—1 Kings 16:31-32 (NASB)
Because most of us do not speak Hebrew, it’s easy for us to wonder why, for all of the false gods mentioned in the history of Israel, God seems to be more upset about Baal than any of the others. If we were Hebrew speakers, we would realized that “Baal” is the Hebrew word for “husband” and “master”. God was supposed to be Israel’s husband and master. So Baal represents the ultimate spiritual seduction, of replacing the One True God not simply with a substitute, but something that is assigned the same attributes and role as Him in the worst kind of counterfeit possible.
This particular story is further steeped in spiritual seduction in that Ahab married Jezebel. Like all the bad women of the Bible, she is an example of spiritual seduction, but is one of the most prominent. She will be used again by Christ Himself to describe spiritual seduction in the church of the worst kind when He writes to Thyatira…
—Revelation 2:20 (NASB)
The worst spiritual leaders aren’t those who mostly restrict their sinful ways to their own devices and pleasures, but the ones who engage in replacing true worship with a false one and then tries to assign godly terminology to give the false an air of legitimacy. Ahab doesn’t just encourage worship of Baal in place of God, but even counterfeits the temple and its practices.
This might be the best reason why we must never accept words on their face value from anyone, but test all things against Scripture to verify who and what is biblical. If you were to talk with a Catholic scholar about grace, at first blush everything would seem fine until digging deeper to find out they’re really not talking about God’s unconditional favor but human works. But it’s not limited to cults such as the Mormons or Jehovah’s Witnesses; these things are employed by people and groups calling themselves “Evangelical” in order to cozy up next to us.
We can usually work out the characteristics that make a cult a false religion, but there seem to be fewer of us that can readily identify the spirit of Jezebel already reigning inside church walls today in the guise of the Emergent Church, Purpose Driven, the Word-Faith movement, and a number of others. Those Satan can’t seduce with an outright false alternative he will attempt to deceive by counterfeiting the authentic and making it sound like the original.†††