Isa. 61:1 π Mt. 12:34-35 π Mt. 16:16 π Mt. 16:18 π Mt. 18:17 π Mt. 25:41 π Lk. 4:18 π Jn. 3:19-20 π Rom. 16:17 π 1 Cor. 5:11 π 1 Cor. 5:13 π 2 Cor. 4:3-4 π Gal. 6:3 π 2 Ths. 3:6 π 2 Ths. 3:14 π 1 Tim. 6:3-5 π 2 Tim. 3:2-5 π Tit. 3:10-11 π Rev. 20:10 π Rev. 20:14 π Rev. 21:8
There are those who will immediately turn to something Jesus said to deny even the possibility that the Satanic (or demonic) could actually deceive us to the point where we might end up experiencing the second death which is the lake of fire reserved for the devil and his angels. ( Mt. 25:41 ; Rev. 20:10 , 14 ; 21:8; top ) Jesus said,
...on this rock I will build My ekklesia [Greek, English - church], and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. ( Mt. 16:18; top )
There, they say, is no way the demonic schemes against us can ultimately succeed. Let’s look more carefully at the terms Jesus uses and see the subtle substitutions being made by those who deny that genuine believers in Christ might ultimately experience the second death.
First, Christ’s ekklesia, His chosen people called out of the world’s darkness, is built on a rock. That rock is not Peter (in spite of the Catholic “church’s” claims) but rather the divine, spiritual revelation from God that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God. ( Mt. 16:16; top ) If our life is not built on that rock but is built on a network of lies and deceptions, whatever we are involved in is not Christ’s ekklesia and we are not eligible to receive the promise of prevailing over the gates of Hades. We are not Christ’s ekklesia but rather Satan’s “church.” If the underlying structure of our religious activities contains even one facet of deception we can know, beyond doubt, that the infallible God of the Bible is not the author of that structure (no matter how much “good” we imagine, believe or claim that it does).
Perhaps the singlemost successful deceptive scam Satan works against us is to lead us into redefining Christ or God according to our own ideas, doctrines and theological predispositions. If we have a friend whom we know to be a certain way (perhaps introverted, shy, reflective), would we be wise if we expected him to be the opposite (extroverted, outgoing, verbose) just because we wanted him to be different than he actually is? No, thrusting a friend into a circumstance that requires him to be different than what he truly is most often has only embarrassing results. It is no different with God - He is as He is - and we have no right to ask Him to be anything other than what He is. We have even less right to change and distort what He has said about Himself so we can feel better about following “Him.”
There is a monstrous arrogance quite prevalent among believers. It is the attitude that says my expression and understanding of Christ, the Bible and the way of following Christ is the definitive standard by which all Christians are to be judged. There is validity to this attitude if our expression and understanding is genuinely and completely based upon what the Scriptures really say as it has been brought to life to us by the Spirit of God. But to the extent our expression and understanding of the way of Christ is perverted or distorted by our own intellectual, emotional and/or religious presuppositions (which, many times, are simply the result of the persistent work of the demonic in our lives), then this attitude is the impetus that propels us into lawlessness (doing what is right in our own opinion) and becomes a monstrous arrogance (self-righteousness) by which we justify our own sense of superiority and our own right to exclude and reject others. Make no mistake - there are many circumstances in which we are right to exclude and reject those who falsely claim to be “brothers” in Christ. (see Mt. 18:17 ; Rom. 16:17 ; 1 Cor. 5:11 , 13 ; 2 Ths. 3:6 , 14 ; 1 Tim. 6:3-5 ; 2 Tim. 3:2-5 ; Tit. 3:10-11; top ) But unless that exclusion and rejection is based on revelation from God’s Spirit, we are guilty of wrongfully dividing the body of Christ (condemning others according to our own notions and not according to the judgments of God). This is a most serious offense.
It is thus in the area of our paradigms, our partially submerged presuppositions about how we think things really are, that we are the most vulnerable to the work of the demonic. Paul wrote:
For if anyone thinks himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. ( Gal. 6:3; top )
If the demonic lures us into wrongful thinking, our lives will bear the fruit produced by the thoughts of our hearts. (see Mt. 12:34-35; top )
Religious doctrines and theological positions, wherever they distort the truth of Christ in their varying degrees, present the demonic with a lodging place in the human soul from which they can launch their further schemes and assaults. It can begin as “innocently” (subtly) as insisting on calling God and Christ by their more rightful names of Yahweh and Yeshua. Instead of simply leaving it at that, many have developed wrongful doctrines (teachings) about God or have relieved Christ of some of His godly attributes (usually judgment, wrath, justice, etc.) and have recreated Him according to their own idyllic version of “Deity.” So instead of worshiping and serving the Most High, transcendent, eternal God of glory in spirit and in truth, they worship and serve “Yahweh” or “Yeshua” (figments and constructs of their own imaginations and desires and not the product of Spirit-revealed Scriptural truths). These people really only serve the cause and interests of the devil and the demonic. We must, with the aid of the Holy Spirit, read the Scriptures for what they plainly say and cease filtering them through the stained-glass lenses of religion and the “church” (religious creeds, dogmas, doctrines and theological positions that distort the truth of Christ). Only in this way will we be free to become the spotless bride of Christ.
The second misunderstanding built up around Jesus’ statement that the gates of Hades would not prevail over His ekklesia is that gates are a defensive device, either for keeping enemies out or for keeping prisoners in. In this case, the gates of Hades are both. The gates of Hades (the realm of underworld darkness in Greek mythology) keep the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ out of our lives (see 2 Cor. 4:3-4 ) and they hold prisoner those who are content to remain in the darkness where their evil deeds are not exposed. (see Jn. 3:19-20 ) However, for those who receive even the tiniest flicker of Christ’s light and refuse to remain in darkness but rather insist on departing from iniquity, the gates which the demonic has constructed to keep them held prisoner cannot prevail over them. If we really want victory over the realms of darkness, it cannot be denied to us by the enemy of our souls. But if we are content to remain in darkness, let us not even attempt to demand the heritage that belongs only to the sons of light. This enablement to escape the grasp of sin and death is precisely why Isaiah prophesied that Christ would come to set the captives free. ( Isa. 61:1 ; Lk. 4:18; top )
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