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Deception in the Last Days (2Thess 2:1-12, 2Tim 3:1-8)

Posted: Fri 18 May 18 2012 10:31 pm
by Daniel Wee
One of the most interesting writings of Paul can be found in 2Thessalonians 2 where he tells us a few things about the events that will precede the last day, namely:-

1. there will be a great apostasy (meaning Christians falling away from the faith)
2. the man of sin will be revealed
3. lawlessness will increase
4. there will be an increase in signs and wonders, that will not be from God
5. people will no longer be interested in truth
6. many will be deceived (they will be taught and believe the wrong things)

Without going into the debate over the timing of the rapture, the passage itself presents to us a warning against circumstances that must arise towards the end of days. The sharpest point here concerns how many will become misled or deceived by false teachings and teachers. These people will become unmoored from biblical truth and wander off into teachings and fables that exalt man instead of God. Not only that, the false teachings will be accompanied by counterfeit signs and wonders, which will be sufficient to deceive many.

The reason why God allows them to fall into delusion, according to Paul, is because they did not love the truth. If we look around the Christian world today, there is no shortage of popular movements that have departed from biblical foundations. More and more we find teachers who base their doctrines primarily on personal experience, on their own reasoning of what God ought to be like. The distressing thing about Paul's prediction is that people, Christians, are going to fall for it in droves. "Why?" we might ask. I think the most direct answer has to be "poor discipleship." Pastors and leaders of churches have failed to ground their flock in biblical truth, and allowed the tide of falsehood to sweep the church into error and deception.

Mind you, the deception will come dressed in the garb of truth! It will have a certain humanistic appeal to it, and it will be backed up with signs and wonders. So, what are the marks of deception?

1. It will be anti-nomian or anti-law. This often reveals itself when the teachers attempt to drive a wedge between the NT and the OT, and between law and grace. The false teachers will propose a God who is all kindness without law, a religion that has no real fear of God. (Matt 24:12, 2Thess 2:7-9)

2. It will be need centred instead of God centred. Paul says that the man of sin exalts himself over God. We see this in the need-centred gospel that is being pushed under the banner of "God's love." The focus on God meeting our needs in health and wealth is a thin veneer for the false religion that it really is. (2Tim 3:2-4)

3. It will be anti-intellectual. People will be asked not to discern and not to think about the teaching that they're receiving. You will hear these teachers speak against "over-dependence on scripture" and things in the similar vein. In fact, thinking about the faith will be labelled as "unbelief" or "Pharisaism", completely contrary to the biblical admonition to test teachings and to be grounded in the word. (2Tim 4:3-4)

4. It will be based not on scripture but on experiences. Feelings will take centre stage for this false religion - what is true is ultimately what feels true, and not so much what the bible teaches. Along with this will be a church that has lost her ability to discern between what is taught by God, and what isn't. This allows the false teachers to twist the words of scripture to say what it doesn't mean. (Jude 1:18-19)

5. It will appeal to signs and wonders and put on a great show. Many will be drawn to the demonstrations, and still miss the truth of God. (2Thess 2:9, 2Tim 3:5, Rev 19:20)

6. It will claim to be the "real" gospel truth, while in fact being the polar opposite. (2Pet 2:1-3) Alternatively it will turn "truth" into a matter of personal and subjective interpretation, often under the guise of being led by the "spirit".

7. It will have many teachers and proponents who will support one another, creating a false consensus and adding to the deception. Many will think, "They can't all be wrong, can they?" (2Tim 3:13)

8. It will come clothed with scripture. The difference is that the interpretation will come with huge doses of subjectivity, and often have little to do with what the text of scripture actually says. In this way, many ignorant ones will be led to think that they are actually being "biblical". You can expect scripture to be severely abused.

The implication here is that the church would have become gullible, easily led into all kinds of strange teachings that are not biblical (2Tim 3:6). They will be easily impressed by the clever and convincing words, and signs, that they see, and yet not return to the bible to examine the accuracy of what they hear. The enemy will have a field day with them, utilizing carefully selected bible verses and twisting the meaning. For a variety of reason, the deceived will refuse to acknowledge their condition, and instead cling on to the falsehood and continue to their destruction (2Thess 2:11, 2Tim 3:7).

What can we do to avoid falling into this trap? We can start by going back to the bible and doing the hard work of studying it carefully. Test every doctrine, including some of those that you may already hold. Stop following fads and personalities, even popular Christian ones (especially.) Don't chase the "anoiting", chase after truth. The strategy of the enemy is to tear down our defenses and strip us of our foundations, and then inject falsehood to confuse and divide the church. We are in dire need for a modern day Elijah to stand up and to challenge the prophets of Baal in their high places.

Re: Deception in the Last Days (2Thess 2:1-12, 2Tim 3:1-8)

Posted: Fri 18 May 18 2012 10:58 pm
by Daniel Wee
One of the most common modes of deception will be what can be termed as the "Trojan Horse" method. Simply put, this is a means of slipping a falsehood inside or among some truths. For example:-

"Christ or Messiah means the anointed one, and Jesus Christ means Jesus the anointed one. We are called to love Jesus and so we should love the anointing of Jesus."

While it is true that Christ means "anointed one", the sleight of hand happens right at the end when a shift is made from focusing on Christ to focusing on the anointing. This kind of strategy is happening at a scale you won't believe unless you took the time to examine popular teaching. When you discover this - you should be on the alert for bad, if not false, teaching and teachers.

Re: Deception in the Last Days (2Thess 2:1-12, 2Tim 3:1-8)

Posted: Sun 27 May 27 2012 3:28 am
by Daniel Wee
"False teaching will always cry intolerance. It will always say you are being divisive, you are being unloving, you are being ungracious, because it can only survive when it doesn’t get scrutinized. So it cries against any intolerance. It cries against any examination, any scrutiny—just let’s embrace each other; let’s love each other; let’s put all that behind us.

