I write and speak a lot about deception. The reason is that deception is Satan’s primary method of defeating and trapping professing Christians. Further, God’s word makes it clear that deception will be exceptionally powerful and alluring in these last days (Matthew 24:24).
It is obvious that most professing Christians have not realized or accepted how very difficult it will be to survive end times deception. How difficult? It will be the greatest difficulty most people have ever encountered. It is like an astounding magic show and demonic multilevel marketing scheme combined. It is becoming the fad of fads, the trick of tricks, the con of cons, sin of sins, and the deception of deceptions by the god of this world in his final attempt to usurp the throne of the King of kings and Lord of lords. Are you ready?
Consider that the Parable of Ten Virgins depicts the five wise and five foolish ones as being exactly alike in appearance. The only difference was the five rejected ones were foolish not to have a reserve of oil. “Foolish” is the Greek word “moros”, from which we get “moron”. It means, “dull or stupid, heedless, a moral blockhead, absurd.” They knew they were supposed to have reserve oil, had time to gather it, and yet ignored all wisdom and prudence. How many professing Christians are doing precisely the same thing today?
Consider that Christ declared that the only way to tell the false prophets from the true ones would be by their fruit (Matthew 7:15-16). Many professing Christians today love the fruit of false prophets.
The Apostle Paul said that ministers of Satan are disguised as ministers of righteousness (2 Corinthians 11:15). Innumerable professing Christians love blasphemy of the way of truth by false teachers (2 Peter 2:1-3).
Additionally, the Paul paints the picture of apostate ones and declares that they have an outward form of godliness (2 Timothy 3:1-9). In other words, they look like true Christians, but are empty of godliness. Their number greatly exceeds the number of the called, chosen, and faithful. They are increasing in number daily.
These verses present a last day’s picture of false Christians appearing as true Christians, false prophets that appear as true prophets, and false ministers of righteousness that appear as true ones. Millions of professing Christians are supporting them. What a bleak picture of intense and saturating deception.
Not only will there be deception, but catastrophic division among Christians. Sin will abound in the secular and religious realms. Consequently, people’s love for God will grow cold. As false prophets arise and deceive many, people will begin to be offended, hate, and betray each other (Matthew 4:10-12). Love for truth will be rejected. There will be a sharp division which will increase as deception and the atmosphere that facilitates it intensifies.
We are seeing great division among Christians at the present. They were divided along denominational lines and over pet doctrines. Now they are divided and dividing over destructive heresies, over support of heretics and hirelings, and over every dissimilarity. Professing Christians trusting in a political solution to the last days are dividing from the ones who understand the times and are trusting God. Where in God’s word does it command Believers to focus on and engage in impeding God’s prophetic fulfillment by any means and at all costs in the last days?
All of that is happening concurrently with the working of Satan with all power, signs, lying wonders, and deceivableness of all unrighteousness (2 Thessalonians 2:9-12). These prophetic signs and events will become more pronounced as the darkness closes in.
We will not survive this dark period if we are not aware that we are in it, and are not prepared to endure it. How can anyone survive who is weak and/or embraces the “Ostrich Complex”? Satan is too cunning and will present ingenious wickedness that will deceptively appear as God’s blessing. If not, then why would any professing Christian accept it? They believe that it is okay, that there is no harm, and that it is actually a benefit or blessing God has bestowed on them. A crude example is a woman who was mistakenly given too much change at the store checkout. She testified that since she needed and had been praying for money, it was a blessing from God. No.
We are told that we are responsible for keeping our spiritual garments unstained. That means having an awareness of the Holy Spirit’s voice and leading. Professing Christians practicing wickedness and claiming it is of God are stained with unrighteousness. They are being led and spoken to by a false spirit. Although for eons their actions would have been considered sin, in this present darkness and deception they declare it as righteous. Further, they defiantly reject and slander anyone who informs them otherwise.
We are witnessing cold and defiant misuse of God’s word to condone greed and covetousness, acceptance of New Age paganism and the Kundalini spirit, drunkenness, smoking marijuana, adultery, fornication, homosexuality, and even pedophilia. Diabolical books (such as “Jesus Calling” by Sarah Young, who channels a demon spirit) are selling multiple millions of copies. The most famous Christians today are for the most part heretics. The further they drift from truth, the larger their mega churches become. Pronouncing wickedness as righteousness is the current quick path to fame. They claim to possess truth by reason of a majority. It is “broad-path Christianity”, extremely and deadly alluring, and unstoppable until the great and final apostasy has gorged to fullness on the deceived.
