John 16:33 “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”
What did Jesus mean when He said, “I have overcome the world”? John 1, makes it clear that not only did He create the world, but that the world was made by Him and for Him. In other words, the world was Jesus’ idea, so why does He need to overcome it?
Well, if these questions aren’t confusing enough, He pulls us into this narrative as well.
1 John 5:4 “For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world— our faith.”
So not only does Jesus overcome, we do as well.(as long as we have been born of Him)
What is it about the world that needs to be overcome? When I think of what this might mean, I imagine a battle where an evil ruler and his hoard of ruthless savages are in a conflict with the forces of good, led by a noble King and his faithful warriors. After some epic battle, the force that overcomes (of course always the good side), gains a mighty victory and goodness rules the land. Now this may seem like an exaggerated vision of the spiritual war that is occurring all around us, but the war is real and so is the enemy.
To overcome means: nikáō( /níkē, “victory”) – properly, to conquer (overcome); ” ‘to carry off the victory, come off victorious.
Since Jesus refers to the world as one that needs to be overcome, the implication is that there is now a battle….(at least there was a battle).
2 Peter 2 goes into a very detailed look at what one aspect of this battle looks like:
Vs. 1 “But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will also be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves.”
Vs. 18-19 “For speaking out arrogant words of vanity they entice by fleshly desires, by sensuality, those who barely escape from the ones who live in error,19promising them freedom while they themselves are slaves of corruption; for by what a man is overcome, by this he is enslaved.
False prophets are those who claim to be the voice of God and yet represent a lie. Some commonly known false prophets are Charles Russell, Joseph Smith, Sun Myung Moon, Muhammad, Brian David Mitchell, David Koresh, Guru Nanek…and the list goes on.
Why would I label these as false prophets? To understand if someone meets this criteria, we look at their body of work and see if it holds true.
*Does their work correctly align with God’s Word?
*Did they lay claim to any prophecies that proved to be false?
*Do they hold fast to the principles of God’s Word in how they led?
Joesph Smith, founder of the LDS, predicted a temple to be built in Missouri that never was built: “God promised in the year 1832 that we should, before this generation then living had passed away, return and build up the City of Zion in Jackson County; that we should return and build up the temple of the Most High where we formerly laid the corner stone.
For decades Smith’s followers held on to this prophecy which never came to pass. Finally, after 140 years, the Mormon Church itself admitted this was a false prophecy and hence he was proven to be a False prophet. Unfortunately, the LDS decided to overlook this and other mistakes he made.
Charles Russell, the founder of Jehovah’s Witnesses, claiming to be a Christian and, in fact, a Christian who was restoring the faith of the New Testament, he denied many key Christian doctrines including eternal punishment, the Trinity, the deity of Christ, and the existence of the Holy Spirit. Besides falsely prophesying about the end of days on numerous occasions, his Watch tower society has continued the propaganda to this day.
Muhammed, The founder of Islam, made Jesus into only a common prophet. Instead of holding Jesus as the Son of God. Muslims demote him to the position of mere prophet, no greater than Moses or Noah or Abraham … or Muhammad himself. Christ, the son of Mary, was no more than a messenger in this false religion.
All false prophets deny Jesus as God, many relegate Him to a brother of Satan or a product of some incestuous relationship of God with Mary, a prophet, or a wise teacher, the ideas of who Jesus is and was remains a mere side note in their practice. Many of these false prophets have started movements that brandished themselves as anointed, as hearing from an angel or the lone voice of truth offering a new revelation, their followers have exalted them to the position they desired at times even worshipped them.
What does God say regarding false prophets?
2 Peter 2:9-13 “ the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from temptation, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment for the day of judgment, and especially those who indulge the flesh in its corrupt desires and despise authority.
Daring, self-willed, they do not tremble when they revile angelic majesties, 11whereas angels who are greater in might and power do not bring a reviling judgment against them before the Lord. 12But these, like unreasoning animals, born as creatures of instinct to be captured and killed, reviling where they have no knowledge, will in the destruction of those creatures also be destroyed, suffering wrong as the wages of doing wrong. They count it a pleasure to revel in the daytime. They are stains and blemishes, reveling in their deceptions, as they carouse with you,”
This may sound like a scathing rebuke, but the short list of false prophets I mentioned contain a long list of abuse upon humanity. Pedophilia, polygamy, murder, sorcery, demonism, witchcraft, self-exaltation, and in many cases greed.
2 Peter 2:17-19 “These are springs without water and mists driven by a storm, for whom the black darkness has been reserved. For speaking out arrogant words of vanity they entice by fleshly desires, by sensuality, those who barely escape from the ones who live in error, promising them freedom while they themselves are slaves of corruption; for by what a man is overcome, by this he is enslaved.
These people who claimed to be the voice of God promised the water of life and yet when their followers partake, the people remain thirsty. They themselves are chained to the pitfalls of lust, greed and pride, while they lead others down the same path of bondage. Deception is the rule and yet the enticement to follow caters to the flesh.
*If you were discovered to be a false prophet in the days of old, it was a very dangerous proposition.
