Today’s selected reading continues in the New Testament epistle of the apostle Paul unto the churches which were in Galatia. More specifically, today’s reading is found in verses twenty-three through twenty-nine or the third chapter. With these seven verses the third chapter of the epistle to the churches in Galatia comes to a close. If you read and study this chapter in its entirety you will discover how it begins and opens up with the apostle asking these foolish Galatians who had bewitched them that they should not obey the truth which was so clearly set forth and laid it before them. If you turn and direct your attention to the opening text of the epistle as a whole you will notice that the apostle Paul marveled that they had so quickly and so suddenly turned away from the true and authentic gospel concerning Jesus Christ unto another. In the second chapter of this epistle the apostle Paul speaks of false brethren who crept in unaware among the churches in order that they might spy out the liberty they had in Christ that they might bring them into bondage. What’s more, is the apostle Paul wrote unto the churches in Galatia that this other gospel was not a gospel at all but was a fabricated and altered version of the gospel which distorted the truth that was found in Christ. It’s absolutely necessary and imperative that when we read this particular epistle we notice the difference between a gospel that is false and neglects to contain the truth that is in Christ, and the true, authentic and genuine gospel which clearly and simply presents the truth that is found in Christ. When I read the epistle of the apostle Paul unto the churches which are in Galatia I am quickly amazed at the language that is found within the epistle, for the apostle clearly describes how these churches had been infiltrated by false brethren who were nothing more than wolves in sheep’s clothing masquerading themselves as angels of light and genuine apostles.
The more I read and study the epistle of the apostle Paul unto the churches which were in Galatia the more o can’t help but be struck by two of Satan’s greatest tactics and strategies within the churches of Jesus Christ. In order to truly and properly understand what Satan’s strategy truly is within the churches of Jesus Christ it is necessary to turn and direct your attention to the twenty-fourth chapter of the gospel of Matthew in the New Testament. If you read Jesus’ words found within this chapter concerning the Last Days you will quickly discover that in these two days Satan indeed has two very distinct strategies which he uses specifically toward and against the churches or Jesus Christ. As you read this particular chapter you will notice that one of Satan’s greatest strategies isn’t actually present within the churches themselves, but without. It’s interesting to note that when reading the words of the apostle Paul we find him not only writing concerning fightings within, but also fighting’s without. In other words, the apostle Paul recognized and understood that we not only wrestled and struggled with those things which are present within, but also those things which are present without. Following this line of thought and seeking to understand one of Satan’s greatest tactics toward and against the church we must recognize that one or his greatest strategies and tactics is the persecution of the saints of God within the earth. There is a tactic and strategy of Satan toward and against the church, yet it is not actually one that is found within the church itself, but rather without and outside the church. When we seek to understand how Satan operates in the earth against the church of Jesus Christ we must understand that one of the tools he uses is the persecution of the churches from those forces which are present without and around the churches.
If you turn and direct your attention to the ninth chapter of the New Testament book of Acts you will quickly discover that there was a marked and noticeable transition which took place within and around the church of Jesus Christ—namely, persecution. In fact, if you read the opening verses of the ninth chapter of the New Testament book of Acts you will find that a great and sever persecution broke out against the church of Jesus Christ in the earth. So great and so severe was the persecution toward and against the church that the disciples and followers of Jesus Christ were scattered from the city of Jerusalem unto the surrounding towns, cities, villages, nations and countries. Of course we know and understand that the persecution of the early church was a tool and instrument used in the hand of God to disperse the disciples and followers of Jesus Christ in the earth, but I am convinced that the serpent sought to raise Ho persecution against the church of Jesus Christ as a tool and instrument to wear them down—to break their spirits, to break their resolve, and to completely shatter their trust and confidence in Jesus Christ. I have long believed that one of Satan’s greatest strategies is that of attention within and against the lives of the saints of God—namely, that he would regularly assail them, and so much so that the reach the point of despair and discouragement. I can’t help but recall the example and account of Elijah who was threatened by the murderous queen of Israel—Jezebel—after he not only called fire down from heaven, but also slaughtered the priests of Baal within the earth. Immediately following Elijah calling for fire from heaven and praying for rain to once more fall upon the earth we find Jezebel threatening his life. So severe was the work of the threat within the heart of Elijah that he not only arose and fled for his life, but he also asked that he might die and be removed from the earth. It is this discouragement, it is this coming to the end of ourselves that perfectly describes Satan’s war of attrition toward and against the saints of Jesus Christ in the earth.
