Friday, May 6, 2011

Be Not Deceived!

By Gregory Dullum

Here are seven steps to avoid being deceived in these last days!

As we get closer to the return of Jesus Christ, one of the greatest dangers we face is becoming deceived! If Satan can trick us into believing a lie and giving up the truth, he has won the battle.
Becoming deceived is a very real possibility! The command, “Be not deceived,” is repeated many times in the Bible.
When asked what would be the sign of His coming and of the end of this age, Jesus said, “Take heed that no one deceives you. For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many” (Matthew 24:4-5). He added, “Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many… For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect” (Matthew 24:11, 24).

The apostle Paul warned that many would fall away before Christ returns: “Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed” (2 Thessalonians 2:3).
Becoming deceived is a very real possibility! The command, “Be not deceived,” is repeated many times in the Bible. Our very nature lends itself to being deceived: “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it?” (Jeremiah 17:9, emphasis added).
How can we avoid becoming deceived? The Bible gives us seven steps to take.
1. Pray that we are not deceived. Ask God to protect us from deception. David prayed thus and God heard him: “In my distress I cried to the LORD, and He heard me. Deliver my soul, O LORD, from lying lips and from a deceitful tongue” (Psalm 120:1-2).
2. Stay close to God through obedience, prayer and Bible study. “Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you” (James 4:7-8).
We are told to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17).
The Bereans were praised because they “received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so” (Acts 17:11). Timothy was told to “be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15).
3. Stir up God’s Spirit in us. God has given us a spirit of power and love and of a sound mind. Stir up that power—use it (2 Timothy 1:6-7)! The Spirit of truth (John 14:17) will lead us into all truth (John 16:13)—it will not lead us into deception. Stirring up the Spirit helps us to fight deception.
4. Cling to truth we have been taught. Jude commands us to “contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3). Paul commands, “Therefore, brethren, stand fast and hold the traditions which you were taught, whether by word or our epistle” (2 Thessalonians 2:15).
5. Avoid false teachings. There is no need to fill our minds with the teachings of deceptive false prophets. Paul tells us, “But avoid foolish disputes, genealogies, contentions, and strivings about the law; for they are unprofitable and useless. Reject a divisive man after the first and second admonition, knowing that such a person is warped and sinning, being self-condemned” (Titus 3:9-11).
Jude commands us to “contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3).
We are further told, “Shun profane and idle babblings, for they will increase to more ungodliness” (2 Timothy 2:16).

We are commanded to avoid false teachers who arise within the Church: “But we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you withdraw from every brother who walks disorderly and not according to the tradition which he received from us” (2 Thessalonians 3:6).
6. Love the truth. A great false prophet (Paul called him “the man of sin”) will come before Christ returns and will deceive many (2 Thessalonians 2:3; Revelation 19:20; compare Revelation 13:11-17).
This man will use signs and lying wonders: “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. And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie, that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness” (2 Thessalonians 2:9-12).
To avoid being sucked in by deception, we must love the truth, believe the truth and take no pleasure in unrighteousness (sin or disobedience to God).
7. Recognize false prophets. Many people will believe in false prophets if their prophecies come true or if they perform miracles, thinking these are proofs that God is working through them. God gives us the true test: False prophets will lead people away from obeying Him. They will preach another god or they will teach that God’s law no longer needs to be kept (Deuteronomy 13:1-5). If they preach against God’s law, don’t believe them (Isaiah 8:20)!
Practice these seven principles and it will be very difficult to be deceived!