Jesus spoke of a time when false messiahs and prophets would appear in our midst. They would speak with authority and persuade many by performing signs and wonders. They would be so convincing that many in the world would be deceived. Jesus said in Matthew 24:24, “For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect.” Just thinking of the ridiculous things that ‘fake news’ has used to influence the world and, sadly, some within the church to believe should be a reminder to us all that their ability to deceive even the elect may not be as difficult as one might expect. However, there are things we can do to be prepared for that day. “Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong. Do everything in love.” 1 Cor 16:13-14.
Are Christians free from being deceived? History has shown us that when a person gets to a place where they think they can’t be deceived, they need to be the most cautious. Look at God’s chosen, the Israelites who did not understand the Kingdom of God being fulfilled in Jesus Christ, who came as the Messiah, the one person they were waiting for, and crucified Him because they were sure they were right about Jesus. But such is the nature of deception. People who are deceived usually are the last to realize it. When they refer to someone in the New Testament as the elect, they are talking about someone who is a true believer in Jesus Christ and who knows Him as much more than a great prophet but as the Son of God. We serve the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit as they are three in one. The Greek word translated as ‘elect’ means ‘chosen one.’ The question is this, can these false messiahs and false prophets be so convincing that even a born-again Christian can become capable of denying Jesus as their Savior and Lord?
In Mark 13:22, Jesus included the phrase, if possible, letting us know that losing our salvation can be possible for some while impossible for the vast majority. 1 Timothy 4:1 says, “The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. However, if a faithful Christian is consistently regenerated and changed from within, he is a new creature. 2 Cor. 5:17 says, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” The ability to be regenerated happens to those who are filled with the Holy Spirit and who go to war against their sinful nature. When we intentionally continue to sin, we drive the Spirit of God away from our hearts. And the further the Holy Spirit is driven from you, the emptier and more vulnerable to the deception of false messiahs and prophets you will become.
1 John 2:4 says, “The one who says, ‘I have come to know Him,’ and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.” We can sit in church for years, listening to one sermon after another, but if we never allow the word that we hear preached to change us, then we will find ourselves susceptible to deceiving spirits. We can read the Bible from cover to cover, but unless we put its commands into practice, we deceive ourselves. Without allowing Him to transform our character and hearts through His Word, we risk believing the lying spirits that speak through those false prophets and messiahs who will come in the last days.
Whoever Does The Will of God Lives Forever
In 2 Cor 11:14-15, Paul tells us that “Satan disguises himself as an angel of light, so it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness.” which means he knows how to masquerade and do it with such authenticity that even the elect can risk being deceived into thinking satan’s servants have been sent by God. The love we have for God is symbolic of our love of light. If a false messiah or prophet portrayed themselves as dark and evil, with a tail and horns, they would not be able to fool the elect. We need to discern which light is from God and which is from satan. We can become confused when we get conflicting messages. Psalm 119 says, “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” May we apply His word and learn to recognize and listen to His voice. John 10:27 says, “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.” May we know His presence and character so well that we are not deceived by satan, who seeks to kill, steal and destroy us.
Jesus taught us that to battle Satan successfully, we need to use the word of God as our standard. Hebrews 4:12-13 says, “For the word God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints, and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before his eyes to whom we must give account.” Remember, nothing misleading can ever be hidden from God’s sight. May the Word be the standard by which we live, and all our choices, plans, and desires are motivated by our love for our Lord and King. Remembering, applying, and persevering in the Word, as we are being transformed daily by the Holy Spirit, changes our character and counters self-delusion. Like a mirror, the Word of God will always reflect the truth within us.
We need to be alert and aware of our enemy’s schemes. When we use God’s weapons, not the weapons of this world, we knock down the strongholds of human reasoning and destroy every false argument. Remember what 2 Cor. 10:4 says, “The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.” The best examples of the tactics that satan uses to deceive the elect can be found in two places in the scriptures. The first is satan’s interaction with Adam and Eve in the garden; (Genesis 3), and the second is between satan and Jesus in the desert (Matthew 4). In both instances, satan used the same strategy against his opponents to bring about their defeat. In the first instance, satan deceives and successfully defeats Adam and Eve in the garden. In the second, we see satan ultimately defeated by Jesus in the desert. Jesus was victorious over satan by responding to him with the word of God! It was Jesus’ powerful weapon against each of the temptations that satan threw His way. (See Luke 4:1-13). Therefore, we have no excuse, for Jesus told us in Mark 13:23, “So be on your guard; I have told you everything ahead of time.”
To thwart satan’s plan to deceive us, we need to know what comes from the Spirit of God and what comes from our adversary. We see three deceptions used. The first, Lust of the Flesh is the cravings of the carnal man. Satan puts forth a desire, attitude, or action which places oneself and not God on the throne. Second, is the lust of the eyes. This desire does not come from the insight that God gives but is shaped by the world and in direct opposition to God. The third is the Pride of Life. Which is boasting about what one has or does. The pride of self-reliance and self-sufficiency comes not from the Father but from the world. I John 2:17 says, “The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.”
As we begin this New Year of 2023, our Prophetic Word to you is to Know Him and Seek Him with all your heart. May we be quick to repent for sin, choose to forgive others, and be trained to recognize and thwart the adversary’s deceptions as we are transformed into God’s likeness and truth.