Experienced authorities in the church usually indicate that demonic possession of an individual rarely occurs. It is strongly recommended that any person suspected of possession should be evaluated for an underlying psychological or physiological condition by medical professionals. Possession should be suspected when one or more of these conditions are present:
discolouration of skin colour and appearance (often ashen grey);
displays unnatural knowledge of secrets, even thoughts of surrounding people;
highly unusual behaviours – for example, excessive masturbation, perverse language, eating animals alive and faeces.
aversion to holy sites, relics and prayers – also finding offence with theological words and phrases, particularly in Hebrew, Latin and Greek.
knowledge of ancient and foreign languages without any instruction;
unnatural strength that does not match the age or gender of the afflicted;
the air within the room or building seems to feel ‘denser’ and colder than would be expected for the seasonal weather.
Most possessed people are unaware of the demon that resides in their consciousness. The best protection is to live in a state of grace – with prayer, worship, bible study and Christian fellowship. If seeking assistance, contact your local church authorities. I have included a reference guide for those who wish to find out more about the rite of exorcism.
A classic message warning us to redeem our time and to be redeemed by Christ.
A classic message from Billy Graham (1978)
Time is collapsing on us. How brief is time? The Scripture says, “You have made my days as handbreadths, and my age is as nothing before You” (Psalm 39:5). If I live to be a hundred years of age, that’s nothing in eternity.
The Scripture says, “For a thousand years in Your sight are like yesterday when it is past, and like a watch in the night” (Psalm 90:4). A watch in the night was four hours, that’s all. One day with the Lord is as a thousand years, and a thousand years is as one day. The Bible says, “My days are like a shadow that lengthens, and I wither away like grass. But You, O Lord, shall endure forever, and the remembrance of Your name to all generations” (Psalm 102:11-12).
Each of us has the same amount of time in every day—1,440 minutes a day, 168 hours a week. “The days of our lives are seventy years; and if by reason of strength they are eighty years, yet their boast is only labor and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away” (Psalm 90:10).
Let’s think about those 70-some years for a moment. The first 15 are spent in childhood. We spend 20 years sleeping. In our final years, physical limitations curtail our activities. So you’ve only got about 30 years left. Now part of that time has to be spent in eating, and part of that time has to be spent working. So how much time do you have left? “What is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away,” says James 4:14. Just a vapor. It comes up like a vapor and it’s gone. That’s what your life is in eternity, and in the sight of God.
The Bible says, “[Redeem] the time, because the days are evil” (Ephesians 5:16). The Bible talks about the “prince of the power of the air” (Ephesians 2:2), who is the devil.
Jesus calls him the “prince of this world” (see John 12:31). The Bible talks about the great forces of evil, dominated by Satan, that have been unleashed upon the world. Thank God, someday Satan is going to be bound, and Satan will not trouble us anymore. But “[redeem] the time, because the days are evil.” That means that we are to buy some time. That word redeem is a business word. We are to redeem—we are to buy—the time at any cost to invest it in the Kingdom of God.
Have you ever thought of tithing your time? Every Christian ought to tithe his money. But what about tithing your time? I know about a man on the West Coast who decided he’d give 10 percent of his time to the Lord in witnessing. He went from door to door. In one year, more than 20 different families came into his church as a result of the faithful tithing of his time. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if every professing Christian tithed his or her time, and went out witnessing for Christ and helping others? What a change it would make!
Then there’s the tyranny of time. Time controls us, and we become frustrated. We begin to run here and there doing this and that, because we say we don’t have enough time for everything. Jesus said, “I must work the works of Him who sent Me while it is day; the night is coming when no one can work” (John 9:4). Think of what Jesus did in 33 years. That’s all the time He lived on earth. And we don’t know much about His life except the last three years. In those three years, He healed the sick, He fed the hungry, He taught as no other teacher has ever taught.
But that wasn’t the real reason He came. He came to die on the cross for your sins. And when I see Jesus Christ on the cross, tears come to my eyes as I realize the love of God that was being poured out on that cross, and see the blood dripping from His hands and His feet and from His head. I know that He didn’t have to stay there. The angels of Heaven could have come to rescue Him, but He said, “No, I love them. I love them. I love them.”
There are billions and billions and billions of planets and stars. And as far as we know, this is the only planet in rebellion against God. God could have swept us all into eternity and destroyed this planet, but He didn’t do it. He said, “I love them too much.” He gave His only Son to die on the cross, and He took our sins. And I want to tell you this: If it cost Jesus Christ His life on that cross for your sins, you can be sure that you’ll never get to Heaven except by the way of that cross. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6).
There are many people who are nominal Christians. You joined a church, you have been baptized. Maybe in your church you were confirmed, but you really don’t know Christ. You’ve never had a real experience with Him so that He dominates your life and controls your life. You have not surrendered to the lordship of Christ.
If you are looking for purpose and meaning in life, give your life to Christ. Get into the cause of Jesus Christ and march in His army under His banner. We could use millions of people marching for Christ all over the world right now, taking love instead of hate to the world, telling the people how to be saved, telling them how they can find forgiveness and newness of life.
Jesus said, “I have finished the work which You have given me to do” (John 17:4). God has given you something to do, too. Are you working on it? Have you finished it? You don’t have much time. Your life is a vapor, it’s a handbreadth, it’s grass that grows and withers. It may soon be over; it may be over at any time.
We never know how long we have to live. That’s the reason the Bible says, “Prepare to meet your God” (Amos 4:12). Be ready at all times. “Be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect” (Matthew 24:44). He’s coming again; but He’s also coming to you in death one of these days. Are you ready?
Redeem the time. You don’t have very much of it. The days are evil, life is very brief, the time is urgent. Don’t waste it. Because, you see, you’re going to be held accountable at the Judgment. There is going to be a Judgment in which every word that you’ve ever spoken, every thought you’ve ever had, every moral choice you ever faced, everything you’ve ever done will be accountable at the Judgment.
Jesus will say to you, “Depart from Me, you cursed; I never knew you” (see Matthew 7:23; 25:41). But you’ll argue a little bit. You’ll say, “But, Lord, I did this. I did that. Lord, I was busy doing a lot of things.” But, you see, you didn’t do the most important thing. You didn’t receive Jesus Christ into your heart as Lord and Savior when you had a chance.
Time calls for immediate action. “Now is the accepted time; today is the day of salvation.” Every time your clock ticks, it’s saying, “Now, now, now, now, now, now, now.”
Hebrews 3:15 says: “Today, if you will hear his voice, do not harden your hearts.” You can hear the Gospel and do nothing about it. You don’t make your commitment to Christ. You harden your heart. And after a while you can’t hear His voice any longer because your heart is hard. And without the convicting power of the Holy Spirit, you cannot come to Christ.
Come now! If God is whispering to you, come to Christ. There’s a warning in time. It will someday be too late for your soul. Time is too short for indecision and vacillation. I’m asking you to receive Christ now.
When you come to Jesus Christ, you not only accept Him as Savior from your sins, you accept Him as Lord of your life. You become His follower and He becomes Lord of every phase of your life—Lord of your business, Lord of your family, Lord of your life, Lord of your relationships, Lord of everything. That’s what it means to surrender to Christ. You must be willing for the whole world to know that you are putting Christ first in everything that you do from now on.
