Vigilance in the Midst of Great Apostasy

Prof. Johan Malan, Middelburg, South Africa (June 2009)

A vigilant Christian is someone who is fully conscious of the spiritual realities of his life in Christ, and derives the motivation and strength for his life from this divine source. He is also conscious of the spiritual dangers posed by the opposing kingdom of Satan and actively resists them. This battle occurs in the spiritual realm of our life since we do not wrestle against flesh and blood but against a hostile spiritual power and its wicked principles (Eph. 6:12). The more we are mindful of the reality of the other, unseen world, the more vigilant we will be. The more secular we are inclined, the lesser we will consider spiritual realities and consequently neglect to order our lives accordingly. To be vigilant in a biblical sense demands that our eyes are open to certain realities and that this knowledge will determine our decisions and actions.

There are three spiritual perspectives which a watchful Christian should have. The increased knowledge of these perspectives will enable him to sharpen his insight and determine the most appropriate actions:

The first is an upward perspective, as we should always keep our eyes on the Lord Jesus so we can follow Him and walk according to the commands of His Word: “Let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith” (Heb. 12:1-2). Sins and burdens can easily disturb our relationship with Him and should be confessed and put off if we wish to have a wholehearted commitment to our Guide and Saviour. We must constantly keep in mind that He may return at any time to demand account of His disciples’ lives after conversion (Mark 13:33-37; Rom. 14:10-12). When Christ shows us the way through His Word and we daily follow Him we will do works that befit repentance, thereby avoiding the possibility of appearing before His judgement seat empty-handed (cf. 1 Cor. 3:9-16).

The second is an inward perspective and refers to continuous self-examination so we can, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, determine whether there is any leaven of sin in our lives (cf. 1 Cor. 5:6-8). David prayed: “Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my anxieties; and see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (Ps. 139:23-24). We should constantly be on guard against evil attitudes and thoughts that may enter our hearts. To be able to do this we should carefully consider what we read, what we see, what kind of conversation we conduct and what the nature of our friendship is. “Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Matt. 26:41).

The third is an outward perspective that we should have. Two aspects are to be considered in this regard: We must be able to discern the spiritual need of other people and do what is needed to proclaim the gospel of Christ to them. Jesus said, “Lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for harvest… The harvest truly is plentiful, but the labourers are few” (John 4:35; Matt. 9:37). We must offer ourselves in the service of the Lord to supply the spiritual needs of other people. In this way we can gather a harvest for His kingdom.

The other aspect of our outward perspective is to take notice of the strategies and false teachings of the enemy, and to avoid being trapped by evil snares through his clever deception. Those who are ignorant and going astray should be admonished, at the same time, watching out for ourselves lest we be deceived: “Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a person in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted” (Gal. 6:1). “Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall” (1 Cor. 10:12). We must daily trust the Lord Jesus to keep us from the wiles of the devil and to ensure that we do not lose our spiritual perspective and thereby fall, due to our lack of knowledge of the strategies of the enemy.

There is one perspective that we should not have, and that is a backward one. Paul said, “…one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press towards the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 3:13-14). We should not always explore the past and rip up old sores by again and again reminding people of their mistakes and sinful past. If an atrocity or sin has been forgiven it should also be forgotten. Solomon says, “He who covers a transgression seeks love, but he who repeats a matter separates the best of friends” (Prov. 17:9). After wrongs have been put right you should proceed with your life without continuously looking over your shoulder. The devil ever wants to subject Christians to feelings of guilt over their past sins of which the Lord has long ago completely forgiven and cleansed them. His purpose is to weaken your faith and cause you to doubt your salvation. Resist him! The Lord forgives and blots out our sins and will not remember them (Isa. 43:25). We must also forgive and forget the sins of those who have transgressed against us.

We should be alert and awake at all times: “Therefore let us not sleep, as other do, but let us watch and be sober” (1 Thess. 5:6). Paul gave this command to a congregation that had an active expectation of Christ’s second coming. They needed to be well informed and always ready for what the future held as that would help them to please the Lord and maintain high spiritual standards. The word which has been translated “sleep” in this scripture refers to spiritual lethargy and insensitivity. This is the state of the unsaved, i.e. the other people Paul refers to. Believers should be watchful and sober, waiting for the Lord’s return, so they can remain standing during difficult times and ultimately give account of their lives to Him with boldness.

