Offense & Deception: The Twin Tactics of the Enemy In the Last Days

Today’s selected reading continues in the New Testament gospel narrative of the life and ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ as it was written and recorded by the apostle Matthew. More specifically today’s passage is found in the first twenty-one verses of the twenty-fourth chapter. “And Jesus went out, and departed from the temple: and his disciples came to him for to shew him the buildings of the temple. And Jesus said unto them, See ye not all these things? Verily I say unto you, There shall not be left one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down. And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? And what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world? And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many. And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: For all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. All these are the beginning of sorrows” (Matthew 24:1-8).

 

            “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).

 

            “When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand) Then let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains; Let him which is on the housetop not come down to take any thing out of his house: Neither let him which is in the field return back to take his clothes. And woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days! But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the sabbath day: For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to t his time, no, nor ever shall be” (Matthew 24:15-21).

 

            When you come to the twenty-fourth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew you will find a tremendous discourse and dialogue which would take place between the Lord Jesus and His disciples. As you read the words which are found in this passage of Scripture you will find that immediately after Jesus spoke the words concerning the scribes and the Pharisees unto His disciples and followers in the Temple of the living God He went out and departed from the Temple. Upon His departure from the Temple His disciples came unto Him to show him the buildings of the temple as if to somehow boast of the greatness of the Temple. Jesus would hear the words which the disciples would speak unto Him concerning the Temple and the stones thereof and would proceed to ask them concerning those things which they saw. Not only this but Jesus would also declare unto them how there would not be left there one stone upon another that shall not be thrown down. If there is one thing we must needs recognize concerning this passage of Scripture it’s that what the Lord Jesus was speaking and referring to would be the coming invasion of the Roman Empire as they would not only destroy the city of Jerusalem but would also burn the Temple to the ground with fire.

 

            The more you read the words which are found in this passage the more you will find Jesus continuing to teach and show unto His disciples incredibly powerful truths—not concerning the Temple nor even that which the disciples had originally inquired of but concerning the end of the days. The apostle Matthew describes how as Jesus departed from the Temple and came unto and sat upon the mount of Olives the disciples came unto Him privately beseeching Him to tell them when shall those things be which He had spoken of. Not only this but the disciples would also proceed to ask the Lord Jesus what would be the sign of His coming and of the end of the world. Initially and originally the disciples would seek to show unto Jesus the great stones of the Temple of the living God, however, they would now proceed to ask Jesus questions concerning the end of the world and the sign of His coming. This is something which is truly necessary for us to recognize and understand for the words which we find in this passage of Scripture can and will call and draw our attention to “the last days according to Jesus.” We know within the Scripture the ancient Hebrew prophets prophesied a great deal concerning the Last Days and the time of the end. From Isaiah to Jeremiah to Zechariah to Ezekiel to Daniel such prophets would be granted visions concerning the end of times and the Last Days and would deliver these words unto their generation. Moreover much of their words would indeed be quoted by other New Testament authors and would even be found in the New Testament prophetic book of the Revelation of the Lord Jesus Christ. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of the tremendous truth that the ancient Hebrew prophets received tremendous vision concerning the Last Days and the end of days and prophesied concerning things which they saw afar off and which would not take place during their own generation.

 

            In reading the words which are found in the twenty-fourth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew we are brought face to face with the incredibly awesome and powerful truth surrounding the last days—and not only the last days but also the last days according to the Lord Jesus. In chapters thirteen through sixteen of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle John we find the Lord Jesus speaking of the days of His departure and the days of the arrival of the person and presence of the Holy Spirit while in this chapter we find the Lord Jesus teaching concerning the last days and the end of times. The disciples would hear the words the Lord Jesus would speak unto them concerning there not being one stone of the Temple that would be left upon another and they would proceed to not only ask Him what would be the sign of His coming but also of the end of the world. It would be in response to their questions the Lord Jesus would teach and speak unto them concerning the Last Days and the end of time. Beginning with the fourth verse of this chapter you will find perhaps one of the core principles and foundations of the Last Days—namely the clarion call to guard ourselves from deception and from being deceived. As you read the words found in this passage of Scripture you will find the Lord Jesus instructing and warning His disciples instructing them to take heed that no man deceive them. What’s more is that as you continue reading the words found in this passage of Scripture you will find the Lord Jesus going on to describe that which be one of the greatest sources of deception in the Last Days.

