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Spiritual Decline in Reformed Churches in SA

Written by Prof Johan Malan.

Abstract: The form of spiritual decline that is occurring in Reformed (Calvinistic) churches in South Africa comprises the denial of fundamental Christian doctrines. The five doctrines involved are (1) a premillennial eschatology, (2) sanctification as a second work of grace, (3) salvation through regeneration, (4) the inerrancy of the Bible as God’s Word, and (5) the Deity of Jesus. Some denominations are in an early stage of decline while others have advanced much further.

The Bible clearly warns us against serious doctrinal decline that will occur in “Christian” churches in the last days:

“Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons” (1 Tim. 4:1). “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables” (2 Tim. 4:3-4).

We live in the time of the great falling away. While the decline in charismatic churches comprises the embracing of extra-biblical revelations and manifestations such as dreams, visions, signs, wonders and strange experiences (e.g. the Toronto phenomenon) the decline in the traditional Reformed churches takes the route of the successive abandoning of various doctrinal foundations.

The Bible refers to moral and spiritual [or doctrinal] decline that will take on dreadful proportions in the end-time. In 1 Timothy 4:1 the Holy Spirit emphatically states that people will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and the doctrines of demons. In the New Testament there is reference only to Christian believers as people who have a true faith; consequently, the falling away occurs among them. Non-believers (all the idolaters in the non-Christian word) can’t fall from the faith because they never had any standard of true faith from which they can fall away. They are the non-believers in whom the god of this world has blinded the minds (2 Cor. 4:4). Their sins can intensify but that does not constitute a process of falling away.

Nominal Christianity is a fertile breeding-ground for the development of all sorts of heresies as such people have no discernment. Jesus said: “These people draw near to Me with their mouth, and honour Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me” (Mt. 15:8). They only have a form of godliness but denying its power (2 Tim. 3:5). They profess a Christian creed with their lips and mind, but their hearts are not born again. They are the ones who are easily deceived by the Evil One to adhere to demonic doctrines such as stating that Jesus Christ is not God, that the Bible is not the Word of God, that there is no devil or hell, that you need only to be baptised to inherit God’s Kingdom, that you ought to experience strange manifestations, that you can be saved through other religions and mediators other than the Lord Jesus Christ, etc.

Theologians who actually believe these fallacies and train pastors in terms thereof are largely responsible for the drastic decline of spiritual values in communities. Unsaved and carnal people enjoy being declared saved by pastors without having to repent and confess their sins. They are the ones referred to in 2 Timothy 4:3-4: “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables.” They want to hear fables and lies, for instance that there is not really an explicit experience of salvation from sins, that Christians should only try to sin moderately, and that all those who have been baptised and have become members of a specific denomination, are predestined to go to heaven. This superficial, deceitful and compromising teaching is like the seed that fell among the thorns and on shallow soil. It does not condemn, it is socially acceptable and enjoys a large following among sinners.

A world-wide process

The ideological transformation of South Africa’s government, universities and many of its churches, is part of a world-wide campaign against fundamental Christian doctrines. The constitutional and theological phasing-out of a profession of faith in the Triune God of the Bible and the exclusivity of the Christian faith, is a pre-condition for the introduction of the inclusive, multi-religious dogma of the antichristian new world order. In the light of these developments it is obvious why the Lord Jesus mentioned religious deception first in His list of signs of the times when his disciples asked Him: “Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age? And Jesus answered and said to them: Take heed that no one deceives you… Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many… For false christs and false prophets will arise and show great signs and wonders, so as to deceive, if possible, even the elect” (Mt. 24:3-4, 11, 24; emphasis added). False teachings and congruent antichristian reforms have indeed become very popular in this wicked and adulterous generation.

While this serious attack against God’s kingdom is escalating in extent and intensity, one would have liked to believe that there is still a significant number of evangelical Christian churches in which a strong stand is taken for the truth of God’s Word. However, the contrary is true. In the vast majority of churches doctrinal error, moral depravity and ecumenical compromise are the order of the day. Churches are turning lukewarm and apostate and force the Lord Jesus Christ to dissociate Himself from them. As to the church in Laodicea, He says to them: “So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew you out of My mouth” (Rev. 3:16).