Christians of all ages, but more specifically those who live in the end-time, must guard against apostatising which can, in different ways, detrimentally influence our faith, our emotions, and our prophetic expectation of the coming of Jesus Christ. The intensity of the pressure to which we are exposed, as well as its multiple forms, is rapidly increasing. These attacks have devastating effects in the lives of those who do not have the correct, biblical perspective on our circumstances, and who are not securely anchored to the Rock of Ages. There are many causes for this problem, particularly the following twelve:

1. Perilous times

Extreme carnality and a lifeless form of godliness are rapidly becoming the main characteristics of end-time, nominal Christianity. It will be difficult and even impossible for true Christians to adapt to social and religious conditions of this nature. Paul said, “But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away!” (2 Tim. 3:1-5).

Self-love will be the dominating characteristic of people, while sport and fleshly lusts will be more important to them than religion. In his efforts to get to the top, end-time man will act shamelessly and brutally towards other people, not hesitating to resort to subversion, betrayal and corruption. He will also abuse religion to assign to himself an image of social acceptability, but in practice he will deny the basic principles of evangelical Christianity through his actions. He will be a Christian in name only and project a false image of Christianity completely. He will be a keen follower of deceivers and false prophets who have exchanged the truth for a lie.

True Christians will not be able to associate with persons, churches or preachers of this nature and will have no choice but to withdraw from all forms of false religion. Consequently, evangelical Christians will increasingly be marginalised and even persecuted in society. They will be the victims of the heartless and unreasonable actions of the majority of compromisers and will have to face difficult treatment because of their faith in Christ.

2. Wrong interpretation of the Bible

It is very important to distinguish between the different dispensations of Israel in the Old Testament, the church in the New Testament, the reign of the Antichrist after the church age, and the dispensation of Christ’s kingdom on earth after His second coming. A lack of dispensational discernment is one the most important reasons why so many members of Christian churches are out of step with the Bible and entertain completely wrong views on spiritual matters. This disposition also affects their spiritual vigilance as they do not know where they stand in God’s plan for the ages. Many Christians (particularly amillennialists) mix these four dispensations, thereby rendering a very confusing and inherently conflicting nature to the church dispensation.

People who follow this approach, spiritualise biblical prophecies and allege: (1) that Israel has been replaced by the church (replacement theology) and that there is, according to the Bible, no end-time restoration of the people of Israel to their own land; (2) that there were various antichrists during the church dispensation; consequently, there will be no antichristian world government after the church dispensation; and (3) that the devil is bound during the church dispensation, allowing us to reign as kings with Christ right now (dominionism) since there will be no future reign of peace after the second coming of Christ. All promises made to Israel in the Old Testament with regard to a future kingdom after the coming of the Messiah as King of kings, are erroneously transferred to the church and applied to the present dispensation.

There are various serious consequences of this wrong interpretation of the Bible. Such believers do not regard the restoration of Israel in their own land as one of the most important signs of the end-time. Neither do they prepare themselves for difficult times which will be a prelude to the tribulation period and the revelation of the Antichrist. Because of their view of the Antichrist as a historical figure who has come and gone, they do not believe in the appearing of an end-time Antichrist who will be destroyed by Christ during His second coming (cf. 2 Thess. 2:8; Rev. 19:19-20). Neither do they believe in the rapture as an escape from the future rule of the Antichrist on earth (cf. Luke 21:36). What they do believe is that, before the second coming of Christ, the kingdom of God will be visibly established on earth by the church – a supposition which clearly contradicts the Bible. In view of this expectation they do not regard the present period as a time of great falling away in preparation for the revelation of the Antichrist, but as a time of great revivals, signs and wonders, as well as unity and peace on earth that will, according to them, culminate in the revelation of God’s kingdom on earth.

It is obvious that kingdom theology (dominionism) and the spiritualising of the Bible are contrary to the command of increased watchfulness during a time of great apostasy. If people are not serious in rightly dividing and applying the Word of truth they unwittingly become pioneers for the world government of the Antichrist. This government will be based upon an inclusive ideology in which all religions are equally recognised and challenged to work together for the realisation of world peace. Spiritually deceived people collaborate with the counterfeit “Christ” who is described by the Bible as the “Antichrist.” From a biblical point of view such people can definitely not be described as vigilant Christians.