 

            The more I read the words which are found in this passage of Scripture the more I am brought face to face with the awesome and incredible truth surrounding the truth which the Lord Jesus presented unto his disciples. It would be on this particular occasion the disciples would ask the Lord Jesus what would be the sign of His coming, what would be the sign of the end of the world and then the things which he spoke of would come. In response to their question the Lord Jesus would instruct—and not only instruct but also warn them that no man deceive them. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this and how absolutely incredible it truly is for there is something within Jesus’ words we must needs understand. There have been countless teachers and preachers of the gospel who have thundered from behind the pulpit and declared that we are indeed and are in fact living in the Last Days. With this being said, however, there is a tremendous burden and responsibility we have within our lives if we are truly and indeed living in the Last Days. There are countless teachers, preachers and students of the Word of God who believe that we are indeed and are in fact living in the Last Days and if this is truly the case then there is a clarion call given unto us as the disciples and followers of the Lord Jesus Christ. We must needs recognize and understand this clarion call and ardent warning given and spoken unto us by the Lord Jesus for it brings us face to face with a tremendous need which we have within our own hearts and lives as we truly are living in the last Days.

 

            In reading the words found in the twenty-fourth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew we must needs recognize how in the last days one of the greatest challenges many will face can and will be that of deception. If you have truly taken the time to focus on all the events which have taken place in recent days, weeks, months and even years you will have to admit that deception and the temptation to be deceived has run rampant within and throughout our generation. We know that deception would eventually find its way into the days of the apostles and of the early Church as false teachers, false prophets, false apostles and even false brethren would make their way into and among the churches of the Lord Jesus Christ. The New Testament writings of the apostle Paul, of the apostle Peter, of Jude and the like powerfully demonstrate the tremendous danger of deception in the last days. What’s more is that these authors and writers would also powerfully speak out against the deception that would be present during their own days and generation. In fact you cannot read the words which are found in the second epistle written by the apostle Peter, the epistle written by Jude the brother of James, and even the first and second epistles written by the apostle Paul unto Timothy and not encounter and come face to face with the tremendous deception that would run rampant during the last days. Not only this but in the first and second epistles written by the apostle John you will not only read of the antichrist but also of the spirit of the antichrist which would be prevalent within the world. The apostle John would warn of and against the spirit of the antichrist—and not only against the spirit of the antichrist but also against antichrists which would go out from among the saints and brethren thus demonstrating the reality that they were not among them nor did they belong to them.

           

            I sit here today reading the words which are found in the twenty-fourth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew and I am brought face to face with Jesus’ clarion call and warning given unto the disciples concerning the Last Days. As He began teaching and showing unto His disciples those things concerning the Last Days the Lord Jesus would instruct and warn them that no man deceive them. If there is one thing we must needs understand concerning these words which the Lord Jesus would speak unto them it’s that there would indeed be those who would attempt and seek to deceive them. The very fact the Lord Jesus taught and instructed His disciples to take heed that no man deceive them demonstrates the tremendous and incredible truth surrounding the dangers of deception in the Last Days. We must needs acknowledge this very powerful truth for one of the adversary’s and enemy’s greatest tactics in the Last Days can and will be deception. In fact as you read the words which are found in this passage of Scripture you will find two of the greatest weapons and tactics of the enemy and adversary. On the one hand you will find the first of his tactics and tricks being that of deception as he can and will seek to lure countless disciples and followers of the Lord Jesus away from walking with and following Him. The enemy and adversary can and will seek to do anything and everything he can to distract and deceive the disciples and followers of the Lord Jesus Christ—and not only the disciples and followers of the Lord Jesus Christ but also those present in the world—from walking with and following Him. This is something we must needs recognize and understand for it calls and draws our attention to the incredible truth surrounding the Lord Jesus’ words and how there is a great need for us to guard our hearts and our minds from deception in the Last Days.

 

            I am reading the words which are presented in this passage of Scripture and I am brought face to face with Jesus’ declaration and clarion warning spoken unto the disciples concerning the need to take heed that no man deceive them. If there is one thing we must needs understand concerning these words it’s that by the very nature of them Jesus was declaring unto his disciples that there would be those who would seek to deceive them. If you take the time to read the words which are found in this passage of Scripture you can and will discover the incredible truth that there would be those—particularly and especially those in the Last Days—who would seek to deceive the disciples and even the very elect of God. This is something we have a great need of recognizing and paying close attention to for it calls and draws our attention to the wonderful and powerful warning given and spoken unto the disciples by the Lord Jesus. I am convinced the words which we find here carry with them a similar tone as that which is found in the Old Testament prophetic book of Isaiah as well as this New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew. In the prophetic book of Isaiah the prophet declared unto that generation that no weapon formed against them would prosper, however, what those words suggested and implied was that weapons would indeed be formed against them. There would be those who would read those words and think that what the prophet was saying was that no weapon would be formed against them and that those weapons which were formed against them would not prosper. The truth of the matter, however, is that the words of the prophet wonderfully and powerfully declare that there would indeed be weapons which would be formed against them and that those weapons would not prosper against them.

