August 11–August 17, 2002
MEMORY VERSE: “For false Christs and false prophets shall rise, and shall shew signs and wonders, to seduce, if it were possible, even the elect.” Mark 13:22.
STUDY HELPS: The Great Controversy, 593–626; Testimonies, vol. 1, 290–302.
INTRODUCTION: As the end approaches, Satan’s deceptions will increase in subtlety. His supreme effort will be directed against the remnant church, if only to nullify the great work God has commissioned it to do in preparation for Christ’s second coming. Many will be deceived, “giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of devils.” They will “go out from us,” says Ellen G. White in Notebook Leaflets from the Elmshaven Library, vol. 1, 57. (See also Selected Messages, Book 2, 392.) It is therefore of the utmost importance that every member become familiar with Satan’s strategy and how to meet it, so as to be both forewarned and forearmed for the perils ahead. “Nothing disturbs Satan so much as our knowledge of his devices. If we feel our dangers we shall feel the need of prayer. . . .” Testimonies, vol. 3, 572.
1 What did Christ tell His disciples about last day deceptions? Mark 13:22, 23.
NOTE: “We shall all be severely tested. Persons who pretend to believe the truth will come to us and urge upon us erroneous doctrines, which will unsettle our faith in present truth if we pay heed to them. True religion alone will stand the test of the Judgment.” Review and Herald, December 2, 1884.
“Christ foretold that the going forth of deceivers would be accompanied with more danger to His disciples than would persecution.” Evangelism, 359.
2 How will the world be deceived in the last days? Revelation 12:9. Compare Revelation 19:20.
NOTE: “The enemy is preparing for his last campaign against the church. He has so concealed himself from view that many can hardly believe that he exists, much less can they be convinced of his amazing activity and power. They have to a great extent forgotten his past record; and when he makes another advance move, they will not recognize him as their enemy, that old serpent, but they will consider him a friend, one who is doing a good work. Boasting of their independence they will, under his specious, bewitching influence, obey the worst impulses of the human heart and yet believe that God is leading them. Could their eyes be opened to distinguish their captain, they would see that they are not serving God, but the enemy of all righteousness. They would see that their boasted independence is one of the heaviest fetters Satan can rivet on unbalanced minds.” Testimonies, vol. 5, 294.
3 What final delusion will Satan use? Matthew 24:5; Mark 13:21.
NOTE: “As the crowning act in the great drama of deception, Satan himself will personate Christ. The church has long professed to look to the Saviour’s advent as the consummation of her hopes. Now the great deceiver will make it appear that Christ has come. In different parts of the earth, Satan will manifest himself among men as a majestic being of dazzling brightness, resembling the description of the Son of God given by John in the Revelation. . . . The shout of triumph rings out upon the air, ‘Christ has come! Christ has come!’ The people prostrate themselves in adoration before him. . . . In gentle, compassionate tones he presents some of the same gracious, heavenly truths which the Saviour uttered; he heals the diseases of the people, and then, in his assumed character of Christ, he claims to have changed the Sabbath to Sunday, and commands all to hallow the day which he has blessed. . . .
“Only those who have been diligent students of the Scriptures, and who have received the love of the truth, will be shielded from the powerful delusion that takes the world captive.” The Faith I Live By, 346.
4 How successful will this deception be? 1 Timothy 4:1.
NOTE: “It is difficult to hold fast the beginning of our confidence firm unto the end; and the difficulty increases when there are hidden influences constantly at work to bring in another spirit, a counterworking element, on Satan’s side of the question. In the absence of persecution, there have drifted into our ranks some who appear sound, and their Christianity unquestionable, but who, if persecution should arise, would go out from us. In the crisis, they would see force in specious reasoning that has had an influence on their minds. Satan has prepared various snares to meet varied minds. When the law of God is made void the church will be sifted by fiery trials, and a larger proportion than we now anticipate, will give heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of devils. Instead of being strengthened when brought into strait places, many prove that they are not living branches of the True Vine; they bore no fruit, and the husbandman taketh them away.” Selected Messages, Book 2, 368.
“As we near the end of time, falsehood will be so mingled with truth, that only those who have the guidance of the Holy Spirit will be able to distinguish truth from error. We need to make every effort to keep the way of the Lord. We must in no case turn from His guidance to put our trust in man. The Lord’s angels are appointed to keep strict watch over those who put their faith in the Lord, and these angels are to be our special help in every time of need. Every day we are to come to the Lord with full assurance of faith, and to look to Him for wisdom. . . . Those who are guided by the Word of the Lord will discern with certainty between falsehood and truth, between sin and righteousness.” God’s Amazing Grace, 201.
