THE COMMANDMENT TO WATCH

INTRODUCTION:

Existence of such a commandment is unknown to many.  Therefore, churches have been lulled into an abominable sense of complacency. And just as the parable of weeds tells us, having caught the unfaithfuls off guard the enemy has successfully planted his volley of lies. So that churches race on the hot-wheels of false teachings – the very thing we are warned to watch out for!  For example,

  • Pre-tribulation rapture of the church
  • Which in turn sanctions the teachings of blatant pursuit for worldly riches!
  • Distorted and corrupt teachings on love, forgiveness, marriage, etc.
  • Similarly, scores others, much to our shameful folly, that you will discover as you persevere faithfully on this website .

PROLOGUE:

Let us understand that christian life is a slow-paced life lived with a lot of caution, patience and perseverance.  It may not seem attractive in a world that has become increasingly fast-paced.  But not if we realize that fast-paced life is only possible on broad ways. Jesus says, Matt 7:13-14, “Enter through the narrow gate.  For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it.  But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.”

This is the reason Jesus has said, Matt 22:14, “…….Many are invited, but few are chosen.”  Like the shortlisting of Gideon’s army from thirty two thousand to a mere three hundred.  Yes, only a few (Matt 22:14) find ‘the narrow pathway of life’. Why?

THE INVITED AND THE CHOSEN:  Because, many mistake their invitation for their ‘chosen’ness.  For example, a born again person considering that being born-again is the acceptance of the ‘invitation’.  What a pity really!  If we thought our born-again status could save us.  As Jesus explains in Matt 12:43-45, if the spiritual bath has not been allowed to grow, and if one fails to fellowship with the Holy Spirit continually, one’s latter condition will be at least seven times worse than the former!

The wide chasm between the ‘invited’ and the ‘chosen’ is well portrayed in Jesus’ parable of the wedding banquet (Matt 22:1-14). And if we are not careful, we would also end up as the man who appeared at the banquet without wearing the wedding clothes (Matt 22:12-13). (For those who are unaware, Rev 19:7-8 teaches that the wedding clothes stand for the righteous acts of the saints).  Also James 2:14, Rev 3:2, 4-5 & 18, Rev 16:15, Rev 19:14.

What are the righteous acts of the saints?  Where can one learn of them?  In Matt 5:20, Jesus says, “For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.”, which clearly means keeping the law is not the answer.  One will have to move beyond the parameters of the law.  But, where to?  Now, let us read John 6:68.  It is Simon Peter’s cognitive response to Jesus’ query to the disciples if they didn’t want to leave Him like the others (Jn 6:66-67), “…Lord, to whom shall we go?  You have the words of eternal life….” (Jn 6:68).

Yes, every christian must turn to Jesus Who Alone is the Author and Perfecter of our faith (Heb 12:2).  He Alone will teach us the ‘words of eternal life’.  In Him alone is found all righteousness, and, origin and perfection of all virtues.  So there should be no compromising on our part.  We must ‘seek first His kingdom and His righteousness….’ (Matt 6:33).

The common practice among Christians is to lead their spiritual lives with their old selves in tow, so that even though one claims to be born again, there is no renewal seen in one which like some falsely teach does not begin with wearing white or removing ornaments – but with the renewal of one’s mind.  Just as apostle Paul instructs in Rom 12:2, “……Be transformed by renewing of your mind…”.

Yes, begin with your inner self.  Get rid of all base and human manner of thinking!  Instead, let them be superseded by lofty thoughts and ways of God.  We have learnt in our earlier lessons how high His thoughts and ways are, and as such, how far removed they are from ours (Isa 55:8-9).  Therefore let us begin by training our minds with the Word of God to help us become visibly productive in our words and deeds.

Thus, the OT will reveal God the Most Holy One to us even as it hearkens, “…..Worship the Lord in the splendor of His holiness…” (Ps 29:2) and the NT revelations would unravel His Triune personality further as Truth (in Jesus Christ, His Only begotten Son) and Spirit (in His Spirit, the Holy Spirit) as it adds, “….His worshipers must worship in Spirit and in Truth.” (Jn 4:24).

