Sunday, April 21, 2024

Deceiving and being deceived

ARE WE LISTENING? In his Olivet Discours, Jesus warned of coming “deceivers,” “false anointed ones,” and “false prophets” intent on misleading his disciples, and his repeated warnings are expanded in the writings of his Apostles. His Discourse began with a stern warning - “Beware lest anyone deceive you!” - “MANY” deceivers would come and “deceive MANY.”

The emphasis in his opening declaration is on the term “many.” Deception in the Body of Christ is not a new phenomenon or an exceptional problem. It has characterized the history of the Church.

Snake Slithering - Photo by Marija Zaric on Unsplash
[Photo by Marija Zaric on Unsplash]

Charlatans have come in his name and “
deceived many.” Likewise, “many false prophets” and “false anointed ones” have slithered their way into the Church like snakes, and not just a few. They target the “Elect” with their false teachings, and some have even used “signs and wonders” to achieve their malevolent goal - (Matthew 24:4-11, 24:23-24, 24:26).

The content of their lies has included false information about the return of Jesus, claiming that he “is here” or “there,” that he is “in the wilderness” or “in the secret place.” They often set false expectations about the imminence of his arrival, declaring that the “season has drawn near,” claiming to possess knowledge that even the “Son of Man” did not have - (Matthew 24:23-26, Luke 21:8).

From deceivers, we “HEAR of wars and reports of wars.” They point to wars, earthquakes, and similar calamities as “signs” of the End’s imminence. Certainly, wars, seismic activities, and famines do occur, but they are not indicators of the rapidly approaching final day. As Jesus said, the “End is not yet” when we hear of such things; they are NOT “signs” by which we may calculate the timing or proximity of his return - (Matthew 24:4-6).

Deceivers and false prophets spread “lawlessness” in the Body of Christ. So much so that the “love of many grows cold,” and that causes some if not many saints to apostatize from the Apostolic faith.

The warnings of Jesus are echoed in the Second Letter to the Thessalonians when Paul describes the “Man of Lawlessness,” a figure he linked to the “Apostasy.” He will be energized by Satan and employ “signs and lying wonders” to deceive> He will “seat himself in the Sanctuary of God,” the naos theou. The Apostle applies this term elsewhere to the “Body of Christ.”

This man’s deceptions will cause many to perish because they “welcomed not the love of the truth.” The key to avoiding his lies and the apostasy they will produce is by “holding fast” to the teachings and traditions of the Apostles – (2 Thessalonians 2:1-12).

Paul warned Timothy that in the Last Days, Some will depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of demons.” Sound teaching will be rejected as members of the Assembly prefer the bizarre and sensationalism over the rock-solid principles of plain Scripture:

  • Having itching ears, they will heap to themselves teachers after their own lusts and will turn away their ears from the truth and turn aside to fables - (1 Timothy 4:1, 2 Timothy 4:3).

Moreover, “evil men and HOWLING IMPOSTERS will wax worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived.” The Greek term translated as “howling imposters” or go├ętes originally referred to what anthropologists would label ‘sorcerers,’ ‘witchdoctors,’ and ‘shamans,’ practitioners of magical rituals intended to manipulate spiritual beings, and often accompanied by loud utterances and incantations - (1 Timothy 4:1, 2 Timothy 3:13, 4:3).


Peter likewise warned of false prophets who would infiltrate the Church, coming to prominence in the Last Days and fleecing the flock of God:

  • But there arose false prophets also among the people, as among you also there shall be false teachers who shall privily bring in destructive heresies, denying even the Master that bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. And many shall follow their lascivious doings by reason of whom the way of the truth shall be evil spoken of. And in covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you” – (2 Peter 2:1-3).

He attributed their motives to their desire for financial gain, “making merchandise” of the saints. The description fits the modern phenomenon of the “Prosperity Gospel.” Its preachers and “prophets, promise unwary believers material abundance, good health, and successful lives if they give money to their “ministry.” It is a seductive but false and “destructive” message, a lie.

The warning given by Jesus and the Apostles is consistent. Rather than promise a final super revival or endless good times and prosperity, the New Testament warns of coming apostasy and a coming horde of deceivers, “false anointed ones,” and “false prophets,” an apt description of today’s Popular Christianity, especially what the Charismatic Movement has become.

Cliff- Photo by Jeremy Perkins on Unsplash
[Cliff- Photo by Jeremy Perkins on Unsplash]

The Body of Christ has been plagued with false teachers since its inception, but there has been an increase in the number and effectiveness of deceivers in recent decades; frankly, an
INVASION. Their lies will lead us like a pack of lemmings over the cliff into darkness and apostasy.

Deceivers and charlatans have flooded the Assembly of God. They promote covetousness and pervert the Gospel of Jesus Christ into a narcissistic self-improvement program. They have introduced ideas and practices borrowed from the worlds of the occult and magic, including mysticism, astrology, numerology, Gnosticism, monthly prognostications, and other forms of divination.

The warnings of Jesus, Paul, Peter, and John are unfolding before our eyes, and apostasy is well underway as they predicted. Only time will tell if this is the final “great falling away” when the “Lawless One” will seat himself in the “Sanctuary of God.” Are we heeding the warning?

  • Apostasy and Misdirection - (Believers who are watching for apostasy outside the Church will be among the first who are overtaken by it as it operates in the Assembly)
  • Serpents in the Assembly - (The Spirit of Antichrist works to destroy the Body of Christ from within, especially through deceivers and false teachers)
  • Prophetic Blunders - (Time and again, popular preaching on end-time prophecy has propagated predictions and expectations that have not come to pass)