THE MYSTERY OF INIQUITY

The Mystery of Iniquity --- Part 1

What is the history of this "The Mystery of Iniquity" which Paul warns against? How did this power that thinks to change God's times and laws, foretold in Daniel, come about?

There is much in history to show the horrific struggle that went on as the devil tries to overthrow God's commandments and set up his own counterfeit religion --- all in the name of Christ!

The speed with which early Christianity tobogganed into apostasy takes one's breath away! The devil lost no time at all in attacking what Christ had set up. We often look to Constantine as the "initiator" but, sad to say, many falsehoods had already crept into the church — especially those situated in the more powerful centers of Alexandra and Rome, long before Constantine came on scene.

One thing we really need to be aware of — apostasy does not start with a decree. Apostasy did not start with Constantine, it was not initiated by Constantine -- it is the church that changed Saturday to Sunday, not Constantine -- Constantine only provided the catalyst and conducive climate that enabled the church to set up it's counterfeit abominations. Constantine's decree marked the beginning of legislative efforts to instal Sunday in the place of God's Holy Day.

It is true that if Christianity had remained true to it's virgin doctrines, Constantine's laws and councils and plans could not have affected the church. They would have rather laid down their lives than join Constantine's paganized idea of the union of beliefs. Yet, the church in Rome joined Constantine quite willingly and then turned to lead the rest of Christianity into conformity.

The same is happening today! The Mystery of Iniquity first seeks to weaken true faith and cast doubts, using deceptive influences to break the commitment of people to truth, before it can move in more radical, legal measures to achieve it's ends. This is what we witness upon this forum — the constant barrage of deceptions to weaken the commitment of Adventists to the pure doctrines and thus preparing them to accept, with little or no protest, when the radical, legal measures start to move in. Remember, in the last great scenes of Revelation the whole world is WORSHIPING. But they are worshiping at the wrong altar. Only a few are worshiping the God who created the heavens, and the earth, the rest are worshiping the beast, his image, and the dragon!

WHEN DID THE MYSTERY OF INIQUITY BEGIN

It began even before the apostles died!

Paul tells us in 2 Thess.2.7
"For the mystery of iniquity does already work:" Or the mystery of lawlessness — the mystery that mere people think they can set aside the law of God!

Jude warns: 1.3 Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write to you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write to you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints. 1.4 For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were long ago marked out for this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness. 1.12 These are spots in your feasts of charity, when they feast with you, feeding themselves without fear: clouds they are without water, carried about of winds; trees withered, without fruit, twice dead, plucked up by the roots;

Peter warned of the same thing in 1 Peter 1:19-2.2 First telling Christians to take heed to the things written in the Bible (remember in his day the Old Testament was the SCRIPTURES) than warning of damnable heresies that would be brought against these scriptures. And they will speak evil of truth!

SABBATH TO SUNDAY

Rather than rehash the Biblical lack of proof for Sunday — let's leap ahead to the problem of Gnosticism and it's role in bringing in Sunday. Gnostic method of reasoning helps unlock the mystery of lawlessness. It reveals to us by what subtle means lawlessness gained foothold in the church of God and was able to darken the plainest truths, and could set aside some of the most definite requirements of the gospel, as well as of the law of God itself.

It was Gnosticism that helped bring in — not only Sunday, but most of the other doctrines that now stand in opposition to Biblical doctrines

(Remember we were told by our "Jesuits" on this forum that nearly all Adventist doctrines are false --- actually when you go back into those early years in history you will see it's the other way around! Gnosticism greatly altered pure doctrines and now these Gnostic doctrines, upgraded to be sure, yet still gnostic in their foundation, are being pushed big time onto the Adventist church!)

One of the big things Gnostics attacked was the Old Testament.