This reality and concept of this war of attrition that has been waged on the saints of God throughout the ages, yet will be especially severe in the Last Days is first described in the Old Testament prophetic book of Daniel. First mentioned in the seventh chapter of the prophetic book of Daniel we read of the interpretation of the vision which Daniel saw and the beasts which rose upon the earth—specifically, the interpretation of the fourth beast which was both terrible and dreadful unto Daniel. Beginning with the nineteenth verse of the seventh chapter we read the following words: “Then I would know the truth of the fourth beast, which was diverse from all the others, exceeding dreadful, whose teeth were of iron, and his nails of brass; which devoured, and brake in pieces, and stamped the residue with his feet; and of the ten horns that were in his head, and of the other which came up, and before whom three fell; even of that horn that had eyes, and a mouth that spake very great things, whose look was more stout than his fellows. I beheld, and the same horn made war with the saints, and prevailed against them; until the Ancient of days came, and judgment was given to the saints of the most High; and the time came that the saints possessed the kingdom. Thus he said, The fourth beast shall be the fourth kingdom upon the earth, which shall be diverse from all k ingdoms, and shall devour the whole earth, and shall tread it down, and break it in pieces. And the ten horns out of this k indomitable are ten kings that shall arise: and another shall rise after them; and he shall be delivered from the first, and he shall subdue three kings. And he shall speak great words against the most High, and shall wear out the saints of the most High, and think to change times and laws: and they shall be given into his hand until a time and times and the dividing of time. But the judgment shall sit, and they shall take away his dominion, to consume and to destroy it unto the end. And the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the most High, whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him. Hitherto is the end of the matter” (Daniel 7:19-28).
This reality and concept of this war of attrition against the saints can be further displayed and found within the eighth chapter of the same Old Testament prophetic book. Beginning to read with and from the ninth chapter of the prophetic book of Daniel we read and find the following words: “And out of one of them came forth a little horn, which waxed exceeding great, toward the south, and toward the east, and toward the pleasant land. And it waxed great, even to the host of heaven; and it cast down some of the host and of the stars to the ground, and stamped upon them. Yea, he magnified himself even to the prince of the host, and by him the daily sacrifice was taken away, and the place of his sanctuary was cast down. And an host was given him against the daily sacrifice by reason of transgression, and it cast down the truth to the ground; and it practiced and prospered. Then I heard one saint speaking, and another saint said unto that certain saint which spake, How long shall be the vision concerning the daily sacrifice, and the transgression of desolation, to give both the sanctuary and the host to be trodden under foot? And he said unto me, Unto two thousand and three hundred as; then shall the sanctuary be cleansed. And it came to pass, when I, even I Daniel, had seen the vision, and sought for the meaning, then, behold, there stood before me as the appearance of a man. And I heard a man’s voice between the banks of Ulai, which called, and said, Gabriel, make this man to understand the vision. So he came near where I stood: and when he came, I was afraid, and fell upon my face: but he said unto me, Understand, O son of man: for at the time of the end shall be the vision. Now as he was speaking with me, I was in a deep sleep on my face toward the ground: but he touched me, and set me upright. And he said, Behold, I will make thee know what shall be in the last end of the indignation: for at the time appointed the end shall be. The ram which thou sawest having two horns are the kings of Media and Persia. And the rough goat is the king of Grecia: and the great horn that is between his eyes is the first king. Now that being broken, whereas four stood up for it, four kingdoms shall stand up out of the nation, but not in his power.l And in the latter time of their kingdom, when the transgressors are come to the full, a king of fierce countenance and understanding dark sentences, shall stand up. And his power shall be mighty, but not by his own power: and he shall destroy wonderfully, and shall prosper, and practice, and shall destroy the mighty and the holy people. And through his policy also he shall cause craft to prosper in his hand; and he shall magnify himself in his heart, and by peace shall destroy man: he shall also stand up against the Prince of princes; but he shall be broken without hand. And the vision of the venting and the morning which was told is true: wherefore shut thou up the vision; for it shall be for many days. And I Daniel fainted, and was sick certain days; afterward I rose up, and did the king’s business; and I was astonished at the vision, but none understood it” (Daniel 8:9-27).
