The Called

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You may be called, but are you chosen?

At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people.  Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved, (Matthew 24:10-13, emphasis mine).

That passage from Matthew speaks of the End Times—our time—and Jesus is not talking about the increase of wickedness in the world, although there is undeniably an increase of wickedness in the world.  Jesus is talking about an increase of wickedness in the church, among believers.  This is so important that I want to take it phrase by phrase and show you what the Holy Spirit showed me.

At that time many will turn away from the faith . . .

To turn away from the faith means that at one time they had embraced the faith—true faith.  To turn away from the faith doesn’t necessarily mean that they will stop going to church.  A person can turn away from the faith by adopting a buffet religion: I like this part of the Bible, but I don’t like that or that part.  There are whole denominations that have chosen a buffet religion, for example, those that choose not to allow the free expression of the supernaturally-powered Spiritual gifts.

. . . and will betray and hate each other . . .

The buffet religion people hate those who remain faithful to the entire Word of God (remember, I’m speaking of believers hating believers).  Hating us, they call us haters[1].

Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen, (1 John 4:20, emphasis mine).

Hatred of people is not godly.

Hatred of sin is godly:

Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good, (Romans 12:9, emphasis mine).

You love righteousness and hate wickedness; therefore God, your God, has set you above your companions by anointing you with the oil of joy, (Psalm 45:7, emphasis mine).

Let me give you an example.  Imagine that I just lost my father to cancer because he smoked all his life[2].  Will I hate smoking?  Absolutely!  Will I hate my mother and other remaining relatives who still smoke?  Not at all!  In loving them, will I support their smoking?  Will I allow them to smoke in my house?  No way!  If I supported their smoking, they might believe that I love them because I’m not on their backs about quitting[3], but in reality, that is not love.  I encourage you to read Romans 12:9 again, and continue through the rest of the chapter.  In the NIV, this whole section is subtitled Love in Action.

Betrayal speaks of the breach or trespassing of trust in a relationship, and it can birth hatred—on both sides of the relationship.  A casual acquaintance cannot betray you, only someone who is close to you, someone you love and trust.

. . . and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. . . .

False prophets have already started arising: those who preach the prosperity gospel, for example.  They have taken the biblical truth (that God will bless and prosper His people) out of the context that they must be serving Him.

But, really heresies and false prophets date back to Joseph Smith and Mormonism, then Mary Baker Eddy and Christian Science, and Charles Taze Russell and Jehovah’s Witnesses—and even centuries earlier with the Nicolaitans (Revelation 2:6 & 15).  Interestingly, with the exception of the Nocolaitans, each of these heresies arose in the early- to mid-1800’s from the north-eastern United States.

Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold . . .

Where sin is tolerated, there is no love.  And the best example of this is God, Himself.  The Bible says, “God is love,” (1 John 4:8 & 16).  God absolutely does not tolerate sin.  This is why He will judge the world.  This is also why He created a place separated from His presence, for the devil and the other rebel angels.

By the way, hell was not created nor intended for people.  The only way that a person ends up in hell is because that person chooses to continue sinning unrepentantly.  That person could even be a believer.  This is why it’s so important that churches teach the whole Bible, because buffet religion is really just saying, “I like what God can do for me, but I don’t want to have to give up my sin.”  I’m not talking about someone who struggles with a certain sin.  I’m talking about someone who has no intention of ever changing.

. . . but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.

This is the good news.  And the really good news is that God has not left us to fight against our flesh by ourselves or in our own strength.  The Holy Spirit was given specifically for the purpose of helping us.  He is God, living inside of us.  So if you’re struggling to overcome a certain sin, call on your Holy Helper.  He’s as close as your breath, and ready to help, and He wants to see you overcome.  Partner with Him today, and watch how your life changes.  God is good!

[1] Hatred does not necessarily mean open rage, though it can certainly develop into something that looks like that. Hatred actually starts as cold indifference, the absence of love.

[2] My dad did smoke, but he gave me a birthday gift that really cost him: he quit smoking for good on my tenth birthday—and he did it for me. My mother never was a smoker. Now, smoking is not a sin, as such, but it is absolutely not healthy. I would liken it to the dietary laws of Moses. They are not an issue of salvation, but of health.

[3] This brings up another issue that I hear about all the time: witnessing to our lost loved ones—the ones who have not yet made a decision for Christ. People tell me, “I witness and witness to them all the time, but they just shut me out.” Of course they shut you out! You’re trying to do the job of the Holy Spirit by convicting them of sin. Conviction is a very uncomfortable thing. When something makes you uncomfortable, you shut it out. So I say, “Stop before you damage the relationship. They know where you’re coming from. Now let your life do the talking.”

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