A quick review is that the church is God’s temple (Ephesians 2), that God has prerogatives that He will not give to any created being, and any man or angel who attempts to assume prerogatives of God in the church has thereby set himself up as God, in the temple of God, as the antichrist is described as doing in II Thessalonians 2.
One of the prerogatives of God that the angels and the apostles have never had (and which therefore the church has never had) is the right to decide what is right and wrong—the right to be the lawgiver. There is only one lawgiver (James 4:12).
Another right that only God has, is the right to be the Saviour—to deliver you and me from the guilt and power of sin. Both the Old and New Testaments declare this. (See James 4:12; Matthew 9:2-6; Isaiah 45:21.) The church cannot save you from sin; the leaders of the church cannot save you from sin; the services of the church cannot save you from sin. Only God can do that. All that the church or any man can do is point people to where the help is, where the salvation is. But the essence of false religion is to lead men to look to men, to trust in men for salvation, to trust churches or rituals or theological beliefs for salvation. This is why false religion doesn’t work.
If your religion is not leading you to victory over sin, to a cessation from sinning in your life, then there is something wrong with your religion. True religion points people to the true God and results in a spiritual new birth, which results in victory over sin. (See I John 5:18.)
Through heathenism, Satan had, for ages, turned men away from God; but he won his great triumph in perverting the faith of Israel. By contemplating and worshiping their own conceptions the heathen had lost a knowledge of God and had become more and more corrupt. So it was with Israel. The principle that man can save himself by his own works lay at the foundation of every heathen religion; it had now become the principle of the Jewish religion. Satan had implanted this principle. Wherever it is held, men have no barrier against sin. (See Desire of Ages, 35, 36.)
One of the most serious consequences of the rule of antichrist is that the people are not delivered from their sins and a theological system has been developed to handle this. The theological explanation is that we cannot overcome our sins because of our fallen sinful nature (“original sin”). Therefore, we are saved just by being forgiven of our sins and the church claims to do this. So the sinner who goes on in sin, regularly confessing his sins, believes, mistakenly, that he is on the road to salvation. Nowhere in the Bible is salvation promised to the person who is living in sin. In fact, damnation is promised to the person who goes on living in sin. Salvation is promised only to the one who overcomes or is set free from sin. (See John 8:32-36; Romans 6; I John 3; Revelation 21:5-7; I Corinthians 6:9, 10; Revelation 22:14, 15.)
There was a time when God’s remnant people knew this, and we proclaimed that the doctrine of being saved in sin was from the antichrist and that we could only be saved from sin. But the doctrines of antichrist have strangely become much more acceptable to the professed people of God, and many have accepted the “saved in sin” theology along with the majority of the professed Christian world. Where will this theology leave you in the Day of Judgment? With antichrist. (See Matthew 7:21-23.)
“The victory that Jesus gained in the wilderness is a pledge to you of the victory that you may gain through His name. Your only hope and salvation is in overcoming as Christ overcame.” Testimonies, vol. 3, 457.