Contending for the faith | Making Disciples | Equipping the Saints for Ministry

“Depart from me, all ye workers
of iniquity; for the LORD hath heard
the voice of my weeping” – Psalm 6:8 

      The words were spoken, and his heart broke. His little girl was dead, he had summoned Jesus too late, it was over, and she was gone. But, before the ruler of the synagogue had time to weep Jesus said to him, “Be not afraid, only believe” Mark 5:36b. Together with Peter, James and John they walked to the sorrowing father’s house where Jesus saw a “tumult, and them that wept and wailed greatly.” “And when he was come in, he saith unto them, Why make ye this ado, and weep? The damsel is not dead, but sleepeth” 5:38b, 39.

      Then the most incredible thing occurred, weeping and mourning suddenly turned to laughter. Mark 5:40a records, “And they laughed him to scorn.” Their weeping was phony, their laughter mocking, and their hearts hard, prideful, overflowing with disdain, and crushing unbelief. Jesus, undeterred, and with the authority and power of heaven “put them all out.” This brings to mind the Scriptures in James 4:8, 9 that says, “Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded. Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness.”

      Weeping with those who weep and rejoicing with those who rejoice must come from a heart that is wholly the Lord’s, a heart filled with the Holy Spirit, a heart in agreement and full surrender to the heart of God. As His people, what grieves the heart of God should naturally grieve us as well, what rejoices the heart of God should likewise cause our hearts to rejoice. Being born again means that we are born of His Spirit, born from above, a new heart has been given to us, and we are a new creation, reflecting the image of His Son to a lost world.

      We should never forget, or be casual about the fact that sin is a great grief to God. “And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And it repented the LORD that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart” Genesis 6:5, 6. Was the sin and wickedness of the pre-flood world any greater than the wickedness of the days we are living in? Jesus warned, “But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be” Matthew 24:37-39. In other words, people will be living in their own little worlds, doing whatever they please, caught up with their worldly lives, “doing business as usual,” blissfully ignorant of the rising tide of evil, casually drifting with the tide of current corruption, totally unprepared for the sudden destruction looming ever closer.

      Concerning casualness, A. W. Tozer said, “I am concerned about the casual attitudes I see in much of Christianity today. I do not think we should be casual about anything that neither Satan nor God are casual about. I want to see seriousness and gravity here. I do not mind humor. However, when I am talking about my soul and its relationship to God, I want gravity and seriousness. Time is a relative thing, but it is passing swiftly away and never coming back. Tragedies and troubles are everywhere, and we cannot take things for granted.

      “God does not need you, but oh, how you need Him! For when the holy eyes of God look upon your life, and those eyes see moral inequity, God pronounces iniquity. But when you cover yourself with the atoning blood by faith; when you believe in the Lord Jesus Christ who is risen, those same righteous, just eyes of God see you justified because Somebody cared enough to interpose, and His precious blood covers you. Thanks be unto God for the blood of the atonement that is sufficient to cover our iniquity.” (My Daily Pursuit, pg. 288.)

      Considering the state of the world and the nation of America in particular, who among us can deny the fact that the days we live in are a “time to weep?” Can we honestly pray “God bless America,” continue to party and play, blinding ourselves to the blood of the innocents, over 60 million of them, whose blood cries out before the throne of God night and day? This one collective, unspeakable evil alone is a heart wrenching indictment against us, and in the wake of this destruction how many distraught women, and also men, have broken hearts and shattered lives because of their involvement in this grievous sin? Broken lives, broken hearts—a time to weep. Jesus said, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised” Luke 4:18.

      Concerning the sexually immoral, ungodly, shameful America we now live in would not the words penned by the Apostle Peter apply to her? Peter, as did Jesus, warned of “false prophets, damnable heresies, the way of truth being evil spoken of,” the judgment of God in the time of Noah, and the “turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrha into ashes condemned them with an overthrow, making them an ensample unto those that after should live ungodly.” (See 2 Peter 2.)

     Jesus, in Matthew 24:4-7 lists certain major events that describe the “beginning of sorrows” (vs. 8). The question is, just when does, or did, the “beginning of sorrows” begin?  Are we still waiting for the events Jesus spoke of in Matthew 24:5-7 to take place? Or, have these things already come to pass? I believe (and this is just my studied opinion) that the answer is both and that “the beginning of sorrows” started nearly 2000 years ago with the persecution of the early church and the destruction of Jerusalem. We are now living right at the end of time.