To be sure, one cannot enter His presence without ‘His Holiness’. The Holiness of Christ, Who is the Truth and Whose Spirit is poured out for us.  Yes, we are called to partake of the Holy Spirit Who is the Spirit of Christ.  Because, Holy Spirit will testify about the ‘Truth’ to us (Jn 15:26).

Therefore, as Rev 21:27, Rev 21:8, Rev 22:15 warn :

–  “Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful….”.

–  “But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars – their place will be in the fiery lake…”

–  “Outside are the dogs, those who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.”

They will not find their names written in the Lamb’s Book of Life (Rev 21:27(b)) and to be sure they will not enter the presence of the Holy God!

JESUS SHORTLISTING THE DISCIPLES:  Thus, we find in Jn 6:70, Jesus shortlisting the twelve disciples further, “Then Jesus replied, ‘Have I not chosen you, the twelve?  Yet one of you is a devil!’.”  

To think that to be called by Him and to be chosen by Him do not suffice to ensure our worthiness in the ‘final reckoning’ should ring the warning bell for us.  Because, as seen in Jn 6:70, God knows those who are His.  We do not (Jn 13:18-28).  Therefore, we ought to be all the more careful lest we fall out!  Please read 2 Tim 2:19.  So, obeying His commandment to watch is the only surety we can give ourselves.

W A T C H :

Jesus commands to keep watch for two things :

  • Keep watch for His Second Coming.
  • Watch out for spiritual impediments that will constantly battle against our progress.  As we proceed, let us learn about the two in the most befitting titles of ‘HIS KINGDOM’ and ‘HIS RIGHTEOUSNESS’ (Ref Matt 6:33) respectively.

 HIS KINGDOM

(Keep watch for His Second Coming)

I.  NT begins and ends with the heralding message of His Second Coming, also known as coming of the kingdom of God.  Matt 3:2, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.”, Rev 22:20, “…Yes, I am coming soon.”

When John the baptist first heralds it in Matt 3:2, Jesus Christ hadn’t even begun His ministry.  For just as it says in Lk 17:25,“….First, Son of man must suffer many things”, the coming of the kingdom of heaven begins with the first-coming of the Lord, followed by His death on the cross.

THE FIRST STAGE:  Therefore, the first stage of the coming of the kingdom of heaven is the first-coming of Jesus. His ministry on earth spanned a brief period of about three and a half years, after which it culminated in His vicarious death on the cross for the remission of our sins.  This was followed by His resurrection on the third day. And about forty days later, His ascension into Heaven, witnessed by His disciples and people of Galilee assembled there at the time. Thus, Jesus’ first-coming laid the foundation of the kingdom of God by Himself becoming its capstone .

ITS PROGRESS:  The kingdom of God has been progressing since, strengthened and enhanced by the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. His final reminder in Rev 22:20 that He’s coming soon is a promise He is going to fulfill soon.

[For our deeper insight, we have read in Gen 2:2-3, that God rested on the seventh day, after creating the heavens and the earth and all that is in it in six days.  However, since the ‘fall of man’, God is at work once again.  Therefore, it is rightly said in Ps 121:4, “…He Who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.”  Again, in Jn 5:17, “Jesus said to them, ‘My Father is always at His work to this very day, and I too, am working’.”  Isa 57:2, Ex 33:14, Dan 12:13, Heb 4:3-5, Heb 4:9-11, Rev 15:13, Rev 21:3-5 – these verses teach us that God has prepared another rest, an eternal rest.  And He will not rest till He has accomplished it for us and has made all things new once again – new heaven, new earth, everything.  “….I am making everything new!” (Rev 21:5).  Heb 4:9 confirms, “There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God.”]

VARIOUS STAGES:  Jesus reveals the various stages that will lead to His Second-coming in Matt 24, Mk 13, Lk 21 and the book of Revelation. The stages or events that lead to the coming of the Lord are called ‘the beginning of birth pains’ (Mk 13:8(b), Matt 24:8).  As Mk 13:7(b) asserts, …..But the end is still to come.”