The Catholic encyclopedia, Wetzer and Welte, Kirchenlexikon admits that the so called Barnabas church Father (declared to not to be the Barnabas of Paul's day but a later gnostic) "takes such a hostile position toward the Old Testament as could scarcely be conceived of by an apostle. He teaches that the Old Testament has never been of any force." In Ante-Nicene Christianity," vol. 2 p. 673 "He (Barnabas) asserts, for example, that God never willed the sacrifice and fasting, the Sabbath observance and temple worship of the Jews, but a purely spiritual worship."

Gnostic interpretation claimed that Christians are really the only people of the covenant, and that the Jewish people never stood in covenant relationship with God. The thought was developed that the Jewish use of the Old Testament was only a misuse of it, inspired by the devil. The whole Gnostic belief twisted basic scripture and allegorized it into mystical interpretations that left one basically free to do with the flesh whatever the flesh desired, for the flesh was evil and the sooner one got rid of it the better. The spirit was all that mattered. As long as it was dedicated to God the flesh could do whatever it wanted.

Basically Gnosticism was Hellenistic thought with a Christian covering. It invaded deeply into Christianity and while the church finally declared it a false heresy, it's influence continued to shape and mold Christianity. Much like the SDA Church declared Des Ford's concepts false, refuted them, but now seems to be embracing them at the expense of Biblical truth.

Gnostics brought forth for the first time the concept of an eighth day as a visionary type of future eternity. It was said to commemorate both resurrection and ascension. There is no mention whatsoever of an eighth day by Christ or his apostles. The eighth day is the day after the seventh day, therefore, they say, it is somehow greater than the seventh day. This concept finds it's basis totally in Gnosticism, not in any Biblical truth, yet it became a dominant feature in the Roman Catholic Church. The Pope's Dies Domini Sunday letter refers to Sunday as the "eighth day".

His statement: "#26 "The eighth day" set within the sevenfold succession of days in a unique and transcendent position which evokes not only the beginning of time but also its end in the ‘age to come'. Is a direct quote from gnostic early writings.

To really understand the issues one needs to go back and really see how Gnosticism infiltrated and changed religious thought in those centuries immediately after Christ. This was Greek philosophy, coupled with mysticism and married to Christianity. This is definitely not the full blaze of apostolic truth — this is the mystery of iniquity hard at work to set up the abomination that would rule the world for 1260 years.

For all the talk by these gnostics about light --- the dark ages were known for their darkness.

Mystery of Iniquity Part 2

When did the Mystery of Iniquity begin and where did it come from? Paul warned:
"Of your own selves shall men arise. . not sparing the flock. (Acts 20:30,29)
"The mystery of iniquity is already at work" Paul said in 1 Thess. 4

The greatest enemies of the church have always been those who apostatize and then press their apostate doctrines on the church. Thus it was when the Christian church was in it's infancy, thus it is in the Adventist church today.

There were deviations many in the years following the death of the apostles, but the worst of all was Gnosticism, which infiltrated the church in a big way. No one knows how many thousands of early Christians were drawn into it.

Gnostic teachers sprang up everywhere. Saturnius flourished in Antioch. Bailides in Egypt, Cerinthus in Asia Minor. Valentinus and Marcion in Rome. Each teacher had his own theories but all agreed on this, the "Gnosis" (Greek for knowledge) is salvation and what was the particular knowledge on which the Gnostic based their hopes? The belief that the God of the Old Testament was evil!

Christian Gnosticism came from Greek thought — not Biblical, it was mixed with mysticism and then coated with Christian terminology. It accepted the notion that matter is evil, that this earth and all the bodies that inhabit it are inherently bad, and that it follows from this that the God who created matter and men must Himself be bad. This is blasphemy, of course; but we will never understand where the modern doctrines came from unless we recognize how the early "fathers" thought.

Gnostic Christians did not worship the Old Testament God. How could they? The Creator-God of the Old Testament they saw as evil.

Yet they did not throw the Bible out completely. They still quoted it to prove their points! As for the New Testament — it was not yet canonized so everyone chose what he liked.

