Mt. 13:30 π Mt. 13:38; 2nd; 3rd π Mt. 13:39 π Mt. 13:41 π Mt. 13:42 π Mt. 20:25-26 π Lk. 22:25-26 π Acts 1:26 π Acts 5:12-14 π Acts 6:1-6 π Acts 8:21 π Acts 14:23 π 1 Cor. 14:26; 2nd π 1 Tim. 3:1-13 π Tit. 1:5-9 π 1 Pet. 5:1-3 π 1 Pet. 5:3 π 1 Jn. 3:10 π 1 Jn. 4:3 π 3 Jn. 9 π Rev. 2:6 π Rev. 2:14 π Rev. 2:15-16
The second ruler of the darkness of this age we will examine is the one John calls the spirit of antichrist. For the purposes of our study (and to get away from preconceptions as to who and what this spirit is), let us call him the ruler of displacing Christ. Here is why. The word anti in Greek has two elements. First is against, the element of antagonism and enmity. Second is in the place of, the element of substitution and replacement. The goal of the ruler of displacing Christ is to get us to put any man or any thing in any rightful place of Christ and/or His Spirit without our noticing the switch in any way. This, as are all the works of the Satanic rulers of darkness, is done by deception and not coercive force.
In attempting to define this ruler’s scope of activities, we are immediately confronted with the impossibility of exposing every place he might strike at us. Why? Because Christ is to be our all, our everything, our total sufficiency for life and godliness. This evil being uses one stratagem to displace Christ in one victim one way but with another victim he works another way. Let us examine his most common deceptions and trust the Holy Spirit to expose any further deceptions not covered here.
The most blatant scheme of this ruler is that of dividing the body of Christ into the distinctions of clergy and laity. This division carries with it an inherent over/under element that is antithetical to Christ’s teachings and that is particularly offensive to God. Jesus said to the ekklesia of Ephesus,
...you hate the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. ( Rev. 2:6 )
and to the ekklesia of Pergamos,
...you also have those who hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which thing I hate. Repent... ( Rev. 2:15-16; top )
There has been no exclusive sect throughout church history that has ever been conclusively shown to be the Nicolaitans. Some early writers tried to link them to the Balaamites in the ekklesia of Pergamos but that link is not in the Scriptures. (see Rev. 2:14; top ) When we analyze the Greek word, we find their identity. Nico- is to conquer or rule over and -laitan is people. That Jesus would hate the deeds and teachings of those who would rule over His people is very consistent with His earlier teaching.
You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those who are great exercise authority over them. Yet it shall not be so among you... ( Mt. 20:25-26; top )
In a parallel account, Luke records Jesus as saying,
The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them, and those who exercise authority over them are called “benefactors.” But not so among you... ( Lk. 22:25-26; top )
The idea of one believer passing edicts and commands down to other believers, even when done “for the benefit of the younger believers,” is a concept foreign to the gospel of Christ. It has been imported from some place else. Where? The ruler of displacing Christ has been hard at work since the first century.
...this is the spirit of the Antichrist, which you have heard was coming, and is now already in the world. ( 1 Jn. 4:3; top )
This ruler of darkness has been working hard at his job since the time of the apostle John. And again, it is one of the Satanic’s best deceptions that causes us to believe that the demonic is not very effective at what it does.
When the first believers met, they recognized the apostles because the Spirit of God had clearly chosen them. (see Acts 5:12-14 ) Because the apostles could not handle the word of God and watch over the distribution of food to the growing multitudes of believers at the same time, they recognized seven men, deacons, whom the people had nominated. ( Acts 6:1-6 ) Similarly, Paul, on his missionary journeys, recognized elders in the cities and towns to which he traveled. ( Acts 14:23 ) Paul gives specific qualifications for both elders and deacons in the New Testament. ( 1 Tim. 3:1-13 ; Tit. 1:5-9; top ) And Peter echoes the teaching of Jesus when he writes,
The elders who are among you I exhort... Shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers... [not] as being lords over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock... ( 1 Pet. 5:1-3; top )
Had the followers of Christ stayed within this simple framework, there would be no room for the clergy.
