I am terrified ." Not just a tad concerned. Terrified. I'm convinced
that s what the apostle Paul meant when he wrote, "I
am afraid that just as Eve was deceived the serpent's cunning,
your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and
pure devotion to Christ" (2 Cor. 11:3).
For a people who fear so much that is unnecessary, we have
doused the term afraid with our bottled water until it slips comfortably
into sentences such as, "I'm afraid the ball game might
be rained out." That's not what the fiery apostle meant.
The Greek verb phobeo encompasses a far greater alarm than
tempered concern. Imagine the pitch of Paul's voice erupting
from the passion he felt for the infant church in Corinth. I think
he was terrified for them. Mind you, he wasn't afraid of the serpent.
He preached alertness and aggressive resistance, never
phobia. He was terrified that this inexperienced and passionate
young church might fall for the serpent's schemes.
I will probably live my whole life without grasping a fraction of
Paul's spiritual perspective, but I have come to share a heaping cupful
of his prophetic alarm in this unsettling Scripture. I am terrified.
A strange thing began to happen soon after my books,
Breaking Free and Praying God's Word, were released. Probably
because I admit to such a flawed and sinful past, letters began
stacking on my desk from Christians confessing, often for the
very first time, to harrowing rounds of defeat at the hands of the
You may be thinking, So what else is new? Satan has attacked
man since his creation.
I'd like to suggest that there is something about this spiritual
phenomenon that might just have taken demonic assault to a
whole "new" level. In the course of this ministry I've read countless
letters, and I have come to discern the difference between blatant
accounts of mercifully forgiven rebellion and the
testimonials I'm talking about here.
What has terrified me is the growing stack of letters from
believers who loved God and walked with Him faithfully for
years then found themselves suddenly overtaken a tidal wave
of temptation and unholy assault.
Many believers are convinced such things can't happen. "Not
to good Christians." They are wrong. And through the course of
this book, I hope to prove it.
Skeptics ask, "How do you know these people are not lying
or trying to make themselves sound like innocent victims?"
Undoubtedly because I was so desperate and prayerful for discernment,
through the last several years God has developed such
an acute awareness in my spirit toward deception that the ability
makes me uncomfortable.
I don't quite know how to explain it, but the Holy Spirit in
me often causes me to detect when something is not what it
seems. I am convinced many of these accounts of formerly pure
lives suddenly knee-deep in the mire are absolutely authentic.
Not one of them presents him or herself as an innocent victim.
They are horrified and taken aback at what they have done and
appear capable of doing. A flood of shame pours forth like rusty
water from a busted pipe. (That's one way you can detect who's
at the bottom of it. Shame is Satan's game.) Shockingly few of
those who have told me their stories were looking for excuses.
They were looking for explanations. Big difference.
Another skeptic might ask, "How do you know they are
telling you the whole story?" I don't doubt they may not be telling
me the whole story. I'm not sure they know the whole story. I
surely don't know mine. I'll have questions about some of the
things that have happened to me until I die!
One of the chief purposes of this book is to hopefully shed a
little light on parts of our stories that we don't know but, thankfully,
can know. Over and over I've heard renditions of the following
statement: "For the life of me, I can't figure out how
something like this could have happened." When we turn the last
page of this book, we still won't know everything about how
godly people can turn around and do ungodly things, but I pray
we'll know more than we do this moment.
My insatiable search for all the answers nearly kept me from
writing this book. There are still plenty of things I don't fully
understand, and I will openly admit to them as we reach those
I am fairly convinced that some of the pieces are simply hidden
from our eyes and we won't have crystal-clear understanding
this side of heaven. The apostle Paul himself taught that the spirit
of lawlessness has a secret power (2 Thess. 2:7). As much as I
wanted to wait to finish this book until I understood it all, God
placed such an urgency in my spirit that I could not delay another
second. I am too terrified for the Body of Christ.
I need to clearly state that three streams of evidence lead me
to my conclusions in this book. As we proceed, I want to ask you
to consider the significance of each.
I've told you the first stream of evidence: the testimonies of
scores of believers. Now lets turn to the second. I don't care how
many testimonials I received, I would not give what they suggest-that
godly people can suddenly do ungodly things-a second
thought except that Scripture completely supports the idea.