 

            With this being said we must needs recognize the words which the Lord Jesus spoke in Caesarea Philippi for the Lord Jesus would emphatically declare unto the apostle Peter that upon this rock He would build His church and the gates of hell would not prevail against it. What we must needs recognize and understand concerning these words is that Jesus wasn’t declaring that the gates of hell would not come against the church. It would be very easy to read the words found in this passage of Scripture and think the Lord Jesus was declaring that the gates of hell would not and could not come against the Church. The truth of the matter, however, is that Jesus’ words suggest and seem to point to the fact that the gates of hell would indeed seek to come against the church—and not only come against the church but come against the church during and throughout the ages. We would like to think the gates of hell would not and could not come against the church, however, the truth of the matter is that Jesus declared that the gates of hell would not prosper against the church. This same reality and principle is found here in this passage of Scripture for when Jesus taught and instructed His disciples to take heed that no man deceive them He was in fact suggesting unto them that there would be those who would deceive them. The words which the Lord Jesus spoke on this particular occasion would indeed and would in fact strongly and powerfully suggest that there would indeed be those who would deceive—or at least seek to deceive His disciples and followers from the truth. In fact this is what the apostle Paul warned the Corinthian church and congregation about in the eleventh chapter of the second epistle written unto them. The apostle Paul was concerned that just as the serpent beguiled Eve so their minds would be beguiled from the simplicity that is found in the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. Consider if you will the following words which are found in the eleventh chapter of the second epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the Corinthian congregation:

 

            “Would to God ye could bear with me a little in my folly: and indeed bear with me. For I am jealous over you with a godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ. But I fear, lest by any means as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him. For I suppose I was not a white behind the very chiefest apostles. But though I be rude in speech, yet not in knowledge; but we have been throughly made manifest among you in all things. Have I committed an offence in abasing myself that ye might be exalted, because I have preached to you the gospel of God freely? I robbed other churches taking wages of them to do your service. And when I was present with you, and wanted, I was chargeable to no man; for that which was lacking to me the brethren which came from Macedonia supplied: and in all thigns I have kept myself from being burdensome unto you, and so will I keep myself. As the truth of Christ is in me, no man shall stop me of this boasting in the regions of Achaia. Wherefore? Because I love you not? God knoweth. But what I do, that I will do, that I may cut off occasion from them which desire occasion; that wherein they glory, they may be found even as we. For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works” (2 Corinthians 11:1-15).

 

            The more I think about the words which are found in this passage the more I am brought face to face with the awesome truth surrounding Paul’s concern for the Corinthian congregation. The apostle Paul was concerned that just as the serpent beguiled Eve in the garden so also their minds would be corrupted from the simplicity that is found in Christ. What’s more is that the apostle Paul would also go on to write concerning those who went in among them and were false apostles—those who were deceitful workers who transformed themselves into the apostles of Christ. The apostle Paul would also go on to describe how Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light and it is therefore no great thing if his ministers were also transformed as the ministers of righteousness. This is something we must needs recognize and understand for it calls and draws our attention to the presence of false apostles which were and will continue to be present within the Church. What’s more is that we must needs recognize and understand that the Corinthian congregation wasn’t the only congregation the apostle Paul was concerned with in terms of those who would deceive them. If you read the New Testament book of Acts you will find the apostle Paul meeting with the elders of the Ephesian congregation as he prepared to say goodbye to them knowing they would never see his face again. The apostle Paul would go bound unto the city of Jerusalem not knowing what would abide him there other than the Spirit testifying and bearing him witness that bonds and afflictions abode him wherever he went. In his farewell address to the elders of the Ephesian congregation the apostle Paul would express unto them his concern after his departure knowing that after it savage and grievous wolves would enter in among the flock not sparing them. Consider if you will the following words which are found in the twentieth chapter of the New Testament book of Acts concerning this encounter:

 

