Now as He sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?” And Jesus answered and said to them: “Take heed that no one deceives you.” Matthew 24:3-4
We need to talk about our world, the time that we live in, and our place in all of it. The Bible has so much to say about this time; the signs by which we can identify this late season, and how to prepare for the closing of the church age. Because God cares about us, He described the atmosphere of the last days in great detail so that we will not fear, but be hopeful instead.
Deception was at the top of the list of signs that Jesus gave the disciples when they asked Him about the sign of His return and the end of the age. It is described as the act of causing someone to accept as true or valid what is false or invalid. (Merriam-Webster)
If we live at “the end of the age,” deception of all kinds will be a common part of life. Deception comes in various shapes and forms, always appearing to be accurate and sold as truth, because the purpose is to deceive. It has, in fact, already become an accepted practice, and criticizing it can get you into trouble. Also known as “fake news,” deception sometimes comes from unsuspecting or trusted sources.
Now while they were going, behold, some of the guard came into the city and reported to the chief priests all the things that had happened. When they had assembled with the elders and consulted together, they gave a large sum of money to the soldiers, saying, “Tell them, ‘His disciples came at night and stole Him away while we slept.’ And if this comes to the governor’s ears, we will appease him and make you secure.” So they took the money and did as they were instructed; and this saying is commonly reported among the Jews until this day. Matthew 28:11-15
We are exposed to twisted news every day. News agencies that we trusted for decades are now publishes and broadcasters of misinformation, half truths and untruths. It is hard to believe that they are willing to lie so boldly and openly without shame. No wonder our world is in such chaos right now! At the same time truth has become very offensive, and speaking it in certain situations can land you in hot water with a charge of hate speech.
Deception in some form can also be heard from pulpits, found in Christian books, videos and music. Sadly, not everything that comes in the name of Christianity compares well with the Word.
We should take Jesus’ warning to heart. How do we “take heed” that no one deceive us? Protection against deception is your personal responsibility, something that you cannot delegate to anybody else.
Knowing your Bible is best antidote against the lies of the devil. God’s Word is the truth that sets you free and keeps you free – if you “abide” in it. (Abide means to dwell)
Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” John 8:31-32
You abide in the Word by having it abide in you. You read, study and memorize it as much as you can. Dig deep as you study, and discover how wonderfully everything is connected. You will find some precious treasures hidden below the surface that can only be seen when you search the Scriptures diligently. Once the Word became your delight, you have finally broken through the surface!
Your personal Bible study cannot be replaced by any preaching, teaching, good book, CD, DVD, or your favourite worship music. While these are all good things that are helpful in your spiritual journey, you still have to do what the people in Berea did in Paul’s time:
Then the brethren immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea. When they arrived, they went into the synagogue of the Jews. These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so. Acts 17:10-11
By going back to the source of truth – the Bible itself – those truths that you have heard will be established in your heart and mind, and if there were any errors in it, the Holy Spirit will point it out to you. This does not mean that you listen to a sermon with an attitude of criticism, but looking things up in your own Bible is a good habit to develop.
Gullible, ignorant Christians are an easy target for the devil, and many fall for his lies every day.
The simple believes every word, But the prudent considers well his steps. Proverbs 14:15
Surround yourself with believers that love the truth, are diligent students of the Word themselves, and have grown spiritually. There is safety in numbers and because the days are evil, it is wise to have strong Christians that you can trust close at hand.
For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only He who now restrains will do so until He is taken out of the way. And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord will consume with the breath of His mouth and destroy with the brightness of His coming. The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie, that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness. 2 Thessalonians 2:7-12
The spiritual world is buzzing with activity; what we see on the ground is a reflection of what happens in the spiritual. Pressure is mounting as the devil realizes that his time is coming to an end; he and his minions are working around the clock to attack, distract, discourage, and deceive as many people as possible, believers and unbelievers alike.
The world is overrun with chaos, hatred, wickedness, violence and confusion, with much of it even caused by unwise political decisions. In some cases lawlessness is even protected in a growing number of countries. The signs that Jesus mentioned are being fulfilled in front of our very eyes, such as wars and rumours of war, famines in various places, and earthquakes.
Who would believe that we would see a day when heads of state themselves break laws that they are supposed to uphold and enforce. Truly, the spirit of lawlessness is rampant in our day. Many nations that were founded on Christian principles are turning against Christians now. Already we see a form of soft persecution in the West where Christian groups are banned from schools and colleges, Christians are excluded from benefits based on their beliefs, and Christian business owners either forced to violate their consciences, or be punished by the courts. Christian lawyers are barred from operating in certain places. The list is growing fast.
It is in this atmosphere that we are called upon to take heed that we are not deceived. Truth comes at a premium nowadays, and it is easy to assimilate to the official narrative – even subconsciously – as we are being bombarded by messages that come to us all the time.
The world has become a sad and dangerous place to live in, but let us not forget: this is not our home. What lies ahead of us is far better than what the world could ever offer us. When we see these things happen, we know that our redemption is close at hand. Looking around can be disappointing, but looking up is exciting.
We can do nothing about the bad things that are coming, but we can safeguard ourselves against deception. Now is the time to prepare ourselves for the coming of the Lord, and planting the Word in our hearts and minds is a wise thing to do. Study the prophecies that speak about the time that we live in. Know the signs of the time that Jesus mentioned. Look into the the writings of Paul on the last days. God’s calendar is published for us to know what He is about to do!