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Lent 2022 Day 38: "This Means War"April 8, 2022
The church has an insurmountable task ahead, if we are to rid the church of the enemy who has infiltrated and caused this unimaginable desolation. The good news is we do not have the power to rid the church of this enemy, but God does. Our enemy is very powerful. 2 Thessalonians 2:4 “He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped, so that he sets himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God.” I say unimaginable because the devastation to the church is beyond anything we can imagine. To look at the church most would say by all appearances the church is fine but when compared to scripture it is not fine but in desolation. Habakkuk was told Habakkuk 1:5 “Look at the nations and watch—and be utterly amazed. For I am going to do something in your days that you would not believe, even if you were told.” John was astonished at what he saw. Revelation 17:6 “I saw that the woman was drunk with the blood of God’s holy people, the blood of those who bore testimony to Jesus. When I saw her, I was greatly astonished.” Daniel was appalled at what he saw. Daniel 8:27 “I, Daniel, was worn out. I lay exhausted for several days. Then I got up and went about the king’s business. I was appalled by the vision; it was beyond understanding.” Daniel 9:27 “And at the temple he will set up an abomination that causes desolation, until the end that is decreed is poured out on him.” What they saw has come to pass just as the church was warned about, but because of stubborn refusal to believe all that is written, the church went their own way and now has been decimated by our enemies and we are powerless to do anything about it. Only God will defeat this enemy.
We are at war, but this is not a war like the one we see on the news. This war has decimated the church with only a remnant left. When asked about the end, Jesus warned us not to be deceived, yet the church did not adhere to His words and was deceived. False teaching is everywhere in the church, as are the false teachers who teach them. We were told that satan is a deceiver and a liar. Revelation 12:9 “satan, who leads the whole world astray.” John 8:44 “You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” We see that false prophets are also liars. Micah 2:11 “If a liar and deceiver comes and says, ‘I will prophesy for you plenty of wine and beer,’ that would be just the prophet for this people!” It may not be plenty of wine, but it will be plenty of money. Because the church did not listen to the warnings about what would happen and the devastation to the church happened without much resistance. Even though Paul said Acts 20:29 “I know that after I leave, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock. 30 Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them. 31 So be on your guard! Remember that for three years I never stopped warning each of you night and day with tears,” that still happened. The church is filled with those who cannot discern. John 16:1 “All this I have told you so that you will not fall away. 2 They will put you out of the synagogue; in fact, the time is coming when anyone who kills you will think they are offering a service to God. 3 They will do such things because they have not known the Father or me.” Isaiah 5:20 “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter. 21 Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes and clever in their own sight.” God appeared to Solomon and said, “Ask for whatever you want me to give you.” Solomon answered 1 Kings 3:9 “give your servant a discerning heart to govern your people and to distinguish between right and wrong.” Instead, today the church blindly follows after men and women having no idea if they speak truth or lies. Just as Daniel said, Daniel 8:12 “Because of rebellion, the Lord’s people and the daily sacrifice were given over to it. It prospered in everything it did, and truth was thrown to the ground.”
The church has not prevailed against our enemies. Yes, Jesus said to Peter Matthew 16:18 “on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. 19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” The church’s rebellion against God’s word means we no longer have those keys, there is no power and satan has set up His throne in the temple, which is the body of Christ. We were also told that satan’s reign would come to an end which is good news because if Jesus came today, he would find very little faith as most have been deceived by a false gospel. We do not deserve the grace of God, but He still gives His grace to us. 2 Peter 3:8 “But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. 9 The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” Daniel told us Daniel 7:26 “‘But the court will sit, and his power will be taken away and completely destroyed forever. 27 Then the sovereignty, power and greatness of all the kingdoms under heaven will be handed over to the holy people of the Most High. His kingdom will be an everlasting kingdom, and all rulers will worship and obey him.” The kingdom of God is an everlasting kingdom and Jesus is the King of kings and Lord of lords. He established His kingdom and then empowered His disciples to do as He did. When people repented, the kingdom did come near but our rebellion against God’s word caused God to turn His face from us and we lost the power to defeat out enemies but as we just read satan’s time is coming to an end. Jesus told us Matthew 24:10 “At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, 11 and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. 12 Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, 13 but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved. 14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.” So, stand firm on the word of God and be victorious. Once again, the church will do as Jesus did and then the end will come.
