Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron, - 1Timothy 4: 1-2 (NKJV)
We are raising up a generation of biblically illiterate, church worshipping, pastor exalting, Christians who lack the discernment necessary to realize when they are standing amidst pure heresy and what is worse, they seemingly do not care. Now, this is a broad statement and a generalization. I know many Christians who approach the Bible as Bereans and God with the reverent awe He deserves. Likewise there are many churches that refuse to compromise the Gospel and are led by God-fearing pastors. Unfortunately, as false theologies and Pop Christianity continues to expand, their number is dwindling in the face of people who know how to say the name Jesus, but deny any of His power in their lives:
You should know this, Timothy, that in the last days there will be very difficult times. For people will love only themselves and their money. They will be boastful and proud, scoffing at God, disobedient to their parents, and ungrateful. They will consider nothing sacred. They will be unloving and unforgiving; they will slander others and have no self-control. They will be cruel and hate what is good. They will betray their friends, be reckless, be puffed up with pride, and love pleasure rather than God. They will act religious, but they will reject the power that could make them godly. Stay away from people like that! - 2Timothy 3: 1-5 (NLT)
If narcissism and greed do not typify the majority of the modern church I do not know what does. I watched a video today of pastor zip-lining into the pulpit. I heard another popular preacher dare to use John 3: 16 to demand tithes from people. These last days are extremely difficult and will only grow worse as we march towards the second coming of Jesus Christ. Ungrateful? The heretical prosperity gospel is raising up generations of ungrateful Christians. Disobedient? The heretical hyper-grace gospel is raising up a generation of Christians who cast aside the need to work out our salvation with fear and trembling. Mocking God? We have seen such bizarre false signs and wonders that their entire nature is a thumb in the eye of God. Holy laughter? Uncontrollable animal noises? Drop kicking people looking for prayer in the name of Jesus? Drunk in the spirit? Gem stones, gold dust, glory clouds, and angel feathers? These are not the fringe anymore of a biblically solid church. They are now the mainstream of a biblically illiterate church. Consider that the biggest, most popular church in the country (Lakewood) is entirely based upon word faith heresy and prosperity heresy and then ask yourself if that is not scoffing at the real God? Consider that the biggest, most popular worship artists today (Jesus Culture) teaches dominionist heresy, has worship leaders who have testified they have been visited by demons, sing new age mysticism and overly sexualized lyrics; and come from one of the most heretical churches in the country that happens to have a school to teach people the gifts of the spirit. Do you think that is not mocking God? Slander and cruel? I have seen pastors use the purpose driven church heresy to drive sheep from the pen because they simply disagreed. Betray friends? I have seen friends side with a church building over their friends. Beloved, religion we have plenty of but power we lack.
Which brings us to the key verses for today. They deal with what is commonly referred to as the Great Apostasy or the Great Falling Away. It means that many many people who claim Jesus Christ as Savior will fall away from the faith as one of the precursors of Christ"s return. For a long time I wondered how such a great falling away could ever take place. Once you have tasted the goodness of the Lord it simply did not make a lot of sense that so many would willingly walk away. As I continue to read the Bible however God is making it clear that I was looking at the Great Apostasy incorrectly. I was assuming believers would fall away back into the world. No beloved. The truth is that the Great Apostasy will occur within the church system itself. That people will leave the true Gospel of Jesus Christ for false gospels but not realize that they are doing so.
"Your eye is a lamp that provides light for your body. When your eye is good, your whole body is filled with light. But when your eye is bad, your whole body is filled with darkness. And if the light you think you have is actually darkness, how deep that darkness is! - Matthew 6: 22-23 (NLT)
Think about that verse for a minute. When we convince ourselves that the darkness we are following is actually light, how deep is that darkness indeed! An unsaved person can still be convinced of their sinful state but someone who believes they are saved, believes they are following godly teaching, and believe they belong to a doctrinally correct church? Just try to convince someone then that they are dealing with darkness. I have and been greeted with pastor worship and church worship wrapped up in the name of Jesus. You can present sound Scriptural evidence and you will be greeted with utter carnality.
