EN ROUTE TO A GREAT APOSTASY
Let no one in any way deceive you, for it (the day of the Lord) will not come unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, who opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship… (Insertion added by the author.)
(2 Thes 2:3-4 NASB)
Before the Lord will appear in His great glory and
Our Lord prophesied and warned us to be ready in the last days for these events. Messiah was asked, ‘Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?’ (Mat 24:3). Except for the warning signs pertaining to wars, famines, and earthquakes, the warning to the Body centres on the appearance of false prophets and teachers who will show great signs and wonders (Mat 24:4-5; Mat 24:23-26), coinciding with the apostle Paul’s warning in 2 Thessalonians 2:7-9. [See also 1 Tim 4:1-2; 2 Tim 3:1-12; 2 Tim 4:1-5; 1 John 4:1; Jude 1:1-25.] These Scriptures and passages indicate that the condition of the Church will deteriorate as we enter into the last days, and so we are called to be sober in order to practice discernment as we enter into these perilous times.
Messiah and the apostle Paul continue to warn that lawlessness will be the core issue of this day. In fact, Paul writes, ‘For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work’ (2 Thes 2:7), and Jesus warns, ‘And because lawlessness is increased, most people’s love will grow cold,’ (Mat 24:12). At this point of our discussion, it will be essential to define “lawlessness.” The apostle John explains, ‘Everyone who practices sin also practices lawlessness; and sin is lawlessness,’ (1 John 3:4). An increase in lawlessness will thus indicate a state of unprecedented “sin.” In stark contrast to this very sober thought, the apostle Peter, foreseeing the events of the tribulation and God’s foretold wrath, writes, ‘Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness,’ (2 Peter 3:11). [See also 1 Peter 4:12-19 & 2 Peter 3:1-14.]
A great contrast is emerging and unfolding during these latter days before the Lord will appear in His great glory. “Sin” will increase, not only in the world system through humanism and changing laws to accommodate ‘human rights,’ but also in the Church, for the emphasis on holy living will be compromised by false doctrines like hyper-grace and the accommodation of worldly ways into the core doctrines of the Church, essentially moving away from the powerful work of the cross, (1 Cor 1:18-31).
The word ‘apostasy’ cannot be associated with the world. The world lies in the hands of the evil one, and those who belong to the world are not accustomed to the Word of God and to righteousness, (1 John 5:19; John 8:43-44; 2 Cor 4:3-4; Eph 2:1-3). In fact, Apostasy is a term related to God’s Covenant. Only those who know the truth can ‘fall away’ from the truth and be guilty of ‘apostasy.’ Thus the prophet Jeremiah cried out to Israel, ‘Do men fall and not get up again? Does one turn away and not repent? Why then has
The same stern warning is extended to all of us in Hebrews, namely, ‘Take care, brethren, lest there should be in any one of you an evil, unbelieving heart, in falling away from the living God’ (Heb 3:12), and, ‘Today if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts as when they provoked Me, as in the day of trial in the wilderness,’ (Heb 3:7-8). Let us take heed of, and learn from Israel’s errors, for we also ‘had good news preached to us,’ (Heb 4:1-2).
Let’s quickly return to Messiah’s warning in Matthew 24, ‘And at that time many will fall away and will deliver up one another and hate one another,’ and, ‘because of lawlessness is increased, most people’s love will grow cold,’ (Mat 24:10 & Mat 24:12). The apostasy mentioned by the apostle Paul in 2 Thessalonians 2 is the same apostasy foretold by Messiah in Matthew 24. An increase in false doctrines will lead to an increase of deception in the latter days. Moreover, an unprecedented compromise on holy living by justifying sin will leave a majority of Believers open to deception. These conditions will easily sway many into a state of apostasy.