A person is identified as a Christian based on one’s approach towards, or embrace, of the gospel. Romans 10:13 “For whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
A question that has been placed upon my heart is: Are Catholics Christian and therefore saved by the Lord? The very short answer is yes…..but there are some huge caveats and concerns. A person is identified as a Christian based on one’s approach towards, or embrace, of the gospel. Romans 10:13 “For whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
“Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world. 2 By this you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God, 3 and every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God. And this is the spirit of the Antichrist, which you have heard was coming, and is now already in the world.”
1 John 4:1-3.
But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, 5 not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, 6 whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.
That is, God has sent his Son to redeem us through His death and resurrection. Any institution that ignores, diminishes, distorts or denies our redemption, justification and sanctification by Christ cannot be called Christian.
My Personal Experience with Catholicism
Although I have been a confirmed adherent to reformed and evangelical churches for more than 30 years, I attended and participated in religious practices within a Roman Catholic boarding school. In hindsight, I did not understand all of the traditions and rituals of the Roman church, but was impressed by the genuine devotion displayed by most of my peers. Some of the teachers in religious orders displayed faith and compassion, and strove to imitate Christ. One Christian Brother, it was retold by the boarding students, had fired a rifle shot at a statue of Mary in the garden because it was seen to be moving, in a demonic manner, in the courtyard. This same Brother was often heard saying that “Mickey Mouse has large, round ears to hide the devil’s horns”. Perhaps this religious brother was well aware of the future trends of the Church and our society. The influence and contact with people in Catholic religious orders was largely positive, and at times, made me seriously consider taking religious vows as a Dominican, Franciscan or Cistercian monk. I had previously told my Catholic associates and friends to remain in the Roman church, in spite of the scandals, but now I am loathe to say this again. It is possible for Catholics to be good Christians and reform the church from within, but this will become increasingly difficult.
In the spirit of goodwill for my brothers and sisters in Christ, I will explore areas of contention between the Catholic Church and Protestantism in general terms, providing both perspectives on the issue.
Catholic Perspective: Catholicism bases its authority on apostolic succession, indicated by the statement in Matthew 16:18, “And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. 19 And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” The Bible, church fathers, popes, bishops; Seven Ecumenical Councils; Trent, Vatican, and other Catholic councils also form the basis of Catholic authority. “The best argument for the Catholic doctrine of Church authority comes from the New Testament itself: the Acts of the Apostles reveals the Church’s self-image as a body at the service of Christ’s saving Gospel, acting in the ways and structures taught to them by Christ himself. The Apostles are keenly aware of the authority that has been given to them by Christ, and of their own need to remain ever faithful to Christ as they exercise that authority. ” http://www.beginningcatholic.com/church-authority
Most Catholics believe that the Bible needs to interpreted by the Church in order to lead followers to Heaven. This in turn leads to the rulings of the Pope and the church as specific teachings, or majesterium.
Protestant Perspective: Unlike Catholicism, the Protestant tradition is based on Sola Scriptura – Scripture alone. Scripture is seen as infallible and most denominations strive to follow the principles of the apostles and the early church. Catholics tend to disregard this and state that Protestants are a new, heretical church that started after Martin Luther published his 95 Theses in 1517. However, this was due to the moral corruption and unbiblical practices that had become “traditional” within Catholicism, particularly the sale of “indulgences”, or reprieve from temporal punishment from forgiven sins. The reformers tried to reform the Catholic Church from within, but were unsuccessful and consequently excommunicated. Protestantism is essentially a branch from the historic “tree trunk” of Roman Catholicism; yet it regards human traditions as wretched and flawed if they separate humanity from God’s Word. Anything infallible is without error and unable to deceive.
Jesus indicated that he was not going to change the Law and the Word of God: ‘“Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. 18 For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled. 19 Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:17-20)
“Pope Urban II was the benchmark for where the crimes against humanity and God became genocidal. Between the years 1096-1099 Pope Urban II ordered the slaughter of roughly ten million people where there were men and women but mostly children in efforts to procure Belgrade, the Orthodox Church of Constantinople in Yugoslavia as well as Turkey, Syria, Antioch and Palestine. Just for reference, Hitler killed in or around six million Jews during the Holocaust. Wow.” Source: http://www.thelistcafe.com/top-10-most-evil-popes/2
Some modern Popes have also shown how wretched and flawed man is…..such as: Pius XII.
“Taking a note from Pavelic (a Croatian military leader), Pius XII established his own mini form of the Ustashi known as the Catholic Ustashi (guess he liked Pavelic’s work?) and the Catholic organization was responsible for the murder of more than 600,000 people. Not only were the murders enacted but they were done in such hideous ways that it’s probably a sin just to think about how they may have looked. Killings ranged anywhere from excessive torture to another visitation of crucifixion (it’s not just Christ this time), cannibalism (mmm, mmm. Finger-lickin’ good), live dismemberment (remember the saying ‘I’ll cut off your arm and beat you with it?’”) and burning alive (oh so they gave the Jews a few friends to dance on the hot coals with). If all of this is true, this man was not only truly insane, he was quite possible the epitome of evil in the 20th century. ” Source: http://www.thelistcafe.com/top-10-most-evil-popes/2
By stating that the Pope and the church teachings are infallible, a mass of contradictions occur, and Catholicism loses credibility when the church leaders are worse sinners than pagans and non-Christians. The obvious question that Protestants ask is, “How can the church lead sinners to Heaven if the actions of the religious are contrary to the Word of God?” Historically, the Catholic Church has been responsible for the death and torture of countless people during the Inquisition. “Estimates of the number killed by the Spanish Inquisition, which Sixtus IV authorised in a papal bull in 1478, have ranged from 30,000 to 300,000. Some historians are convinced that millions died.” Source: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2004/jun/16/artsandhumanities.internationaleducationnews
” In reply, it must be noted that Protestants (including Luther, Calvin, the early English Protestants, Zwingli, Melanchthon et al.) have a very long and troubling list of “scandals” and “inquisitions” as well. As just one example among many, Martin Luther and John Calvin both sanctioned the execution of Anabaptists due to their belief in adult baptism, which they considered to be “sedition.” Thousands of Catholics in England and Ireland were executed (often in very hideous ways) simply for being Catholics and worshiping as their ancestors had done for 1500 years.” Source: http://www.ncregister.com/blog/darmstrong/were-50-million-people-really-killed-in-the-inquisition
In Romans 3:21-26, Paul expounds how all fall short of righteousness: “But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, 22 even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference; 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, 26 to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.”
The expectation is that those who share the Gospel, to teach, preach and prophesy, should imitate Christ in their personal life so that people may give thanks to God and encourage others in their faith. Any church stained with sin, deceit and controversy will harm the faith of many. In 2 Peter 2:1, Peter states: “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.” Those who teach the Gospel but deny it in their lives will be judged harshly.