It is deception’s great and final harvest in this age. I do not know if anyone has escaped that tenacious net once they are entangled and overcome. No one can deliver them because it is not about needing deliverance. It is about the need for truth. They walked in—they must walk out. But they are in denial of truth. Since the way of escape is truth, and they refuse accept and apply truth, they have eradicated the way out. The brutal truth is that millions of professing Christians will cry, “Lord, Lord” before God’s throne and hear those dreadful words, “I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!” (Matthew 7:23)
God does not lie and He does not change. We have His word to instruct us. Further, true Christians are indwelt by the Holy Spirit of truth. How can we be deceived? It’s simple, really. We begin by desiring something or someone more than we desire God. That is the seed of deception. We are lured by deception out of protection. Satanic deception is an extremely (supernatural) enticing invitation to reject truth (Genesis 3:1-6).
If we are going to avoid deception in this final period, we must love God and His truth more than anyone or anything else. It’s more than lip service. It is a full and deep-heart commitment. We may make many mistakes, but if that love is there, it will keep us anchored in Him. The only safe place to be is in Him—agreeing with His word, filled with and obedient to the Holy Spirit, trusting in His deliverance, loving Christ Jesus and loving truth.
Deception in Younger Generations
Three years ago, a Barna report declared that America is becoming a post-Christian, nation. (America Becoming Increasingly ‘Post-Christian,’ Research Shows, Jeff Schapiro, Christian Post, April 15, 2013) America may be rapidly “becoming” a post-Christian nation, but the millions of professing Christians ushering in that trend are already post-Christian. Sadly, a multitude has succumbed to deception. An indication of how far down the post-Christian road America is at the present is evidenced in the two major candidates for the office of president. They are the fruit of apostate Christianity and licentious and the hedonistic secular society nearing convergence. In fact, the two sectors have already converged in certain areas, such as acceptance of homosexuality.
A major problem and cause of conflict is that many professing Christians are ignorant of or refuse to recognize the danger of the deception. A significant number believes it to be positive progress. They eagerly await further removal of godly restraints and more acceptance of the diabolical into their denominations and churches. Although many professing Christians recognizes the spiritual declension and degradation, they are unwilling to consider the ramifications. It is too painful for minds already overloaded with politics, economic hardships, the threat of terrorism, and other serious issues.
We could point to several major factors that are instrumental in leading the trek into a post-Christian era. However, in my opinion megachurch pastors, such as Joel Osteen, T.D. Jakes, and Rick Warren, are in large part to blame. It appears that megachurch pastors as a whole have commandeered the helm of Christianity. That is a huge deposit of power that some have failed to use responsibly. In their quest to reach the numbers, many megachurch pastors are paving the way for heresy and a greatly compromised Gospel. In fact, some of them are actually heretics.
I’m not opposed to large churches based on an aversion to their size. The fact is, a small group of megachurch pastors are initiating a dangerous paradigm shift in Christianity. Megachurches comprised approximately 1% of American churches, but they exert a vast amount of influence over Christianity. The leaders of smaller churches are glued to their TVs and the Internet to discover what they must do next to keep pace. Pastors of youth-oriented megachurches are the “popes” of the youth culture.
In a recent article in Salon magazine (albeit a liberal bastion), Matthew Sheffleld wrote, “Americans are moving away from Christianity, including people most likely to vote Republican.” The article stated that Republican’s had lost the youth vote most likely because of their “lack of interest in religion”. – Matthew Sheffield, The rise of irreligion is the GOP’s real demographic crisis, Salon, Web, 08-20-2016
One may wonder that the youth have a “lack of interest in religion”, but one should not wonder why.
First, apostasy in the older generations have led to successive generations that never witnessed or experienced the power of God. Additionally, for decades most denominations have employed age-segregation in church meetings. At some point, the youth meetings became youth church with their own music, youth pastor, and sermons-lite. It was completely different than what was going on in the main sanctuary.
In those age-segregated meetings, the younger generation experienced emotion common in a secular music concert or sporting event. They were told that it was the Holy Spirit “showing up”. Is there any wonder about what caused the phenomenon of youth-oriented churches? The model for youth-oriented churches was developed during church sanctioned age-segregation.
