Sabbath School Lesson for June 1-7, 2024

Overview of Lesson 10, Spiritualism Exposed

Memory Text: “For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.” 1 Thessalonians 4:16, 17 NKJV

Satan’s first lie to mankind in the Garden of Eden came with his declaration to Eve that “You shall not surely die” (Genesis 3:4). In many ways, he has been telling this lie ever since. Because of it, Jesus calls him “a liar, and the father of it” (John 8:44). Satan has always wanted us to believe that we are immortal, like God, and that we will go on living, even after death.

Pagan religions long ago promoted these spurious ideas about life after death. The Egyptian pyramids, designed to house their pharaohs in the afterlife, are an example of this. In addition, Romans adopted the Greek philosophy that our bodies and souls are separate and can exist apart from each other.

Later, Christians adopted Satan’s falsehood about the immortality of the soul, causing many to pray to “saints” to guide and protect them. Protestants and even the secular world now embrace false ideas about those who are deceased being angels now. People with psychic powers (i.e. mediums) and other superpowers are promoted everywhere–in many books, cartoons, movies, and TV programs.

The Bible warns us of a great deception in the last days, foisted on the whole world by God’s longtime enemy, Satan (2 Corinthians 11:13, 14). Our only protection from his delusions will be to know our Bibles well and to have a personal relationship with the Lord Jesus.

Read chapters 31-34 of The Great Controversy for more on these topics.

What we discover in our lesson this week:

  • Sunday: The Deadly Consequences of Spiritualism–A false belief about life after death leaves us with no protection from the many signs and wonders Satan will use in the last days.
  • Monday: Death in the Old Testament–The Israelites viewed death as a sleep until God’s grand resurrection morning.
  • Tuesday: Death in the New Testament–New Testament believers looked forward to  Christ’s Second Coming, when their loved ones would be resurrected and they would be reunited with them.
  • Wednesday: Spiritualism in the Last Days, Part 1–In the last days, miraculous signs and wonders will deceive those not grounded in God’s truth about death.
  • Thursday: Spiritualism in the Last Days, Part 2–Satan’s overwhelming, final delusion, even deceiving the very elect, will be to impersonate Christ’s return.

Sunday: The Deadly Consequences of Spiritualism

The Lord was quite serious about protecting the Israelites from pagan religions. The punishment was especially severe for mediums, witches, and magicians–anyone who claimed to call up the dead (Deuteronomy 18:11). God could not tolerate among His people the lie of Satan about their not dying. It began in the Garden of Eden, was prevalent worldwide in pagan religions, continuing right up to the Romans at the time of Christ.

These false ideas about life after death remain even in our modern culture. It’s a lie that will make Satan’s last day delusions more easily accepted. If Satan and his legion of angels are able to make people believe they are talking to their deceased loved ones, they can be swayed to do almost anything these impersonated loved ones (really Satan’s fallen angels in disguise) tell them.

The belief that we go straight to heaven when we die sounds appealing to most of the Christian world. But it leaves them with no protection against Satan’s final deception, when he claims to be Christ Himself.

Bible Verses:

  • Deuteronomy 18:10-14 and Isaiah 8:19, 20

Why are these people considered an abomination to the Lord?

How can we protect ourselves from them?

  • Ecclesiastes 9:5 and Job 7:7-9

Why can’t we talk to those who have died?

Monday: Death in the Old Testament

Many times in the Old Testament we find that death is called a sleep. Both David and Solomon (and many others) are said to be resting with their fathers (1 Kings 2:10 and 11:43). Psalm 13:3 refers to “the sleep of death” and Psalm 17:15 talks about waking up in God’s likeness. Job several times mentions similar language of death being a sleep (Job 14:12).

Daniel 12:2 stated that “those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake”. Job 19:25, 26 verifies this view of a future resurrection. He talked about his skin being destroyed, sounding like he would be in the grave for some time.

The Israelites obviously understood  that death meant a rest in the grave until the resurrection. Martha, the sister of Lazarus, who only knew the Old Testament Scriptures, testified that she knew that her brother was asleep and would “rise again in the resurrection at the last day” (John 11:24). She, too, believed that the resurrection was sometime in the future–“at the last day” (not Lazarus’ last day, but THE last day).

Bible Verses:

  • Psalm 6:5, 13:3, 17:15, and 115:17

How did the psalmists view death?

  • Job 19:25, 26 and Daniel 12:2

How long does it sound like we will be resting in the grave?

