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Satan (Part 21) - The Epic War: Satan Spreads Heresy in the Early Churches

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J. Most of the apostles and prophets were martyred.
i. John the Baptist was killed by Herod (Mar 6:22-29).
ii. James was killed by Herod (Act 12:1-2).
iii. History has it that Peter was crucified, which was a fulfillment of Jesus' prophecy (Joh 21:18-19; 2Pe 1:14).
iv. Paul was also martyred (2Ti 4:6).
v. History has it that all of the apostles except for John were killed (Mat 24:9; Luk 21:16).
K. All of Satan's persecution against the apostles and early Christians were totally ineffectual in stopping the spread of Christianity.
i. In fact, the more he persecuted them, the more it emboldened others to preach the word and spread the faith (Act 8:3-4; Php 1:12-14).
ii. Persecution having failed, Satan tries another one of his age-old tactics: corrupting the word of God.
7. Satan corrupts the word of God written by the apostles.
A. Satan's first assault on God's children was successful in part because of his corrupting of the word of God (Gen 3:1-6).
B. Having little success in persecuting the early church, Satan employed his old trick by inspiring his followers to corrupt the New Testament written by the apostles (2Co 2:17).
C. Wicked men circulated epistles through the churches claiming to have been written by Paul (2Th 2:2).
D. This tactic was used by Satan again in earnest during the first two centuries and then in the third century by the infamous Origen of Alexandria who was a chief Bible corruptor.
E. More on this later.
8. Satan sows seeds of heresy in the early churches.
A. Works-based salvation heresy
i. Satan used the unbelieving Jews who were his children (Joh 8:44) to infiltrate the early churches.
ii. These people claimed to be true Jews, but were not, but were rather of the synagogue of Satan (Rev 2:9; Rev 3:9).
a. True Jews are God's elect who are in Christ, whether they be Jews or Gentiles (Rom 2:28-29; Php 3:3; Gal 3:7, 29).
b. Circumcision means nothing in the New Testament church which is under the new covenant (Gal 6:15-16).
iii. When Christianity started to spread to the Gentiles, Satan sent out his missionaries (Mat 23:15, 33) to creep into the churches (2Pe 2:1; Jud 1:4) and try to bring them into bondage (Gal 2:4) in his synagogue.
iv. These Jews came from Judea and infiltrated other churches, such as the church in Antioch, and taught the Gentile Christians there that they had to be circumcised and keep the law of Moses to be saved (Act 15:1, 5).
v. These Satanic evangelists also crept into the churches of Galatia and preached a false gospel of works salvation to them (Gal 1:6-7; Gal 5:1-4).
a. These smooth talkers bewitched them into believing a lie and not obeying the truth (Gal 3:1).
b. Bewitch v. - 1. trans. To affect (generally injuriously) by witchcraft or magic. 2. fig. To influence in a way similar to witchcraft; to fascinate, charm, enchant. 1526 Tindale Gal. iii. 1 O folisshe Galathyans: who hath bewitched you?
(i) Who was behind this false doctrine that caused men to not obey the truth?
(ii) Remember that Satan is the father of lies, and there is no truth in him (Joh 8:44).
(iii) Works salvation doesn't come from God (Gal 5:6-8).
c. Satan loves the doctrine of works salvation because it denigrates the work of salvation by Christ (Gal 5:4) and spreads like leaven in dough and quickly leavens the whole lump (Gal 5:9).
vi. Satan's doctrine of works salvation was effective, and he has continued to propagate it in the churches until this day.
a. Teaching brethren to entirely deny Christ's salvation by grace is not effective with most believers.
b. But the Satanic doctrine of works salvation that the Galatians were infected with is palatable because it mixes salvation by grace with man's works, giving man some credit for his own salvation.
c. In the Galatian churches, it was taught as grace plus being circumcised and keeping the law of Moses.
d. In Arminian churches today, it is taught as grace plus a sinner's acceptance of it by his faith.
e. In both cases, salvation by grace alone is denied.
f. Both doctrines are Satanic in origin.
B. Satan promoted various other heresies in the early churches.
i. Paul warned that grievous wolves would enter the churches speaking perverse things to draw away disciples after them (Act 20:29).
ii. The church of Corinth had those in it that taught that there was no resurrection of the dead (1Co 15:12).
iii. Some heretics in Thessalonica taught that the second coming was at hand in the first century (2Th 2:2).
iv. Some heretics in one of the churches had taught that the resurrection had happened already (Preterism) (2Ti 2:17-18).
v. Some heretics were teaching that grace was a license to sin (Jud 1:4; Rom 3:8).
vi. There were antichrists in the first century that were denying that Jesus is the Christ (1Jo 2:22-23).
a. Who do you suppose was behind this heresy?
b. Remember who it is that first questioned whether Jesus was the Son of God (Mat 4:3).
vii. The church in Pergamos had those in it that taught the doctrine of Balaam (to eat things sacrificed to idols and to commit fornication) and the doctrine of the Nicolaitans (Rev 2:14-15).
viii. The church in Thyatira had a woman preacher that taught them to commit fornication and eat things sacrificed to idols (Rev 2:20).
a. Who do you suppose was behind this doctrine?
b. It is obvious considering that it was a direct assault on the sentence that came down from James in the Jerusalem church when they were dealing with Satan's doctrine of Judaism (Act 15:19-20, 29)?
C. As you can see, many of the false doctrines that plague churches today began in the first century churches.
D. If Satan was behind them then, who do you suppose is behind them now?