Summary: Have we left our First Love?
MAT 24:4Jesus answered: "Watch out that no one deceives you. 5For many will come in my name, claiming, ’I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many. 6You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. 7Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. 8All these are the beginning of birth pains. 9"Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. 10At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, 11and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. 12Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, 13but he who stands firm to the end will be saved. 14And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.
I want to talk to you today about "Apostasy". That’s a big word for what our text talks about in vs 10.......falling away. I believe that apostasy is a major problem in our churches as well as our own spiritual lives today. It is an epidemic with today’s Christians. A lot of Christians have left their first love and turned away from the faith, even to the point of betraying and hating each other, as the Bible states.
I’d like to start out by looking at vs 4 in our text. The very words of Jesus are "watch out that no one deceives you". There are many people being deceived today. The world has penetrated our churches and the truth is being neglected in the name of political correctness and "feel good’ sermons. Preachers are afraid to preach the truth; afraid that it will hurt someones feelings, maybe hurt the amount of tithes, hurt the attendance of the church....after all, we wouldn’t want anyone to feel "guilty" would we?
Going further in our text, we see that that many will come claiming ’I am the Christ’. But that alone isn’t the disturbing part. What IS disturbing is that they will "deceive many". Jesus speaks a lot about being deceived, doesn’t He? That’s because He knew that people are apt to be swayed by the "doctrine de jour", or whatever doctrine is popular at that particular time. The Bible address this in 2 TIM 3:1But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. 2People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, 4treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— 5having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them. 6They are the kind who worm their way into homes and gain control over weak-willed women, who are loaded down with sins and are swayed by all kinds of evil desires, 7always learning but never able to acknowledge the truth.
People sure do love themselves these days, don’t they? "I loves me some me!" All the things written about here are true for this day and age. Look at vs 2People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, 4treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God. Now does that sound familiar? Do you see these things more prevalent these days than you have in the past? Vs 5 tells us that they even have a "form of Godliness." What do you think that means?
Churches today are full of these kind of people that reject the truth and the power of Christ. Lovers of pleasure.....how many preachers have we seen get caught giving in to the lusts of the flesh? It is sad to see once great men of God denying the power of Godliness. What about the scourge of Internet porn? I saw a study of ministers that showed an alarming percentage that regularly engage in looking at porn. And we’re talking about ministers here....how bad do you think it is within the general congregation?
Lovers of pleasure......lovers of money. Boy, that’s a hot topic! We all need more money, don’t we? What amazes me is that even the richest people in the world need more money. They can have millions, even billions of dollars, and still they want more. (Gas companies).
People are also boastful and proud too, aren’t they? If you get something new in your life and try to tell someone about it, chances are they will not just be happy for you.....they will tell you about what they have new in their lives! We call it "one-upping" someone. How sad is it that we can’t be truly happy for someone else’s good fortune. When we hear that someone (even someone we love) has had good fortune we tend to say "why couldn’t that have been me instead?