            “And from Miletus he sent to Ephesus, and called the elders of the church. And when they were come to him, he said unto them, Ye know, from the first day that I came into Asia, after what manner I have been with you at all seasons, serving the Lord with all humility of mind, and with many tears, and temptations, which befell me by the lying in wait of the Jews: and how I kept back nothing that was provitable unto you, but have shewed unto you, and have taught you publickly, and from house to house, testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ. And now, behold, I go bound in the spirit unto Jerusalem, not knowing the things that shall befall me there: save that the Holy Ghost witnesseth in every city, saying that bonds and afflictiosn abide me. But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God. And now, behold, I. know that ye all, among whom I have gone preaching the kingdom of God, shall see my face no more. 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. Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears. And now, brethren, I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified. I have coveted no man’s silver, or gold, or apparel. Yea, ye yourselves know, that these hands have ministered unto my necessities, and to them that were with me. I have shewed you all things, how that so labouring ye out to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:17-35).

 

            Within this passage of Scripture we find the apostle Paul speaking unto the elders of the Ephesian congregation concerning the time after his departure. What’s more is that when we read the words found in this passage of Scripture we are brought face to face with the tremendous and incredible truth surrounding the apostle Paul and his concern over the Ephesian church. This congregation would weigh heavy on the heart and the spirit of the apostle Paul as he knew that after his departure would grievous wolves enter in among them which would not spare the flock. Not only this but the apostle Paul also knew that of their own selves would men arise, which would speak perverse things to draw away disciples after them. This is something we must needs recognize when considering the words found in this passage of Scripture for it calls and draws our attention to the genuine concern the apostle Paul had for this particular congregation. If there is one thing we must needs understand when reading the words the apostle Paul spoke on this particular occasion as well as the words he wrote unto the churches of Galatia in that epistle it’s that the apostle Paul was indeed genuinely concerned for their salvation and their relationship with the living God. The apostle Paul knew the dangers, the threats and that which would come against the churches of the Lord Jesus Christ and here on this particular occasion the apostle Paul would express his concern unto the elders of the Ephesian church concerning that which they needed to be on the lookout for after his departure. That which the apostle did was warn and prepare the elders of the Ephesian church concerning the days and time after his departure from them and that there would be those who would seek to enter in among them and seek to deceive and destroy them—those who would not spare the flock.

 

            As you continue thinking about and considering this—particularly in light of the words which the Lord Jesus spoke unto the disciples—I am absolutely convinced we must needs pay attention to the words which the apostle Paul wrote in his letter unto the Galatian churches. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of the words which are found in this particular epistle for the words contained therein call and draw our attention to the truth surrounding the Galatian church—and not only concerning the Galatian church but also how the Galatian church allowed themselves to be deceived and to be turned aside unto a false gospel and even a different Jesus whom the apostle Paul did not preach. There is a great need for us to pay attention to the words which the apostle Paul wrote in this passage of Scripture for they call and bring us face to face with the dangers which still impact and affect the church and the saints of God in this generation. If the churches which were present during the days of the apostles faced tremendous dangers and threats from false apostles, false prophets, false teachers, false brethren and the like then we in this generation must needs recognize and understand the dangers which are very real and present in this generation. The saints of God and the disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ must needs understand the great dangers that can and will face them—and not only face them in the world but also face them within the church itself.

 

            It is with this in mind I invite you to consider the following words which are found in the epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the churches which were in Galatia. There is a great need for us to carefully read the words present in this epistle for they bring us face to face with the great concern the apostle Paul had for these churches. This concern the apostle Paul had was not only for what would and could come in the days ahead but also over what had already happened among them. Within this epistle the apostle Paul would speak unto them concerning their departure from the faith and how they were so quickly turned aside to another gospel that was not the true gospel which was preached unto them. Please pay attention to the words which are found in this passage of Scripture beginning with the first chapter and consider the language the apostle Paul used concerning the gospel, concerning the Lord Jesus, concerning the Spirit and concerning that which they had allowed themselves to turn aside to:

 

            “I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed. For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I yet pleased men I should not be the servant of Christ” (Galatians 1:6-10).

 

            “O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you? This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? Are ye so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh? Have ye suffered so many things in vain? If it be yet in vain. He therefore that ministereth to you the Spirit, and worketh miracles among you, doeth he it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith” (Galatians 3:1-5).

 

            “But now, after that ye have known God, or rather are known of God, how turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements, whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage? Ye observe days, and months, and times, and years. I am afraid of you, lest I have bestowed upon you labour in vain” (Galatians 4:9-11).

