During His earthly ministry, Jesus Christ encountered the same types of unbelief that are prevalent today within the church. He was opposed by those who rejected the Scriptures as the inspired, inerrant, infallible Word of God, the Sadducees, whose counterparts today embrace liberal theology; He was opposed by those who added to or took away from the revelation of God in the Holy Scriptures, the Pharisees, whose counterparts today include all branches of Christendom; Catholics, Orthodox, Protestants, and Evangelicals; He was opposed by those who studied the Word of God through the grid of manmade doctrines, the scribes, whose counterparts today are the theologians who twist the Scriptures to make their pet doctrines fit within the confines of Sacred Writ. Listen to what Jesus Christ has to say to those who rejected the truth and Him, and followed the enemy of our souls in their unbelief.
But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut up the kingdom of heaven against men; for you neither go in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in. “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you devour widows’ houses, and for a pretense make long prayers. Therefore you will receive greater condemnation. Wore to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel land and sea to win one proselyte, and when he is won, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves. Matthew 23:13-15
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you cleanse the outside of the cup and the dish, but inside they are full of extortion and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisees, first cleanse the inside of the cup and dish, that the outside may be clean also. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. Even so you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness. Matthew 23:25-28
These unbelievers have no place in the kingdom God and they also keep others out through their false teaching. These unbelievers are children of hell and those they convert are even greater sons of hell. These unbelievers look righteous on the outside, but inside they are full of extortion and self-indulgence. They have an appealing appearance, but inwardly they are dead and evil. These religious deceivers are hypocrites!
Jesus warned His disciples against the teaching of these wicked workers, and by extension warns us also.
“Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” Matthew 16:6
Then they understood that He did not tell them to beware of the leaven of bread, but of doctrine of the Pharisees and Sadducees. Matthew 16:12
This same warning is repeated in the Scriptures multiple times by Jesus Christ, the apostles and the prophets. It is important to remember that what we believe signifies whether or not we have genuine saving faith. We cannot divorce belief from faith. If we believe things that contradict the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints then we believe a lie and are devoid of saving faith. Jesus Christ warned us to be on our guard and to beware of those who would deceive us. He actually uttered this exhortation right after the disciples asked Him about the end of the age.
Now as He sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?” And Jesus answered and said to them: “Take heed that no one deceives you.” Matthew 24:3-4
It is significant that the very first thing He says is take heed and do not be deceived. The hallmark of the time before Jesus Christ returns is deception within the church and apostasy.
Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition,… 2 Thessalonians 2:3
In order for the Antichrist to deceive the whole world, the church must be rendered ineffective and blind so they too follow this evil one and give him acclaim. The false teaching and error that has pervaded the church ultimately makes the church the supporter of the Antichrist. As the apostle John wrote in his first epistle the second chapter we must be on our guard against false teachers.
Little children, it is the last hour; and as you have heard that the Antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come, by which we know it is the last hour. 1 John 2:18
These antichrists, the purveyors of false teaching and false doctrine within the church, who are not of the truth, are preparing the way for the Antichrist and the one thing that defines the multifaceted deception of these many antichrists is their love of the lie and rejection of the truth.
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 has pleasure in unrighteousness. 2 Thessalonians 2:11-12
They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us, but they went out that they might be made manifest, that none of them were of us. 1 John 2:19
They reject the truth, embrace the lie. They are the enemies of God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ and must be rejected and exposed by all those who love Jesus Christ and abide in His truth, the Word of God, by the indwelling Holy Spirit.
The anointing from God our Father by the Holy Spirit protects us from the lies of the evil one and his cohorts. The truth of the Word of God that tells us all about Jesus Christ, all we need to know and understand about Him, is our faithful guide and protector. We are protected from the lies of the antichrists as we hold fast to the doctrine that is taught in the Scriptures and reject the vain and empty opinions of man as they teach contrary to the Word of God, led by the devil.
But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and you know all things. I have not written to you because you do not know the truth, but because you know it, and that no lie is of the truth. Who is a liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist who denies the Father and the Son. Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father either, he who acknowledges the Son has the Father also. Therefore let that abide in you which you heard from the beginning. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, you also will abide in the Son and in the Father. And this is the promise that He has promised us-eternal life. These things I have written to you concerning those who try to deceive you. But the anointing which you have received from Him abides in you , and you do not need that anyone teach you; but as the same anointing teaches you concerning all things, and is true, and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you will abide in Him. 1 John 2:20-23
We must judge everything we believe by the standard of the Word of God, our very souls are at stake. Any doctrine or teaching that negates what the Bible teaches about Jesus Christ must be rejected! We must judge everything that we are taught by the faithful Word of God, the integrity of the gospel is at stake. We must rely on the Holy Spirit to teach us as we study God’s Word so we may share the truth for the sake of the world and the glory of God.