3. Rejection of the rapture

When biblical eschatology is wrongly interpreted due to the merging of different dispensations, the promise of the rapture loses its significance and deep spiritual blessing which it is designed to have for us. Wrong perceptions on the end-time induces the church to see itself as Israel and then to accept the calling to establish an earthly kingdom. Under the influence of these deceptive ideas the expectation declines to escape the coming judgements by way of the rapture and to accompany Christ to our heavenly home. The consequence is that such people completely deny the promise of the rapture before the tribulation.

However, the Lord Jesus says: “Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass and to stand before the Son of Man” (Luke 21:36). Paul says that we must “wait for God’s Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, even Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come” (1 Thess. 1:10). We are not appointed for the wrath of God during the tribulation but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Thess. 5:9). The Lord Jesus “will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air” (1 Thess. 4:16-17).

Vigilant Christians expect that the Lord Jesus as the Heavenly Bridegroom will take us away before the tribulation period. To us, the rapture is “the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Saviour Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:13). Christians who do not embrace this hope and even allege that there is no rapture, obviously don’t prepare for this meeting.

Then there are those who do believe that there will be a literal Antichrist and a tribulation period, but they figured out that the rapture will only occur in the middle or somewhere in the second half of the tribulation. They effectively have an Antichrist expectation, not a Christ expectation, and mainly occupy themselves with survival strategies for the first half of the tribulation. To them, the coming of the heavenly Bridegroom as a thief in the night is not an immediate possibility as the false messiah has to come first. They are waiting for the wrong person!

4. A false kingdom vision

Watchfulness can also be related to knowledge of the two kingdoms that will shortly be revealed on earth. The kingdom of light and the kingdom of darkness are about to reveal themselves as visible realities on earth to fulfil humanity’s long-cherished ideal of peace and prosperity on earth. During this time of rising tension because of the renewed arms race, war clouds that are gathering in the Middle East, global warming due to increased air pollution, a worldwide economic recession and unemployment, as well as threatening disease epidemics that can quickly spread from one country to another, all nations yearn for a world government with the power to address global problems in a just and effective way to the advantage of all.

God promises us a world government of righteousness, peace and economic prosperity as well as safeguarding against disease and suffering (Isa. 2:2-4; Jer. 3:17; Mal. 4:2; Amos 9:13). His Son, Jesus Christ, will be the head of this government and rule the world from the restored throne of David in Jerusalem (Luke 1:31-33; Ps. 2:6). But this government of righteousness will only be instituted after Christ has returned to the earth as King, set foot on the Mount of Olives and judged His enemies (Rev. 11:15; 19:11-16; Zech. 14:2-17).

Throughout the ages Satan was also involved with a plan to offer an alternative kingdom to humanity in which the world will be ruled by a false ‘Christ’ (the Antichrist). After he was cast out from heaven Lucifer established a spiritual kingdom in the air above the earth from where he, as the ruler of the fallen and wicked world, controls the unsaved hosts on earth (John 14:30; 2 Cor. 4:4; Eph. 2:2 and 6:12; 1 John 5:19). This spiritual control system will be transformed into a visible world government under the personal control of the Antichrist and the false prophet. The dragon (Satan) will give to the beast (the Antichrist) “his power, his throne, and great authority” (Rev. 13:2), which will enable him to practise executive authority over every tribe, tongue and nation (Rev. 13:7).

In his capacity as a false “angel of light” (2 Cor. 11:14), Satan imitates God’s promise on a world government of peace and harmony by also promising the divided and warring nations of the world a unifying global government. The Antichrist will appear on the scene as a counterfeit prince of peace who will, seemingly to the benefit of all, start transforming the world and solving all its problems. Through demonic powers he and the false prophet will perform signs and wonders to make all people think that they were sent by the true God and actually represent Him (2 Thess. 2:8-10; Rev. 13:11-15). That will give rise to worshipping the Antichrist as well as Lucifer, who will pretend to be God: “And all the world marvelled and followed the beast. So they worshipped the dragon who gave authority to the beast; and they worshipped the beast, saying, Who is like the beast? Who is able to make war with him?” (Rev. 13:3-4).