THE FINAL STAGE:  The final stage is marked by a chain of events occurring in rapid succession, that we’d better watch out!  It is onset by “..’the abomination that causes desolation’ standing where it does not belong!” (Mk 13:14) – the reign of the Antichrist (also read Matt 24:15, Lk 21:20, Rev 13-18).  As declared in Rev 10:6-7, after this, “….’There will be no more delay!’..”  Refer Mk 13:22, Matt 24:15, Rev 13:4-18, Rev 16:13-14, 16, Rev 17:17-18.

Other events in succession during the final stage are :

  • Nations will gather against Israel (Lk 21:20) and trample or desecrate the holy city of Jerusalem (Rev 11:2) for 42 months.  It will be a terrible time for the people of Israel (Mk 13:14-19, Lk 21:20-24).
  • The fiery judgement of God on the great city of Babylon (or ‘the group of nations’ of deception and violence), which will come upon it suddenly and swiftly (Rev 18:17(a)) and it will never be seen again (Rev 18:21).  Also refer Rev 16:16 and read Rev 17-18.
  • Lastly the mother of all earthquakes (Rev 16:18).  This is the fifth and last of severe end-time earthquakes.  It will trigger off catastrophic events marked by great signs (Mk 13:24, Matt 24:29, Lk 21:25-26, 2 Pet 3:10, Rev 16:18-21). The first of these earthquakes reveal a sampling of these events (Rev 6:12-17). Like the Dec 26, 2004 earthquake and tsunami.  The fifth earthquake will immediately precede Jesus’ Coming!
  • His glorious Coming will appear to all, when the first resurrection will take place (yes, it is called the FIRST RESURRECTION and not ‘rapture’ as some have opted to re-christen it to propagate their false teachings!). And, the Lord will enter Jerusalem accompanied by the heavenly hosts and all His saints (called the Holy Highway of Isa 35). Though the Antichrist (the beast) will gather the kings of the earth to wage war against the heavenly army, they will all be captured and assigned to their respective fates (Rev 19:11-21).
  • The Lord’s reign will at last bring the perfect peace and prosperity that men have always fantasized about but never ever came even close to experiencing, under the various powers of the earth – monarchy, democracy, tyranny and what have you!  (God willing, more on  the thousand years of the Lord’s reign will come up shortly in an exclusive article.  Please pray expectantly.)

[Here is a little note in addition to avoid any confusion:

BEFORE THE ETERNAL KINGDOM OF GOD IS ESTABLISHED:  The proceeding sequence of events are cited here separately because they could otherwise deviate us from the current topic:

Before the Lord’s reign here on earth and at His Second Coming, the ancient serpent or the Devil will be captured and thrown into the Abyss to be held captive there until the thousand years of Lord’s reign on earth along with His saints has come to pass.

At the end of the millennium, once again the dragon will be let loose so that he will deceive those who will be deceived and gather a great army to fight the Lord – a really great multitude indeed!  A testimony to how vile is the sinful man’s heart. Jer 17:9, “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure.  Who can understand it?” and Eccles 9:3, “…The hearts of men, moreover, are full of evil and there is madness in their hearts while they live, and afterward they join the dead.” But the fire from heaven will come down and devour them.  “And the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown. They will be tormented day and night for ever and ever.” (Rev 20:10).

The lake of fire is the second death.  At the second resurrection which will follow next, the Lord will judge the wicked. All whose names are not found in the Book of life will be thrown into the lake of fire, death and Hades preceding them. And all the old order of things will be assigned to the eternal fire as well.

And, the Kingdom of God will be established forever.  Everything will be new.  There will be new heaven and new earth. God will dwell with His people.  He will be their God, and they will be His people.  The Sun, moon and seas will all be gone. God, the Father and the Lamb will be its Light.  There will be no sin, sickness, curse, sorrow, tears or death.]

With that, let us revert to the main topic :

THE SECOND-COMING:  Luke 21:28 reads, “When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.” for as Lk 21:27 proclaims, “At that time they will see the ‘Son of man’ coming in a cloud with power and great glory.”(Rev 19:11-16). Apostle Paul writes in 2 Thess 2:1-4, confirming, “…..for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction. He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped, so that he sets himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God.”  Also read 2 Thess 2:9-12, “….let the reader understand….” Mk 13:14.  Also 1 Thess 4:15-17.

