Mathew Chapter 24 is perhaps one of the most important and significant portions of scripture dealing with end time prophecy. It was spoken by the Lord himself, and it is also quite detailed.
It is known by scholars as the: “Olivet discourse.”
It opens with Jesus’ prophecy concerning the destruction of the temple, which happened in 70 A.D. The disciples asked a very direct question — “When will these things be? And what shall be the sign of thy coming and of the end of the world?”
I’m sure that there are many people today who would like a definitive answer to this question. Jesus made it clear that no man can know the day or the hour, but we can know the season.
I think it is significant that the first statement made by Jesus concerning the end time condition had to do with deception. “Take head that no man deceive you.”
He repeated that warning in the very next verse and two subsequent places later in this same chapter. The number of times something is repeated in scripture always underscores its importance.
The Apostle Paul also warned us about deception in the last days (2 Tim 3:13): “But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived.”
Apparently, widespread deception will mark the last days.
I believe we are living in the “last days” and there are many who are deceived and deceiving others.
Satan has been in the deception business for thousands of years, and he is quite good at it. It has been said that a ship beginning a voyage across the ocean only1 degree off course will end up over a thousand miles off course at the end of its trip.
Satan is very patient — he works at getting us just a little off course. He doesn’t mind mixing truth with error if he can get us to take the bait. Jesus further clarifies these conditions in verse 24 of Matthew Chapter 24: “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.”
That brings me to the purpose of this article.
The spiritual landscape is a virtual “mine field” of error, false prophets, false teachers and false Christ’s. We can’t possibly deal with all of them in the limited space here, but I would like to address two that I feel are particularly widespread and generally accepted and promoted among mainstream Christian groups.
Artificial bait is made to look like a worm, minnow, bug, aquatic insect, crawfish, etc., but it all has one purpose and that is to deceive and ensnare.
It all looks like real food to the fish. Error that has been around since the beginning is still around today. Only the nomenclature is changed. What worked then still works today.
Satan still uses “The lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life” to ensnare his prey.
Just as he tempted Eve in the garden, “When the woman say that the tree was ‘good for food’ (lust of the flesh) …pleasant to the eyes’ (lust of the eyes)… ‘desired to make one wise’ (pride of life).”
The enemy has sown the seeds of deceit in the midst of the church today in the form of “mysticism” or “Christian mysticism,” an oxymoron to be more accurate.
Mysticism is the pursuit of communion with God, spiritual truth or other divinity through experience or intuition. It centers in the subjective and usually involves a practice or practices intended to nurture an experience, and thus a “revelation” of some hidden truth known only to a select few. They claim to seek the “hidden meanings” of scripture; they seek the esoteric meanings of conventional teachings.
This, of course, appeals to our human pride. It is always dangerous to embark upon a search for “hidden truth” through subjective experience, like dreams, visions, voices, journaling, contemplative prayer and meditation.
Contrast this with Deuteronomy 29:29: “The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things that are revealed belong unto us.” What has been revealed is the Word of God, which is objective and does not depend upon our feelings? While we may not understand the entire Bible, we have no need for any further “revelation” outside of what we already have. It is not without significance that most major cults use writings that are said to supplement or lend clarification to the Bible.
The modern day “Christian mystic” often concentrates on the “love of God” and self nullification, giving ourselves for others, identity with God and complete non-identification with the “world.”
Most Christians can identify with these terms — they sound so pious, and even holy — but beware these are also routinely practiced by Hindu, Buddhist, Bahia, and other Eastern cults.
“Enlightenment, illumination and revelation” are all stock buzz words among mystics.
The “Christian mystic” aspires to acquire “spiritual truth” that is inaccessible through intellectual (objective) means. They most often interpret the Bible allegorically rather than literally. Most acknowledge Christ and the Bible, but choose to emphasize things like “works of love,” “self purification” and God’s willingness to reveal himself through “contemplative graces.”
These people claim that they are merely “clarifying” the way to God. They encourage you to turn inward, emptying your mind and inviting the “essence” of God to envelope you.
They even coach you to practice an Eastern style of “meditation,” one that incorporates a single word, thought or sound. The scripture instructs us to “gird up our mind,” “have the mind of Christ,” and to “think on these things.” We are never encouraged to empty our minds, or give them over.
These cultic practices fit rather well within the folds of scripture taken out of context.
More often than not, these folks claim to have received some “new revelation,” usually through subjective experience.
A dream, vision, angelic visitation, a ride in a heavenly chariot, being transported around the world in the spirit, taken on a visit to heaven or hell, being personally instructed by Christ or an angel, the list could go on and on. I did not make these up — I have actually heard people testify to having had these and similar experiences.
They very often have written a book or made a DVD that will re-interpret scripture to support a particular view or practice. These “hidden truths” or “new revelations” I feel the need to add a disclaimer to hear, lest I be misunderstood: Our God is powerful and supernatural. He can and does work through supernatural means, however, He will never act contrary to the spirit of His own Word.
“In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established.”Every subjective experience must be balanced by an objective measure.
Another mark of mysticism is their “acceptance” of other views and teachings. They appear to be more tolerant and therefore more Christian than others. Contrast this with Paul, who named names and listed offenses. He had no tolerance for those who were in error and led others astray also. This so-called tolerance is one of the reasons that “Christian mysticism” dovetails nicely into modern “New Age” teachings and philosophy.
New Age teachings have gone “mainstream” and are not easily recognized. They are promoted in modern education, corporate board rooms, church pulpits and society in general.
Many of the so-called self help books and courses are filled with its influence. “Inner Healing,” “motivational psychology,” “holistic health,” “parapsychology,” “positive thinking,” “new thought,” “life force,” “creative visualization,” and “personal power” are all expressions of this pervasive doctrine.
New agers draw on both metaphysical and Western spiritual traditions, and infuse them with some or all of the above mentioned disciplines. It is pluralistic in that it includes science and religion, giving it a certain legitimate feel.
Although new age teachers often use scripture and religious terminology, they are careful to point out that the Bible and Christ are not the “only sources of truth.” In fact, they proclaim “all roads lead to the top of the mountain.”
Their view of religion is ecumenical: they speak convincingly of “unity, love and getting along.” They also promote “pantheism” (God in nature) as a worldview. This has given rise to the environmental movement and Gaia philosophy. Green politics, global warming, etc., are all expressions of this view. The Bible refers to this as “worshiping the creation, rather than the creator.”
The answer for the Christian, if he should want to avoid falling into the abyss of error, is to consider the “whole counsel of God,” that is the Bible from Genesis to Revelation.
The best commentary of the scripture is the scripture itself. Don’t just go out and buy the latest “Christian” book just because it made the best-seller list or that everyone is talking about it.
We also must avoid pride in all its forms. God hates pride (Proverbs 6) because it was the original sin. Satan declared, “I will, I will.”
We do have a protection afforded to use in the Word, it is found in I John 2:26-27: “These things have I written unto you concerning them that seduce you. But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you; but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him.”
This is not saying that the church doesn’t need teachers, but that the spirit of truth in each of us will bear witness to the truth when we hear it. He is like an internal “alarm” system. When you hear something and you feel a disturbance in your spirit, beware.
Finally, we should not live in fear, but as the storm approaches we should draw close to the One who offers us shelter and protection.
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