The lukewarm preachers and members of the Laodicean congregation refer to people who have compromised. They are neither cold nor hot – they do not reject Christianity, but neither do they teach it correctly or live by it according to set Biblical standards. Most people actually prefer these compromising and inferior spiritual standards, but to Jesus Christ they are totally unacceptable. There are scores of ‘modern’ pastors who are at the disposal of an apostate and lukewarm humanity to encourage them in their error and strengthen their belief in all kinds of unbiblical fables and myths. Peter strongly warns against false teachers who introduce fallacious doctrines:

“There were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their destructive ways, because of whom the way of truth will be blasphemed. By covetousness they will exploit you with deceptive words” (2 Pet. 2:1-3).

This is a highly shocking state of affairs. Many people will follow the perniciousness of these false preachers and for their sake the way of truth (the requirement of being born again and also the doctrine of sanctification) will be slandered and scoffed at. These liars will be the popular preachers and they will make it their business to ridicule evangelical pastors who still persist in teaching the truth.

Where does this multitude of false teachers come from who take the lead in rejecting the sound doctrine of the Bible? Some of them do not even hesitate to deny the divinity and redemptive work of the Lord Jesus Christ. Surely, they must have been trained at theological seminaries with equally low standards. From there they find their way into churches and incessantly discredit and even reject sound Christian doctrine. If they are not resisted they can do enormous damage. The fact is that their numbers are increasing and that they will soon reach a situation where they will gain the upper hand in synods. It is a case of a little leaven that leavens the whole lump (1 Cor. 5:6).

In the post-World War II era, more or less since the founding of the World Council of Churches in 1948, there has been large-scale theological decline in Protestant circles in numerous of the major theological faculties and seminaries globally, including several in South Africa – to such an extent that one may well speak of decadent Protestantism. One should, however, not generalise but evaluate each theological faculty, seminary and denomination individually in the light of the Word of God. We are commanded to withdraw ourselves from the midst of those who have a mere form of godliness (2 Tim. 3:5). Although the ways leading to spiritual decline are not always identical, the end results are the same since they prepare the way for further error as well as ecumenical bonds between all those who go astray. Their common enemy is the truth which, because of its unique nature, cannot compromise with false teachings.

A review of the degeneration that has occurred in the traditional reformed churches in South Africa during the past fifty-odd years clearly indicates that five Christian doctrines are targeted in the degeneration process. Some of these have already been rejected, while the rest are theologically controversial and are at present actively debated and queried. Depending on the degree of resistance that there still is, the decline has not progressed to the same extent in all churches and congregations. However, it is interesting to note that the doctrines that have been targeted may be listed in a specific sequence from peripheral to core ones.

1. The premillennial doctrine of the second coming of Christ

Premillennialism concerns the acceptance of the literal fulfilment of biblical prophecies concerning the end-times. Not only will Jesus Christ return to earth physically and sets foot on the Mount of Olives (Zech. 14:4-5), but also, prior to that moment, there will be a world ruler in the person of the Antichrist who will reign over the entire world for a period of seven years during the great tribulation. His revelation is withheld by the presence of the Church of Jesus Christ in the world, that constitutes a temple for the Holy Spirit. Once the true believers have been raptured to heaven, the Antichrist will be revealed (2 Thes. 2:3-10).

After the return of the Lord Jesus at the end of the seven years of tribulation there will be a literal millennial kingdom on earth with the restored and redeemed Israel heading all the nations. The Latin word “mille” meaning a thousand is the root of the term “millennium” which indicates the belief in a literal thousand year reign of peace on earth after Christ’s second coming. The term “premillennial” denotes the belief that Christ will return before the dawning of the millennium. Owing to the spiritualising and allegorising of biblical prophesies, most reformed churches have already rejected the premillennial doctrine. One denomination that has not done so is the Evangelical Reformed Church that still firmly upholds this teaching.

