In previous sessions of “The Age of Deceit,” we identified Satan’s attack on the Word of God through Contradiction, Condescension, and Deconstruction. We then exposed his attack on the Way of God by which he offers another Jesus, another Spirit, and another Gospel.
In this session, we will explore Satan’s attack on the Church. The first time the word “church” is used in the Bible is found in Matthew chapter 16. Here the Greek word ekklēsia is translated Church which means “a gathering or assembly.”
Jesus taught His disciples concerning the establishment of His Church.
When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, “Whom do men say that I the Son of man am?” And they said, “Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets.” He saith unto them, “But whom say ye that I am?” And Simon Peter answered and said, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus answered and said unto him, “Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”
Matthew 16:13-18 KJV
Early in His teaching ministry, Jesus stated that His message of truth would eventually be turned into lies by self-seeking false prophets who pretend to be spokesmen for God. As Jesus addressed the people during His Sermon on the Mount, He warned,
“Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.”
Matthew 7:15-20 KJV
Deception by Infiltration
How do these destructive influences infiltrate the Church? The apostle Paul told the Church elders in Ephesus,
“Wherefore I take you to record this day, that I am pure from the blood of all men. For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God. Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.”
Acts 20:26-30 KJV
Here Paul identified two main doors by which these “wolves” enter the Church.
- By Invasion. This is a frontal attack whereby they “enter in among you.”
- By Inversion. This is a more subtle attack whereby they come “of your own selves.”
The method of these deviant disciples is to “speak perverse things” (which means “to distort, to oppose, and to lead from the right path”) and then “draw away disciples after themselves.” In other words, their ultimate objective is to have people become followers of them instead of being followers of Jesus alone. Jesus warned about these false leaders by stating…
“Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves.”
Matthew 23:15 KJV
Deception by Accommodation
Jeremiah complained about the apostasy of Judah by saying,
“Hath a nation changed their gods, which are yet no gods? but my people have changed their glory for that which doth not profit. Be astonished, O ye heavens, at this, and be horribly afraid, be ye very desolate, saith the LORD. For my people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water.”
Jer 2:11-13 KJV
Today, Darwinian physical science has given the world “Declaration over Exploration.” Sadly, many Churches are promoting “Theistic Evolution” as a needless compromise with the disastrous result of killing God the Creator.
Freudian mental science has given the world an “Escape from Sin” where everyone is a victim. Here, too many in the Church promote these unbiblical ideas and thereby killing God the Judge.
18th-20th century Biblical “Higher Criticism” gave the world spiritual doubt. The result? Absence of personal discernment as the Church promotes its own self-criticism and thereby killing God the Communicator.
All three of these secular practices are like the “broken cisterns” spoken of by Jeremiah.
Alliances of Weakness
Hosea helps us draw a historic parallel here. He observes that,
Ephraim, he hath mixed himself among the people; Ephraim is a cake not turned. Strangers have devoured his strength, and he knoweth it not: yea, gray hairs are here and there upon him, yet he knoweth not.
Hos 7:8-9 KJV
Hosea was warning against the deception that comes from infiltration, integration, and influence of evil among God’s people. The best example of this kind of compromise is King Solomon himself as the writer of 1 Kings reminds us,
For it came to pass, when Solomon was old, that his wives turned away his heart after other gods: and his heart was not perfect with the LORD his God, as was the heart of David his father.
1Ki 11:4 KJV
The Worldwide Ecumenical Movement apply demonstrates this dangerous paradigm shift among some church organizations today. This type of pragmatic political positioning dilutes and dims the Salt and Light effect of the true followers of Jesus Christ. It is interesting to observe this global “in gathering.”
- The Denominational churches are trying to “gather in” the Free churches,
- The Reformation churches are trying to “gather in” the Denominational churches,
- The Roman Catholic church is trying to “gather in” the Reformation churches, and
- Globalism is trying to “gather in” all religions under one big umbrella of control and compromise.
Sheep Without Shepherds
Again, the prophet Hosea gives us the historic parallel to our current situation. Concerning the backsliding of the northern nation of Israel, He complains,
My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children.
Hos 4:6 KJV
Jeremiah tells us that,
My people hath been lost sheep: their shepherds have caused them to go astray, they have turned them away [on] the mountains: they have gone from mountain to hill, they have forgotten their resting place.
Jer 50:6 KJV
Woe be unto the pastors that destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture! saith the LORD. Therefore thus saith the LORD God of Israel against the pastors that feed my people; Ye have scattered my flock, and driven them away, and have not visited them: behold, I will visit upon you the evil of your doings, saith the LORD.
Jer 23:1-2 KJV
False teachers in the end times are predicted by Jesus, by Paul, and Peter.
The characteristics of these invaders are clearly identified in Scripture. The Epistle of Jude tells us,
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. ... 8 Likewise also these filthy dreamers defile the flesh, despise dominion, and speak evil of dignities. ... 12 These are spots in your feasts of charity, when they feast with you, feeding themselves without fear: clouds they are without water, carried about of winds; trees whose fruit withereth, without fruit, twice dead, plucked up by the roots; 13 Raging waves of the sea, foaming out their own shame; wandering stars, to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever. ... 16 These are murmurers, complainers, walking after their own lusts; and their mouth speaketh great swelling words, having men’s persons in admiration because of advantage.
Jude 1:4, 8, 12-13, 16 KJV
Therefore, we can see that these “false pastors” are the authors of apostasy within the end-times Church today and will take the lead in the downfall of many. Jude’s epistle gives us what should be our response to these “wolves in sheep’s clothing.”
But, beloved, remember ye the words which were spoken before of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ; How that they told you there should be mockers in the last time, who should walk after their own ungodly lusts. These be they who separate themselves, sensual, having not the Spirit. But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost, Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life. And of some have compassion, making a difference: And others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh. Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen.
Jude 1:17-25 KJV