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The Religion of Morality

Posted by israeliteindeed on May 25, 2014

Before getting started, I want to make very clear that I believe the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ makes the most moral people on earth, and without holiness no man will see the Lord. Antinomianism (lawlessness) is the devil’s doctrine, and immoral people are not accepted in the family of God. We must be born again, and those who are born again will not live immoral lives.

The purpose of this paper is to expose a subtle deception satan offers to those who are willing to accept any particular moral code for their behavior. It is a religion of morality void of the born again experience, and void of a living relationship with the Living God. One of the signs that someone is walking in this false religion is that his morality is based on a system created by men, though it may include elements of true religion, and almost always cloaks hypocrisy of some sort.

Ask professing American Christians to define this false religion, and most likely they will refer to the Pharisees in the Bible, and say that Jesus was against them but loved to eat with sinners. There is some truth in this statement, yet not the whole truth, and therein lies the deception. I have written more about Phariseeism here: LINK

Unfortunately, many who profess Christ as Lord think that by refusing to judge between good and evil, they have sided with the sinner-loving Savior. Nothing could be further from the truth. We are commanded to judge between good and evil, and to choose the good and reject the evil.

However, the way of Christ is the way of the cross, and the cross requires a complete crucifixion of the self, not a mere moral tweaking of the old man. When Jesus told Nicodemus he had to be born again, He was not speaking to a male prostitute but to a devoutly religious man whose morality was not enough. And while many pride themselves in being far, far from Pharisaical due to their refusal to judge between good and evil, they are in fact Pharisaical because they think their particular form of morality has made them right with God while they do not know God or follow Him from the heart.

Buddhism offers man a moral code that forbids killing people, stealing, sexual misconduct, lying, and intoxication. Hidden beneath that “moral” covering, however, is a heart that remains selfish because a man cannot be born again without the Spirit of God indwelling him when he repents of sin and turns to Jesus in obedient faith. The Buddhist may refrain from drinking alcohol, but he will meditate until he reaches a mental trance state that offers him the same “escape from reality” that alcohol or drugs would. Buddhism has also redefined “sexual misconduct” so that fornication is not classified as misconduct so long as there is “mutual love.” This is contrary to the commands of God, who has forever outlawed fornication. This is a good example of how men rewrite “morality” according to what they think is right. Every way of a man is right in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the hearts. (Prov. 21:2)

Islam offers man another moral code by which to live. One site claims that “Islam…furnishes us with the means to determine good and evil conduct.” (LINK) Of course, this is a standard written by men and not God. So while condemning hypocrisy, for example, Islam forces people to convert against their own wills, perpetuating more hypocrisy. While strict dress codes at least appear more moral than the near nudity other societies accept, history is replete with examples of Islamic people who were not truly moral (including their revered prophet). Repetitive prayers give an appearance of godliness, but none of this gives the Muslim assurance that his sins are forgiven, and there are many testimonies of ex-Muslims on youtube that bear this out.

Even the Masons, satanic at core, practice a form of moralism. They deliberately draw into their lodges people who seem to be upstanding, morally responsible citizens. These highly visible to the public, low-level initiates are deliberately kept ignorant of what is going on at higher levels, where open Lucifer-worship is embraced without apology. Most people therefore see the Masons as a “do good” organization. Even satan will do good short-term, if it helps him perpetuate evil in the long term.

And now I must digress a little into less comfortable waters. The average professing American Christian has no problem picking out the problems in Buddhism or Islam. They might even concede that Masonry is suspect. They may agree that Catholicism or Mormonism or some other group is wrong. But rarely will the evangelical protestant look in the evangelical protestant camp and discern the difference between true religion and the religion of morality.

I attended a church for some time that had made up its own code of morality. This code wasn’t written out in their official doctrines; rather it was a sort of unspoken status-quo. Those who adhered to this status-quo were considered spiritual (and given awards!), and those who did not–for whatever reason–were seen as inferior Christians. This moral code included strict attendance to several services per week (where is that in Scripture?), being a cog in the machine of their “programs” no matter how unbiblical the programs were, and supporting the “building fund” monetarily (even though the present building was only sometimes at capacity by their bringing in as many unbelievers as possible, and it was not yet paid for. Adding on unnecessary debt and filling the church with tares are both unbiblical practices.)