Both of these passages found within the prophetic book of Daniel describe the persecution of the saints of God which would come upon the face of the earth. In the seventh chapter of the prophetic book of Daniel we actually find this language of attrition, for Daniel writes how this little horn would rise up and wouldn’t simply make war with and war against the saints, but would set out and seek to wear them down. This must be recognized and understood, for when we consider the activity of Satan in the earth—particularly and especially as it is displayed and mentioned in the twelfth and thirteenth chapters of the New Testament prophetic book of the Revelation of Jesus Christ—we will see that Satan has always sought to make war with and war against the saints. In the last Days especially will Satan seek to make war with and against the saints—especially after his futile attempt to make war in heaven with his angels against Michael and his angels. If you read the twelfth chapter of the New Testament prophetic book of the Revelation of Jesus Christ you will not only read of the war of the dragon upon the earth, but you will also read of the war of the dragon upon the earth against the saints of Jesus. Consider if you will the language found in the twelfth chapter of this prophetic book beginning with the seventh verse: “And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, and prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven. And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him. And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night. And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death. Therefore rejoice, ye heavens, and ye that dwell in them. Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea! For the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time. And when the dragon saw that he was cast unto the earth, he persecuted the woman which brought forth the man child. And to the woman were given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness into her place, where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time, from the face of the serpent. And the serpent cast out of his mouth water as a flood after the woman, that he might cause her to be carried away of the flood. And the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed up the flood which the dragon cast out of his mouth. And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ” (Revelation 12:7-17).
Within the twelfth chapter of the New Testament prophetic book of the Revelation of Jesus Christ we first find the dragon seeking to make war in heaven with his angels against Michael and his angels. The apostle John records that not only was the dragon unable to overcome and win the war waged in heaven against MIchael and his angels, but he was also cast forth out of heaven. When the serpent and dragon was cast forth out of heaven he once and for all lost his place whereby he sought to accuse the saints of God before the throne of God both night and day—a reality we find in the Old Testament book of Job. Upon being cast down to the earth the dragon first sought to make war with and war against the woman who had given birth to the male child through persecution. When the dragon saw that he could not prevail against the woman who had given birth to the male child, he immediately proceeded to rise up and make war with and war against the offspring of the woman who kept the commandments of the Lord—namely, the saints of God. What did the dragon do when he recognized that he could not win the war he waged in heaven against Michael and his angels? When the dragon realized that he could not prevail in heaven against Michael and his angels, and when he was cast down to the earth, he was incredibly wroth, and from that place of wroth and anger, he proceeded to make war with and war against the saints. It is necessary that we see and recognize this, for when we come to the thirteenth chapter of the same New Testament prophetic book of we find this war against the saints being carried out by the same beast and same ruler whom the prophet Daniel spoke about. When we come to the thirteenth chapter of the New Testament prophetic book of the Revelation of Jesus Christ we find the apostle John standing upon the sand of the sea, and there upon the sea witnessing a beast rise up out of the sea. It is this beast whom we must pay close attention to, for it is this beast who was foretold of by the prophet Daniel, and who would carry out the bidding of the dragon within and upon the earth. Consider if you will the words and language beginning with the very first verse:
“And I stood upon the sand of the sea, and saw a beast rise up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and upon his horns ten crowns, and upon his heads the name of blasphemy. And the beast which I saw was like unto a leopard, and his feet were as the feet of a bear, and his mouth as the mouth of a lion: and the dragon gave him his power, and his seat, and great authority. And I saw one of this heads as it were wounded to death; and his deadly wound was healed: and all the world wondered after the beasts. And they worshipped the dragon which gave power unto the beast: and they worshipped the beast, saying, Who is like unto the beast? Who is able to make war with him? And there was given unto him a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies; and power was given unto him to continue forty and two months. And he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme his name, and his tabernacle, and them that dwell in heaven. And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindred, and tongues, and nations. And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. If any man have an ear, let him hear. He that leadeth into captivity shall go into captivity: he that killeth with the sword must be killed with the sword. Here is the patience and the faith of the saints” (Revelation 13:1-10).
