by Timothy Jerry/Pastor Living Faith Church
In the past few years, I have been made aware of plans for the construction of a religious center a few miles south of my church on state highway 40, between Exeland and Bruce, WI. The group involved in this endeavor is known as ISHA – ‘Institute for the Study of Human Awareness’
As in most rural communities, people are usually skeptical of something that is outside of the orthodoxy with which they are familiar, especially their religious orthodoxy.
Some might see this as a typical small town or narrow-minded ignorance. However, I would suggest that such skepticism can also serve as a virtue in guarding people against the sort of thoughtless open-mindedness, that leads many to accept anything new without question as to its’ validity.
Disagreement Does Not Equal Hate
As a Christian Pastor or Shepherd, it’s my responsibility to warn people of false teachers, wolves in sheep’s clothing and deception.
With this said, let me make something very clear. There is a vast difference between disagreeing with someone and defaming them or stirring up hatred toward them because you happen to disagree. I only state this, because many in today’s society cannot make this distinction.
Just because I happen to disagree with someone does not mean that I hate them or wish them harm. As a Christian I am commanded by Jesus Himself, to love even my enemies and those who hate me or treat me with contempt. Yet this should not be mistaken to mean that I am to simply nod in agreement with practices or beliefs that contradict the clear teachings of Scripture. To do so would be a denial of Christ Himself.
Beware of Deception
Matthew 24:3-5 (NKJV) Now as He sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?” And Jesus answered and said to them: “Take heed that no one deceives you. For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many.
One of the primary conditions of society before the return of Jesus Christ will be widespread spiritual deception. If we could not be deceived then Jesus would not have bothered to warn us. There are literally billions of people all over the world who are living in complete deception.
2 Corinthians 4:4 (NLT) Satan, who is the god of this world, has blinded the minds of those who don’t believe. They are unable to see the glorious light of the Good News. They don’t understand this message about the glory of Christ, who is the exact likeness of God.
The god of this world system is Satan. He is a fallen angel who uses deception and lies to blind the minds of people and turns them away from the truth and freedom found in Jesus Christ.
Spiritual Deception and False Religions
And Jesus answered and said to them: “Take heed that no one deceives you.”
You will notice that Jesus warned His disciples of false teachers that would arise in the last days, deceiving many.
Paul, the apostle, also warned Christians of how Satan uses false teachers of religion to bring people into spiritual bondage.
1 Corinthians 11:14-15 (NLT) …Even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is no wonder that his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness….
“It’s the good in these religions that blind people to their false and deceptive teachings.”
Nearly all world religions and even many cults have various elements that promote moral goodness. This is why people are attracted to these groups, yet herein is the problem. It’s the good in these religions that blind people to their false and deceptive teachings.
While I realize that it may be offensive to the followers of ISHA to be accused of propagating a false religion, I mean them personally no disrespect as people. I realize that in their hearts they believe that they are promoting love, peace, and harmony to mankind and believe that their cause to be virtuous and good.
I also realize that most people, who follow eastern mystic religions from the West, do so because the idea of universal harmony and unity appeals to their moral conscious. Yet this is also why many are snared and deceived by these same religions.
Human Goodness Will Never Cover Our Sin
When human beings refuse to recognize their sin for what it is and acknowledge God Almighty as their creator, they are deceived into trying to cover their moral decay with the perfume of self-righteousness or their own human goodness.
Romans 1:19-25 (NLT) But God shows his anger from heaven against all sinful, wicked people who suppress the truth by their wickedness. They know the truth about God because he has made it obvious to them. For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God. Yes, they knew God, but they wouldn’t worship him as God or even give him thanks. And they began to think up foolish ideas of what God was like. As a result, their minds became dark and confused. Claiming to be wise, they instead became utter fools. And instead of worshiping the glorious, ever-living God, they worshiped idols made to look like mere people and birds and animals and reptiles. So God abandoned them to do whatever shameful things their hearts desired…They traded the truth about God for a lie. So they worshiped and served the things God created instead of the Creator himself, who is worthy of eternal praise! Amen
May the Force be With You!
