Paul emphasizes this special mark of the Antichrist. It is a most remarkable one. Nowhere else is it used in the Bible. It is not applied to any other system – ‘all deceivableness of unrighteousness.’
The deceivableness of Rome is a deceivableness peculiar to herself. It is a craft of a new order. So cunning it is that it poses as the system of righteousness which God has revealed for the salvation of the world, and those who by consequence accept it as such find themselves not only deceived but destroyed through it.
Popery has a god of its own, even he whom canon law (decretal Gregory IX Tit 7) calls the ‘Lord our God.’ It has a saviour of its own – Mother Church. It has a sacrifice of its own – the mass. It has a mediator of its own – the priesthood. It has a sanctifier of its own – the sacraments. It has a justification of its own – infused righteousness. It has a pardon of its own – absolution through the confessional, and it has in the very heavens an infallible, all prevailing advocate of its own, unknown in the Bible – ‘the Mother of God.’
This apparatus, so greatly hailed by deluded Protestant ecumenists, which the Antichrist presents for the salvation of souls, is a lie. It has not nor cannot save any one.
The Church of Rome looks like the church, it professes t be all that the church professes to be and yet it is not the church. It is the counterfeit of the church, the Bride of Antichrist, ‘the all deceivableness of unrighteousness.’
Examine the structure of Antichrist’s Church and note how it counterfeits the architecture of Christ’s Church.
Christ’s Church is built on the impregnable rock that ‘Christ is the Son of God.’ Antichrist’s Church is built on the rock of Peter, he, it is claimed, being the Vicar of Christ. On Peter and his successors is the Church built, that is the claim of the Popes.
The true Church of Christ is built on a person not on a system of doctrine. It is not by trusting in a system of truth that men are saved. It is by trusting only in Christ the Truth Himself.
The false Church of Antichrist is built not on a system of doctrine but on the person of the Pope himself. ‘It is essential,’ Antichrist decrees, ‘to the salvation of every human being that he be subject to me, the Pope.’
The false church is built on the foundation of traditions, sacraments, priests, bishops, cardinals, the Pope himself being the chief corner stone.
The true Church is built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets Jesus Christ Himself being the chief corner stone.
All Rome’s policies are marked by this all deceivableness of unrighteousness. Rome looks so ‘lamb like’ that statesmen think they have nothing to fear from her. When they are outwitted they then begin to wonder wherein lies the strength which has baffled them.
‘Rome buys and sells statesmen in her market; she uses them as the muleteer his beasts of burden; and when they are old and broken down and can no longer do her turns, she hurls them from the high places to which she had exalted them, and leaves their mangled reputations, like unsavoury carcases, on the highway of history, that posterity may see how Rome rewards those who serve her. It was written of her of old time, ‘She hath cast down many wounded; yea, strong men have been slain by her.’
This vast deceivableness is one of the main sources of the strength of the so-called Church of Rome. She has the art of enlisting all the claims of virtue, and all the sanctions of law, on the side of that by which virtue is outraged and law violated. Where her purpose is the most cruel, her speech is ever the most bland. Where her motive is the most villainous, her profession is the most plausible. She always gives the holiest name to the most unholy deed. When she burns a heretic she calls it an auto-de-fe – an act of faith. When she ravages a province with fire and sword, she styles it a crusade – that is, an evangelistic expedition. Her torture chamber is styled the ‘Holy Office.’ And when she deposes monarchs, stripping them of crown and kingdom, and compelling them, as she did Henry IV, of Germany, to stand with naked feet at her gates amid the drifts of winter, it is with the make-believe of a kind father administering salutary chastisement to an erring son. In short, she not only transforms herself into an angel of light, but vice itself she transforms into virtue, decking blackest crime in the white robe of innocence, and arraying foulest iniquity with the resplendent airs of holiness.
What are the sacraments by which she professes to replenish men with grace? What are the masses by which she professes to impart Christ and His salvation to them? What are the crucifixes, rosaries, and amulets, by which she fortifies men against the assaults of Satan and evil spirits? What are the indulgences by which she shortens the sufferings of souls in purgatory? What are the pardons with which she sends men away into the other world? What are the vows of poverty under which she cherishes a pride the most arrogant, and an avariciousness the most insatiable? What are the vows of celibacy under which she veils an unbridled lewdness? What are the dispensations by which she releases men from the obligations of the moral law, and professes to annul oaths, promises and covenants? Above all, what are her logic and system of ethics by which , as in the hands of Liguori, she makes vice and virtue, falsehood and truth change sides, and shows how one, if he but direct aright his intention, can commit the most monstrous crime and yet contract not a particle of guilt? What are these things, we ask, save the ‘deceivableness of unrighteousness,’ the ‘all-deceivableness of unrighteousness?’ for surely the utmost limits of deception have here been reached, and the Deceiver himself can go no further. He has produced his masterpiece.’