evil because of demons," then I should be able to look at the Scriptures and check if X is evil because of demons. If Scripture does not provide that information, I'm not going to assume the unbeliever's words are MORE authoritative than Scripture and definitely assert that the unbeliever is speaking truth. It may be true, but it also may not be.

 

You say, "For example, it the unbeliever makes the statement "X is evil because of demons," then I should be able to look at the Scriptures and check if X is evil because of demons."

I do not know of anything in the Bible that supports holding the view that you "should be able to look at the Scriptures and check if X is evil because of demons." Taking such a position is saying that the Bible provides information about everything that "is evil because of demons."

Where does the Bible teach that this is true? Why do you believe this?

RajeshG's picture

Paul makes clear that Scripture does not provide comprehensive information about what things are sinful:

Galatians 5:19 Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, 20 Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, 21 Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.

He teaches that there are sinful practices such that they are like all the works of the flesh listed here. Comparing this passage with other sin lists in Scripture also shows that neither this list nor any of the other lists are comprehensive.

There are sinful practices such that they are like "witchcraft" that Scripture teaches here God did not comprehensively enumerate for us. 

There is no teaching anywhere in the Bible that supports the position that we should be able to check in the Bible to determine whether any and every thing that any unbeliever says "is evil because of demons" is in fact "evil because of demons."

RajeshG's picture

Scripture has more than 60 verses about practitioners of the occult. A careful examination of these verses shows that unbelievers have known and can know accurately that they have been in contact with demons. The following verses about familiar spirits clearly show this truth in various ways.

Lev. 19:31  Regard not them that have familiar spirits, neither seek after wizards, to be defiled by them: I am the LORD your God.

Lev. 20:6  And the soul that turneth after such as have familiar spirits, and after wizards, to go a whoring after them, I will even set my face against that soul, and will cut him off from among his people.

Lev. 20:27  A man also or woman that hath a familiar spirit, or that is a wizard, shall surely be put to death: they shall stone them with stones: their blood shall be upon them.

Deut. 18:11  Or a charmer, or a consulter with familiar spirits, or a wizard, or a necromancer.

1 Sam. 28:3  Now Samuel was dead, and all Israel had lamented him, and buried him in Ramah, even in his own city. And Saul had put away those that had familiar spirits, and the wizards, out of the land.

1 Sam. 28:7  Then said Saul unto his servants, Seek me a woman that hath a familiar spirit, that I may go to her, and enquire of her. And his servants said to him, Behold, there is a woman that hath a familiar spirit at Endor.

1 Sam. 28:8  And Saul disguised himself, and put on other raiment, and he went, and two men with him, and they came to the woman by night: and he said, I pray thee, divine unto me by the familiar spirit, and bring me him up, whom I shall name unto thee.

1 Sam. 28:9  And the woman said unto him, Behold, thou knowest what Saul hath done, how he hath cut off those that have familiar spirits, and the wizards, out of the land: wherefore then layest thou a snare for my life, to cause me to die?

2 Ki. 21:6  And he made his son pass through the fire, and observed times, and used enchantments, and dealt with familiar spirits and wizards: he wrought much wickedness in the sight of the LORD, to provoke him to anger.

2 Ki. 23:24  Moreover the workers with familiar spirits, and the wizards, and the images, and the idols, and all the abominations that were spied in the land of Judah and in Jerusalem, did Josiah put away, that he might perform the words of the law which were written in the book that Hilkiah the priest found in the house of the LORD.

1 Chr. 10:13  So Saul died for his transgression which he committed against the LORD, even against the word of the LORD, which he kept not, and also for asking counsel of one that had a familiar spirit, to enquire of it;

2 Chr. 33:6  And he caused his children to pass through the fire in the valley of the son of Hinnom: also he observed times, and used enchantments, and used witchcraft, and dealt with a familiar spirit, and with wizards: he wrought much evil in the sight of the LORD, to provoke him to anger.

Isa. 8:19  And when they shall say unto you, Seek unto them that have familiar spirits, and unto wizards that peep, and that mutter: should not a people seek unto their God? for the living to the dead?

Isa. 19:3  And the spirit of Egypt shall fail in the midst thereof; and I will destroy the counsel thereof: and they shall seek to the idols, and to the charmers, and to them that have familiar spirits, and to the wizards.

Isa. 29:4  And thou shalt be brought down, and shalt speak out of the ground, and thy speech shall be low out of the dust, and thy voice shall be, as of one that hath a familiar spirit, out of the ground, and thy speech shall whisper out of the dust.

RajeshG's picture

The following points teach us what we should not believe about unbelievers, demons, and the occult. They do so by treating divine revelation about an unbelieving woman at Endor who was involved with a demon and the occult.

