This article is tempered by the testimony of scripture and decades of experience across a wide range of denominations. Whilst I think it is alarmist to believe that the current intensification of governmental authority is a sign of the rise of the antichrist, I do believe that we can learn deep spiritual truths from the more apocalyptic passages of scripture relevant to our COVID19 times.
Look past the Obvious
One of these truths has to do with last-days deception. By definition, anyone seduced by evil spirits into believing a lie (1 Timothy chapter 2 verse 14, chapter 4 verse 1) has not been conscious that they are misled. The foundation for successful fraud is however arrogance and pride (Proverbs chapter 16 verse 18), emotions we can all acknowledge. If we have confidence in ourselves that we know what is going on we will most certainly be deceived into trusting a delusion (2 Thessalonians chapter 2 verse 11). Self-assurance is the essence of the satanic nature, and this is rife across our more successful churches. To avoid being trapped by the devil’s designs (2 Corinthians chapter 2 verse 11) a sure remedy is presented in scripture.
“Be sober-minded; be alert. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” (1 Peter chapter 5 verse 8). What soldier in wartime would be asleep at their post, but the prayerlessness of so many Christians is a sure sign that we need to wake up (Revelation chapter 3 verse 2)! It is really hard to get church members to regularly attend prayer meetings. As Jesus knew he needed to pray on the threshold of the cross (Luke chapter 22 verse 41), the same disposition needs to be ours. There are some outstanding zones of deception we can discern through prayer.
Via WhatsApp, a pastoral acquaintance sent me an article concerning the eReformation the global Church is going through because of COVID 19. The author predicted several major shifts, including increasing online: small groups, worship, counselling, committee/board/training meetings.
For reasons of convenience, time pressure, efficiency and cost these predictions are likely to be correct. Given however our prevailing shortage of prayerful spirituality in relation to the discernment of spirits (1 Corinthians chapter 12 verse 10) these trends will go too far. Society has fallen in love with technology and few seem able to resist it. Who hasn’t been on a train or in an airport lounge where everyone is on their phones? The Lord has a wonderful plan to deal with this technophilia (Romans chapter 1 verse 23).
A Grieved Spirit
When technology occupies the space in our lives that belongs to God alone, the place of time and affection, the Holy Spirit is deeply grieved (Ephesians chapter 4 verse 30). Since God is a jealous God, we should anticipate a movement of the Holy Spirit quickening to the hearts of (mainly) younger believers how wounded is their Betrothed Lover in heaven (2 Corinthians chapter 11 verses 1-3) who bled and died for them. This sharp pain will precipitate an unexpected spiritual movement
Paul exhorts the young Timothy, “fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands” (2 Timothy chapter 1 verse 6). The burning fiery zeal of the Lord will launch a new generation of missionaries and evangelists who will risk everything for Jesus. They will lead an eReformation shaped like the life of Christ. Instead of sailing across the seas they will proclaim the gospel fearlessly in deeply penetrating the reaches of social media and other online forums. They will most astonishingly do this at the sacrifice of their careers, ambitions, and employability.
Shaming and abuse will stalk them, but they will stand with their fellow believers in the persecuted Church and those who have sold out all for Jesus across the ages. This is turn will bring repentance to many older Christians. That’s how the Lord will deliver us from our deceptions.
The Rev. Dr John Yates is an Anglican minister in Perth and has 5 children and 7 grandchildren. He spends time in praying, mentoring and writing.John Yates’s previous articles may be viewed athttp://www.pressserviceinternational.org/john-yates.html