In “Sunday School,” which people had to attend or be subjected to constant hounding, every person had to fill out a card designating “points” for reading the lesson, being on time, memorizing a verse, doing some sort of outreach that week, etc. Those who accumulated enough points got an award and their name called out in Church. Now, keep in mind that many people filling out their points cards were not even saved. They had been visited by someone from the church, pressured to come, subsequently pressured to attend Sunday School, and pressured to fill out the points card. Some of these people went on to be recognized in the church and to receive rewards before men, yet a quick look at their personal lives revealed a frank denial of true discipleship. Some real saints had jobs that required them to be away (not having perfect attendance), or sick children or spouses to tend to at home, and these saints were not recognized because they had not acquired enough points.

Now I ask you…is this not a religion of morality? Does this kind of churchianity really advance the Kingdom of God? Or does it fill a building with hypocrites who are learning to judge themselves by a false standard?

I recall one time a dear brother questioned the points system, and he was told that “at least we aren’t asking you if you are looking at pornography. We are just asking you if you did your lesson or got to church on time.” This brother responded by saying he WANTS to be asked, rather, if he is looking at pornography. How much does the leadership care about its people if it’s only concerned with externals?

You see, it is very easy to check some external boxes. Many churches that don’t utilize this blatant point system still have a series of boxes they expect their congregants to check, and once those are checked, the congregants are assumed holy. There is actually very little real accountability going on, sometimes because the congregants are not even saved, and sometimes because there isn’t time or energy–after jumping through all the moral boxes–to pursue a more intimate relationship with the Body of Christ. After “going to church” 3 times in a week and “doing the program” that doesn’t seem to be working, who wants to pursue more? The real believers are exhausted, and the unbelievers who–for whatever reason–submit to the church’s code are distracted from what they really need to do (be born again.) The gospel might be preached occasionally (usually a watered-down version), but these churched unbelievers instinctively realize that the church will accept them if they just fall in line with the man-made code.

This is happening all over America. The moral codes and levels of coercion vary, but the result is always the same. People have established for themselves ANOTHER JUDGE of their morality other than the Word of God. Add to this varying degrees of false doctrine, and apostasy is in full bloom. The pornography watcher no longer needs to fear that his sin will take him to hell, since he has perfect attendance and a doctrinal defense some of the “experts” agree with. And since he doesn’t look at pornography IN CHURCH (he knows that would be wrong), he is accepted by all. He may also have a habit of swearing when he gets angry, or cheating on his taxes, but his association with a supposed house of worship makes him feel supremely safe. No doubt he draws the line at certain sins (just like Buddhists, Muslims, etc. also do).

One specific way I see this false Christianity spreading is through the so-called “Religious Right.” Now no true Christian wants to see babies murdered by abortion or homosexuality being embraced. However, truly reforming society has never come by laws. True reformation begins at the grass-roots level where people embrace the gospel and are changed. Because they are changed (no longer wanting to kill babies or practice homosexuality), they stop asking for laws that permit them to do evil.

The Religious Right is made up of a conglomeration of people who are deceived into thinking that the “complete package morality” offered in the born again experience is of secondary importance to the forced specific morality imposed by laws–laws that are again subject to change at any time, according to the whims of the people. Millions of dollars are spent to fight laws that later give way to even worse laws. Let us be honest. How many babies have been saved by the Religious Right, with all of its money and unending rhetoric? How many homosexuals have been converted from the errors of their ways through this means? I am not saying a Christian should not abhor the gross wickedness of child-murder and perverted sexuality. I am saying we have been deceived into thinking God’s program for changing the world has changed. It hasn’t and it won’t.

What happens when Christian superstars rally people to fight on the hill of morality?

All of the efforts of Christians go to fighting those one or two moral evils. And it’s not too harsh to say that many of these Christians are hypocrites who defend other moral evils. But as long as they think they are “fighting evil,” they feel relieved of the responsibility to examine their own lives and see if they are really in the faith of Jesus Christ.