All of these passages points to one of the greatest tactics and greatest strategies of the dragon within the earth during the last days—namely, that the dragon would persecute the saints of God within the earth. Through persecution the dragon and the beast would make war with and war against the saints of God in a feverish and frantic attempt to wear them down and completely overwhelm them. The apostle John even records how it was given unto the beast power to make war with the saints, and to overcome them. We dare not be so naïve to think that one of the greatest tactics and strategies the dragon and beast can and will use in the last days is the wearing out and wearing down of the saints, and so much so that they despair even of life. Much like the prophet Elijah who sat down under the juniper tree and declared that it was enough, and asked to die because of the murderous threat of Jezebel and her persecution, so also will there by many saints who will find themselves in this very same place. When speaking of the Last Days Jesus did in fact speak of and reveal one of Satan’s greatest tactics and strategies in the Last Days, which can and will be persecution. Beginning with the ninth verse of the twenty-fourth verse of the gospel of Matthew we find and read the following words: “Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake. And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another. And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come” (Matthew 24:9-14). Within this passage of Scripture we see both of Satan’s tactics and strategies at work within the earth, and the one thing that connects them both—namely, the love of many waxing cold. Within this passage of Scripture Jesus first speaks of the persecution of the saints and followers of Jesus Christ as they will be afflicted, killed and hated of all nations for His name’s sake, and then transitions to false prophets rising up and deceiving many. It is the persecution and affliction that is found in the Last Days that will cause many to be offended—offense which is a byproduct of this persecution and affliction. It is the deception of false prophets, the deception of the false apostles, the deception of the false Christs that will cause the love of many to grow cold because iniquity shall abound.
The reason I mention the persecution of the saints and its partnership with deception in the earth is because I am utterly and completely convinced that in the Last Days one of the greatest tools and strategies is the deception of the saints. It is true the dragon can and will seek to persecute the saints of God, and through this war of attrition seek to wear down and wear out the saints, but it is also true that the dragon can and will seek to deceive the saints of God. I firmly believe that in the Last Days the dragon can and will seek to break down and wear down the saints of God through persecution—but, if I am being honest, I do not believe persecution is his only method of wearing down the saints, for I am also convinced that suffering, struggles, tribal and tribulation will also be used by the dragon against the saints. There is not a doubt in my mind that Satan threw everything he had against Job in the Old Testament in order to wear him down, to break his spirit, and to completely shatter and destroy his trust and confidence in the God whom he served. Of course we read the Old Testament book of Job and we encounter the fact that neither was his spirit broken, nor was his trust and confidence in the Lord his God destroyed—despite the suffering and affliction he endured. I firmly believe the dragon can and will use suffering and persecution in tandem with each other in the Last Days in order to wear down and break the spirits and backs of the saints, but if neither suffering nor persecution works, the dragon can and will use deception within the church. It is this suffering and persecution from without that can be equated to the words of the apostle Paul concerning fightings without, but it is this concept of deception that lines up with the words of the apostle Paul concerning that which we face within, for deception more often than not isn’t found outside the house of God, but found within the house as false brethren, false apostles, false prophets, false teachers, and even false Christ’s enter in among the saints of God within the church to deceive them through false gospels. It is this deception that can and will creep into the church that is designed to present the saints of God with another Jesus whom they have not known and who has not been preached to them, another gospel which they have not heard, and another spirit which they have not received. It is absolutely necessary and imperative that we recognize and understand this, for when we read the epistle of the apostle Paul unto the churches in Galatia we find deception spreading among the churches, and so much so that it causes them to turn away from the gospel concerning Jesus Christ.
The third chapter of the epistle which the apostle Paul wrote unto the churches which were in Galatia begins with the apostle Paul speaking of the Galatians as being foolish because they had been bewitched that they should no longer obey the truth. Almost immediately within this passage of Scripture we find the apostle Paul directing his attention to the concept of the works of the law, and how the churches in Galatia had been infiltrated by false brethren who sought to bring them into bondage by turning away from a gospel of faith in Christ Jesus alone to a gospel of the works of the law. The reason we find so much language within this particular chapter of the epistle of Paul unto the churches in Galatia is because they had turned themselves away from the gospel concerning Jesus Christ, and had begun giving themselves to the works of the law rather than faith in Jesus Christ. The apostle Paul emphatically declares and proclaims unto them that they did not receive the Spirit by the works of the law, but rather by the hearing of faith. What’s more, is the apostle goes on to write unto them that although they had begun in the Spirit, they now sought to be made perfect by the flesh—namely, that they would and should be made perfect through the works of the law. In all reality, one might even say that the religion of the Pharisees and Sadducees found in the four gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John was in and of itself a false gospel that was present during the days when Jesus walked upon the earth. There is not a doubt in my mind that what the apostle Paul is writing unto the churches in Galatia to address is that which Jesus confronted while He walked upon the earth—namely, that man could be justified by the works of the law and by works of the flesh rather than by faith in Jesus who is both Christ and Lord. I do not believe for one minute that what we find and what we read in the epistle of the apostle Paul unto the churches which are in Galatia is directly connected to what we read and what we find in the four gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, for within those gospels we find a gospel of works and a religion of the flesh which was being promoted by various sects of the religious community. Both the Pharisees and the Sadducees, as well as the scribes, the elders and the chief priests focused entirely on the law of Moses, and adherence to the law as means whereby they might be justified and in right standing before a living and holy God.