Tuesday: Death in the New Testament

New Testament believers understood death as a sleep, just like Martha did (John 11:24). 1 Corinthians 15:16-18 uses the phrase “fallen asleep in Christ”. They believed that people would remain in their graves until the last day, when there would be a final judgment and a resurrection of everyone, symbolized by the Day of Atonement in the sanctuary.

Christ was resurrected at the time of His choosing, because He was God, and was needed to minister in the heavenly sanctuary as our High Priest. He rested in the grave only long enough for the Sabbath to be over–perhaps a subtle hint that Sabbath rest would continue to be important, even after His death.

Paul, several times in his writing, confirmed their correct understanding of death being a sleep. To the Thessalonians and the Corinthians, he clearly outlined the link between death and the Second Coming. The righteous living and the righteous dead would be caught up together in the clouds. The time from our death to that Day of Judgment would be like the twinkling of an eye (1 Thessalonians 4:15-17). You know nothing during that sleep of death until you are raised with everyone at the last trump on that great resurrection morning (1 Corinthians 15:51-54).

Bible Verses:

  • 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 and 1 Corinthians 15:51-54

How did Paul understand the state of the dead?

When do we receive our eternal reward, and why is this comforting to know?

Wednesday: Spiritualism in the Last Days–Part 1

When people are overcome with grief over the loss of a loved one, it’s understandable that their emotions would not be as dependable as they normally might be. Rather than thinking rationally, they often find themselves thinking and doing things that are unhealthy and/or contrary to what they had been taught.

Satan takes advantage of this situation by promoting his false ideas about man’s immortality. Spiritualism has always been his masterpiece of demonic deception, leading us to believe that the dead go on living after death, in the form of spirits. “Thou shalt not surely die” has always been his big lie. Nearly the whole world is held captive by these cunning, false narratives, allowing Satan and his fallen angels to prevent the peace and comfort God desires for us during our times of grief.

Even more spiritualistic signs and wonders of this nature will be performed in the last days, we are told in Revelation 12:12. Satan knows he’s running out of time. For us, understanding the state of the dead is becoming more and more important the closer we get to the Second Coming.

Bible Verses:

  • Matthew 24:5, 11, 24, 2 Thessalonians 2:7-9, and Revelation 13:13, 14

Why are we warned so many times about the devil deceiving us?

  • Revelation 12:12 and 16:13, 14

Why do his deceptions increase in the last days?

Who are those “spirits of devils”, symbolized by the “three unclean spirits”?

What kind of deceptive wonders will they most likely perform?

Thursday: Spiritualism in the Last Days: Part 2

Matthew 24:23-27 warns us not to look for Christ to come quietly (for example, “in the desert” or “in the inner room”). This, of course, seems to dispute the idea that His coming will be a secret rapture, as some claim. It could also support the correct belief that our resurrection, after we die, will not happen quietly either.

Titus 2:13 talks about our “blessed hope”, which is the “GLORIOUS appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ.” Jesus Himself said, “Then they will see the Son of Man coming in the clouds WITH GREAT POWER AND GLORY” (Mark 13:26). It seems clear that our resurrection will not be a quiet, secret affair immediately after our death.

2 Thessalonians 2:11 mentions Satan’s “strong delusion that they should believe the lie”. This most likely means his original lie in the Garden of Eden that they surely wouldn’t die (Genesis 3:4). Our paganistic belief in spirits that go on living after we die contributes to the likelihood of believing Satan’s final delusion, when he impersonates our risen Lord and “transforms himself into an angel of light” (2 Corinthians 11:13, 14).

Bible Verses:

  • Matthew 24:23-27, 2 Thessalonians 2:9-12, and 2 Corinthians 11:13, 14

What belief makes it easy for Satan to deceive the world by transforming himself into an angel of light?

Friday: Final Thoughts

If we are resurrected as soon as we die, what need would there be for Christ to return in the glorious, visible, tangible way described in so many places in the Bible? In Revelation 22:12 is the declaration that Jesus’ reward is with Him when He comes. Our reward is according to our work. We don’t receive our reward when we die, as Satan wants us to believe. Both righteous and unrighteous “sleep” in their graves, awaiting the final judgment of God.

Will His people have the faith of Jesus and be keeping His commandments (Revelation 14:12 and 12:17)? These two identifying marks include both the love and justice of God, hallmarks of His character. If we love Him, we will keep His commandments, Jesus told us. And most importantly, we will develop a close relationship with God that will prevent Satan from deceiving us, especially in these last days.

Next Week: The Impending Conflict (based on ch. 35 and 36 of “The Great Controversy”)

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