1. VIGILANCE NEEDED
a. What strategy does the enemy of souls use to entice many sincere souls who believe in Jesus’ soon return? Matthew 24:11, 24.
“Satan’s angels are wise to do evil, and they will create that which some will claim to be advanced light and will proclaim it as new and wonderful; yet while in some respects the message may be truth, it will be mingled with human inventions and will teach for doctrine the commandments of men. If there was ever a time when we should watch and pray in real earnest, it is now. Many apparently good things will need to be carefully considered with much prayer, for they are specious devices of the enemy to lead souls in a path which lies so close to the path of truth that it will be scarcely distinguishable from it.”—Evangelism, p. 590.
“The testimony of the Spirit of God is true. Change not your faith for any phase of doctrine, however pleasing it may appear, that will seduce the soul.
“The fallacies of Satan are now being multiplied, and those who swerve from the path of truth will lose their bearings. Having nothing to which to anchor, they will drift from one delusion to another, blown about by the winds of strange doctrines. Satan has come down with great power.”—Ibid., p. 362.
2. DANGEROUS DELUSIONS
a. Explain the clever trick used by God’s adversary as a deceptive ploy in Moses’ time—and repeated today. Exodus 7:10–13; 2 Timothy 3:5–9.
“The magicians . . . showed signs and wonders; for they wrought not by their own skill alone, but by the power of their god, Satan, who assisted them in counterfeiting the work of Jehovah.
“The magicians did not really cause their rods to become serpents; but by magic, aided by the great deceiver, they were able to produce this appearance. It was beyond the power of Satan to change the rods to living serpents. The prince of evil, though possessing all the wisdom and might of an angel fallen, has not power to create, or to give life; this is the prerogative of God alone. But all that was in Satan’s power to do, he did; he produced a counterfeit. To human sight the rods were changed to serpents. Such they were believed to be by Pharaoh and his court.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 264.
b. What deception is the enemy of souls soon to employ? Revelation 13:13.
“Men are deceived by the miracles which Satan’s agents have power to do, not what they pretend to do.”—The Great Controversy, p. 553.
c. With what warning did Christ prophesy of the occult? Matthew 24:25, 26.
“Have not thousands gone forth into the desert, hoping to find Christ? And from thousands of gatherings where men profess to hold communion with departed spirits is not the call now heard, ‘Behold, He is in the secret chambers’? This is the very claim that spiritism puts forth.”—The Desire of Ages, p. 631.
d. As we see the prophecies against the enchanting wiles of spiritualism fulfilling throughout the world, what must we realize? Ephesians 6:11, 12.
3. REALISTIC MIRACLES AND GHOSTS
a. As the end approaches, what special warnings are given to us to avoid trusting in signs and wonders, and why? Matthew 24:4, 5, 11, 24, 25.
“As the people of God approach the perils of the last days, Satan holds earnest consultation with his angels as to the most successful plan of overthrowing their faith. He sees that the popular churches are already lulled to sleep by his deceptive power. By pleasing sophistry and lying wonders he can continue to hold them under his control. Therefore he directs his angels to lay their snares especially for those who are looking for the second advent of Christ and endeavoring to keep all the commandments of God.
“We are warned that in the last days he will work with signs and lying wonders. And he will continue these wonders until the close of probation, that he may point to them as evidence that he is an angel of light and not of darkness. . . .
“Some will be tempted to receive these wonders as from God. The sick will be healed before us. Miracles will be performed in our sight. Are we prepared for the trial which awaits us when the lying wonders of Satan shall be more fully exhibited? Will not many souls be ensnared and taken? By departing from the plain precepts and commandments of God, and giving heed to fables, the minds of many are preparing to receive these lying wonders. We must all now seek to arm ourselves for the contest in which we must soon engage. Faith in God’s word, prayerfully studied and practically applied, will be our shield from Satan’s power and will bring us off conquerors through the blood of Christ.”—Maranatha, p. 208.
b. Why do we need to be aware of one of Satan’s favorite occult ploys? 2 Thessalonians 2:9–12; Ecclesiastes 9:5, 6.