When did Jesus set up laws in the government by which to curb the evils of His day? When did His apostles take on this extraordinary work?–Never. It is not enough to chop the dead limbs of abortion and homosexuality off the tree of mankind; the axe must be laid to the root, and it can only be laid with the Gospel. The root is self-will. The root is not abortion, homosexuality, or the removal of prayer from schools. These are fruits that sprang from the root of self-will. The great commission is to teach people to obey Jesus rather than themselves. If the root is struck, a change in fruit will follow.

Yet today it is considered vogue for Christians to enter bitter political debates which they think somehow advances the cause of Christian morality on the earth. Dear Reader, do not be deceived. Though I hate child-murder with all of my being (and go to clinics to stand against it), outlawing child murder will not make us a Christian nation. The reason child murder is protected is because people have murder in their hearts. They need new hearts.

If a person decides not to murder, but never gives up the self-will to Jesus, how long will it be before murder is again on the table? It won’t be long. Sometimes a man who won’t murder his own child will go murder someone else’s child if only his “morally superior” country’s leaders tell him to.

Consider this: every nation on the earth, including America, has propagandized its own people to believe that its own ideals and interests are morally superior to those of other countries. Early in American history, the “religous right” (though not called that yet) justified the killing of Native Americans (and other crimes) in the name of “Manifest Destiny.” This was the belief that God had given an elite group of people the right and mandate to take the whole country from the east coast to the west coast, even if that goal could only be reached through violence. Oh, there were apologists even then who preached this message in the churches. And there were pew-warmers that were accepted because they checked their various boxes at the appropriate time. But none of this is the faith handed to us by Christ and His apostles and prophets. Yet this seriously bastardized version of Christianity is still being promoted by the notoriously war-hungry religious right. Many well-meaning Christians get caught up in their rhetoric, not understanding that this partisan group does not and cannot represent Christ, even if they do appear to give lip-service to a few of His morals.

Let us remember that when Puritans were putting to death “heretics” (who were sometimes real Christians) in Boston, they were at the same time enforcing a code of strict morality. But it wasn’t the faith of the Lord Jesus that drove them to murder their neighbors.

Early in Martin Luther’s ministry, he taught that Christians could not kill their enemies. Later his doctrine changed, and he began justifying killing in certain circumstances. What caused him to change his stance? Was it new illumination in the Scriptures?–No, his personal power base was threatened. And this is the same hypocrisy manifest in the Religious Right today. There are loud claims of moral superiority, but the reality is there is as much corruption on the right as there is on the left. Often, “conservatives” are more ready than “liberals” to kill complete strangers if there is something in it for them. I have recently done a great deal of research, and what I find in the government of this nation is sweeping corruption of the most vile kinds, including drug trafficking, people trafficking, prostitution, pornography production and promotion, and pedophilia. Do not be deceived into thinking that only the other party is participating.

And what is it that professing Christians are really after in America, I wonder, when they rail against how things are. Are they zealous for Jesus? If so, why aren’t they teaching people Jesus’ words rather than the words of Patrick Henry? Do they really care for their unborn neighbors?–Why aren’t they gathering outside abortion clinics to plead with mothers not to kill their children and offer help? Do they really want homosexuals to receive the new birth in Jesus Christ and be set free? How many are actively sharing the faith once delivered with such people? It can be so pleasing to the flesh to stand on a moral high ground and declare that all our trouble was caused by someone else. It’s alot less pleasing to the flesh to empty self, become a servant to all, and live Jesus’ words day by day among friends and enemies.

I believe that the average Joe Christian is not really that concerned with the spread of sin, except where it infringes on his own personal piece of the American Pie. We want the rewards of capitalism, and freedom to do what we want. Who doesn’t want these things? And these things aren’t inherently evil, but they become evil when we are willing to deny the teachings of Jesus to have them. And our hypocrisy is exposed when we “fight to get America back” to what it was before, and don’t acknowledge that what it was before was merely a more moral society that was still plunging headlong into hell, chasing the idols of materialism and freedom to do as one pleases.

Everywhere we hear the lament about the good old days. The good old days weren’t as good as we think. The unrighteousness had not fully bloomed and fruited yet, but it was surely being planted. Isn’t it telling that we cry when the harvest comes in, but we didn’t cry when we (as a nation) were having fun planting it?