 

            “Am I therefore become your enemy, because I tell you the truth? They zealously affect you, but not well; yea, they would exclude you, that ye might affect them. But it is good to be zealously affected always in a good thing, and not only when I am present with you. My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you, I desire to be present with you. Now, and to change my voice; for I stand in doubt of you” (Galatians 4:16-20).

 

            “Ye did run well; who did hinder you that ye should not obey the truth? This persuasion cometh not of him that calleth you. A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump. I have confidence in you through the Lord, that ye will be none otherwise minded: but he that troubleth you shall bear his judgment, whosoever he be. And I, brethren, If I yet preach circumcision, why do I yet suffer persecution? Then is the offence of the cross ceased. I would they were even cut off which trouble you” (Galatians 5:7-12).

 

            It is quite astonishing to read the words which are found in this passage and to consider how the apostle Paul was genuinely concerned for and over the Galatian churches. Within these words found in this epistle the apostle Paul reflected upon that which was reported unto him concerning these churches and how they had so soon departed from the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. The churches which were in Galatia had allowed themselves to be turned away and turned aside from the true and genuine gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ and even from the Spirit which had sanctified them. We must needs pay close attention to the words which are found in this passage of Scripture for it calls and draws our attention to the great truth surrounding these churches which were in Galatia. The apostle Paul wrote an epistle unto these churches being very much aware of how they had turned aside from the true gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ—and not only turned aside from the true gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ but also turned aside from Christ Himself. There is a great need to pay attention to the words found in this passage of Scripture for they call and draw our attention to the absolutely wonderful truth surrounding these churches in the region of Galatia and how they had allowed themselves to be infiltrated and impacted by those who would deceive them through a false gospel—and not only a false gospel but also a false Jesus. The apostle Paul would write this epistle unto the churches which were in Galatia for he would seek to call and invite them back to the truth that was found in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ. The apostle Paul would indeed write this letter unto these churches calling and inviting them into the place where they understood the tremendous and inherent dangers they were in if they persisted along and upon the same path.

 

            With all of this being said I find it absolutely necessary to call and draw your attention to the words which the apostle Paul wrote in each of the epistles written unto Timothy. What’s more is that I am not only convinced we need to be aware of the words the apostle Paul wrote in each of these epistles but also the words the apostle Peter wrote in the second chapter of the second epistle he wrote unto the saints which were scattered and suffering. Moreover I would dare say we must also consider the words which are found in the epistle written by Jude the brother of James as it is found in the New Testament. Consider if you will the following passages of Scripture which describe, detail and outline the tremendous deception that faced the churches during the days of the apostles as well as the dangers which face the church of the Lord Jesus Christ during the days in which we live. Pay close attention to the words presented in these passages for they call and draw our attention to the inherent dangers which faced the church during the days of the apostles and early church fathers as well as the dangers which face the church during our own generation during these Last Days:

 

 

            “Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron; forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth. For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving: for it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer. If thou put the brethren in remembrance of these things, thou shalt be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished up in the words of faith of good doctrine, whereunto thou hast attained. But refuse profane and old wives’ fables, and exercise rather unto godliness. For bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of life that now is, and of that which is to come. This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptation. For therefore we both labour and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Saviour of all men, specially those that believe. These things command and teach” (1 Timothy 4:1-11).

 

            “This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy; without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts, ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. Now as Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the faith. But they shall proceed no further: for their folly shall be manifest unto all men, as theirs also was” (2 Timothy 3:1-9).

 

            These are the words which are written and recorded in the epistles which the apostle Paul wrote unto Timothy concerning the last days—days which would be perilous because of the inherent and tremendous dangers which were going to be present and evident during them. The words which are found in these passages of Scripture must be carefully considered when we come to the second chapter of the second epistle written by the apostle Peter for they serve as additional commentary and language painting a powerful picture of the tremendous delusion and deception that can and will be present in the Last Days. What’s more is I am absolutely convinced that many of the false teachers, false apostles and false apostles we find in the church today are deceptive ministers and workers of the adversary preparing and making the way for the ultimate false prophet who can and will accompany the beast which emerged from the sea. We must needs recognize and understand that there is coming a day when there won’t simply be false prophets in the plural sense but there will be a singular false prophet who will work side by side with the Antichrist who can and will rule during the Last Days for a seven year period of time. There is coming a day when there will be a false prophet who will be present in the midst of the earth—a truth we must needs recognize concerning the various false prophets which have been present in the earth since the beginning. It is with this being said I invite you to first consider the words which are found in the second chapter of the second epistle written by the apostle Peter before considering the words which Jude wrote—and not only the words which Jude wrote but also the words which the apostle Paul wrote concerning the Antichrist and the words which the apostle John wrote in the prophetic book of the Revelation of the Lord Jesus Christ. I am also convinced we must needs consider the words which are found in the twenty-third chapter of the Old Testament prophetic book of Jeremiah:

