Deception is a word we often hear regarding the end times. Jesus seemed to emphasis that deception would be abundant. Most people I speak with regarding the last days deception are convinced they will be able to avoid being duped. They are confident in their ability to be able to spot the ruse from Antichrist if it happens in their lifetime. Yet, when I ask how they can be so confident, very few give the correct reason for their answer.
Satan first began his plan of deception in the Garden, by taking the truth God had told Adam and Eve and adding to it in order to twist the outcome, manipulating it to his own agenda. It worked so well then, he has never stopped using that strategy.
When a Christian does not know God’s Word very well, they find it difficult to recognize what is false. Adam and Eve had walked and talked with God in the Garden, yet when Satan simply added to what God had said, perverting the truth, they believed it. Why? Because Lucifer enticed them with something their flesh wanted.
In Matthew 24:9-13 Jesus is speaking to His disciples about the signs of the last days. It is one of the most horrifying scriptures in the Bible about what will occur. “Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake. And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another. Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. But he who endures to the end shall be saved.” (emphasis mine).
Jesus is describing what will occur to those who profess Him as Savior and Lord in the last days–they will be hated, persecuted, and killed. But reading about these terrible circumstances, I notice the reason for the heart’s of God’s people growing cold, causing many to fall away (from their trust in Jesus). It’s not the obvious things just mentioned, it is that they will be offended. Why would a believer in Jesus be “offended”?
Offense is caused when we feel betrayed or misled. Unfortunately, the body of Christ has been taught false doctrines which Satan has smuggled into the church. These doctrines has set Christians up to feel lied to when things don’t play out the way they expect. Satan has once again added his own twist to the gospel with something every person wants to believe, so most do — believing that Jesus will rapture His people BEFORE it gets really bad.
Of course, our flesh wants to be rescued. But if that doesn’t occur will you deny Christ? Apparently, many will. If we do not know scripture well enough to recognize the deception of this false doctrine of rescue, we could easily feel offended when things become extremely difficult… thinking that the message of salvation and Christianity in general must have been a lie from the start.
Satan always goes wherever God is working, to pervert the truth and to gain control. This rescue doctrine is another example of a teaching that has been perverted to set up God’s people to be deceived… and therefore potentially offended.
In the Bible, what does the word deceitful mean? Dishonest implies a willful perversion of truth in order to deceive, cheat, or defraud. To cause someone to believe something that is not true.
This definition is the essence of Satan’s plan… to willfully pervert the truth in order to deceive. It is interesting that deception is a perversion of what is already true–the truth–only perverted. The Bible describes a lie as something that is not completely true.
One of the most tragic scriptures in the Bible contain the words Jesus spoke to His disciples when they inquired about what would occur in the last days. Jesus warns them.
“The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved” 2 Thessalonians 2:9-10.
Deception is not going to happen all at once at the end of days. It has been happening progressively, deceiving throughout human history. In addition, Satan knew he had to infiltrate the churches with a false doctrine in order to rob many believers of they loyalty to Christ when it really matters… at the rise of Satan’s kingdom through the Antichrist.
Most acknowledge that the church has grown colder and weaker in recent years. The Bible teaches us that tribulation is used by God to mature and grow God’s people. These things were discussed in last week’s message. However, through another false doctrine that has entered the church, most Christians now believe that tribulation is something to be avoided at all cost. This has cost the church dearly.
Let’s face it, there are a lot of fence sitters in the professing church. People who profess salvation but have not developed roots to withstand the pressures that are coming. They think as much like the world as most non-believers but still claim to be born-again. It’s tempting to assume tolerance of the world as God’s love in action. But God hates sin. Our relationship with those in the world is to share the gospel message of salvation in love, not to pacify and accept their sin.
“Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God” James 4:4.
Our role as believers is also to challenge everything the world offers us in light of God’s Word. Are we trusting in God or trusting the world? Trusting in the world is a primary stepping stone to being deceived.