The key verses spell this out for us clearly. The departure from the faith is displayed through giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons. That is exactly what we see in modern Christianity today. Deceiving spirits run many churches, leading people away from the Word of God. We see an increase in divine revelation replacing the authoritative Word of God. We see an increase in using horrific paraphrases such as The Message, instead of actual translations of God"s Word. We see these deceiving spirits using false signs and wonders such as gem stones, gold dust, glory clouds and angel feathers to mock the real signs and wonders of God. We see large churches creating schools to teach the gifts of the Spirit. The deceiving spirits are described as seducing in other translations and that might give a better picture. These evil spirits seduce the body as they are what is celebrated on television. They are what grows the church horizontally. They are what brings the money into the offering plates.
What of doctrines of demons? In this age of milquetoast theology and kumbya Christianity it seems that sound doctrine has been portrayed as something to not aspire to. When the most popular pastor in America was being interviewed by new age Christ-denier Oprah Winfrey he admitted that doctrine was not his "gifting." The reality is that we should expect and demand that doctrine be pure. Demonic influences in the spirit realm are very real beloved.
For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. - Ephesians 6: 12 (NLT)
Doctrines of demons are those that are contrary to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Paul said let him be accursed who tries to bring a different gospel! Yet what do we see today? Joseph Prince readily admits he preaches a different gospel. A cheap grace that twists the Word of God and lulls the more naïve Christians into dismissing matters dealing with sin, repentance and the law. Preachers such as Joel Osteen, selling earthly prosperity in lieu of eternal riches. Teaching such nonsense as being able to speak things into existence in our lives. False doctrine industries such as the International House of Prayer and the New Apostolic Reformation pretending to be swept up to the throne room, receiving direct marching orders from God Himself, and teaching children that they are the army God needs to prepare the earth for Christ's return. Fake healing movements by the likes of Benny Hinn, the poster child of false teachers. We see demonically influenced music disguised as worship, mixing new age chanting, repetitive refrains droning without end and the over-sexualization of Jesus. The emergence of hipster pastors sporting mohawks, leather jackets and a sincere desire to be relevant to a culture that is consigning people to hell. Beloved these ARE the doctrines of demons the key verse warns us about. Holy laughter, rolling around on the ground, convulsing uncontrollably, barking like dogs, drop kicking people looking for prayer, drunk in the spirit, and any other numbers of clearly demonically influenced doctrines that have been widely accepted in our churches over the past 20 years.
To make matters worse, we see a propping up of false teaching by a spineless leadership more concerned about television ratings and offering amounts than staying true to the Word of God. This Kumbya Christianity lends credibility to the incredulous and waters down the testimony of some who preach doctrine correctly but simply refuse to call what is false, despite biblical admonition to not call evil good. When we step back and look upon the breadth of this work, it becomes clearer that not only will the Great Apostasy come from within the church but that it is in fact underway. Think of your mega church pastors today. Do you honestly think they will instruct their congregation to not take the mark of the beast? How would we buy their books?
There are two remaining points from the key verses. First of all, those that are part of the Great Falling Away will do so while speaking lies in hypocrisy. Beloved, remember that these folks will be convinced that their church is righteous. That their pastor is just such a swell guy; there's no way he can be false. Don't talk about my friend the apostle or my friend the prophetess! You are just dividing! You are sowing disunity! Once again, displaying a poor understanding of Scripture:
Now I urge you, brethren, note those who cause divisions and offenses, contrary to the doctrine which you learned, and avoid them. - Romans 16: 17 (NKJV)
The ones who cause the true division in the Body of Christ are the ones who adhere to and teach false doctrines! The first cry of the false teacher is always for a false unity. If we are not united in Christ there can be no unity. But think about the hypocrisy for a second. That someone claiming to represent Jesus Christ on earth would preach that we can ignore the law now even though Christ taught He came to perfect it. Another preaching that God wants us to be rich and comfortable when Christ had no place to lay His head and was crucified! Another teaching that we have to prepare the earth for His return when He taught us that we are pilgrims and sojourners through this world. There are some teaching that there is no hell or no consequence for sin - all in the name of Jesus. I do not think people realize or consider their own hypocrisy is claiming to follow Christ, teach Christ and yet ignore what Christ said.