May29MonMay 29, 2023
The End of the age is filled with deception
Jesus answered: “Watch out that no one deceives you.
For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah,’ and will deceive many. (Matt. 24:4-5)
The question on many believers’ minds, “when is Jesus coming back?” was a question that was on the minds of the first believers 2,000 year ago. “When is the end coming – the time when all the predictions of the Bible are fulfilled, and Jesus comes back?” That was the question the disciples asked of Jesus, which starts the answer given by Jesus, who initiated the whole topic of conversation by predicting the destruction of the holy Jewish temple. It would have been nice if Jesus gave a nice clear chronological timeline of events to answer the question; but He did not! Many believe they have the answer, but the fact that there are so many interpretations and theological differences as to the chronology of the “end times” proves that no one is 100% accurate. We need to remain open and anchor ourselves in the truths that we do know for certain. It is fascinating that after Jesus was asked the question or questions (scholars even debate that!) in Matthew 24:3, His first response is, “watch out that no one deceives you”, literally misleads you or leads you astray. It is as if Jesus knew, which He did… cause He’s God, that their inquisitive spirit would be the door to deception. When a people are hungry to know or have something, there are always several impostors at the door ready to give people what their itching ears want to hear (2Tim. 4:3). Desire always has the potential to lead to deception (read James 1:5-16). Our whole society is built on this premise: people are in a constant state of wanting something, so let’s make them believe we have what they are looking for. From religion to cars, many deceivers are looking to attract “buyers” to consume their product. “Which way leads to inner peace”; “Which car will satisfy all of my family’s needs”; “What church will best provide what I’m looking for”. Consumerism is an open door to deception; and we are all hungry to have our desires satisfied...until we have discovered that all we desire is realized in Jesus!
Does it not intrigue you that Jesus rarely answers a question directly? Why does He begin with a warning? Because the desire of the disciples is to see Jesus again after His departure (vs.3), which will open the door for all those waiting for His return to be mislead in believing that anyone who comes claiming to be Him might be Him. Actually, when you think about it, they are the only ones who would recognize Him when He returns because they saw Him face to face. The next generations of believers do not have that benefit, so Jesus’ warning is for all believers that come after the generation in which He lived – that’s us. For 2,000 years there have been a myriad of people, deceived by their own delusions, claiming to be the “messiah” or coming in his name. From David Koresh, leader of the Branch Davidians, to Sun Myung Moon of the Unification Church in Korea, our world has been and is filled with impostors, frauds and charlatans, looking to capitalize on the desire of people to see the Messiah. People will go to any lengths to find that place of inner peace, nirvana, enlightenment or Zen state, even suicide directed by demented deceivers. Just recently, a group of over 100 Kenyan Christians , led by a maniacal pastor (former taxi driver) starved themselves to death believing that would usher them into the presence of heaven. Why are people so easily deceived? Because they have a desire, a want to go to heaven; seeking a shortcut, a quicker and easier route. Where that exists, there are a myriad of messiahs claiming to have a special way to the destination on people’s hearts. Remember… desire opens the door to deception!
Listen to the words of the apostle John, who lived the longest of all the disciples, long enough to see Jesus’ words fulfilled literally: “Dear children, this is the last hour; and as you have heard that the antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come. This is how we know it is the last hour” (1John 2:18). A reading of Matthew 24 will show that Jesus uses the word “deceive” four times in this passage: in verses 4 and 5 as we see above; in verse 11 where He warns of false prophets appearing and deceiving many; and in verse 24 when He says, “false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and miracles to deceive even the elect-- if that were possible”. They are allowed to appear and deceive because there is a desire for their craft, even as we see today. There is such a desire for “a word from the Lord” and to see “signs and wonders”. The desire leads to imposters and charlatans looking to capitalize on the people’s need to see the supernatural. The Apostle Paul says this will increase in the last days, “evil men and impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived” (2Tim 3:13). There are many such warnings in scripture, even in the Old Testament (Jer. 29:8). The increase of deception in the church is a sign that we are getting close to the return of Jesus!
How does one overcome the onslaught of deception? Simply love the truth! Read the Word; meditate on it; love it; study it; study it with others; walk in the Spirit with Him as your teacher! Know what you believe and become convinced of the truth of scripture. King David said, “The entirety of Your word is truth, and every one of Your righteous judgments endures forever” (Psa 119:160). Jesus prayed for us to be sanctified by the truth (John 17:17). Allow that to happen!
Secondly, know Jesus! Know Him so well that you can spot an impostor a mile away. You will know the impostor by his or her fruit. Get to know Jesus - the truth so well that the deceiver becomes instantaneously clear. Read 1John 2:18-29!
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