Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered outside the gate. Therefore, let us go forth to him outside the camp, bearing his reproach. For we have no continuing city here, but we seek one to come.
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by John D. Clark, Sr.
“They will take away the daily sacrifice, and will set up the abomination that makes desolate.”
The angel to Daniel, Daniel 11:31
“When you see the abomination of desolation that was spoken of by Daniel the prophet standing in the holy place let him who is reading understand). . . .”
Jesus to his disciples, Matthew 24:15
In warning his disciples about the “abomination of desolation”, Jesus was not warning them about an idol erected in a temple. That is why Matthew added the words, “Let him who is reading understand.” Jesus was speaking spiritually, not physically, which means that we need help from God to understand it.
A basic truth which one must acknowledge before the abomination of desolation can be understood is that no place on this earth is holy, for unlike the Old Covenant, in this covenant, God sanctifies people, not things. Whenever God, by His Spirit, enters a heart, that person is made holy and he becomes a dwelling-place, or a temple, of God. Paul asked the Corinthians, “Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?” (1Cor. 3:16). Even if men build a building for worship and call it the temple of God, it would not be the temple of God – unless they talked God into moving into it. But He would refuse to do so, for He does not dwell in earthly buildings (Acts 7:48). God lives in His people, through the holy Ghost.
Note that Jesus did not say, “When the abomination of desolation is set up in the holy place”; rather, he said, when you see it in the holy place. Speaking of this abomination, Paul said, “[The day of Christ’s return] will not come except the apostasy come first and the man of lawlessness be revealed. . . . He, as God, sits in the temple of God showing himself that he is God. . . . And the lawless one shall be revealed” (2Thess. 2:3–4, 8a). So, both Jesus and Paul taught that the abomination will be found in God’s temple, that is, among His people. The only difference is that Jesus called it “the abomination of desolation” and said it would be standing, while Paul called it “the man of lawlessness” and said he would be sitting.
Paul went on to say, “The mystery of lawlessness is already at work” (2Thess. 2:7a), and the apostle John said the same (1Jn. 4:3). By that, we learn that this wickedness had already arisen in the apostles’ day! The fact that Jesus will destroy the abomination when he returns has led some to think that the “lawless one” will arise and reign on earth just prior to Jesus’ return. But that is not what either Jesus or Paul said. They both said only that before Jesus returns, the abomination would be revealed to be in the temple of God.
Paul’s term for the abomination, “man of lawlessness” has led some to think it is a man. But just as there is a temple that is not a temple, but a person, so there is a man who is not a man, but a spirit. Remember, there is no temple of God in this covenant except the people in whom God dwells, and beyond all question, no man can dwell inside another person. But a spirit can. And this “man”, Paul said, will be revealed as being in the temple of God, that is, among God’s own people. But how can such an unclean spirit get into that “holy place”, as Jesus called it? It cannot enter on its own. The answer is that it must be welcomed in, and that happens whenever those who are the temple of God take it in. And whenever a child of God takes it in, that ungodly spirit will eventually make that child of God desolate of the things of the Spirit.
In describing the new birth, Jesus said, “The wind blows where it will, and you hear its sound. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit” (Jn. 1:8). Paul described the new birth experience this way: “You received the Spirit of adoption, by which we cry out, Abba! (that is, Father!)” (Rom. 8:15). And John said, “By this, the Spirit of God is known: every spirit that confesses Jesus Christ when he has come into a person is of God” (1Jn. 4:2). This is God’s way. The baptism of the holy Ghost, with the sound of the Spirit bearing witness, is the new birth. Even the disciples were not born again until the day of Pentecost, in Acts 2. That is the day they received the Spirit of God. With that, the Father and the Son also entered in, making the disciples the temple of God. One may have, as did the disciples, wonderful experiences with Christ before receiving his baptism, but no one is born again until he receives it.
Jesus’ baptism of the Spirit of God, with the evidence of a sound, is the new birth, just as Jesus said to Nicodemus: “The wind blows wherever it will, and you hear its sound, but you don’t know where it’s coming from or where it’s going. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit” (Jn. 3:8). Ministers who teach that one can be born again without receiving that baptism are promoting the abomination of desolation spoken of by Daniel. That is the “man of lawlessness” that sits in the New Testament temple of God, making himself out to be God. But that spirit will make every temple in which it dwells desolate of the glory of God.
Look at what happened to Pentecostal people in the last century. Having begun in the power of the Spirit, how worldly they became! They devolved into dead Christian sects just like the sects their predecessors came out of! My father said that in the 1920s, when he started in holiness, the saints would not welcome anyone as a member unless he had received the holy Ghost or promised to seek it in every meeting until he got it. But now, even some Pentecostal ministers don’t have it. The spirit of lawlessness, sitting in the temple of God, has made Pentecostals desolate of the power and truth of God.
The lawless one is not yet widely revealed. Indeed, some of God’s children, “thinking to do God service”, passionately defend him when he is exposed by gospel tracts such as this one. We who see him are often condemned by our dear brothers and sisters as extremists. But Jesus has let us see him. John saw him, too, and he wrote to the saints, “Just as you have heard that the anti-Christ is coming, even now many [of God’s people] have become anti-Christs” (1Jn. 2:18). The abomination of desolation is not only Paul’s “lawless one”; he is also John’s “anti-Christ”. Jesus foretold of his coming, but John and Paul both lived to see the mystery of iniquity when it came. They were not deceived by it. My father once remarked that the anti-Christ has been here so long that God’s people have forgotten about him, and that is true. He arrived before the apostles all died, as many believers welcomed him into their temples, believing that the holy Spirit does not always verbally confess Christ when it comes in.
The abomination, or the lawless one, or the anti-Christ, is a dumb spirit. It does not speak when it comes in; instead, ministers have to tell you that you have it. But when the real Spirit of God comes in, it testifies (Jn. 15:26). As Jesus told Nicodemus, the Spirit of God makes a sound every time someone receives it and is born again.
Ministers who do what the lawless one desires tell their congregations, “You don’t need the Pentecostal baptism; all you need is to be born again.” But the baptism is the new birth! My friend, you can receive the lawless one’s spirit without truly repenting, but you will never receive the holy Ghost without it, for God knows the heart. After God unexpectedly gave the holy Ghost to some Gentiles, Peter tried to calm the complainers among the Jewish Assembly in Jerusalem by telling them, “God, who knows the heart, bore them witness, giving them the holy Spirit just as He gave it to us” (Acts 15:8), and “Inasmuch as God gave them the same gift He gave to us who believed on the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I, that I could withstand God?” (Acts 11:17). It is still that way. God, who knows the heart, baptizes with the holy Ghost everyone who truly believes. Wait for the Spirit’s witness of the event, my friend. Do not withstand God! Do not judge people, either to be right with God or not, based on what any man says. Wait on God to bear them witness, as Peter wisely did, and then you will know.