“[Satan] has power to bring before men the appearance of their departed friends. The counterfeit is perfect; the familiar look, the words, the tone, are reproduced with marvelous distinctness. Many are comforted with the assurance that their loved ones are enjoying the bliss of heaven, and without suspicion of danger, they give ear ‘to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils’ (1 Timothy 4:1).”—The Great Controversy, p. 552.
3. AVOIDING A SMOOTH, EASY COUNTERFEIT
a. How does the preaching of Noah relate to us as we teach present truth—including the light entrusted on health? Luke 17:26, 27; 1 Peter 2:11.
“Noah preached to the people of his time that God would give them one hundred and twenty years in which to repent of their sins and find refuge in the ark; but they refused the gracious invitation. Abundant time was given them to turn from their sins, overcome their bad habits, and develop righteous characters; but inclination to sin, though weak at first with many, strengthened through repeated indulgence and hurried them on to irretrievable ruin.”—The Review and Herald, October 20, 1885.
b. Instead of giving us a smooth, easy path, why does God give us a character-building health message that requires self-denial? Matthew 7:13–15.
“Satan will work miracles. He will make people sick, and then will suddenly remove from them his satanic power. They will then be regarded as healed. These works of apparent healing will bring Seventh-day Adventists to the test.”—Maranatha, p. 209.
“The way in which Christ worked was to preach the Word, and to relieve suffering by miraculous works of healing. But I am instructed that we cannot now work in this way; for Satan will exercise his power by working miracles. God’s servants today could not work by means of miracles; because spurious works of healing, claiming to be divine, will be wrought.
“For this reason the Lord has marked out a way in which His people are to carry forward a work of physical healing, combined with the teaching of the Word. Sanitariums are to be established, and with these institutions are to be connected workers who will carry forward genuine medical missionary work. Thus a guarding influence is thrown around those who come to the sanitariums for treatment.
“This is the provision the Lord has made whereby gospel medical missionary work is to be done for many souls. These institutions are to be established out of the cities, and in them educational work is to be intelligently carried forward.”—Medical Ministry, p. 14.
5. SEEING SHOULD NOT BE BELIEVING!
a. Describe the ultimate delusion Satan will perform. 2 Corinthians 11:14.
“As the crowning act in the great drama of deception, Satan himself will personate Christ. The church has long professed to look to the Saviour’s advent as the consummation of her hopes. Now the great deceiver will make it appear that Christ has come. In different parts of the earth, Satan will manifest himself among men as a majestic being of dazzling brightness, resembling the description of the Son of God given by John in the Revelation. Revelation 1:13–15. The glory that surrounds him is unsurpassed by anything that mortal eyes have yet beheld. The shout of triumph rings out upon the air: ‘Christ has come! Christ has come!’ The people prostrate themselves in adoration before him, while he lifts up his hands and pronounces a blessing upon them, as Christ blessed His disciples when He was upon the earth. His voice is soft and subdued, yet full of melody. In gentle, compassionate tones he presents some of the same gracious, heavenly truths which the Saviour uttered; he heals the diseases of the people, and then, in his assumed character of Christ, he claims to have changed the Sabbath to Sunday, and commands all to hallow the day which he has blessed. He declares that those who persist in keeping holy the seventh day are blaspheming his name by refusing to listen to his angels sent to them with light and truth. This is the strong, almost overmastering delusion.”—Maranatha, p. 276.
b. In view of such peril, what must be our focus? 2 Corinthians 4:8–10, 18.
PERSONAL REVIEW QUESTIONS
1. Why are present-truth Bible doctrines so important at the end of time?
2. How can we explain the apparent miracle of Pharaoh’s magicians?
3. Name some of the archenemy’s ploys especially aimed at God’s remnant.
4. As a general rule, why are we advised not to expect instant healings today?
5. How are we to identify the impending counterfeit of Christ’s soon return?