The Danger of Seeking After Signs

Then some of the scribes and Pharisees answered him, saying, “Teacher, we wish to see a sign from you.” But he answered them, “An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.” (Matt 12:38-40, ESV2011)

Have you ever wondered why Jesus equated seeking after signs as being equivalent to adultery? Paul tells us why:

Let no one deceive you in any way. For that day [the second coming of Christ] will not come, unless the rebellion comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed… The coming of the lawless one is by the activity of Satan with all power and false signs and wonders, and with all wicked deception for those who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. (2Thess 2:1-10, ESV2011 – emphasis added)

There are a great many Christians today who run about from meeting to meeting hoping to see and experience signs and wonders. As we can see above, Satan is more than happy to give us a sign, and he can come with “all power.” This word power in the above text is dunamis, the same word used in the following verse:

But ye shall receive power [Grk. dunamis – miraculous power], after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses [Grk. Martus – martyrs] unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth. (Acts 1:8, KJV)

Jesus made it clear that those who look for miraculous signs are committing spiritual adultery. Satan is the great counterfeiter of all things spiritual. Jesus said, “And these signs shall follow them that believe…” He did not say, “And them that believe shall follow after these signs.” The only sign we are to seek is signified by the prophet Jonah, Christ’s death and resurrection in us! Why is this so important? Because wanting to be conformed to His death makes way for us to know His resurrection life within us. Apostle Paul’s deepest heart longing was,

That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; (Phil 3:10, KJ2000)

When he sought that God would remove his “thorn in the flesh” and God said, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Paul rejoiced and said,

Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. (2Cor 12:9, ESV2011)

Oh, how our flesh loves signs and miracles! We want power and to be delivered from all suffering and anything that makes our lives uncomfortable. This is just the opposite of what Jesus said that is required if we are to be His followers.

Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. (Matt 16:24-25, ESV2011)

James spoke of spiritual adultery as well.

You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. (Jas 4:4, ESV2011)

So on the one end of the spiritual spectrum we have spiritual adulterers who seek signs and miracles that feed their flesh and wish to be accepted in this world. Seeking signs and following after spiritual healers and miracle workers can be very dangerous and, believe me, I have seen demons manifest themselves in people in so called “Christian” meetings. Satan might even gain an inroad in our lives when we seek “spiritual gifts” instead of the cross. We have also seen false speaking in tongues, false prophecies and false healings and all with so much pride on display in Christian gatherings.

On the other end of the spectrum of what it means to be a Christian we have those who, like Paul, welcome the fellowship of Christ’s sufferings in their lives that they might be conformed to His death and resurrection. When we place ourselves under the hand of God for His cleansing work in our lives, through this process we will see Christ’s Resurrection power at work in us as well. Jesus said,

Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him! (Matt 7:9-11, ESV2011)

True prophesies and healings and other spirituals by the hand of God do happen but only as HE wills in His timing (see 1 Cor. 12:18). Remember, God is Spirit and what He sees as the healing we need is most likely in the realm of the Spirit and not our physical things. When our wills supersede HIS will, Satan can come in. If we seek power and signs without the cross, we will end up committing spiritual adultery and find ourselves “in bed” with demons.

If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. (Col 3:1-2, ESV2011)

Finally, after giving that warning in 2 Thessalonians, Paul went on to say this:

But we ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers beloved by the Lord, because God chose you as the firstfruits to be saved, through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth. (2Thess 2:13, ESV2011)

9 comments on “The Danger of Seeking After Signs

  1. Very good article, Michael! 👌🏼While you were writing about spiritual adultery, I have been reading a chapter from T. Austin Sparks about the nature of the jealousy of God. It was no fun read, to be honest. 😔

    However, as our God Who created everything and thus is the only rightful owner of everything created by Him (including ourselves), we need to ask ourselves what will happen to those of us who reject the gospel and the cross through which God in Christ reconciled everything to Himself? 🤔 They hear about the truth, but they reject it by running after anything that smells like a miraculous move of God (aka false revivals with signs and wonders). What will happen if God does not give them the grace to repent? 🙄

    Below is an excerpt from this article by TAS in which he also explained that we cannot ‘play games’ with God. Either we are utterly for Him or if we go against Him, His jealousy which is a consuming fire can finally even destroy us (in hell).

