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Reaching the followers of the Prophet
In speaking to the Pharisees and teachers of the law, Jesus said:
John 8:44 You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.
Their father was Satan, who is a murderer and the father of lies. Eventually of course Satan murdered Jesus through the hand of the Pharisees and Romans in accordance with God’s plan for our redemption. Inasmuch as Jesus was and is the central figure of human history, this action 2,000 years ago on Satan’s part was seminal.
Now in terms of contemporary influence, the Pharisees have long since faded into ancient history. But the devil has since moved on to use others to extend his global kingdom in the world today.
Let’s look at some other characteristics of the Pharisees in order to understand through whom the devil is now active today.
Matthew 6:2 “So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. …5 “And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others.
Today from atop the houses of worship of one particular world religion loudspeakers blare forth “prayers” at specified times every day beginning well before sunrise. When we were missionaries in one such land dominated by this religion, we discovered that the prayers could at times be pre-recorded on an audiocassette to be broadcast with the help of a timer. Hypocrisy.
Matthew 23:15 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when you have succeeded, you make them twice as much a child of hell as you are.
This particular religion is extremely fervent in its proselytizing, urging every human being to convert—even under the threat of death. This happened recently in Iraq at the hands of ISIS who beheaded believing children in the presence of their parents after they refused to deny Jesus Christ and convert. When they succeed in making a convert, they turn the convert into a “child of hell.” What are the characteristics of a child of hell?
Matthew 23:23 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices–mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law–justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former.
The “child of hell” will legalistically follow every letter of the law. But as consummate hypocrites they completely neglect the spirit of the law. In some regions the women are covered in black robes from head to toe with only their eyes exposed through slits. This is to avoid sexual temptation for their men—a practice appearing to be so “righteous” outwardly. But we have learned that the 19 hijackers the night before 911 visited New York City strip clubs. Since their sins would be forgiven through their suicidal act of killing 3,000 people the following day, why not whet their appetites for their 72 virgins in paradise with a night salivating over stripteasing infidel women? Hypocrisy of a most perverted kind.
The devil, the father of the Pharisees, was a murderer. Today he is still a murderer, but now kills through a religion which claims well over a billion adherents around the world. The murders are fully justified according to the precepts of this legalistic, hypocritical religion. The wrath of their god against infidels must be carried out in this life by the hand of his followers, completely misinterpreting incidents in the Old Testament which in any case has been supplanted by Jesus Christ. Legalistic and completely devoid of the grace we now have through Christ in the New Testament.
Matthew 23:25 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence.
The clerics of this religion outwardly appear so holy and righteous. But the frustration and guilt from their helplessness against the spirit of adultery and fornication in their flesh boil over into self-righteous anger and murderous, bloodthirsty hate for infidels. Hypocrisy.
Matthew 23:27 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean.
Hypocrites have committed murder in the sight of God for the sake of their legalistic religion. They are full of everything unclean: sexual immorality, adultery, fornication, anger, bitterness, and murder. Apart from the grace of God through Christ, they are enslaved by the power of their sinful flesh.
After Osama bin Laden was killed, pornography was found on his computer. Blatant hypocrisy in the foremost leader of this religion before his death.
Two thousand years ago, the Pharisees persecuted and then murdered Jesus Christ. Today their father the devil persecutes and murders His followers. He does this not only through this religion, but also through its ally progressive liberalism in the west—which hates God.
But none of this should be surprising. “Everyone will hate you because of me…” (Mark 13:13)
Old Testament Law was instituted by God. But through man’s tendency to institutional legalism Satan infiltrated and took over the Pharisees and teachers of the law. Today this institutional legalism has exploded throughout the world through this worldwide religion. Their father is the devil, and he has proven to be extremely proficient expanding his kingdom from a group of Pharisees in Israel 2,000 years ago to one now encompassing the globe with western progressive liberals at one end and the followers of the prophet at the other. Their mutual hate for the truth and those who obey it unites them making them unlikely allies.
But in the Scriptures Jesus clearly prophesied this and warned His followers.
Mark 13:13 Everyone will hate you because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.