Directly after the rapture the devil’s global government will be established under the leadership of the Antichrist and the false prophet. All political ideologies will be accommodated and united within a single world government; all religions will recognise the Antichrist as their common messiah, and worship and honour him. They will follow him in amazement because of the transformations of his new world order. He will also head up a centrally-controlled world economy in which nobody will have the right to buy or sell without his number (Rev. 13:16-18). Those who receive his mark and number will evade starvation, persecution and unemployment, but at a terribly high price of the forced worship of the beast (cf. Rev. 14:9-11).

The spiritual vigilance which the Bible expects of us demands the ability to clearly discern between these two kingdoms, to support and promote the one while rejecting and unmasking the counterfeit kingdom for what it really is. If we remain true to the kingdom of Christ and dedicate ourselves towards hastening its coming, it asks of us to remain faithful to Christ and the guidance of the Holy Spirit, to have a clear prophetic expectation to meet Him as the heavenly Bridegroom, and also to make the necessary preparations to appear before His judgement seat where we will give account of our lives as His disciples. Apart from this, we should also engage ourselves in withholding the Antichrist’s evil government of compromise and deceit. We must realise that we are strangers and pilgrims in a world which lies under the sway of the Evil One, and also that, spiritually and morally speaking, a dark time is dawning upon the world. We are called upon to take notice of these developments and resist them.

People who are unable to discern between these two kingdoms find themselves on a way in which they can easily become victims of Satan’s end-time deception. Because of ignorance they will view the political and religious globalism of the “angel of light” as God-given deliverance and fully support it. This modern tower of Babel (end-time globalism) is constructed before our eyes, being strongly supported by ecumenical thinking. People of all political and religious persuasions are joining hands to realise the dream of their envisioned new world order in the interest of their own survival. Various occult manifestations of their man-made and satanically-driven kingdom occur in their midst, e.g. dubious signs and wonders by another spirit and another Jesus (2 Cor. 11:4). Transcendental meditation replaces prayer and multireligious ecumenical ties pave the way towards the acceptance of the universal messiah of all faiths. He emerges from “the god of this age” (2 Cor. 4:4) who is the false god of all religions.

It is an indication of a most extreme form of deception and lack of vigilance when people become supporters of this alternative kingdom of the devil.

5. The arrogance of wicked leaders

Self-exaltation and arrogance are common characteristics of end-time humanity. Man wishes to be his own god who determines his own destiny. Watchful Christians should expect that such leaders will have no regard for God and His Word – nor will they honour the principles of the Christian civilisation. They will rather see it as their duty to demean and persecute evangelical Christians who question their conduct. God will judge these wicked rulers and their equally wicked followers during the tribulation period after the rapture: “I will punish the world for its evil, and the wicked for their iniquity; I will halt the arrogance of the proud, and will lay low the haughtiness of the terrible” (Isa. 13:11).

Arrogant conduct of this nature is also characteristic of apostatising spiritual leaders who pursue power, wealth and dominion at the cost of true worship and the interests of other people. They are busy building their own kingdom on earth, and for that reason they are not really interested in the second coming of Christ. Their carnality and sinful lusts lead to licentious lives and liquor abuse. They will remain behind at the rapture and become the objects of God’s wrath:

“But if that evil servant says in his heart, My master is delaying his coming, and begins to beat his fellow servants, and to eat and drink with the drunkards, the master of that servant will come on a day when he is not looking for him and at an hour that he is not aware of, and will cut him in two and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites. There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matt. 24:48-51).

All servants of the Lord must be on guard not to lapse into this sinful lifestyle. The form of godliness and lip-service to Christ by deceived people will be of no avail on the day of judgement as they will be rejected by the Lord (Matt. 7:21-23). True believers must watch and prevent following the bad example of false teachers.

6. Attacks on people’s economic position

In the light of biblical prophecies it is to be expected that a serious economic and monetary crisis will arise in the end-time as part of an evil plan to obtain control over the world economy and to institute a single, cashless currency for the whole world. During the past few decades, the pretence of great wealth and prosperity was promoted in all countries by allowing their supply of money to grow faster than the country’s economy in order to offer cheap credit to virtually all their citizens. Even young people who had only recently started to work, succeeded in obtaining large loans at low interest rates to buy expensive houses, cars and other luxury articles. But the risk was high as they had not yet proved themselves economically to be sufficiently credit-worthy to gain access to such large sums of money.

