There is a misconception today that satan cannot be in the church, but Daniel told us 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.” Paul said 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.” All you have to do is look at the church and you will see the enemy everywhere. The enemy was allowed to infiltrate the church because the church has and continues to rebel against God’s word. Daniel 8:11 “It set itself up to be as great as the commander of the army of the Lord; it took away the daily sacrifice from the Lord, and his sanctuary was thrown down. 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.” We have to understand that there has never been so much destruction against God’s people as there has been with this abomination that causes desolation, even when the kings of Assyria and Babylon attacked Israel and Judah. Jesus said when talking about the abomination, Matthew 24:22 “If those days had not been cut short, no one would survive, but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened.”
The church is not a building, so that means satan is in the people who call themselves the church. Not only is satan in the church, he is preaching and teaching those who are looking for truth but in the end they are lead astray. Peter said this about false teachers. 2 Peter 2:1 “But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them—bringing swift destruction on themselves. 2 Many will follow their depraved conduct and will bring the way of truth into disrepute. 13 They will be paid back with harm for the harm they have done. Their idea of pleasure is to carouse in broad daylight. They are blots and blemishes, reveling in their pleasures while they feast with you. 14 With eyes full of adultery, they never stop sinning; they seduce the unstable; they are experts in greed—an accursed brood! 15 They have left the straight way and wandered off to follow the way of Balaam son of Bezer, who loved the wages of wickedness. 16 But he was rebuked for his wrongdoing by a donkey—an animal without speech—who spoke with a human voice and restrained the prophet’s madness. 17 These people are springs without water and mists driven by a storm. Blackest darkness is reserved for them. 18 For they mouth empty, boastful words and, by appealing to the lustful desires of the flesh, they entice people who are just escaping from those who live in error. 19 They promise them freedom, while they themselves are slaves of depravity—for “people are slaves to whatever has mastered them. 20 If they have escaped the corruption of the world by knowing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and are again entangled in it and are overcome, they are worse off at the end than they were at the beginning. 21 It would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than to have known it and then to turn their backs on the sacred command that was passed on to them.” People think that because a person is a preacher or teacher and because they have a bible and stand at the front or write books, or are on the internet, they must be speaking truth, but even satan uses scripture. The church is being deceived everywhere by those who have brought the way of truth into disrepute.
Leaders in the church are either teaching / preaching God’s word or a distortion of it. Today it is mostly other gospels which are not the truth, as each distinct group of the church teaches their own version of the gospel, which is wrong. When talking about Paul’s letters, Peter said, 2 Peter 3:16 “His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction.” God told the Levites, Malachi 2:5 “My covenant was with him, a covenant of life and peace, and I gave them to him; this called for reverence and he revered me and stood in awe of my name. 6 True instruction was in his mouth and nothing false was found on his lips. He walked with me in peace and uprightness, and turned many from sin. 7 “For the lips of a priest ought to preserve knowledge, because he is the messenger of the Lord Almighty and people seek instruction from his mouth.” This is the pattern we are to follow as Paul said 2 Timothy 1:13 “What you heard from me, keep as the pattern of sound teaching, with faith and love in Christ Jesus.” But Malachi goes on to describe what we should not follow. 8 “But you have turned from the way and by your teaching have caused many to stumble; you have violated the covenant with Levi, says the Lord Almighty. 9 “So I have caused you to be despised and humiliated before all the people, because you have not followed my ways but have shown partiality in matters of the law.” Jeremiah said Jeremiah 23:34 “If a prophet or a priest or anyone else claims, ‘This is a message from the Lord,’ I will punish them and their household. 35 This is what each of you keeps saying to your friends and other Israelites: ‘What is the Lord’s answer?’ or ‘What has the Lord spoken?’ 36 But you must not mention ‘a message from the Lord’ again, because each one’s word becomes their own message. So you distort the words of the living God, the Lord Almighty, our God.” Jeremiah also said, Lamentations 2:14 “The visions of your prophets were false and worthless; they did not expose your sin to ward off your captivity. The prophecies they gave you were false and misleading.” Jeremiah 23:30 “Therefore,” declares the Lord, “I am against the prophets who steal from one another words supposedly from me. 31 Yes,” declares the Lord, “I am against the prophets who wag their own tongues and yet declare, ‘The Lord declares.’ 32 Indeed, I am against those who prophesy false dreams,” declares the Lord. “They tell them and lead my people astray with their reckless lies, yet I did not send or appoint them. They do not benefit these people in the least,” declares the Lord.”