In 1962, the biggest Afrikaans denomination (the Dutch Reformed Church) accepted the amillennial view at a synod meeting, in terms of which biblical prophecies are interpreted allegorically or symbolically. This decision was contrary to the premillennial beliefs of the founders of the theological seminary in Stellenbosch early in the twentieth century.

Unfortunately, the initial premillennial teachings were replaced by amillennialism that originated from the Free University in the Netherlands where many of the local theologians obtained their doctorates. The anti-Semitism of the Second World War strongly influenced theology in Europe. This led to the denial of the prophetic future of Israel as nation, consequently the church replaced Israel as “the Israel of the New Testament”. In accordance with this approach, other prophecies such as the millennial kingdom, were also spiritualised and robbed of their literal meaning.

The lapsing into amillennialism had several negative theological implications, inter alia:

·       The Bible is regarded as a symbolic book which is spiritualised and not interpreted literally in terms of grammatical-historical exegesis. The authority of the Scriptures is thus undermined.

·       The new hermeneutic principles gave rise to the replacement theology, in accordance with which Israel is replaced by the church, the 144 000 spiritually revived Jews of the tribulation are replaced by the believers of all ages, Babylon is replaced by Rome or the USA, etc.

·       The denial of a future millennium and the merging thereof with the church dispensation paved the way to the kingdom theology in which prosperity, power and ecumenical unity are pursued. A signs and wonders theology is used to unite all Christians. Doctrines are neglected and overruled for the sake of greater unity, thus opening the way to Protestant/Catholic unification and even heresies such as multi-religious ecumenism.

·       The binding of Satan during the millennium is transferred to the present church dispensation. This ill-considered conclusion has two results: 1. Many churches have virtually no demonology and merely offer psychological counselling to address the works of Satan. 2. In other circles, they attempt to bind or evict Satan and his “territorial demons”, thereby delivering towns, cities and even countries, from their evil influence and strongholds. This method is unbiblical.

·       The spiritualising of biblical prophesies and the denial of promises such as those concerning the rapture lead to a lack of prophetic perspective among Christians. It diminishes their future expectation and understanding of the signs of the times which herald the second coming of Christ. Secular ideals and prospects in the present world, such as socio-economic transformation and the unity syndrome of the new world order, replace the expectations regarding the second coming of Christ and the millennium.

2. Sanctification as second work of grace

During the times of revival in the 18th and 19th centuries there was strong emphasis on sanctification as a second work of grace after conversion. The apostle Paul said: “For this is the will of God, your sanctification… Therefore he who rejects this does not reject man, but God, who has also given us His Holy Spirit” (1 Thes. 4:3, 8). Believers who accept this teaching in faith have a new encounter with God, which may also be described as “being filled with the Holy Spirit”. Thus lukewarm, powerless, carnal, non-praying and worldly-minded Christians are helped along the way to continuous spiritual growth. They do not become perfect, but they obtain the spiritual power to achieve victories over temptations and carnality and to devote themselves wholeheartedly to the cause of evangelism to extend the kingdom of heaven.

It is important to realise that sanctification is an explicit work of grace that only the Lord can do for you. It commences with imputed holiness in the lives of believers who humble themselves and faithfully trust God to sanctify them: “Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful, who will also do it” (1 Thes. 5:23-24; emphasis added).

The second aspect of sanctification relates to the practical application of the power of the Holy Spirit as a means of grace. Your full co-operation is needed to become holy in your whole conduct: “Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God” (2 Cor. 7:1). Do you consciously and actively, in the power of the Holy Spirit, submit yourself to the demands of God’s Word to lead a life that is pleasing to the Lord? Paul said: “I discipline my body and bring it into subjection” (1 Cor. 9:27). To Timothy he said: “Exercise yourself… to godliness” (1 Tim. 4:7).