From a Catholic perspective, the Church is the vehicle of faith and is the source from which grace is dispensed through the institution. “The sole Church of Christ which in the Creed we profess to be one, holy, catholic, and apostolic, subsists in the Catholic Church, which is governed by the successor of Peter and by the bishops in communion with him.” (Catech 870). Grace is preserved and distributed by the Church. All Catholics, even priests, are in constant concern of their state of grace – if they are not in a state of grace, they will not be able to enter Heaven. Grace is dispensed through works and participation in Mass, confession, penance and other sacraments according to the teaching of the church. Priests and those in religious orders are required to undertake vows of obedience and follow the direct commandments of church superiors – bishops, cardinals and the Pope.
At present, scandals have rocked the foundations of the Roman Catholic Church. Over 1000 priests have been accused of abuse against children in the USA and a number of bishops are accused of hiding these crimes.
More than 130 U.S. bishops – or nearly one-third of those still living — have been accused during their careers of failing to adequately respond to sexual misconduct in their dioceses, according to a Philadelphia Inquirer and Boston Globe examination of court records, media reports, and interviews with church officials, victims, and attorneys.
Traditional Catholics tend to blame the current woes on the introduction of the New Mass during the Vatican II Council:
The long-term effect of the council has been a complete revolution of Catholicism, one that has been most visible in the changes in Catholic worship, specifically in the Catholic Mass, which went from being a solemn, dignified, and otherworldly rite of Sacrifice being offered to the Most Holy Trinity in the sacred Latin tongue by a priest facing God and therefore having his back to the congregation, to being a pedestrian service in which the priest is reduced to the status of a mere presider over a meal, often acting even as an entertainer, reading dull prayers in English while facing the people. Lots of lay participation in the sanctuary contributes to an already-desacralized service. The results have been catastrophic: exceptionally low Mass attendance, an unprecedented crisis in vocations to the priesthood, and a “Catholic” populace ignorant of some of the most basic tenets of Catholicism.
But the “New Mass” or Novus Ordo Missae, as it is called, is merely one visible symptom of the fundamental problem, which is that the religion you see today as “Roman Catholicism” is not the Catholic religion of ages past but is basically the religion of the Second Vatican Council, usually abbreviated as “Vatican II” (the First Vatican Council, or Vatican I, had taken place from 1869-70 under Pope Pius IX). A great many ideas today promoted as Roman Catholicism, are actually rooted only in Vatican II and were not known or accepted before — and that’s a pretty long “before” — around 1,900 years. Things like ecumenism, interreligious dialogue, interfaith prayer services, opposition to the death penalty, religious freedom as an ideal for every society, the notion of “human rights”, declaring all war to be evil (even the just kind) — all these are examples of Vatican II ideas, not Catholic ideas. Source: https://novusordowatch.org/start-here/
Protestant Perspective: Unlike Catholicism, there is a distinction between the visible and invisible church. God saves anyone he chooses, or anyone with proper faith, regardless of church membership. One may attend a visible church, even as a priest or minister, but remain unsaved, whereas an invisible church member may be a Catholic or Protestant, who may not always attend church due to external factors, and yet be called, justified and sanctified by the Holy Spirit. A person may be saved and yet outside of the church – but is best to be in fellowship with believers.
The Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary states that the priesthood of believers is a “Christian belief that every believer has direct access to God through Jesus Christ and that the church is a fellowship of priests serving together under the lordship of Christ. The concept of priesthood is integral to both the OT and the NT and is fulfilled in Christ as Mediator and great high priest. The foundation of the priestly ministry is found in the OT where the priestly ministry is assigned to the Aaronic line of descent and the tribe of Levi (Exod. 40:13, Num. 1:47–54). According to the OT model, the priest fulfilled a representative function—entering the Holy of Holies on the Day of Atonement and making a sacrificial offering on behalf of the people. This representational role was fulfilled by Christ, whose offices as Prophet, Priest, and King describe His accomplished and continuing work. As mediator, Christ fulfilled the representational role to which the Aaronic priesthood pointed. The letter to the Hebrews explains this fulfillment by describing Jesus Christ as the “great high priest” who, having accomplished His mediatorial work of substitutionary atonement, has now passed through the heavens (Heb. 4:14). Christ’s death on the cross is described as a priestly act that once for all paid the penalty for our sin. As priest, Christ did not take the blood of a representative animal into the Holy of Holies but instead entered “the greater and more perfect tabernacle” and shed His own blood to obtain “eternal redemption” (Heb. 9:11–12 HCSB). Now that Christ has fulfilled the representational role of the priesthood, and since He is the one mediator between God and men (1 Tim. 2:5), there is no continuing need or role for a human priest. No longer does a human priest stand to represent other humans before God. As the people of God, the church is now a “royal priesthood” (1 Pet. 2:9), ministering together in the name of Christ. Though we do not represent one another before the Father, believers are called to pray for one another, to encourage each other to good works, and to call one another to holiness. Central to the doctrine of the priesthood of believers is the concept of the gathered church, or congregationalism. Each church is comprised of believers who have been redeemed by Jesus Christ and now serve as priests together. In its purest sense this doctrine refers to believers gathered together under the lordship of Christ, not to individual believers standing alone. The doctrine does, however, rightly affirm that we need no human priest to stand between the individual believer and God. As mediator, Jesus Christ alone fulfills that role.” R. Albert Mohler, Jr.
Catholicism insists on intermediaries between God and lay people – countless saints, Mary (mother of Jesus), and priests are called on for grace and intercession. Catholicism aims at working to mortify the flesh and focus on the unworthiness of human nature, yet still insists on one having to “pull oneself out of the mud by one’s boots”. Yet, this can go horribly wrong – as indicated by the testimony of former nuns and priests.
Most Protestants are unaware of the extent of confusion and decay with the Catholic Church. Though every denomination is imperfect, Protestantism trusts that every stage of their God-given spiritual growth is perfect, whilst the work of man will always be incomplete and imperfect. When the institutionalised church distorts the gospel, engages in carnal behaviour and hypocrisy, true believers should abandon false teachings that rely on human tradition and works. Instead, one should find a Bible-based church that teaches that grace alone can save sinners.
Luke 13:24-30: “Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I say to you, will seek to enter and will not be able. 25 When once the Master of the house has risen up and shut the door, and you begin to stand outside and knock at the door, saying, ‘Lord, Lord, open for us,’ and He will answer and say to you, ‘I do not know you, where you are from,’ 26 then you will begin to say, ‘We ate and drank in Your presence, and You taught in our streets.’ 27 But He will say, ‘I tell you I do not know you, where you are from. Depart from Me, all you workers of iniquity.’ 28 There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, and yourselves thrust out. 29 They will come from the east and the west, from the north and the south, and sit down in the kingdom of God. 30 And indeed there are last who will be first, and there are first who will be last.”
God of goodness! take me, take me out of the world before those fearful times come! Alas! what would become of us! It is easy for us to say that we would trample on the proffered riches, honors, and pleasures. Now while we are living in peace and quietness and have every opportunity of considering the matter duly, the least temptation is often enough to make us transgress most shamefully and renounce the friendship of the God Who is so worthy of our love. How then can we dare to say that we should be strong enough to resist the attacks of such a monster?
Statim autem, post tribulatimem. dierum illorum, sol obscurabitur, et luna non dabit lumen suum.–Matt. xxiv. 29.
“And immediately after the tribulation of those days, the sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light.”
