Howling Imposters

ARE WE LISTENING? In his Discourse on the Mount of Olives, Jesus included several warnings about coming “deceivers,” “false messiahs,” and “false prophets,” men intent on misleading his followers. His warnings are reiterated and expanded in the writings of the Apostles. The ‘Olivet Discourse’ began with a stern warning - “Beware lest anyone deceive you!” - “MANY” deceivers will come and “deceive MANY.” Deception in the Body of Christ is NOT a new phenomenon or an exceptional problem.

According to Jesus, charlatans will come in his name and “deceive many.” Likewise, “many false prophets” and “false messiahs” will infiltrate his Church, not just a few. The stress is on the term “many.” Such men target the very “elect” with their false teachings, even using “signs and wonders” to achieve their plans - (Matthew 24:4-11, 24:23-24, 24:26).

Photo by Federico Di Dio photography on Unsplash
[Photo by Federico Di Dio photography on Unsplash]

The content of their lies includes false information about the return of Jesus, claiming that he “is here” or “there,” that he is “in the wilderness” or “IN THE SECRET PLACE.

They set false expectations about the imminence of his return, declaring that the “SEASON HAS DRAWN NEAR.” Thus, they claim to possess knowledge that even the “Son of Man” did not have - (Matthew 24:23-26, Luke 21:8).

From them, disciples will “HEAR of wars and reports of wars.” Deceivers and false teachers point to wars, earthquakes, and similar calamities as “signs” that the “end” is near.

Certainly, wars, seismic activities, and famines do occur over the course of human history, but they are not indicators of the nearness of the end. Nevertheless, as Jesus said, the “end is not yet”; they are NOT “signs” by which the end or his return may be calculated and plotted - (Matthew 24:4-6).

The activities of deceivers serve to spread “lawlessness” in the Assembly, so much so that the “love of many grows cold,” causing many saints to apostatize from the Apostolic faith.

PAUL


The warnings of Jesus are echoed in Paul’s second letter to the Thessalonians when he describes the coming “Man of Lawlessness,” a figure he links to the final “Apostasy.” This figure is energized by Satan. He will employ “signs and lying wonders” to deceive, and he will “seat himself in the Sanctuary of God,” the naos theou, a term the Apostle elsewhere applies to the “Body of Christ.”

This malevolent man’s deceptions will cause many to perish because they “welcomed not the love of the truth.” The key to avoiding his lies and apostasy is by “holding fast” to the teachings of the Apostles – (2 Thessalonians 2:1-12).

To Timothy, Paul warned that in the Last Days, some will depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of demons.” Sound teaching will be rejected as some members of the Assembly prefer the bizarre and the fantastical over the rock-solid principles of plain Scripture:

  • Having itching ears, they will heap to themselves teachers after their own lusts and will turn away their ears from the truth and turn aside to fables - (1 Timothy 4:1, 2 Timothy 4:3).

Moreover, “evil men and HOWLING IMPOSTERS will wax worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived.” The Greek term rendered “howling imposters” or go├ętes referred originally to what anthropologists today would label ‘sorcerers,’ ‘witchdoctors,’ and ‘shamans,’ practitioners of magical rituals used to manipulate the spiritual beings, and often accompanied by loud utterances and incantations - (1 Timothy 4:1, 2 Timothy 3:13, 4:3).

PETER


Peter likewise warned us about the coming false prophets who would slither their way into the Church, coming to prominence in the Last Days and fleecing the flock of God:

  • But there arose false prophets also among the people, as among you also there shall be false teachers who shall privily bring in destructive heresies, denying even the Master that bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. And many shall follow their lascivious doings by reason of whom the way of the truth shall be evil spoken of. And in covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you” – (2 Peter 2:1-3).

Peter attributed their motivation to a desire for financial gain, “making merchandise” of the saints. The description fits the modern phenomenon of the so-called “prosperity” preachers who promise unwary believers material abundance and good health if they give money to their “ministries.” It is a seductive but “destructive” message.

The warning warning given by Jesus and his apostles over several decades was very consistent. Rather than promise a final super revival or endless good times and prosperity for the followers of Jesus, the New Testament warns repeatedly of coming apostasy and a host of deceivers and “false prophets.”

While the Body of Christ has been plagued with false teachers since its inception, there has been an increase in the number and effectiveness of deceivers in recent decades; frankly, an invasion.

Deceivers and charlatans have flooded the Assembly of God with covetousness and turned the Gospel into little more than a narcissistic self-improvement program. Moreover, they have even introduced ideas and practices borrowed from the world of the occult and magic, including incantations, mysticism, conscious-altering meditation, astrology, numerology, Gnosticism, monthly prognostications, and other forms of divination.

In short, the warnings of Jesus, Paul, Peter, and John are unfolding before our eyes, and apostasy is underway just as predicted in the New Testament. Only time will tell if this is the final “great falling away” and the time when the “Lawless One” will seat himself in the “Sanctuary of God.” But are we heeding the warning?



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