When uncommitted and lukewarm Christians wait on the Lord to sanctify them and diligently start living a life of victory over sin and of fruitful service in the kingdom of God, they experience revival in their lives. A revival of this nature started in Wellington and surrounding towns in South Africa, more than a century ago under the ministry of Dr. Andrew Murray. However, 20th century materialism has quenched those early revival fires among the rising generations. Currently, this doctrine is mockingly rejected as a “second blessing” or as “methodism”, i.e. something vested in man’s works. In the rejection of this work of grace it is alleged that all Christians are filled with the Holy Spirit at their conversion. How do such theologians explain the phenomenon of carnal Christians who do not bear witness of living under the control and empowerment of the Holy Spirit? Consider the following evidence about carnal (immature) Christians in the Bible:

·       Paul insists that the Roman Christians must be dead to sin: “Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts (Rom. 6:11-12; emphasis added). This disposition must lead to disciplined action. The Christians are admonished to walk according to the Spirit and not according to the flesh, and “by the Spirit [to] put to death the deeds of the body” (Rom. 8:1, 13). To this instruction he adds that they should not be conformed to the pattern of this world but be transformed by the renewing of their mind (Rom. 12:1-2). In practical terms, it means to lead sanctified instead of carnal lives: “But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfil its lusts” (Rom. 13:14). Obviously, the latter possibility exists and must be countered by a committed, Christ-like life.

·       Paul resented the fact that the Corinthian believers did not live Holy Spirit-inspired lives: “And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual people but as to carnal, as to babes in Christ. I fed you with milk and not with solid food; for until now you were not able to receive it, and even now you are still not able; for you are still carnal. For where there are envy, strife, and divisions among you, are you not carnal and behaving like mere men?” (1 Cor 3:1-3). There was a serious lack of knowledge about sanctification among them: “Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?” (1 Cor. 3:16; see also 1 Cor. 6:19-20).

·       The Galatians were rebuked for their carnal behaviour resulting from spiritual backsliding after making a good start: “Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh?” (Gal 3:3). Paul reminds them that only a true walk in the Spirit will lead to a life of victory over sin. If the flesh is not delivered to be crucified in a full surrender to the Lord, none of their good intentions will be realised: “Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfil the lusts of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish” (Gal. 5:16-17). How is the flesh rendered ineffective? By denying yourself (the old man) and daily identifying with the cross of Jesus Christ. Paul says: “I glory… in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world” (Gal. 6:14).

·       Paul reminds the congregation in Ephesus that they must get to the point where they renounce the old man, i.e. the desires of the old life, and put on the new man: “…that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts… and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in righteousness and true holiness” (Eph. 4:22-24). Although the old life was, in principle, renounced at the rebirth (the first work of grace) it became so firmly established by the force of habit that it is quite a challenge to humble yourself, have your heart completely sanctified by the Lord and to translate inward holiness into outward holiness. The second work of grace is also reiterated in Ephesians 5:25-27 with the clear purpose that Christians should be holy and without blemish.

·       The principles of putting off and putting on are also emphasised in Colossians. Please note that after the initial “putting off” some of the carnal traits remain and must be renounced during a full surrender: “Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness… in which you once walked when you lived in them. But now you must also put off these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth. Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds, and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him” (Col 3:5-10).

What happens if the doctrine of sanctification is not preached? There will be no spiritual growth to maturity in the congregation. Church members will remain infants in their spiritual lives, “tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness by which they lie in wait to deceive” (Eph 4:14). They will be unable to escape from this condition in their own power without surrendering their old nature to be crucified and to trust the Lord to fill them with His Holy Spirit. To such people one has to continue preaching repentance since there is no growth to spiritual maturity. It was for this very reason that Paul was greatly upset about the spiritual stagnation among the Hebrew believers:

“For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God and you have come to need milk and not solid food. For everyone who partake only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil “(Heb 5:12-14).

Believers who do not live holy lives are full of the world, of sin and of their selfish desires. They do not have spiritual discernment to distinguish between truth and deception. They easily fall prey to all kinds of spiritual error, including the charismatic experience theology with its increasing tendency towards extra-biblical experiences, manifestations, signs and wonders.

