An Adventist is somebody who believes in the imminent return of Christ to this world. We are Adventists because of Bible prophecy, which opens to us things that are going to happen in the future.

In the book of Revelation, we are told that in the last days there will be counterfeits. Generally, counterfeits precede the genuine. Jesus also predicted counterfeits in Matthew 24 and history proves that the devil has continually used counterfeits to further his evil ends.

In Egypt, Aaron was told to cast his rod down and it became a serpent. The devil, attempting to demonstrate his power, enabled the magicians to cast their rods down and they also became serpents. There was just one little difference – the devil is unable to create life, so Aaron’s live serpent devoured the counterfeits. Aaron grabbed the tail of the serpent and it became a rod again. However, the rods of the magicians had been eaten.

The devil knew that at the time of the judgment, God was going to send a special Elijah prophet message. Therefore, he set in motion many counterfeits. Around the 1830s to 1840s there were other people claiming to have the gift of prophecy. Joseph Smith, the founder of Mormanism and Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of Christian Science are just two of them.

To cause confusion is a very successful tool of the devil. There were also counterfeits during the first advent of Jesus. One significant counterfeit was Barabbas. According to at least some of the New Testament manuscripts his first name was Jesus. Bar is the Aramaic word that means son. Abba means father. So, Jesus Barabbas would be translated, Jesus, Saviour, the son of the father.

Pilate asked the Jews whom to release according to the custom of the feast, Jesus Barabbas, the Saviour, the son of the father, or Jesus of Nazareth, the Saviour from Nazareth. Barabbas was a counterfeit. Both had a name that claimed to be the son of the father. The only way to tell the difference was by the actions of each life. Jesus claimed to be the Son of God and had said, “If I do not do the works of My Father, do not believe Me; but if I do, though you do not believe Me, believe the works, that you may know and believe that the Father is in Me, and I in Him” (John 10:37, 38).

Jesus said if you do not believe Me, look at what I have done. From that you should be able to believe. The sum of a person’s works is his character and the way to tell the difference between the true and the counterfeit is by the character.

The Bible records a marked difference between the character of Jesus Christ and Barabbas. Their names were the only similarity. Though Barabbas also claimed to be a savior, the Bible records that he was a thief and a murderer. A person who is a thief and a murderer cannot be the Messiah. Yet it was he who was set free and the true Saviour was crucified.

Before the second coming of Jesus there are going to be many counterfeits. The crowning act will be Satan’s impersonation of Christ but let’s consider some of the others.

There are some things that people have speculated would be counterfeited, like Armageddon and the seven last plagues. However, there is no solid evidence to substantiate that. We do know that in addition to the second coming there is one other counterfeit mentioned often in the Spirit of Prophecy that we need to remember.

Ellen White wrote, “I saw that God has honest children among the nominal Adventists and the fallen churches, and before the plagues shall be poured out, ministers and people will be called out from these churches and will gladly receive the truth. Satan knows this; and before the loud cry of the third angel is given, he raises an excitement in these religious bodies, that those who have rejected the truth may think that God is with them. He hopes to deceive the honest and lead them to think that God is still working for the churches. But the light will shine and all who are honest will leave the fallen churches, and take their stand with the remnant.” Early Writings, 261.

Today there seems to be more nominal Christians than honest people in both the Adventist as well as in the Sunday keeping churches. These will be the targets of Satan, who will raise a religious excitement among them to cause in them a false sense of security.

In the book, The Great Controversy, 464, the same event is described. “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. … 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.”

This counterfeit will occur first. Satan knows that this is his last chance and will go to battle to prevent the people from accepting the final invitation to come out from the churches that are described as Babylon. During this time, something is going to happen in the world, and especially in the United States, that is going to make it possible for the counterfeit to be accepted by the majority of the population.

“By the decree enforcing the institution of the papacy, in violation of the law of God, our nation will disconnect herself fully from righteousness. When Protestantism shall stretch her hand across the gulf to grasp the hand of the Roman power, when she shall reach over the abyss to clasp hands with spiritualism, when, under the influence of this threefold union, our country shall repudiate every principle of its Constitution as a Protestant and republican government, and shall make provision for the propagation of papal falsehoods and delusions, then we may know that the time has come for the marvelous working of Satan and that the end is near.” Testimonies, vol. 5, 451.

