From Here to Forever


Chapter 3—Spiritual Darkness in the Early Church

The apostle Paul declared that the day of Christ should 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 worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.” And furthermore, “the mystery of iniquity doth already work.” 2 Thessalonians 2:3, 4, 7. Even at that early date the apostle saw, creeping in, errors that would prepare the way for the papacy. HF 32.1

Little by little, “the mystery of iniquity” carried forward its deceptive work. The customs of heathenism found their way into the Christian church, restrained for a time by fierce persecutions under paganism; but as persecution ceased, Christianity laid aside the humble simplicity of Christ for the pomp of pagan priests and rulers. The nominal conversion of Constantine caused great rejoicing. Now the work of corruption rapidly progressed. Paganism, appearing vanquished, became the conqueror. Her doctrines and superstitions were incorporated into the faith of the professed followers of Christ. HF 32.2

This compromise between paganism and Christianity resulted in “the man of sin” foretold in prophecy. That false religion is a masterpiece of Satan, his effort to seat himself upon the throne to rule the earth according to his will. HF 32.3

It is one of the leading doctrines of Romanism that the pope is invested with supreme authority over bishops and pastors in all the world. More than this, the pope has been styled “Lord God the Pope” and declared infallible. (See Appendix) The same claim urged by Satan in the wilderness of temptation is still urged by him through the Church of Rome, and vast numbers yield him homage. HF 32.4

But those who reverence God meet this assumption as Christ met the wily foe: “Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.” Luke 4:8. God has never appointed any man head of the church. Papal supremacy is opposed to the Scriptures. The pope can have no power over Christ's church except by usurpation. Romanists bring against Protestants the charge of willful separation from the true church. But they are the ones who departed from “the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.” Jude 3. HF 33.1

Satan well knew that it was by the Holy Scriptures that the Saviour resisted his attacks. At every assault, Christ presented the shield of eternal truth, saying, “It is written.” In order for Satan to maintain his sway over men and establish the authority of the papal usurper, he must keep them in ignorance of the Scriptures. Its sacred truths must be concealed and suppressed. For hundreds of years the circulation of the Bible was prohibited by the Roman Church. The people were forbidden to read it. Priests and prelates interpreted its teachings to sustain their pretensions. Thus the pope came to be almost universally acknowledged as the vicegerent of God on earth. HF 33.2