THE FIRST RESURRECTION:  Therefore, let us not be deceived.  Contrary to the widely accepted teaching which advocates the pre-tribulation rapture of the Church, the Word of God is firm and stands united in all the prophecies concerning it, including the OT (Daniel Ezekiel, Isaiah etc) that the first resurrection will not take place until the Second-coming of the Lord, which will be at the end of the tribulation period.

Yes, of the two end-time resurrections prepared for all mankind, the first resurrection (Rev 20:4-6) will take place only at the Second Coming and will be immediately followed by Christ’s millennium rule on the earth. 

THE HOUR OF TRIAL:  The rule of the Antichrist is known as the great tribulation period or ‘the hour of trial that is going to come upon the whole world’.  It will be impossible to forbear.  Therefore, God in His mercy will save His faithful ones by giving them rest through death before that. In fact Jesus reminds us to be faithful and pray earnestly so that we may escape all that is about to happen, Lk 21:36, “Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happened, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of man.”

Yes, since Jesus overcame death, it has lost its power over us, so that it is written, “…Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord, from now on.”  “Yes,” says the Spirit, “they will rest from their labor, for their deeds will follow them.” (Rev 14:13). Also refer Rev 3:10, Rev 6:9-11.  Let us read Isa 57:1-2, “The righteous perish, and no one ponders it in his heart, devout men are taken away, and no one understands that the righteous are taken away to be spared from evil.  Those who walk uprightly enter into peace; they find rest as they lie in death.”  Also Ex 33:14 and Dan 12:13 – the same assurance that Moses and Daniel received by faith.

But for the surviving believers because of their disobedience and unfaithfulness, it will be the most difficult and unimaginable a period.  Most will give up their faith and turn to worship the beast.  And all those who resist will be put to sword or taken into captivity, without exception (Rev 13:9-10).  The reign of the evil will be so terrible and so complete that one will not be able to trust even one’s own – be they parents or children or friends whatever!  Only the ones who bow before the beast and receive his mark will be able to buy or sell even the basic necessities of life.  

However, the Lord will raise the few faithfuls, who do not receive the mark of the beast and stay true to the Word and their testimony of Jesus, at the first resurrection and assign them the power to reign with Him (Rev 20:4). Along with those who had gone on ahead into their rest, who will sit on thrones with the authority to judge the world during the millennium reign of Christ.

SURMISING ON THE REIGN OF ANTICHRIST:  Clearly, the saints of God will be here until the end (Rev 20:4-6, Rev 2:11) when most will be put to death (Rev 13:9-10).  Be warned! Rev 14:12, “This calls for patient endurance….of saints who obey…and remain faithful to Jesus.” And 2 Thess 2:7-8, “For the secret power of lawlessness is already at work, but the one who now holds it back will continue to do so till he is taken out of the way. And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will overthrow with the breath of His mouth and destroy by the splendor of His coming.”

And when he is finally revealed, the ‘hour of trial’ that will come upon the saints of God will be unimaginable and terribly unbearable (glimpses of it can be had in: Rev 13:5-10, 12-18, Rev 14:9-12, Rev 17:9-18, Rev 20:4).  Starvation and martyrdom will be the order of the day for the saints of God.  Yes! it will be the severest of all trials to come upon the Church and indeed many will fall, unable to overcome! (It does not help the Church in anyway, therefore, to be beguiled into believing lies and embracing complacency and prosperity in the name of blessings!).  2 Thess 2:9-12, “The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with the work of Satan displayed in all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders, and in every sort of evil that deceives those who are perishing.  They perish because they refuse to love the truth and so be saved……”.  

Do not partake in the wickedness of this generation that always seeks signs and wonders (Matt 12:39).  But, hold on to what you have received and be faithful.

Unless we realize the gravity of our situation, the ‘commandment to keep watch’ for His Coming will not drive home any sense to us.  Like the scoffers referred to in 2 Pet 3:3-4, secretly we’d also be found ridiculing the very idea, if not as openly as most who (even among church leaders!) are in the habit of doing.  This is the wickedness that exposes the end-time people, believers and all, in Mark 13:12, Lk 21:16-19, 2 Tim 3:1-9 etc.  Take heed! lest we’re also counted one with these scoffers for they only scoff so that they can follow their evil desires (2 Pet 3:3(b)).  Let us be warned!