ISHA at its’ roots is basically Hinduism and eastern mystic thought.
Hindu thought could be illustrated as the impersonal spiritual force or energy that flows through all things, as seen in the Star Wars saga.
From the Hindu way of thinking, the idea of God is the discovery of the divine within.
Hindu thought has become popularized in the West through the growth of the New Age movement. We have seen an increase of New Age influence in literature, movies, music and even companies that promote New Age meditation and awareness training to their employees.
Human consciousness is a favorite word of eastern mystic religions. These religions primarily teach that we are part of the divine and that we must look within ourselves to discover the mysteries of the universe and divinity through meditation and self-transformation.
ISHA vs. Christianity – What Are the Differences?
- Hindu and eastern thought convey an impersonal concept of God, while Christianity defines God as a personal all powerful creator.
While Hindu and New Age thought embrace aspects of other religions, even Christianity. We need to make some very clear distinctions between the teachings of the Bible and eastern mysticism.
- One of the greatest differences between the Hindu religion and Christianity starts with our very definition of God.
The Hindu religion does not see God in the same concept that Christianity does. As Christians, we believe in a definitive personal all-powerful God, a monotheistic God or one God and one God alone.
Matthew 26:36 (NKJV) “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?” Jesus said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment.
- Hindu philosophy teaches that we discover the divine by looking within and that we are collectively part of the divine.
Thus the term ‘ISHA’ the ‘Institute for the Study of Human Awareness.’
Human awareness is eastern mystic language to mean that we look within ourselves to discover the divine. Through meditation and self-actualization we discover and unlock the divine that resides within the human consciousness.
“Therefore, no wonder it was found by actual meditational introspection, by meditational awareness of one’s own self, that the Word we are speaking, of which has no beginning, and was the Creator in the beginning, that Word lies, not outside, but inside the self; That the self is not only the container of that Word; it is the expression of that Word.” Elizabeth MacDonald (The Lost Jesus Scrolls)
“Our attention gets spread out, and the whole art of meditation is to gather that attention back and bring it to the point from where it originates. It originates from the self, the true self.” Ishwar C. Puri – founder of Bruce chapter of ISHA
“According to Hindu teaching, man is divine at the core of his being. The problem is that man is ignorant of this fact. He is deceived by his focus on this temporal and material world, and this ignorance gives rise to acts that result in bad karma and traps us in the cycle of reincarnation.” Rick Rood Probe Ministries
So by going more deeply into the self through ongoing meditation and Yoga, man frees himself from the ignorance and bondage of the material world and becomes one with his divinity.
- Hindu thought does not acknowledge human sinfulness and the depravity of the human heart that is estranged from God.
“Hinduism is a positive religion in which there are no infidels or heretics. It does not look with contempt even upon an atheist. It doesn’t approve of proselytism as means of increasing the number of its adherents. It contains no childish dogma of sin, superstition, fear, false hope and damnation like other religions. The serpent which, in Christianity, brought about the Fall of Man and became his lasting enemy, is in Hinduism found entwined around the neck of Shiva, and as the couch upon which Vishnu reclines.” A Tribute to Hinduism by Sushama Londhe
You can readily see why eastern mysticism is so appealing to people in today’s modern Western society, which is so consumed with feeling good about itself. No sin, no judgment, no all-powerfull God to answer to, sounds great to people who want to justify their behavior.
- This stands as a direct contradiction to the teachings of the Bible.
Romans 3:9-12 (NLT) All people, whether Jews or Gentiles, are under the power of sin. As the Scriptures say, “No one is righteous— not even one. No one is truly wise; no one is seeking God. All have turned away; all have become useless. No one does good, not a single one.”
John 3:16-21 (NIV) For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.