In a physical war, weapons are crucial and as you see on the news there are some powerful and deadly weapons being used but the most powerful weapon being used today cannot defeat the enemies of the church. 2 Corinthians 10:4 “The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.” For years man has tried to win this war against satan only to make things worse. They tried by being clever, building things with their own hands and then coming up with theology and doctrines that cover up the pathetic weakness of the church and then stand firm on these powerless doctrines. Theology and doctrines are supposed to be about God, not about man’s changes to God’s word so it applies better to their daily life of sin. The church thinks its programs and architecture and silver-tongued orators (that means “one who is eloquently and artfully persuasive in speech”) in fancy suits are going to be able to battle with satan. Instead, the church 2000 years later is further from the truth than ever before. Peter after saying God is not slow in keeping His promise, goes on to say 2 Peter 3:10 “But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything done in it will be laid bare. 11 Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives 12 as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming.” The gospel was to go out into the world and turn it upside down. Acts 2:4 “On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. 5 For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.” 8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” Jesus and the disciples started to turn the world upside down. John 12:19 “the Pharisees said to one another, “See, this is getting us nowhere. Look how the whole world has gone after him!” Acts 21:30 “The whole city was aroused, and the people came running from all directions. Seizing Paul, they dragged him from the temple, and immediately the gates were shut. 31 While they were trying to kill him, news reached the commander of the Roman troops that the whole city of Jerusalem was in an uproar.” If this had kept going, Jesus would have returned sooner and taken His followers to eternity but instead the church rebelled against His word. 2 Thessalonians 2:1 “Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to him, we ask you, brothers and sisters, 2 not to become easily unsettled or alarmed by the teaching allegedly from us—whether by a prophecy or by word of mouth or by letter—asserting that the day of the Lord has already come. 3 Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction.” We were warned Hebrews 3:15 “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion.” But instead, just as Paul said and ever since, Galatians 1:6 “I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you to live in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— 7 which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. 8 But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let them be under God’s curse! 9 As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let them be under God’s curse!”
False teaching is like covid. A new variant is detected and almost immediately, even globally it becomes the dominant strain. False teaching has spread like wildfire from one country to the next. It has been said the European settlers to North America brought with them “devastating suite of scourges.” Missionaries from North America have also done the same with false gospels. Oswald Smith the founder of the People’s Church in Toronto Canada was known for his vast missionary efforts. “Dr. Billy Graham conducted Smith’s memorial service before an overflow audience in The Peoples Church auditorium. Graham eulogized his friend: “The name, Oswald J. Smith, symbolizes worldwide evangelism. Some men are called to minister the gospel in a city, others to a nation; and a few in each century to the whole world. Oswald J. Smith was a prophet to the nations of the world. He will go down in history as the greatest combination pastor, hymn writer, missionary statesman and evangelist of our lime. He was the most remarkable man I have ever met.” Like the devastating scourges that swept across the country, so too did this false teaching (dispensational) from men like both these spread around the world. The fact that Graham thought Smith was a true prophet shows that both these men spread false teaching around the world. We know that satan leads the world astray. Revelation 13:3 “The whole world was filled with wonder and followed the beast.” Most have already received the mark of the beast because they have followed other gospels instead of being marked by the Spirit of God. This has been happening for 2000 years. This is what was supposed to be happening. Ephesians 1:13 “And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.” To receive this mark, you must hear the message of truth and respond heart, soul and mind. To receive the mark of the beast, you respond to false gospels and follow them wholeheartedly as so many around the world have.
Yes, we are at war and so far, we have been losing. The good news is that this desolation will come to an end. When I read scripture, my heart is stirred especially when I read about the power of the gospel such as Matthew 8:16 “When evening came, many who were demon-possessed were brought to him, and he drove out the spirits with a word and healed all the sick. 17 This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah: “He took up our infirmities and bore our diseases.” Jesus is still alive, and that healing power should still be happening. I don’t understand how you can read the Gospels and Acts and not want the same power present in our lives or how you can’t see all the warnings about other gospels being taught. I have been in the church since I was born but I wouldn’t have gone to heaven because I had been deceived by the powerless and empty ways of those who have gone before us that have led to destruction and death not life and prosperity. I along with millions of others have been robbed of the Kingdom of God coming near as Jesus said it would when we repent. Mark 1:14 “Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. 15 “The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!” The good news is still good news and if we turn from our wicked ways, we will see the Kingdom of God come near once again. Once again, we will see the healing power go out from the church. If you are willing to wait, you will see the kingdom of God come near.