My heart cries for there to be real repentance among those professing to be saved in this country. At some point we have to stop pointing out the other denominations and look at our own. We have to stop blaming one political party and excusing another. We must go beyond our propensity to view our country as superior to others, and realize we have all sinned grievously in myriad ways. We must look past our record of attendance at church, and look at how much we attend upon the Lord Jesus and obey His Words from the heart. We must stop sneering at the unchurched sinner while excusing the love of the world that has gripped most of our churched children (and adults!) The hypocrisy must stop. If there is to be any lasting moral change in this nation, it will begin with real born again believers who subject their lives to Jesus Christ and live according to His teachings in such a way that their holiness is indisputable.

But this–true religion–is not for the faint of heart. When you begin to chop at the root of things with a spiritual axe, and point out the hypocrisies of the various groups, you will burn bridges behind you. No longer will you fit in with them or find a semblance of rest in their numbers. If you don’t join their acceptable moral crusades, they will cast you out because you don’t further their agendas (and they do have agendas which are very different from God’s Kingdom agenda). Remember that any number of Jews would have been glad to have Jesus lead them physically against the Romans, and would have rallied behind Him. But who wants to follow someone who is leading His disciples to crucifixion and death and being the perpetual offscouring of the earth? (I Cor. 4:13) Who wants to, for the (future) joy set before him, endure the painful cross (right now)?

Yet this is the ONLY way to bring true moral change to mankind. All other religions are vain, and that includes nominal Christianity as it is known today in its compromised and impotent state. It may pick and choose a few moral hills to rally on, but it won’t deny the Self entirely and obey the Lord Jesus in all of His teaching. Such a morality can never save. It is just another road that leads to death.

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Posted in apostasy, Christian Life, False Teachers, Preach the Gospel, Repentance | Tagged: , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

The Treachery of Unbelief

Posted by israeliteindeed on May 20, 2014

 

I will be drawing select verses from Numbers 14, but you can read the entire chapter here for context.

Moses had sent the leaders of each Israelite tribe to spy out the land of Canaan, which God had promised to give them. When they returned, ten of the leaders gave the Israelites “a bad report,” faithlessly proclaiming, “We are not able!” (Num. 13:32). Caleb, however, boldly proclaimed, “Let us go up at once….we are well able to overcome it.” (13:30).

How did the people respond to this mixed review? Did they recall to mind God’s promises and the way He had so gloriously delivered them from the Egyptians (Exo. 14)? Did they consider how God had fed them miraculously in the wilderness, and provided water and shelter from hot days and cold nights by His fire and cloud? –Hardly. Instead they complained against their leaders and declared their wish that they were already dead! (14:2) Then they voiced their suspicion that the Lord had victimized their families, and decided to choose a leader who would lead them back into the bondage of Egypt (14:3-4).

Joshua and Caleb, horrified at this mass apostasy, tore their clothes and exhorted the people with the following main points:

1. The land is an exceedingly good land! (14:7)

2. IF the Lord delights in us, He will give it to us. (14:8)

3. ONLY DO NOT REBEL AGAINST THE LORD…the Lord is with us…do not fear them. (14:9)

How did the congregation respond to this show of faith?

They decided to stone Joshua and Caleb with stones. (14:10)

Note that the progression of the people into full apostasy was as follows:

1. They believed a lying report rather than believing God’s Word, even though God did have servants (Moses, Aaron, Joshua and Caleb) who were speaking the truth faithfully.

2. They neglected to bring to mind the glorious victories God had already given them, or to trust His promises.

3. They complained and claimed to be victims.

4. They chose a replacement leader who would lead them back into bondage.

Is this not the same progression we see in professing Christians today? While God does have a few servants who remind us that we are well able to overcome all things in Christ, the majority of voices proclaim that we are victims of a God who has sentenced us to a losing battle until the day we die. Most choose to ignore the promises in God’s Word, and hold fast to the lying report instead. They complain against the truth tellers (verbally stoning them, if not literally), choose replacement teachers who tell them what they want to hear (2 Tim. 4:3), and return like senseless animals to the vomit they had once left behind (2 Pet. 2:22).