(Moderator Note: This historical sermon is from a Roman Catholic priest. Although the emphasis on sacramental acts and some aspects of theology are contrary to reformed and evangelical theology, elements of the sermon are pertinent to our postmodern world.)
Terrible are the signs of which today’s Gospel speaks as forerunners of the day of general judgment, the last day of the world. There shall he many such signs, some of which are to appear a long time beforehand, while others shall immediately precede the final catastrophe. Of the former class are those we have already known and experienced; such as the destruction of the Jewish nation: a people now without faith or king or commonwealth; the conversion of the heathens to the true religion, which has been already preached and accepted in all parts of the globe; the persecution of the Church by so many heretics as precursors of Antichrist; and besides these we have seen wars, famines, pestilences, earthquakes, the increase of wickedness and sin, men growing cold in the love of God, the want of reverence towards God in the churches and towards priests and spiritual superiors, and the fall of the Roman empire, which the Apostle St. Paul alludes to, according to Tertullian, St. Jerome, and St. Cyril. All these are signs of the approaching end of the world and the terrible day of judgment. Therefore St. John writes in his first Epistle: “Little children, it is the last hour.”(1) These are, as St. Ambrose and St. Chrysostom. say, the sickness of the earth which is to precede its death; ” because we are in the dying moments of the world, certain sicknesses of the world must go before.”(2) A sickness of the world is famine, a sickness of the world is plague, a sickness of the world is war and persecution;” by these things God reminds us that it is approaching the end, so that we may not become too attached to it, too fond of it. Other signs of the coming of the last day, besides the fall of the Roman empire, are the advent of Antichrist and the terrible portents in the sun, moon, and stars, and the distress of all nations on earth, of which we read in today’s Gospel. This latter class of signs I shall take as my subject, my dear brethren, today and during Advent, and shall try with God’s help to deduce from them some moral doctrine for our advantage. Today I begin with the first, namely, the coming and the tyranny of Antichrist.Plan of Discourse.
Who shall Antichrist be, and what has he to do in the world? That I shall explain in the first part. What should be our thoughts regarding this? This shall be the moral lesson of the second part.
Give us Thy light and grace, future Judge of the living and the dead, Christ Jesus; we ask it through the merits of Thy Mother Mary and the prayers of our holy guardian angels.
Who then is Antichrist? Of what nature shall he be? In the Scripture the Holy Ghost never gives him a proper name, because, as St. Irenaeus says He did not wish to mention the name of such a wicked man; therefore He calls him only Antichrist, that is, one who is opposed to Christ in everything. The Prophet Daniel names him ” a beast, terrible and wonderful, and exceedingly strong.”(3) St. Paul calls him a man of sin, made up, as it were of vice and wickedness: ” The man of sin, the son of perdition.”(4) In any case he will be a man of the same nature as we, created by God for the same end, and he shall also have sufficient graces and means given him to save his soul, if he only chooses to make use of them. According to the opinion of St. Augustine and St. John Damascene, this wicked man is to be the offspring of adulterous intercourse, and as St. Jerome and St. Gregory maintain, to be born in the Jewish tribe of Dan at Babylon, and to be secretly brought up by people of the lowest kind: sorcerers and witches. It is easy to imagine the kind of training he is likely to get from such teachers.
When he comes to man’s estate he will at first conceal his wickedness and craft under a mask of hypocrisy and apparent sanctity; he will be very zealous for the law of Moses, and pretend to despise all earthly things; to be an enemy of idolatry and a lover of the Sacred Scriptures. Although he will privately wallow in all kinds of impurity, he will outwardly condemn adultery and decry it as most criminal; he will be very charitable to the poor; in a word, he will put on such an appearance of virtue that many nations shall desire to have him as their king. Above all, says St. Anthony, he will try to persuade the people that all that the Prophets have said of the Messias is fulfilled in him. Thus he will draw the Jews to his side in crowds, and they will soon look on him and adore him as their long-expected Messias, when they see that he is a sworn enemy of Christ and the Christian law and an upholder of the Jewish law and its ceremonies, and moreover that they can hope to profit by having him in power.
When he shall thus have raised himself to a high position in the world and secured a great number of followers, then this wicked serpent shall commence to spit out his poison and to spread his authority over the world by craft, promises, and force of arms. Besides Turks, heathens, and Jews, he will attract to his standard and subject to his authority countless numbers of Christians. That he will effect first by the riches, honors, dignities, and sensual delights that he will place in the power of all his followers, as the Prophet Daniel says of him: “He shall increase glory and shall give them power over many, and shall divide the land for nothing.”(5) For besides the immense revenues he shall have from conquered countries, the devil with the divine permission shall discover to him mines of gold and silver, and treasures hidden in the sea: “And he shall have power over the treasures of gold, and of silver, and all the precious things.”(6) Alas! what an attractive bait that will be to ensnare the vain, ambitions, and greedy children of the world, who are already only too willing to grasp at such things! How will they be able to withstand this seductive and powerful temptation?
But when Antichrist finds virtuous souls who will not allow themselves to be turned aside from the love of God by promises, flattery, caresses, money, honors, or pleasures, then he will use against them another terrible weapon, namely, tortures such as the most cruel tyrant has never yet even thought of. “For there shall be then great tribulation,” says Our Lord of him in the Gospel, “such as hath not been from the beginning of the world until now, neither shall be.”(7) So that even many just and pious servants of God shall yield under the pressure of tortures and deny their God. “And it was given unto him,” says St. John in the Apocalypse, speaking of the terrible beast, by which he meant Antichrist, “to make war with the saints, and to overcome them. And power was given him over every tribe, and people, and tongue, and nation.”(8) So that he will overcome even the saints, some according to the body by martyrdom and torturing and putting them to death; and others, which is far more deplorable, according to the soul, by forcing them with cruel torments to deny Jesus Christ and His faith. There will be no choice left between enduring intolerable torture and falling away from the true religion, or else perishing with hunger and want in caverns and deserts.