      Going back to what Jesus said, it is interesting to take special notice of what Jesus enumerated beginning with the warning in verses 4 and 5, “Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many.” Deception is nothing new, and has always been Satan’s major weapon against the truth. Since God’s Word is truth (John 17:17) Satan knows that he must detour people away from reading, studying and meditating on the Word of God. He knows that when people believe the Truth (Jesus), they will discover the Way (Jesus) and enter into life (Jesus). (See John 14:6.) The Greek word for “deceive” in Matthew 24:4 means to cause to “stray from safety, truth, virtue, go astray, deceive, err, seduce, wander, be out of the way.” Jesus commanded, “Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it. Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits” Matthew 7:14-16a. Such wolves have been in operation for thousands of years.

      In light of these two verses, we need to also consider verse 24 which says, “For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.” “Christ” comes from christos, a Greek word meaning “anointed.”  It is the equivalent of the word mashiach, or Messiah, in Hebrew. So, to be the Christ, or Messiah, is to be “the anointed one of God.” Therefore, end time deceivers will either outright declare that they are “Christ” (and I knew such a person years ago) or they will dupe people into believing that they are a “little Christ” or “anointed one” of God, everything they say is to be believed without question, and to turn from them will result in dire consequences. (Like the Popes who claim to be the “Vicar of Christ” on earth, and to disbelieve such will result in eternal damnation. In 1302 Pope Boniface said this in a letter to the Catholic Church: “Furthermore, we declare, we proclaim, we define that it is absolutely necessary for salvation that every human creature be subject to the Roman Pontiff.) Definition: “Vicar”—in the broadest sense means someone who is authorized to act as a substitute or agent for a superior – compare “vicarious”—serving in the place of someone else; assuming the position, place, or office of another person.

      Quoting from, concerning this Roman Catholic teaching, “The world again has a man in the position of “Vicar of Christ,” so it is biblically imperative to examine the true office of the Vicar of Christ. The Lord Jesus Christ entrusted the universal care of souls into the safekeeping of the Divine Person of the Holy Spirit. Concerning this Third Person of the Trinity who was to be His substitute, the Lord promised that, “when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment” (John 16:8). The Holy Spirit convicts of sin as He makes the sinner realize his lost condition and convicts him of his need of Christ’s righteousness. He it is who brings a soul dead in sin to life. This miracle of grace is spoken of in Scripture as, “the exceeding greatness of His power to usward who believe, according to the working of His mighty power, which He wrought in Christ when He raised Him from the dead” (Ephesians 1:19). The majesty, greatness and indescribable power of the true office of Vicar of Christ are such that a believer stands in awe of His divine Person. That any human being should lay claim to the office of Vicar of Christ seems totally absurd and blasphemous. Because there is a direct connection between the redemption of Christ and the ministry of the Holy Spirit, it is extremely dangerous to confuse the work of the Holy Spirit as Vicar of Christ with the position or work of any man.”

      Deceivers are agents of Satan whose goal is to subtly move people (especially immature or young Christians who want “spiritual experiences”) off the straight and narrow onto the broad way that leads to destruction. He begins by casting doubt on the character of God and the truth of His Word, causes confusion through various watered-down, altered “versions” of the Bible, controversial books written by unqualified but popular, self-proclaimed “Bible teachers,” popular television false prophets, wolves in sheep’s clothing, speaking veiled blasphemies, proudly performing for vast audiences of undisciplined, gullible, unstable sheep.  Such workers of iniquity deceive through conflicting religious theories, ideas, philosophies and confusing “ear-tickling” conclusions that abound in the world, and in apostate churches. Once people no longer love, value or desire the pure Word of God, tremble at the Word, seek to know God, His ways, and His will through His Word, they will step outside of biblical boundaries, abandon discernment, and become slowly indoctrinated into an altered perception of the God of the Bible, who He is, His works and His ways, ending up with “another Jesus, another spirit, and another gospel.” (2 Corinthians 11:4.)

