Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. Mt 24:11
I have spent some time over the years studying end time prophecies and have wondered about how we would see this verse come to pass. I think we have seen some elements of this in various cults that spring up, or when some obscure person steps up and claims they have figured out when the apocalypse or the Rapture are going to happen. Or they may even claim they know the exact date when Christ will be returning. Even with all this, we really haven’t seen all that this verse implies.
Recently I watched a short series of four episodes on mysteries of the bible. The first three turned out to be more along the lines of scientists and theologians using science to explain away some of the miracles and stories in the bible such as the ten plagues in Egypt, the crossing of the Red Sea and the River Jordan, Noah’s Ark, the Ark of the Covenant and such.
The last episode was about the Book of Revelation and really went off in a strange direction. Basically they were describing John as a delusional, bitter old man who had it in for the Romans because of what they had done to Christ and their persecution of the church. In this, it was portrayed that Revelation is just John’s spiteful attack on the Roman Empire and really has nothing to do with any future events or the end times.
What really struck me in this episode was that several of the people they talked to held positions within the church. Some were pastors of non-denominational churches, one in particular had been the pastor of a rather large church who was asked to step down when his teaching became extremely radical and he has since started another church. Others represented some of the major denominations that you would easily recognize if I were to mention them here.
I do believe God can use natural processes to accomplish His will here on Earth when it suits His purposes, but there are times that God definitely suspends Natural Law when there is something specific He is wanting to accomplish. It amazed me at how dismissive they were in these episodes about some of the miraculous events in the bible, especially in that last episode. It was in watching the last episode that I started to gain a better understanding of what Jesus meant in Matthew.
One of the terms used to describe Satan is “deceiver.” (Rev 12:9) He has been doing this since the Garden of Eden and is very good at it. We cannot ever trust anything he says to us. We also need to be aware that he may not actually lie to us so much as will attempt to get us to question our beliefs. Satan will use any means he can to spread the lie or to get people to question the truth, including those in positions of authority in the church. No matter how you want to look at it is all comes down to deception.
So how do we defend ourselves from the deception? With the truth! If we are not familiar with the truth, we will not be able to recognize the lie.
We are told God’s word is truth, John 17:17; that God is not the author of confusion, 1 Corinthians 14:33; and that His word is a lamp that will illuminate our path, Psalm 119:105. We are also told to study scripture and apply it to our lives, Joshua 1:8, Psalm 1:1-2, Philippians 4:8, and 1 Timothy 4:13. Scripture makes it clear that we can trust in the truth that is God’s word. Jesus even made a point of telling us how it would benefit us in doing this: So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:31-32)
We also have an ace up our sleeve. We have the Holy Spirit dwelling inside us. The Holy Spirit is also called the Spirit of Truth and Jesus told us that the Holy Spirit will guide us in truth, John 16:12-13. There are many things the Holy Spirit can reveal to us, 1 Corinthians 2:9-10, and He can also help us when we don’t know what to say, Luke 12:12. Even with the help of the Holy Spirit we still need to take the time to study scripture. The more we study the bible, the more the Holy Spirit can reveal the truths contained in the bible.
Don’t handicap yourself. The truth of God’s word is one of the components of the Armor of God, Ephesians 6:13-20. Take time to study God’s Word. This will help you to be properly prepared when you encounter the false prophets we are warned about, as well as, the lies of the enemy. Be wary of teaching that does not align with scripture. Prepare yourself properly.
Seek the truth!