All that could encourage a pious Christian and console him in such tribulation shall then be removed; for this cruel beast in his daring pride shall set himself up as the true God and claim to be adored and to have churches built in his honor. “And the king shall do according to his will,” says the Prophet Daniel; “and he shall be lifted up, and shall magnify him self against every god.” (9) All the temples consecrated to Our Lord shall be pulled down and desecrated, the sacred images destroyed, spiritual books burned, all preachers and priests made away with, and the use of the holy sacraments and the celebration of Mass utterly abolished: “And arms shall stand on his part, and they shall defile the sanctuary of strength, and shall take away the continual sacrifice: and they shall place there the abomination unto desolation.”(10) Such are the words of the Prophet Daniel. Thus for about four years, the duration of the reign of Antichrist, the public celebration of the holy Sacrifice shall be nowhere tolerated in the whole world; not a single crucifix shall there be that one might comfort himself in his sorrows by looking at it. He will give his followers another sign, which they are to wear on their foreheads or on their right hands, and a man who has not that sign may not buy or sell the least thing, or do any business whatever; and the sign shall be the blasphemous words: Nego Jesum–” I deny Jesus.” O truly deserving of compassion shall the Christians be who are to live in those troublous times! Alas! how will it be with them? And how clearly they shall see the words of Our Lord verified “Many are called, but few are chosen.”(11)
And this shall be the case especially when Antichrist shall have recourse to the third and most powerful means he is to use to confirm his false doctrine; for, as St. John testifies of him, he shall by means of witchcraft and sorcery perform countless apparent miracles and wonders. “And he did great signs, so that he made also fire to come down from heaven unto the earth in the sight of men. And he seduced them that dwell on the earth for the signs which were given him to do.”(12) And not only he, but also his servants and followers shall have the power of working those false miracles. Our Lord has foretold that already, as we read in the Gospel: “For there shall arise false Christs and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders.”(13) Alas! how many souls shall be misled when this great and mighty monarch so powerful in the eyes of the world, shall in the presence of Christians, as St. Hippolytus says, cleanse lepers, heal the paralytic, free those possessed by the devil, and even apparently raise the, dead to life, and then all these cured by him shall adore him as the true God! How will it be when he commands the sun in the heavens to stand still, and it will obey his command? when he calls forth storms from the sea, and quiets them again? when, as Lactantius says, he shall cause dumb beasts, infant children, nay, even lifeless images to cry out that all that Jesus Christ has taught is false, that He is not the Son of God, but a traitor, who is damned forever? when he shall call down fire from heaven, to consume those who oppose him, as the Prophet Elias did in former times; or to burn sacrifices in his honor, or to give his disciples fiery tongues, so that they can speak all languages, as was the case with the Apostles when they received the Holy Ghost in the form of fiery tongues? How will it be when, according to the testimony of Albert the Great, he shall appear to die and to come to life again in three days, and afterwards be carried by the demons heavenwards in the air? How will it be when legions of those demons disguised as angels of light shall assist and serve him in visible form, and sing hymns of praise in his honor, as if he were the true God and promised Saviour of the world?
“Alas!” exclaims St. Gregory, imagining what those terrible times must be, ” what a severe temptation that shall be for the human mind! “(14) And in fact it will be so great that, if possible, the elect would be deceived by it, as Our Lord says: ” Insomuch as to deceive (if possible) even the elect.”(15) Thus shall Antichrist draw to his side almost all the world: the wicked and tepid by riches, honors, and pleasures; the pious and God-fearing by the intolerable torments he will inflict on them; the simple and incautious by the wonderful signs and prodigies he shall perform. “And unless those days had been shortened, no flesh should be saved.”(16) Three years and a half shall his reign last, after which this cruel man shall raise himself up in the air from Mount Olivet towards heaven, and there, as some say. Our Lord shall strike him with lightning, or, as others maintain, shall by his mere voice hurl him down to earth and thence body and soul into the abyss of hell. “And then,” says St.Paul, “that wicked one shall be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus shall kill with the spirit of His mouth.” (17) There you have, my dear brethren, a short description of Antichrist as a forerunner and precursor of the last terrible day of judgment, according to the prophets and apostles in the holy Scriptures, and to the holy Fathers of the Church and the commentators on Holy Writ. What do you think of this? What lesson should we draw from it for the good of our souls? That we shall see in the Second Part.
What would you think, I ask again, if, as might easily be the case, Antichrist were to be born soon, so that we should live in his time? For no man knows when that time is to come, as God has reserved the knowledge of it to himself alone. Let us at all events imagine that the cruel man is really in the “world, and that we hear and see all that has been said about him; what should we do? Should we dare to renounce Christ and to side with that monster? Should we allow ourselves to be marked with that odious sign: “I deny Christ”? What! each one of you will say, deny Christ? Side with the demons? God forbid that I should think of such a thing! I would rather die a thousand deaths than be untrue to my Saviour and God, or abjure His faith in which alone salvation is to be found! I would laugh at the pretended miracles, and trample on the proffered delights of the flesh, the honors, and riches; I would heroically resist the torture, no matter how terrible, with the divine assistance; all this I would readily do in order not to lose my one immortal soul and the eternal joys of heaven. Oh, truly, that is a beautiful and Christian resolution! And such should be the determination of each one of us even under such terrible circumstances.
But, alas! poor mortals that we are with all our resolution and professions! God of goodness! take me, take me out of the world before those fearful times come! Alas! what would become of us! It is easy for us to say that we would trample on the proffered riches, honors, and pleasures. Now while we are living in peace and quietness and have every opportunity of considering the matter duly, the least temptation is often enough to make us transgress most shamefully and renounce the friendship of the God Who is so worthy of our love. How then can we dare to say that we should be strong enough to resist the attacks of such a monster? Even now, although we are somewhat humiliated, the breath of human praise and the hope of honor or a high position are capable of so blinding our mind’s eye that contrary to the law of Christ we become puffed up with filthy pride and show it in our dress and outward demeanor. How could we then be true to the humility of Our Saviour, if we were exalted by the whole world? Even now, although we learn by daily experience the transitory nature of earthly things, and how soon and easily we can lose them, we are sometimes so beset by the passion of avarice that we sell our souls and our salvation for a miserable coin, we try to make our profit out of public calamities, and when our conscience or the thought of losing our souls troubles us, we dispatch such thoughts by saying to ourselves: what matter how the money is made as long as I succeed in making it! How then could we hope to be able to trample riches under foot if they were offered to us in abundance? Even now, when we have such frequent occasion to bewail and deplore our weakness, with the Christian law painting to us the abomination and deformity of impure love and carnal pleasure, we allow ourselves to be so infatuated and be fooled by a friendly look, a laugh, a joking word, a caress, that we forget our God, indulge our lust, and sacrifice recklessly our modesty, purity, honor, and fidelity. What should we do if such pleasures were held out to us as lawful and praiseworthy? Oh, may God grant that such a terrible time may never come for us!
It is easy to say that we should laugh at hypocrisy, false doctrine, and pretended miracles. Even now, while we have at hand countless opportunities of doing good, invited as we are to be zealous in the service of God by so many public devotions, having it in our power to frequent the sacraments almost daily, to cleanse our souls from sin in the sacred tribunal, to feed them with the body and blood of Jesus Christ; having our ignorance enlightened by so many sermons which encourage us to good, warn us against evil, exhort us to avoid the occasions of sin and the evil customs and usages of the world; with all this we still remain so tepid and cold in the divine service, so obstinate in the habits we have once acquired, that sometimes we even attach but little credence to the word of God, or at all events believe no more of it than suits our fancies. What the corrupt world preaches, what we learn from the example of others, what idle people say to us, that must be always true, valid, and lawful; to it must yield the maxims and infallible teaching of the holy Gospel, along with the doctrine of the Fathers and Doctors of the Church. If we see one who has the name of being pious, conforming to the customs of the world, we say at once: oh, there can be no harm in it, since such a one does it! If here and there we hear a confessor who is liberal in certain matters in which we do not like restraint, we look on him as if he were as infallible as the Gospel itself, while we laugh at and ridicule all who hold the contrary opinion. So, I repeat, if this is how we act in the full light of day, what will we do when the use of the sacraments is abolished, public devotions prevented, sermons and instructions prohibited, and in the midst of general corruption and perversion, a new law promulgated to flatter our sensuality and pride, and that, too, confirmed by miracles and supported by a false appearance of godliness and by the approval of the whole world? Oh, no! I repeat, may God grant that we have not to live in such. troublous times; we know that we should be too weak for them.