3. The doctrine of salvation through regeneration

After apostate reformed churches have abandoned the premillennialist eschatology and the doctrine of sanctification as a second work of grace, they usually start attacking the evangelical doctrine of salvation. When this bastion has fallen in their midst they replace it (by courtesy of Calvin) with the Augustinian heresy of baptismal regeneration. A form of covenant theology which is based on the doctrine of predestination and confirmed by the sacrament of baptism, is proclaimed in their churches. As a “covenant child” the baptised person is assured of eternal security and consequently not confronted with the need to be born again. This theology with its supporting rituals produces church members who only have an outward form of godliness. They serve God with words only but their unregenerate hearts are cold and unchanged: “These people draw near to Me with their mouth, and honour Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me. And in vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men” (Mt. 15:8-9).

It is to spiritually depraved and backslidden churches that the Lord Jesus extends an earnest call to repentance: “I have this against you, that you have left your first love. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place – unless you repent” (Rev. 2:4-5).

Should such churches not fully restore the evangelical doctrine of salvation the Lord will remove their lampstands from them. That doesn’t mean that they will stop functioning as denominations, but the Lord will withdraw His Spirit from them with the result that total spiritual darkness will prevail in their midst. The light of the lampstand symbolises the presence of the Lord in the church. Its daily filling with oil denotes the working of the Holy Spirit and the need for members to constantly remain Spirit-filled. When backsliding occurs, the light of the gospel grows dim and is eventually quenched. This is precisely what Satan desires because in conditions like these, lies, deception and other works of darkness will proliferate. He will continue to blind the minds of people that they should no longer understand or confess the basic gospel truths (2 Cor. 4:4).

The biblical doctrine of salvation is based on a clear confession of sin (1 Jn. 1:8-9) and on this basis God will forgive a person’s sin and give him a new life through a spiritual rebirth. Without being born again thus, no one will see the kingdom of God (Jn. 3:3). Only after his or her salvation the believer can be baptised (Mk. 16:16; Acts 8:36-37).

4. The Bible as the inerrant and literally inspired Word of God

In compromising churches and among liberal theologians there is very little regard for the Bible as God’s Word. Prof. I.J.J. Spangenberg of the University of South Africa takes a strong stand against the inerrancy of the Bible. In a paper, “The Durtch Reformed Church, the book Jonah and religious pluralism,” read on 3rd Sept. 1996 in the Faculty of Theology at the University of Stellenbosch, he described the paradigm shift in the Bible sciences as follows:

·       Originally, the Bible was regarded as the Word of God and the historical-literal method of interpretation was followed. This view was confirmed by the Church reformers. It is based on the firm belief that holy men of God spoke and wrote as they were moved by the Holy Spirit (2 Pet. 1:21). According to this view the Bible is the Word of God as He revealed Himself to people through His Word.

·       Subsequently, the Bible was regarded as the Word of God in human language. Towards the end of the 19th century this view gave rise to the historical-critical method of interpretation (the so-called ‘higher criticism’). In terms of this approach the Bible consists of a collection of Near Eastern religious writings compiled by fallible people with typical human limitations. These writings were often revised and extended and contain spiritual insights and testimonies of faith dating from that era.

·       At present (since about 1975) the Bible is described as words about God and literary methods of interpretation are applied. In modern-day literature science the emphasis has shifted from the author to the text and eventually to the reader. Passages from the Bible are analysed by using narrative and rhetorical methods. Deconstruction and other literary methods of analysis are also used. Scholars now regard the Bible as a collection of myths and folk tales from which one may derive moral applications and lessons. The Bible is thus left open to numerous interpretations.

In his paper, Prof. Spangenberg challenged the Dutch Reformed Church: 1. to regard parts of the Bible as myths (or folk tales), and 2. to also read the sacred books of other religions (e.g. Buddhism) to discover the meaning of life.

