Tuesday, May 01, 2007

The Darkness of Our Times (Part 2)

In this segment, I will post the Scriptures that warn the church constantly of heresy and apostasy from within its ranks, then continue on with portions of chapter 3 in Hindson's book. If you have not already looked up the following verses, I have copied and pasted them below for your convenience. (See 1 Timothy 4:1-3; 2 Timothy 3:1-5; 2 Corinthians 11:13-15; Galatians 1:6-12; 2 Peter 2:1-3; 1 John 4:1-3; 2 John 7; Jude 3,4).

1Ti 4:1 ¶ Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils;

1Ti 4:2 Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron;

1Ti 4:3 Forbidding to marry, [and commanding] to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth.

2Ti 3:1 ¶ This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.

2Ti 3:2 For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,

2Ti 3:3 Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good,

2Ti 3:4 Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God;

2Ti 3:5 Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.

2Cr 11:13 For such [are] false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ.

2Cr 11:14 And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.

2Cr 11:15 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.

Gal 1:6 ¶ I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel:

Gal 1:7 Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ.

Gal 1:8 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.

Gal 1:9 As we said before, so say I now again, If any [man] preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.

Gal 1:10 For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.

Gal 1:11 ¶ But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man.

Gal 1:12 For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught [it], but by the revelation of Jesus Christ

2Pe 2:1 ¶ But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction.

2Pe 2:2 And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of.

2Pe 2:3 And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not.

[In fact, read the entire chapter of 2 Peter 2:1-22!]

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

1Jo 4:2 Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God:

1Jo 4:3 And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that [spirit] of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.

2Jo 1:7 ¶ For many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist.

Jud 1:3 ¶ Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort [you] that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.

Jud 1:4 For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ.

The first segment in this series focused mainly on the spirit of antichrist and mentioned that one day, there will arise the one man who will be the Antichrist. In chapter 3 of Antichrist Rising: The Coming Global Storm, author Ed Hindson also informs us of the rise of false prophets:

Spiritual deception by false prophets is not a new phenomenon. False prophecies have been around as long as there have been legitimate prophets of God. Moses raised the question to the children of Israel: "How can we know when a message has not been spoken by the LORD?" His answer was, "If what a prophet proclaims in the name of the LORD does not take place or come true, that is a message the LORD has not spoken. That prophet has spoken presumptuously. Do not be afraid of him;" (Deuteronomy 18:21,22).

A true prophet -

1. must speak in the name of the Lord, not some other god.

2. must have a message that is in accord with God's revealed truth in Scripture.

3. must give predictions of future events that come true exactly as stated.

One of the most scathing denunciations of false prophets in all of Scripture is delivered by the prophet Jeremiah. In his time, Jeremiah had to deal constantly with false prophets who opposed his ministry, contradicted his message, and even conspired to have him killed. They kept telling the leaders of Jerusalem that the people had nothing to fear from the Babylonian invaders, but Jeremiah knew differently. Jerusalem was on the verge of destruction, and the people were about to be taken into captivity for 70 years.

"My heart is broken within me, " Jeremiah confesses in his agony over these false prophets who "...follow an evil course and use their power unjustly" (Jeremiah 23:9,10). "Both prophet and priest are godless, " the Lord responds (23:11). Then He tells Jeremiah His opinion of these false prophets:

Jer. 23:16 (NIV) - This is what the Lord Almighty says:
“Do not listen to what the prophets are prophesying to you;
they fill you with false hopes.
They speak visions from their own minds,
not from the mouth of the Lord.

Jer. 23:21 (NIV) - I did not send these prophets,
yet they have run with their message;
I did not speak to them,
yet they have prophesied.

Jer. 23:25 (NIV) - “I have heard what the prophets say who prophesy lies in my name. They say, ‘I had a dream! I had a dream!’

Jer. 23:31, 32 & 36 (NIV) -

Jer 23:31 Yes,” declares the Lord, “I am against the prophets who wag their own tongues and yet declare, ‘The Lord declares.’

Jer 23:32 Indeed, I am against those who prophesy false dreams,” declares the Lord. “They tell them and lead my people astray with their reckless lies, yet I did not send or appoint them. They do not benefit these people in the least,” declares the Lord.

Jer 23:36 But you must not mention ‘the oracle of the Lord’ again, because every man's own word becomes his oracle and so you distort the words of the living God, the Lord Almighty, our God.