Take a good look in the Amplified Bible at the Scripture I
quoted at the beginning of this chapter, including the verse that
For I am zealous for you with a godly eagerness
and a divine jealousy, for I have betrothed you
to one Husband, to present you a chaste virgin to
Christ. But [now] I am fearful, lest that even as
the serpent beguiled Eve his cunning, so your
minds may be corrupted and seduced from wholehearted
and sincere and pure devotion to Christ.
(2 Cot. 11:2-3 AMP)
Wholehearted. Sincere. Pure devotion to Christ. To you, what
kind of person does the apostle Paul seem to be describing? That
very kind of person can be beguiled the enemy, whose utmost
fantasy is to corrupt and seduce the real thing. Unsettling, isn't it?
Let's take a look at another unnerving statement. In Galatians
6:1, the apostle Paul wrote:
Brethren, if any person is overtaken in misconduct
or sin of any sort, you who are spiritual-
who are responsive to and controlled the
Spirit-should set him right and restore and reinstate
him, without any sense of superiority and
with all gentleness, keeping an attentive eye on
yourself, lest you should be tempted also. (AMP)
Even the one who is spiritual, "responsive to and controlled
the Spirit," can be tempted the same sins that have overtaken
another. One might argue, "Yes, the one who is spiritual
might be tempted, but he surely wouldn't fall for it." Ah, I believe
I hear the familiar echo of 1 Corinthians 10:12 in mine ear:
"Therefore let any one who thinks he stands-who feels sure that
he has a steadfast mind and is standing firm-take heed lest he
fall [into sin]" (AMP).
Not only can the godly suddenly sprawl into a ditch from a
solid, upright path, I believe many are. I am convinced, as the
days, weeks, and months blow off the Kingdom calendar, that the
casualties are growing in number harrowing leaps and bounds.
Many just aren't talking because they are scared half to death. Not
so much of God as they are of the church. To say that the Body
of Christ would be shocked to know how bloody and bruised
defeat we are is a gross understatement. Among the better pieces
of news is that God is most assuredly not shocked. Grieved perhaps,
but not shocked. You see, He told us this was coming.
I told you three streams of evidence have led me to the conclusions
in this book. The first was the testimony of believers who
have been seduced into sin. The second is the warning in
Scripture that Spirit-filled believers can be overtaken. The third
stream of evidence has to do with the end of the age.
In Christ's discourse to His disciples concerning the signs of
His coming and the end of the age, He emphatically warned
them of an increase in deception, in lawlessness, and in wickedness.
Undoubtedly the New Testament supports an ever increasing
wickedness that will rise in furious temperature until "the
lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will overthrow
with the breath of his mouth and destroy the splendor of his
coming" (2 Thess. 2:8). If the apostle Paul could testify in his
generation that "the secret power of lawlessness is already at work"
(2 Thess. 2:7), who can begin to estimate the acceleration that has
taken place over the last one hundred years?
The biblical study called eschatology deals with the "ultimate"
or "last things." Different scholars of wholehearted commitment
to Christ disagree over many details of eschatology. Some scholars
believe that we either have entered or are about to enter the
time of escalating conflict that will usher in the return of
Christ-the last days. Other scholars point to evidence that the
biblical last days extend from the time of the apostles to the
return of Christ. Either way, beloved, we are living in the time
closer than ever before to the end events of Christian history.
Jesus warned His followers of a time of severe persecution, a
time of "great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the
world until now" (Matt. 24:21). He warned, "Then you will be
handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will
be hated all nations because of me. 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" (Matt. 24:9-12). These warnings of Christ have applied to
all ages, but many Bible scholars believe they point specifically to
the war going on in our present and near future.
Combined with the evidence of stream one and stream two,
I'm convinced we must prepare ourselves to deal with the assault
that is here and the one that is coming.
Thank goodness, the news is not all bad. Christ also prophesied
that the "gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the
whole world as a testimony to all nations" (Matt. 24:14). The
president of the International Mission Board in Richmond,
Virginia, told me that they are seeing record numbers of people
surrendering to foreign missions and can explain it in no other
way than the pending fulfillment of prophecy. Furthermore,
Scripture prophesies an unprecedented outpouring of the Holy
Spirit on God's sons and daughters in the latter days. I have very
little doubt that favorable prophecies like these are some of the
very works Satan is trying his hardest to both undermine and
delay attacking servants of God.
Clearly, we are living in the best of days and the worst of days.
