Strong warnings concerning churches and their congregants departing from biblical faith are sounded out repeatedly in Scripture. For instance, 1 Timothy 4:1 – “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” (cf. Matt. 24:5, 11-12, 24; Mk. 13:21-22; 2 Thess. 2:3; 2 Tim. 3:1-5; 4:4; 2 Pet. 2:1-2; Jude 5-11).
In no uncertain terms, Scripture foretells that many shall depart from the faith in the last days (“latter times”). The apostasy (departure from the biblical faith and living) of some in the church came about because they are “giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils”.
Just as “the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty,” so their “minds (would) be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ” (2 Corinthians 11:3). Satan and his demons’ evil modus operandi is not always discerned and resisted by people. We mustn’t be ignorant of Satan’s devices, lest he should get an advantage of us (cf. 2 Cor. 2:11).
Demonic powers are actively working to instil apostasy in the hearts of people. “For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light” (2 Cor. 11:13-14). Satanic deception is effective because Satan and his messengers disguise themselves as “angels of light”.
While Satan leads some astray through ungodly educators and influencers of the world, he seduces others through false believers and teachers within the church. In every realm of human society, there is satanic deception. In education, politics, science, arts, media, sports, and church, unregenerate people promote seductive falsehoods. The devil, “the father of lies” (John 8:44), empowers them. Having turned their backs on God and the truth (cf. Rom. 1:18-32), the unregenerate become instruments of Satan’s plots (cf. 2 Tim. 2:26; 1 Jn. 2:26). They are beguiled and seduced from the beginning to the end of their lives (Eph. 2:2-3)!
The apostle Peter speaks of their pernicious ways – “For when they speak great swelling words of vanity, they allure through the lusts of the flesh, through much wantonness, those that were clean escaped from them who live in error. While they promise them liberty, they themselves are the servants of corruption: for of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought in bondage” (2 Pet. 2:18-19).
The Biblical prophecy is that “some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils”. The words “giving heed” (from the Greek word, prosechō) denote more than merely listening to something. It means “to assent to”, “to devote oneself to”, or “to cling to something”. The present tense of the participle shows that apostates continually cling to demonic teaching. Though they identify with the Christian faith, their hearts and minds are lured away by deceitful spirits. While the Holy Spirit leads genuine Christians to God’s truth and righteousness, these apostates within the church, led by the unholy spirits, follow damning errors and unholy ways.
Some in the church are led away by sophisticated university professors, wickedly clever writers / speakers, or false religious leaders, who are themselves already victims of demonic spirits. They are peddlers of satanic lies. Their controversial yet fascinating ideas are nothing less than the doctrines of demons! Satan and his agents have fabricated all kinds of lying philosophies and theologies to confuse and deceive. To sit under false teaching that contradicts the truth of Scripture, is to be taught by demons and to put one’s mind and soul in jeopardy.
It is no wonder that the Bible cautions against exposing oneself to false doctrine. Exposing ourselves to such satanic influence is like walking carelessly into a satanic entrapment. To become prey to their ideologies endangers our souls. They are under the sway of “the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience” (Eph. 2:2; cf. 6:12; John 8:44; 12:31; 1 John 5:19). Why would we expose ourselves to that which will cause our souls to be damned?
The apostle John said, “Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world” (1 John 4:1). Many deceivers, Satan’s agents, have gone out into the world. Therefore, we should watch ourselves so that they might not easily influence us. We must also abide in the truths of God’s Word.
As John cautioned, “But ye have an unction from the Holy One, and ye know all things. I have not written unto you because ye know not the truth, but because ye know it, and that no lie is of the truth. Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son. Whosoever denieth the Son, the same hath not the Father: (but) he that acknowledgeth the Son hath the Father also. Let that therefore abide in you, which ye have heard from the beginning. If that which ye have heard from the beginning shall remain in you, ye also shall continue in the Son, and in the Father. And this is the promise that he hath promised us, even eternal life” (1 John 2:20-25).
The above admonition is that anyone, who does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God. But the one who abides in the teaching, has both the Father and the Son. The apostle John advises, “If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: for he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds” (2 John 10-11).