1. A woman at Endor had a demon:

1 Sam. 28:7  Then said Saul unto his servants, Seek me a woman that hath a familiar spirit, that I may go to her, and enquire of her. And his servants said to him, Behold, there is a woman that hath a familiar spirit at Endor.

1 Chr. 10:13  So Saul died for his transgression which he committed against the LORD, even against the word of the LORD, which he kept not, and also for asking counsel of one that had a familiar spirit, to enquire of it;

2. Not only did she know that she had a demon, but also she knew that she was interacting with that demon. Furthermore, she knew that she was receiving information through that demon.
 

1 Sam. 28:8  And Saul disguised himself, and put on other raiment, and he went, and two men with him, and they came to the woman by night: and he said, I pray thee, divine unto me by the familiar spirit, and bring me him up, whom I shall name unto thee.

1 Chr. 10:13  So Saul died for his transgression which he committed against the LORD, even against the word of the LORD, which he kept not, and also for asking counsel of one that had a familiar spirit, to enquire of it;

3. She knew and believed that other people also had demons and interacted with them to do the same things:
 

1 Sam. 28:9  And the woman said unto him, Behold, thou knowest what Saul hath done, how he hath cut off those that have familiar spirits, and the wizards, out of the land: wherefore then layest thou a snare for my life, to cause me to die?

These three points teach us that people who do not have the Spirit can know authentically that they have authentically interacted with demons.

Furthermore, we do not have any information about this woman's having access to any special revelation. Therefore, these points also teach us that people do not have to have special revelation to have such authentic knowledge.

Finally, because she was an unbeliever, they also teach us that people do not have to have the spiritual discernment of a (mature) believer in order to authentically have and proclaim authentic information about unbelievers, demons, and the occult.

Based on this information from Scripture, we must reject views that misapply passages such as 1 Cor. 2:14 to argue that testimonies from unbelievers about demonic influence on them are to be rejected as unreliable.

 

RajeshG's picture

Both Testaments are clear that God demands that His people not have anything to do with the things of the occult:

Deuteronomy 12:29 When the LORD thy God shall cut off the nations from before thee, whither thou goest to possess them, and thou succeedest them, and dwellest in their land; 30 Take heed to thyself that thou be not snared by following them, after that they be destroyed from before thee; and that thou enquire not after their gods, saying, How did these nations serve their gods? even so will I do likewise. 31 Thou shalt not do so unto the LORD thy God: for every abomination to the LORD, which he hateth, have they done unto their gods; for even their sons and their daughters they have burnt in the fire to their gods.

Deuteronomy 18:9 When thou art come into the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee, thou shalt not learn to do after the abominations of those nations. 10 There shall not be found among you any one that maketh his son or his daughter to pass through the fire, or that useth divination, or an observer of times, or an enchanter, or a witch, 11 Or a charmer, or a consulter with familiar spirits, or a wizard, or a necromancer. 12 For all that do these things are an abomination unto the LORD: and because of these abominations the LORD thy God doth drive them out from before thee. 13 Thou shalt be perfect with the LORD thy God. 14 For these nations, which thou shalt possess, hearkened unto observers of times, and unto diviners: but as for thee, the LORD thy God hath not suffered thee so to do.

Acts 19:18 And many that believed came, and confessed, and shewed their deeds. 19 Many of them also which used curious arts brought their books together, and burned them before all men: and they counted the price of them, and found it fifty thousand pieces of silver. 20 So mightily grew the word of God and prevailed.

Ephesians 5:11 And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.

God demands that His people not have anything to do with the things of the occult. Heeding testimonies from unbelievers about demonic influence on them in their participation in things of the occult, Christians must reject what people who have testified of demonic influence on them have originated.

Just as the new believers in Ephesus burned their books about magic that they previously consulted to engage in their using "curious arts," so God wants Christians to get rid of all evil things connected to the occult from their lives. 

RajeshG's picture

The treatment above of the passage about the woman at Endor has shown that unbelievers have had authentic encounters with demons, validly known that they were having such encounters, and validly attested to themselves and other people having had such authentic encounters. It also shows that human beings who have demons and regularly engage in forbidden, occult practices are not of necessity people who are possessed by them.

Based on what Scripture itself reveals, our understanding about unbelievers and demons must no longer include the faulty theological view that testimonies from unbelievers about demonic influence on them are inherently suspect, etc. Furthermore, we must not hold that the information about evil things and evil practices that is provided in such testimonies is only valid if it can be explicitly corroborated in detail from Scripture itself.

RajeshG's picture

It would seem that there are only 3 possibilities concerning the activities of demons in the lives of unbelievers producing music:

1. Demons are incapable of influencing humans producing music and therefore there have never been any unbelievers who produced music under any kind of demonic influence.