It is easy to talk of resisting torments and braving martyrdom! Ah! how could they give up their bodies to the rods, the scorpions, the leaded clubs, the iron hooks, to be torn and flayed, who are now so delicate and tender that they cannot bear the prick of a needle; who find a fast day intolerable, and are absolutely unable to stand or kneel for an hour in church, or to rise early in the morning on account of the cold? How could they allow themselves to be roasted or boiled alive who, if their beds are the least uncomfortable, cannot sleep for impatience? How could they laugh at torments to whom all crosses are terrible, who sigh and moan at the least trial, and give vent to their feelings in oaths and curses at the most trifling annoyance, expressing their dissatisfaction also by giving up the practice of prayer and devotion and the frequentation of the sacraments? Oh, no! God of goodness! we are not in want of an Antichrist to prove our virtue, our faith, hope, and charity by putting us to the torture! We have daily tribulations enough: more than we wish for, to try our virtue! Would that we could only bear them with patience and resignation for Thy sake and to gain heaven! Every hour, of the day we have abundant opportunity of mortifying our eyes, ears, tongue, sensuality, and evil inclinations; but to do so is often for us a bitter martyrdom that, without any tyrant to compel us, causes us to forget the obedience we owe Thy holy law.
A slight chagrin, a word of contradiction, a cross look is sometimes enough to upset our so-called virtue, and change it into impatience, hatred, and anger. What would then become of us in the midst of a terrible persecution, which many even of the holiest and most innocent shall not withstand?
Finally, it is easy to say that we should prefer rather to die a thousand deaths than deny Christ and take sides with His wicked enemy! Already most men are on the side of Antichrist against Jesus, our Saviour. Hear what St. John says in his first Epistle: “Every spirit that dissolveth Jesus is not of God, and this is Antichrist, of whom you have heard that he cometh, and he is now already in the world.”(18) “Not in person,” says Cornelius a Lapide, “but in spirit; that is, in his precursors.”(19) If you look into the matter, my dear brethren, you will find not one, but many Antichrists. Are not those parents Antichrists, that is, against Christ, who allow their children all license, bring them up to the vanity and filthy pride of the world, to idleness, and keep them from the zealous love of God and true devotion? Is he not an Antichrist who, contrary to the law of God, cherishes revenge against his neighbor and frequents the dangers and occasions of sin? Is he not an Antichrist who tries to lead a maiden astray from the path of virtue by presents and money? Is not that woman an Antichrist who by indecency in dress and dissolute manners leads others into sin? Is he not an Antichrist who gives scandal by sinful talk and bad example? All these, says St. Augustine, are Antichrists and servants of the devil: every one, no matter who he is, priest or layman, who lives contrary to justice and the requirements of his state is an Antichrist and a minister of Satan.(20) What better are you for not denying Christ with the lips, or not denouncing your faith, if you deny Him in work, and lose Him by mortal sin? Of what use will your faith be to you if not to serve for your deeper damnation? What else do you do when you allow yourself to be seduced by the antichrists you live amongst but renounce Christ in work? What is the false oath you have taken but renouncing God for the sake of some trifling temporal gain? When you indulge in impure thoughts and desires, what else are you doing but stamping on your heart the words: “I deny Christ”? When you sin by unchaste touches, do you not bear that same sign on your hand? In a word, every mortal sin you commit in thought, word, or action, is nothing else but a declaration that although you do not abjure your faith in Christ, yet you refuse Him the love and obedience due to Him, and you refuse it for the sake of some wealth, honor, or pleasure that the spirit of the hellish Antichrist offers you. And, alas! how many mortal sins are not committed daily in the world!
Christians! what a responsibility this is for us! Ah, poor, unhappy souls that are to live in those times of Antichrist, how you are to be pitied! But if you, almost forced as you shall be by grievous persecutions, temptations, torments, hypocrisy, and pretended miracles to abandon God, shall nevertheless be condemned by a most just sentence to eternal torments, what excuse shall we have? What sort of a hell awaits us who can so easily enjoy the freedom of the children of God, and who yet allow ourselves to be led astray, to be turned away from God, to be drawn over to the side of the devil, and to live like antichrists, that is, sworn enemies of Jesus Christ?
Innocent souls who have hitherto remained faithful to your Lord, ah, fly, fly with all possible diligence those who would try in any way whatsoever to lead you to do anything contrary to the law of God! Be firm in all temptations and occasions of evil! Think and say with courage against Antichrist and his followers: Away with you! I love Jesus! This sign shall be in my heart, in my eyes, and on my hands. I love Jesus Christ! Him alone will I faithfully serve; His friendship I will not sell for any worldly goods, honors, or pleasures. I love Jesus Christ, and will love Him while I have breath. I renounce forever all that is opposed to Him. And do Thou, Almighty God! grant us all Thy powerful grace that we may forestall the terrible times of Antichrist by a true repentance for all our sins, and by flying all those abuses which shall serve that proud, wicked monster to spread his kingdom! Grant that we may serve Thee with greater zeal, with more patience in adversity, with a more fervent love for Thee, O God and Saviour, in our public professions, in our outward actions and demeanor, so that we may have nothing to do with Antichrist and his followers, but persevere in Thy faith and love till death. Amen.
Preached on the twenty-fourth Sunday after Pentecost. The same sermon with its introduction may serve for the first Sunday of Advent: text from Luke xxi. 25. “There shall be signs,”etc.
1. Filioli, novissima hora est.–I. John ii. 18. 2. Quia in saeculi sumus, praecedunt quaedam aegritudines mundi.–S. Ambr. L. 10, In Luc. xviii. 3. Bestia terribilis, atque mirabilis, et fortis nimis.–Dan. vii. 7. 4. Homo peccati, filius perditionis.–II. Thess. ii. 3. 5. Multiplicabit gloriam, et dabit eis potestatem in multis, et terram dividet gratuito.– Dan. xi. 39. 6. Et dominabitur thesaurorom auri et argenti, et in omnibus pretiosis.–Ibid. 43. 7. Erit enim tunc tribulatio magna, qualis non fuit ab Initio mundi, usque modo, neque fiet–Matt, xxiv. 21. 8. Et est datum illi bellum facere cum sanctis, et vincere eos; et data est illi potestas in omnem tribum, et populum, et linguam, et gentem.–Apoc. xiii. 7. 9. Et faciet juxta voluntatem suam rex; et elevabitur et magnificabitur adversus omnem deum.–Dan. xi. 36. 10. Et brachia ex eo stabunt, et polluent sanctuarium fortitudinis; et auferent juge sacrificium, et dabunt abominationem in desolationem.–Ibid. 31. 11. Multi sunt vocati, pauci vero electi–Matt. xx. 16. 12. Et fecit signa magna, ut etiam ignem faceret de caelo descendere in terram in conspectu hominum. Et seduxit habitantes in terra, propter signa, quae data sunt illi facere.–Apoc xiii. 13, 14. 13. Surgent enim pseudo Christi, et pseudo prophetae, et dabunt signa magna, et prodigia. –Matt. xxiv.24 14. Quae erithumanae mentis illia tentatio!–S. Greg. L. 32. Moral. c. 13. 15. Ita ut in errorem inducantur (si fieri potest) etiam electi.–Matt. xxiv. 24. 16. Et nisi breviati fuissent dies illi, non fieret salva omnis caro.–Ibid. 22. 17. Et tunc revelabitur ille iniquus, quem Dominus Jesus interficiet spiritu oris sui.– II. Thess. ii. 8. 18. Omnis spiritus qui solvit Jesum, ex Deo non est; et hic est antichristus, de quo audistis quoniam venit, et nunc jam in mundo est.–I. John iv. 3. 19. Non in persona, sed in spiritu, scilicet in suis praecursoribus.20. Quicunqne contra justitiam vivit, etc., Antichristus est, minister Satanae.–S. Aug. c. 9. Tract, de Antichristo.Source
“Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition…” 2 Thessalonians 2:30NOVEMBER 26, 2018 2:02 PM by Lyn Leahz.
“Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition…” 2 Thessalonians 2:30NOVEMBER 26, 2018 2:02 PM by Lyn Leahz
What is the most obvious sign that, not only is the Antichrist about to be revealed, but that we are standing on the precipice of the start of the tribulation? And how can we know for sure that this particular sign does indeed mean we are that close?
To answer this question, let’s take a look at 2 Thessalonians 2:1-3:
Now, brethren, concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him, we ask you, 2 not to be soon shaken in mind or troubled, either by spirit or by word or by letter, as if from us, as though the day of Christ had come. 3 Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition,
Verse three specifically tells us “that” Day will NOT come UNLESS the falling away comes first. Are we seeing the falling away? I believe so.
The church has been given over to an ear tickling message and their leaders who preach it. 2 Timothy 4:3-5 tells us, “3 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; 4 and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables. 5 But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.” (As a side note, I would also like to add, for those of you who feel warning people is ungodly or unbiblical; verse 5 commands us to be watchful in ALL things and DO THE WORK OF AN EVANGELIST, which is warning people and telling them the truth about Jesus Christ!)
We are seeing a deluge of false teachers, preachers, and people who have given themselves over to their ear tickling messages.
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The Bible indicates that there will be a great apostasy during the end times. The “great apostasy” is mentioned in 2 Thessalonians 2:3. The KJV calls it the “falling away,” while the NIV and ESV call it “the rebellion.” And that’s what an apostasy is: a rebellion, an abandonment of the truth. The end times will include a wholesale rejection of God’s revelation, a further “falling away” of an already fallen world.
The occasion of Paul’s writing to the Thessalonians was to correct some of the errors concerning the end times that the believers had heard from false teachers. Among the falsehoods was that “the day of the Lord has already come” (2 Thessalonians 2:2). The Christians in Thessalonica were afraid that Jesus had already come, they had missed the rapture, and they were now in the tribulation. Paul had already explained the rapture to them in his first letter (1 Thessalonians 4:16–17). Paul writes his second letter to assure them that, contrary to what they had heard, and despite the persecution they were enduring, the “day of Christ” had not yet come.
We are seeing a deluge of false teachers, preachers, and people who have given themselves over to their ear tickling messages.
In 2 Thessalonians 2:3, Paul makes it clear that the day of the Lord, a time of worldwide judgment (Isaiah 13:6; Obadiah 1:15), will not transpire until two things happen. First, the falling away, or great apostasy, must occur. Second, the “man of lawlessness” must be revealed, he who is called the “son of perdition,” also known as the Antichrist. Once this person makes himself known, the end times will indeed have come. Numerous speculations about the identity of the man of sin, beginning in the first century, have included Caligula, Caius Caesar, Mohammed, Napoleon, and any number of Roman popes. None of them were the Anti-christ.
The man of lawlessness, according to 2 Thessalonians 2:4, is the one who “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.” Clearly, this has not yet happened; no one since Paul’s time has set himself up as God in the Jewish temple. Two thousand years have passed since the epistle was written, and the “day of the Lord” has not yet come. Paul assures us that it will not come until the falling away comes first.
The Greek word translated “rebellion” or “falling away” in verse 3 is apostasia, from which we get the English word apostasy. It refers to a general defection from the true God, the Bible, and the Christian faith. Every age has its defectors, but the falling away at the end times will be complete and worldwide. The whole planet will be in rebellion against God and His Christ. Every coup requires a leader, and into this global apostasy will step the Antichrist. We believe this takes place after the church has been raptured from the earth.
Please pay close attention to the next paragraph here:
Jesus warned the disciples concerning the final days in Matthew 24:10–12: “At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold.” These are the characteristics of the great apostasy of the end times.
Here are important bullet points from the above verse about the characteristics of the great apostasy of the end times:
-Many will turn away from the faith (Would you say that many people have turned away from the truth of God’s Word? Following a watered down, politically correct, corrupt version, which is a lie, instead?)
-Many will betray and hate each other (Have you noticed both in the news, and looking around in your own life at others, that more and more people seem to be betraying one another for their own personal gain or selfish reasons? And, not only are betraying one another, but filled with hatred, bitterness and unforgiveness as well?)
-Many false prophets will appear and deceive many people (How many self-proclaimed prophets have you seen on the internet who are hearing from God with dates, time frames, warnings, messages and more? Many have similar messages, and many are also different. Have what these people proclaimed come to pass? Is what their proclaiming something that is also recorded in the Bible almost word for word? Aren’t many people losing hope and faith as a result of false prophecies that never come to pass?)
-An increase of wickedness (Just turn on the news or look at the news on the internet. It’s pretty obvious wickedness is on the rise every day. Sexual immorality, murder and abortion, child abuse, hatred, hate crimes, witchcraft, violence, no conscience, love of money, children killing their own parents, parents killing their own children, etc. The list could go on and on.)
-As a result of an increase of wickedness, the love of MOST will grow cold (The world has moved so far away from the true Biblical definition of love it’s not funny. We live in a narcissistic self-absorbed society. People are in a hurry and do not have time to care about other people. As the old saying goes, “It’s a dog eat dog world,” which means “ruthless and competitive.”)
I will leave the answer to the question up to you. Open your eyes and look around at everything going on in the world, particularly the church (and I don’t mean a building). Given all that you see, do you feel the falling away spoken of in 2 Thessalonians 2:3 has taken place? And, if so, according to that same verse, doesn’t it mean the “man of sin, son of perdition (Antichrist), is next on the agenda and at hand?
If you do not know Jesus Christ as your Savior, I strongly urge you today to consider. Here is a plan of salvation from AllAboutGod.Com:
Plan of Salvation: Rebirth is the Answer to Life’s Most Important Question Plan of Salvation — We think life’s most important question is “Are you going to heaven when you die?” It is not a question of how good you are, whether you go to church, or how much money you give to charity. God says, in order to go to heaven, you must be born again (John 3:3).
Plan of Salvation: How can we be Born Again? The plan of salvation is right in the Bible. God gives us His clear plan for being “born again.”
First, we must acknowledge God as the Creator of everything, and accept our humble position in God’s creation. “You are worthy, O Lord, To receive glory and honor and power; For You created all things, And by Your will they exist and were created.” (Revelation 4:11).
Next, we must realize that we are sinners. “For all have sinned, and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).
Because we are sinners, we are condemned to death. “For the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). This includes eternal separation from God.