In this day of deception and delusion in the church, you must test everything you hear and see and know the difference between what is true and what is false. 1 John 4:1 “Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. 2 This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, 3 but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world. 4 You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. 5 They are from the world and therefore speak from the viewpoint of the world, and the world listens to them. 6 We are from God, and whoever knows God listens to us; but whoever is not from God does not listen to us. This is how we recognize the Spirit of truth and the spirit of falsehood.” You can’t say Jesus came in the flesh and not believe His word because Jesus is the word. John 1:1 “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” Because of rebellion, the spirit of antichrist and falsehood has permeated the church. Just because someone is teaching or preaching does not mean the Spirit of truth is in them, you must test what is being said. As always you check by looking at what God states in His word. Acts 17:11 “Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.”
False prophets, teachers and apostles are everywhere in the church. Here is the problem for those who say there are no more prophets today. Jesus himself warned us about false prophets so there must also be prophets of truth. That is how it works with something counterfeit. Jesus said, Matthew 7:15 “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. 16 By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17 Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.” Sometimes they are blatantly obvious and other times you have to research and listen carefully to discern if they speak truth. satan is arrogant and will always let you know he is present. It may be a verse but it is distorted or out of context or a sign that is supernatural but not like the power Jesus had. Paul said, Acts 20:28 “Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood. 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. 32 “Now I commit you to God and to the word of his grace, which can build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified.”
Scripture makes it clear that there are those who speak truth and those who speak what is false. These verses show us both. Ephesians 4:11 “So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, 12 to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. 14 Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming.” Here you see truth being taught to fight against what is false. Many people in the church are naïve to the fact that they are being led astray. Their naivety comes from a lack of knowledge and understanding of God’s word. Plus, they are missing the Holy Spirit even though most have been told they have the Spirit in them. Paul said 2 Corinthians 11:12 “And I will keep on doing what I am doing in order to cut the ground from under those who want an opportunity to be considered equal with us in the things they boast about. 13 For such people are false apostles, deceitful workers, masquerading as apostles of Christ. 14 And no wonder, for satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. 15 It is not surprising, then, if his servants also masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve.” That was happening already 2000 years ago and is still happening today, but today people just agree to disagree. So then you have false teachers, preachers and apostles who are not equipping the church but tearing it down and you need to know the difference. There is no such thing as a denominational Christian (e.g., Baptist, Catholic, Methodist) with differing distinctives from others as there is only one way. So, if you are being indoctrinated, that is your answer as to whether you are being taught truth; you are not. Malachi said, Malachi 1:10 “Oh, that one of you would shut the temple doors, so that you would not light useless fires on my altar! I am not pleased with you,” says the Lord Almighty, “and I will accept no offering from your hands. 11 My name will be great among the nations. 14 I am a great king,” says the Lord Almighty, “and my name is to be feared among the nations.”
One of the areas to look for is profit and power. The leader is not the one to be worshipped, Jesus is. Celebrity status is not a good look. Paul said, 2 Corinthians 2:17 “Unlike so many, we do not peddle the word of God for profit. On the contrary, in Christ we speak before God with sincerity, as those sent from God.” Micah 3:11 “Her leaders judge for a bribe, her priests teach for a price, and her prophets tell fortunes for money.” Look and see how money and even control play a role. How are the leaders treated and how do they treat themselves? Jeremiah 8:10 “From the least to the greatest, all are greedy for gain; prophets and priests alike, all practice deceit.” Some say they don’t take a salary but live off their book sales quite comfortably. Jesus would still do this today. Mark 11:15 “On reaching Jerusalem, Jesus entered the temple courts and began driving out those who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves, 16 and would not allow anyone to carry merchandise through the temple courts. 17 And as he taught them, he said, “Is it not written: ‘My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations’? But you have made it ‘a den of robbers.” Luke 20:45 “While all the people were listening, Jesus said to his disciples, 46 “Beware of the teachers of the law. They like to walk around in flowing robes and love to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces and have the most important seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at banquets. 47 They devour widows’ houses and for a show make lengthy prayers. These men will be punished most severely.” 1 Timothy 6:6 “But godliness with contentment is great gain. 7 For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. 8 But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. 9 Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.” This was one of the temptations satan tried on Jesus but failed. Unfortunately, he has been successful with many leaders in the church. Luke 4:5 “The devil led him up to a high place and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. 6 And he said to him, “I will give you all their authority and splendor; it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to. 7 If you worship me, it will all be yours.” The success many have is not from God. You can tell because there is only worldly power and not power from on High to do as Jesus did.