Humanity at large is caught up in the grip of materialism because of these developments. People started buying everything their eyes could see. Businesses flourished in the lively market and new ones entered the market in large numbers to share in the riches. Oil-producing Arab states amassed great wealth in a short time, and communist countries rejected their long tradition of socialism to introduce a capitalistic free-market economy in order to exploit the rising tide of prosperity. The Soviet Union broke up into 15 capitalist republics. China did not abandon its communist regime but nevertheless adopted a capitalist economy which grew at a very high rate. Other Asian countries such as Japan, Korea and India also became serious competitors in the world’s emerging free-market system. Wealth increased rapidly and soon the majority of people were not satisfied unless they had the very best.

The excessively high demand in the world economy created the problem of inflation which has in many cases soared to detrimentally high levels. The prices of fixed property and commodities have more than doubled in a few years. Interest rates were increased by central banks in order to curb the inflation rate. The inevitable result was that the demand for expensive houses and luxury articles suddenly declined, and consequently also their prices. Many people could no longer afford the high instalments, and thousands of them returned their houses and expensive cars to the banks that financed them. In many cases even large banks became insolvent, as well as businesses that no longer enjoyed a high turnover. Most of them did not build up reserves during the “plentiful years” that could be used to survive the succeeding “gaunt years.” Instead, they paid staggering high salaries to management staff (particularly top management) and also spent millions of dollars on adverts and sport sponsorships. Now, many of them are in serious trouble and see no light at the end of the tunnel.

Watchful Christians should have realised long ago that this artificial wave of prosperity would collapse sooner or later, and in the light of this expectation they should have refrained from incurring excessive debt and living above their means. Those who did not act responsibly are now in a big predicament.

We must realise that the serious recession in the world economy is preparing the way to international control (economic globalism) as well as the institution of a new monetary system for the world. Christians will have to live even more cautiously and learn to be content when their basic needs have been supplied. Believers who do that will, despite the difficult times, be able to lend a helping hand to those in need, thereby easing their burden. The others will be so tied up with their debt that they will start doubting and even blaming God if He does not come to their rescue by helping them to survive financially, to obtain suitable employment and to get out their debt. They now reap what they have sown themselves and cannot blame God for their problems. If we had enlightened eyes of the mind under the guidance of the Holy Spirit we would have been able to see these problems coming and have taken timely actions to avert them.

7. Warnings against materialism

The Bible contains serious warnings against materialism and love of money, and we should sincerely heed them. Paul says, “For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain that we can carry nothing out. And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows” (1 Tim. 6:7-10).

One of the names which the Lord Jesus assigned to the devil is Mammon – the god of money (Luke 16:13). Mammon is intent on blinding our mind with riches so that we should not lay up spiritual treasures in heaven but instead occupy ourselves with gathering material wealth on earth. Unfortunately, earthly riches have even become a norm for spiritual success to many Christians. If they have a lot of money and large, expensive churches they argue that the Lord has blessed them. That is absolutely not the case as the Lord Jesus describes believers who boast in their earthly wealth as being spiritually bankrupt: “Because you say, I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing – and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind and naked” (Rev. 3:17).

Our values as Christians should never be determined by earthly, materialistic norms. God’s means of payment is not money but the blood of His Son. Peter says, “…you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot” (1 Pet. 1:18-19). Paul says, “For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s” (1 Cor. 6:20). The glorified church in heaven will know that they will only be there by virtue of being redeemed by the blood of the Lamb. They will worship the Lord Jesus by singing: “You were slain, and have redeemed us to God by your blood out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation, and have made us kings and priests to our God; and we shall reign on earth” (Rev. 5:9-10). Watch against faith in the depraved world’s secular currency at the cost of heavenly values. Strive to be among the redeemed ones who, in the Name of the Lord Jesus and in the power of the Holy Spirit, are doing works with eternal value.

Spiritual assets cannot be bought with money. However, money can be used as a means to an end in the service of the Lord, but then it should be earned in an honourable way and given as a sacrifice to the Lord. Christians should use such gifts wisely in the service of the Lord and not appropriate them for dishonest gain. The Lord warns His disciples that there must not be a motif of self-enrichment among them as that is not a characteristic of a faithful shepherd of the flock of Christ (1 Pet. 5:2).