Deuteronomy 13:1-5 “If there arises among you a prophet or a dreamer of dreams, and he gives you a sign or a wonder, 2and the sign or the wonder comes to pass, of which he spoke to you, saying, ‘Let us go after other gods’—which you have not known—‘and let us serve them,’ 3you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams, for the Lord your God is testing you to know whether you love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul. 4You shall walk after the Lord your God and fear Him, and keep His commandments and obey His voice; you shall serve Him and hold fast to Him. 5But that prophet or that dreamer of dreams shall be put to death, because he has spoken in order to turn you away from the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt and redeemed you from the house of bondage, to entice you from the way in which the Lord your God commanded you to walk. So you shall put away the evil from your midst.”
If you were shown to be false, you were a dead man. That might be part of the reason the mob stormed the jail and killed Joseph Smith.
If we were to examine the lives of those who proved to be true prophets of God, it would show a pattern of humility, suffering, love and always faithfulness to God’s leading. Their words never conflicted with that of God’s Word and their prophecies always unfolded exactly as they presented them. Many of these great men died poor and heartbroken for the people to whom they were called.
False teachers, such as Confucius or Buddha, on the other hand, are grouped into God’s condemnation of false prophets simply because they present the same destructive heresies as their counterparts; Lies!
They may not claim to be the voice of God but they lay claim to the truth, the same false truth their prophets proclaimed. In some instances they promote a whole new doctrine, in other instances they take the Word of God and twist it to their own liking. Watch these false teachers long enough, and you’ll see the intent of their heart come through. Invariably, some form of humanism becomes the predominant pattern. Exalting man, while diminishing God is the deceptive pattern in which false teachers redirect the hearts and minds of their faithful.
Humanism at its core is an outlook or system of thought attaching prime importance to human rather than divine or supernatural matters. Many ideologies have risen from this core concept, such as Feminism, Socialism, Atheism and ultimately Communism. All of these concepts seem to be growing in attraction in our world. The less attractive byproducts of humanistic thinking is tyranny, oppression, and genocide.
When Jesus spoke of overcoming the world, He was speaking about these!
Yes, all these concepts have been around a long time, they just went under different monikers. People are people the world around and throughout time. Sin has ruled in the hearts of mankind from Adam until now. Until God breaks the curse and casts out this evil, it will continue on until that day of the Lord arrives.
Today, we see a myriad of teachings that focus on topics such as wealth, prosperity, gifts of the Spirit, channeling anointing from the living and the dead, health and wellness, prophecy, and in many cases production.
Laser shows during worship is a growing trend, smoke effect, video boards, and even texting during service whether you want to be saved are things I’ve personally witnessed.
Necromancy isn’t only relegated to the Catholic Church, others are practicing this old belief system of connecting with the dead. Bethel Church in Redding, CA, has been known to attempt Soul Sucking or Soaking in which the faithful touch a headstone or lie on a grave and pray in hopes the anointing of the dead will enter them. The “tunnel of fire”, is based on this same concept yet with the living.
There is just so much we have to weave through in this day and age to attempt to come to some semblance of the Truth. The question then arises, how do you know you have the truth and not someone else. Many humanists deny that any concrete truth exists, but only in what is visible or can be experienced by the senses.
You may ask, how can I have an assurance of what I believe in? I establish my position in the Word of God, founded in Jesus Christ.
Hebrews 4:12 “For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”
If you read the entire Word, you begin to see why it is so perfect. From Genesis to Revelation it supports the same narrative and holds true to the same doctrine. If you want an overview of the Bible you can click on the link but the mastery of God’s inspiration and direction to these 40 or so authors is unlike any book in history. Prophecy in the Bible has always been true. Jesus, a carpenters son, God’s Son, who died for the sins of the world is revered still today by millions.
If we hold fast and do not waver, we will see the final prophecies unfold before us in delight. I personally think they are coming to fruition now, like a setting of the table before the guests are seated, the events unfolding on a world wide platform are unprecedented in end times prophecy.
Israel is like God’s time piece, as we see Israel move, we see the events unfold.
Just recently a request has been submitted to blow the Shofar on the Temple Mount for Rosh Hashana. If this occurs, it will be the first time since the destruction of the temple in 70 A.D.. Peace that has recently occurred between Israel and the UAE is historic. If you like to follow Biblical prophecy, it’s a very cool time to watch.
Why is current biblical prophecy relevant? It serves as a warning of the times in which we live. The day of the Lord approaches, overcoming the world is important now as much as it has ever been.
As Peter warned, we must stand guard against false teaching and hold firm to the Truth of God’s Word. To those who have received the call, we are to be ambassadors in this world of confusion.
2 Peter 3:1 “Beloved, this is now my second letter to you. Both of them are reminders to stir you to wholesome thinking by recalling what was foretold by the holy prophets and commanded by our Lord and Savior through your apostles.”
I have known many sincere people who have been caught up in different forms of teaching, for one reason or another. It takes patience, love and a commitment in sharing with them the gospel of Jesus Christ. It can be very difficult for someone to come out of a false doctrine or even apathy, they might lose family, friends, and at times their lives may be at stake. Answering their questions is the least we can do, sharing with them from the Word, and simply allowing the Holy Spirit to soften their hearts enough to listen may be the best we can give them.
There are lots of really good resources if you want to gain more knowledge of these various teachings; Kingdom of the Cults by Dr. Walter Martin, is one of the best I’ve read.
Finally, Pray for them. You may be the only one who is.