While fresh winds of the Spirit are blowing upon many of our
churches and a double portion of anointing on many believers,
the Word also strongly suggests that we are occupying planet
Earth during the scariest time in human history to date. You only
need look as far as your own community to stare 2 Timothy
3:1-5 in the face.
But mark this: There will be terrible times in
the last days. People will be lovers of themselves,
lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient
to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without
love, unforgiving, slanderous, without
self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous,
rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather
than lovers of God having a form of godliness
but denying its power. (2 Tim. 3:1-5)
Take a good look at the words "without love." The King James
Version captures the meaning of the original Greek with the phrase
"without natural affection." The word astorgos means "without
family love." Surely no previous society has ever matched the escalating
percentages of crimes within the family unit. I believe no former
generation has held such staggering statistics of parents killing
their own children and children killing their own parents.
Perhaps the end of this age is best characterized biblically
the word escalation. Christ compared the signs of the end of our
present age to birth pains (Matt. 24:8)-an analogy many of us
who have given birth understand with startling clarity. With
time, the pains grow far more intense and much closer together.
I am not remotely an expert in biblical eschatology, but the birth
pains for a coming era have vastly increased and intensified, particularly
in the last fifty years.
Many argue that every generation of believers since the ascension
of Christ has believed itself to be in the last days. While that
could be true, no former generation has possessed our satellite
and Internet capabilities, which pave the way for a worldwide
"hookup." No previous generation could boast the astonishing
modes of worldwide travel and research capabilities that ours can.
The twentieth century trotted its way onto the Kingdom calendar
horse and buggy; then pushed the speed of light as it waved
its way out through cyberspace.
If we have indeed entered the last days, which I believe we
have, we still have no way of knowing how long they may last.
While date setting is a waste of time, learning how to cope with
escalating crisis is not.
Our present purpose is not to study the mounting statistics of
fulfilled prophecy. We want to understand how godly people can
do ungodly things and to search out biblical remedies.
So what does the approach of the end have to do with godly
people falling before a satanic assault? Everything! Revelation 12
tells us that the "ancient serpent called the devil" is "filled with
fury, because he knows that his time is short" (Rev. 12:9, 12).
If you and I have reason to be interested in end-time events,
imagine what is at stake for Satan! Believe me, he knows every
single sign of the end, and he reads them with the panic of one
reading his own obituary in advance. The closer the calendar
draws to Christ's return and the devil's crushing defeat, the more
furious he becomes.
Who are the chief targets of Satan's ever increasing fury? We are.
Why? I believe Satan has two primary motivations: (1) to exact
revenge on God wreaking havoc on His children and (2) to try
to incapacitate the believer's God-given ability to overcome him.
Revelation 12:11 says, "They overcame him the blood of
the Lamb and the word of their testimony." Once we are
covered the blood of the Lamb, like the angel of death during
the first Passover night, Satan cannot enter our abode. Those of
us who have received Christ as our personal Savior are the
dwelling places of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 6:19-20). Our doorposts
are covered the precious blood of our Passover Lamb.
Neither Satan nor his demons can enter us.
The more we understand what the covering of Christ's blood
means to us, the more we overcome a foe that is otherwise far too
strong for us. Satan's worst nightmare is being overcome-particularly
measly mortals. He knows the Bible says we overcome
our accuser in two primary ways. If he can do nothing about the
blood of the Lamb covering the redeemed, what's a devil to do?
Go for the word of their testimony! Satan is out to destroy the testimony
of the believer in Christ. The more influential the testimony,
the better. His murderous eye is on the sparrow, and he
doesn't have much time. His strategy is to kill as many birds as
possible with one stone.
We don't have to be rocket scientists to figure out that Satan's
favorite prey is a person of godly influence. Peter spoke from the
vantage point of personal experience when he said, "Your enemy
the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone
to devour" (1 Pet. 5:8). Satan had nearly eaten him alive. Peter
continued, "Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you
know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing
the same kind of sufferings" (v. 9).
Allow me to jump ahead to subject matter we'll approach further
in our study saying that we are certainly not sitting ducks.
Later in part 1, we'll learn why some godly people are more vulnerable
than others. Then in part 2, we'll learn ways to guard ourselves
against that kind of vulnerability.
For now I want you to take a look back at the final word in
the Scripture I last quoted from 1 Peter 5:9. The word is sufferings.
I don't know how many times I've repeated the statement
I'm about to make, but I'll keep saying it until at least one skeptic
hears: Not everyone in a stronghold of sin is having a good time.