8. Attacks on our moral norms

The Lord Jesus warns us that the last days before His second coming will again be as the days of Noah and Lot (Luke 17:26-30). Total immorality prevailed during that time and violence, homosexuality, wickedness and materialism occurred widely. The Lord decided to destroy the wicked people because they filled the earth with violence (Gen. 6:13). End-time humanity is in a similar state of immorality, lawlessness and violence. The apostatising will further increase until the Antichrist is revealed as the man of sin (2 Thess. 2:3). He will establish a culture of sin on earth and further promote it. During the tribulation period when the judgements of God will be poured out upon the world, sin and lawlessness will proliferate: “But the rest of mankind, who were not killed by these plagues… did not repent of their murders or their sorceries or their sexual immorality or their thefts” (Rev. 9:20-21).

We now live in the time of great falling away from the truth, during which the agnostic and deceived world is conditioned to accept and follow the Antichrist. Evangelical Christians should not be part of the apostatising but resist it (cf. Eph. 5:11; 2 Thess. 2:7). Those who live permissively by compromising with the world will backslide spiritually. The Lord Jesus warned against this tendency: “And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold” (Matt. 24:12). The Living Bible says: “Sin will be rampant everywhere and will cool the love of many.

Watchful Christians should be conscious of the collapse of moral and spiritual standards, and do all to stand, submit to Christ and resist evil, all the while continuing to be light in a dark world and the salt of a corrupt earth.

9. Attacks on our emotions

We are living in a deteriorating world in which there are many things which also unsettle Christians and cause great concern among them. The question is how we should react emotionally and spiritually to these things? Many of the unsaved people become panic-stricken and resort to liquor and vain entertainment to forget their sorrows. Some Christians do the same, inflicting great spiritual damage on themselves. The Lord Jesus warned us: “But take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and cares of this life, and that day come upon you unexpectedly. For it will come as a snare on all those who dwell on the face of the whole earth” (Luke 21:34-35).

Are we being drawn down by the cares, disappointments and bad news of this world? We should not allow this to happen but keep on rejoicing in the Lord while strengthening our faith by the promises of our wonderful future with Him (Neh. 8:10; Heb. 13:5; John 14:1-3). It will lift our thoughts up to heaven where Christ intercedes for us (Col. 3:1-3).

However, there is a form of endogenous depression which does not occur in reaction to outward circumstances, but is caused by internal problems such as hormone imbalance or the by-effects of medication for hypertension, etc. Although depression caused by such factors cannot be averted we must never allow the devil to use this occasion to weaken our faith or make us doubt the promises of the Lord. It is always good to find something constructive to keep us busy during such experiences, rather than sitting on a chair or lying on a bed, surrendering ourselves to dark thoughts of self-pity.

Events in the last days produce more than enough reasons to become depressed. But we should watch and pray that we are always worthy to meet the heavenly Bridegroom in the air when He comes for us (Luke 21:36).

10. Rejection of the Triune God

A form of spiritual deception that we must strongly resist is the false claim by an increasing number of theologians that we should change our concept of God as there is no Triune God according to them. This is a calculated effort to deny the deity and eternal self-existence of the Lord Jesus, rendering Him an ordinary prophet of the same type as Buddha, Mohammed and Krishna. If we do not recognise Jesus as God (cf. John 20:28; Phil. 2:11; 1 John 5:20) then we deny Him for who He really is. Peter refers to Him as “our God and Saviour Jesus Christ” (2 Pet. 1:1) but warns that false teachers will despise Him: “There were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructible heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their destructive ways, because of whom the way of truth will be blasphemed” (2 Pet. 2:1-2).

Various “Christian” movements such as the Jesus Seminar in the USA and the New Reformation in South Africa take the lead in the campaign against the Triune God, and many preachers follow them. They give evangelical Christians a bad name, describe them as old-fashioned and out of touch with modern research, thereby dissociating themselves from the God of the Bible. They act in the same way as Israel in the Old Testament during times of great apostasy. God said to them: “You have forsaken Me, says the Lord, you have gone backward. Therefore I will stretch out my hand against you and destroy you” (Jer. 15:6). Destruction during the coming tribulation period will also be the part of modern deniers of God.

