In the book ‘What on Earth have we Done with the Teachings of Jesus?’ (available as a free download here). There were 83 different subjects that Jesus taught on. I have listed the top ten subject headings according to the frequency that Jesus spoke on them. In covering the top ten, I am now looking at the eighth out 83 most common topic that Jesus taught on.
Having covered humility, forgiveness and doing the will of God. Today’s topic is on ‘being aware of deceivers’. Jesus warns us of deception in the last days. In the gospels we are warned of earthquakes, famines and wars – three times. Of deception and false prophets we are warned – eleven times. We need to be vigilant. We cannot afford to be undiscerning. Just because someone has the label of Christian, does not mean they are who they say they are.
Satan the great deceiver
Satan is known by many names. One is the great deceiver. In Revelation 12:9 – the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world. Can we not see a greater deception in the world and even within the church? The advancement of technology has brought many benefits. But with it vehicles by which men’s minds can be swayed consciously or unconsciously to accept things contrary to the truth. The Word says our eyes are a lamp to our bodies. They, along with our ears are the transmitters to receive material into our hearts and minds. What we read, what we look at – will ultimately decide whether we welcome end time deception.
Strong’s tells us that a false prophet is: someone pretending to speak the word of the Lord but in fact is an imposter, acting as a wolf in sheep’s clothing. They specialise in “the art of misimpression,” like about how they were “commissioned” by the Lord to touch the world with their message. But when in fact, they operate by self and for self so they must be exposed for what they are.
The authenticity of a bank note
Banks train their employees in identifying the true authenticity of a bank note by studying the real version. This then teaches them how to easily detect a fake note. We too, by studying the real truth in Jesus’ words will be able to have the wisdom to follow the straight and narrow path and avoid pitfalls and false teachers.
Jesus said – the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you, John 14:26. His Word fine tunes our spiritual radar when listening to other people purporting to teach the word. When you’ve studied the Words of Jesus you will start to see conflicts with what others say compared to the teachings of Jesus and so can more easily identify if someone is false.
The early church were accused of being deceived
Even the very early church were accused of being deceived, Who has bewitched you that you should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed among you as crucified? Galatians 3:1. We should not think that we are above being misled and caught up in the same trap.
Everything that comes at us we can challenge with ‘What did Jesus say about this?’. If someone or even Paul the Apostle says something that contradicts the teachings of Jesus – who should we obey? Paul himself said, ‘even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you (in the grace of Christ vs 6) let him be accursed’. Galatians 1:8. Jesus made this clear when he said, ‘a disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master’, Matthew 10:24. It’s Jesus we should follow and His words we should heed.
A generation that seeks after a sign
Are we not a generation that seeks after a sign? Many have run off to conferences to see certain speakers renown for walking in miraculous powers. We’ve esteemed them and looked up to them as one to emulate. But Jesus says beware – For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect, Matthew 24:24. Have we not received them unquestioningly? He says – beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves, Matthew 7:15-16. Even so in the world there are those who seem to be able to perform miraculous signs and wonders and they have been elevated to celebrity status.
We will know them by their fruit
Without discernment we are just as open to deception as previous generations. We need to not look at the signs and wonders these people claim to have. Jesus said we would know them by their fruit, a good tree does not bear bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. For every tree is known by its own fruit, Luke 6:43. Many people and ministries can start out well but I have seen many become entangled in pride and the lust for more money and corruption has set in far before the crowds realise.
Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, 2 Thessalonians 2:3. There will come a great ‘falling away’ before the great and terrible Day of the Lord. How far the organised church will slip into apostasy is directly correlated with how far they turn from the teachings of Jesus.
How can we avoid being deceived and falling away? The only way is to truly know the voice of the Good Shepherd, Jesus, and we do this by studying His words. Only then will our ears be finely tuned to listen out for the deceptive words of false teachers and deceiving spirits.
I implore you to lay aside all you’ve been taught and all your preconceived ideas about Jesus and come afresh to sit at the feet of the Great Teacher Himself.
False Teachers From Jude 8-18 These people who would willingly Condemn their own brothers; Always they grumble Seeking to blame others. They follow relentlessly Their own evil desire. For this they will suffer The punishment of eternal fire. They operate in A manner underhand. They attack with insults Anything they do not understand. They have followed like others The angry ways of Cain. They destroy themselves In their pursuit of monetary gain With no thought for others They eat with dog-like zeal. They’re like dirty spots In the fellowship meal. They are as clouds carried along By the wind but bringing no rain. They are as trees who bear no fruit; All they produce is pain. By the late Andrew Feakin (passed away 16th March 2019)
Prayer: Lord, I pray each of us will not be deceived into thinking that we ourselves are above being misled. Help us be alert and not allow ourselves to be subjugated to false teaching. God deliver us all from the great apostasy that is happening even now and let your holy fear fall on us. Lord may we seek after You alone and not after some supernatural sign. In Jesus Name. AMEN