Matthew 24:1 ¶ And Jesus went out, and departed from the temple: and his disciples came to him for to shew him the buildings of the temple. 2 And Jesus said unto them, See ye not all these things? verily I say unto you, There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down. 3 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? 4 ¶ And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you. 5 For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many. 11 And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. 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.
Our Lord has just informed Israel that he, as their God, has left their religious order, leaving their temple “desolate.” (See Matthew 23:37-24:1). His disciples, shocked by the news, and knowing no other form of worship except that including this temple in Jerusalem, here begin to show him what they see as the beauty of it. But the Lord sees it in the realm of the spiritual. (1 Samuel 16:7 But the LORD said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart.) They, like weeping John in Revelation chapter five, are stunned at the vagueness of life apart from this practice of traditional worship. And even the Apostle Paul had to be taken out into the deserts of Arabia, not returning to Jerusalem for three years, in order to unlearn everything from a Jewish aspect, and have it renewed to him from the Christian perspective! (Galatians 1:15-18). What a drastic change!
It would be good if modern day religionists were taken to the desert in order to come back seeing nought but Christ alone! 1 Corinthians 2:1 And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God. 2 For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified. 5 That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.
But what is the instruction of the Head of the church (Ephesians 5:23), when he removes himself from a religious order? We saw in our last article (“Take Heed”), that his continuous warning, was regarding “deception!” (See Matthew 24:4,5,11,24.)
And just what was the need of this strong warning? It was due to the fact that a heightened age of deception was coming upon them, due to the heightened age of revelation! Matthew 4:16 The people which sat in darkness saw great light; and to them which sat in the region and shadow of death light is sprung up. Jesus Christ is both the Light of the world, and the Light of Life! John 8:12 Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life. John 1:9 That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.
The age of the law had only a shadowy image! And that shadow was cast back into that former age by the Light of the glory of God, as seen in the face of Jesus Christ! Hebrews 10:1 For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect. 2 For then would they not have ceased to be offered? because that the worshippers once purged should have had no more conscience of sins. 2 Corinthians 4:6 For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
The age of the law only had four-legged, wooly lambs for their sacrifices. And they never took away a single sin! Hebrews 10:4 For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins. 11 And every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins: But Jesus Christ was the very Lamb of God, whose offering of himself both satisfied God and took away sin forever! John 1:29 The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world. Isaiah 53:11 He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities.
Hebrews 9:25 Nor yet that he should offer himself often, as the high priest entereth into the holy place every year with blood of others; 26 For then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. 28 So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.
Jesus Christ was both the High Priest to offer himself, and the final sacrifice. And he offered his spirit upon the altar of his humanity! Hebrews 9:14 How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? 10:12 But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God;
And due to this glory to God in the highest, which was due to this bringing peace, good will unto men, by the manifestation of the Father’s glory in the Person of Jesus Christ, the deception from the angel of light (Satan), would also be heightened! For Satan was cast out of his former abode into the earth at the victorious work of Christ on the cross. And due to his wrath at this demotion, he is determined to make war with the remnant of the seed of the woman! For as Satan gained this unlawful position by the first Adam, so he lost it by the work of the Last Adam! Revelation 12:10 And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night. 11 And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death. 12 Therefore rejoice, ye heavens, and ye that dwell in them. Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea! for the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time. 13 And when the dragon saw that he was cast unto the earth, he persecuted the woman which brought forth the man child. 17 And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.
Notice the progressive worsening of the deception stated by the Lord in our passage. In verse four he warns of a “man” deceiving “you.” Then in verses five and eleven he speaks of “many” false Christ’s and false prophets deceiving “many!” But this farther escalates in verse twenty four to even the deception of “the very elect by their “great signs and wonders!” For as the revelation of God’s glorious light increases more and more, so shall the deception of evil men progress! Proverbs 4:18 But the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day. 2 Timothy 3:13 But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived.
The degree of guilt and punishment is in direct accord with the degree of light and revelation provided! Luke 12:47 And that servant, which knew his lord’s will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes. 48 But he that knew not, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes. For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more.
And as the degrees of revelation and deception increase, there is now the appearance of a greater apostate! For those who apostatize in the greater light of the christian era are greater in their guilt and punishment than those apostates of the era of the law! Hebrews 10:28 He that despised Moses’ law died without mercy under two or three witnesses: 29 Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?
Therefore we now have introduced to us “the man of sin!” He is the modern day church attender, sitting in the local church, hearing of, but not believing in Christ! 2 Thessalonians 2:3 Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; 4 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. The Lord informed the disciples that wars and rumours of wars would not be a sign of the end (Matt. 24:6). But here, the Apostle Paul instructs us, by the Lord’s Spirit, that the appearing of this “christian apostate” is a prerequisite to the end!
The disciples, as Jewish believers, were not to look to the many wars, and their rumors (Matthew 24:6), as a sign that national conflicts would cast off the Roman rule and allow Israel to have it’s world wide kingdom again! But they are to look to the realm of the spiritual and prepare themselves to encounter this new kind of apostate. For it would be their preaching of the glorious gospel of Christ which would cause this heightened man of sin to appear! 2 Corinthians 2:14 Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest the savour of his knowledge by us in every place. 15 For we are unto God a sweet savour of Christ, in them that are saved, and in them that perish: 16 To the one we are the savour of death unto death; and to the other the savour of life unto life. And who is sufficient for these things?
The Apostle Peter also speaks of this one even being able to escape his former immoralities by the influence of the gospel. But this being only a mental ascent to Christ by the influence of gospel affections, which do not last (like a stony ground hearer), he would fall away again. But now he is never able to return to the condition of ‘innocence’ that he once was before the effect of hearing the gospel! 2 Peter 2:18 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. 19 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. 20 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. 21 For 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. 22 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.
They may have ‘joined the church,’ or gotten baptized, but their natures were never changed by the effectual power of the Holy Spirit. They never were sheep. And having those desires to return to wallowing in the mires of sin and lust; and to take in again, that which their professed morality has previously caused them to reject, they are then clearly seen to be dogs and pigs, but not sheep. For sheep lie down in the green pastures of the gospel. And they lie contented by the still waters of the Holy Spirit making application of the gospel word! (John 7:39; Ephesians 5:26).
Those of the old economy were rendered inexcusable, having the witness of the glory of God in the natural order! Romans 1:20 For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: Psalm 19:1 The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork. 2 Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge. 3 There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard.
But the Apostle Paul clearly informs us of this gospel age “man of sin,” that it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, … If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame. (Hebrews 6:4-6). You can’t ‘unring’ the bell!
Therefore these are susceptible to all deceivableness of unrighteousness! Which occurs 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 Thess. 2:10-12).
Be assured of this, dear Reader. God shall be glorified in all of his creation! And even though the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God. (James 1:20). Yet Surely the wrath of man shall praise thee: the remainder of wrath shalt thou restrain. (Psalm 76:10). Romans 9:22 What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction: 23 And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory,
Pastor Gene Breed
January 8, 2015