Marcion of Rome had no use at for the Old Testament since it was the book of the Creator God, in particular of the law giving god. Out with the law, cried Marcion, and in with grace alone. Out with Matthew and James, and in with Paul and Luke. (Sound familiar?)

Marcion was very popular — Justin (the one often quoted for his attack on the Sabbath) was highly influenced by him.

However not all Christianity appreciated this gnostic heresy. Tertullian wrote of the city where Marcion was born as being a fierce place : "Nothing, however, in Pontus is so barbarous and sad as the fact that Marcion was born there."

Orthodox Christian were alarmed at the spread of Gnosticism and rightly so. Gnostics denied the God of the Old Testament, Gnostics denied the Ten Commandments and with them the New Testament concepts of sin and grace and the atonements.

By calling all matter evil they degraded Christian marriage and sex and either tried to enforce unnecessary chastity, or went to the other extreme of total sexual licentiousness.

They denied the human nature of Christ, saying that Christ could not possible have taken on a body since all flesh is evil.

As for the Sabbath, what gnostic would want to memorialize the "evil" Creator-God"? Much better to celebrate the life giving light of the "Son". On the first day light was made — the eighth day light celebrates the resurrection of Christ, and etc.

Directly in opposition of the call in Rev. 14 that the gospel calls people to worship the Creator God.

To argue with a gnostic was a ordeal in frustration, since they always spiritualized the scriptures. If an orthodox Christian quoted a scripture, the Gnostic would say either that it meant something different or that it didn't belong in the Bible. Every error of Gnosticism could, of course, be refuted through Bible study, but this took time and patience. It was quicker and easier to cite some church father.

Tertullian in the early third century, challenged the Gnostics: "Let them produce the original records of their churches; let them unfold the roll of their bishops, running down in due succession from the beginning. . . .By whose permission, Valentinus, are you diverting the streams of my fountain? . . .We oppose to them this step above all others, of not admitting them to any discussion of the Scriptures"

Tertullian may have been sincere in his frustration, but he also started the notion that it is easier to combat heresy with apostolic succession than by patient exposition of God's Word.

We see that Satan was very busy breaking down the Christian church and converting it into an organization whereby he could divert worship away from the true Creator God.

Through these strange teachings many of the doctrines that are now in opposition to the truths that were slowly uncovered since the reformation and by Adventists, were established.

The Greek concept that the spirit inhabits the body but is not really part of the body lead to the belief of the immortality of the soul. The whole "all matter is evil" it is only the spirit that counts, idea, added great fuel to the immortality doctrine --- it was to the point where people considered it good to engage in bad habits to kill off the body more quickly so the spirit could be freed.

This gnostic concept is in direct contradiction that the dead know not anything (Eccl, 9:5,10, Ps. 6:5; 115:17) and that our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit and are to be presented to God as living sacrifice, holy and undefiled.

Of course, the church did refute the more outlandish ideas of gnosticm yet the concept of spirit leaving the body at death stayed with the church and by the 4th century almost universally the Christians came to believe that the souls of the dead continue to live. This of course lead to praying to saints etc.

Interestingly, Tertullian complained about marriage saying if a man married once, he certainly had better not marry again if his first wife died, for the good woman would still be alive in heaven.

When we hear that Catholic doctrines go back to the days of the apostles, in a sense they are right. But it was not the apostles that started these doctrines, it was the "mystery of lawlessness" that was already at work before the apostles had even all died. False teachers like wolves arose to tear down the church before it bearly had a chance to start. Then these false teachers were quoted for hundreds of years afterward as the authority, rather than searching the scriptures.

In our day it's happening again. God lifted the dark cloud covering truth. Through the reformers and then through the Adventist Pioneers, the precious gems of truth were uncovered. The chaff of gnostism was blown away. But now the modernized, Gnostic based, doctrines are once again rising. The people of all the world are finding their pews in the cathedral of apostasy, there to wonder after the beast and worship him. The warnings of prophecy uttered long before our day are being fulfilled before our eyes.

In such a time as this, modern Adventists must keep alert.

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