In a church near us, they open their meetings with secular songs blaring from the speakers, including songs by Katy Perry. The church is large and getting larger because the flesh is attracted. Even if their fundamental doctrine is correct, it would be next to impossible to worship God with all the distraction. Trying to worship God in such a setting would be like attempting to tell your spouse how much you love him or her while playing a dramatic video game on a large screen TV and surround sound speakers. Worship is important, even essential to developing intimacy with God. Whether in a church meeting, or in the relative quiet of one’s home, we must worship God. Deception’s most common victim is one that does not worship God or pray.
Some of the largest churches in America use high tech “smoke and mirrors” to lure the many audio and sound addicted masses. Their worship services resemble music concerts with highly talented musicians and singers. However, they also lure the congregants into a trancelike mood so that they are ready to hear whatever the preacher/teacher has to say. There is little or no worship and what is passed off as praise is nothing more than one would experience at a secular event. How can people praise God when they do not know Him? They do not know Him because they have had no intimate contact with Him? For what possible reason can they praise Him? What has He done for them during the week that they are aware of? Further, it is near impossible to worship God in those types of settings. Worship is an intimate experience that is easily invaded by distractions. It is not simply gathering in a group and listening to a sermon as some would suppose.
There was a time during church meetings when Christians worshipped God for God alone. I remember being in church meetings singing a simple chorus with only a piano accompanying. People had their hands raised up toward heaven, tears flowed, and voices choked with emotion as they worshipped God. There was a particular jail service with some prisoners that had been saved during revival. We all sat on the floor and sang as someone played a guitar. I had seldom felt the presence of God in a church building as I felt Him that night in jail. I have heard the chorus of voices in church meetings when there was no instrument accompanying and it seemed as if heaven came down. The focus was on God, on His goodness, mercy and grace.
It is by prayer and worship that we get to know God intimately. We can know about Him by studying His word, but that is not the same as knowing Him. As A. W. Tozer once said, “Knowledge by acquaintance is always better than mere knowledge by description, and the first does not presuppose the second nor require it.” But for many professing Christians, knowledge by acquaintance is non-existent, and knowledge by description is sparse. This presents a huge problem for the generations of Christians living in this period of great deception and apostasy.
If we only know someone by appearance, because appearances can be duplicated, we are in jeopardy of being deceived. Christ warned His followers about false prophets that appear in sheep’s clothing (Matthew 7:15). Paul warned about diabolical individuals appearing as ministers of righteousness and Satan appearing as an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:13-15). There are very charismatic and articulate individuals today that preach what seems to be the word of God, but it is mingled with heresy. Some of the most popular teachers in Christianity teach heresy, malign the word of God, and people flock to hear them because of their very alluring presentation. Books reach the New York Times Best Seller list that on the surface are pleasing to the natural mind and spirit, but contain dangerous heresy. Movies that are advertised as Christian moves may have more truth than heresy, but the heresy may be dangerous to one’s faith.
God’s word prophesies that the endtimes will be filled with all satanic power, signs, lying wonders, and all unrighteous deception (2 Thessalonians 2:9-10). Christ prophesied that the deception would very powerful.
“5 For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many (Matthew 24:5). 23 “Then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘There!’ do not believe it.24 For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect” (Matthew 24:23-24).
While demonic people are performing great lying signs and wonders, God’s true people will look drab by comparison.
“But He answered and said to them, “An evil and adulterous generation seeks after a sign, and no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah.For 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.” (Matthew 12:39-40)
Although He was responding to a request, I do not believe that Christ was referring to the generation He was ministering to. He performed so many miracles before that generation’s eyes that John declared that it would be nearly impossible to write them all in a book. I believe that Christ was referring to the last days. When the Antichrist and False Prophet appear, God will refuse to compete with Satan by matching sign for sign as he did with Moses before Pharaoh. Until the two witnesses of Revelation appear, there will be no signs from God to counter the inundation of the earth with satanic signs and wonders. I have no doubt that there will be thousands healed, innumerable false conversions to Christ, and even people raised from the dead. If the deception is to be a powerful attraction for Christians, it has to be Christian-like in appearance. This will further hasten the flow of professing Christians into the apostasy. There will be other tricks and charlatanism, such as, levitation and magical illusions that millions of people have been primed for by their addiction to visuals and audio and lack of worship. It will no doubt be a great delusion.
It is obvious that the present generation(s) of Christians have for the most rejected worship. They have been set up for this period by the numerous heresies and indulgence in diabolical activities such as contemplative prayer. What is able to save them from deception is the very thing that they have rejected. Worship and prayer brings us into a relationship with God that transcends mere descriptive knowledge. Once we are intimate with God, no amount of satanic deception can lure us into a snare. We will not be swayed by the cleverest Hollywood videos. The smooth tongues of heretics will be revealed for what they are—deceiving. Our senses will be trained to know even the most cunningly disguised evil. Thus, even though the deception will be so powerful that it could deceive the very elect, it will not do so.
“My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.” (John 10:27)