Mt. 24:10-12 π Mt. 24:13 π Mt. 27:3-5 π Lk. 23:34 π Jn. 8:32 π 2 Ths. 2:11-12
If ever there was an ugly word in the English language, this word "betrayal" would be it. It encompasses what Judas Iscariot did to Jesus and it includes every time a friend violates a trust or the love extended to them. Yet, even this ugly side of humanity can bring out the Spirit of God in a person. Rather than rain down fiery judgment, Jesus, from the cross, in His hours of most intense personal pain, said, "Father, forgive them. They don't know what they're doing." ( Lk. 23:34; top ) Witnessing that magnanimous Spirit, however, proved too much for Judas who, rather than receive that forgiveness, chose to hang himself to remove the feelings of guilt he could not live with. ( Mt. 27:3-5; top )
Oh, that those who claim to be Christians could really know what it means to be cleansed by the Savior! Jesus said, "You will know the truth and the truth will set you free." ( Jn. 8:32; top )
As we approach the days of the apostasy, that great falling away from the faith, we will see more and more how those who claim to be Christians want nothing to do with the truth. Some of this aversion to the truth will even come from God as He cements their decision to turn away from Him. Paul wrote, "And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie, that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness." ( 2 Ths. 2:11-12 - emphasis added; top)
More and more we will see spiritual groupies cling to their favorite teachers more than they care for the truth. These groupies will be willing to die for their "pastors" but they will have absolutely no loyalty to Jesus Christ. Jesus said about the days of the apostasy, "And then many will be offended and repelled and will begin to distrust and desert Him Whom they ought to trust and obey and will stumble and fall away and betray one another and pursue one another with hatred. And many false prophets will rise up and deceive and lead many into error. And the love of the great body of people will grow cold because of the multiplied lawlessness and iniquity..." ( Mt. 24:10-12 - Amp.; top)
We ought to look at that prediction very carefully for it is already coming true. "Pastors" are denouncing "false prophets" quite regularly - but the truth is, it is the "pastor" who is often the false prophet. A false prophet is not one who speaks against spiritual abuses on the part of the status quo clergy. For if that were the case then the Old Testament prophets, John the Baptist and even Jesus Himself are false prophets. The false prophet is one who, though he might actually be a Christian, speaks as if for the Lord when in fact the Lord has given him no word to speak. Thus when a "pastor" stands behind his podium and says, "This is what God says," if it is not what God is saying, then that "pastor" just became a false prophet.
Those who are true shepherds, with a shepherd's heart for all those who are still in some deceptive or even cultic denomination, these need to be the most careful of their own hearts. For you can genuinely and selflessly love these wayward sheep and it will not stop them from betraying you - just as Jesus' genuine and selfless love did not stop Judas Iscariot. They will return, compelled by the deceptive "church" spirit, to their favorite teachers so that they can sit quietly at "church" without having to obey Jesus or having to be the ekklesia of Christ, hearing everything their itching ears want to hear. And they will utilize every spiteful method available to them to prevent their own fears and sins from being confronted - they will betray and pursue one another with hatred because they don't want their comfort zones violated. Such sad deception!
It should also be noticed in this prophecy given by Jesus that He says that many will be led into error and the great body of people will have their love go cold. This is not to be the occurrence in some isolated sub-group, this is to be the mainstream of Chrisitanity. The mega-"churches" are well on their way to fulfilling these predictions already as one man's errors from the pulpit can lead tens of thousands of people astray.
It will be very easy, when the "church" folks begin to hate and betray the genuine followers of Christ, to let our love grow cold as well. We cannot really prepare for this occurrence except by doing that which we must be doing any way - walking in the Spirit. We can pray that God's grace will be there when we experience such betrayal - an occurrence which could happen much sooner than you might expect. But our surest protection against falling away from Christ then is to walk with Him now.
Let us carefully heed Jesus' concluding words in that portion of His prophecy: "But he who endures to the end will be saved." ( Mt. 24:13; top ) Let us not deceive ourselves into thinking that He was only joking when He said this.
Father in heaven, we pray for everyone who has been a Judas Iscariot in our lives and we ask that You forgive them for the things they have done in ignorance or fear. We ask You to bless them and enable them to come to a full and complete knowledge of You. We specifically pray that You would lead them to repentance and keep them from harming themselves in any way for their guilt.
We also pray for all those who are deceived by false messengers deceitfully claiming to be speaking what is on Your heart. We ask You to be merciful and grant them the grace to repent of the sin of loving a lie. Those who are enmeshed in the "church" lies, dear Father, we ask that You would speak a Word of truth into their hearts that they might be set free.
And we pray for the false shepherds and false messengers who abound. We specifically bring before You every man or woman who has exalted themselves into the position of clergy and who lord it over Your people. We know now how You hate this, but we ask that You be merciful to them and grant them the grace to repent of their abominable wickedness. And for those who will not repent, we pray that You would remove them from the lives of every true sheep that is vulnerable to their influence. In removing these false leaders, Father, we ask that You be as merciful as possible but as forceful as is necessary to protect those sheep who have been deceived into thinking they have a shepherd that has Your interests for the sheep.
Father, we pray that You would unleash Your angelic forces against the oppressive and demonic "church" spirit and set Your children free from the abominations that call themselves "church." May all who truly call upon Your name hear Your call to separate themselves from the traditions of men that war against Your will for our lives.
We present these petitions to You with thanksgiving and hope. For You alone are our Lord and Savior. Amen.
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