Summary: Biblical warnings against deception, especially in the last days, is explored. Some fundamental characteristics of deception are discussed so that the believer is more equipped to identify and avoid it.
In Matthew 24 Jesus was alone with his disciples on the Mount of Olives. The disciples asked Him a question about the end times. “And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?"1 How will we know when the end is near? What will tell us that Your second coming is about to happen? In answer to that question, the first thing Jesus told them was to watch out for deception. Matt 24:4 “And Jesus answered and said to them: ‘Take heed that no one deceives you. 5 For many will come in My name, saying, 'I am the Christ,' and will deceive many.’” Jesus is talking to people who know Him well. These are the apostles. These are committed followers. Yet Jesus tells them to, “‘Take heed that no one deceives you.” He talks about other signs of His coming: wars, famines, pestilences, earthquakes in various places. In verse 11 He says, “Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many.” It’s not going to be just a few people deceived—but “many.” Verse 12 “And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold.” That is an interesting cause and effect statement: because lawlessness will abound—because of the lack of respect for the boundaries God has set on human behavior—because of the multiplied wickedness in society as a whole and possibly in the church as well—the love of many (not a few) will grow cold.” Is there lawlessness increasing and abounding in our world? Is there the danger that people’s love toward God—toward others—would grow cold?
The whole discourse in Matthew 24 carries a tone of warning for every believer. Matt 24:23-25 “Then if anyone says to you, 'Look, here is the Christ!' or 'There!' do not believe it. 24 For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. 25 See, I have told you beforehand.” (My subject is deception and my first point is):
I. The Increase in Deception During the Latter Days.
Paul warned in 1 Tim 4:1 “Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons.” These are people who ought to know better. These are people who are departing from “the faith.” You can’t depart from something you have never been in. So they were not only in church, they are departing from “the faith.” And what causes them to do that? Deception--deceiving spirits and demonic doctrines! When I read about deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, I immediately think of something repulsive—disgusting little, loathsome creatures and objectionable doctrines. But if it were repulsive to these people, they would never follow it. It has to look good on the surface. It has to appeal to these people in some way or they would never fall for it. Paul talks about deceitful workers who transform themselves into apostles of Christ—leaders who seem like the real deal. They operate out of deception. 2 Cor. 11:14 “And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light. 15 Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness….” For there to be deception, it has to