But God loved each of us so much that He gave His only begotten Son, Jesus, to bear our sin and die in our place. “God demonstrates His love toward us, in that, while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). Although we cannot understand how, God said our sins were laid upon Jesus and He died in our place. Jesus became our substitute.
In the Bible, a jailer asked his prisoners, Paul and Silas: “’Sirs, what must I do to be saved?’ So they said, ‘Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved.’” (Acts 16:30-31).
It’s very clear in the Bible, believe in Jesus as the one who bore your sins, died in your place, was buried, and whom God resurrected. It’s Christ’s blood and resurrection that assures us of everlasting life when we call on Him as our Lord and Savior. “For whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved.” (Romans 10:13). “Whosoever” includes each and every one of us.
Therefore, if you understand that you are a sinner, and you believe that Jesus Christ came as the one and only Redeemer of sin, then you understand the plan of salvation. The question is – are you ready to implement the plan, by receiving God’s gift of His Son, Jesus Christ? If so, believe in Christ, repent of your sins, and commit the rest of your life to Him as Lord:
“Father, I know that I have broken your laws and my sins have separated me from you. I am truly sorry, and now I want to turn away from my past sinful life toward you. Please forgive me, and help me avoid sinning again. I believe that Your Son, Jesus Christ died for my sins, was resurrected from the dead, is alive, and hears my prayer. I invite Jesus to become the Lord of my life, to rule and reign in my heart from this day forward. Please send your Holy Spirit to help me obey You, and to do Your will for the rest of my life. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.”
“Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 2:38)
If you decided to receive Jesus today, welcome to God’s family. Now, as a way to grow closer to Him, the Bible tells us to follow up on our commitment.
Spend time with God each day. It does not have to be a long period of time. Just develop the daily habit of praying to Him and reading His Word. Ask God to increase your faith and your understanding of the Bible.
Seek fellowship with other followers of Jesus. Develop a group of believing friends to answer your questions and support you.
Find a local church where you can worship God. (Added by Lyn Leahz: make sure you find a good, Bible believing, truth-telling church that preaches the convicting message of truth, not the ear-tickling watered down false love message)
Prior to going to sleep, this memorised prayer will guard you when you are susceptible to spiritual attack:
“Under the authority of Jesus Christ and by the power of the Holy Ghost, I BIND the demonic, any and all familiar or unfamiliar spirits and cast them out. I bind, loose and cast them out of our bedroom, away from our bodies and our minds, and out of our entire home. I cast out any and all demonic spirits in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.”
When dealing with demonic attacks (unwanted thoughts or metal images), one may quickly utter:
“I rebuke you in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ”.
Another useful prayer is the Blood of Jesus prayer, also recommended at bed time:
“Heavenly Father, Father, in the name of Jesus Christ, I have full faith and belief that the Blood of Jesus will protect and defend me (or….) against Satan and all his evil spirits or demons and all people, places or things that they are using. I declare that, whether familiar or unfamiliar, they have no power in your presence! In the name of and under the authority of Jesus Christ, Yeshua, I plead the Blood of Jesus on …….. (fill in the blank)…. I now Plead the Blood of Jesus against ……………. Or for…………..
Thank you Father. For it is not by my power, but the power of “The Blood” and the Holy Ghost! Thank you Jesus. Thank-you Yeshua!
If I suspect that I am under spiritual attack, I pray, frequently using the phrase, “through the shed blood of Jesus.” This reminds the powers and principalities that, by killing the Christ, that they actually opened the doors of redemption for the entire world. This must really hurt the demonic realm – it was their stupidity that enacted God’s plan! Also, to really irk them, I then thank Jesus for His love and mercy.
In the 80’s and 90’s I did not believe that the end times were close – now it seems that everything is aligning for major totalitarian change. Traditional morality and Christian values are despised – wickedness is endorsed and protected. The rise of technology allows easy monitoring of beliefs and movements, and soon, financial transactions. It is easy to see that dissidents who disagree with the “new morality of the perverse” will be easily penalised by being denied digital access to money or blocked from shopping transactions. At present, censorship is happening on Facebook, Google and YouTube against those who oppose the new world agenda. Why? By accepting lesser evils and normalising them, greater evils and atrocities can be committed with less resistance. If sin is endorsed and popularised, the truly good and god-fearing will be shunned. Population growth, beliefs and values will be controlled by the worst of men and women. Christ preserve our souls.
For our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the world powers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavens. This is why you must take up the full armor of God, so that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and having prepared everything, to take your stand. (Ephesians 6:12)
A few insights I have gathered in my research and personal experiences include the following:
1. Do not confront the demonic on their home ground. Exorcists are taught to take the demonized to holy or consecrated ground.
2. Never attempt an exorcism by yourself. One always needs the prayers and spiritual support of others. Also, people may question your conduct if you confront a demonized person in isolation.
3. Ignore ‘parlour’ tricks. Demons will use tricks to terrify the unsuspecting – feats of strength, revelation of secrets, temperature changes and threats. Be safe and confident in the shed blood of Christ.
4. Use the authority of Jesus – not your own name. Demons do not recognise the authority of humanity. By the authority of Jesus and His blood, you may command the unclean spirits.
5. Demons ignore doctrine and dogma. Command only in the name of Jesus – not by the power of free will, predestination or conditional salvation.
6. Do not use the name of a demon out loud unless commanding them to leave by the authority of Christ. Using the name out loud in common talk or in jest will attract the entity. Avoid watching horror movies as the demonic finds this inspirational (hell porn).
7. Demons consider humans as incredibly stupid. We have the revelation of God and Christ, a new covenant, yet we prefer the antireligious religion of humanism. Near Death Experiences involving sinners and non-believers often show that:
a. The dead are told and understand the reality of God’s holiness and justice – God’s judgement is good and just.
b. Demons laugh at the blindness and stupidity of the damned. The torments are unimaginable. Some people believe that they are in paradise, then things go horribly wrong. Common accounts show homosexuals are chained together in a lake of fire and that practitioners of witchcraft devour their own flesh. Regardless what the humanist thinks is fair and just, God has the final word.
c. Escape and resistance against the powers of hell are futile without Jesus. Marines and other strongmen are amazed by their weakness.
8. Demonic phenomena can be seen as:
a) infestation (localised haunting of a house or place);
b) obsession (a Christian is attacked mentally or physically by demons). The thoughts are not your own – ignore them and hand them over to Jesus.
C) possession (a demon or demons reside in part of the personality or mind of their victim in the hope of gaining full control of their consciousness).
9. PSYCHICS are easily fooled by demons who feed them mental impressions of sweet, innocent children and thereby hide their true identity.
10. If you want to be an exorcist, then you are probably not suitable for the role. Exorcists are called by God, through the church or other means. Well-studied Christians have failed badly because it was not their calling.
with truth like a belt around your waist,
righteousness like armor on your chest,
and your feet sandaled with readiness
for the gospel of peace.
In every situation take the shield of faith,
and with it you will be able to extinguish
all the flaming arrows of the evil one.
Take the helmet of salvation,
and the sword of the Spirit,
which is God’s word.
Pray at all times in the Spirit with every prayer and request, and stay alert in this with all perseverance and intercession for all the saints.