- Hindu Eastern Philosophy is Pantheistic
Pantheism – Webster’s Dictionary – ‘The doctrine that God is the transcendent reality of which man, nature, and the material universe are manifestations. (2.) Any doctrine that regards God as identical with the material universe or the forces of nature, (3.) A readiness to worship all or a large number of gods
Christianity is monotheistic. We believe in one distinct Almighty God who is alone God. Apart from Him,, there is no God and all other proposed deities are the concoction of man’s hands and imaginations.
- Common Characteristic of False Religions
False religions as compared to the teachings of Jesus Christ and the foundational truths of the Bible are opposed on a number of fronts. Here are several common characteristics that you will see in all false religions.
- False religions draw their authority from someone or something other than the authority of the Bible.
Everyone has a source of authority, without exception. Christianity’s source of authority is Jesus Christ and the teachings of the Bible.
This is important to note because if someone or some group proclaims that another source other than the Bible holds equal or greater authority than the Bible we must reject their teachings.
False religions submit to their own feelings or beliefs for authority. You will often hear people make statements such as “I believe,” or “to me God is,” or “I think this is how things should be.” The problem with these statements is that they are all based upon human reasoning and their own subjective understanding of what is true. Just because you may believe something to be so, does not make it so.
The exaltation of self as divine authority is the oldest form of idolatry in the world. It actually was Lucifer’s original sin that caused him to rebel against God and be cast out of heaven. It was what he used to deceive Eve in the Garden of Eden, and it is still the most common form of idolatry in the world today.
If the God of the Bible is not your final authority then either you or some other person or source is, and this is idolatry.
A Christian must place their trust solely in the time proven reliability of the Bible and the teachings of Jesus Christ and His apostles.
- False religions deny the deity of Jesus Christ.
ISHA would certainly fall under this description. Hindu teachers see Jesus as just another spiritual master who further espoused the teachings of inner transformation. While they may embrace some of His teachings He is no more divine than anyone else.
- False religions have a distorted concept of what the Bible defines as sin. They refuse to acknowledge the sinful nature of man and his need of God’s mercy and forgiveness.
Romans 5:12 (NKJV) Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned—
- False religions present a distorted concept of salvation.
Salvation or eternal life is always indefinite and ultimately always acquired by human works of goodness or self-effort, rather than by God’s mercy and forgiveness through Jesus Christ.
Ephesians 2:8-9 (NLT) God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. 9 Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.
The Bible gives us clear instruction as to how to obtain salvation through Jesus Christ. As Christians, we have the assurance of salvation. We do not spend our lives hoping that we have done enough to merit salvation. We trust in the finished work of Jesus Christ and His cross.
Romans 10:9-10 (NKJV) that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.
- False religions teach that there are other paths to salvation other than Jesus Christ.
This is the most egregious of all deceptions of religions such as ISHA. When anyone is directed away from Jesus Christ for salvation, they are led to believe a lie that blinds them and traps them in deception. This is why these deceptive religious teachings are by far the most damming of all snares that Satan uses against humanity. These erroneous beliefs lead people into a blind and false sense of security.
This is like Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden who sewed fig leaves together to hide their nakedness after they had sinned. This was actually the beginning of false religion. Man’s attempt to cover their guilt and sin through their own efforts. In like manner, people attempt to hide behind the man-made fig leaves of false religious systems in an attempt to hide their guilty conscious from God. This will never do.
Genesis 3:6-8 (NKJV) So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings. And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden.
- The Apostle Paul by the Spirit of God had the most scathing condemnation of any other gospel than that of Christ.
Galatians 1:8-9 (Amp) But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to that which we [originally] preached to you, let him be condemned to destruction! As we have said before, so I now say again, if anyone is preaching to you a gospel different from that which you received [from us], let him be condemned to destruction!
- Salvation is only through Jesus Christ alone and His sacrificial substitution alone.
John 14:6 (Amp) Jesus said to him, “ I am the [only] Way [to God] and the [real] Truth and the [real] Life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.
Acts 4:12 (Amp) And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among people by which we must be saved [for God has provided the world no alternative for salvation].”