What did we expect those generations to do once they had gained control of churches and denominations? Youth-oriented megachurch pastors brag about having severed their churches from traditional Christianity. We only have to consider the influential but negative effect of those churches to understand why faith is declining in youth. The case can be made that the carnal antics and shallow belief systems is contributing to many youth rejecting Christianity altogether.
The premise of the megachurch concept was to reaching the “unchurched”. They began by diluting the Gospel and adapting entertainment models sourced from the world system. Throughout the evolution of youth-oriented megachurches, the founders and supporters claimed that generations of youth were being lost. They placed the blame squarely on traditional churches, claiming that they had failed to recognize and become compliant with changing cultural trends. The result was a disassociation with traditional Christianity.
Now broken free from the restraints of orthodoxy, the push appears to be developing a New Christianity. Consequently, the central figure in the Bible is no longer the main attraction in most youth-oriented church meetings. Instead, there are loud rock bands, colorful stage lights, cafés, secular music, jumbotron screens, and more, to excite the senses. The message is no longer the anointed word of God. The preaching, if that is what is can be honestly called, resembles pop psychology with sin unchallenged. The result is that “lost” and “saved” are vague or unknown concepts. Attendees do not recognize their need for the Savior Jesus Christ.
It is Apostasy and Rebellion
The blunt truth is that the world system is best at being the world system, and churches is best at being Christianity assembled. When churches attempt to be a sanitized version of the world system, they fail miserably as Christian institutions. The horrible consequence is that they no longer cherish and produce a viable biblical message. Further, they will incrementally agree with the world system that such a message is unnecessary. However, the answer to the needs of the youth or any age group or generation is not entertainment. And it most certainly is not discovered in a Seeker-sensitive or Emergent megachurch. They need Christ in the most pure and undiluted presentation.
Millennial and younger generations have believed the message by demonstration that the substance of the world system is necessary to one’s spirituality and purpose. The logical conclusion is, why remain in a church? Why not simply accept the world system and its undiluted offerings and develop one’s own belief system. A generic template is:
“God loves everyone, therefore everyone is going to heaven. No one is perfect, therefore no one can judge me. There is no need for a standard, therefore don’t apply a standard to me. There is no hell, therefore no need for concern about eternity. We are okay as we are, therefore no need for a Savior.”
I do not believe that the result can be accurately be called apostasy. Apostasy is defection from the faith. The truth is, many of the professing Christian Millennials never had a spiritual birthday, i.e., they were never born again. They came to Christianity, such as it is, via mental assent. There was no spiritual experience, but an emotional one generated by sensationalism with all its trappings. They cannot defect from what they have never had. At the risk of being labelled out-of-touch, I wonder if this is the “generation that is pure in its own eyes, yet is not washed from its filthiness.” – Proverbs 30:12
Without being replenished by individuals of successive generations that are truly born again, Christianity has no recourse but to die. As someone once said, “God has no grandchildren.” Each generation must have its own revival. If there is no passionate love for God in the leadership, there are no models for true Christianity to provoke that awakening. If they will not unashamedly raise the standard of godliness, they cannot effectively present the need for Christ as Savior and Lord. When grace is thus cheapened, the entire Gospel loses its worth. How then can we expect there not to be a great departure from Christianity by younger generations?
The Patience and Longsuffering of the Saints
I realize that all of this is a burden for people to read. The question that I often receive is, “What are we supposed to do?” In my opinion, we have to prepare ourselves spiritually to endure this dark storm. Many Christians are discouraged and some are depressed. I do not wish to belittle their maladies, but our faith is based on God’s love and promise ever to leave or forsake us. We must trust in Him more than anyone or anything else.
In God’s word, there are two primary words that describe the qualities that we must develop to endure the end times. One is longsuffering and the other is patience. There is some difference between the two.
Patience: Greek, hypomone, meaning; the characteristic of a man who is not swerved from his deliberate purpose and his loyalty to faith and piety by even the greatest trials and sufferings.
Longsuffering: Greek, makrothymia, which is, patience, steadfastness, constancy, perseverance.
