Summary: The only person whose heart you really know is yourself, and you don't need to identify the Beast if Jesus can identify you.
I’m in the process of refinancing my house. I’ve done it all over the telephone. And midway through the process, I started getting nervous. The web page they gave me had their name but a different address, long distance information gave me a different number for that name in NJ, I kept talking to different sales people, a second web page was unavailable. We’ve heard so much in the news about things like identity theft and other frauds and rip-off’s that I started wondering if I weren’t getting scammed... You know, they say that a con only work because people get greedy, and want something for nothing, and here was I trying to get my mortgage reduced from 6.5% to 5%.
Well, anyway, I kept pushing and to make a long story short wound up with a copy of the head honcho’s mortgage banker’s license and a clean bill of health from the state, and unless something else happens or the Lord returns I will be signing the papers some time next week.
But it really underlines the fact that you can’t just take someone’s word on the questions of identity any more, can you. DMV clerks sell ID’s to terrorists, there’s a thriving street business in phony green cards in every major metropolis in the U.S., and internet chat rooms are famous for their anonymity and the ease with which a false name and identity can lure the innocent and unsuspecting into danger.
Whom can you trust? How can you tell who to listen to? Whose word is good? It’s easy to say that you can trust God, that God’s word is good, and that you should listen to people who quote the Bible and say “Thus says the Lord.” But these chapters of Revelation show us as clearly as anything in Scripture that the tool that leaps most readily into the hands of Satan and his followers is deception. Jesus himself warned his disciples of this, saying “For many will come in my name, saying, 'I am the Messiah!' and they will lead many astray.”
[Mt 24:5] There are several kinds of falsehoods which Satan uses to undermine faith in Jesus Christ.
The first kind of deception is a straightforward contest between religions: the resurgence of militant Islam is tops on the news, but Hindu nationalists in India to and Buddhists in Vietnam and Laos are both growing more and more hostile Christians. In this country, desperate to preserve the illusion of safety which we lived in prior to 9/11, civic and religious leaders alike try to tell us that “the three great monotheistic religions” can all co-exist. But of course this is not true,
because although Christians know that the Hebrew Scriptures, what we call the Old Testament is also the word of God, Islam denies both the truth of the Bible and the deity of Christ.
The second kind of deception is the distortion of the gospel itself, from cults which lead to physical death by the likes of Jim Jones and David Koresh, to cults which become almost mainstream like Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormons and Christian Scientists.