False doctrine cries the loudest about unity. Listen carefully when you hear the cry for unity, because it may be the cover of false doctrine encroaching. If ever we should follow 1 Thessalonians 5, and examine everything carefully, it’s when somebody is crying unity, love, and acceptance."
~John MacArthur

Re: Deception in the Last Days (2Thess 2:1-12, 2Tim 3:1-8)

Posted: Sun 27 May 27 2012 3:29 am
by Daniel Wee

Re: Deception in the Last Days (2Thess 2:1-12, 2Tim 3:1-8)

Posted: Mon 28 May 28 2012 1:45 pm
by Rachel Lam
In context of 2 Thess 2, I would like to do a more contextual exegesis by looking at Chap 2 through the big picture of Paul's second letter to the Thessalonians.

Basic information that we can deduce that is happening among the Thessalonians that caused Paul to write this letter is:
1) Teaching that the day of the Lord has come, and that Christians who are being persecuted for obeying the gospel of God (2 Thess 1:5) which is the teaching of the apostles to obey Jesus commandments are they ones who are being "foolish" and are not "enjoying the blessings of God".
This is a repeated theme in 2 Thess 2, where we see people who reject the truth of the Gospel of God (we do not limit it simply to salvation because indeed the whole Bible is God's gospel-the trustworthy revelation of himself, his character and nature and his kingdom).
Characteristics of people who are against the kingdom of God are the following:
a) It exalts self above God (2Thess 2:4), the current age has a lot of "self-help" gurus.
b) They are empowered by Satan's demonic forces that is evident with power, signs and wonders (2 Thess 2:9). But these triplet of supernatural activity are false because they draw people away from putting their faith in God's steadfast truth and instead to place their trust in other things. In our current age, there are many things that easily draw people away from putting faith in God. The issue here is not about the supernatural activity but the defining part is about people's attitude towards God, which is the next characteristic.
c) They love themselves more than loving the truth of God, and it is seen by the continuous refusal to submit to God's Lordship and righteous rule but instead using power and authority to take pleasure in their fleshly passions (2 Thess 2:10-12)

2) In contrast we see the example of the persecuted Church in withstanding the onslaught of the activity of Satan that comes with power and deception.
a) A continuous sanctification of the corporate Body through the Spirit and the the word of God that is true and trustworthy (2 Thess 2:13).
b) This comes through understanding of the apostles teaching (2 Thess 2:15), which a study of the Book of Acts we see the disciples of Jesus living out what Jesus had commanded them to do in the four gospels.
c) Christians who know and acknowledge Jesus as their Lord and God as their Father together with Love, Hope and Grace. We need to see how all these aspects of God is married together in giving us the right worldview of who He is, and not just presenting a one-sided perspective. He is Lord, even as he is Grace. He is a gracious Lord. He is God who is love. (2 Thess 2:16, 3:5)
d) The fruit of Christians who have this right view of God is that their lives will be established in good work and word. These Christians are not lazy but you see their lives continuously increasing in the fruit of the Spirit (2 Thess 2:17, 3:4, 6, 11, 13)
e) These Christians lives are marked with Peace with God even in the midst of persecution (2 Thess 3:16)

In summary, the book of 2 Thessalonians is to address the following lies:
1) Suffering is not God's will for your life (the wrong mindset that our purpose in life as Christians is blessings, because the kingdom of God is not here yet).
2) It is okay to ignore certain teachings of Jesus because these are "old traditions" and we are now in a new world era marked by new ways of living. The greek word that is being translated into the word "traditions" is paradiðdwmi and the meaning of it is "giving up or give into the hands of other". What we can understand in today's context is the giving up/rejecting of certain foundational truths of God so as to believe in "other truths" which are really the lies of the enemy to bring us away from faith in God. Christians can stand firmly against such deceptive teaching by directing our hearts loving God and his truth and to putting their faith and trust in the steadfastness of Christ (2 Thess 3:5).
3) To encourage believers to continue growing in faith and love for one another, with steadfastness of a life that does not weary of doing good, according to the clear commandments of God - which is Matt 22:36-40.

“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.' All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

Only by loving God in obedience to His Spirit and his word that our love for him marks us as his children, willing to do every good work that our Father is doing. Even in circumstances that are tough, when we seem to be under much suffering while others are enjoying the riches of the present life.

Re: Deception in the Last Days (2Thess 2:1-12, 2Tim 3:1-8)

Posted: Mon 28 May 28 2012 3:41 pm
by Daniel Wee
Good effort Rachel - I'm going to respond to this in another thread when I get home tonight, and when I've got a bit more time to think about it but you've made some good points there.


Re: Deception in the Last Days (2Thess 2:1-12, 2Tim 3:1-8)

Posted: Wed 30 May 30 2012 1:06 pm
by Daniel Wee
Key strategies against Christians:-

1. villify the discerning, "Thou shalt not judge", "be more forgiving"
2. encourage complacency, God will protect you (keep your foot from dashing against rock)
3. misdirecting us from God, look at the miracles - they must indicate authenticity
4. emotional validation, YOU YOU YOU
5. twisting the bible, "Faith involves risk" - therefore all risk is acceptable

Re: Deception in the Last Days (2Thess 2:1-12, 2Tim 3:1-8)

Posted: Mon 04 Jun 04 2012 10:35 am
by Daniel Wee
Some facts about deception

1. Deception is a COOPERATIVE process. We get deceived because part of us want to be deceived. We like the deceptive narrative better than truth.
2. Deception is a kind of escapism, linked to #1