How much of true Christianity has been lost over the millennia since Jesus’ ministry? Why did Jesus Christ forewarn His people about mass religious deception leading right up to the end of the age?
While many view the Bible as simply a collection of myths and legends, this amazing book reveals why the world is the way it is and explains its future. Your Bible actually reveals a powerful spirit being known as “the great dragon… that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world” (Revelation 12:9). Scripture refers to this being by various other names as well, such as “Lucifer” and “the evil one” (Isaiah 14:12; Matthew 6:13).
The Bible describes this being as “the god of this age” who has blinded human beings to the real source of truth (2 Corinthians 4:3–4). As the “ruler of this world” (John 14:30) and the “prince of the power of the air” (Ephesians 2:2), Satan influences human thought processes by broadcasting his warped ideas, which unsuspecting people absorb and assume are their own. This is the ultimate source of the perversions that have influenced so many religions, ideologies, and cultures in our world. Since Satan is described as not only a murderer and a liar, but as the very “father” of lies (John 8:44), it is no wonder that the world has experienced so much trouble, tragedy, and bloodshed throughout history.
The Bible shows that there are ultimately just two ways of life: God’s way of truth and right, and Satan’s path of error and wrong. The book of Genesis reveals that Satan deceived the first human beings into choosing his lies and rejecting God’s way—a choice that seemed appealing but led to big problems (Genesis 3; Proverbs 14:12).
When God revealed Himself to the Egyptians through Moses, Egypt’s religious leaders soon realized that their false gods were powerless before the true God (Exodus 8:19). In the book of Isaiah, the God of the Bible scoffs at the inanimate, man-made idols worshipped by pagan nations (cf. Isaiah 44:9–11; 46:5–11), and Scripture records that the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar came to recognize the real God and acknowledge Him as such (Daniel 4:34–37).
In the first century AD, the Apostle Paul noted that the idol-worshiping Greeks of Athens even had an altar to the “Unknown God”—so Paul told them who this God really was (Acts 17:16–34). Paul decried misguided pagan teachers “who suppress the truth in unrighteousness,” and he asserted that “even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind” (Romans 1:18–32). The book of Revelation describes a woman, symbolic of a church, who is dressed in scarlet and deceives the world with her false doctrines. This great false church will support a coming beast power in Europe and is linked symbolically to the seven hills of Rome, as well as to ancient Babylon, the fount of our world’s evil political and religious systems (Revelation 17:1–9). Scripture shows that Satan will empower both the beast and a church that has spread false religious doctrine and ideas (cf. Revelation 13; 2 Thessalonians 2:9–10). Indeed, the Bible reveals that Satan—the “god of this age”—is the author of all the misguided, contentious, false religions around us.
Both the Bible and secular history reveal that “Christianity” has not escaped Satan’s deceptive efforts. The New Testament warns repeatedly of false teachers who, while claiming to be ministers of Jesus Christ, deceive many into following corrupted versions of Christianity (Matthew 7:15–20; 24:3–5; 2 Thessalonians 2; 2 Timothy 3; 2 Timothy 4; 2 Peter 2:1–3). The Apostle Paul describes misguided ministers who, while claiming to be Christians, actually serve Satan when they preach about another Jesus and another gospel—contrary to what is found in Scripture (2 Corinthians 11:3–4, 13–15).
Jesus, the Apostles, and the early Church never participated in weekly Sunday worship; they observed the biblical seventh-day Sabbath as they had been taught (cf. Luke 4:16; Acts 13:13–14, 42–44; 16:13; 17:1–2). Yet, today, most who call themselves “Christians” worship on Sunday, a day of worship codified centuries after the apostolic era by Roman Emperor Constantine at the Council of Laodicea. Religious leaders around Constantine’s era also began to enforce their teaching that Jesus’ birth was to be observed on December 25—a day on which pagans celebrated the rebirth of the sun, though Scripture shows that the birth of Jesus was actually in the milder temperatures of autumn, when shepherds could stay out at night, tending to their flocks (Luke 2:8). False leaders reasoned that “Christianizing” formerly pagan holidays would make it easier to win pagan converts—even though Scripture tells God’s people not to adopt the customs of other religions (Deuteronomy 12:30).
Historian Will Durant wrote plainly, “Christianity did not destroy paganism; it adopted it…. Christianity was the last great creation of the ancient pagan world” (Caesar and Christ, p. 595). Religious researchers Frank Viola and George Barna have observed that many “Christian” practices “did not come from Jesus Christ, the apostles, or the Scriptures…. Strikingly, much of what we do for ‘church’ was lifted directly out of pagan culture in the postapostolic period” (Pagan Christianity?, p. 6). These are facts of history, yet most today do not realize how much “Christian” practice reflects centuries of religious corruption.
Considering Satan’s influence, we can understand why there are so many different varieties of “Christianity.” Jesus, however, said, “I will build My church”—not churches (Matthew 16:18). Later, Paul urged Christians that “there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment” (1 Corinthians 1:10).
Our world has seen a wide variety of governments, philosophies, and economic theories rise and fall. Monarchies, despots, and dictatorships have emerged and disappeared. Around 350 BC, the Greek philosopher Plato observed a repeating cycle in the structure of nations’ governments—from monarchy, to aristocracy, to democracy, to anarchy, to dictatorship, and repeat—because the failings of each led to the next, and none could last too long unchallenged in human hands (Will and Ariel Durant, The Lessons of History, p. 75).
Democracies and republics have appeared and disappeared quickly on the world stage. Philosophies of stoicism, rationalism, humanism, and agnosticism have had their day and failed to provide lasting answers to the deep questions of life. Human theories of communism, socialism, and capitalism have all failed to achieve the golden ages they once promised. These systems have failed because human beings have not understood that “unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it” (Psalm 127:1). Unless plans and ideas are built on the solid rock of God’s word, the Bible, they will fail (Matthew 7:24–29).
Scripture long ago foretold that world conditions will continue to deteriorate until Christ returns (cf. 2 Timothy 3:1–5). Jesus revealed that human activity will eventually bring this deceived world to the brink of annihilation, and that “unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved; but for the elect’s sake those days will be shortened” (Matthew 24:22). Scripture reveals that Christ will return to the earth as “Prince of Peace,” to establish a worldwide government from Jerusalem that will bring joy, harmony, and prosperity to all mankind (Isaiah 2:2–4; 9:6–7). He will establish one religion on earth, pointing all people to the one true God and His way of life (Isaiah 30:20–21; Zechariah 14:16–20).
Finally, at that time, the one “who deceives the whole world,” Satan the devil, will be banished from the face of the earth (Revelation 20:1–2), and we will see the dawn of a new age: the Kingdom of God!