Here is a warning that every true Christian needs to be aware of as we approach the Feast! Daniel recorded a startling prediction for God's Church today: "The people who know their God shall be strong, and carry out great exploits. And those of the people who understand shall instruct many; yet for many days they shall fall by sword and flame, by captivity and plundering" (Daniel 11:32-33. Revised Authorized Version, unless noted).
Evangelist Leroy Neff is treasurer of the Worldwide Church of God.
This prophecy could only refer to God's people; it offers a brief summary of how God's Church has been persecuted through the centuries. Now notice, in verse 34, the point many have missed: "Now when they [God's peoples fall, they shall be aided with a little help; but many shall join with them by intrigue." The Bible predicts that many who assemble on God's Sabbath or at God's feasts will join with the Church only through intrigue, or through false pretense or hypocrisy! The sad fact is that some who claim to be brethren, claim to obey God, claim to have God's Spirit, are not part of the Body of Christ. God has not joined them to His Church! There are some who are not converted. They are not a real, spiritually living part of the Body of Christ. They are not letting Christ do His work in them. They have not truly and completely surrendered their lives to God in full repentance. It behooves us to beware of false brethren. In Paul's time false brethren came into the Church unawares to spy out the spiritual liberty a Christian has in Christ (Galatians 2:4). They subtly sought to bring weaker brethren back into bondage to sin. They are also among us today, seeking to mislead weak brethren. Besides false brethren, false ministers and teachers have come among God's people on many occasions. Peter mentions that false prophets will try to set themselves up as teachers among God's people today (II Peter 2:1). Such people secretly bring in heresies, denying Jesus Christ by their works (Titus 1:16) as well as their tongues. Those who upset some in God's Church today usually do it privately, lest God's ministers find out. Such people want to seduce and deceive brethren of God's Church. These people with feigned words, smooth speech, false pretenses and hypocrisy, make themselves appear as if they are religious and holy. Some brethren look only on the outside, and are deceived! If a false brother came to you, apparently agreeing with what you say, apparently agreeing with God's ministers, would you then be fooled if he gradually began to twist the Scriptures, or to bring accusations against the brethren and ministers, or to bring some "new doctrine"? There are some who have come among God's people today who are guilty of these things. They appear to be righteous, having a form of godliness, but they deny the power of God working in the Church today. These people despise the government God has set in His Church. They are self-willed. They privately find fault and speak evil of those God has set in His Church. They bring accusations against the brethren and against God's ministers. They do this privately, of course. They may not at first put stress on deceitful ideas, as they do not want to be detected. But they will sneak around and try to lure others to their ideas of destruction. You may even know such people, and yet are not aware of their deceitful tricks. These false brethren, instead of building up, speak evil or tear down. They discourage weaker brethren, plant doubts in their minds, try to stir up bitterness between brethren. Jude mentions wicked people who are blemishes on our love feasts and Holy Days. John calls these who set themselves up in the place of Christ "antichrists" (I John 2:18-19). One who sits in judgment of God's ministers and His Church is an "antichrist" not subject to Christ's government. God instructs us through Paul, "Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them" (Romans 16:17). If you know of someone who is causing division, who is accusing the brethren, who is committing offense contrary to what we are taught, go to God's ministers about it. Then avoid any such person. Paul even makes this instruction stronger: " But WE COMMAND you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you WITHDRAW from every brother who walks disorderly and not according to the tradition which he received from us" (II Thessalonians 3:6). Here is a command from one of God's apostles. If someone continually refuses to accept teachings through His Church, a true Christian should withdraw from him. Since we have been instructed to mark those who cause divisions, we also should follow those who are good examples. Notice their good works. "Brethren, be followers together of me, and mark them which walk so as ye have us for an ensample" (Philippians 3:17, King James Version). We are to follow those who walk as Jesus Christ and Paul walked. We need to discern through whom God is working. God has placed leaders in His Church for the perfecting of the saints and to build up the Body of Jesus Christ. God set them in office so that we all might come to a unity of the faith, might become perfect individuals, measuring up to the stature of Jesus Christ (Ephesians 4:11-15). Jesus Christ is our aim — our yardstick. We are to follow His steps (I Peter 2:21). If we use Jesus Christ and His servants as our example, we will not fall away through the clever deception of false brethren. By recognizing that there are such people among us, we can beware and avoid them. Yes, some have joined themselves to God's Church — may even have been baptized — but they have not yielded themselves to God. They are yet carnal. There have always been those who have come among God's people and influenced weak brethren by smooth and deceitful speech, flatteries and hypocrisy. You have been informed. You need not be deceived. Be on guard, beware, lest you follow false brethren into the lake of fire. Heed the warning and keep close to God through prayer, Bible study, fasting, living a true Christian life and submitting to God's government!