As Paul instructed Timothy he said, 1 Timothy 1:6 “Some have departed from these and have turned to meaningless talk. 7 They want to be teachers of the law, but they do not know what they are talking about or what they so confidently affirm.” He also said 2 Timothy 2:5 “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth. 16 Avoid godless chatter, because those who indulge in it will become more and more ungodly. 17 Their teaching will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus, 18 who have departed from the truth. They say that the resurrection has already taken place, and they destroy the faith of some. 19 Nevertheless, God’s solid foundation stands firm, sealed with this inscription: The Lord knows those who are his, and, Everyone who confesses the name of the Lord must turn away from wickedness.” There are many more false teachings that could be added to the list, like the Rapture, Millennial kingdom, cessationism and many more isms. Paul also taught Titus about elders and said Titus 1:9 “He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it. 10 For there are many rebellious people, full of meaningless talk and deception, especially those of the circumcision group. 11 They must be silenced, because they are disrupting whole households by teaching things they ought not to teach—and that for the sake of dishonest gain. 12 One of Crete’s own prophets has said it: “Cretans are always liars, evil brutes, lazy gluttons.” 13 This saying is true. Therefore rebuke them sharply, so that they will be sound in the faith 14 and will pay no attention to Jewish myths or to the merely human commands of those who reject the truth. 15 To the pure, all things are pure, but to those who are corrupted and do not believe, nothing is pure. In fact, both their minds and consciences are corrupted. 16 They claim to know God, but by their actions they deny him. They are detestable, disobedient and unfit for doing anything good.”
Every manmade church with its particular distinction is trying to win you over. Galatians 4:17 “Those people are zealous to win you over, but for no good. What they want is to alienate you from us, so that you may have zeal for them.” Matthew 23:15 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when you have succeeded, you make them twice as much a child of hell as you are.” Here you also see the difference in those who have the Spirit of truth and those who do not. Micah 3:5 “This is what the Lord says: “As for the prophets who lead my people astray, they proclaim ‘peace’ if they have something to eat, but prepare to wage war against anyone who refuses to feed them. 6 Therefore night will come over you, without visions, and darkness, without divination. The sun will set for the prophets, and the day will go dark for them. (Jude 1:11 “Woe to them! They have taken the way of Cain; they have rushed for profit into Balaam’s error; they have been destroyed in Korah’s rebellion. 12 These people are blemishes at your love feasts, eating with you without the slightest qualm—shepherds who feed only themselves. They are clouds without rain, blown along by the wind; autumn trees, without fruit and uprooted—twice dead. 13 They are wild waves of the sea, foaming up their shame; wandering stars, for whom blackest darkness has been reserved forever.) 7 The seers will be ashamed and the diviners disgraced. They will all cover their faces because there is no answer from God.” 8 But as for me, I am filled with power, with the Spirit of the Lord, and with justice and might, to declare to Jacob his transgression, to Israel his sin. 9 Hear this, you leaders of Jacob, you rulers of Israel, who despise justice and distort all that is right; 10 who build Zion with bloodshed, and Jerusalem with wickedness. 11 Her leaders judge for a bribe, her priests teach for a price, and her prophets tell fortunes for money. Yet they look for the Lord’s support and say, “Is not the Lord among us? No disaster will come upon us.” 12 Therefore because of you, Zion will be plowed like a field, Jerusalem will become a heap of rubble, the temple hill a mound overgrown with thickets.” 2 Timothy 4:3 “For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.” Jeremiah 5:30 “A horrible and shocking thing has happened in the land: 31 The prophets prophesy lies, the priests rule by their own authority, and my people love it this way. But what will you do in the end?”
The good news is that the abomination that causes desolation will end. Preachers, teachers, prophets, apostles, and evangelists (yes, all five not three as scripture states) are supposed to be going out in the spirit of truth. True instruction is supposed to be coming out of their mouths. As God turns His face back to the church, the power of the Holy Spirit will flow once again, and truth will be found. The church will do as Jesus did and the true gospel will go to the ends of the earth in power. Jesus said, Matthew 24:12 “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.” Micah 4:1 “In the last days the mountain of the Lord’s temple will be established as the highest of the mountains; it will be exalted above the hills, and peoples will stream to it. 2 Many nations will come and say, “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the temple of the God of Jacob. He will teach us his ways, so that we may walk in his paths.” The law will go out from Zion, the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.” Malachi 3:16 “Then those who feared the Lord talked with each other, and the Lord listened and heard. A scroll of remembrance was written in his presence concerning those who feared the Lord and honored his name. 17 “On the day when I act,” says the Lord Almighty, “they will be my treasured possession. I will spare them, just as a father has compassion and spares his son who serves him. 18 And you will again see the distinction between the righteous and the wicked, between those who serve God and those who do not.”