 

            “But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the LORD that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of. And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not. For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment; and spared not the old word, but saved Noah the eight person, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood upon the world of the ungodly; and turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah into ashes condemned them with an overthrow, making them an ensample unto those that after should live ungodly; and delivered just Lot, vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked: (For that righteous man dwelling among them, in seeing and hearing, vexed his righteous soul from day to day with their unlawful deeds;) The LORD knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished: but chiefly them that walk after the flesh in the lust of uncleanness, and despise the government, Presumptuous are they, self-willed, they are not afraid to speak evil of dignities. Whereas angels, which are greater in power and might, bring not failing accusation against them before the Lord. But these, as natural brute beasts, made to be taken and destroyed, speak evil of the things that they understand not; and shall utterly perish in their own corruption; and shall receive the reward of unrighteousness, as they that count it pleasure to riot in the day time. Spots they are and blemishes, sporting themselves with their own deceivings while they feast with you; having eyes full of adultery, and that cannot cease from sin; beguiling unstable souls: an heart they have exercised with covetous practices; cursed children: which have forsaken the right way, and are gone astray, following the way of Balaam the son of Bosor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness; but was rebuked for his iniquity: the dumb ass speaking man’s voice forbad the madness of the prophet. These are wells without water, clouds that are carried with a tempest; to whom the mist of darkness is reserved for ever. For when they speak great swelling words of vanity, they allure through the lusts of the flesh, through much wantonness, those that were clean escaped from them who live in error. While they promise them liberty, they themselves are the servants of corruption: for of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought in bondage. For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning. For if it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them. But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire” (2 Peter 2:1-22).

 

 

            Consider now if you will the following words which are found in the epistle written by Jude, the servant of Jesus Christ, and the brother of James unto those who were sanctified by God the Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ and called. Beginning with the third verse of this passage you will find the following words which Jude wrote unto them concerning the last days and the great deception that can and will be present in the midst of these days and this generation:

 

            “Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints. For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ. I will therefore put you in remembrance, though ye once knew this, how that the Lord, having saved the people out ofg the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed them that believed not. And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day. Even as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities about them, in like manner giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire. Likewise also these filthy dreamers defile the flesh, despise dominion, and speak evil of dignitaries. Yet Michael the archangel, when contending with the devil he disputed about the body of Moses, durst not bring against him a railing accusation, but said, The Lord rebuke thee. But these speak evil of those things which they know not: but what they know naturally, as brute beasts, in those things they corrupt themselves. Woe unto them! For they have gone in the way of Cain, and ran greedily after the error of Balaam for reward, and perished in the gainsaying of Core” (Jude 3-11).

 

            “These are spots in your feasts of charity, when they feast with you, feeding themselves without f ear: clouds they are without water, carried about of winds; trees whose fruit withereth, without fruit, twice dead, plucked up by the roots; raging waves of the sea, foaming out their own shame; wandering stars, to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness for ever. And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints, to execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which are ungodly sinners have spoken against them” (Jude 12-15).

 

            “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. 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 yourselves up 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” (Jude 16-23).

 

            The words which we find here in this passage of Scripture are incredibly unique and powerful for they bring us face to face with the tremendous dangerous of the false prophets which were present during the days of the apostles and the early Church. If you read and study the early part of the New Testament book of Acts you will see very little in terms of false teachers, false prophets, false apostles and the like, however, the further you transition into the book the more you will encounter the dangers facing the church. What’s more is that more often than not the dangers which faced the church not only came from false teachers, false prophets, false apostles and the like outside the church but there were also those who were present within the church who would wreak havoc upon the churches. Churches such as Galatia, Ephesus and Corinth experienced tremendous bouts with rampant deception that would wreak havoc and destroy and shipwreck the faith of countless men and women during the days of the apostles and early church. This is something we must needs recognize and understand—particularly and especially when we consider the words found in the twenty-third chapter of the Old Testament prophetic book of Jeremiah. That which we find in this prophetic book calls and draws our attention to the tremendous truth surrounding the false prophets which were present during the days of Jeremiah. If there is one thing we must needs recognize and understand it’s that false teachers were present during the days of the true prophets of the living God as well. Consider if you will the following words which are found in the twenty-third chapter of the Old Testament prophetic book of Jeremiah beginning to read with and from the ninth verse:

 

            “Mine heart within me is broken because of the prophets; All my bones shake; I am like a drunken man, and like a man whom wine hath overcome, because of the LORD, and because of the words of his holiness. For the land is full of adulterers; for because of swearing the land mourneth; the pleasant places of the wilderness are dried up, and their course is evil, and their force is not right. For both prophet and priest are profane; yea, in my house have I found their wickedness, saith the LORD. Wherefore their way shall be unto them as slippery ways in the darkness; They shall be driven on, and fall therein: For I will bring evil upon them, even the year of their visitation, saith the LORD. And I have seen folly in the prophets of Samaria; They have prophesied in Baal, and caused my people Israel to err. I have seen also in the prophets of Jerusalem an horrible thing: they commit adultery, and walk in lies: they strengthen also the hands of evildoers, that none doth return from his wickedness: they are all of them unto me as Sodom, and the inhabitants thereof as Gomorrah” (Jeremiah 23:9-14).

 

            “Therefore thus saith the LORD of hosts concerning the prophets; Behold, I will feed them with wormwood, and make them drink the water of gall: for from the prophets of Jerusalem is profaneness gone forth into all the land. Thus saith the LORD of hosts, Hereken not unto the words of the prophets that prophesy unto you: They make you vain: they speak a vision of their own heart, and not out of the mouth of the LORD. They say still unto them that despise me, The LORD hath said, Ye shall have peace; and they say unto every one that walketh after the imagination of his own heart, No evil shall come upon you. For who hath stood in the counsel of the LORD, and hath perceived and heard his word? Who hath marked his word, and heard it? Behold, a whirlwind of the LORD is gone forth in fury, even a grievous whirlwind: it shall fall grievously upon the head of the wicked. The anger of the LORD shall not return, until he have executed, and till he have performed the thoughts of his heart: in the latter days ye shall consider it perfectly” (Jeremiah 23:15-21).

 

            “I have not sent these prophets, yet they ran: I have not spoken to them, yet the prophesied. But if they had stood in my counsel, and had caused me people to hear my words, then they should have turned them from their evil way, and from the evil of their doings. Am I a God at hand, saith the LORD, and not a God afar off? Can any hide himself in secret places that I shall not see him? Saith the LORD. Do not I fill heaven and earth? Saith the LORD. I have heard what the prophets said, that prophesy lies in my name, saying, I have dreamed, I have dreamed. How long shall this be in the heart of the prophets that prophesy lies? Yea, they are prophets of the deceit of their own heart; which think to cause my people to forget my name by their dreams which they tell every man to his neighbour, as their fathers have forgotten my name for Baal. The prophet that hath a dream, let him tell a dream; and he that hath my word, let him speak my word faithfully. What is the chaff to the wheat? Saith the LORD. Is not my word like as a fire? Saith the LORD; and like a hammer that breaketh the rock in pieces? Therefore, behold, I am against the prophets, saith the LORD, that steal my words every one from his neighbour. Behold, I am against the prophets, saith the LORD, that use their tongues, and say, He saith. Behold, I am against them that prophesy false dreams, saith the LORD, and do tell them, and cause my people to err by their lies, and by their lightness; yet I sent them not, nor commanded them: therefore they shall not profit this people at all, saith the LORD” (Jeremiah 23:22-32).

 

            The words which we find in the prophetic book of Jeremiah are absolutely incredible for they reveal how even during the days of the true prophets of the Lord there were also false prophets. If you take the time to read the words which are found in this passage of Scripture you will not only find that there were false prophets but you will also find that there were profane priests which were present in the midst of the land. The days of Jeremiah were days of tremendous iniquity within the land for both prophet and priest were profane and there were very few true prophetic voices present within the land. This is something we must needs recognize and understand—particularly and especially when you consider the words found in the second chapter of the second epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the Thessalonian saints. Not only the words which are found in the second epistle which was written unto the Thessalonian saints are important but they help serve as a foundation for the words we find in the thirteenth chapter of the prophetic book of the Revelation of the Lord Jesus Christ. When speaking unto His disciples the Lord Jesus emphatically declared that there would be those who would come in His name and would deceive many. Jesus declared that there were many who would come in His name, saying, I am Christ and would deceive many—something we must needs recognize and pay close attention to. I have long written and long believed that there won’t be a great presence of men and women who will profess themselves to be Christ but rather a growing presence of those who profess to be Christ’s—those who profess to be followers of the Lord Jesus Christ.