Times foretell the onset of these events.  The gospel has been preached to all nations (Mk 13:10, Matt 24:14).  The generation we live in is predominantly the generation of those who have rejected the gospel.  May all who read this take heed and obey 2 Pet 3:10-15, “….You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming… So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with Him.  Bear in mind that our Lord’s patience means salvation….”.  Therefore, let us not be found not ready and not waiting prayerfully.  Luke 21:34.

OTHER IMPORTANT BUT MOSTLY IGNORED OR MISINTERPRETED FACTS CONCERNING HIS COMING:

1.  Date and time unknown:

It is not given to us to know the exact date and time of His Coming (Matt 24:36, 42, Mk 13:32-33, Matt 25:13). Acts 1:7, “He said to them, ‘It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by His authority.'”  Therefore, let us not waste our time trying to establish it (deplorable! and to think many have made it their prime occupation!). Instead, let us keep watch and ready ourselves.

2.  Visible to all:

Let no one tell us otherwise!  Do not be deceived.  Matt 24:30, “At that time the sign of the Son of man will appear in the sky, and all the nations of the earth will mourn.  They will see the Son of man coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory.”  Refer Matt 24:27, 30-31; Mk 13:26-27, Lk 17:24, Lk 21:25-28, Rev 19:11-16, Acts 1:10-11, Rev 1:7, Zech 14:1-7.

3.  In this generation:

(Matt 24:34, Mk 13:30-31, Lk 21:32-33).

Matt 24:34 and the rest read as follows, “I tell you the truth, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened.”  Reading Matt 24:4-33 will help us realize that all the events foretold therein would definitely encompass a number of generations, counted in human terms.  Preaching the gospel to all nations (Luke 24:47, Matt 24:14) itself would take centuries to accomplish.  Therefore, quite obviously Jesus could not have meant the generation at that time when He declared Matt 24:34 quoted above.

For further clarification, let us read Matt 19:28(a) – kjv, “And Jesus said unto them, ‘Verily I say unto you, that ye which have followed me, IN THE REGENERATION when the Son of man shall sit on the throne of His glory, ye also shall sit…’.” It indicates to the generation until ‘the regeneration(kjv)’ or ‘renewal(niv)’. Yes, from God’s perspective, there are only two generations: the old and the new.

The old generation (i.e the ongoing one) begins with Adam.  Spiritually speaking, from the period of fall to the period of judgement (end time), and of course it includes this period of grace.  Ref Matt 23:35-36, Rev 20:11-15.  A generation predominantly of the wicked. Matt 12:39, 2 Thess 2:9-12, Rev 13:13-14.  Also, Matt 10:23, 16:28.

And the new generation is the generation of the righteous; yet to come, for they are being readied now.  Therefore, as long as there’s a generation that will read ‘Matt 24:34’, one need only understand that REGENERATION is yet to take place.

THE KEY WATCHWORDS CONCERNING HIS COMING:

  • Mk 13:34-36 – Watch! without sleeping.  Here sleeping means spiritual retraction or backsliding, dead in sin again. Rev 3:1-4, 2 Pet 2:21-22.
  • Lk 12:35-40 – Keep watch in full gear!  Dressed, ready for service and with our lamps burning.  Like the five wise virgins in the parable of ten virgins (Matt 25:4, 7, 10).  It means to be washed in the blood of the Lamb, robed in righteousness, rooted on the Word, ever-ready for service and ever-renewed with the filling of the Holy Spirit. Remember, Holy Spirit is not only the ‘Deposit’ guaranteeing our eternal inheritance.  But, He is also the ‘oil’ that will keep our lamps burning steadily and zealously.
  • Matt 6:10(a)  – Prayerfully!  Col 4:2,  Lk 21:36.  Jesus teaches us to put His Coming the first and foremost item on the list of our petitions-“Thy kingdom come” (kjv).  Isa 62:6-7 shows us how to pray for His Coming, “….never be silent day or night…..give yourself no rest, give Him no rest till He establishes Jerusalem and makes her the praise of the earth.’
  • And indeed, the very creation groans and waits in eager expectation of the same!  (Rom 8:19-23).