Jeremiah could not make his complaint any clearer or his case any stronger. God is against those false prophets whose spiritual delusion causes them to invent their own message apart from God's truth. [bold mine - C] The Bible presents these people in seven categories:

1. Self-deceived. Some false teachers may be sincere, but they are still wrong. They have decieved themselves into believing their messages are true. As Jeremiah points out, their messages come psychologically from within their own minds and are not from God.

2. Liars. Some false prophets are deliberate liars who have no intention of telling the truth. The apostle John says, "Who is the liar?" It is the man who denies that Jesus is the Christ. Such a man is the anti-christ - he denies the Father and the Son" (1 John 2:22).

3. Heretics. These are those who preach heresy (false doctrine) and divide the church. Of them John said, "They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us" (1 John 2:19). The apostle Peter said, "There will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies.... These men blaspheme in matters they do not understand" (2 Peter 2:1, 12).

4. Scoffers. There are some who do not necessarily promote false teaching so much as they outright reject the truth of God. Of them the Bible warns, "In the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires" (2 Peter 3:3). The apostle Paul calls them "lovers of themselves...boastful, proud" (2 Timothy 3:2). Jude calls them "grumblers and faultfinders" (Jude 16).

5. Blasphemers. Those who speak evil of God, Christ, the Holy Spirit, the people of God, the kingdom of God, and the attributes of God are called blasphemers. Jude calls them godless men who "speak abusively against whatever they do not understand.... They are clouds without rain. . . trees, without fruit. . . . They are wild waves of the sea . . . wandering stars" (Jude 10, 12,13). The apostle Paul says that he himself was a blasphemer before his conversion to Christ (1 Timothy 1:13).
[Note from Christine: See non-believers who lurk and read here...Paul's conversion points out that there's hope for you yet!!]

6. Seducers. Jesus warned that some false prophets will appear with miraculous signs and wonders to seduce or deceive the very elect, "if that were possible" (Mark 13;22). Our Lord's implication is that spiritual seduction is a very real threat even to believers. This would account for the fact that a few genuine but deceived believers may be found among the cults. [bold & red mine - C]

7. Reprobates. This term means "disapproved," "depraved," or "rejected." Paul refers to those who have rejected the truth of God and turned to spiritual darkness. Consequently, God has given them over to a "reprobate mind" (Romans 1:28 KJV). They have so deliberately rejected God that they have become "filled with every kind of wickedness" (verse 29). As a result, they are "God-haters" (verse 30), whose behavior is "senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless" (verse 31). These people are so far gone spiritually that they know it and don't care. In Jesus' own prophetic message, the Olivet Discourse, He warned, "Watch out that no one deceives you. . . . Many will turn away from the faith. . . . And many false prophets will appear and deceive many people . . . . For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and miracles" (Matthew 24:4, 10,11,24). Our Lord warned His disciples of the possibility of spiritual seduction by false prophets.

Hindson goes on to describe Satan as the "Master of deceit." He backs it up with Bible verses, too. However, I will just skip down to several paragraphs later where the question of subtlety, and the art of masterful deception can send the unwary into a pit of self-conceit and self-deceit.

He writes:

A century ago, A.T. Pierson, the Bible teacher who often spoke for Charles Spurgeon at the Metropolitan Tabernacle in London, wrote, "Evil spirits acquire their greatest power from their subtlety. They are masters of the art of deception, and aim to counterfeit that which is good rather than suggest what is obviously and wholly evil." 1

Spiritual Deception

The lure of false doctrine is that it presents itself as the truth. It appears as a corrective measure to established doctrine. It is propagated by those who are certain they have discovered some new revelation of truth or a better interpretation of old, established truth. Either way, they are convinced they are right and everyone else is wrong.

This is Satan's oldest trick. He appeals to our self-conceit and leads us into self-deceit. When he first approached Eve, Satan questioned the integrity of God's command and appealed to her selfish desire to be like God - the same desire that led to his own fall. And there is something selfish enough in all of us to want to believe that we can know what no one else knows. C.S. Lewis said,

What Satan put into the heads of our remote ancestors was the idea that they could "be like gods." . . .
Out of that hopeless attempt has come nearly all that we can call human history. . . the long terrible story of man trying to find something other than God which will make him happy." 2

1 A.T. Pierson, The Bible and Spiritual Life (Fincastle, VA: Scripture Truth, reprint of 1887 Exeter Hall lectures), p. 169.

2 C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity (New York: MacMillan, 1960.) pp. 53-54.

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