“Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons, through the insincerity of liars whose consciences are seared.”[1 Timothy 4:1-2]
Historically speaking, there has always been a battle for truth and a satanic attack on the authority of Scripture within the church. The early church fathers fought the devilish lies and heresies of Gnosticism. The leaders of the Protestant Reformation risked their lives speaking out against the ecclesiastical corruption and doctrinal distortions of the Catholic Church.
After the Enlightenment and the introduction of Darwinian Evolution, many faithful pastors and theologians in Europe and America held firmly to Biblical truth in spite of the new-age seduction of scientific indoctrination and academic intimidation.
With each generation, God’s faithful remnant of believers has been faced with a new threat to the integrity and authority of the Scriptures and been forced to fight for sound doctrine. So in that sense, there is nothing new under the sun.
But Jesus reminds us in Matthew 24:4-5 that spiritual apostasy and deception within the church will be one of the birth pains of the last days. In other words, the spiritual lies, doctrinal compromises and gross misrepresentations of God’s word will become more intense, more insidious, and more frequent in these last days. If we are to take the words of Jesus at face value, the onslaught of satanic deception will not relent but only grow and climax at the revelation of man of lawlessness himself — aka the Antichrist.
It is as if the “church” is being seduced and led astray with each passing satanic contraction. Sadly, this is happening all over the world, as the enemy has infiltrated the church, influenced false teachers, and accumulated for himself an army of apostates all over the world.
The common denominator in all of the deception is easy to identify. Wherever there is a departure from the authority of the Bible and a compromise in sound doctrine, heresy and satan’s destructive lies are embraced.
Just consider where the church is today.
Many mainline denominations in the U.S. have embraced same-sex marriage and even ordain openly homosexual clergy, with many more soon to follow. These include but aren’t limited to The Episcopal Church, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).
Some of the largest congregations in America and other parts of world also are led by some of the wealthiest pastors in the world. Prosperity preachers like Kenneth Copeland, Joyce Meyer, Benny Hinn, Joel Osteen, T.D. Jakes and Creflo Dollar are making millions off of the masses, as they peddle a false gospel to satisfy the itching ears of man’s carnal nature.
“For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.”[2 Timothy 4:3-4]
Another growing threat to evangelical churches is the infiltration of popular “worship” music that originates from suspect churches, such as Hillsong Church Northpoint Church and Bethel Church. Although most of the lyrical substance of this music is doctrinally solid, there are clear dangers in the worldly impression of “performance” and “entertaining” the masses. Also, there are many problems with the teachings that emerge from these churches.
Here is a good article on the problems with Bethel Church in California — http://www.piratechristian.com/messedupchurch/2018/2/10-reasons-why-bethel-redding-is-a-false-church
Furthermore, even among most people who identify as “evangelicals” today do not affirm the essential doctrines of the faith. A 2017 survey from Lifeway Research reveals a major decline in doctrinal integrity. You can see the survey here.
If we couple the obvious compromises within the church with the failure of the church to disciple the next generation and teach our children the authority of God’s Word, then we have a culture primed for more satanic influence than ever. The U.S. has experienced a substantial rise in satanism and witchcraft in the past 20 years. Whereas the occult once was forced to operate in the dark corners of society, today we see it brazenly parading out in the open.
Wicca, for instance, now acknowledges more adherents in America than some mainline denominations. You can read about this here.
The L.A. Times just published an article titled – “How Millennials Replaced Religion with Astrology and Crystals.”
Obviously spiritual deception is on the rise like never before, which is why the remnant of true believers must be steadfast in our commitment to the Word of God, to sound doctrine, to evangelism and discipleship.
Reformer and theologian John Wycliffe, who is credited with first translating the Latin Bible into the English vernacular of his day, relentlessly fought for the authority of God’s word and the danger of compromising sound doctrine. He reminds us of the role the Bible will forever play in our lives.
“Holy Scripture is the highest authority for every believer, the standard of faith and the foundation for reform.”John Wycliffe
We must heed the word of God, lest we too fall for satan’s schemes. We must ground ourselves in the truth lest we fall for the lie. Because Jesus says that just is the beginning of birth pains, and a greater deception is coming that will sweep away millions into believe the lies of the enemy.
“For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect.”[Matthew 24:24]
If there has ever been a time for God’s people to know God’s word … it is TODAY!