2. Demons are capable of influencing humans producing music but have chosen not to do so.

3. Demons are capable of influencing humans producing music and have done so.

Because we have testimonies from unbelievers producing music who say that they have been influenced by demons in their doing so, we must decide what we are to do with those testimonies and what ramifications those testimonies have for our Christian lives.

Among believers today, what should be done with such testimonies is a highly disputed matter.

Applying to our understanding of this matter the treatment provided earlier in this thread of Scripture about the woman at Endor, we have biblical basis to hold that unbelieving musicians who participate in occult practices can authentically know of and testify about demonic influence upon them while they have produced music. Based on this understanding, we must heed such testimonies and live our lives in accordance with what Scripture teaches about what believers are to do with the works of darkness (Eph. 5:11 and other passages).

RajeshG's picture

A dedicated believer seeks to be as biblical as possible in every area of his life. Concerning what we are to believe about unbelievers, demons, and music, my study of the subject so far has led me to formulate the following points that comprise a proper theological foundation:

1. Demons existed before there were any human beings.

2. Demons are the enemies of all righteousness.

3. Demons know what all the perfect music of heaven sounds like.

4. Scripture reveals that angelic beings play musical instruments. Because demons are fallen angels, there is no basis to hold that demons do not know how to play musical instruments.

5. As supernatural beings, demons know everything that humans know about music and far more than humans know about music.

6. Demons have known and heard all the music that humans have ever played.

7. Demons know exactly what music humans have played that pleased God and they know exactly what music humans have played that did not.

8. Through their direct influence on humans, demons can influence humans based on their knowledge of heavenly realities that the humans do not have any ability or basis for knowing.

9. Unbelievers can authentically know that demons have influenced them. They can authentically testify of such influence by or interactions with demons. Testimonies from unbelieving musicians are not inherently suspect because they are coming from unbelievers.

These points do not provide a comprehensive understanding of the subject; there is undoubtedly more that needs to be understood and expressed than these 9 points.

RajeshG's picture

Having treated some key Scriptural considerations to show why 1 Cor. 2:14 does not apply to our understanding rightly many things about what unbelievers can know about their contact with and being influenced by demons, I hope now to build on much material that I covered in another previous, closely related thread: "WE MUST HEED THE VITAL MESSAGE OF 1 CORINTHIANS 10:18-20."

To attempt to best do so, I am carefully rereading that entire thread and hope to post new content in this thread that advances bringing out from Scripture key points about what we are to believe about unbelievers and demons concerning music and other important subjects.

RajeshG's picture

In my regular Bible reading today, God directed my attention to yet another passage that plainly reveals what 1 Corinthians 2:14 does not teach about what unbelievers cannot know:

Nehemiah 6:15 So the wall was finished in the twenty and fifth day of the month Elul, in fifty and two days. 16 And it came to pass, that when all our enemies heard thereof, and all the heathen that were about us saw these things, they were much cast down in their own eyes: for they perceived that this work was wrought of our God.

In this passage, under inspiration of God, Nehemiah reveals to us that all of the enemies (almost all, if not all of them, were unbelievers) and all the other heathen (who were unbelievers) that were around God's people in Jerusalem accurately perceived the profound spiritual truth of God's doing a great work through His people!

It would be unbiblical and a great mistake for any believer to use 1 Cor. 2:14 in a way that would assert that unbelievers are incapable of accurately perceiving spiritual truths of this sort simply because they are unbelievers.

RajeshG's picture

In His scathing letter to "the angel of the church in Thyatira," the glorified Christ spoke of evil people in the church who allowed a wicked female teacher to seduce His servants:

Revelation 2:20 Notwithstanding I have a few things against thee, because thou sufferest that woman Jezebel, which calleth herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols.

Through the teaching and influence of this wicked false prophetess in the church, there were evil "Christians" in that church about whom Christ strikingly revealed that they testified about themselves that they had profound knowledge about things of the devil:

Revelation 2:24 But unto you I say, and unto the rest in Thyatira, as many as have not this doctrine, and which have not known the depths of Satan, as they speak; I will put upon you none other burden.

Notice carefully that Christ spoke of professing Christians in a church who spoke of their own knowing of "the depths of Satan."

What should we do with what Christ has revealed about these evil "Christians" who said that they knew these wicked things? How should we regard the testimonies of these wicked people?

Should we hold that they were probably merely engaging in "publicity stunts" to garner a following in the church?

Should we hold that Christ did not give us what He should have about "the depths of Satan" because He did not define what those things were and did not give us specific and comprehensive details about those things?

What profit are we supposed to obtain from this revelation?

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