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  • From the time we were children, we were raised with the concept of good angels and bad angels. How could one forget the cartoons with a pitchforked red devil at one ear and the haloed white angel at the other, each using various methods of persuasion? But is this the way scripture explains the existence of angels in our lives? Is it always that obvious to distinguish between the good and the bad in the angelic realm?

    There are references to evil angels throughout scripture. Some are just referred to as lying spirits and other times we are actually given their names. In one instance, a group of evil spirits referred to themselves as "My name is Legion: for we are many". Some of these evil angels were in positions of authority like Abaddon, who was the king of the angels in the bottomless pit (Rev 9:11). God used evil angels for judgment (Psa 78:49) and scripture tells us that they will also be used for Godís coming wrath (Rev 9:14). Despite the various purposes for God placing them upon the Earth, scripture tells us that their time is coming to an end (Matt 25:41).

    Paul warned of the potential for evil that angels possessed. His letter to the Galatians warns to beware, the angels themselves, if they come to us with another gospel other than the one he preached.

    (Gal 1:8 KJV) But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.

    Scripture forewarns Satanís ability to transform himself into an angel of light which, on the surface, appears as though he has come to help us for the good, but his intention is our demise.

    (2 Cor 11:14-15 KJV) And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. {15} Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.

    Paul was convinced that apart from the various outside forces used by the enemy to separate us from God (including angels), God's love for us is stronger.

    (Rom 8:38-39 KJV) For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, {39} Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

    There are angels whose sole purpose is to distract us from the love of God in Christ. These angels appear as though they are ministers of righteousness but when examined in light of scripture, it is just the opposite. One such incident took place in Jerusalem at a pool called Bethesda.

    (John 5:1-9 KJV) After this there was a feast of the Jews; and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. {2} Now there is at Jerusalem by the sheep market a pool, which is called in the Hebrew tongue Bethesda, having five porches. {3} In these lay a great multitude of impotent folk, of blind, halt, withered, waiting for the moving of the water. {4} For an angel went down at a certain season into the pool, and troubled the water: whosoever then first after the troubling of the water stepped in was made whole of whatsoever disease he had. {5} And a certain man was there, which had an infirmity thirty and eight years. {6} When Jesus saw him lie, and knew that he had been now a long time in that case, he saith unto him, Wilt thou be made whole? {7} The impotent man answered him, Sir, I have no man, when the water is troubled, to put me into the pool: but while I am coming, another steppeth down before me. {8} Jesus saith unto him, Rise, take up thy bed, and walk. {9} And immediately the man was made whole, and took up his bed, and walked: and on the same day was the sabbath.

    Apart from the fact that most versions of the Bible leave verse 4 of this passage out, (NIV, RSV, NRSV, NCV, NLT), the KJV not only includes it, it's wording is interesting.

    When we look at what is taking place in this passage it is not too difficult to tell that this was not a pretty site. The Bible says that this pool, referred to as "Bethesda", was littered with a great multitude of impotent folk, blind, halt, and withered waiting for the moving of the water. I wonder how many people were infected with diseases just waiting to be healed of one.

    Unlike the angel, who required the sick to come to him in their own strength, Jesus came to the one that was of the weakest. This man's weakness left him unable to compete with those that were stronger and quicker at getting in the pool, and had left him helpless for 38 years. This impotent man explained the chaos that took place every time the water was troubled, and the fact that for the weak, such as himself, this was a place of no hope.

    Scripture tells us something here that plainly is doctrinally different than anything else taught in the Bible. It says:

    (John 5:4 KJV) For an angel went down at a certain season into the pool, and troubled the water: whosoever then first after the troubling of the water stepped in was made whole of whatsoever disease he had.

    Without a doubt, doctrinal reasons became a factor in the decision to leave this portion of scripture out of so many translations of the Bible. What was allowed to take place at this pool, where angels seem to get credit, apart from God, is contrary to the message of Christ that permeates scripture. That is until Jesus arrives.

    I think the biggest problem with those that attempt to understand this passage is their assumption that angels are always good. The KJV rendering of verse 4 is not referring to this angel as an "angel of the Lord" or an "angel from Heaven", but as just an angel. We as believers are to test the spirits to see whether they be of God (1 John 4:1). There are ministering spirits, and lying spirits, and apart from the discernment that comes from remaining faithful to Jesus, it is impossible to distinguish the two. Does every healing that takes place necessarily mean God is in it? Could it be that this angel might not have been a good angel? What if this were one of the angels the Bible refers to as evil angels (Psa 78:49)? Notice the choice of words God put on the hearts of the KJV translators when they describe the role of this particular angel?