We are told that at the time of the passing of a national Sunday law, there will already be excitement among the religious bodies, but when the national Sunday law is implemented, we can look for the marvelous working of Satan. This is something that most Adventists cannot imagine right now. Suddenly, this false revival is going to explode and the devil will attempt to take in the entire world. For a little while it will look as if he is going to succeed.

To understand how this deception is going to be so persuasive, look at Revelation 13:3, which says, “… I saw one of his heads as if it had been mortally wounded, and his deadly wound was healed. And all the world marveled and followed the beast.”

“Then another beast came up out of the earth, and he had two horns like a lamb and spoke like a dragon. And he exercises all the authority of the first beast in his presence, and causes the earth and those who dwell in it to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed. He performs great signs, so that he even makes fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men. And he deceives those who dwell on the earth by those signs which he was granted to do in the sight of the beast, telling those who dwell on the earth to make an image to the beast who was wounded by the sword and lived” (verses 11–14).

Notice that he is going to deceive the earth by “signs which he was granted to do.” The Greek word used here for signs or miracles is semeion. Signs is the most literal translation. However, when a supernatural being is going to give a sign, he gives it by doing something supernatural. In other words, by working what people would call a miracle.

There are going to be real miracles. Some people believe that all the devil’s miracles are counterfeit. The Bible does call the devil a liar and a deceiver and there is no question that he works miracles that are counterfeit, but a careful examination of this text shows that there are going to be genuine signs and wonders performed by devils that you will not be able to deny or explain away as simply a sleight of hand. There are going to be real miracles. Just how far the Lord will allow the devil to go we do not know, but we do know that he cannot create life.

Many years ago, a Pentecostal lady told me about the wonderful things that were happening in her church. She shared how a person had died somewhere in the South Pacific and when the mourners prayed, the dead person began to wiggle his toes. A short time later he could wiggle his feet, and then his whole body could move. Finally, he sat up and was alive again. She was convinced that the Lord had raised this person back to life. We can be sure that the devil cannot raise people back to life, but he can deceive you into thinking that he can.

What are you going to do when miracles are worked right in front of your eyes? You cannot deny it. Most people immediately assume that it is performed by the power of God. However, we just read in the Bible that in the last days it will be evil spirits that are working these miracles. These same people who are deceived by the miracles will refuse to believe when they are shown truths from God’s word. A person like that is preparing himself or herself to be deceived.

The Bible predicts that the whole world is going to be deceived. This will not take very long once the miracles begin. One of the most common miracles that will be performed is the healing of the sick. Whether it is a counterfeit or real, you will not be able to tell the difference.

For deception to be successful, it must be as close as possible to the real. Evil spirits are going to claim to be Christians with respect and reverence for the ordinances of the church. These spirits will claim to be Christians and to have reverence for the churches and its institutions. You will see miracles of healings and tongues, among other things, that you will be unable to deny.

“It is true that spiritualism is now changing its form and, veiling some of its more objectionable features, is assuming a Christian guise. But its utterances from the platform and the press have been before the public for many years, and in these its real character stands revealed. …

“As Spiritualism more closely imitates the nominal Christianity of the day, it has greater power to deceive and ensnare. Satan himself is converted, after the modern order of things. He will appear in the character of an angel of light. Through the agency of Spiritualism, miracles will be wrought, the sick will be healed, and many undeniable wonders will be performed. And as the spirits will profess faith in the Bible, and manifest respect for the institutions of the church, their work will be accepted as a manifestation of divine power.” The Great Controversy, 557, 588.

These spirits will say that you need to respect the government. Seventh-day Adventists should always respect and obey the laws of the land in whatever country they live, unless these laws conflict with God’s law.

Most Christians keep Sunday instead of the seventh-day Sabbath. When the government enacts a national Sunday law and the explosion of miracles begin, Adventists will be accused of disaffection of the government by not going along with the law and of disrespecting the community of faith. The Catholic church often uses this terminology that you should respect, and that conscience should be in subjection to the community of faith.

We are Protestants. We believe in the community of faith, but we do not believe that our conscience should be in subjection to a false community of faith. Adventists are going to be accused of being lawbreakers and of disaffection toward the government.

“Communications from the spirits will declare that God has sent them to convince the rejecters of Sunday of their error, affirming that the laws of the land should be obeyed as the law of God. They will lament the great wickedness in the world, and second the testimony of religious teachers, that the degraded state of morals is caused by the desecration of Sunday. Great will be the indignation excited against all who refuse to accept their testimony.” Ibid., 591.

