Emissaries of the Devil

For more than 2,000 years, the great imitation has gone on. And over the same period, millions upon millions have placed their hopes for health, happiness, economic prosperity, and communion with deity in the hands of a parade of false messiahs—self-ordained saviors cut more from the image of the coming Antichrist than from the true and living God. These are men who bear all the attributes of “the spirit of the Antichrist, which you have heard was coming, and is now already in the world” (1 Jn. 4:3).

Of relatively recent vintage was a man calling himself Rev. General Jealous Divine (1880–1965), who emphatically declared that he was God. And although he rallied a reported 2 million people to adopt him as the immortal Father Divine, he nevertheless kept the appointment all mortals must keep: He died and reckoned with the judgment to come.

A portion of Divine’s legacy lived on in the teachings of another infamous false messiah, Jim Jones, who made the claim of being the reincarnation of Father Divine. Jones even based some of his doctrines on Divine’s preposterous teachings. Yes, this was the same Antichrist look-alike who led some 900 “believers” to a Kool-Aid-laced death at Jonestown in the jungles of Guyana in 1978.

Now a new contender for messiah has entered the fray. The latest to claim, “I’ve met God and he is me” is Jose Luis de Jesus Miranda, a 60-year-old Puerto Rican-born immigrant who operates from his Growing in Grace Church in Doral, a suburb of Miami, Florida. For starters, Miranda declares, “I am the second coming of Christ, that messiah that they’ve been waiting for….He came and he disappeared in me. He integrates me. Since then I’ve been teaching mysteries in the Bible.”

It may not, therefore, be surprising that the self-anointed messiah would come up with some ideas that the masses are waiting to hear, namely, that there is no devil and no sin. He says Jesus took that all away. In answer to a question posed by CNN’s John Zarrella, “messiah” Miranda said emphatically that he is “much greater” than Jesus of Nazareth because he is doing greater things than Jesus did. He also says he will not die: “No, no, I will not die even if you tried to kill me.”

So, in his no-devil and no-sin scheme of things, what is Miranda’s opinion of churches and their message? “I’m so tired of the lies of so-called Christians today because if they call you a sinner, we feel hurt that someone would call you a sinner because Jesus died for sins; it’s very contradictory that someone would call you a sinner.”

In claiming that his followers are God’s true chosen people—a burgeoning “super race”—Miranda reportedly declares his purpose to be “to close down every church so the true church can begin. You could say I’m leading the greatest reformation that has ever happened.”

So much for the Jesus/God segment of his teaching. In stage two, the pseudo messiah has taken on another persona by titling himself the Antichrist. Justification for this particular label is that he and his followers are antichrists because their teachings supersede those of Jesus Christ. Consequently, Miranda sports a 666 tattoo, and his followers are often found standing in line at tattoo parlors waiting to be body-etched with 666.

Now claiming followers in the millions, particularly in Central and South America, Miranda says he is worshiped as God in some 30 countries.

Of course, the bottom line in all of this is that Jose Luis de Jesus Miranda is merely one more charlatan who, in his turn, will die. With him will go his over-inflated ego, his pockets full of personal enrichment, and the dashed hopes of those whom he deluded—a tragic scenario that will undoubtedly be repeated numerous times in the future with the same debilitating effect.

What we can learn from this episode is the reality of an insidious, satanic program of deception and delusion that is emblematic of the closing days of history as we know it. And we can say with certainty that we have been warned sufficiently to avoid being snared by men claiming to be God’s messengers, while in reality they are agents of the Devil.

But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly  bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their destructive ways, because of whom the way of truth will be blasphemed. By covetousness they will exploit you with deceptive words; for a long time their judgment has not been idle, and their destruction does not slumber (2 Pet. 2:1–3).

The Devil is alive, but he is by no means well. And he imparts his insidious sickness of soul to his innumerable emissaries who even today stalk the planet in search of people who are willing to believe a lie.

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