False Prophets And Apostasy  


‘Religion is the opiate of the masses,’ Karl Marx once said. Never in man’s existence here on earth has he failed to worship the true living God or some type of deity to explain why nature works. In ancient history, we read of gods and goddesses that represent war ‘Pan’, love ‘Venus’, music ‘Apollo’, wine ‘Bacchus’, fire ‘Vulcan’, and the dead ‘Anubis, ‘Egypt’. But in the beginning, man worshiped God alone.

The devil, ‘Satan’ hated the perfect union God and man shared. When God made man, He placed him in the garden in Eden. In the midst of the garden was the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. The tree itself had no inherent value to impart good or evil, it was there as in exercise in free moral choice to see if he could obey God and not eat of it. Genesis 2.

But Adam and his wife Eve failed the test, they disobeyed God. Adam blamed Eve and Eve blamed the serpent, Satan, saying the serpent deceived her. Genesis 3. From the time Adam and Eve were expelled from the garden until now, mankind has been on a roller coaster ride with God. We are at the top when we worship the true God; we are in the dips when we worship false images and idols.

The nation of Israel, God’s chosen people, experienced times of great blessings when they believed in and worshiped God. But when Israel went after foreign gods and served the Baals, times of great distress followed. Eventually this led to their downfall as a nation in 586 B.C. when the Babylonians and in A.D. 70 when the Romans totally destroyed the temple in Jerusalem.

Only in this century, in 1948, did the League of Nations establish Israel as a nation once more, Israel is still waiting for the Messiah to come, the warrior-king who will defeat all its enemies and make the nation great as when David was king. When the Messiah came, Israel rejected Him, but the Gentiles embraced Him, as do all of us today who accept Jesus as our Saviour.

In Acts chapter 2, the apostle Peter delivers his sermon on the day of Pentecost. Using scripture, Peter proves who Jesus is both lord and Christ. Upon hearing all that Peter spoke, the people were pierced to the heart and asked Peter and the apostles, ‘Brethren, what shall we do?’ verse 37

Peter said to them, ‘Repent, and let each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.’ verse 38

Three thousand souls were added to the saved that day and from verse 42-47, the brethren were in perfect communion with one another and there was no dissension among them. Unfortunately, Satan decided to step in and try to ruin our new relationship with God.

Satan tried persecution to break up the church. The Sanhedrin persecuted the apostles for their witness to Jesus and they tried to stop them. Even under the emperors of Rome, the Christians endured merciless torture and savage death. Still, more believers in the Lord, multitudes of men and women, were constantly added to their number, Acts 5:14. The persecutions only served to intensify their love and dedication to Jesus.

When Satan saw that this tactic didn’t work, he decided on a more subtle approach. Satan introduced partial truths into the hearts and minds of some believers in order to lead them and others in the church away from the truth of the Gospel.

The apostle John, in his second epistle, tells the lady and her children that many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh. This is the deceiver and the antichrist, 2 John 1:7.

The deceivers John refers to have come from within the church itself, they have gone out into the world to spread their false beliefs. We are told by John to test the spirits to see whether they are from God, 1 John 4:1.

An example of their false doctrine in recorded in 2 Timothy 2:18, where they say the resurrection has already taken place, and thus they upset the faith of some. These false prophets are causing distress among members of the Lord’s church and that is exactly what Satan wanted.

The false prophets of yesterday are the same ones that will appear tomorrow. The faces may change, but they will continue with a message. that is contrary to the Bible. Satan hit pay dirt when he introduced apostasy into the church.

There are at least three thousand different denominations in the world today. Karl Marx was correct to say religion is the opiate of the masses. We are addicted to religion. If we aren’t happy with one sect, we try another or start a new one. But there is only one true church and Jesus Christ died for her, not any of the others.

‘The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron. They forbid people to marry and order them to abstain from certain foods, which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and who know the truth. For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, because it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer.’ 1 Timothy 4:1-5

Paul would appear to be writing about the Catholic church, if one were to put it into a modern-day setting. The Catholic church sprang from the Lord’s church by the means of men apostatising and falling away from the faith. The church forbids their priests to marry and members are not to eat meat on Fridays during lent.

They believe their oral traditions are of equal instructional value with the Bible and when conflict occurs, traditions outweigh the Bible in authority due to the apostolic succession of the priests. This is not what Jesus intended when He established His church.

Jesus is praying for the unity of the church in John 17.20-26, ‘That they may all be one.’

But despite all the denominations, there had to be pockets of true believers throughout history because Jesus said His kingdom would have no end. The devil will continue this line of attack until the end comes, because he wants to pull as many believers away as possible from Jesus.

“All scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness”. 2 Timothy 3:16

By loving God, keeping His commandments, and knowing the truth of the Gospel, we can best equip ourselves against the deceitful doctrines of Satan. We must submit to God. We must ‘resist the devil and he will flee from us,’ James 4:7

‘If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth’, 1 John 1:6

Many people today believe they are doing God’s will. They attend worship services faithfully, they set an example in the work place for others to follow, some even dress in a ‘scriptural’ suit and tie. But if they don’t have Jesus in their heart, their faith is in vain.

‘Every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God; and this is the spirit of the antichrist, of which you have heard that it is coming, and now it is already in the world’. 1 John 4:3

John knew that the antichrist, false prophet, deceiver was already in the world and it remains to this day.

How are we to overcome them? Paul gives us the answer in Ephesians 6:10-17.

‘Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armour of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore, put on the full armour of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.’

Having done all this, we have the promise from God stated in Isaiah 40:8, ‘The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God stands forever.’

In this we know we have attained the victory that overcomes the world, because of our confession that Jesus is the Son of God, 1 John 5:5.