    Grace does not put away responsibility: “Our God is a consuming fire. ”

    We can rejoice while we are working with the jealousy of God, because the jealousy of God is working for us. We can leave our case in the hands of Divine jealousy. He will look after our interests if we are wholly His. On the other hand, it does behove us to remember that a touch with Calvary, a touch with the cross, involves us in the utterest abandonment to the Lord, with nothing whatever that separates us from Him. We must not hold back, for to hold back is to find the jealousy, which would work for us, working against us. The Lord preserve us from that.

    I thought it was interesting that TAS confirmed my recent observation as to what God has been doing in my life and in my family. Sparks said, “He will look after our interests if we are wholly His.” Even physical healing is possible, I believe. We only need to wait on His timing. 🕊️🙏🏼😇👍🏼

    Liked by 2 people

    • Michael says:

      Yes, Susanne, our healing comes in HIS timing, not ours. This is a sobering quote from Sparks,

      “On the other hand, it does behove us to remember that a touch with Calvary, a touch with the cross, involves us in the utterest abandonment to the Lord, with nothing whatever that separates us from Him. We must not hold back, for to hold back is to find the jealousy, which would work for us, [instead] working against us. The Lord preserve us from that.”

      “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of a Living God.” May we always be on the grace side of His jealousy.
      Lord save us from the great transgression. Save us from presumptuous sin. Amen.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Amen, Michael!! 🙏🏼 I forgot to add the link to this very sobering article by TAS.

        https://www.austin-sparks.net/english/004946.html

        While reading I said to God, “I do not really like reading THIS.” But I felt it was important, though. We need to follow the wind of the Holy Spirit wherever He leads. Sometimes our Lord’s focus is on love and grace alone and we can hardly imagine that any human being might get lost forever. Then at other times He gives us an exhortation or a warning to share and we tremble with fear of His Holiness. Only God knows which message must be heard at any given time as only He knows the hearts of all men.

        Liked by 2 people

      • Michael says:

        Thanks for the link. I feel I also need to read this TAS article.

        Liked by 1 person

      • You are welcome, my brother. I cannot really say, “Enjoy!” as this article also points to the reason why Ananias and Sapphira dropped dead when they both had lied in the presence of the Living God.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Michael says:

        More soul searching. It is amazing that God showed David a measure of His grace as well as His judgment after his prayer in Psalm 51. As for the case of Ananias and Sapphira, the church was in its youthful purity at that time. Not so today, thus all the sin that strangles it. Yet, where His Spirit is found in purity in the hearts of believers we can still find His jealousy at work. The more we draw nigh to Him, the more purity in the Spirit He will demand. Jesus is coming back for a bride that is without spot or blemish and He is jealous for her as is the Father.

        Besides this you know the time, that the hour has come for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed.The night is far gone; the day is at hand. So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light.Let us walk properly as in the daytime… But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires. (Rom 13:11-14, ESV2011)

        Liked by 2 people

      • Yes, Michael, the day is at hand! The bride must be fully conformed into the image of her husband which is Christ. TAS also said about this poor couple,

        Because we pass into a new day, O Ananias and Sapphira, what you might have done when you lived in the flesh you cannot do now. That is the meaning. You have come into another realm, the realm of things spiritual, and having been buried with Christ and raised with Him, you are supposed to have repudiated all the work of the flesh and its ambitions.

        “Acts” being a book of principles shows what God’s full thought is for life in the Spirit. This is seen on both its positive side and its negative. Ananias and Sapphira are examples of the negative aspect, showing what the Lord’s attitude is toward a calculated action in the flesh when against such the Spirit has been so manifestly in action.

        I thought that was very enlightening, too, as many Christians might wonder why God does not interfere when they commit such sins. This excerpt was from another article by Sparks.

        https://www.austin-sparks.net/english/books/001784.html

        Liked by 2 people

      • Michael says:

        Thanks for this quote from TAS. It really is in agreement with what God has shown me. We are coming into the time of Christ coming back for His bride and it is no time to be playing religious games and presuming on God’s grace which is given to purify her, not for her to play the harlot. “Even so, Lord Jesus come.”

        Liked by 2 people

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