Prophesied in Galatians
“For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by the slave woman and the other by the free woman. His son by the slave woman was born according to the flesh, but his son by the free woman was born as the result of a divine promise. These things are being taken figuratively: The women represent two covenants. One covenant is from Mount Sinai and bears children who are to be slaves: This is Hagar. Now Hagar stands for Mount Sinai in Arabia and corresponds to the present city of Jerusalem, because she is in slavery with her children. But the Jerusalem that is above is free, and she is our mother. For it is written: “Be glad, barren woman, you who never bore a child; shout for joy and cry aloud, you who were never in labor; because more are the children of the desolate woman than of her who has a husband.” Now you, brothers and sisters, like Isaac, are children of promise. At that time the son born according to the flesh persecuted the son born by the power of the Spirit. It is the same now.” (Galatians 4:22-29)
In this passage Paul was speaking of Abraham’s two sons, Ishmael born of the slave woman Hagar and Isaac born of the free woman Sarah. At that time Ishmael represented the slave children born under the law, that is, those who followed the Pharisees and the teachers of the law. Isaac represented the children of promise—the followers of Jesus Christ who have been set free from slavery to the law and to sin.
When Paul wrote Galatians, Islam had not yet been born. Therefore when Paul wrote “at that time the son born according to the flesh persecuted the son born by the power of the Spirit” (verse 29), he was referring to the unbelieving Jews persecuting the followers of Jesus Christ.
In hindsight and looking at current events, we can say that verse 29 was also startlingly prophetic. Indeed, “it is the same now” as it was 2,000 years ago when Paul wrote Galatians—but in a way that perhaps Paul neither intended nor foresaw except by the Spirit. Ishmael of course is acknowledged as the spiritual father of this major world religion just as Isaac is acknowledged as a spiritual ancestor of every born-again believer. And on the world scene the followers of this religion who live in slavery to sin and their law are now persecuting believers who have been born again by the power of the Spirit. More generally speaking, they are now persecuting the “Christian” West—from which sprang their conquerors and colonial masters centuries ago.
The Holy Spirit knew what would be taking place during these last days.
A prophecy of Jesus Christ fulfilled during these last days…
.Jesus himself prophesied that the spirit of the Pharisees would return even stronger than it was 2,000 years ago in his time.
Matthew 12:22 Then they brought him a demon-possessed man who was blind and mute, and Jesus healed him, so that he could both talk and see. 23 All the people were astonished and said, “Could this be the Son of David?” 24 But when the Pharisees heard this, they said, “It is only by Beelzebul, the prince of demons, that this fellow drives out demons.” 25 Jesus knew their thoughts and said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and every city or household divided against itself will not stand. 26 If Satan drives out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then can his kingdom stand? 27 And if I drive out demons by Beelzebul, by whom do your people drive them out? So then, they will be your judges. 28 But if it is by the Spirit of God that I drive out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you. 29 “Or again, how can anyone enter a strong man’s house and carry off his possessions unless he first ties up the strong man? Then he can plunder his house. 30 “Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters. 31 And so I tell you, every kind of sin and slander can be forgiven, but blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. 32 Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.
Mark 3:30 He said this because they were saying, “He has an impure spirit.”
The verse Mark 3:30 above is taken from the chapter in Mark which is parallel to Matthew 12 and speaks of the same incident involving the blasphemy of the Pharisees. Now let’s return to Matthew 12, skipping to verse 38.
Matthew 12:38 Then some of the Pharisees and teachers of the law said to him, “Teacher, we want to see a sign from you.” 39 He answered, “A wicked and adulterous generation asks for a sign! But none will be given it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. 40 For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. 41 The men of Nineveh will stand up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and now something greater than Jonah is here. 42 The Queen of the South will rise at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for she came from the ends of the earth to listen to Solomon’s wisdom, and now something greater than Solomon is here. 43 “When an impure spirit comes out of a person, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. 44 Then it says, ‘I will return to the house I left.’ When it arrives, it finds the house unoccupied, swept clean and put in order.
45 Then it goes and takes with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that person is worse than the first. That is how it will be with this wicked generation.”
This very last verse has been fulfilled by the major world religion which dominates world headlines today. The spirit at work in it today is far stronger than that limited to the Pharisees and the teachers of the law 2,000 years ago in Israel. That powerful spirit has spread its influence into the entire Middle East and now threatens the West with violent takeover.