While this may seem like average Christianity to those of us who have been pickled in this apostasy for years, it is really nothing short of treachery and rebellion against God.

God’s response to the unbelieving Israelites was to declare that the people had rejected Him (14:11). He was ready to disinherit them and start over with Moses. Moses pleaded for and acquired pardon for the people (19-20), but the Lord still firmly decided that none of those who rejected Him would ever see the land previously promised them (23). In fact, He said they had despised the land (31), just as Esau had despised his birthright before he lost it forever (Gen. 25:34). God called them an “evil congregation who are gathered together against Me” and proclaimed, “You shall know my rejection!” (34-35)

A few questions:

Are we victims of a God who has sentenced us to a string of losing battles, as so many say?

Does God smile upon our unbelief?

Is it a small thing to gather together against Him, to refuse to listen to His voice, and to reject Him?

Will He really reject those who reject Him?

Lest you think I am drawing a false parallel between the Old Testament Israelites and New Testament Christianity, the apostle Paul drew this exact parallel so as to warn all of us upon whom the ends of the ages have come (I Cor. 10:1-12). He very plainly warned us not to do as the Israelites did, lest we be destroyed in like manner as they were.

Who will inherit the land (salvation)?

But My servant Caleb, because he has a different spirit in him and has followed Me fully, I will bring into the land where he went, and his descendants shall inherit it. (Num. 14:24)

Reject every false report, believe God’s Word and follow Him fully. In Christ, we are well able to overcome!

Posted in apostasy, Calvinism, Christian Life, Once Saved Always Saved | Tagged: , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Warning Others About False Teachers

Posted by israeliteindeed on October 5, 2013

Jesus said:

Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Therefore by their fruits you will know them. (Matthew 7:15-20)

Jesus desires us to examine a teacher by his/her fruits. Nowhere in Scripture are we forbidden to test a teacher. In fact, Jesus commends the Church at Ephesus for testing those who claimed to be apostles and exposing them as liars (Rev. 2:2). The Bereans were commended for testing Paul’s teaching by the Scriptures they had (Acts 17:11).

Paul wrote:

Now I urge you, brethren, note those who cause divisions and offenses, contrary to the doctrine which you learned (from the apostles, prophets, and Jesus), and avoid them. For those who are such do not serve our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly, and by smooth words and flattering speech deceive the hearts of the simple. (Rom. 16:17-18)

The underlined words are so important. Often a person will spend a long time drinking from the polluted well of false-teaching, and when someone comes along exposing the lie, they will attempt to use this Romans passage to “mark” the truth teller as false! The truth teller is wrongly labeled as divisive. This is a satanic sleight-of-hand designed to keep the deceived in their error. In truth, the divisive person is the one who divides you from the doctrine that was given in Scripture. Such a person is to be noted (or “marked” in the KJV) and avoided.

But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive 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. By covetousness they will exploit you with deceptive words; for a long time their judgment has not been idle, and their destruction does not slumber. (2 Pet. 2:1-3)

Peter wrote that heresies are destructive. They cause people to destroy themselves and others, and they bring the way of Truth into disrepute. They are constructed with deceptive words. That is, on the surface the teaching may sound good. The false prophet may have an appearance as a messenger of light. But he brings deception, causing God’s Word to be seen in a different light than it was intended to be understood.

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)

Selfish desires and itching ears will cause people to love fables over truth. If selfish desires and itching ears weren’t so plentiful, the market for false teaching would disappear. False teachers depend on itching ears that want to hear their twisting of the truth. If nobody listened, they would have to get another job!

The deceived can be very sure of themselves that they are not deceived at all. Pride seems to precede and accompany deception. The proud man will not receive correction. He knows it all already. He delights in thinking he is so spiritual and learned, he cannot be deceived. Woe to such a one. We need to remain humble and teachable, and always examine our hearts in the light of God’s Word, making sure we don’t have any proud ambitions hindering us from obeying the Truth.

Also from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves. Therefore watch, and remember that for three years I did not cease to warn everyone night and day with tears. (Acts 20:30-31)

This passage gives insight into the selfish desire of false teachers to have disciples for themselves. They may say they want you to love and follow Jesus, but they place themselves in between you and Jesus, subtly making it appear that you can only be close to Jesus if you follow what they themselves teach. Paul knew how grave the danger was going to be. How passionately he warned them with tears for three whole years!

