“Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons” (1 Timothy 4:1).

Just look around – you can’t help but notice that we are living in some truly bizarre times! This crisis, that crisis. Feuds and divisions. Immorality becoming normalized. Natural disasters hitting at record size and strength, and anything but natural!

The list goes on. As the great prophet Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz said, “We are not in Kansas anymore!”

However, none of us who are students of the Word of God should be shocked or bewildered. Indeed, Jesus warned us these kinds of events would come at the end of times – not to scare us, but to prepare us. When we are mentally, physically, and spiritually prepared for troubled times, we can be beacons of His glory in the midst of it all (Isaiah 60:1-2).

“Arise, shine; For your light has come! And the glory of the Lord is risen upon you. For behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, And deep darkness the people; But the Lord will arise over you, And His glory will be seen upon you” (Isaiah 60:1-2).

Even though we are living in extremely dark times, keep in mind that darkness is the most advantageous condition for light to shine brightly. So, to borrow an age-old axiom, these may be the worst of times, but for the Church, they’re the best of times!

So come on, Church – it’s time to arise and shine!

Wrapping Things Up

“And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?” (Matthew 24:3b).

We are nearer now than ever before to the Second Coming of the Lord Jesus Christ and the End of the Age. It’s a dangerous time to take your eyes off God or become distracted by fear, hatred or worldly events. The Word says here is a clear “sign” to watch out for:

“…in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons” (1 Timothy 4:1).

“Giving heed” means moving toward and embracing. Another way of saying this phrase would be gradually releasing what they formerly believed and switching their focus toward something else. It paints a picture of individuals who are slowly but surely releasing what had previously been familiar, precious, and dear, and embracing something new and different. But what are they moving toward?

Seducing Spirits and Doctrines of Devils

Let me emphasize first – God loves people.

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son, that whosoever believes in Him will not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).

For God so loved the world (not just the Church). The world of saints and sinners alike, of people of every political persuasion, and people whom you admire and people you reject.

The word seducing in 1 Timothy 4:1 specifically describes moral wandering, that is, a person or a nation that has veered off course and is now spiritually adrift. It can be best translated delusion. And where do they get this delusion?

“For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12).

Indeed, people have never been and never will be our problem! Never hate on people God loves. Rather, start praying for the people who are being deluded and led away to destruction by seducing spirits.

The truly sad fact is we don’t often pray for these people because we care more about being offended by them than their eternal souls. But this is also a delusion.

“And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. But he who endures to the end shall be saved” (Matthew 24:12-13).

How Seducing Spirits Work

Like Satan in the Garden, seducing spirits act with subtleness or craftiness; more specifically, they insert grains of truth along with deceptive doctrines that, over time and repetition, draw one’s thinking away from God’s standards.

“Now the serpent was more crafty (subtle, skilled in deceit) than any living creature of the field which the Lord God had made. And the serpent (Satan) said to the woman, ‘Can it really be that God has said, ‘You shall not eat from any tree of the garden’?” (Genesis 3:1).

Seducing spirits and doctrines of demons don’t announce themselves as coming from Satan, but instead, are packaged as being “smart,” “modern,” or “advanced.” The purpose, however, is always the same.

“The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly” (John 10:10).

Satan is not after our faith for miracles, prosperity, or God’s blessing – he is after our faith in Christ as Savior, to pull people away from the Savior who came to save our souls, and to destroy God’s creation.

Be Alert

“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5:8).

Even in these crazy end times, we do have a responsibility to be “our brother’s keeper.” We must look out for one another and not allow the enemy to push us to fear, anger or fighting one another. But clearly, brotherly love doesn’t avoid truth; rather, it communicates truth in love, remains faithful to the Word, and is alert to the enemy’s schemes.

It appears the most serious “pandemic” of our day are these seducing spirits weaving doctrines of demons, instilling moral confusion and promoting the reprobate mind. The culture of these end times is marked by a clash of worldviews: a Biblical, God-centered worldview vs. everything else that rises against the knowledge of God. It’s even become common for people to call evil “good” and good “evil” (Isaiah 5:20).

But when we remain aware of the time, and alert to the attempts of the enemy to harm us or those around us, we will become overcomers and the Church triumphant. The Word warns us to be prepared for anything that might come our way, so we can deflect every arrow of deception shot at us.

“Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall” (1 Corinthians 10:12).

Thankfully, remaining free from deception is not really that difficult as long as we remain committed to the “basics.” These include daily prayer and study of the Word. Prayer keeps us spiritually connected to our Heavenly Father in a real and growing relationship, and makes seducing spirits simply unattractive. The Word transforms our minds and keeps us safely in a place where doctrines of demons are clearly identifiable and obvious.

Identifying our own sin and quickly confessing it creates a fortress of protection around our minds and keeps our hearts soft toward the things of God. And a regular fellowship with others of like faith keeps us in the flock of God, and prevents us from being singled out and attacked by roaming demonic wolves.

“Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, To the only wise God our Savior, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen” (Jude 24-25).

So even though seducing spirits are trying to sift and shake us and people around us fall prey to doctrines of demons, our Savior is able to keep us from falling. If we maintain our focus on Him no matter what comes, He will cause us to be the beacons of hope the world needs to see during these end times. 

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Photo credit: ©Getty Images/ra2studio

Frank Santora headshotFrank Santora is Lead Pastor of Faith Church, a multi-site church with locations in Connecticut and New York. Pastor Frank hosts a weekly television show, “Destined to Win,” which airs weekly on the Hillsong Channel and TBN. He has authored thirteen books, including the most recent, Modern Day Psalms and Good Good Father. To learn more about Pastor Frank and this ministry, please visit www.franksantora.cc. Photo by Michele Roman.