The church has been decimated just like the pictures you see of the cities in Ukraine destroyed by war. The church looks the same except you can’t see it because this is spiritual warfare. The desolation is so severe our only hope is to return to God. This insurmountable task is beyond what we can do and this is a war we cannot win on our own but here is the good news; God will defeat our enemies but we must return to him. To demolish these demonic strongholds within the church, we have to completely surrender to God so that we can be victorious. Remember as you read these verses, in our case this is a spiritual battle. 1 Kings 8:44 “When your people go to war against their enemies, wherever you send them, and when they pray to the Lord toward the city you have chosen and the temple I have built for your Name, 45 then hear from heaven their prayer and their plea, and uphold their cause.” Deuteronomy 20:1 “When you go to war against your enemies and see horses and chariots and an army greater than yours, do not be afraid of them, because the Lord your God, who brought you up out of Egypt, will be with you.”
If we are to win this war, we have to cry out to God our savior. Psalm 88:1 “Lord, you are the God who saves me; day and night I cry out to you. 2 May my payer come before you; turn your ear to my cry.” 1 Chronicles 16:34 “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever. 35 Cry out, “Save us, God our Savior; gather us and deliver us from the nations, that we may give thanks to your holy name, and glory in your praise.” 36 Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, from everlasting to everlasting.” King Jehoshaphat was told, “A vast army is coming against you. 2 Chronicles 20:5 “Then Jehoshaphat stood up in the assembly of Judah and Jerusalem at the temple of the Lord in the front of the new courtyard 6 and said: “Lord, the God of our ancestors, are you not the God who is in heaven? You rule over all the kingdoms of the nations. Power and might are in your hand, and no one can withstand you. 7 Our God, did you not drive out the inhabitants of this land before your people Israel and give it forever to the descendants of Abraham your friend? 8 They have lived in it and have built in it a sanctuary for your Name, saying, 9 ‘If calamity comes upon us, whether the sword of judgment, or plague or famine, we will stand in your presence before this temple that bears your Name and will cry out to you in our distress, and you will hear us and save us.’ 10 “But now here are men from Ammon, Moab and Mount Seir, whose territory you would not allow Israel to invade when they came from Egypt; so they turned away from them and did not destroy them. 11 See how they are repaying us by coming to drive us out of the possession you gave us as an inheritance. 12 Our God, will you not judge them? For we have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.” God told King Jehoshaphat 2 Chronicles 20:17 “You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the Lord will give you, Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Go out to face them tomorrow, and the Lord will be with you.”
If we want that same answer, we must keep our eyes on Jesus and we will have hope. Zephaniah 3:14 “Sing, Daughter Zion; shout aloud, Israel! Be glad and rejoice with all your heart, Daughter Jerusalem! 15 The Lord has taken away your punishment, he has turned back your enemy. The Lord, the King of Israel, is with you; never again will you fear any harm. 16 On that day they will say to Jerusalem, “Do not fear, Zion; do not let your hands hang limp. 17 The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.” Until that day comes, stand firm on God’s word. Habakkuk said, Habakkuk 3:16 “I will wait patiently for the day of calamity to come on the nation invading us. 17 Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, 18 yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior. 19 The Sovereign Lord is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to tread on the heights.” Psalm 7:10 “My shield is God Most High, who saves the upright in heart.” If we depend on God’s word and submit to Him, we can say with Jeremiah, Jeremiah 20:11 “the Lord is with me like a mighty warrior; so my persecutors will stumble and not prevail. They will fail and be thoroughly disgraced; their dishonor will never be forgotten. 12 Lord Almighty, you who examine the righteous and probe the heart and mind, let me see your vengeance on them, for to you I have committed my cause. 13 Sing to the Lord! Give praise to the Lord! He rescues the life of the needy from the hands of the wicked.”