Now this I say lest anyone should deceive you with persuasive words… As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught…Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ. For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power…Let no one cheat you of your reward, taking delight in false humility and worship of angels, intruding into those things which he has not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind, and not holding fast to the Head, from whom all the body, nourished and knit together by joints and ligaments, grows with the increase that is from God. (Col. 2:4-10; 18-19)

I’d like to highlight some important aspects of this passage:

1. Deception often comes through very persuasive words. The speaker may have a dynamic and charming personality, or be powerfully convincing. These things are sometimes mistaken for “the anointing” of the Holy Spirit, but they are not.

2. As we have received Christ, so we should walk in Him. And how did we receive Him? By simple faith. We believed the Word of God, repented and began to follow Him. False teachers often have gimmick teachings that supposedly make one closer to Christ. But no one gets closer to Christ by their gimmicks. We draw near to God by faith. God is not far from us, and does not need men’s gimmicks as an alternate mediator. If you did not need that gimmick to be born again, you don’t need it to walk in Him either. We are complete in Jesus. We don’t need that book, we don’t need that new thing, and we don’t need that understanding of Scripture that has supposedly been “restored” by some new voice claiming to speak for God.

3. False teachers often delight in false humility. If you don’t have the Spirit of God, or if you have been grieving Him by your own pride, you may not be able to discern false from true humility. They will say things that on the surface appear humble, but there is an underlying look at me, look what I have experienced, look how spiritual I am, look at how important my personal revelations are.

4. False teachers have a fleshly mind that puffs them up in pride. They love to talk about angels and supernatural experiences. They intrude into things they have not seen. They don’t see themselves in humility, connected to all other Body parts beneath the Head, submitted to the absolute authority of Scripture, and needing the constant nourishment of others. Today, there are scores of such teachers, and the blatant worship of angels is rampant especially in the charismatic church. Followers, wishing to have such ecstatic experiences for themselves, by which to prove their own spirituality, leave the simplicity and humility of Christ to chase something deeper or higher than what others have.

Naming Names

Have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them. (Eph. 5:11)

These specific false teachers were exposed by name in the New Testament:

Phygellus and Hermogenes (2 Tim. 1:15)
Hymenaeus and Philetus (2 Tim. 2:17)
Jannes and Jambres (2 Tim. 3:8)
Demas (2 Tim. 4:10)
Alexander the Coppersmith (2 Tim. 4:14)
Diotrephes (3 Jn. 9)
Balaam (Rev. 2:14)
Jezebel (Rev. 2:20)

False teaching is public. If we don’t name the names of false teachers in our midst, how will others take heed? Our silence is complicity, and it speaks volumes of our character. Though silence about false teaching might be seen as love, it is not love. Love warns of danger. False teaching is the most dangerous thing on the planet. By it, Eve was deceived. And by it, the whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one today (I Jn. 5:19).

See also Division in the Church

Posted in apostasy, False Teachers, Occult & Lying Wonders | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Be Strong and Do Exploits

Posted by israeliteindeed on July 12, 2011

And such as do wickedly against the covenant shall he corrupt by flatteries: but the people that do know their God shall be strong, and do exploits.   And they that understand among the people shall instruct many: yet they shall fall by the sword, and by flame, by captivity, and by spoil, many days.  (Dan. 11:32-33)

These passages appear to have been fulfilled by Antiochus Epiphanes, who took the kingdom of Syria in 175 BC by stealth and flatteries and proceeded to wage war against Egypt. After being routed by the Romans in his endeavors against Egypt, he took Judea and began to act out his hatred against the Jewish people and their covenant. Concerning this, Matthew Henry writes and directs us to the histories of the Maccabees–