I’m not a Greek scholar, but I use the same tools as everyone else to interpret and understand the words. I could be wrong, but I consider longsuffering to mean “extraordinary composure” especially under severe trials. In other words, longsuffering is being patience in a trial over a long period without losing your composure. Longsuffering is a fruit of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22).
In the following passage, we see the two terms combined in a verse.
“For this reason we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, for all patience and longsuffering with joy;” – Col. 1:9-11
It is as if patience is something we may develop in our nature, but longsuffering is something that the Holy Spirit imparts to our nature. When we need patience over a long period, we need longsuffering.
I recently witnessed an example of impatience. A man in a truck was behind a woman in a small car as they came to a stop light. She wasn’t moving fast enough for him. He began banging the steering wheel and rocking back and forth violently in the seat. It was apparent that he was shouting because he was red-faced and opening his mouth very wide. He had no knowledge of why the woman was slow. It may have been the first time she had balked rather than try to beat the light. She may have just received the news of a deceased loved one. She may have just lost her job. It could have been a simple case of being patient. Whatever the case, nothing fruitful was accomplished by the actions of the man behind her. She never knew he was there.
The truth is, we are an impatient society in this nation. We have reached the point to where we do not simply want it—we want it now. It seems that everything today is designed to help people avoid patience. Is it any wonder that patience is a bother to so many people today? Consider the spiritual pitfalls that come from tolerating impatience.
- People are too impatient to pray.
- They are too impatient to read, much less to study, God’s word.
- They are too impatient to wait upon the Lord, but race ahead of His will.
They have no patience for anything but what please their flesh. They can sit before TV for hours. They can lay out in the sun for hours. But they cannot tolerate anything that produces a spiritual benefit. Now we have our gadgets, our remotes, our microwaves, and other instant stuff. We can hop into our vehicles and race to another town to run around with the other human ants from shop to shop. Some people are not content to make that trip at 65 mph. They must drive 75 mph or greater, dodging in and out of traffic, cutting off people and inciting road rage.
We do not have time for conversations with each other. Impatience shows up in nearly every conversation I am involved in. We want text messages, not conversations—Internet search engines, not books. We want to bypass work, but get the benefits. We want the thrill of victory without the ability or the effort of playing the game well.
A large number of the populace survives on antidepressants because too many people are unwilling to be patient enough to work out their problems. Some people pay for liposuction rather than having the patience to lose weight by exercise and diet/lifestyle change.
This is our world and we demand that God fit into it or we will fashion a god that conforms to it. It is why the Seeker-Sensitive, Launch and Emergent Churches, and Youth-oriented churches, are so popular. Everything is quick, moving, interesting and entertaining to the flesh, and no one has to think deep about anything. You shuffle dance to the coffee bar, and then into the sanctuary, dance to the music, endure a short sermon, and head to the restaurant never having experienced a boring moment. Everything is designed to placate impatience. Impatience is the enemy of spiritual growth.
In the Parable of the Ten Virgins (Matthew 25), Christ taught that we would need the proper amount of oil to endure to the coming of the Bridegroom. The blunt truth is that no one will get “oil” from a vending machine. It will not be something that will be passed out in a mass therapy session. No pill will produce it. In my opinion, “oil” comes from a deep faith and trust. Such faith and trust comes from enduring (not avoiding) trials. The trying of our faith produces patience (James 1:2-4). Enduring numerous trials will produce longsuffering. Longsuffering is the fruit of our faith and trust in God.
Every wonder why they call seriously sick people patients? Perhaps it is because sickness has forced them to slow down and wait on the process of care and healing. The Latin verb pati means to suffer. Patientem is an individual that is suffering. It presents the idea of an individual who suffers longsuffering or forbearance, which connote patience. We can consider ourselves God’s patients during a trial, waiting for His deliverance. He pours out His oil in us (Isaiah 61:3).
When we have this “oil”, we are a bright light, a beacon of hope to people who are struggling during this dark period. As long as the world remains, there is hope. As long as one person will become fully surrendered to God, the minions of darkness must surrender their prey. However, we cannot expect someone else to rise to the enormous challenge to be a bright light. The call to duty must be as a fire brand of God in each of our souls.
If there is any hope for the world and coming generations it must be birthed in a wholesale refusal by God’s people to cower before the encroaching darkness. It is a fact that the minions of darkness are not going to back off. Likewise, the children of the Light must not be undaunted in their profession, possession, and expression of faith.