    (John 5:4a KJV) For an angel went down at a certain season into the pool, and troubled the water.....

    I know how the word is being used here, it means to stir up. But when I think of the word "trouble", commonly it is used to describe something bad. I find the choice of words very interesting, and believe it creates an atmosphere for properly understanding exactly what was taking place.

    Every good angel I ever read about in scripture, never took away from the glory that God received, when a miracle or blessing was performed. There is no mention in this passage of God receiving any glory for what looks like had been continuing for a very long time. Imagine for just a moment: the water is troubled and a mad rush takes place for the pool. Women, children, the elderly all getting trampled so that the strongest might have a chance that particular day to be healed? What sort of angel would derive pleasure out of seeing something like this taking place, a good one or an evil one? Doesnít it seem strange that the angel was only there for the strongest, but when Jesus arrived it was for the helpless? Angels are not independent. If this were an angel of the Lord, doing God's bidding, why did the rules change when Jesus appeared? The impression one gets is each is serving different masters. Let us not forget Paulís warning to the brethren "Therefore it is no great thing if his (Satanís) ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness" (2 Cor 11:15)

    THINGS ARE NOT ALWAYS AS THEY SEEM

    This desperate man was approached by Hope personified, who extended himself literally and healed the impotent, so that he might leave this place of despair created by an angel with it's mirage of godliness. Things are not always as they seem. How many pools of Bethesda exist today in our everyday lives? When one places the Christian label on something does it now mean that Christ is in it? If some of todayís supposed Christian music isnít deception packaged in a form of Christ, I donít know what is. The discernment in todayís church is frightening. Christian bookstores are selling whatever makes a profit and are filled with self-help, new-age, and ecumenical literature. So called Christian television, is being parodied in a variety of comedy shows and rightly so; it is an embarrassment to God and His church. There are no greater counterfeiters than Satan and his angels. They have disguised their ungodliness with a cloak of holiness since the very beginning. A proper rendering of Satan in cartoon form could only be two angels, one on either side, saying almost the exact same thing. This is not about knowing the Bible well enough, or being wise enough to be able to distinguish good from bad, this is about drawing closer to Jesus. If we think for a minute that we, in our own strength, in our own wisdom, will be able to recognize deception, we are already deceived. Please do not get the impression that this is unattainable. Discernment is readily available, to those that remain in Christ through faith.

    As Godís grace opens our eyes to the churchís embracing of the world it should encourage us all the more to despise compromise in our own lives. We must examine ourselves daily to see whether we are in the faith and make it our practice to have a clear conscience before God. Casting down every imagination that exalts itself against the knowledge of Christ. Let us not forget that the serpent was the subtlest creature in the whole garden. What is labeled Christian or godly is not always what it seems. Seducing spirits are not out to having their identity exposed, but are committed to making us believe they are from God while they derive pleasure from seeing us in a state of hopelessness.

    Whether it be those that are waiting for aliens to reveal to the world the secrets of the universe, or those in Medjugorje or Fatima looking to apparitions for something Jesus alone can give them, the answer is still the same. The Bible calls Christ "our Hope" (1 Tim 1:1) and it is in Him alone that healing is found. Sadly, there are those that would rather wait around a pool, littered with sick, hoping for an angel to trouble the water, that they might be the first to jump in.

     

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    Footnotes

    (Rev 9:11 KJV) And they had a king over them, which is the angel of the bottomless pit, whose name in the Hebrew tongue is Abaddon, but in the Greek tongue hath his name Apollyon.

    (Psa 78:49 KJV) He cast upon them the fierceness of his anger, wrath, and indignation, and trouble, by sending evil angels among them.

    (Rev 9:14 KJV) Saying to the sixth angel which had the trumpet, Loose the four angels which are bound in the great river Euphrates.

    (Mat 25:41 KJV) Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:

    (1 John 4:1 KJV) Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.

    (1 Tim 1:1 KJV) Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the commandment of God our Saviour, and Lord Jesus Christ, which is our hope;




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