When the disciples came to Christ, in Matthew 24, and asked about the sign of His coming and the end of the age, Christ prophesied things for them and us to be watching in the future. One thing that He warned against three times was deception. In Matthew 24.4-5
“And Jesus answered and said to them: ‘Take heed that no one deceive you. For many will come in My name saying, I am the Christ, and will deceive many.'”
Matthew 24.11 – “Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many.”
Matthew 24.23 – “For false Christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect.”
We are going to look at:
- Examples of deception from the scriptures.
- How to know a false prophet.
- How to avoid deception.
Examples of deception from the scriptures.
We will start in Genesis 3. This is the account of Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden. We do not know how long they were there before Satan came. It would seem that they knew their way around and going about their daily business. Satan came on the scene and deceived Eve. Adam, while not deceived, also ate the forbidden fruit.
God then came to the garden and Adam and Eve hid from Him. God confronted them and inquired if they had eaten of the fruit.
Genesis 3.13 – “And the Lord God said to the woman, ‘What is this you have done?’ The woman said, ‘The serpent deceived me and I ate.'”
God walked out into Eden one day, knelt down and sculpted a man out of clay. He breathed life into this statue. God introduced Himself and told Adam that He had created him. He brought the animals for Adam to name. This was after God had brought Adam up to date on what was happening. Remember that Adam was like a newborn babe in an adult’s body. After the period of education, God put Adam to sleep, took a rib from him and made Eve. God then, along with Adam, educated Eve in what was happening and gave them both instruction in how to live and conduct themselves in the garden.
Take a look at what was occurring. Two perfect physical human beings, plenty of food, no inhibitions, they had everything going for them, and they had an opportunity for eternal life. They were taught and tutored by their Creator God. Then Satan came along and it all went away.
If Eve could be deceived and Adam follow along, how about us? They had it all, but it was not enough. Satan was a false minister. The result of Eve’s believing the lies and deception of Satan brought them a life of misery.
Look at James 1.14-16:
“But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin: and sin, when it is full grown, brings forth death. Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren.”
Adam and Eve had it all. A false minister deceived them.
Genesis 31.6-7 – “And you know that with all my might I have served your father. Yet your father deceived me and changed my wages ten times, but God did not allow him to hurt me.”
Jacob prospered while with Laban, but it also brought him responsibilities he did not ask for. Jacob had a family conflict. He had to deal with Laban more than he wanted. All because Laban deceived Jacob.
Proverbs 20.1 -” Wine is a mocker. Strong drink is a brawler, and whoever is led astray by it is not wise.”
What addictions do we have? Do we have problems with alcohol? What about nicotine or illegal drug addiction? What is it that has a hold on us? Pornography, etc.? Do we deceive ourselves and say that we do not have a problem? First thing after work, we go to the bar for a drink. Before we turn on the light in the morning, we light up a cigarette. What has a hold on us? Do not be self- deceived.
Sin is a deceiver.
Romans 7.11 – “Paul speaking, ‘For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it killed me.”
Sin looks good. The grass is greener on the other side we think.
Romans 6.23 – “For the wages of sin is death…”
Compare this to James 1.15. Sin will deceive and kill us.
How to know a false prophet.
II Corinthians 11.3 – “But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.”
The christian life is not always easy, but it is simple. Remember Romans 6.23:
“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
The christian life restricts our activities. We cannot do just what we want to do when we want to do it. There are things we must do and things that we must not do.
Matthew 7.13-14 – “Enter by the narrow gate: for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.”
Matthew 5.48 – “Therefore you shall be perfect just as your Father in heaven is perfect.”
I John 2.15-17 – “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world: the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life – is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it: but he who does the will of God abides forever.”
This does not mean we cannot enjoy life and the things that God blesses us with, but our physical surroundings cannot become all consuming.
Matthew 5.17 – Christ says “Do not think that I came to destroy the law or the prophets. I did not come to destroy, but to fulfill.
I John 3.4 – “Whoever commits sin also commits lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness.
Galatians 3.19, 24-25 – “What purpose then does the law serve? It was added because of transgressions till the seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was appointed through angels by the hand of mediator. Therefore, the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after faith has come, we no longer under a tutor.”
When we leave the tutor, we do not throw away or forget all that we were taught.
See Matthew 7.21-22. In verse 23 – “And then I will declare to them, I never knew you: depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.”
If there is no law, we cannot practice lawlessness.
Those that say that the law is done away with are false prophets. The law defines sin and is the guideline to how we are to live.
Isaiah 8.20 – “To the law and the testimony; if they do not speak according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.”
The law is not, is not, is not our salvation, but it is the thing that keeps us on the right path. It keeps us “in the way”.
Read Matthew chapters 5-7. See what Christ had to say about the law and how we should live.
A person who prophesies in God’s name and whose prophecy does not come to pass is a false prophet.
Deuteronomy 18.21-22 – “And if you say in your heart, How shall we know the word which the Lord has spoken? When a prophet speaks in the name of the Lord, if the thing does not happen or come to pass, that is the thing which the Lord has not spoken; the prophet has spoken presumptuously: you shall not be afraid of him.”
A false prophet may show a sign or miracle and then try to turn you from the Creator God.
Deuteronomy 13.1-3 – “If there arises among you a prophet or a dreamer of dreams and he gives you a sign or a wonder and the sign or wonder come to pass of which he spoke to you saying, ‘Let us go after other gods – which you have not known – and let us serve them, you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or dreamer of dreams, for the Lord your God is testing you to know whether you love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul.”
How to avoid deception.
Believe God. God says what He means and means what He says.
Read Genesis 6.13-14, 22; Genesis 12.1-4; Genesis 31.3, 16-17; Acts 9.6
These scriptures are accounts of Noah, Abraham, Jacob, and Paul. When God told them to do something, they responded and did it. To avoid deception we must exercise faith. Believe God. Have confidence in Him, in the sacrifice of Christ and the scripture. Grab hold of the trunk of the doctrinal tree. Do not get out on limbs and twigs. Stay close to that which we know is right. Stay grounded in the faith. Strive to rekindle the first love.
I John 4.1 – “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world.”
Test the spirits. Check out what you see and hear.
Study – II Timothy 2.15. Watch – Matthew 24.42, Acts 20.28-30. Pray – I Thessalonians 5.17, I Peter 4.7
Be alert to what is going on around us.
I Corinthians 16.13 – “Watch, stand fast in the faith. Be brave, be strong.”
Stay close to God through prayer, study, and fasting. Ask for guidance and help. If we do this and keep our eyes focused on Jesus Christ, our savior, our sacrifice, and our great High Priest and keep our mind on the kingdom of God and our part in it, it will be virtually impossible for us to be deceived and turned away form God. Keep on keeping on.