The confusion begins because two Greek words are used for elder: episkopos (rendered bishop or overseer) and presbuteros (rendered elder). Throughout the New Testament these words are completely interchangeable and they have no separate meanings but rather a differing emphasis: episkopos, what he does (watch or guard, not lord over, the flock) and presbuteros, what he is (an older, wiser, more experienced man in the faith). The depth of confusion and contention these two words have wrought over the centuries can be seen in that two whole denominations - the Presbyterians and the Episcopalians - have taken these names and divided from one another and the rest of Christendom.
But, as time went on and the usage of koine Greek died off, the ?bishop,? probably because he was more involved with the money aspects or because he was the more gifted public speaker, began to have more pre-eminence than the other elders. (also see
3 Jn. 9; top
) The position of “bishop” became a “first among equals” of sorts (in spite of the fact that this is an oxymoron, an unintelligible contradiction in terms) and, before 200
Believe it or not, the roots of the word “clergy” come to us from Peter’s instruction to the elders to not be lords over the flock!
...neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being ensamples to the flock. ( 1 Pet. 5:3; top KJV)
The word rendered heritage (Greek kleros) here is rendered lot or portion elsewhere ( Acts 1:26 ; 8:21; top ) and refers to the portion, goods, advantage or wealth incurred through inheritance, gambling, ministry or even war. The flock, the whole flock, was God’s portion or share of the prize in the New Testament. But from that Greek word, (kleros), within two centuries, the clergy would be “more prized” by God according to the “church” “fathers.” The extent to which the ruler of displacing Christ has been successful in blinding men’s minds to the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ is never so apparent as here. He takes the very command to not lord over the flock and concocts a “Scriptural” basis for lording over the flock! Thus, it is not a rare occurrence today for a “pastor” or his assistants (all members of the clergy class) to denounce the evils of clergyism - all while they hate for anyone to call them clergy! The blind are never so blind as when they refuse to see.
Whenever you come together, each of you... ( 1 Cor. 14:26 )
Each of you! Not just the bishop or the elder and certainly not the clergy’s counterfeit version of these people!
...each of you has a psalm, has a teaching, has a tongue, has a revelation, has an interpretation. ( 1 Cor. 14:26; top - emphasis added)
The glory of Christ is severely squelched when only one person is permitted to present Christ. And the lords of darkness love that this is so! Christ is present in every member of His body and desires to shine forth from every believer, especially when we are gathered together in His name. Nothing has preserved the darkness around believers so well as being regularly spoken down to by some man who has ignorantly and/or arrogantly stepped into a place reserved for Christ alone.
How has this deception gone on for so long? In the parable of the wheat and the tares, the wheat is said to be the sons of the kingdom and the tares are the sons of the wicked one. ( Mt. 13:38 ) The owner of the field (representing God) instructs his servants,
Let both grow together until the harvest... ( Mt. 13:30 )
and Jesus clarifies the point by saying,
...the harvest is the end of the age... ( Mt. 13:39; top )
Though there are no ambiguities in the New Testament regarding such topics as faith, love, salvation, etc., there was a window of sorts left open regarding leadership so that the sons of light and the sons of darkness could grow to full maturity side by side until the end of the age, a day that is now fast upon us. Angels are soon to be dispatched to
...gather out of [Christ’s] kingdom all things that offend, and those who practice lawlessness [pursue their own agenda]... ( Mt. 13:41; top )
With time so short, God is making it very apparent now just what makes a wheat a wheat and a tare a tare. If we want to be counted among the wheat - and not removed with the tares to the furnace of fire where there will be wailing and gnashing of teeth ( Mt. 13:42; top ) - we must purify ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit.
What is the difference between the wheat and the tares? John wrote:
In this the children of God [the wheat – Mt. 13:38 ] and the children of the devil [the tares – Mt. 13:38 ] are manifest [displayed, made apparent]: Whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is he who does not love [agape] his brother. ( 1 Jn. 3:10; top )
Living rightly before God in all our ways and laying down our lives for our brothers are not optional qualities for the sons of light. These are the sign that one is a son of light and not a child of the devil!
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