Not everyone’s rejection of the Bible as the inerrant Word of God goes to the same extremes, but fundamental thinking about this subject is definitely losing ground. The new approach towards the Bible is also evident in some of its new translations. There are Bible Societies, other bodies and individuals who don’t hesitate to translate exegetically according to their own opinions. Some of the manuscripts used are without any doubt incomplete. The new Afrikaans translation of the Bible conforms to the approach followed in the “Good News for Modern Man” and ought to be rejected by evangelic Christians. This Bible does contain certain truths, but it is not the whole truth and nothing but the truth!

5. The doctrine on the Divinity and the uniqueness of Jesus Christ

The most fundamental Christian doctrine that is currently attacked and rejected by liberal theologians is the Divinity of Jesus Christ. There has been a lively debate on this subject in recent years. Various South African theologians now blatantly declare that the so-called ‘historical Jesus’ is not ‘God’. At the same time they reject the uniqueness of Jesus as the only Saviour and allege that salvation may also be attained through other religions such as Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism and the traditional African religions. In terms of these interfaith views there are many ways of salvation. The reformed churches have thus far not formally accepted these heretical ideas but they are nevertheless intensively exposed to them. Some of the congregations invite these liberal theologians to preach in their churches, but others still refuse them. The fact that they have already abandoned a number of Christians doctrines makes them an easy target for further deception.

This new concept of Jesus, as well as the multi-religious scenario in which Christianity is placed on equal par with other religions, is already presented in several of the new religious textbooks for use in schools and universities. For more information on theological distortions emanating from these theologians, see the article “Images of Jesus” in the section on Christology.

How long will it be before this fallacy also penetrates apostate churches to the level of their congregations? Peter’s warning is so relevant in the times in which we live, when he says:

“But also in those days there arose false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among yourselves, who will subtly and stealthily introduce heretical doctrines – destructive heresies – even denying and disowning the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their immoral ways and lascivious doings; because of them the true Way will be maligned and defamed (2 Pet. 2:1-2 Amplified Bible).

So many of them are already denying Jesus as God, as the Son of God, and as the only Saviour of this world! In this way the false teachers do not only bring about their own ruin and destruction, but also that of the people whom they have deceived and guided along the broad [compromising] way leading to hell. The popular support enjoyed by the false teachers will lead to the theological discrediting and blaspheming of evangelical believers, and eventually to their open persecution.

Conclusion

We are clearly living in the time of the great falling away preceding the revelation of the Antichrist as the man of sin (2 Thess 2:3-4). At a time like this we should be very sure that we are not deceived by false prophets (1 Jn. 4:1). Don’t be afraid to withdraw yourself from those who are accepting wrong teachings. The Lord Jesus said that there will be great polarisation among righteousness and unrighteousness in the end-time:

“He who is unjust, let him be unjust still; he who is filthy, let him be filthy still; he who is righteous, let him be righteous still; he who is holy, let him be holy still” (Rev. 22:11).

The apostle Paul says: “Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God” (2 Cor. 7:1).

Defilement of the flesh is moral sin, while defilement of the spirit is indicative of doctrinal error, superstition and unbelief. We have to be delivered from these contaminating influences. This will happen only if we are filled with the Spirit of God, have enlightened eyes of the mind and are nourished with the pure spiritual milk of the Word of God (1 Pet. 2:2).

More than ever before, the pure light of our Christian testimony must shine brightly to the glory of the Lord and the extension of His kingdom. Without strong spiritual convictions we will be overcome and dragged along by the powers of darkness. It is now the time to stand firm for our evangelical convictions despite the possibility of being ridiculed, slandered or persecuted. Take courage from the example of believers who remained steadfast in the most evil and dangerous situations. To the true believers in ancient Pergamos the Lord said: “And you hold fast to My name, and did not deny my faith even in the days in which Antipas was my faithful martyr, who was killed among you, where Satan dwells” (Rev. 2:13). “Antipas” means “Against everything”. There may well be a time, in the near future, when societies everywhere become utterly corrupt and depraved, being completely infiltrated by humanism, New Age philosophy, multi-religious deception and other doctrines of demons, as well as extreme immorality, licentiousness and violence.

May the Lord preserve us blameless until the day of His coming – to be presented to Him without spot or wrinkle.