CONCLUSION:  Matt 24:35, “Heaven and earth will pass away.  But my words will never pass away.”  Rev 22:12, “Behold, I am coming soon!….”.  Rev 22:17, “The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come!”.   And, Rev 22:17(b), “…Let him who hears say, “come!” .

The Spirit is ever-vigilant and constantly hearkens, “Come” and is joined by His bride, the Church.  Therefore, even as one hears it (Rev 13:9)may one hasten to rejoin “Amen. Come, Lord Jesus”.  Rev 22:17(b) and 20(b).  Yes, Come Lord Jesus! Come!  

HIS RIGHTEOUSNESS

(Watch out for false teachings and love of this world)

II WATCH OUT FOR:

Let us begin by reading Eph 6:10-18, “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power.  Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.  For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.  Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the Gospel of peace.  In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.  Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.”

What we see here is the complete armor of God for a christian soldier.  From a child of God to a soldier of God, the christian growth as of one who is constantly in battle with evil, is both consequential and imperative as it is tremendous. Whether we like it or not, are prepared or not – the truth is we have a spiritual warfare to contend with constantly!  No one who calls himself a child of God is exempted from it.  The evil forces of darkness referred to, above, will ensure that for us!  Let us recall what happened in Eden (Genesis 3).

A BRIEFING ON THE ORIGIN OF EVIL:  Where did the spiritual forces of evil spring from?  How did it come into existence? How has it captivated us?  How does it continue to influence?  Let us now learn and understand all that.

The first reference to it in the scripture is found in Gen1:2, “Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep,…”, which means it came into existence about the time God set about to create the world (Gen 1:1-2).  It is to this darkness that God casts Lucifer and his band of rebelling angels.

Darkness, therefore, may be defined as the abode of evil; a place created for the purpose.  Refer Isa 14:12-17, Ezek 28:12-17, Lk 10:18. Also read 2 Pet 2:17, Jude 13, Matt 8:12, Matt 25:30 etc.  We also learn that some of the devil’s legions are cast into dark dungeons, imprisoned there until it is their time to serve God’s certain purposes, reserved exclusively for them. Refer Rev 9:1-6, 14-15; Rev 13:1(b), Rev 17:8, 16-18.

Similarly, Satan who now roams about freely will also be soon locked up in the abyss (Rev 20:1-3) for a period of thousand years, only to be released again for a short time to meet his end (Rev 20:7-10).  Darkness, therefore, is a place that will be around and influence the inhabitants of the earth (eg Gen 3:1, Eph 6:12, Col 1:13) until the Day of the Lord. Then it will be completely annihilated in the eternal fire (Rev 17:16, Rev 18:8, Rev 19:20, Rev 21:8, Rev 20:10, 14-15).

Luke 22:53 tells us that this is the hour of darkness – when darkness reigns.  So we who have been rescued from darkness (Col 1:13, Eph 5:8-10) ought to be even more careful lest darkness overtakes us (Jn 12:35) once again.  But since as a child of God, “…because the darkness is passing  and the true light is already shining.” (1 Jn 2:8), let us put away the deeds of darkness (Eph 5:11-12) and live as children of light.  And while we do so, let us be aware of devil’s scheming ploys and be prepared to overcome them.

THE KEY WATCHWORDS ARE:

1.  Matt 7:15, “Watch out for false prophets.”

  • “They come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly they are ferocious wolves.”  Vs 16, “By their fruits you will recognize them.” The spiritual fruits of a spiritual man.  Only the Spirit of discernment can help us discern them. To see through their guise, especially when no fruit is forthcoming or are pretentious.  Matt 7:21-23 – one will have to depend on more than one’s human faculties.  Read what Jesus has to say about it in Matt 10:16, “I am sending you out like sheep among wolves.  Therefore be as shrewd as snakes  and as innocents as doves.”  Also Rev 13.
  • 2 Pet 2:1-3, 15, 17-22, 2 Pet 3:17, Rev 2:14-16 –  They have strayed the straight way and lead many astray like Balaam.
  • 2 Cor 11:13-14 – They masquerade as apostles!
  • Rom 16:17-18 –  They serve their own appetites.