It’s actually quite astounding and remarkable when you read the words of the apostle Paul in the third chapter of this epistle, for within this third chapter we find the apostle Paul directly speaking to how inferior the law of Moses was to faith in Jesus Christ. Beginning with the tenth verse of this chapter we find and read these words: “For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them. But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith. And the law is not of faith: but, The man that doeth them shall live in them. Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hanger on a tree: The that blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith” (Galatians 3:10-14). The apostle Paul makes it perfectly and abundantly clear that we cannot be justified by the law, nor by works of the law, nor by the works of the flesh, for we can only serve one master. I am firmly convinced that the words which Jesus spoke concerning our inability to serve two masters directly applies to the law of Moses and the gospel of Jesus Christ, for we must all encounter the decision whether or not we will allow ourselves to be subject to the law of Moses, or whether we will bring ourselves under the authority of the gospel concerning Jesus the Christ. Even at the very end of this chapter the apostle Paul goes on to write concerning the law, and how it served only as a school master to bring us into the fulness of the revelation of Jesus the Christ and the gospel of Christ which is heard and received by faith. “Wherefore then seventh the law? It was added because of transgressions, till the seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator. Now a mediator is not a mediator of one, but God is one. Is the law then against the promises of God? God forbid: for if there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law. But the Scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe. But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed. Wherefore the law was our school master to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after that faith is comer, we are no longer under a school master. For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise” (Galatians 5:19-29).
FOR IF THERE HAD BEEN A LAW GIVEN WHICH COULD HAVE GIVEN LIFE, VERILY RIGHTEOUSNESS SHOULD HAVE BEEN BY THE LAW! There is a vast and fundamental difference between the law of Moses which was given over forty days and forty nights in the wilderness of Sinai, and the gospel concerning Jesus Christ and faith in Christ. I can’t help but be reminded of the words which the apostle John wrote in the first chapter of the gospel account of the life and ministry of Jesus to help bring us face to face with the truth of this matter. IF you begin reading with and from the first verse of the first chapter you will find and read the following words: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not. There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through Him might believe. He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light. That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made by Him, and the world knew Him not. He came unto His own, and His own received Him not. But as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name: which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth. John bare witness of Him, and cried, saying, This was He of whom I spake, He that cometh after me is preferred before me: for He was before me. And of His fulness have all we received, and grace for grace. For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ;. NO man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, He hath declared Him” (John 1:1-18). Notice how the apostle John declared that the law was given by Moses, but that grace and truth came by Jesus Christ. It is necessary that we recognize and understand this, for if we want to truly understand what Jesus think about a gospel of religion and a gospel of the works of the flesh we need only look at and examine how He interacted and dealt with the Pharisees, the scribes, the Sadducees and the religious leaders of His day. If there was one thing Jesus could not tolerate while upon this earth, it was the hypocrisy of the Pharisees, scribes, chief priests, elders, Sadducees and the like. Jesus could not stomach or handle a religion of works and a religion of the flesh, and the entire twenty-third chapter of Matthew’s gospel is dedicated to Jesus’ words indicting the Pharisees and scribes—not only for their hypocrisy, but also for the gospel of works which they promoted and preached during that day. The question we must ask ourselves is whether or not we are going to allow ourselves to be justified by God through faith alone, or whether we will seek to adhere to a gospel of the works of the flesh where everything is dependent on what we can do, what we have done, and what we will do rather than that which Jesus Christ has done for us.