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destruction. And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of. And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not." 2 Pet. 2:1-3.
The foregoing texts foretell an awful reign of darkness and deception to come upon the church, a time when false prophets would deceive many by turning their hearts away from the truth. These false teachers would bring in damnable heresies, and many would follow their pernicious ways; and because iniquity should abound, the love of many would wax cold. What an awful picture, and yet how true! things predicted came to pass.
It Came Early in the Christian Era.
“The people of thy holiness have possessed it but a little while: our adversaries have trodden down thy sanctuary.” Isa. 63:18.
. The “little while” in which God's people were to possess true holiness was the early morning of the Christian era. Had the church always retained holiness, there would never have been an apostasy. But by descending from this lofty plane she opened the way for every species of false doctrine and error. The result was that the enemies of truth trod down the sanctuary, the church. “Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.” 1 John 4:1. "For many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist.” 2 John 7. "Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time. They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us." 1 John 2:18, 19. “For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way." 2 Thess. 2:7.
From these texts we clearly learn that the way was paved for the reign of Antichrist at a very early date. In A. D. 54 “the mystery of iniquity” was at work. In A. D. 90 John testified that already many Antichrists were working, that many false teachers had entered the world, and that some had gone out from among them; namely, separated from the established church and gone off into heresy. It is very clear that at a very early date true holiness was lost sight of and that the way was being laid for a dark reign of sin and corruption. Many heresies arose one after another, and finally these grew into an awful beast-power-the papacy.
The Falling Away.
The falling away was foretold in the following language: “Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him, that ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand. Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshiped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.” “For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he is taken out of the way." "Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, and with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: that they all might be damned