2.  Matt 16:6, “Be careful.”  “Be on your guard….against false teachings (Matt 16:12), “hypocrisy” (Lk 12:1(b), “malice and wickedness” (1 Cor 5:7-8).

  • These are the four vices Jesus warns us to guard ourselves against, termed by Him as “yeasts”.  Gal 5:7-9 reads, “You were running a good race.  Who cut in on you and kept you from obeying the truth?  That kind of persuasion does not come from the One Who calls you.  ‘A little yeast works through the whole batch of dough’.”  Eg.  Mk 7:5-8, Matt 15:1-14, Matt 23.
  • How Paul warns the church elders in Ephesus in his farewell message, Acts 20:25-31, “…keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers….I know that after I leave, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock.  Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth…so be on your guard!…”.

3.  Lk 12:15, “Watch out!  Be on your guard against all kinds of greed, a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.”

  • Col 3:5(b) –  Beware!  Greed is equivalent to idolatry.  Understand that it is the lure of the devil (Matt 4:8-9).  All the pinnacles of this world – success, fame, riches, position – come to us only after a compromise with the devil (vs 9). Overcome, before it is too late.  Read 2 Kings 5:15-27, Joshua 7:19-26, Acts 5:1-10.
  • Greed is a sure sign (the revealing fruit of one’s sinful self) that a person is opposed to the Holy Spirit and His leading (2 Kings 5:26, Acts 5:3-4, 9).

4.  Matt 24:4, “Watch out that no one deceives you….”.  “…..For many will come in My Name….”.  Matt 24:24, Matt 24:10-11.  “See to it that you are not alarmed…” (Matt 24:6).  Let not fear and wonderment overtake you.

  • Refer Rev 13:3(b), 17:6(b)-7(a), 8(b).  “Worship the Lord your God, and serve Him only.” (Matt 4:10; also read Rev 19:9-10, Rev 22:8-9, Deut 5:7-10).
  • In this period of God’s grace, we partake of His great compassion for us.  But let us remember if God is a compassionate God, (Deut 4:31 – “For the Lord your God is a merciful God.”), then He is also a consuming fire, (Deut 4:24, “For the Lord your God is a Consuming Fire, a Jealous God”.  Also, Heb 10:30-31)  After the defined period of grace is past, what remains is – “only a fearful expectation of judgement and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God.” (Heb 10:27).  1 Pet 5:8, “Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”
  • Read Rev 12:11 – Our weapons are The Blood of the Lamb, The Word and Courage even in the face of death, if need be.  Also, Lk 10:19.

5.  1 Cor 16:13, “Be on your guard:  stand firm in the faith, be men of courage; be strong.”

  • 1 Tim 4:15-16, “Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress.  Watch your life and doctrine closely.  Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.”
  • Rev 21:8 is a list of all those whose place is in the fiery lake of burning sulfur.  And the list begins with ‘COWARDLY’. Even though we do not wage wars as the world does and do not fight with the weapons of the world (2 Cor 10:3-4), as christian soldiers ‘cowardice’ can never be our forte.
  • Yes, we need courage not only to die for Christ but also to live for Christ.  Persecution, severe oppositions, betrayal, starvation, and what have you, are our lot.
  • We ought to be extraordinary people with extraordinary courage.  And only when we become extraordinary, can we join with Paul and declare, “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present, not the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God.  That is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Rom 8:38-39).

CONCLUSION:

The wealth of God’s promises that we have begun to experience in this life will continue on endlessly.  They are for us by His great mercy and love.  But if we persist in disobedience and unfaithfulness, then even though we will still continue to enjoy His mercy and perhaps even cash in on a few of His promises for a while (for He is long suffering, and His patience is to make room for our salvation), the hour of reckoning will be upon us most unexpectedly. Even now as you read this, be assured of His amazing love that has brought you to it.  Be warned.  Repent.  And enjoy His everlasting fellowship.  Amen.

May God Bless You!

The series of commandments concluded.