5 How will we recognize the true church? Revelation 12:17.
NOTE: “Before the final visitation of God’s judgments upon the earth there will be among the people of the Lord such a revival of primitive godliness as has not been witnessed since apostolic times. The Spirit and power of God will be poured out upon His children. At that time many will separate themselves from those churches in which the love of this world has supplanted love for God and His word. Many, both of ministers and people, will gladly accept those great truths which God has caused to be proclaimed at this time to prepare a people for the Lord’s second coming. The enemy of souls desires to hinder this work; and before the time for such a movement shall come, he will endeavor to prevent it by introducing a counterfeit. In those churches which he can bring under his deceptive power he will make it appear that God’s special blessing is poured out; there will be manifest what is thought to be great religious interest. Multitudes will exult that God is working marvelously for them, when the work is that of another spirit. Under a religious guise, Satan will seek to extend his influence over the Christian world.” Maranatha, 33.
6 What will be the outward appearance of many false religions? Matthew 7:15.
NOTE: “Public opinion favors a profession of Christianity. Little self-denial or self-sacrifice is required in order to put on a form of godliness and to have one’s name enrolled upon the church book. Hence many join the church without first becoming united to Christ. In this Satan triumphs. Such converts are his most efficient agents. They serve as decoys to other souls. They are false lights, luring the unwary to perdition. It is in vain that men seek to make the Christian’s path broad and pleasant for worldlings. God has not smoothed or widened the rugged, narrow way. If we would enter into life, we must follow the same path which Jesus and His disciples trod,—the path of humility, self-denial, and sacrifice.” Testimonies, vol. 5, 172.
7 How are we to know what is true and what is counterfeit? 1 Thessalonians 5:21; 1 John 4:1–3.
NOTE: “Faith in a lie will not have a sanctifying influence upon the life or character. No error is truth, or can be made truth by repetition, or by faith in it. Sincerity will never save a soul from the consequences of believing an error. Without sincerity there is no true religion, but sincerity in a false religion will never save a man. I may be perfectly sincere in following a wrong road, but that will not make it the right road, or bring me to the place I wished to reach. The Lord does not want us to have a blind credulity, and call that the faith that sanctifies. The truth is the principle that sanctifies, and therefore it becomes us to know what is truth. We must compare spiritual things with spiritual. We must prove all things, but hold fast only that which is good, that which bears the divine credentials, which lays before us the true motives and principles which should prompt us to action. —Letter 12, 1890.” Selected Messages, Book 2, 56.
8 What standard should God’s people use to test every message? Isaiah 8:20. See also Mark 4:24; 1 Thessalonians 5:21.
NOTE: “While conflicting doctrines and theories abound, the law of God is the one unerring rule by which all opinions, doctrines, and theories are to be tested.” The Great Controversy, 452.
9 Should we accept a prophet because he performs miracles? Deuteronomy 13:1–4.
NOTE: “We shall encounter false claims; false prophets will arise; there will be false dreams and false visions; but preach the Word, be not drawn away from the voice of God in His Word. Let nothing divert the mind. The wonderful, the marvelous, will be represented and presented. Through satanic delusions, wonderful miracles, the claims of human agents will be urged. Beware of all this.” Selected Messages, Book 2, 49.
10 Since there will be so many counterfeit Christs, how will Christians know it is really Jesus when He comes the second time? 1 Thessalonians 4:16, 17; Revelation 1:7.
NOTE: “Satan is not permitted to counterfeit the manner of Christ’s advent. . . . Those who have received the love of the truth will be shielded from the powerful delusion that takes the world captive. By the testimony of the Scriptures they will detect the deceiver in his disguise.” The Spirit of Prophecy, vol. 4, 443.
11 How thoroughly should Christians understand the reasons for their beliefs? 1 Peter 3:15.
NOTE: “The Lord desires that every soul who claims to believe the truth shall have an intelligent knowledge of what is truth. False prophets will arise and will deceive many. Everything is to be shaken that can be shaken. Then does it not become everyone to understand the reasons for our faith?” Evangelism, 363, 364.
12 Why did Paul commend the Bereans? Acts 17:10, 11.
NOTE: “Only those who have been diligent students of the Scriptures and who have received the love of the truth will be shielded from the powerful delusion that takes the world captive. By the Bible testimony these will detect the deceiver in his disguise. To all the testing time will come. By the sifting of temptation the genuine Christian will be revealed. Are the people of God now so firmly established upon His word that they would not yield to the evidence of their senses? Would they, in such a crisis, cling to the Bible and the Bible only? Satan will, if possible, prevent them from obtaining a preparation to stand in that day. He will so arrange affairs as to hedge up their way, entangle them with earthly treasures, cause them to carry a heavy, wearisome burden, that their hearts may be overcharged with the cares of this life and the day of trial may come upon them as a thief.” The Great Controversy, 625, 626.
13 To whom does God promise protection in times of trial? Revelation 3:10.
NOTE: “He [Satan] can gain his object only as men voluntarily yield to his temptations. Those who are earnestly seeking a knowledge of the truth and are striving to purify their souls through obedience, thus doing what they can to prepare for the conflict, will find, in the God of truth, a sure defense. . . . He would sooner send every angel out of heaven to protect His people than leave one soul that trusts in Him to be overcome by Satan.” The Great Controversy, 560.