For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect.
You may have heard it said that in the last days people of God were going to be attacked by deception. Well I have news for you, that time is already here.
That’s right, the church globally is already under attack by deception, granted it will only get worse, and that’s a fact.
I used to think deception meant stark departure from conventional truth, such as denying Christ, living in immorality and a wholesale, willful departure from God’s word by professing believers. Though this is not incorrect, deception is actually very subtle and it often comes in quite unexpectedly, and before we know it, we might have found ourselves in full blown error in our beliefs or practices.
So how do we guard against this rebellion so that we are not caught unawares? I believe we need to build a foundation only on God’s word, non-negotiable disciplines and vital Christian community. Doing these will help position us better in defense against deception.
A strong foundation is nothing less than using the word of God as your pillar. Have you ever heard this saying, “God says it, I believe it, that settles it?” It’s something I grew up with. However, do you know that’s not necessarily correct? In fact it borders on deception. What if God said something you don’t believe, then does that still not settle it? What if I didn’t agree with the wife God gave me, does that mean its ok to forsake her. Or to make it more relatable for most of us – how about the attitudes God calls us to have, or the values he calls us to live by, such as generosity and simplicity. Today many biblical conventional truths are under attack and unless we adopt that thinking that if God says it, that settles it, we are poised for a great fall. Adopting this stance helps us stand on God’s word despite the changing tides of the day. In scripture, standing on the Word is likened to standing on an unshakeable rock by Christ, as he told the parable of the man who built his house on a sure foundation. Let’s not be deceived, if we don’t hold this firmly to God’s word we will be like the foolish man, and along will come a storm that we cannot stand upon because our foundation has been eroded away.
Secondly, we must not forget to honor God by giving him time regularly. Emerge ministry did a survey years ago, and in it they found that many Christian men (including pastors) were falling into pornographic bondage. And in particular they noticed that the percentage of men who were addicted to pornography and spending time with God daily was low. That means that when we as Christians abandon our daily altar of prayer and scriptural reflection, we leave ourselves susceptible to deception. But when we spend time with God, deception of allowing persistent sin is weakened. It’s as if when we come to our place of devotion we are reminded who we are, but when we neglect this, we forget so easily and start to stray. James says it this way
“22 Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. 23 Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror 24 and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. 25 But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.” James 1:22-25
A third guard against deception that I want to share is that of living in Christian community. But what does this look like? Christian community in scripture is described clearly in Acts 2:42-46 as exhibited by the first church. This was a vibrant faith community where they learnt God’s word under godly leadership, experienced fellowship almost daily as they were in contact with one another and possessed such love to meet the needs of the poor amongst them. In this kind of community it would be hard for one person to fall into deception, simply because they were subjected to the gravitational vortex that the group dynamic provided and would thus try to conform their beliefs and behavior to the group. Simply put people, there is safety in numbers. We are social creatures and naturally try to conform to the accepted etiquette within our groups. That’s why scripture in Hebrews 10:25 encourages us not to forsake gathering together. Because we allow ourselves to be isolated from Christian community we leave ourselves unaccountable and open to deception.In the days to come, let’s be alert for our enemy, the devil is like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour. As we guard against deception, his chief strategy, I truly believe God will help us to stand.
– Pastor Olu Jegede