      Satan entices those who desire and long for supernatural, extra-biblical “spiritual” experiences. He is able to bring about powerful experiences that are so convincingly real that they can become addictive if not properly discerned and immediately rejected. Gaining access to the supernatural, metaphysical realm is easy once a person opens him or herself up to the spiritual realm, passes through the initial barrier of fear, and remains open to whatever materializes. Satan may appear as an “angel of light” (2 Corinthians 11:14), seducing a person into an altered state of consciousness. As a person continues to explore tantalizing and alluring supernatural experiences, all of which lead to a labyrinth of open doors for further exploration, he or she has flung the door of his or her soul wide open to demonic oppression, or even possession. I have known and met many people through the years who operated in “another spirit” while claiming that they were inspired by the Holy Spirit. Unless such people truly want the truth, which can set them free, humble themselves and repent, they will refuse to give up the wrong spirit because they love the supernatural experiences, the so-called “spiritual insights” and the power it gives them. The more experiences they have, the more they are attracted towards the tantalizing aspects of the unknown that is beyond present “revelations,” until all of their affections are focused on pursuing “forbidden knowledge.” The real Jesus of the Bible holds no place in their mind, heart or affections at this point.

      Familiar spirits are keenly aware of people who long for anything supernatural and know how to provide just the right avenues to lure unsuspecting, well-meaning, curious people into a maze of mysterious possibilities and false light illuminations that result in an irresistible urge to explore. Again, any unsuspecting, immature, babe in Christ who has ventured into this realm will find that he or she has no desire whatsoever to read the Bible, or study the Word of God. Such a person may sit in church every Sunday, but everything that is said either goes over them, around them, or is reinterpreted in their mind according to their perception due to an altered state of consciousness. In addition, extra-biblical supernatural “revelations” and experiences cause a person to feel “superior,” “elite,” “more experienced,” and “in the know” than solid biblical believers who stand on the Bible and the Bible alone as the final authority to all matters. People’s personal pride is Satan’s preferred platform in which to gain access into a person’s life.

      The only way to be set free from demonic deception is to call out to the Lord for help and deliverance, command Satan and his demons to go in the Name of Jesus, ask God to forgive you for opening yourself up to other spirits, recommit your life to the Lord, ask Him to fill you with the Holy Spirit and close the door to any other spirit, and follow Him. Jesus warned, “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other” Matthew 6:24a.

      Moving on to Matthew 24:6, we read the second sign of the “beginning of sorrows, “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.” Jesus knew that all of these “wars” and “rumors of wars” would strike fear into the hearts of His people, yet He calmly inserted into the middle of his discourse on this subject words of comfort, telling us to see that we be not troubled. Even though it appears that the whole world is upside down, inside out and spinning out of control, God is the One in control. The world has never been without conflict, battles and wars. The key is, these things will become broader in scope. The past hundred years have seen great death and destruction due to two world wars, the horrors of Viet Nam, the Korean war, millions dead from the horrific world-wide flu epidemic, over six million Jews, and Christians exterminated by Hitler, from 70 to 90 million Chinese, many of them Christians, slaughtered by Mao not to mention lives lost because of Lenin, Stalin, Castro, Kim Jong Il, and scores of other evil dictators too numerous to mention. The truth is only about 14 percent of the world today is “free” while most of the world is struggling under dictatorships. Yet, the Bible says “…but the end is not yet.” While it may be a time to weep, those who belong to Christ, trust Him, and hope in Him are not to let their heart be troubled.

      Then we read in Matthew 24:7, “For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places.” This verse is not only descriptive of the history of mankind, but obviously a fitting, accurate, pertinent description of today. It is blatantly clear that earthly nations are indeed rising against each other in a race for global domination. To me “kingdom against kingdom” alludes to the kingdom of Satan rising against the kingdom of God. Darkness versus light, evil versus righteousness, immorality versus morality, death versus life.

      Finally, when it comes to “famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places” the overwhelming, daunting accumulation of recorded, statistical and actual documentation of such disasters, worldwide, and their rapid increase, regularity and intensity is so vast that it is beyond my ability to do it justice in this short article. But, for anyone who doubts that we are indeed living in a time of sorrows, please go on line and investigate it for yourself.

      Yes, it is a time to weep, and identify with the sins of our nation, which hopefully will cause us to bow before the Majesty in the Heavens and pray as Daniel prayed when he identified with the sins of Israel, “O Lord, the great and dreadful God, keeping the covenant and mercy to them that love him, and to them that keep his commandments; We have sinned, and have committed iniquity, and have done wickedly, and have rebelled, even by departing from thy precepts and from thy judgments…To the Lord our God belong mercies and forgivenesses, though we have rebelled against him; Neither have we obeyed the voice of the LORD our God, to walk in his laws, which he set before us by his servants the prophets…we have sinned, we have done wickedly: ” Daniel 9:4b; 5, 9, 10, 15b

      It is a time to weep, but for those of us who are Christ’s, a time to laugh is coming. “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning” Psalm 3:5b.