 

            If you read the words which are found in the twenty-fourth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew you will find the Lord Jesu urging the disciples to take heed and guard themselves lest any man deceive them. Jesus would go on to declare unto them how many would come in His name, saying, I am Christ, and would deceive many. Not only this but Jesus would go on to declare unto His disciples how they would be delivered up to be afflicted and others would kill them. What’s more is the Lord Jesus also declared how they would be hated of all nations for His name’s sake. Moreover the Lord Jesus would go on to write how many would be offended and would betray one another and shall hate one another. As if this weren’t enough Jesus would also declare that many false prophets would arise and would deceive many. Because iniquity would abound the love of many would wax or grow cold. This is something we must needs recognize and understand for not only did Jesus encourage His disciples to take heed and to guard themselves lest they be deceived but He also emphatically declared unto them that he who shall endure unto the end shall be saved. Within this passage of Scripture there is a great need for men and women who will not only guard themselves against deception but also for men and women who will endure unto the end that they might be saved. Within this passage of Scripture we find the presence false brethren who profess to be Christ’s as well as false prophets who would rise up in the midst of the earth during the last days.

 

            As I prepare to bring this writing to a close I find it absolutely necessary to call and draw your attention to the tremendous truth that is found within the gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew. The Lord Jesus would not only speak of false prophets but would also speak of false brethren who would make the claim that they are Christ’s. This is something we must needs recognize and understand for the false prophets, the false apostles, the false teachers and even the false brethren set the stage for the ultimate deceiver—and not only the ultimate deceiver but also for the ultimate false prophet who would rise up in the midst of the earth during the last days. Scripture makes it very clear that there was going to be an Antichrist who would rise up in the midst of the earth who would not only make war with the saints but who would also deceive the whole world. With this being said Scripture also makes it perfectly and abundantly clear that during these days there would be a false prophet who would have two horns as of a lamb but who would speak as the dragon. This is something we must needs recognize and understand for when considering the words which are found in the gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew we must needs recognize the great need to guard ourselves from deception in the midst of the earth. There is a great need for us to recognize that we might even be here on the earth during the days when the Antichrist emerges on to the scene as well as the false prophet who would not only make an image of the beast and demand that everyone worship the beast but would also make all men—both great and small—to take a mark upon their right hands or upon their foreheads which without it no man might buy or sell.

 

            In bringing this writing to a close I find it absolutely necessary to call and draw your attention to the words which are found in the second epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the Thessalonians as well as the words which are found in the thirteenth chapter of the New Testament prophetic book of the Revelation of the Lord Jesus Christ. It is within these passages of Scripture we encounter the great deceiver who would be present in the midst of the earth during the last days as well as the presence of the false prophet—both who would deceive and draw away countless men and women unto and after themselves. It is with this in mind I invite you to consider if you will the following words which are found in these two passages of Scripture that you might be ready and might be able to guard yourselves against all manner of deception—and not only that you might guard yourself against all manner of deception but also that you might be able to stand strong and endure in the midst of suffering, in the midst of persecution, in the midst of affliction and in the midst of being hated of all nations for the sake of the name of the Lord Jesus. Consider if you will the following words which are found in each of these New Testament passages of Scripture:

 

            “Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him, that ye be not too shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter, as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand. Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that many of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God. Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things? And now, ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time. For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way. And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming: even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, and with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: that they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness” (2 Thessalonians 2:1-12).

 

            “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 baslphemy. 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 his heads as it were wounded to death; and his deadly wound was healed: and all the world wondered after the beast. 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 blasppehmies; 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 kindreds, 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).

 

 

            “And I beheld another beast coming up out of the earth; and he had two horns like a lamb, and he spake as a dragon. And he exerciseth all the power of the first beast before him, and causeth the earth and them which dwell therein to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed. And he doeth great wonders, so that he maketh fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men, and deceiveth them that dwell on the earth by the means of those miracles which he had power to do in the sight of the beast; saying to them that dwell on the earth, that they should make an image of the beast, which had the wound by a sword, and did live. And he had power to give life unto the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak, and case that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed. And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads. And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name. here is wisdom. Let him thath hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his. Number is Six hundred threescore and six” (Revelation 13:11-18).

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