Jesus Christ is coming for a Bride without spot or wrinkle. That Bride will consist of those who will not be shaken when all hell breaks lose against them. All the fence-sitters will be shaken so hard that they will end up on one side of the fence or the other depending on whether they run to God or the world for security. God wants to help us make a choice, and will use Satan’s persecution to do it.
In the last days, it will be much like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego in Daniel chapter 3. These true believers in God were always respectful of and served king Nebuchadnezzar. UNTIL they were asked to bow to the idol of the king. Much like what Christians will be asked to do in the final days–submit to Antichrist and renounce the Lord Jesus by choosing submission to someone or some thing other than Jesus Christ.
These men in Daniel, when asked to follow the law of Nebuchadnezzar which violated their commitment to God, responded to the king, “…our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us from your hand, O king. But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the gold image which you have set up.” Daniel 3:17-18.
What a powerful testimony these men had. They were committed not to bow to another god besides Jehovah. And knowing God had the power to deliver them… even if He did not deliver them… they were willing to die for their commitment to God rather than compromise with the world.
This same spirit will be required from the true Bride of Christ in the last days. God never told us we would not be persecuted and suffer tribulation for our faith. In fact, He confirmed that we would be, over and over.
“Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution. But evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived. But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus” 2 Timothy 3:12-15.
I’m using scriptures to reveal these truths, as God’s Word is the only reliable rebuttal to the false doctrines that are in the church. And suffering persecution or tribulation does not mean we do not have victory available to us. But the victory does NOT determine the truth of God or His plan. And there can never be victory without there first being tribulation, faith and endurance.
The Bible is full of examples of the price that is often required to be paid for our relationship with God. “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” Matthew 5:10-12.
Paul shares what he also suffered as a believer: “I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again. Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was pelted with stones, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my fellow Jews, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false believers. I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked.” 2 Corinthians 11:23-27. This is a taste of Paul’s life as he shares what God has allowed him to experience. Most agree that Paul was a godly man who was faithful. Yet, he suffered much persecution and tribulation.
In addition, we have those in the early church who suffered and died for their faith. Hebrews 11:35-38 tells us, “Others were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection. Still others had trial of mockings and scourgings, yes, and of chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, were tempted, were slain with the sword. They wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented—of whom the world was not worthy. They wandered in deserts and mountains, in dens and caves of the earth.”
The true gospel message has been whitewashed and candy-coated so much that we are “offended” by God when things don’t go our way or become too difficult. Preachers no longer don’t preach the true cost of salvation. The high price of eternity with Christ is excluded from the messages in the pulpits. Why? Because Satan has infiltrated the churches in the most subtle ways. Ways that he knows will cause offense toward God and their faith.
When you accept a relationship with God through Jesus Christ there is a cost. We have been bought with a price that gives us peace with God now, access to Heaven’s benefits through faith, the hope of eternity with God in heaven… but also costs us everything. Once we are born-again, we pick up our cross and follow Him or we are not worthy of Him.
“Then Jesus said to His disciples, ‘If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it” Matthew 16:24-25.
“For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s” 1 Corinthians 6:20.
We have been bought with a price. We are no longer our own. So how can we be offended if God allows us to be tried and tested? He is looking for a worthy Bride. One who is loyal and faithful to the end. One who chooses Him and His ways rather than the world’s way at each crossroad.
In the last days (which we are already in) testing will come. Tribulation will be experienced by those in the household of faith. Only those who endure to the end will receive the gift of eternal life with God in heaven.
“And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. But he who endures to the end shall be saved” Matthew 24:12-13.
Whether we live until Jesus returns or die before His glorious appearing, just like Daniel, Abraham and Paul, we are called to love the Lord our God with our whole heart. When Jesus was asked what is the greatest commandment…
“Jesus said to him, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment” Matthew 22:37-38.
Loving the Lord with all of our heart should be the goal and commitment of everyone who has been rescued out of Satan’s kingdom and adopted into God’s family for eternity. Time is short and the deception is growing. Our eternal destination is connected directly to the deception of the last days. Press in to God and His Word so that you will not be deceived. And commit to endure to the end.
Always remember, With God nothing is impossible!
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