He [Antiochus] had a rooted antipathy to the Jews’ religion: His heart was against the holy covenant, v. 28. And (v. 30) he had indignation against the holy covenant, that covenant of peculiarity by which the Jews were incorporated a people distinct from all other nations, and dignified above them. He hated the law of Moses and the worship of the true God, and was vexed at the privileges of the Jewish nation and the promises made to them…He carried on his malicious designs against the Jews by the assistance of some perfidious apostate Jews. He kept up intelligence with those that forsook the holy covenant (v. 30), some of the Jews that were false to their religion, and introduced the customs of the heathen, with whom they made a covenant. See the fulfilling of this, 1 Mac. 1:11-15 , where it is expressly said, concerning those renegado Jews, that they made themselves uncircumcised and forsook the holy covenant. We read (2 Mac. 4:9 ) of Jason, the brother of Onias the high priest, who by the appointment of Antiochus set up a school at Jerusalem, for the training up of youth in the fashions of the heathen; and (2 Mac. 4:23 , etc.) of Menelaus, who fell in with the interests of Antiochus, and was the man that helped him into Jerusalem, now in his last return from Egypt. We read much in the book of the Maccabees of the mischief done to the Jews by these treacherous men of their own nation, Jason and Menelaus, and their party. These upon all occasions he made use of. “Such as do wickedly against the covenant, such as throw up their religion, and comply with the heathen, he shall corrupt with flatteries, to harden them in their apostasy, and to make use of them as decoys to draw in others,’’ v. 32. Note, It is not strange if those who do not live up to their religion, but in their conversations do wickedly against the covenant, are easily corrupted by flatteries to quit their religion. Those that make shipwreck of a good conscience will soon make shipwreck of the faith.

This passage and this history still speaks today. It was written for our learning, that we too might have hope when we see evil prevailing against the people of God for a time (Rom. 15:4).  There are those who profess to know God, but in works deny Him (Titus 1:16), and these persecute the people of God as Cain persecuted Abel. They do wickedly against the covenant, forsaking the One whose blood was shed to save them, bringing reproach to His name though they sometimes pretend to honor Him.  These are easily corrupted by the flatteries of antichrist (John testifies that there are many antichrists already among us–I John 2:18), not enduring sound doctrine, but having itching ears for doctrines that suit their own particular lusts (2 Tim. 4:3-4).  How conveniently can satan and his children exploit these apostates, using them to hurt the faithful, with lies making the heart of the righteous sad by strengthening the hands of the wicked (Ezek. 13:22).  Even more, under strong delusion, they throw the faithful out of the churches, and even kill them, thinking they do God a service (John 16:2).  Brother shall deliver up the brother to death, and the father the child: and the children shall rise up against their parents, and cause them to be put to death (Matt. 10:21).  Thus shall many people of God fall by the sword, and by flame, by captivity, and by spoil, many days.

But he that endures to the end shall be saved. They endure the temptation to fall away, and hold fast to what they have, letting no man take their crown. They endure the onslaught of false doctrines and the mockery of false Christians, persevering in the truth.  They endure affliction with the people of God rather than enjoying the pleasures of sin for a season (Heb. 11:25.) They endure in faith, trusting that whatever happens to their nation, God has them in His sights;  they know they are worth more to Him than many sparrows.  They set their hearts thus:  that though there be no blessing in fruit or flock, yet they will joy in God’s great salvation (Hab. 3:17-18); and though God slay them, yet they will trust Him and maintain righteousness before Him (Job13:15). They that endure all things with patience possess their own souls (Luke 21:19).

These are the people who understand, and God shall be their strength, and they will do exploits. They shall not be corrupted by flatteries, but in humility and dependence before their God, they will be safe. While the world wonders after beastly kingdoms and their savage subjugations, these who understand will rest in hope, knowing that they belong to the unassailable Kingdom of God. They will be steadfast and immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing their labor is not in vain (I Cor. 15:58).  They will stand before governors and kings and deliver the message that God gives them.  Despite the threats of sword, flame, captivity and spoil, they shall instruct many by their words and deeds, wisely winning souls while there is yet time. And should they be plundered of their earthly goods, they understand that many of their brethren were likewise destitute, afflicted, tormented (of whom the world was not worthy), wandering in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth. (Heb. 11:3-38)  And should they be called upon to do the greatest exploit of all–that is, to love not their own lives to the death–they do so willingly, knowing that to live is Christ, but to die is gain;  and whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s (Rom. 14:8).

God bless you.

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