In our at study, we looked at Jesus,’ “Oliveth Prophecy” in Matt 24, Mark 13, Luke 21. We began by examining the three questions Jesus’ disciples asked Him after He told them about the destruction of the magnificent temple of Solomon which was a source of pride to all religious Jews. We concluded by answering the first question: when shall these things be?
Today, we will attempt to examine Jesus’ answer to their second question.
Question 2- Matt 24:3
What shall be the signs of your coming?
The disciples assumed that the destruction of the Jerusalem temple will culminate in the end of the age but they were mistaken. Jesus’ answer to the question about the signs of His second coming is found in Matt 24: 4-51, but we will only be looking at the first sign in this particular bible study.
The first sign- Matt 24:4
“Take heed that no man deceives you”
It is pertinent at this juncture to note that each time Jesus and the apostles spoke about the end times and the second coming of Christ, they warn against DECEPTION (Matt 24:4, 1 John 4:1-3, 2 Thes 2:3, 1 Tim 4:1, 2 Pet 2:1-3).
The activities of Satan camouflaging as an angel of light (2 Cor 11:13-15) will be on rise as the age runs to close. As Martin Luther describes in his writings that “Satan is the ape of God” and that he tries to counterfeit everything God does. As the end draws near the lines of demarcation between Revelation and Divination, Prophecy and Soothsaying, Prophets and Soothsayers, Truth and Falsehood, Divine and Demonic, True and Counterfeit, Church of Christ and Synagogue of Satan will become thinner, and only those who have basic discernment through regular and balance bible reading and discernment of spirit will escape Satan’s deception.
The Apostle Paul in his letter to Timothy in 1 Tim 4:1-2 warns that “in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of demons…”. The Apostle warns that the Spirit was giving this warning with a great sense of urgency and clarity, and it is crucial for us to give heed to the Spirit’s warning against deception in the time in which we live so as not fall prey to evil one.
Discernment is crucial in escaping the trap of deception at the end times. As I pointed out earlier, there are two main ways of getting discernment:
1. Discernment through regular and balanced bible reading and study. 2 Tim 2:15.
2. Discernment of spirits. This is a higher level of discernment and it operates under the auspices of the Holy Spirit. 1 Corinthians 12:10 (NKJV)
It is crucial to note that merely having basic discernment that comes through regular bible reading and study is not sufficient in these times. This is because the deception, subtlety and craftiness of Satan, and his human agents in pulpits or outside of it will not be easily discernable, as many of them will sound scripturally accurate but the source of their inspiration, operations and power is not in Christ but the evil one.
In some cases, any Christian who regularly reads and studies the bible can easily discern these false preachers and teachers, but in most cases their doctrine cannot be faulted scripturally, albeit they operate with the spirit of divination or what the Apostles Paul called “another spirit” and preach “another gospel”, thereby leading people to another Christ (Gal 1:6-9, 2 Cor 11:4).
In Paul’s letter to Timothy, he warns that “some will depart faith”, and become “apostates” (Apostasy is a deliberate turning away from revealed truth). As these people fall away into apostasy, they will pay attention to “seducing spirits” and receive from these spirit demonic doctrines and ideologies that they will peddle in order to deceive the simple and undiscerning (2 Cor 12:3, Prov 1:32a, 33, 2 Pet 2:1-3, 1 Tim 6:3-5, 2 Tim 2:16-18, 1 John 4:1-3).
In order not to fall prey to the deception of the enemy of our soul, we must not only seek discernment through the knowledge of God’s word but we must begin to seek for the gift of the discernment of spirits (1 Cor 12:10c).
Note: You know a genuine servant of God, not by the miracles and signs and wonders that he wrought, but by the scriptures as the standard as well as the fruit they bear- 1 Cor 4:6, Matt 7:15-22, 2 Thes 2:3, 9, Rev 13:11-18.
In Rev 13:11, we see the “false prophet” that will operate at end of age, before the second coming of Christ, appearing as a lamb (just like Christ- gentle, meek humble, selfless and sacrificial- John 1:29), but speaking as a dragon. Because he had an agenda of deception, he appeared as a lamb though he had a nature of a dragon (Satan himself- Rev 12:9, Acts 20:29-31, Matt 7:15).
There is an increase in the “hyper-grace” movement and “false grace teaching” that does not call men to “repentance and holiness of heart” but emboldens people through lascivious teachings to continue in their compromise as they’re promised “eternal security”. They’re told that it doesn’t matter what they do with their bodies their spirit is saved and they cannot lose their salvation (Rev 20:20-29). Whereas Paul enjoins the church in Rome that they were not to continue in sin and expect grace to abound (Rom 6:1-2, 6-7, 11-14), and admonished them to present their bodies as a living sacrifice as God is particular and interested in what we do with our spirits, souls and bodies (Rom 12:1-2, 1 Thes 5:23).
