The Great Falling Away: How Apostasy Happens
There is very little attention given to apostasy from the pulpit today. However, it’s more applicable now than ever before as the Church hinges upon the era of time the prophets and apostles so clearly spoke about: the return of Christ. Christ and His apostles spoke about the reality of apostasy consistently, making it very clear that it will indeed happen. It is directly connected to the deception of seducing spirits, false teaching, and a lack of repentance. We know there will be a great falling away prior to Christ’s return (see Matthew 24), and that many will abandon the faith (see 2 Thessalonians 2:3).
Just prior to Christmas the Christian rapper, Jahaziel, publicly renounced Christ and his faith after twenty years of a successful music career in serving God and preaching the Gospel through his music. Why? When you read his testimony it’s obvious: seducing spirits.
For centuries the Church has been fed slick messages that contradict this teaching such “once saved; always saved”. But is that true? Absolutely not. Apostasy is real. It’s something Christ taught, the apostles warned us about, and it’s a very real spiritual condition that we must guard against.
How apostasy happens is often misunderstood.
Like salvation, it is not something that happens by accident,
but it is a deliberate and willful decision.
However, how that decision comes about is often through a very gradual process of deception that brings spiritual delusion and darkness. Christ taught us to watch and pray lest we be deceived by men. There are angels of light who masquerade as the Spirit of Christ. We are commanded to test the spirits to see whether or not they are from God. In stark contrast to these teachings, the Church has grabbed at every spiritual tickle, believing whatever they hear or feel.
Paul, Peter and Joel (among others) vehemently warned of apostasy in their writings on a consistent basis. This is not new, yet it is an unpopular message which the Church has largely ignored. The reality is, it is indeed happening. And I believe we will see more of it in the days to come as the birth pangs increase and the return of the LORD draws nigh.
For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God? And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear? (1 Peter 4:17-18, KJV).
His judgment must begin with the Church. It’s mandatory.
Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron, (1 Timothy 4:1-2, KJV).
Paul spoke of seducing spirits that would tickle itching ears. He said that in the last days people would no longer endure sound doctrine, but turn aside to fables.
Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; and they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry. For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand, (2 Timothy 4:3-6, KJV).
The Church today is a spiritual glutton that has been fed and feasted upon sugar-coated messages of selfish pleasure which have nothing to do with the Christian principles set forth in the Gospel such as:
• Dying to self
• Sacrificial love
• Walking in the Spirit
• Pursuing Christ and His will
• Persecution, pain, and suffering
• Righteous judgment and public rebuke
The condition of the present Church is dreadfully sad, and it’s one that will lead to great loss if it’s not corrected. It requires urgent intervention by the purifying fire of the Holy Spirit and the absolution of God’s holy Word – the application of His sword which penetrates to the dividing of soul and spirit, joints and marrow, judging the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.
The Church has done its very best to avoid anything and everything that brings holy conviction. And in so doing has embraced that which has the ability to bring condemnation.
The Condition of the Church
The Church is very literally obese, having been fed, and actively feasting upon a plethora of biblical material, much of which is served through teachers who are ready to make their millions by turning the Gospel of Christ into a self-centered, self-soothing, comfortable and compromising doctrine that is a direct affront to the absolute truth Christ clearly teaches.
Christ never taught us to seek our own will. He never taught us to follow man. He never taught us to measure our spiritual depth, substance, or sustenance by our pleasure, comfort, material wealth, or monetary gain. Yet that is exactly what has happened.
As I prayed, the LORD gave me a picture of the Church which I found astonishing. I saw a garish obese woman who was a harlot, nearly naked, lathered with makeup, glutting herself upon the fine dainties and delicacies prepared for her by the mouths of her lovers: MEN — all which were perverse, having a deceptive Christian appearance. These dainties and delicacies were very delicious. The more she tasted of them, the more she desired and ate. This continual diet of sugar made her fat, lazy, and powerless. She had glutted herself with a Gospel of greed and wanton pleasure; one that promoted selfish desire and delicious living, fed to her by the hands of strange shepherds who prey upon the naked souls so desperately willing to pay for their spiritual desserts.
This unpleasant and gross image was something I was not prepared to see, and I realized very quickly that the LORD is ready to begin dealing with His house. He must. For those who will repent, they will find themselves refined and purified by the fire of the LORD and His Holy Spirit. They will experience a death that will bring true life. There will be a process of purification to which few will truly surrender and to which few will wholly submit. For those who are willing, He is well able to burn up the chaff and bring the purity He desires in His bride, whom He has called to be without spot or wrinkle, transformed into His glorious image, and reflecting His glory, boldly bearing His name, and going forth in His power. For those who do not submit to Him, but continue to feast at the table of these seducing spirits who feed them their demonic delicacies, they will face great peril for which they are sadly unprepared.
The True Gospel
The genuine Gospel of Christ will always crucify our flesh. In fact, it demands it. It never gave us permission to live our lives full of wanton pleasure and greed at the expense of truth, holiness, and sacrificial love and service. God calls us to become like Christ. That is a life of surrender, sacrifice, servanthood, and genuine spiritual power. The entire Gospel message was predicated upon repentance – a kindness offered to us from God which begs us to turn from our wickedness and sin unto holiness; from darkness to light; and from the power of Satan unto God that we might find truth, life, and sanctification in Christ by faith (see Acts 26:18).
When we become more interested in our will than God’s – we’re in darkness. When we seek men to teach us rather than God’s Word – we’re deceived. When we prefer the comforts of compromise and the pleasures of sin to the painful death of the flesh which brings holiness and sanctification – we’re dead while we are yet living.
This is not the Gospel Christ preached. The messages fed to the Church have sounded good, felt good, and fed us a fattening and flattering recipe of greed, lust, and wanton pleasure. It has facilitated the pride, power, prestige, pomp, and perversion of many who grossly propagate its deception.
The true Gospel of Christ demands holiness through a life of repentance. It begs for sanctification and sacrifice. It calls us to love despite persecution and pain. It calls us to die to self; live for God; and lay down our lives on a daily basis — fully prepared to suffer with and for Christ — and to do it joyfully with honor unto God as living sacrifices.
In stark contrast, the Church is obese with sugar-coated yet powerless messages that are nothing more than spiritual hype and self-centered fluff.
The age we’re living in demands a powerful Church who is fully on fire for God, fully surrendered to Him in holy boldness, fierce faith, and unrelenting love with perfect hearts toward Him. We are to be living sacrifices – not self-centered spiritual gluttons.
Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates? (2 Corinthians 13:5, KJV).
Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting, (Psalm 139: 23-24, KJV).
The seduction of the Church has been long propagated through very slick messages that feed our flesh.
It has truly been all about us.
What’s going to happen when it’s not about us anymore? I’ll tell you:
People will fall away.
It’s promised. The spiritually lazy and “obese Christian” will struggle to find the stamina or strength necessary to stand unto the end. They will feign and fall away. When everything is demanded of them, they will be found to have nothing. They will be virtually empty. Those Gospel messages they’ve feasted upon at the mouths of mere men will prove to be powerless and vain. They will have gained the world but lost their soul. They will desperately try to save their very lives, never realizing they have already lost them.
The Bible makes it clear that there is no repentance for the apostate:
For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, and have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, if they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame, (Hebrews 6:4-6, KJV).
It’s time to examine yourself. It’s time to make a decision. It’s time to ask yourself if you are truly following Christ Jesus, or just an idolatrous “image” of Him which man has so cleverly crafted.
That is how apostasy happens.
Cheers & Shalom,