Deception for Our Times:
When we think of Biblical Warnings about the last days, what comes to mind? Some will think of earthquakes, wars, the Mark of the Beast, or the Anti-Christ. There are so many different opinions and views on events in the last days. In this day and hour you can really take your pick as it concerns end time views. The following story, hopefully, can cut through all the chatter and help us see something very important.
A janitor would wait patiently each week for a group of seminarians to finish their basketball game. While he waited, he would study his Bible. One day, as the seminarians were leaving the gym, they noticed the janitor carefully reading the text in his lap. One young man asked which biblical book was the subject of the janitor’s study. The old man answered, “The Book of Revelation.” The ballplayer was surprised and asked the janitor if he understood the complicated book. “Oh, yes!” the man answered. “I understand it. It means that Jesus is gonna win!” -- And that is a most accurate analysis of the Book of Revelation!
The janitor's words are quite profound and true. When we look at end time or eschatological studies you can see a very loud warning. It is a warning that is thread all the way through scripture. It is the caution against falling victim to deception and deceivers. The first and last warnings about the end times in Jesus’ discourse on the Mt. of Olives are cautions about deception.
Jesus started by saying, “Take heed that no man deceive you” (Matthew 24:4) And He concluded about a warning of false prophets, “For there shall arise false Christ’s, and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect” (Matt. 24:24)
In this discourse, Jesus makes use of the word “deceive” four different times. Then we look at the Epistles of Paul and in 1 Corinthians 11:13-15, “For such [are] false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore [it is] no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.”
When we first look at this text, some may not see why it is relevant to you or me today. But if a deceiver or false prophet is anyone who portrays the truth of God falsely, it looks different.
Could a false prophet be someone who convinces us that it is ok to compromise eternal values? By this broader definition of a false prophet or deceiver, many of us can be swept into its layer. Deception comes packaged many times in the bundle of a lie or lies. Thus a lie is to deceive.
Winston Churchill once said, “A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on." Accordingly, a false prophet can be one who gives advice or encourages us to act against the will of God; gives advice contrary to scripture; gives advice falsely to purposely under-mind Godly leadership; someone who brings into question the absoluteness or completeness of God’s Word.
Three Battle Grounds:
It is not my purpose to point to specifics, but to point to the warning and the battle grounds upon which such wars are waged. In this generation there is an all out war waged against morality and sound Bible teachings. In this war there are three battlegrounds where the apparatus of deception is employed.
The first battleground and most obvious is the assault from the secular society, pressuring us to compromise Christian principles and values. We see this everyday as gnosticism and liberalism eat away at long held values and truths.
The second battleground is the pressure we face from people within the church who do not hold to the values and principles of God’s Word. They adhere to individual philosophies or misconceptions of Scripture. Many have lost a high view of Scripture. They have been deceived that it is only a piece of literature with little value.
The third battleground is the one we struggle with inside our minds. The battle is to gain control over the internal temptation to compromise our beliefs.
The truth about deception is that it is real, and it is being employed in these last days to attack Christian principles; the very truth of God's Word; and your mind.
2 Peter 1:2-8:
“Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord, According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that [pertain] unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. For if these things be in you, and abound, they make [you that ye shall] neither [be] barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
God has given us the necessary tools to be triumphant and have overcoming power. However, we must notice that Peter goes on to say, starting at verse 5, to add to your faith. To yield way to these things to transpire in your life, move out of the way and let them happen!
1. Virtue – Moral Excellence/Character
2. Knowledge – Understanding of God’s Word and knowledge of Him
3. Temperance – Self-control
4. Patience – Patient endurance
5. Godliness – Exercise/Actions of your love to God in obedience to his will and commitment to his service
6. Brotherly Kindness – Love one like they were your TRUE brother
7. Charity - brotherly love, affection, good will, love, benevolence
As Spirit-filled and Spirit-led Christians we must allow these things to be added in our lives and walk with God. Many times because of our circumstances or dilemma’s we seek out other avenues of intervention, when we should be looking unto Jesus, who is the author and finisher of our faith.
If a Christian could develop these 7 attributes, self-deception would be a thing of the past. The psychologist and psychiatrist would have to close there door!
1. Temperance/Self-control will not let you lose it and do or say things we should not.
2. Virtue/Morality will not let you keep the dark secrets of life hidden close to you!
3. Patience will make you wait for the answer from God!
4. Brotherly kindness will not let you harbor hatred towards another!
5. Charity/Love will make your life open as a rose in the morning dew!
6. Knowledge will tell you that God is on your side!
7. Godliness will keep you in His will.
The truth about deception is that it is attempting to hide from you one very profound truth. Yes, deception is an attempt to hide truth. The truth is that you and I are not totally independent creations.
I understand that God has created me for a purpose. That purpose transcends my secondary pursuits as an individual in modern times. It transcends my dreams, goals, or aspirations. It is a greater purpose than getting a skill or trade to provide for one's family. It is an eternal purpose that should govern our existence here on earth, in the continuum of time.
That purpose I believe is our relationship with God. Christopher Hitchens and the such like look at religion and what has been made of it and scoff. They scoff at the notion of religion and its pertinence to society. Man was not created for total independence. Hitchens sees himself as a meaningless being wandering through a never ending evolution. He even purports that earth might be a dump for a higher civilization of beings. Well, there he is. Richard Dawkins says he would rather believe that an alien life form started human civilization, rather than God.
Man is dependent, it is the human dilemma. That is part of mans purpose. The Genesis account clearly proves that we were created to be in communion and relationship with our Creator God. God wanted someone to be with. He made man. In the very first book of the Bible we see that man is fallen and yet there is a solution.
Man has gone his own way throughout time, but God has a final solution through Jesus Christ. Through Christ we can be restored, indeed reconciled back to right relationship with God. It is a way of living, a way of thinking. It is seeking to please God above man. To rather seek and long for that which would be pleasing and acceptable to God and not trends and patterns of fallen human thought. It is to be in accordance with His natural order and a desire and love to do so.