Friday, August 25, 2023

Serpents in the Assembly

The Antichrist of popular expectation is a political tyrant determined to dominate the world. Whether this proves true, the New Testament expresses more concern about deceivers who ply their trade in the Church, “making merchandise” of God’s sheep. The handful of passages that use the term 'Antichrist' apply it to false teachers who infiltrate the Assembly, distort the Apostolic teachings, and import demonic doctrines.

In Galatia, Paul found himself combatting deceivers in his congregations, “false brethren who SLITHERED IN STEALTHILY to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might enslave us.” Fortunately, he did not give even an inch to such men.

Green Python - Photo by David Clode on Unsplash
[Photo by David Clode on Unsplash]

The “
Spirit of Antichrist” is inextricably linked with false teachings and liars, and it manifests itself through false teachers and false prophets who peddle deceptions to the unsuspecting and the biblically ignorant.

The only New Testament author to employ the term “antichrist” is John in his first two letters when he warns that “it is the last hour; and just as you heard that antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come.”

John does not deny that an individual final “antichrist” will come, but in the meantime, many “antichrists” already are penetrating the church and deceiving followers of Jesus - (1 John 2:18-22).

The Greek term translated as “antichrist” is a compound formed with the noun christos (“anointed”) and the preposition anti. The latter denotes “instead of” rather than “against.” An “antichrist” is someone who attempts to counterfeit the true Christ, and the “antichrists,” plural, to whom John referred were those who Went out from us, but they were not of us… But they went out that it might be plain that they all are not of us.”

He admonished his assemblies to “test the spirits to see whether they are from God,” and he warned of “the spirit of the antichrist of which you heard that it is coming, and now, it is already in the world.”

The “antichrists” of his immediate concern were false teachers active in John’s congregations, NOT national, military, or political leaders of the larger world. Among other things, they were denying the genuine humanity of Jesus - (2 John 7).

Similarly, Paul warned of the coming “Man of Lawlessness,” an individual with the ability to deceive believers, including his use of “signs and wonders” to mislead and cause their “apostasy.”

Paul warned the Assembly in Thessalonica to “let no one in any way deceive you.” He pinpointed the event when this figure would be unveiled for who and what he was – When he “seated himself in the Sanctuary of God,” a description that is more religious in tone than political.

Elsewhere, Paul used the term “Sanctuary” or naos metaphorically for the Body of Christ. This malevolent figure will be revealed in the Assembly - (2 Thessalonians 2:1-12, 1 Corinthians 3:16, 6:19, 2 Corinthians 6:16).

The Apostle linked this “Man of Lawlessness” to the final “Apostasy.” His activities will be “in accord with those of Satan,” including “lying signs and wonders” intended to deceive believers, at least those who reject the “love of the truth”:

  • “…With all power and signs and false wonders, and with all the deception of wickedness for those who are perishing, because they did not receive the love of the truth so as to be saved. And for this reason, God will send upon them a deluding influence so that they might believe what is false, in order that they all may be judged who did not believe the truth but took pleasure in wickedness” -(2 Thessalonians 2:9-12).


In Revelation, after his failed attempt to destroy the Messianic “Son,” the “Great Red Dragon” departed to “wage war against those who have the Testimony of Jesus Christ” - (Revelation 12:5-17).

Likewise, the “Beast from the Sea” was authorized to wage “war” against the “saints and to overcome them.” In both images, Satan persecutes the saints, and his earthly agent, the “Beast,” is the instrument for doing so. The “saints” are identified as those who have the “faith of Jesus.” Whether this “Beast” is a world leader, the Devil’s purpose is to destroy the Assembly, not to wage wars of aggression against other nation-states - (Revelation 12:17, 13:6-10, 14:12).

In the seven letters to the “Assemblies of Asia,” Satan attacked the congregations with persecution from without AND deception from within, and far more often with the latter. Consistently, the Devil and his agents conduct warfare against the “Lamb” by attacking anyone who follows him “wherever he goes” - (Revelation 2:10, 2:18-29).

In his 'Olivet Discourse,' Jesus began with a dire warning about coming deceivers intent on misleading the “elect of God”:

  • Beware lest anyone deceive you. For many will come in my name, saying, I am the Christ, and deceive many … and many will fall away… and many false prophets will arise and deceive many… False anointed ones and false prophets will arise and show great signs and wonders to deceive even the elect” - (Matthew 24:4-23).

Church Ruins - Photo by Elisabeth Arnold on Unsplash
[Photo by Elisabeth Arnold on Unsplash]

Like snakes, false prophets and deceivers slither their way into the Assembly and hoodwink disciples of Jesus. They do not work to deceive an already deceived world, and warnings against coming deceivers are common throughout the New Testament - (1 Timothy 4:1-2, 2 Peter 2:1-2).

In the end, the “Antichrist” may prove to be a global political leader.  However, considering the warnings in the New Testament, we should not be surprised if this creature appears first in the Body of Christ where he and his slithering horde of deceivers are working relentlessly even now to fool the “elect” and cause their apostasy.

  • What Satan Fears - (What threatens the Devil’s plans is an Assembly conformed to the Cross of Christ that trembles at God’s word)
  • Apostasy and Misdirection - (Believers who are watching for apostasy outside the Church will be among the first who are overtaken by it as it operates in the Assembly)
  • Indisputable Evidence - (“The Spirit expressly says that in later seasons some will revolt from the faith, giving heed unto seducing spirits and teachings of demons)