This false grace teaching has produced a lot of Christians who are keen on appropriating “new creation realities” but are not bothered about “new creation responsibilities” because they have not been properly taught and made to understand that the new creation realities were made possible by the humongous sacrifice Jesus paid on the cross and that we are debtors to live in consecration, a life worthy of His death, not crucifying Christ again by living carelessly (Rom 12:1-2, Col 1:10, Heb 6:4-9, Phil 1:21, Phil 3:7-14). This kind of false grace teaching is responsible for the high-level immorality, sexual looseness and lasciviousness in the body of Christ as it was in the church at Thyatira (Rev 2:20-23).
Furthermore, we see a prevalence of an inaccurate “prosperity message” in the church which presents Jesus as a money doubler and Santa Claus that is all out to dole out gifts to people once He’s asked. These false preachers and teachers present Jesus as a means to an end, and that He’s out to satisfy man’s unlimited wants and desires thereby making mammon (new testament idolatry) their main preoccupation and life pursuit, instead of seeking to know Jesus and pleasing Him (Col 3:5, Eph 5:5, Rev 2:20).
Jesus warns in Matt 6:24, that we cannot serve God and mammon.
Beyond having an accurate understanding of scripture, we need to seek God face for the gift of discernment in order to be safeguarded from deception.
In John 8:44, we see Jesus operating in the gift of discernment when he probed beyond the utterance of the Jews who didn’t believe in Him into the source of their utterance. He said to them that you’re “of” your father the devil. The word “of” is the Greek word “Ek” which means “source” or “origin”. Jesus was able to discern that the source and operations of those Jews in the scripture above was the “devil”.
Like Jesus, we must probe and judge things not only by scriptures but by the spirit of discernment so as know the source of an utterance, operation and manifestation. There’s a rise of the false apostolic and prophetic movements in the days in which we live, hence there’s a greater need to operate in a higher level of discernment by the spirit so as to probe the spirit behind utterances, operations and manifestations so as to know the Spirit that is in operation (Isa 11:3, Acts 16:16-20, 1 Kings 22:1-50).
We also see Paul in Acts 16:16-20, probing by the spirit of discernment the utterance of the damsel that gave credence to his ministry. And he found out that even though her utterances were accurate, it wasn’t the truth (truth is a personality – Jesus and what the Holy Spirit gives as a witness about Him) she spoke by another spirit (spirit of divination which in Greek is translated “python spirit”). Hence she was operating by the spirit of a python or serpentine spirit.
Paul’s warning to Timothy against seducing spirits and doctrines of demons – 2 Tim 4:1-2
What are seducing spirits and what do they do?
Seducing Spirits are always seeking for ways to distort Christ and the doctrine or ideology of Christ in everyone that believes in Him (His anointed) Ps 2:1-4. In the above scriptures, we see the two activities of seducing spirits:
1. Breaking bands around believers as those bands bind and yoke us to Christ– Ps 2:3, Matt 11:29-30.
2. Casting away the cords that God uses to tie us to Himself– Ps 2:3.
Note: Anything that will entice you or make you break your covenant with Christ is the work or activity of seducing spirits
An accurate fivefold ministry as a safeguard against deception- Eph 4:11-15
1. Fivefold ministry gifts are for the “perfecting” or “maturing” of the saints.
What are the indicators that the saints are perfected?
1, Eph 4:13- “Unity of the faith” and “knowledge of the Son of God”.
2. They outgrow babyhood Christianity.
What are the characteristics of babes in Christ?
1. They’re “tossed” to and fro by every wind of doctrine. Jesus spoke about His doctrine during the Feast of Tabernacles in John 17:1-17 (His doctrine is that Father (God) is tabernacled in Him).
Wind & Doctrine- Eph 4:14
In the scripture above, Paul likens false doctrine and teaching to a wind that carries to and fro, and move people away from the ancient landmarks set by the fathers into lasciviousness (which is liberty in Christ without restraints or an inclination to think that liberty is license) or the field of the fatherless (Pro 22:28, Gal 5:19, 1 Pet 4:3, Jude 1:4).
It is instructive to note that in Daniel 7:1-3 after the four winds strove upon the great sea, four great beasts were released. When the devil tries to trap a believer, he releases an “ideology” or “doctrine” (wind), and once you believe it, his “beasts” are released and have “legal grounds” to operate in your life- (Isa 49:24-26, Rom 6:16, 2 Thes 2:9-12).
The antidote to Seducing Spirits
1. The only antidote is getting deep in Jesus and His word– 2 Tim 2:15, Pro 19:2, Job 23:11-12, John 15:1-5.
2. Every one of us must desire to know and be led the Holy Spirit– 1 Cor 2:10-13, Rom 8:14, 1 John 2:20, 27, 1 John 4:1-3.
We will continue our study of the Oliveth prophecy next time by looking at the other signs of Jesus’ second coming.