Beware of Deception (Matthew 24:4-5)
Matthew 24:4-5, “And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many.”
Iraq is one of the most heavily mined nations in the world. As of early 2003, it was estimated that there were over 10 million mines in its ground. Heavy use of planting mines began during the 1960s and 1970s. During that period, the central Iraqi government attempted to subdue Kurdish demands for autonomy through the use of mine warfare. Then with the Iran-Iraq war and the two Gulf Wars with the United States, planting of mines spiraled out of control. During the first Gulf War, 20 U.S. soldiers died as a result of land mines. During Operation Iraqi Freedom, there were no loses due to land mines. However, after the cessation of conflict with the regular Iraqi army in April 2003, the U.S. found itself engaged in a guerrilla war against terrorists. The terrorists started making booby traps and improvised explosive devices (IEDs). These IEDs have accounted for a majority of those killed in Iraq. The IEDs are hidden in everything from rusty oil drums, to plastic toys, to dead animals, to heaps of rotting refuse. "A bomb can be hidden anywhere,"said Captain Jean-Pierre Brown of Hampton Roads, Virginia, a fire control officer with the First Armored Division who lost a friend in a roadside blast. "I have come to hate garbage in a whole new way," Brown said. "Everywhere else in the world, litter is unsightly and garbage smells. But in Iraq, it kills." The world is a "minefield" of deceptive, garbage philosophies and religions. There is only one safe place and that is found in Jesus Christ.
A small church in Minnesota is reeling after two men conned them. Last winter the church hired a man as pastor, not knowing that he was a veteran con artist. The church gave him $10,000 for a car, a home down payment, and other expenses. The church was devastated when he left town with the money. The church determined to be more cautious with their next pastor. They asked James Poole to come to the church and preach to ensure that he was a legitimate pastor. Poole was hired in August, but less than month later, he allegedly left town without repaying over $3,000 he "borrowed" from the church for rent, trips, and a new bathtub. Church officials later learned that Poole—who authorities believe was really named Jerry Andrews, had served jail time for writing bad checks and credit card theft. Church secretary Mary Steffins said the congregation was fooled by Poole. She said, "He did a good service. I will give him credit for that."Steffins added, "I feel like we are a clearing house for bad pastors." The congregation is now trying to decide if they will seek another pastor or close the doors.
Jesus said the first mark of the end times is going to be the deceptions of counterfeit Christs. And so many people have been deceived, though the Bible warns us not to be. This first major sign is really an important warning. Toward the end of this present age, religious deception will be openly practiced and taught on the earth. Christ is so concerned that His followers be aware of the coming worldwide spiritual deception that He repeats His warning two more times in Matthew 24:11, 24. There will not be a few, but many false messiahs. The false messiahs actually claim, "I am Christ," the Messiah. The false messiahs "shall deceive many." Not a few, but many will believe and follow the false messiahs, believing they are the way, the truth, and the life. The evils, deceptions, sorrows, tragedies, conflicts, and animosities of those days will exceed all others the world has ever known.
Many people will be deceived by false teachers during the Tribulation Period. Even today, many believers fall for clever false doctrine. The best way to safeguard against such deception is to know the Word of God thoroughly for yourself. As the number of deceivers grows, so will the number of vulnerable people who desperately look for answers to the overwhelming calamities that torment them (II Peter 2;1-3; II Timothy 3:13). The world will begin to disintegrate, suffering will become unbearable, and sin will reach its maximum potential. The moral and spiritual influence of the church will be gone, and even more significantly, the restraining power of the Holy Spirit will be removed (II Thessalonians 2:7). The world's systems and institutions will start to self-destruct from unbridled wickedness. To take advantage of that desperate situation, an abundance of false and cleverly deceptive messiahs will arise, each claiming, I am the Christ. Their spurious gospels will mislead many, as they promise to deliver men from their problems and troubles. The epitome of that false group will be the Antichrist, the ultimate false messiah and deceiver. As Jesus Christ was righteousness incarnate, the Antichrist will be evil incarnate.
The world is full of deceivers, and it is only by taking heed to the counsel of Christ that even His followers can escape being ruined by them. Often we do not see problems in our own lives, although we can be quite skilled at detecting the problems of others. This tendency to judge others while giving ourselves a pass can lead to both a harsh spirit toward others and a tolerance of sin in our own lives. As the prophet Jeremiah reminds us, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” (Jeremiah 19:7). If we are depending on our ability to evaluate ourselves, we are heading for trouble. Instead, we need an absolute standard of truth that is reliable against which we can measure ourselves. That standard is the Word of God. It is “a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12). To properly judge ourselves, we must truly be diligent students of the Bible and apply what we read to our lives. Jesus said in Matthew 5:8, “Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.” This statement is full of truth. To be “pure in heart” is to have a clean heart. To have a clean heart is to be blessed. It is also to have an undivided heart which is able to clearly see God. With nothing else competing with God for attention, God is able to lead, encourage, teach, and convict this kind of Christian. If the Christian’s foundation is strong, then the rest of the building will stand firm.
PRAYER: Heavenly Father, help me to keep a discerning heart that I may not be deceived. Help me to walk closer with You that I may grow closer in discerning Your purpose for my life. In Jesus name, AMEN!
If this post in any way, has blessed you,
please share this website and its articles with others:
Dr. Blackman is passionate about helping others grow in the grace of the Lord. His devotions are centered on how to grow closer to the Lord through a personal relationship with Christ.