Romans 13 and 1 Peter 2 will be quoted. “They will lament the great wickedness in the world, and second the testimony of religious teachers that the degraded state of morals is caused by the desecration of Sunday. Great will be the indignation excited against all who refuse to accept their testimony. …

“Under the rule of Rome, those who suffered death for their fidelity to the gospel were denounced as evil-doers; they were declared to be in league with Satan; and every possible means was employed to cover them with reproach, to cause them to appear in the eyes of the people, and even to themselves as the vilest of criminals. So, it will be now. While Satan seeks to destroy those who honor God’s law, he will cause them to be accused as law-breakers, as men who are dishonoring God, and bringing judgments upon the world. …

“Those who honor the Bible Sabbath will be denounced as enemies of law and order, as breaking down the moral restraints of society, causing anarchy and corruption, and calling down the judgments of God upon the earth.” Ibid., 591, 592.

During this time, God’s judgments will be in the land. When the United States passes a national Sunday law “… the limit of God’s forbearance is reached, that the measure of our nation’s iniquity is full, and that the angel of mercy is about to take her flight, never to return.” Testimonies, vol. 5, 451.

Those who continue to regard God’s commandments will be accused of disaffection against the government of being lawbreakers, the cause of anarchy, and bringing on the judgments of God on the land. For this reason, it is so important now to live in an honest way so that nobody should ever be able to accuse us of breaking the law. We must dare to be a Daniel, that as it was with him, there will be nothing in our lives that could be used to accuse us of breaking the law. Jesus also was accused with false accusations.

Among Christians during this time, every wind of doctrine will be blowing and there will be fanaticism. Satan, clothed in angel robes, will try to deceive the very elect. He will use human beings as teachers to try and take control of the church by bringing in false teachings. Unless you know what the Bible says, you will be deceived without realizing it.

“None but those who have fortified the mind with the truths of the Bible will stand through the last great conflict.” The Great Controversy (1888), 593. “God will have a people upon the earth to maintain the Bible, and the Bible only, as the standard of all doctrines, and the basis of all reforms. The opinions of learned men, the deductions of science, the creeds or decisions of ecclesiastical councils, as numerous and discordant as are the churches which they represent, the voice of the majority—not one, nor all of these should be regarded as evidence for or against any point of religious faith. Before accepting any doctrine or precept, we should demand a plain ‘Thus saith the Lord’ in its support.” Ibid., 595.

Without this we will be deceived. If we are alive during this period, we will probably have a number of meetings with the devil and evil spirits in human form, even as believers. “He (the devil) and the angels who fell with him, will appear on the earth as men … .” Manuscript Releases, vol. 8, 399.

“Evil angels in the form of believers will work in our ranks … . These powers of evil will assemble in our meetings … .” Mind, Character, and Personality, vol. 2, 504.

The devil knows how to preach better than most. He can quote Scripture and knows how to persuade. He attempted to deceive Jesus in the wilderness with his perverted Scripture. The Spirit of Prophecy teaches that the time is coming when the path of truth and the path of error will be so close together that without the Holy Spirit, you will not be able to tell the difference. We need to study our Bibles and know what is in it and pray for the Holy Spirit to protect us from all deceptions.

“All who dwell on the earth will worship him, whose names have not been written in the Book of Life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world” (Revelation 13:8).

For further study …
Five Crucial Bible Truths to Know

1. The Ten Commandment Law – This is a single law written on two stones. It was written by the finger of God and cannot be changed. What happened to the commandments at the cross and what did the apostles say about the law decades later?
2. The Difference Between the Two Laws – Which law was nailed to the cross and abolished?
3. The State of the Dead – What does the Bible teach about what happens when you die?
4. Obedience to Civil Authority – When is it appropriate and in fact required that Christians disobey civil authorities? Although we should be impeccable law keepers, is there a time when it is right to disobey authority of both the church and the state?
5. Second Coming – What instruction does the Bible contain regarding exactly how and what is going to happen when Jesus comes again in the clouds of heaven? Cannot the devil counterfeit the Second Coming?

Study and pray for the Holy Spirit to avoid being taken in by the worldwide deceptions that are coming.

(Unless appearing in quoted references or otherwise identified, Bible texts are from the New King James Version.)