Beware of any movement or theological teaching which expresses itself in an unscriptural and dishonouring way against God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. The subversive movement against the Lord Jesus begins at the denial of His virgin birth in order to render Him an ordinary human being. Subsequently, His deity, the significance of His atoning death on the cross, His resurrection from the dead and His ascension are also denied.

It is to our eternal benefit to side with the faithful disciples of Christ, as He will praise them at His judgement seat: “…you have kept my Word, and have not denied my Name” (Rev. 3:8). How many of the modern theologians and preachers comply with this standard?

11. Rejection of the Bible

The denial of the Bible as the inspired Word of God is commonly practised in the Protestant world. When people no longer honour God’s Word they do not consider His revelations, they deny His supreme authority in the universe, they disregard His commands, and consequently do not subject their lives and religious convictions to it. They spiritualise the Bible at will in order to change its meaning. Various scriptures are deprived of their meaning by relegating them to a form of mythology or primitive superstition which is not acceptable to modern man. Such people exclude themselves from eternal life by closing the only door to salvation. The Lord Jesus says: “He who rejects Me, and does not receive my word, has that which judges him – the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day” (John 12:48).

Many evangelical Christians are not alert and fail to express themselves strongly enough against this subversive movement; they even go along for some distance on this path of deceit. Some of them belong to churches in which biblical prophecies are spiritualised and degraded to such an extent that members of the church have no concept of the signs of the times, do not believe in the restoration of Israel or the appearing of a personal Antichrist in the end-time, completely deny the promise of the rapture, metaphorically interpret prophecies on the millennial reign of Christ, and consequently do not know where they stand in God’s counsel for humanity. How do they watch and pray?

12. Departing from the faith

There are many humanly-conceived dogmas and religions in the world, but a true faith in God and His Son under the conviction of the Holy Spirit is decreasing. The Lord Jesus has warned against this lamentable situation: “When the Son of man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:8). This question is asked in view of a very real problem. What would be the cause for sharp decline of biblical faith in the end-time? There are various reasons:

Deception. The first reason is because Christians will, on a large scale, be subjected to the influence of false teachings by which they will be deceived and depart from their faith in the truth: “Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons” (1 Tim. 4:1). They will abandon the truth as a result of deceptive preaching and put their faith in human theories by which they are declared saved in an easy way without repentance: “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables” (2 Tim. 4:3-4). In this context, fables refer to religious lies.

The rapture. The second reason is because, at the rapture, the Lord Jesus will snatch away all true believers (His bride) from the earth to their heavenly mansion (1 Thess. 4:16-17). Before His secret coming they will shine as lights in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, and their sudden departure will cause great spiritual darkness to descend upon the earth. The false religions will then be in a dominant position, all following and worshipping the Antichrist (Rev. 13:3).

Martyrdom. The third reason relates to the fact that all true believers who are saved in the tribulation period of seven years will die as martyrs during the Antichrist’s reign of terror (Rev. 6:9-11; 13:7,15). When the Lord Jesus returns to earth after the seven years of tribulation there will probably be very few or no believers. However, at His coming a remnant of Israel and the nations will come to faith and be saved (Zech. 12:10; Matt. 24:29-30).

We are now living in a time when false teachers wreak havoc among many believers. Evangelical Christians must, more than ever before, observe the serious warnings of the Lord Jesus on the great extent of end-time deception: “Take heed that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name, saying, I am the Christ, and will deceive many… Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many… they will show great signs and wonders, so as to deceive, if possible, even the elect” (Matt. 24:4-5,11,24).

Are you alert and watching out for false teachings?

Finally, remember that our spiritual power and motivation only comes from Jesus Christ through the working of His Holy Spirit. We will never be able to successfully be on guard against the enemy’s devices and remain standing if we do not have a strong relationship with the Lord Jesus. The main purpose of our lives should not be to better understand the nature of the enemy’s attacks, but to better know our Saviour and to more completely conform to His death and resurrection. Only then will we have the spiritual discernment and strength to successfully identify and ward off any attack of the devil. Paul says that the main purpose of his life was: “…that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death” (Phil. 3:10). Only a full surrender of this nature will help us to be truly vigilant and to overcome spiritually.