Howling Imposters

In his final recorded discourse, Jesus included several warnings about coming “deceivers,” “false messiahs,” and “false prophets,” men and women intent on misleading his disciples. His warnings were reiterated and expanded in the writings of the Apostles. He began his discourse on the Mount of Olives with a stern warning - “Beware lest anyone deceive you!” - “MANY” deceivers are coming who will “deceive MANY.” Deception working its way through the Body of Christ is NOT a new phenomenon.

Charlatans will come in his name and “deceive many.” Likewise, “many false prophets” and “false messiahs” will slither their way into his Assembly, targeting the “elect” with their false teachings and deceptive claims, even using “signs and wonders” to fool as many believers as possible - (Matthew 24:4-11, 24:23-24, 24:26).

Howl - Photo by Lilian Jeane Schiffer on Unsplash
[Howl - Photo by Lilian Jeane Schiffer on Unsplash]

Their lies include false information about the future and the return of Jesus. They will claim that he “
is here” or “there,” “in the wilderness” or “IN THE SECRET PLACE.” They will set false expectations about the imminence of his return, declaring that the “SEASON HAS DRAWN NEAR,” thereby arrogating to themselves knowledge and insight that even the “Son of Man” does not have - (Matthew 24:23-26, Luke 21:8).

Disciples will “HEAR of wars and reports of wars” as deceivers point to wars, earthquakes, and similar calamities as “signs” that the “end” is upon the Church. Certainly, wars, seismic activities, and famines do occur, but they are not indicators of the nearness of the end. As Jesus said, the “end is not yet.” Such events are NOT “signs” by which his return can be calculated and plotted on a chart or timetable - (Matthew 24:4-6).

Their activities will spread “lawlessness” in the Assembly. So much so that the “love of many will grow cold.” This will cause many saints to forsake the Apostolic teachings handed down to the Church via the New Testament.

The warnings of Jesus are echoed in Paul’s second letter to the Thessalonians where he describes the coming “Man of Lawlessness,” a figure he links to the final “Apostasy.” This man will be 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.”

His deceptions and supernatural signs will cause many to perish because they “welcomed not the love of the truth.” The key to avoiding his lies and apostasy is “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 since many members of the Assembly prefer bizarre experiences and esoteric knowledge over the rock-solid and plain principles found in the Scriptures:

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

PETER


Peter likewise warned about false prophets who would infiltrate 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).

He 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 gospel’ whereby preachers promise unwary believers material abundance and good health if they give money generously to their “ministries.” It is a seductive but “destructive” heresy.

The warnings of the New Testament are consistent. Rather than promise a final super revival or endless good times and prosperity for the Church, Jesus and his Apostles warned us repeatedly of the coming apostasy and an invasion of the Church by a great many deceivers and “false prophets.”

Dusk - Photo by Daniil Silantev on Unsplash
[Photo by Daniil Silantev on Unsplash]

While the Body of Christ has been plagued with false teachers since its inception, there has been an increase in their numbers and effectiveness in recent years. They have flooded the Church of Jesus Christ with covetousness, replaced the Gospel with a narcissistic self-improvement philosophy, and introduced many congregations to occult ideas, terms, and practices, including mysticism, astrology, numerology, 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 they predicted. Only time will tell if this is the final “great falling away” and the time for the appearance of the “Lawless One.” Are we heeding the warning?



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